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Two of the cabin stewards headed down the corridor to the attendant’s station and returned with a gurney and a sheet. Solemnly, they proceeded to load the body of the slain man onto the gurney and covered him with a sheet. One of them was looking somewhat tearful, and both of them were tight-lipped. It dawned on Jared suddenly that both of these young men had known and worked with Osric, and it was plain that Jensen was affected too. He had slumped down, tears welling up as he watched silently.

As the stewards trundled the gurney away, another man appeared, evidently an officer, since he wore a uniform with gold braid. “Hello, gentlemen. I’ve been asked to seal the cabin and make it secure. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave now.”

“What about me?” That was Jensen. ”Where am I supposed to sleep? What about all my things? You can’t lock them up. How am I...”

“I’ll have to ask you to pack the things you need and vacate the crime scene, please. I’m sure the purser will be able to find you a bed for the night.” The officer sounded sympathetic but it was obvious to Jared that he was determined to carry out his orders. Smiling inwardly, Jared reflected that this was totally not how the police would have handled the situation. As he watched Jensen cramming his few belongings into his suitcase he winced at the way the crime scene was being contaminated. Matt would have far less success once he began to examine the room than if everyone had been evicted straight away.

“Better make sure nothing is missing,” he murmured to Jensen. “If there is, it might be a clue.”

“Yeah. Right, Miss Marple.” Jensen looked and sounded utterly dejected, and Jared felt a rush of sympathy for this man, who was obviously shaken to his core and exhausted to boot.

“You can bunk down with me, if you like? Nobody’s using the other bed in my cabin.”

The look Jensen gave him was almost adoring in its gratitude. He could see the musician’s shoulders slump with relief. “Thanks,” he whispered. “It’s been a long night.”

Once his case was packed, the officer ushered them out into the corridor with a softly spoken ‘thank you, gentlemen’. Jensen stood for a moment looking lost as the door was locked and taped closed, and when he showed no signs of moving, Jared put his arm around Jensen’s shoulders and gently guided him up the corridor to the elevator, which had been left open in the excitement.

“Come on.” Jared led the way and pressed the button that would take them up to Deck 6. “You’re gonna like my place. It’s even got a little window, so you can see out.” Jensen gave him a wan smile.

“What can you see?”

“Water, mostly,” said Jared, grinning. “That’s a relief, too. If there was anything else out there, I’d be worried.”

Jared’s cabin was a little bigger than Jensen’s, containing not only a second bed but also the promised porthole, which indicated that dawn was breaking. Jared waited until Jensen had brushed his teeth and climbed into bed. Wishing him goodnight, he quietly left the room to go and find out what was going on with the ship’s radio. If he needed to, he would use the excuse of needing to tell Matt where Jensen was in case the detective wanted to question him again later.



The bridge was surprisingly quiet when Jared arrived. An engineer was on his knees beneath the console, all manner of tools laid out around him on the floor. Matt and James were leaning over a table towards the rear of the room. Looking around him very quickly, he spotted a forlorn looking Wester, cuffed and seated on one of the benches, with an enormous looking deck hand sitting beside him, cracking his knuckles ominously.

“She’s going to kill me,” lamented Wester as Jared came over to stand beside Matt and look down at whatever they were studying.

“The entire Nav system and most of the steering is out at the moment as well as the radio. It’s going to be navigation the old fashioned way until Tigerman over there can get the radar up and running.” James sighed, and Matt reached over to pat his hand. James shot him a brief smile before turning back to Jared. “It could possibly delay us before we can dock in St. Thomas.”

Nodding absently, Jared thought for a minute. He’d heard Wester complain up in the bar before he’d passed out, drunk, and the guy was still babbling on about his employer — he assumed that Ms. Cassidy was in fact his employer and not his relative — killing him. Frowning, he went over to sit beside Wester.

“Travis, isn’t it?” he asked.

Wester blinked at him. “Yeah? Why do you want to know?”

Jared shrugged. “Always good to be polite. When you say that ‘She’s going to kill you,’ are you talking about Ms. Cassidy?” He studied Wester’s face intently, saw the abject misery on it and things began to click into place. “You really think she is going to kill you, don’t you?”

“She said I shouldn’t get caught, because if I did, she’d kill me. She’ll find me and that’ll be it.”

“So, she knew you were going to come sabotage the boat? Why on earth would she condone that?” Jared caught Matt’s eye and indicated silently that he should get close enough to listen, but unfortunately, at that moment Travis seemed to realize he’d said too much and went silent. After a few minutes Jared realized he would get no further just chatting and clapped him on the shoulder, causing him to jump, before going back to where Matt and James were finishing their calculations.

“We’re not going to be able to put into port until tomorrow morning at the earliest by my reckoning. It’s possible that if Gabe here can get the instruments back online, we’ll be able to pick up speed again, but there’s no guarantee of that. Depends on whether he can work a little magic with the parts we have available.”

“Captain?” Jared didn’t particularly care if the itinerary was disrupted. “We have a killer on board, although right now we have no proof of who it is. I believe that I know, and I’d like to beg a favor. Can we have Wester there locked up somewhere that passengers ordinarily aren’t permitted? I think it’s important, and it’s definitely going to permit us to identify the murderer.”

James pursed his lips, considering. Matt studied Jared intently. “Are you holding out on me?” he said.

“Not really. I’ve just got this theory, based on something I heard and dismissed as drunken ranting.” Jared grinned at him, dimples flashing. “I just think we need to take good care of Wester for now.”

It seemed that James was about to say something, but Matt patted him on the hand. “It’s okay. We’ll look after him very well, won’t we?”

Over on the bench beside Wester, the crew member snickered and cracked his knuckles again. Jared winced, and Travis Wester wailed. “I’m a dead man,” he whimpered.

It was full daylight by now. Matt had announced his intention to search through Jensen’s cabin for any clue that might remain. James was needed on the bridge to assist with the repair of his equipment, and Jared made his way back down to Deck 6 and his cabin with the intention of getting a couple of hours sleep. If he was right, he would have another busy night coming up.

There were delicious smells of baking bread emanating from the bistro, and Jared went in to grab himself a snack and a non-caffeinated drink before heading along the corridor to his stateroom.




Jensen was deeply asleep, lying on his belly with one hand tucked under the pillow and the sheets tangled around his waist exposing a broad, freckled back. Jared gazed at him for long minutes before quietly divesting himself of his clothing all the way down to his boxers and climbing into his own bunk. He’d thought that the excitement would keep him awake, restlessly planning, but he was wrong. Moments later, he was fast asleep.



Jared awoke some time later to find Jensen watching him from where he lay in the opposite bunk. It was evident that he’d just woken up himself. He was sleep tousled, and as Jared watched, he gave a huge, bone-cracking yawn and snuggled down into his pillow again as if he intended to go back to sleep.

Sighing, Jared checked his watch. 2:30 p.m. gave him plenty of time to do the stuff that needed to be done, but he really ought to get up and get started. Jensen blinked sleepily at him, and Jared felt a shiver creep down his spine.

“You really ought to come with a government health warning,” he told Jensen.

“Uh... Thank you?” Jensen pushed himself up onto his elbows and rearranged himself so he was leaning back against the headboard, bare chest leading the gaze down to where the rumpled sheet revealed just the hint of a treasure trail. “Why is that? Did I fart in my sleep or something?”

“Good God, no. It’s just that you’re so distracting. I...” Jared faltered. He hadn’t really meant to say that. Finally, he gave a sigh and rose to sit on the side of his bunk. “Look, I don’t do one night stands and holiday flings, so when the cruise is over, will you go out with me?”

“Well, I don’t see what’s wrong with the present, but okay.” Jensen gave him a smile that lit up the little cabin. “We could start by finding some breakfast. I’m starving. My stomach thinks my throat’s been cut.”

Laughing, Jared pushed himself up to standing and went to the little bathroom to wash and shave, calling back to him, “You have the best ideas. Breakfast it is.”

“What if you were to find out that I wasn’t what you think I am?” Jensen sounded concerned.

“What do I think you are?” Face covered in shaving foam, Jared peered out at Jensen, frowning. “I dunno. If you have a wife and eight kids, better tell me now, and we’ll call it a day.”

“We all have our secrets, I guess, but nope. No wife, and no brood. No ties whatsoever in fact.” Laughing, Jensen rose to his feet to wait for the bathroom. “You look like Santa Claus like that.”

“How do you know I’m not?” Jared rinsed his razor and sluiced around the sink, then stepped into the minute shower beside it, dropping his boxers on the floor just outside the door. “I’ll only be a couple of minutes,” he called as he began to lather himself up. “Your turn next.”

It wasn’t long before he was stepping back into the cabin, towels around his hips and his hair. “All yours, man,” he announced as Jensen gathered together his toiletries.

“I want you to know that I’m really grateful to you, Jared,” said Jensen, smiling as he passed Jared, who was looking through the small closet for a clean pair of jeans. Jensen’s smile was perfect, white teeth, a hint of a dimple besides each sharp cheekbone, and his eyes showing just the hint of mischief. When Jared turned back, he was still standing in the doorway, shamelessly ogling, a broad grin on his face.

“Very nice.” The grin grew even wider if that were possible.

“You wanna see the rest?” Jared’s hands moved to the towel around his waist as if to unwrap himself, and Jensen laughed.

“I’d take you up on that, but I can hear your stomach rumbling from here. Go feed the inner man, before you pass out. I’ll come and find you once I’m clean and shiny again.” Jensen turned and put his razor and toiletries down on the sink, then stalked over to Jared and grabbed his face, pulled him down for a kiss and then chuckled as he evaded Jared’s grip and returned to the bathroom. “I’ll take a raincheck. See me later.”

Wide eyed, Jared stood for a minute before shaking his head and beginning to get dressed. As he heard Jensen step into the shower and start singing scurrilous lyrics to ‘La Donna è Mobile,’ his stomach rumbled again, loud enough to drown out Jensen’s voice. Calling out “Later,” to his guest, he left his cabin in search of breakfast, if such a thing could be had this late in the day.



Miss Katie Cassidy stretched and rose to her feet, a frown on her perfectly made-up face. Looking around, she still couldn’t see Wester anywhere, and that was most inconvenient. Reaching for her stick, she pulled herself up to standing and checked her watch one last time before turning to stomp off down to Deck 2 and his cabin.

Two of the three hottest men on the cruise were lounging against the railing beside the very stairs she’d tumbled down when she’d damaged her ankle. As she made her halting way over to the stairs, she slowed, and heard the very tall one say to Blue-eyes, “I don’t suppose he’s going to get very far even if he does escape...”

“He won’t escape, Jay,” said Blue-eyes. “Let’s face it. They’ve got him in that little break room just off the engine room. There’s always someone in there, and even if he had Houdini level escape skills, he’d be back in there within minutes.”

A cold flash ran down Katie’s back. She’d lingered as long as she dared, and Wester’s absence from her side just confirmed that he’d been caught doing something stupid — something that wasn’t in the plan. She was going to smack the stupid little man silly just as soon as they got off this ship. Carefully, she made her way down to Deck 2 and made for Wester’s cabin. There was nobody around at this time of day, and it was the work of a moment to let herself into his room. Wrinkling her nose, she pulled the camera bag out from his closet and removed the camera, lenses and charger that concealed the radio beneath them, then plugged it in at the socket designed for electric razors. What a good job it was that she hadn’t left all the arrangements for him to take care of. Switching on the device, she listened for a moment and then spoke.

“Jackal calling Wolf. Come in...”

There was nothing save for the soft hiss of white noise for several minutes, so she repeated her phrase. She almost leaped out of her skin when the radio crackled to life and a faintly accented voice responded. “Wolf here. What are your orders?”

“We’ll be ready for pickup at 2 a.m. with the objects. Don’t be late.”

“Confirmed. 2 a.m. it is. Wolf out.” The radio returned to its steady hissing, and she swiftly turned it off, stuffed the photography equipment back on top of it and zipped the case closed. Now her main task would begin. Checking her watch, she noticed that it was just after 3 p.m., and as she left Wester’s cabin with the camera bag slung over her shoulder, she made her way to the elevator that would take her up to Deck 6.

Stepping outside of the elevator, she stood for a moment, listening and looking around to make sure she was alone, then went swiftly to Alona’s cabin and knocked gently. There was no response, and she hadn’t really expected one, since she’d seen Alona a very short time ago, clad in a very pretty bikini, splashing around in the pool. She would have time to search the cabin thoroughly before the girl came back to change for dinner. Letting herself in with her skeleton key, she began to search the cabin.

Unfortunately, she didn’t have anywhere like as long as she’d hoped. It had only been 20 minutes or so before she heard the key in the lock, and sighing, she went to stand behind the door, unraveling the finely stranded bracelet she wore on her left arm. As Alona entered the room, Katie stepped up behind her and slipped the gold, cheese-wire garrote over Alona’s head, kicking the door closed as she did so.

It was all over in moments, and Katie, covered in blood from where the wire had cut Alona’s neck, dropped the body to the floor and knelt beside it to take the pin that the girl had been wearing on her swim wrap.



“Thank you, my dear. I don’t think you’ll be needing this anymore,” she chirped, then sighed at the mess she’d made and went into Alona’s bathroom to take a shower and wash away the girl’s blood. Once clean again, she took Alona’s beach bag and packed her bloodstained clothing into it, then went to the dead girl’s closet to find something to put on to replace her ruined outfit, hoping that the girl actually had something halfway presentable in there.

Just as she was making her way back to the elevator, Hottie number 3 smiled at her as he emerged from one of the cabins with his guitar strapped to his back, and she smiled back. “You know, I really must get a photo of you before this cruise is over. I swear, this entire ship is overrun with the most deliciously beautiful men. It’s more than worth the cost of the cruise, just for the eye candy!”

Hottie number 3 colored up magnificently, and Katie giggled.

“Thank you, ma’am. Will we see you in the bar tonight? I’ll play a song especially for you.”

“Oh gosh, I wouldn’t miss that for the world.” She thought for a moment, one crimson finger nail playing with her equally crimson lower lip. “Do you know ‘Mac the Knife’?”

“Of course, I do.” Hottie number 3 nodded and smiled, over his moment of confusion. “It’ll be just for you. What’s your name, so I can announce it?”

“I’m Katie,” she said, simpering a little.

“Well, hello, Katie. I’m Jensen,” said Jensen, holding out his hand and when she offered hers, raising it to his lips briefly. “Later, Katie. I need to go find food and then get some practice in so I don’t let you down. I want to be perfect for you.”

She frowned as she watched him amble away. Now she had another loose end to deal with.



It was mid-afternoon by the time Matt made his way to the omelet bar. Normally, it didn’t make a difference to him, but today, he was grateful for the nebulous quality of time on the ship and the crew’s determination to provide whatever the passengers wanted, whenever they wanted it. He wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the all-day breakfast offerings, and Matt glanced around as he waited for his meal. The seating area wasn’t crowded, and Jared was easy enough to spot. They’d talked about meeting this morning, but Matt was sure both of them had expected to break their fast much earlier in the day. Neither of them had foreseen the busy evening they were to have. In any case, Matt was glad he was here, and apparently alone. He grabbed his tray and made his way to Jared’s table.

“Where’s Jensen?” Matt asked as he sat across from Jared, then kicked himself mentally. It was only a few hours since he’d seen Jared, and Jensen had been up late again. And Jared was clearly fresh from his shower and hopefully at least a little bit of sleep, so if he knew where Jensen was, then Matt didn’t think he wanted to know about it. He wasn’t quite ready to concede his little rivalry with Jared for Jensen’s affections. None of this was important anyway, they had a murderer to trap. Not to mention whatever it was that Jared was investigating.

“He’s in the shower in my cabin,” Jared answered and then off Matt’s look, clarified, “No, nothing like that, or, at least, not—” he cut himself off, flushing and stammering a bit.

Yes, too much information, just as he’d thought. Matt saved Jared by cutting in quietly, “Well, that’s good then. We can talk. I got the impression you didn’t want people knowing that you’re law enforcement. Is that anyone? Or Jensen specifically?”

“Everybody,” Jared answered. “It’s not like I’m here on official business or anything.”

“Yeah,” agreed Matt. “But you don’t have to hide what you do for a living. Unless you are actually investigating something and think your suspect may be on board.”

“I don’t know what to think,” Jared sighed. “Maybe. I just haven’t found any reason to think he is on board. Or isn’t.”

“Why don’t you tell me what you do know?” Matt pressed.

“I’ve been tracking a jewel thief,” Jared said quietly, after looking around to make sure they wouldn’t be overheard. “High end stuff, museum heists, all the toughest jobs. I was the first one to figure out they were related. Then he started leaving calling cards.”

“Like the one at the restaurant in Nassau?”

“You saw that?” Jared asked, clearly surprised. “I didn’t know you were there yet.”

“Yeah, sorry,” Matt apologized. “Your demeanor changed when I showed interest in the place, and I was curious.”

“You suspected me of being your assassin?” Jared sputtered.

“No, not really,” Matt reassured him. “I mean, I wasn’t ruling anyone out, but Jensen piqued my interest more. His name is so much like the moniker the perp uses, and he signed up for the cruise just after—”

Jared obviously noticed his distress and cut in, “You don’t have to talk about it.”

“Thanks, but it’s okay.” Matt responded sincerely, then continued stoically. “They killed Jeff — my boss, mentor and friend.”

“I’m so sorry,” Jared said sincerely. “Was that when you started chasing her?”

“No, we were already closing in on her. Jeff had information that she tried to destroy. I managed to recover some of it, and that’s what led me here. Apparently, someone has figured out a way to clean up and destroy oil organically, which will also likely break down oil based products too. The whole formula and the plans for the delivery system were stolen, and she was hired to find them and get them back to the head of Globex Oil.”

“And now you’re about to catch her,” Jared said. “I know it won’t bring Jeff back, but it will be something at least.”

“Let’s not put the cart before the horse,” Matt cautioned. “But yeah, hopefully.”

“Any sign of the doc?” Jared asked.

“No,” Matt answered. “And that’s another thing. The last time anyone saw him was when your favorite blonde broke her ankle. James is starting to think something’s happened to him.”

“I suspect he’s right, unless some merry widow has him tied to her bed. Is the plan set for later?” Jared asked. “Are the people guarding Travis up to their part?”

“Let’s hope so. I’ve told them to make themselves scarce. I’d hate for anyone else to get hurt,” Matt answered. “But we should talk about your investigation. Do you think Jensen has anything to do with it?”

“I don’t think so?” Jared answered, his voice betraying his uncertainly. “I mean, it’s possible. And the timing of his signing on to the cruise is very curious. But he doesn’t seem like he could be such an accomplished, professional cat burglar. He seems so at home behind his piano. Or maybe I just find him so distracting that I’ve lost all objectivity.”

“Didn’t you think it was odd that he showed up in Nassau?” Matt asked.

“Not really,” Jared answered. “We had been talking about it the night before. Just like you showed up. And it’s not like The Green Tornado put in an appearance last time I was there. He just left his calling card.”

“The Green Tornado?” Matt asked.

“Yeah, that’s what his card has on it,” Jared answered, pulling out an attractive white linen business card embossed with the image of a twister in metallic green ink. “So that’s what we call him.”

“Makes sense,” commented Matt. “No gloves?”

“I already dusted it,” Jared reassured him. “Only prints were people from the restaurant.”

Matt picked up the card and flipped it over. Neatly handwritten on the back was:

Back to the boat
Not quite there yet


“So, he knows who you are, and he’s definitely on the Scavenger,” Matt noted. “How else would he have known to have this delivered to you?”

“Probably,” Jared shrugged. “At least the people at Lukka Kairi do. I tracked him there once before, years ago.”

“Was that the first card he left?” Matt asked.

“It was,” Jared confirmed. “It was only after he left that one that the brass believed me that the robberies were related.”

“And then they started coming regularly?”

“Yes. It was like he started signing his work.” Jared laughed.

“He seems pretty brazen,” Matt commented. “Does he always leave messages on the back?”

“No,” Jared responded. “The Guggenheim a few weeks ago was the first one. That’s what sent me to Nassau.”

“So, he’s flirting with you now,” Matt joked.

“What?” Jared exclaimed. “How do you mean?”

“It’s just an expression,” soothed Matt. “He’s trying to draw you out, get your attention.”

“Yeah,” Jared mused. “I guess so. I wonder why.”

“Hey guys,” Jensen approached their table. “Save any for me?”

“Hey you!” Jared turned to face him, a brilliant smile appearing on his face. It was beautiful to watch as their relationship developed, but pretty much confirmed for Matt that he had no chance with either of them. Not that he was particularly heartbroken, since he’d found himself distracted lately, not just by his own investigation, but by his growing admiration for the vessel’s captain. Didn’t mean he was completely ready to give up the game, though.

“I think we ate it all,” Matt teased. “I guess you’ll have to get your own.”

“I figured,” Jensen smiled at them. “Aleksei is already fixing it.”

“How are you holding up?” Matt asked.

“Much better, thanks. It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for you,” Jensen answered. “Not to mention the company.”

“The company?” Jared exclaimed, sounding incredulous. “You were sleeping the whole time I was in the cabin.”

“Then maybe you should spend more time in your cabin,” Jensen snarked, then turned to thank the server delivering his rather impressive looking omelet.

“It’s not like there aren’t a couple of other things going on,” Jared sputtered.

“I guess,” said Jensen. “But I don’t see what it has to do with you.”

“Glad you’re feeling better. But speaking of other things going on,” Matt cut in. He didn’t really want to abandon Jared if tensions were escalating, but he was out of time. Jared could surely handle it. “I promised to meet James five minutes ago, and I really need to be there if we’re going to keep control of the situation.”

“Oh, shit!” Jensen exclaimed, looking at his watch. “I’m supposed to be up in The Sound Garden in 20 minutes. You guys go ahead; I’m just gonna finish up here and then go to work.”

“No,” Jared responded. “I’ll stay with you for a while, if you don’t mind.”

“No, seriously,” Jensen insisted. “It’s fine. I was just yanking your chain.”

“I know,” answered Jared, dimples popping as he grinned. “But what if I’d rather hang out with you?”

“Suit yourself,” Jensen shrugged.

“All right, guys,” Matt finished his coffee and waved as he headed off to meet James, trying to keep the inappropriate smile off of his face.

“Later,” muttered Jensen before taking another bite.

“I’ll catch up with you after a while,” Jared said, as if Matt needed reminding of their plan.



“So, what’s up?” Jensen asked after Matt had gone.

“Can’t I just want to spend time with you?” Jared asked, not sure how to get the conversation going in the direction he wanted. He needed to come clean with Jensen but wasn’t sure how to start.

“With everything else you’ve got going on?” Jensen said sardonically, then quickly recanted. “Sorry, it’s a reflex.”

“It can wait,” Jared answered, choosing to respond to the substance of the question and ignore the sarcasm as well as the apology.

“Okay,” Jensen shrugged. “I really don’t mind if you want to go with Matt though.”



“No, I don’t,” Jared reiterated. “You must know how I feel about you.”

“I’m kind of into you too,” Jensen smirked.

“Not like that,” Jared corrected, barely restraining himself from rolling his eyes at Jensen’s indifferent facade. “I don’t do casual relationships.”

“Honestly? Me either,” Jensen admitted. “I’m just not in a position to … commit to anything right now.”

“What? You have a boyfriend waiting for you back home?” Jared asked, hoping like hell it wasn’t the case. He didn’t think so, but you never know. “Or a girlfriend?

“Oh, no,” Jensen laughed. “Like I told you before. There’s nothing like that.”

“Okay then,” Jared shrugged, relieved in spite of himself. “I’m sure you’ll tell me when you’re ready.”

“Yeah,” Jensen said, clearly reluctant to share whatever was holding him back at this point. Jared could wait. He couldn’t imagine much that could be a deal-breaker for him.

“Speaking of …” Jared said, thinking he might not get a better opening. “I have something I need to tell you, too.”

“Should I be worried?” Jensen joked.

“I don’t think so,” Jared answered. “I’m an FBI agent. I don’t know why I didn’t tell you before, I just wasn’t telling anyone, and once I didn’t tell you, I didn’t know how to and—”

“Whoa, slow down,” Jensen cut in, laughing. “It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. None of us really shared much about who we are ashore. But I’m actually not surprised that you’re a cop with the way you handled yourself in the bar the other day and then how Matt involved you in his investigation. Though I did get the impression that you weren’t much more comfortable with a murder crime scene than I was.”

“I don’t know why I do that,” Jared said, flushing. “Babbling when I get nervous.”

“I think it’s cute,” Jensen responded, turning a bit pink himself. “But hey, I’ve gotta jet or else we’ll have annoyed bar patrons, never a good thing. You going to go meet Matt for whatever sting you two have cooked up?”

“Not yet,” Jared answered, happy not to have to lie or prevaricate about it anymore. “I’ll accompany you and help you get the bar set up, if you like.”



It felt nice to have Jared at his side on the way up to the bar. Sam greeted them warmly, clearly unsurprised to see them together. Maybe they were both a little slow on the uptake, but apparently, everyone else had figured it out before they did. Not that he hadn’t realized that he was developing feelings for Jared. It was just … complicated. Soon enough, he’d bare his own soul and hope that Jared didn’t run for the hills.

They worked together seamlessly, having quietly developed a routine for opening (and closing) the bar. They were halfway through their first drinks and had completed their chores a few minutes before the appointed time when Jensen took his place at the piano. He launched into ‘Sister Christian’ before the requests started coming in. He’d worked his way through ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, ‘Walking in Memphis’, and ‘Colder Weather’ by the time Katie came in. He’d really meant to mention her presence on their deck to Jared, but with things happening as they had, it had slipped his mind. He got Jared’s attention to make sure he didn’t slip out to meet up with Matt before his first break. Jared was very quick on the uptake and brought him another drink to cover their little interaction. Jensen announced Katie’s request and sang ‘Mac the Knife’ for her before taking his break.

“What’s up?” Jared asked as Jensen approached his table, closely followed by Sam with another round for their table courtesy of one of the bar patrons.

Jensen thanked Sam and answered quietly, “You know the blonde? Katie, I think she’s called?”

“Yeah,” Jared answered, narrowing his eyes. “Osric and I helped her to the infirmary once. She’d fallen and sprained her ankle.”

“I saw her on our deck earlier, just before I met you for breakfast,” Jensen said. “Wouldn’t she have a balcony suite or something up here in the nosebleed section? Why would she be on Deck 6?”

“I don’t know,” Jared responded, wheels obviously turning in his head.

“Also, I think that’s Alona’s dress she’s wearing,” Jensen went on. “I remember she had it on the first night, when she was hitting on me. Katie was wearing it earlier, too. And I’m sure that’s Alona’s pin. I didn’t notice it in the corridor earlier, but it’s definitely hers.”

“You have quite the eye for women’s fashion,” Jared quipped. “And jewelry.”

“I thought Alona was stalking me for a while.” Jensen tried not to get defensive. Surely Jared didn’t think he was actually into Alona? “And the pin … my dad collected old spy jewelry, and he was always looking for this particular piece. It was used by MI6 during the second World War. No-one in the community knew what had happened to it, and he was hunting for it most of my childhood. I’d know it anywhere. The marcasites are distinctive, and there’s a clever little compartment hidden in the body of the orca. Not that you’d know that from here, but I’m sure it’s the same pin. Or at least a replica.”

“I didn’t know Katie and Alona were friends?” Jared mused. “They just don’t fit, somehow.”

“I don’t think they are. Alona spent a lot of time in here, but I never saw this Katie person in here before.”

“Hey, I should go find Matt and make sure Alona is all right. Just be careful and don’t leave the bar, especially not alone,” Jared said in a quietly urgent tone as he started to rise from his chair.

“Sit. Finish your drink. You don’t want to attract attention.” Jensen stopped him with a hand on his arm. “You think this Katie’s involved with Osric’s murder?”

“It’s entirely possible. And you’re right, of course, about not wanting to cause any kind of disturbance though.” Jared nodded and settled back into his chair. “Thank you.”

“No problem,” Jensen said, smiling. It was in everyone’s best interest for them to catch this killer as soon as possible. “And it’s not like she’s going to do anything to Alona while she’s here.”

“Not to Alona, anyway. You just be careful. Watch your back,” Jared insisted again.

“Okay. Don’t worry. I’ll be careful,” Jensen reassured him. “There’s a house phone around the corner. The corridor is usually empty. You could use that to get in touch with Matt and have him meet you there. Will save you some time. After my break is over. Can’t be attracting attention, after all.”

That cut the tension as he’d hoped it would, and they enjoyed the rest of their drinks before Jared said goodbye and Jensen went back to his piano. He tried not to worry for the rest of his evening, but he’d grown accustomed to at least one of his friends’ presence while he played, and knowing what they were doing, that they were likely in danger… Jensen cut off that train of thought and deliberately immersed himself in his music for the rest of the evening. It worked well, as it so often had throughout his life. Good to know it still had that power when he needed it.



Jared finished his drink while Jensen rose to go join Sam behind the bar. Jared finally got to his feet and made his way out of the bar, pausing to exchange a couple of pleasantries with a pair of honeymooners who were both elderly and yet still starry eyed.

“Your young man has such a lovely voice,” said the old lady, a twinkle in her eye. “If I were 50 years younger, I’d give you a run for your money there.”

“Hey!” her husband shook his head at her. “What happened to ‘love, honor and obey’?”

“Oh, Stanley, you know I’d keep you around too.” She beamed at Jared. “Safety in numbers, after all.”

Jared felt the chill in the pit of his stomach as he watched Jensen chatting to Sam and swiftly took his leave of the two lovebirds to go and have a quiet word with Sam himself.

“Samantha, my one true love,” he murmured, trying to disguise the flood of terror that was coursing through him at the realization that Jensen was possibly in danger due to what he had told Jared. “Can I beg a favor?”

“Depends what it is,” she said.

“Just make sure that if anyone buys Jensen a drink that you don’t let anyone touch it besides you until it’s sitting on the piano?” Jared gave her his most soulfully beseeching expression, and she nodded.

“That I can do.” She smirked. “You think someone is likely to roofie him?”

“Something like that,” he said and then saluted her as he made his way out of the bar to the phone Jensen had mentioned.

Matt was on the bridge, and Jared didn’t wait to meet him, just told him to get himself down to Deck 6 as fast as he could and bring James with him. Then he took off, racing down to Deck 6. He hoped against hope he was wrong and that Alona would be fine but the cold fingers that clutched his heart told him he would be too late.

Matt and James had taken the elevator down and were waiting for him when he dashed into the corridor.

“What is it?” asked James, his face pale.

“Alona... Jensen said...” Jared was puffing from his race down the stairs. “Katie Cassidy’s wearing her clothes.”

“Oh, God.” Matt put his arm around James’s waist and squeezed him once. “Stay back. Let us handle this.”

Jared was surveying the door, wondering if they would have to get the cabin attendant to bring the keys, but when he turned the handle, the door proved to be unlocked. As he cracked the door, the smell of blood confirmed his worst fears. The girl was dead, and they were indeed too late.

Matt had crowded behind him, and Jared heard him gag slightly. “Nothing we can do for her now except put her killer behind bars where she can’t kill anyone else.”

“We should be putting into port by 0900 hours tomorrow,” said James, somewhat hoarsely. “We... we should leave the crime scene as it is? Or should we move her? Oh, God!”

Matt turned to help him, and Jared waited for the poor captain to regain a somewhat more normal color before suggesting that they find the steward and lock the cabin up until the Port Authorities could come and assist. James seemed to be in shock, and at first, he didn’t seem to register what Jared was saying, but after a while, he reached for his phone and called security, who took command of the situation. A few moments later, Alona was taken to join Osric in the sick bay refrigerator.



By this time, it was past midnight, and Matt was beginning to fret with the need to get down to the engine room where Travis was being held. James said he would go back up to the bar and ensure that Katie was still there. He told Matt that he would call back down to let them know when she left and then he intended to get stinking drunk.

They parted company as they reached the elevator, and James ascended to the upper deck once more. Matt and Jared made their way silently down to the area where the crew held sway and back to the engine room. The door to the break room was open, and through it, they could see Travis, who was curled into a ball and appeared to be fast asleep, his mouth open and drooling slightly. He’d been chained to the bulkhead and his ankles were cuffed as well. Neither Jared nor Matt acknowledged him as they tiptoed past him to the hiding place they’d been shown, behind the main engine block. Together they settled down to wait.

Time plodded by on leaden feet. Two or three of the engineers were quietly moving around, checking dials and adding observations to the sheaf of notes on the clipboard that hung from the noticeboard on the opposite side of the room from where Travis was sleeping. Beside the clipboard hung the keys to Travis’s cuffs, tantalizingly visible, but completely unreachable.

Time was marked on the ship with the use of bells, and each half hour, a bell sounded. The first time Jared heard it ring was at 1 a.m., when it rang twice. Matt gave him a whispered explanation that it would ring in increasing numbers with each passing half hour.

Ring it did. The strident sound signifying the half hour erupted at 0130 with three clanging sounds, and once again with four, signifying 0200 and the watch change. As the peal faded away, the sailors who had been diligently maintaining the ship’s engines mustered, then handed over the watch to the three who would be on duty until 0800. As they trooped out, Jared’s phone rang.

It was Sam. “Am I playing cops and robbers with you, my boy?” she asked. “The captain asked me to let you know when that blonde left the bar, and she just took off, so I guess that’s what you needed. I wish I knew what was going on. The captain is just a little under the weather at the moment. He seems to like Jensen’s playing. He had Jensen sing this really old song he said his father wrote back in the day. It was very sweet.”

“That... That’s awesome, Sam. Thanks. Just keep Jensen there with you for as long as you can, please. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.” He elbowed Matt as he put his phone back into his pocket. “She’s on her way. Turn on the recorder, and we’ll get whatever confession we can.”

As it turned out, they had to wait a further hour before Katie finally materialized. Her uneven step sounded loud on the bare floor despite the hum of the engines. Jared was fretting, beside himself with worry, knowing that Jensen got off duty at 3 a.m. and hoping against hope that he’d understood that he needed to stay in the bar with Sam and wait until Jared came back. Around the corner, Travis slept on, snoring softly.

Peering around the engine casing, Jared saw Katie approach Travis and dig her good toe into his side. “Come on, little brother. Up and at ‘em. The wolf is at the door, so to speak.”

Travis came awake noisily. “Fuck! Get me out of these? My arm’s gone to sleep.”

She chuckled. “It was in good company then. You were snoring your fool head off.” She looked around her. “So who’s got the keys?” she asked. “And how come you don’t have armed guards all around you?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” said Travis with a smirk. “They think I’m just the simpleton that you bully into doing your dirty work, and I only did stuff to the ship because you threatened my life, you bad girl.” He winked at her. “I should’ve been an actor, don’t you think?”

“You certainly have enough ego for one,” she said. “Where are the damned keys if you want to get free?”

“The keys are over there, hanging on the pegboard,” he rasped. “Just hurry up. I really wanna get out of here as fast as I can. It won’t take them long to realize that we’ve skipped, and we need to get as much distance between us as we can.”

Katie limped over and collected the keys, then sauntered back to stand just out of his reach. “You didn’t ask me if I got it yet,” she said, twirling one blonde tress between her fingers.

“Of course you got it! You wouldn’t dare to come for me if you hadn’t got it.” Travis held out his hands. “Come on, sis, let me out.”

“Poor Alona won’t ever see those plans put into effect now, will she? She kind of lost her head.” Katie pouted. “She didn’t want me to have it. It would be no use without the plans though, and I already have those. Her daddy is going to be so happy.” She beamed at her brother as she patted the satchel she was carrying. Reaching for the keys, she dropped to her knees beside Travis and bent to unlock his wrists. “There! Don’t say I never do anything for you.”

He snatched the keys out of her hand and bent to release his ankles. “Hmph! You owe me one anyway for that idiot doctor when you broke the ankle. Thought he was a ladies’ man, but he got what was coming to him.”

“Hey! I had him under control. All I had to do was throw him off my balcony. You didn’t need to throttle him too. But it was fun to watch, so I forgive you.” She giggled. “Anyway, we should go. They’re waiting for us.”

“I should go anyway,” said Travis, who had finally staggered to his feet. He crossed to the far wall and grabbed a huge wrench. “I hate loose ends, so you had better stay here.” As Jared and Matt both emerged from their hiding place having recorded enough to put them both away for life, they saw Travis take a mighty swing and hit Katie in the side of the head with such force that the loud crunch was heard plainly.

She looked almost amused as she crumpled to the floor and lay still.

“Don’t move.” Matt was holding a pistol, and at that, Travis turned and laughed at him.

“Oh, look! It’s the strong arm of the law. You’re gonna have to shoot me, you know.” Travis wagged a finger at him. “What is it they say? You’ll never take me alive?”

“That’s what you think,” snarled Matt. He fired his gun, and to Jared’s surprise, a small dart flew from it and embedded itself in The Jackal’s shoulder. “That’s going to put you out long enough to get you to port. You’re going to stand trial for the murders of Osric Chau, Misha Collins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and a whole host of others.”

As Travis followed his sister down to the floor of the engine room, Jared applauded. “Bravo! Just like an episode of Criminal Minds or something.”

“Idiot!” Matt laughed. “Let’s get him back into those cuffs and strap him to the bulkhead again. I think I’ll take the keys with me. Don’t want any other public-spirited accomplice releasing him.”

Jared nodded and bent to help re-confine The Jackal. “Who’d have guessed? There were two of them.”

Matt nodded. “Were is the operative word.” He had dropped to his knees to check Katie for a pulse and now lifted his head to meet Jared’s eyes. “She’s dead. He hit her so hard he broke her neck.”

Meanwhile, Jared had removed Travis’s shoes and socks to reveal six toes on each of the unconscious man’s feet. “Check her feet too. She called him little brother.”



“God, who would do that to their sister?” Matt shook his head as he peeled the sock away from the foot that had the cast on it. “Yep. Six toes.” Rising to his feet, he studied the blood on his hands and then shrugged. “Time for a shower, I guess. He’ll keep ‘til we dock, and I can arrange for him to be taken into custody.” Surveying Katie sprawled dead on the floor, her head oozing sluggishly, he shook his head. “James is going to have a cow when I tell him there’s another body.”

“Yeah.” Jared frowned. “I have to go check on Jensen. I hope to goodness she didn’t get to him.”

Matt nodded. “Go get your boy. I’ll call James. He’s going to have a conniption. I just hope he doesn’t make me walk the plank. I’m sure he thinks that it’s my fault all this mayhem is going on.”

“You like him, don’t you?” Jared gave him a knowing smile. “I can see the charm there. He’s a bit solemn, but with all this stuff going on, I’m not surprised. I’d be chewing glass right now if I were in charge.” He frowned. “Sam said he was up in the bar getting drunk and getting Jensen to play requests for him. Might as well come with me.”

“I had still better get this body dealt with,” Matt replied. “See you in a few.”






Master Post | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |Artwork | PDF | AO3 | Author's Notes and Acknowledgements

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