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The Long Way Down
By Demeter


Case closed. On Monday morning, Celeste walks into his office and tells him she's going to leave. He plays along though he honestly regrets losing her. "I'm sorry to hear that. You're really sure?"

"I am," she confirms, letting her feet dangle. For the small woman she is, she packs quite a punch. He thinks with satisfaction that those misogynistic jerks, formerly employees of this company, got a taste of it out there in the woods where they thought they could get away with assualting another woman. They didn't.

"You're going back to investigative work?"

"Seems like I already have," she smirks, "But this time I'm going to get paid for it."

"Come on. There's more money to make here."

Celeste shrugs with a smile. "It's who I am," she says. "It's what I'm best at."

"I understand. How about we celebrate your success with champagne? I'll also make an exception and let you smoke in here."

"Wow, thanks but no. I stopped. I'll take the champagne though."

As he opens the bottle, he can't help the grudging admiration for Adelle whose instincts have been right on the money once again. He also can't help wonder who this woman is who came with her brain configurated according to Celeste Gautier, computer whiz and now again, P.I.

Celeste stumbles into the van and into his arms, crying. "I'm sorry," she gasps between sobs. "So sorry. I have no idea where this is coming from."

"Everything's gonna be all right," the handler assures her. He runs his hand over her shiny red hair, pulling her close.

Of course, John Ashe knows all about the woman in Cindy Thomas' brain. Celeste Gautier gave up private investigations for a reason after she got too close to a killer. In the aftermath, she became alcoholic, but had been sober for three years. Two glasses of champagne have been enough to break down the protective walls of repression.

Of course, spending a weekend in the wildernis with a rapist in order to try and stop him might have played its part. It doesn't matter. An hour from now, Libra will resurface, happy, without a care in the world and Celeste will be gone.

With a wry grin, Ashe imagines that Lindsay Boxer would not approve of her girlfriend being turned into a badass P.I. Of course, she was to never know about it, any of it.

"He doesn't have any power over me anymore," Celeste says stubbornly, straightening. "I'm going to look at that office this afternoon. And I will be back."

"Sure you will," he says. "Right after your treatment."

The End

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