The rain was heavy, persistent, noisy. Simon didn't care that he was getting wet, or that his bare hands were numb, but he hated the drum of raindrops on the coffin as it was lowered into the grave. Let Anders rest in peace now.
A heart attack. The man was only five years older than Simon, close to getting in his twenty and retiring. Anders' desk had been littered with gaudy brochures for weeks, all blue skies and sand, like summer poured out in a hot spill of color over the files and folders.
It was better than a bullet maybe; his friends could grieve without needing to be angry too, or searching for a killer with fear and hate heating their blood. A quiet, sympathetic sorrow, made uncomfortable by the thought that it could have been them… In the days since Anders' death, Simon had watched donuts get pushed aside by men who lived on jelly and grease, and the police gym get crowded, knowing that the new leaf wouldn't stay turned for most of them.
Across from him, Ellison was standing, bareheaded and, like Simon, refusing to shelter under one of the umbrellas the funeral home had handed out solemnly, all somber black, with heavy, smooth handles. As he watched, Ellison tilted his head back and let the rain patter down, more gently now, onto his face, soaking his blue eyes a shade darker. Without Sandburg by his side, Ellison looked oddly incomplete, unbalanced. And he was standing so still, frozen, isolated. God, not here, Simon found himself thinking, with the shamed anxiety of a man whose friend is about to embarrass himself in public, don't fall into one of your goddamned Sentinel trances…
As if Simon's worry was tangible, a warning nudge, Ellison blinked and lowered his head, his shoulders hunched against a wet gust of wind that swept across the graveyard.
Relieved of one concern, at least, Simon clenched his frozen hands, flexed them, working warmth back into them for the moment when he would shake Carin Anders' hand and tell her how sorry he was.
After that, he thought he'd walk a while and let the clean rain chill him some more, until he couldn't feel his hands again.
He'd caught Anders as the man slumped across his desk, eased him to the floor, and started to resuscitate him, yelling frantically for someone to call 911.
And he'd felt Anders' last heartbeat push weakly against his palm and then -- nothing, but that final beat had been trapped in his palm, stuck there like a thorn, throbbing, ever since.
He rubbed his hand against the sodden cloth of his coat as the earth rained down on the coffin and closed his eyes against the warm sting of glad tears as that insistent, reproachful beat died away.
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