Rating: K, for now. In later chapters, a very high PG13 for implied child abuse (both physical and sexual).
Summary: Everyone starts acting weirder and weirder as a series of murders occurs near Destiny High School. Policeman on the case: Leon Loire.
Circles in the Dirt
"I bet," someone challenged grandly. "It will take them one hour and forty-five minutes!"
Donald smacked his friend on the back of the head. "Damn it, Goofy!"
"Ow!" The lanky man rubbed the sore spot fearfully, then offered, "Well, that's how long it takes in a movie by today's standards."
"Donald, did you just curse in front of the triplets?" Daisy had her hands on her hips and did not look amused.
"Oh, no, sweetheart, you must have... heard me wrong somehow." Donald thought. "I said 'darn it.'"
She gave him a piercing look and turned away. "Just be thankful they're making such a ruckus, or else they would have heard you."
"Whew!" Donald rubbed his temple, relieved. Laguna smirked and elbowed him playfully.
"So, Donald, can I guess at who's wearing the pants in this relationship?"
Laguna and Goofy laughed as their friend looked outraged. They were distracted by Leon returning from the bridge at the duckpond, with sandwich in hand.
"Oh, Leon--hey, Leon!" Goofy waved cheerfully and was met with indifference.
"So, where'd you get that sandwich?" Laguna asked slyly.
His son looked surprised at the tone. Then a black-clad hand waved vaguely in the direction of Cid's picnic, where there appeared to be a stern lecture spouting from the patriarch about how stabbing one's sister with a spork was not excusable, ever.
"Yuna. The brownhaired girl. I kind of see why she gave it to me, now..." Leon munched on it and looked like he was having a hard time chewing.
"So why are you still eating it?" Donald asked pointedly.
"Because it's kind of good." Leon swallowed it, hard. "Regardless."
Laguna, Donald, and Goofy gave each other covert glances as Leon wandered off on his lonesome. Then Laguna grinned. "Say, Goofy," he began innocently. "Are you willing to put money on that bet you made?"
"This is ridiculous!" Donald snapped. "Not only is he your son, but all he said was that the sandwich she foisted off on him was, 'kind of good, regardless.' There's no reason for us to be putting money on anything!"
"Aw, shucks." Laguna thought Goofy was talking to them, but the man pointed in the direction of the duckpond concernedly. "She looks kind of sad, doesn't she?"
Amazed, the other two followed his gaze to the duckpond to see Yuna, looking somewhat mournful as she stood all alone on the bridge. Then they looked back at each other with renewed vigor.
"Psh." Donald turned his nose up, still thinking it was silly of them.
"C'mon, Donald," Laguna cajoled in a sing-song voice. "You know you want to. You live with him! You can monitor his every move."
"Done!" Laguna was glad he hadn't gone last. Otherwise he would have been forced to top the other sums. "None of us tells anyone about this. Especially not Squall."
"Um." Laguna thought for a second. He knew Leon hated his birth name. However, he was rescued when his radio buzzed harshly and Luxord's voice came on. Laguna picked it up as Leon looked in their direction. "Could you repeat that, Luxord?"
"Kssht!" There was a moment of staticy silence. "Another victim... heart's been cut out!"
Laguna looked at his son.
"Should I go with you?" the younger officer asked intently.
"No." Laguna started walking. "You're not on duty--stay here and have fun."
Donald snorted. Laguna admitted privately that the last part had not been the right thing to say. Leon would definitely not have fun in a moment like this--he would stay silent for the rest of the day, perhaps getting irritated more easily than usual. He would worry and fester as his anxiety grew until he got back in uniform and could see things for himself. And he would feel useless most of all.
It was the sort of thing Laguna would be doing himself.
Laguna stood edgily at the scene of the crime, in a back alley only ten or fifteen blocks away from the park. The smell of blood was heavy and it mostly came from the mutilated corpse, innards spewing out messily and giving a further stink to the air.
Zexion, the youngest one there, did not seem edgy or squeamish as he knelt by the body. He stood up and said coolly, "It's consistent with the first one. By the state of the internal organs, the heart appears to have been pulled out through a long cut in the abdominal cavity. Signs of a struggle, but no evidence towards the identity of the killer just yet."
I am so glad I'm not Zexion, Laguna thought. Touching or even getting close to something like this would give him the creeps. It was different with automobile accidents in which someone had died--they were usually not disembowelled.
"Hff." Luxord looked jittery, even though his English accented voice betrayed very little. He tossed Laguna a roll of caution tape and said, "Why don't you rope it off, Laguna?"
"All right." Laguna started junctioning it off and, as he passed close to the body and Zexion's quiet, kneeling form, felt something that could not exactly be called squeamish. He felt guilty that this had happened in the first place, so close to the park, and on such a nice day. He observed the victims features: a young woman in her late teens or early twenties, with streaming brown hair. He didn't recognize her, but he felt it could have been anyone.
This could have been Raine, Laguna thought, trying not to focus on the long cut in her abdomen. Or Ellone, or even Squall.
The thing about Laguna was that he always thought about his family, no matter how self-sufficient they were or how strong they had gotten to be. And whenever he thought about people who were not so strong, he felt even worse. Laguna thought of Yuna, standing alone on the bridge in the park, and his worry extended to her automatically.
She was an orphan. She would need all the help she could get.
Rikku shivered and clutched at Yuna's shoulders as they watched the news in the living room. "Yuna?" she asked, sounding chilled to the bone.
"Yes, Rikku?" Yuna whispered.
"I'm scared that a maniac will come into the living room and cut out our hearts."
"Me, too!" Yuna clutched back and wondered how many people were doing this.
Then they both screamed as Cid and Isaac came into the living room noisily.
"Sora, Riku, I'm scared."
Riku stared blankly into the television as various gory images flickered across the screen. He looked faint, and Sora looked rather scared as well.
"Hold me!" Kairi whimpered.
Riku's arm automatically went around her shoulders and Sora clutched her hands.
"Rinny, I love you!" Seifer and Rinoa clutched, looking rather mismatched with each other. Quistis looked bored and condescending.
"There is no axe murderer coming to rip out our hearts!" she informed them logically, standing in the doorway. "You two are being immature."
Rinoa thought for a moment, then held out one arm and offered innocently, "You can come on the couch with us, Quistis."
Quistis rolled her eyes, sat down on the couch, and put an arm around Rinoa. "I refuse to clutch or be clutched, though. By either of you!"
Shuyin was clutching his phone so hard that he was losing circulation in his fingers. "Lenne, answer your phone!"
The answering machine came on. The blitzer threw the phone back down and picked it up again, dialing fast.
It rang three times. She did not answer the phone.
"Lenne. Pick up your phone! Lenne!"
The television was still on, showing pictures that were did not have not of the victim's face. But he could see long brown hair, hair that went past the shoulders at the very least. He could not take chances, but...
Shuyin's voice was getting shrill with desperation.