Mortality
by Soulstarsinger

Tom Quinn is dead.

Danny repeats those four words to himself, over and over. His new mantra. Tom Quinn. Is. Dead. Never mind that they haven't found a body (yet); never mind that they don't have any real proof that Tom (Quinn: is dead) went into the sea (where else was there to go - they'd had the whole area covered); never mind that he couldn't really wrap his thoughts around the concept of Tom, his boss, practically his bloody mentor, damnit, being gone, truly gone. Tom Quinn is dead.

He doesn't think Zoë has really got it, yet. That Tom Quinn is dead. They hadn't spoken on the beach, or in the car, or back in the office, or even in the taxi on the way back to the flat, except to communicate the bare essentials. "I'll call in. Thanks. After you. No, it's fine, I've got it - 8.60, you say, mate?" But he'd heard her talking to Ruth, receiving reassurance that Harry's condition was stable; telling the other woman that, no, there was no sign of Tom. Not yet.

So Danny can only guess that Zoë hasn't thought about it, isn't letting herself, perhaps. Because she isn't stupid, oh no - she's the department's brilliant, shining star, and for all Danny knows, he'll be calling her 'boss' this time next week. Once she applied that brain of hers to the subject, she would have to see: Tom Quinn is dead. Even if, by some miracle, the crazy, tangled mess Tom had fed them turns out to be true (American army officers back from the grave just to haunt and hunt down Tom Quinn; conspiracy theories galore), it made no odds. Tom had already been a dead man when he called them to the cottage: he must have known that, he was just too stubborn to admit it. He'd only further sealed his fate by shooting Harry. Body or no body, Tom Quinn is dead. Danny just wishes he knew what he's supposed to do about it, now.

 

Zoë is in their living room, and part of her isn't quite sure how she got there. Well, yes, she knows how, really she does. Sent home in a taxi by... okay, she's not 100% on exactly whom is in charge today in the absence of both Harry and ... and Tom. Which, of course, also covers the why. So here she is, home early on a day that's turned out still more bright and brittle and unreal than she can ever recall.

Harry is in hospital, wounded but recovering; Danny has retreated to his bedroom to brood in his own way; Tom Quinn is dead. Zoë suddenly, desperately, needs a drink.

Only, all she has is wine, and, God, it was such a short time ago that she and Tom were right here, drinking wine with Mariella - another terrible failure of theirs. And before that, going over their cover as brother and sister, recounting their fond, false, childhood anecdotes, trying their roles for size. She closes her eyes against the memory, but it seems the image of Tom's intense gaze is burned on her retinas, and she can hear his voice, warm and sure.

"We look out for each other, we take care of each other. We're a family."

Oh, and he'd had such conviction in his voice, that she'd believed it; believed it on a deeper level than just the surface of the legend, their cover. She'd known it for truth, bone deep, and she was sure that Tom had, too. She still believes that. But what she remembers now is that, in their world, last week's truth - no matter how solid and certain - is not necessarily so today. She vows to herself that this is something she won't forget again.

As she collects the wine bottle from the fridge and turns to hunt for a glass, she wonders if she should knock on Danny's door, see if he wants to talk. Thanks to the paper-thin walls in the flat, she's fairly sure he hasn't even moved since she heard him thump onto his bed, perhaps an hour ago. All the books she's read on grief and bereavement seem to think that talking it out is good. But. Tom Quinn is dead, gone. What else is there to say?

 

Rob Evans strolls through the departure lounge. On the way to board his flight, he doesn't glance around himself. And he certainly doesn't look back. He's in no hurry, he's not a wanted man, he's not running from a thing.

Unlike Tom Quinn. But then, Tom Quinn is dead.

If Rob's hair is two, perhaps three, shades darker than it had been a few hours ago; if the brown of his eyes behind the black-rimmed specs owe more to the contact lenses he wears than to nature; if the breadth of his shoulders and girth of his stomach have more to do with subtle padding in his clothing than with his actual physique... well, there's no-one here who knows any better.

When Rob takes his seat on the plane, he finds that his neighbour is a garrulous OAP called Joan. He smiles a greeting, and they easily exchange potted life histories as they wait for takeoff. The lies come as naturally as they ever did, and he supposes that's something. By the time the flight attendants perform the safety demonstration, he knows that she is on her way to her usual two week holiday at her usual resort. She has discovered that he's going to visit his sister (Brenda) and brother-in-law, who opened a bar in Alicante six months ago.

Yes, Tom Quinn is dead.

But what the man using the legend of Rob Evans wonders, as he smoothly chats with Joan, is, was Tom Quinn ever really alive?

 

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