Sara goes home to the dreaded Archard's place.
It had been a simple gesture to him to offer her somewhere to clean up that would avoid embarrassment to her co-workers or the training nurse she shared a flat with. He offered to let her change at his place. He didn't think it would do any harm and no one was likely to ask him why because he was such a private man anyway.
Sara had got into the car with him feeling very guilty. He had called off the rest of his day to his partner telling him to put him on call. He also stank of sick and looked unimpressed with her but then again she could hardly say that she didn't understand why.
To Archard death and its gruesome companions were just another fact of life. Jaded as it sounded he was just one man doing a job and even if was damned good at it there would still be murderers, natural disasters and accidents. He would never be out of work and the criminalistics department would always visit long after his remaining friends had moved on.
They got out after he parked the car in a spacious car park with two spaces for each apartment. Next door the person that shared his floor had a simple modest compact car, a Fiat she guessed though it was hidden in the dim lights. He opened her door for her. Sara smiled, in this day and age it seemed a little odd but she wasn't likely to complain.
"I will go and put lady love away before you come out. She is a little jealous." He told her as they walked towards the lift. Two floors later they came out to a corridor that housed two doors. His and the neighbours and nothing else.
He put the key in the door and slipped through, she stood outside feeling a little silly. It wasn't often that you were left in someone's corridor, no real knowledge of who they were and waiting for them to put 'lady love' aside. She hoped this woman would forgive her and her stupidity, likely whoever it was did not struggle to put up with the smell when they were lovers to someone that good looking. She locked her jaw, she was doing it again and he hadn't really said two words of encouragement.
He came back to the door and let her in, the apartment was lively and full of light as they walked through. He led her to the very spacious living area in the centre of it. She made a guess that there were three bedrooms, a bathroom, the central living area and his kitchen. It was all very basically set out too.
The living space offered out a leather sofa, computer and desk in the corner, a large perch for a bird and a television and stereo. All the rest was hidden away in large wooden cupboards. Maybe it was a mess in those but she guessed they were most likely neat and possibly even labelled.
He put a kettle on to boil and finished loading the dishwasher, two glasses and a plate. He ate alone but had a guest to drink she mused. She looked at the perch, whatever the bird was it was large... and house-trained. She smiled as she noticed the little rubber matt below it. She was more of a dog person apart from her passion for horses.
"Is lady love your bird?" She asked after a silence realising he wasn't going to start a conversation. "I would like to meet her if I could?"
He looked at her with those cold black eyes and walked towards her, the waft of the dead came with him but she took in a breath through her mouth. He had the faintest hint of green around his eyes and nodded. Then he wandered to what she presumed to be a bedroom and the door closed.
When Archard appeared a minute or so later it was with a large black crow on his shoulder. The bird surprised her, not that she had never seen a crow just never one that was tame. It was amazing to see her as she shuffled along his shoulder and pulled at his hair. He looked instantly relaxed with her and she smiled warmly. He suited the well known antisocial bird and it had not passed her that a group of them were called a murder. Somehow it served to explain him a lot.
"Please meet Cheya." He offered and the bird looked back at her. It cocked its head and then hopped a little closer. Archard put out his hand and he moved to him to see her better. "She's lady love and she's a little antisocial. I don't know where she gets it from." He tried to joke a little and Cheya hopped on to her perch. The humans were talking.
"Oh she's beautiful Agent Vortigern." Sara told him genuinely. She was beautiful after all. "I think she suits you very well. I am sure we could work on your social skills around me if you wished." She giggled, the ice mountain suddenly felt more of a large hill instead.
"It's Archard now we are out of the office." He corrected her. "I will get the shower ready. Help yourself to a drink, I think there's some champagne if you fancy it or white wine. I have no idea, just take what you like." He moved to another room and began to move the towels.
He heard her moving to the kitchen to open the refrigerator door and picked up his clothes from the night before. He noticed that it still had a faint odour of Jessica's perfume on it. When he pulled away he put the towels on the rack and leant over to check the shower was switched on. With this done he turned the lights on and, strangely, checked that the toilet seat was down.
"Ready when you are." He declared as he handed her a Kimono. "I will be able to get those washed if you need. It would be better I think than going home with that smell on you."
Sara nodded and headed to the bathroom, it had a strange smell of incense and she took a deep breath. There was no way he could think of death with that warm smell she mused and took off her clothes before wrapping herself in a large towel. She wanted the Kimono for afterwards. He took her clothes when she came out and put them into the washing machine, she headed back to the shower.
He moved around quietly while she showered, he felt a little strange with her in the house and him sober. It was a strange thought to have her there and not be there for the one purpose women were usually in his home. He watched the answer machine click into life and listened to his very basic statement to say he wasn't in and then his father's voice came on. When was he going to come home and see his mother, they might have their differences but she was still his mother. Archard snorted and deleted the message. Mother in name but not in nature and really did he need to put himself through that torture? He knew it would plague him now but then it did, once every two or three weeks for the last two years.
She came from the shower with loose hair and a nervous look about her. It felt like something akin to trespass to be here in the bachelor's pad. She wandered through clutching the damp towels. He was staring blankly out of the window down to the basketball court across the way. He jumped as she came up behind him and then took the towels. He made his excuses and got a shower himself.
Sara decided to wait on the couch with a glass of wine. The dry crisp wine was quite pleasant and soothing after the stress of the day and Cheya flopped onto the back of the couch. Sara looked at her with a curiosity wondering how he had managed to get her in the first place. The bird looked back, Sara smiled wondering if maybe his Lady-Love felt the same way about her. She held out her hand to the bird who hopped away from her. Well at least they were both as xenophobic as each other, she let out a small giggle.
Archard came through in some loose trousers and a white long sleeved polo neck. He seemed to look a little more relaxed as he padded through and having forgotten the kettle before he boiled it again and made them both fresh coffee. It would be about an hour before the washing machine was done. He slipped onto the floor and put on the television. The cable sprang into life on the discovery channel and she wondered why he hadn't spoken. Sara mused that maybe he was not able to start conversations.
"Thank you for the use of your shower. I guess you don't often get weak people like me coming through your morgue." She offered quietly.
"It's fine." He said to her. "I just don't often deal with the families. That's usually done by the state coroner or ME, I am usually called in after that. I got to take care of it all this time." He flipped through the channels and passed her the remote. "If you fancy anything just change the channel. Are you hungry?"
"I really am fine but if you are hungry go ahead." She told him. He didn't move so she sat there silently watching a program on the French reformation. An hour later he put warm clothes in front of her. She changed and left after they exchanged business cards.