Written for lewis_challenge Fright Fest 2013. And also for the trope bingo card
Title: Body of Evidence
Pairing/characters: Laura Hobson, Robbie Lewis, James Hathaway
Warnings: Violence, blood and gore
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV owns them.
Word count: approx 1927
Summary: Axe versus head was never a good way to go.
AN: Thanks to fififolle for the beta. Written for lewis_challenge Fright Fest 2013. Also fills the Trope Bingo square “AU: Supernatural”
Cross posted to AO3
Laura stripped off her latex gloves and stifled a yawn. She had been up to her elbows in bodies, literally, for most of the day, and the last one had been enough of a mess to turn the stomach of even the most hardened pathologist.
Axe versus head was never a good way to go, although she had to give credit where it was due - it looked liked Kevin Robinson had put up one hell of a fight on his way out. His hands and arms showed all the classic signs of defence wounds, but there was nothing ‘classic’ about the gaping axe-shaped slices and gouges that had been left behind by the as yet unknown assailant. Neither was the fact that one side of his face had been all but sliced off, the flesh hanging by almost literally threads, and the skull and muscle beneath exposed. Laura’s gaze kept being drawn back to the dark, empty eye socket on that side of Robinson’s face. Where there ought to have been a white eyeball, there was only an empty, mangled hollow.
Laura paused, and leaned closer. She still hadn’t determined how the eye had been removed, whether it had been done deliberately, or whether it was simply random collateral damage from the axe blows, and it was nagging at her. Deliberate removal implied there was something premeditated at work, whereas the other option left her coming back to a verdict of mindless, uncontrolled violence.
Laura wasn’t entirely sure which option was worse.
She was still pondering it when the one remaining eye winked at her.
A cry was ripped from her throat and she jumped back. For a second she almost thought the body was going to sit up, but of course it remained still, and as Laura’s racing heartbeat gradually began to slow she shook her head.
“Don’t be bloody ridiculous, woman,” she muttered. It was late at night and she was tired and had been alone in the morgue for too long, that was all.
She heard voices in the corridor getting closer, and then the door swung open and Lewis walked in, followed by Hathaway.
“...and all the original tradition of Halloween has been completely lost amongst all the plastic pumpkins and spiders and Americanised trick or treat stuff.”
Laura took another second to pull herself together while Hathaway came to the end of what had clearly been something of a rant. She turned to face them, and smiled, willing herself to not look back at the body. Because that would be silly, and Doctor Laura Hobson was not silly.
“Evening, boys. Hope I didn’t drag you away from a Halloween fancy dress party or anything.”
It was worth it just for the pained look on Hathaway’s face, and the eye roll from Lewis.
“So, what have you got for us?” Lewis asked, coming over to stand beside her. “And if I were you I’d start quickly, before Hathaway gets going on Americanised traditions again.”
That earned an eye roll from the sergeant this time, and Laura felt her equilibrium returning just for having the two of them here, the familiar banter chasing away whatever imaginary fears had invaded her territory.
“Well, the cause of death is fairly obvious. Axe versus head; the axe wins.”
Laura showed them the axe in question, which was now bagged and tagged and placed on the side after she had finally extracted it from where it had been buried deep within Kevin Robinson’s chest cavity.
“It’s difficult to be sure, simply because of the mess, but I’d say the first blow was to the back of the head. The axe blade went straight in, here.” She made a chopping motion with her hand, coming to rest on the back of Lewis’s head.
“So if that was the first blow, what was all the rest of this about?”
Lewis indicated the body and the myriad wounds to his front.
“Well, that’s the interesting part. Somehow, our Mr Robinson wasn’t killed outright by that first blow. He turned around to face his attacker, or perhaps the attacker moved around to the front. Either way, he then attempted to defend himself, gaining most of the defensive wounds on his arms. There are some obvious axe cuts, but also several marks that indicate he was hit with the flat of the blade or possibly the axe handle. So either the attacker wasn’t very skilled, or Mr Robinson here put up a very good fight.”
Lewis’s expression suggested he was still trying to get his brain to accept any of those as possibilities.
“Anyway, it seems he eventually dropped his defences because in the final stages of the attack several axe blows landed on his face, taking half of it off here.” She indicated the flap of flesh, trying to avoid looking at the empty socket. “If I had to take a guess, I’d say the killing blow was the one to the side of his head. It caved the side of his skull in.”
“I thought the axe was in his chest when the body was found?” Lewis asked.
“It was. But from the angle it was embedded in his chest, I’d say he was already lying on the ground, and probably already dead, by the time that rather gratuitous coup de grace was made.”
“Who the hell would do that?” Lewis mused, disbelief still warring with professionalism.
“Someone with a deep and abiding belief in overkill,” Hathaway suggested, deadpan.
Lewis threw a half glare in his sergeant’s direction, and then turned his attention back to the body.
“More to the point, how did Robinson even keep fighting for so long? Surely the first blow to the head ought to have killed him.”
“Yes, it ought to have,” Laura said. “It didn’t.”
“Could he have been off his head on drugs or something? So far gone it didn’t register what was happening to him at first?”
“Nothing has shown up in the tox reports so far.”
“Adrenaline can get you a long way,” Hathaway commented.
“Aye, but not that far.”
Lewis turned to examine the axe and Laura was about to comment on the blood spatter pattern when Hathaway uttered a strangled, “Sir!”
They both turned to him. He was staring at the body with an expression that seemed to be caught partway between shocked and incredulous.
Laura knew that look. She couldn’t stop herself from looking back at the body, but it was as utterly motionless as a corpse ought to be.
“What?” Lewis sounded impatient.
“Sorry, nothing,” Hathaway muttered. “I just thought for a second... never mind. Trick of the light.”
“What are you talking about?”
Laura thought she knew what he was talking about. She didn’t trust herself to say it out loud, though.
Then Kevin Robinson sat up and reached out and grabbed Lewis by the arm.
For a second everyone seemed to be completely paralysed by the unexpected turn of events. Then the room erupted into motion.
Hathaway darted forward and grabbed Lewis and tried to pull him away from the corpse. For a dead man, Kevin Robinson had a surprisingly strong grip and refused to let go. Lewis, ever the practical man, punched him in what was left of his face.
That apparently did the trick, because he released his grip enough for Lewis to yank his arm away, and he and Hathaway backed off.
“What the bloody hell...?” Lewis didn’t bother finishing that question, because Kevin Robinson chose that moment to swing himself off the autopsy table and stagger towards them with his hands outstretched.
Laura hadn’t realised she was backing away until she suddenly hit the wall. This was not happening. This could not be happening. She had just spent the last several hours performing an autopsy on this man. He was dead. Quite frankly, it would be difficult to be any more dead than a man whose skull had been caved in twice and had an axe buried in amongst his vital organs. And dead men did not get up and make like an extra from Night of the Living Dead.
Lewis punched him again. Robinson swung wildly at him and knocked Lewis flying. Hathaway launched himself at the corpse and the two of them tussled for a moment. Without warning, Hathaway was thrown against the wall, and Robinson reached out and grabbed him, his hand closing around Hathaway’s throat and pinning him against the wall.
Lewis got to his feet and grabbed Robinson, trying to pull him off, but the corpse barely even seemed to notice he was there. Hathaway was trying to pry the hand from around his throat without success.
“Laura! Run! Get help.”
That was Lewis. He threw himself at the corpse again, trying to wrestle it off his sergeant.
Laura glanced at the door. She could make it easily, but where could she go? At this time of night there would be no one around in this part of the building. She looked back at the insane scene in her morgue. Hathaway’s face was already turning red as Robinson choked him. Lewis tried to drag him off one more time and Robinson’s free arm lashed out and caught him across the chest, knocking Lewis back once more. Even if he hadn’t been holding onto Hathaway, Robinson was standing between the two of them and the door. They were trapped.
Laura knew she couldn’t leave them. And in that moment she felt the first stirring of something else. Anger. This thing was defying all known laws of medicine in her lab. And it was attacking her friends. And she was not going to stand by and let it get away with either of those things.
She looked around for a weapon, noted the drawers where she knew the scalpels and medical instruments were kept, considered the autopsy tables on wheels, and dismissed them all. Then her eyes fell on the obvious weapon.
With one last glance at the fight, Laura ran across the room to the axe, pulled it out of the plastic evidence bag, and hefted it. It felt good in her hands.
“Robbie,” she shouted. “Duck!”
Lewis saw her coming and his eyes widened in shock. Then he threw himself back out of the way. Laura swung as hard as she could. She felt the axe impact on flesh and then momentum carried it on and she almost whacked her own foot on the downswing.
Hathaway staggered sideways away from the corpse, taking Robinson’s severed arm with him, the hand still gripped around his throat.
Laura waited until he was clear, but Robinson moved faster than she had expected and turned to face her, his one eye focused on her, his empty eye socket mocking every law of nature.
Laura swung the axe a second time. And a third. And a fourth. And then Kevin Robinson’s head parted company with his body. The head slowly tipped backwards and dropped to the floor where it rolled to end up at Lewis’s feet, the one eye still staring up at them. The body wavered upright for a moment longer, and then collapsed.
The silence that followed was broken by Hathaway finally detaching the hand from his throat and breathing in a harsh, wheezing lungful of air.
“Laura. Are you...? That was...”
She spared a brief glare for the now motionless corpse of Kevin Robinson. Then she glanced up at Lewis and gave him a look of grim determination.
“Like I said. Axe versus head; the axe always wins.”