#twenty-fourth: script*

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I sat nervously on the floor, my mind wandering.

I stared at the laptop screen in front of me. I was watching Madagascar for the hundredth time. Unseeing. If my suspicions were right, then this case was over. If not, then I was back to square one.

I fished out my phone and started searching for the numerology application on the app store. I installed a few, none of them seemed to have a layout similar to the ones the Atkinsons had. After digging deeper, I finally found a similar one and installed it. Some obscure company with a name in some foreign language was the developer. I input her date of birth and saw that on my phone as well, the number for today showed eight. Why had it been six for Rosalie?

I gazed at the time, it was eleven-thirty. I wondered if I should call Black again but decided against it. I took a sip of the tea, now cold from hours of negligence. I lay my head on the desk, drumming my fingers impatiently on it.

At once, images of Grayson with the faceless woman burned into my brain. I sighed. I couldn't ever see myself getting over it.

The doorbell rang after a quarter of an hour. I rose to my feet and walked over to the door, my heart thundering. I opened the door.

Vertigo.

I gripped the wall, placing my palm on it to keep myself upright.

His familiar green eyes. His dark hair. His lips.

Fuck.

Grayson Shelby stood in front of me, looking every bit as stunning as I remembered him. His eyes seemed weary, tired but still inhumanly beautiful as ever. Standing as far away from me as he had always been. I almost bent over and clutched my chest in agony. I took a ragged breath, holding my hand out wordlessly. He gazed at me, his eyes swimming with some unsaid pain.

"Can I come inside?" he asked softly, the tremours from his voice alone still enough to set my core on fire.

Yes. I love you.

"No," I said firmly. Thrusting my hand insistently in front of his face. "Just give me the transcripts."

"The first one is Rosalie's room, the second is her daughter's." He sighed softly, placing them in my open palm as he spoke, "You can't go through all of them alone. There is a lot."

"Don't tell me what to do," I snapped at him and tucked the thick envelope under my arm. I started to shut the door.

"I love you too, Xavier."

I stopped dead in my tracks, every nerve sizing up at his empty words. The words had rushed out of his mouth. Like they had always been at the tip of his tongue. Like he was afraid of my reaction. I felt a turmoil of emotions ravaging my chest. A sucker punch to my gut, the air rushing out. The words that I had dreamt about hearing. But I felt anger that his lies were blotching the words I held so pure. Hatred at myself that even though I knew they were empty, my heart still lurched happily. Hopefully. Painfully.

"Gray," I spoke, my voice trembling with suppressed emotions, "I...have nothing. Please...just leave."

My voice broke and I struggled to look into his eyes. The earth dissolving into the twinkling pinpricks in the enigmatic emerald irises.

"I don't know if you'll forgive me but you deserve an explanation. Please... let me."

His words ended in a pleading whisper.

There wasn't a single thing that he would ask me to do and I wouldn't. I sighed and took a step back as he entered, shutting the door behind him.

"Let's just get this over with."

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