March 24, 2003
“And despite the recent tragedies that have befallen the production,” Fox Executive Philip Kramer continued, “the studio remains committed to the completion of ‘Abyss’, and still hopes that the series can have a fall premier.
“However, the network understands that this is a traumatic time for all those involved in the filming of the show. So, the network has authorized me give each of you the option to leave production if you so choose. You will receive full compensation for your services, and a recommendation for employment signed by the Fox president and myself. If you choose to accept this offer, please see myself, or Mister Scott Palmer. Thank you.”
The cast and crew began to murmur to themselves as Kramer stepped off the chair he used for a podium and left, trailed by several assistants. It seemed that some stagehands were seriously considering leaving, as were some of the supporting actors.
Cordelia wanted to jump at the offer, but her sense of duty came over her. Not only the duty to finish what she started when she took on the role, but the duty to uncover who killed those three people.
It was discovered that Amanda and Sarah’s deaths weren’t accidents. The police had concluded that the bolts supporting the lighting pole had been tampered with. Whether the two girls were intended targets, the police didn’t know. But they knew, as did the entire production of ‘Abyss’, that it was definitely foul play.
As Cordelia began to snap out of her thoughts, she saw that several people were staring at her and whispering. “What?” she asked. Touching her cheeks she asked, “Is there something on my face?”
Alex Baker came up to her and tugged on her arm, trying to get her to follow him. Cordelia, still confused, relented under his pull.
“Just ignore them,” Baker said. “They’re morons.”
“What?” Cordelia asked again. “I don’t get it. Why was everybody staring at me?”
Alex sighed heavily before speaking. “Most of the people on set know that Fincher and those two girls had been less than kind to you.”
“Oh my God!” Cordelia hissed. “Do they think that I had something to do with them dying?”
“I don’t think so,” Baker said honestly. “And if any of them do, then they’re idiots. Most people here, myself included, have IQ’s above our respective shoe sizes. Which means we’re not as likely to believe stupid shit like that.”
“Small comfort,” Cordy quipped.
“I know, but the point remains, don’t listen to morons. I listened to a moron once in high school. My eyebrows didn’t grow back for two months.” Off Cordelia’s look he added, “Don’t ask.”
Cordelia considered Alex’s words. She knew that she hadn’t done anything wrong, so there was no reason to pay attention to talk or strange looks. “I’ll try not to let it bother me.”
“Good. Because I wouldn’t want you to do something stupid like take Kramer’s offer.” Cordelia eyebrows perked at that. “I noticed the deep concentration during his little speech,” Baker grinned. “You do realize that Shannon Doherty is your de facto understudy right? And if she takes your role, then I’m quitting. I had enough of her while I had that guest stint on 90210.”
“I’ll try to remember that,” Cordelia said, a little good humor creeping into her voice. “Thanks for the pep talk. I appreciated it. I need to go and get ready for a scene. Wouldn’t want someone to start bitching at me.”
“And we all know what happens to people that bitch at you.” Baker raised his hands in surrender at Cordelia’s mock death glare. “Just kidding. Go break a leg.” Baker grinned a goofy grin before turning to head over to hair and makeup to get ready for a scene later on.
It was lunchtime, and once more, Cordelia sat alone. Baker said he would join her, but apparently the second unit hadn’t finished filming their own scene yet. Production on the two-hour series premier seemed to be trudging along slowly for everyone.
“G-good afternoon, M-miss Chase,” Francis greeted. “H-how are you t-today?”
“Hello Francis. I’m okay, all things considered.”
“W-what do you mean, M-miss Chase?”
“Fincher, Carver, Reese. I feel so sorry for their families.”
Francis looked confused as he watched Cordelia pick at her garden salad. He didn’t understand that at all. “W-why? N-none of t-them was g-g-good people.”
Cordelia looked on incredulously at Francis. “That doesn’t matter. Nobody deserves that kind of fate. Hell, if everyone that was ever a bitch to someone was killed, the only people left on Earth would be a few Amish. Maybe Richard Simmons, too. Hell, I was the queen of bitchiness when I was in high school. I specialized in making life hell for the unfortunate.”
“I d-d-don’t believe that,” Francis said. “Y-you’re a nice p-person.”
“Not a few years ago, I wasn’t,” Cordelia informed him. “You’d look bitch up in Webster’s and you’d see my mug.”
Francis shook his head, still having trouble grasping what she was saying. She wasn’t a nice person? That couldn’t be true. She was very nice to him. Not many people at all were nice to him. And those three not deserving what happened to them? He’d thought they did when he killed them.
Cordelia glanced at her watch. “I need to go Francis. The director wants me for a scene here in a few minutes. Have a nice day.”
Francis watched as Cordelia tossed her salad in the trash and jogged back to the soundstage. This was all very strange, he thought.
The man knew had to massage a foot, that was for damn sure. Cordelia was stretched out on one of the couches in the lobby, feet in the lap of her vampire.
“Is that a moan of contentment I detected emanating from my little Seer?” Angel grinned.
“Yup,” Cordelia sighed happily.
“Man, if I get this response from massaging your feet, what would I get if I massaged your, oh what did Groo call it? Schlotti?”
“Don’t press your luck, Buster,” Cordelia warned. “Remember, you taught me all those cool self-defense moves.”
“I didn’t teach you everything,” Angel suggested. “There’s a few more lessons the old schoolmaster has in his repertoire.”
“You offer detention?”
“Only if you’re a good girl.”
Cordelia smiled sexily. “Kick ass.”
Angel shook his head in amusement at his little vision girl. But as jovial as the conversation started, there was the ever-present thought of business. Particularly, the business of who killed the three crewmembers of the show.
“Have you found anything new?” Cordelia asked softly.
Angel continued to massage Cordelia’s feet, the hope that they could have a few more minutes of happiness before addressing business faded to nothing.
“Fred did some hacking and found a list containing all the names of carpenters and electricians working on the show. She spent most of the afternoon cross referencing names with police departments to find if any had criminal records.”
“She find anything?”
“Not yet,” Angel said. “She took a break long enough to get some dinner with Gunn, but she said she’d be back to do some more searching.”
“Good.” Cordelia considered something for a moment. “Angel? What could make someone kill? How can someone do that?”
“I can’t speak for other people, Cor. I’m not a psychologist. I couldn’t tell you what makes a human like Berkowitz or Bundy do what they did. I can tell you what I felt. Desire, longing, hunger, pleasure. Maybe those are some of the same things they felt. Maybe they’re not. I don’t know if it can even be defined what makes people do the things they do.”
Cordelia sat up slowly, her brow wrinkled in thought. “Maybe,” she said, “he kills because of desire. A desire to kill people he sees as rude or bad.”
“Cor?” Angel asked. “What do you mean?”
“There’s a handyman on set, his name is Francis something. He’s an older guy, I talk to him at lunch sometimes. Today, when I mentioned how I felt about their deaths, he couldn’t understand why I felt sorry for them.”
“You think he…”
“Might be the killer?” she finished. “I think we should check it out.”
“What do you have, Fred?” Cordelia asked.
Fred fingers flew over the keyboard on the laptop as she pulled up information. “I think we have a hit. Francis McCormack hasvspent over ten years in various mental hospitals in his lifetime. When he was in his late twenties, he spent an eighteen-month stretch in an institution for assaulting a man. At trail, he claimed the reason he did so was because the man insulted a woman in a supermarket.”
“Then this Francis is a bad man?” Connor asked.
“I don’t think so sweetie,” Cordelia said, brushing back a few strands of Connor’s hair. “He’s just a guy that takes chivalry a step too far.”
“That still doesn’t excuse what he’s done,” Gunn reminded her.
“No, it doesn’t,” Cordelia agreed.
“Should we go to the police?” Fred asked. “If he’s a murderer, shouldn’t we give them the heads up?”
“No,” Cordelia said. “I’ll go into work tomorrow and talk to him. If he is the person that’s doing this, I want to give him the chance to turn himself in. Maybe he can get the help he needs.”
“Are you sure?” Angel asked.
“I’m sure. He won’t hurt me. Just trust me.”
Angel smiled. “I always do.”