Absence of malice
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Disclaimer: Characters and concept belong to Kevin Williamson and WB.

Note: I have three very important people to thank. Without them I would not have been able to write this story. First and formost to Beth, Queen Beta-Reader and my resident expert in all things related to plot and the law. You have saved me from countless faux pas so far. Thank you, Beth! To Kilby - I think I should have a permanent spot for you above everything I have written on this site. Your encouragement is the main reason I kept at this fan fiction thing, without it I would have given up long ago. Your work is an absolute inspiration and the very best there is as far as I'm concerned. To Maddie - where would I be without your insightful suggestions and enthusiatic support? You have made me realize things about my writing and myself, and made me face memories long passed. What else can I say but 'Cheers!' (Oh, and to Ariel - thanks for the laugh!)

Finally, thank you to everyone who volunteered to beta-read this story for me, especially those who sent feedback. Every little bit helps.

Prologue: A time to kill 

The streets were characteristically deserted as she drove to the drugstore. It was the witching hour, cold and dark, and a gray mist had descended upon the sleeping Cape Cod town. The carís headlights were inordinately bright as she neared the store, her gaze transfixed by the luminous beams. The wind picked up when she finally came to a stop and got out of the station wagon, but she did not pause to put on a coat. She rounded the side of the drugstore with her keys at the ready, stopping only to enter the security code for the rear door so the alarm would not sound.

She did not switch any lights on. With a small flashlight in hand, she went straight to the back office where the drugs lock-up was stored. A different key was used to open the special safe and she selected half a dozen ampoules of a colorless liquid before locking the cabinet again. Once outside, she reset the alarm and climbed back into the car. The whole task took less than five minutes and she was on her way home.

He was lying on the couch as usual, fast asleep. The muted television screen flashed eerie colors over his sleeping form, the light reflecting artistically off the half empty bottle of Johnny Walker and the single glass that adorned the coffee table. Soft snores were the only sound in the large living room. She paused behind the sofa and waited several moments before pulling the ampoules from her pocket. Slowly and methodically, she began drawing the liquid contents into a large syringe.

When it was full and the voided ampoules were returned to her pocket, she stepped around to the side of the couch, closest to his head. From this position she had a clear view of the back of his wrinkled neck. Without further delay, she brought the needle point of the syringe in contact with his skin. He shifted slightly and grunted as she drove the needle in, but he did not waken. Sufficiently anesthetized by the alcohol, he did not stir when she depressed the syringe plunger slowly until all of the clear liquid had disappeared into his neck.

Once empty, she withdrew the needle and stepped back, biding her time. She waited as his breathing quieted and became shallow, then erratic, until it finally stopped all together. He did not wake up during the entire process, and now he never would again.

She detached the needle from the syringe and bundled them into an old shopping bag along with the empty ampoules. She left him lying there and went upstairs to the bedroom. After tucking the shopping bag under the mattress, she climbed into bed and pulled the blankets up to her chin. She closed her eyes then and before long her breathing became deep and even, a faint smile still on her lips.


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