Even in here I could still hear Alisha crying as I filled the kettle and plugged it in; and reluctant to return I stared out into the small garden.
A few minutes later Becky followed me into the kitchen. "Did you make some tea?"
She slid her arms around my waist. "Are you all right?"
Not returning her embrace I remained stiff. "S'pose so."
She'd got to know my moods pretty well over the last few months and understood that later I might need her but right now I was dealing with it, and moving away she made a pot of tea, poking around in the cupboards to collect sugar and biscuits.
"Alisha's a bit calmer now. Poor girl."
"Yeah. Can you cope with her?" Cowardly, perhaps, but Becky had understood immediately why I'd asked her to go along with me. When Alisha had opened the door, her comprehension of why Becky and I were there and Jake wasn't had been almost instantaneous and the overwhelming wave of grief I'd been faced with had nearly been more than I could take. Even slightly calmer, I didn't want to face her and have to explain what had happened to Jake. Not yet.
"Owen, she'll have to know."
"Later." I was firm, and Becky nodded. I hadn't even told her the full story, but she knew enough to realise that Alisha couldn't deal with the manner of Jake's death just yet.
Collecting cups onto a tray, she took the national comforter and disappeared back into the lounge.
I resumed my surveillance of the garden, not seeing the neatly mown grass or tidy flowerbeds but a host of images I'd rather forget.
Chris was Jake's snout, a hang-over from his police days. Although he'd come up with some useful bits of information on occasion, I never trusted the toe-rag. He was the sort who'd sell his own grandmother providing there was a profit to be made - in fact, he wouldn't even need to make a profit as long as he broke-even.
His call this morning... as Jake had said, Chris made it sound important. Important to Chris, as long as he got paid.
For one big, important bang. I clenched my fists against the memory. We should have known something was wrong when Chris asked us to come to his flat rather than make the usual meet. But we had no reason to be wary.
Brains' preliminary examination of the scene had suggested the bomb was in a briefcase which Jake had opened; he'd been killed outright anyway. Small mercies.
The initial shock of the explosion had been bad enough; imagining that I could have been alongside Jake when it happened...
I shook the cold shiver away. My number obviously wasn't up yet.
Cowley had been almost first on the scene; disregarding advice not to go inside in case of further bombs. He'd been very visibly shocked; the more so, I gathered from Susan, because of his own narrow escape this morning. Shame he hadn't thought to issue a warning out to all of us just a bit earlier.
When Bodie and Doyle had caught up with me at the train sidings they hadn't needed to tell me the latest because I'd already heard it on the radio. If Cowley had acted just a bit sooner, then not only Jake would still be alive, but so would Matheson and King.
Three colleagues, that came through training with me, who I'd only known for a couple of years but who'd been as close as family.
Three of them, dead.
We searched the sidings together, methodically checking each carriage. It was a long-winded task but productive; Doyle found Chris's body, bullet through the brain, surrounded by fivers. A thousand, Doyle reckoned. A measly thousand to betray someone and get them killed.
The dynamic duo had left me to call it in; to organise the ambulance and so on while they rushed off to find the snout who'd stitched up Matheson and King.
I took my time. Chris wasn't going anywhere, and I had been keen to delay for as long as possible what I had to do next: break the news to Alisha. But I couldn't put it off indefinitely and after collecting Becky I had driven us both to Jake's flat.
I jumped as Becky came back to put the kettle on again. "Are you OK?"
"It's just sinking in. Could've been me..."
She paled. "Don't say that..."
"It's true." This time, I folded my arms around her and held her tightly. "How's Alisha?"
"She's cried herself to sleep. I phoned her sister; she'll be here soon." Becky tilted her face up to me. "Can we go back to your flat when she gets here?"
"For a while, maybe." I needed to call in; find out if anyone had identified our bomber. I'd like to rejoin the investigation but I knew Cowley wouldn't let me; I was personally involved. Damn right I was. If I found out who'd set the bomb that killed my partner, there wouldn't be much left to jail.
There was the sound of a key in the door and Becky went to meet Alisha's sister, leaving me alone with my thoughts again.
I needed something more than tea, and reaching automatically into the cupboard where Jake kept a bottle of scotch I retrieved it and poured a slug into the closest mug. Maybe I should leave the rest of the lads to it and stay away; maybe what I really needed was to get blind drunk.
After all, I couldn't do much to help. The only lead I'd had was Chris, and he was dead. I didn't even get a good look at the car that was leaving the sidings when I arrived, much less the driver.
I hadn't really expected to find Chris' car there. But where Chris' Mercedes was, Chris was - he was fanatical about that car. I'd made my way straight to the carriage he always used for his meets - but stopped before I boarded it.
Jake had been set up and was now dead. Was the carriage wired? Exercising all the caution which might have saved Jake, I boarded the next carriage along, and made my way stealthily to the compartment which would overlook Chris' private office.
He was sitting in the window seat mauling through the proceeds of his filthy crime. As I levelled my gun he saw me out of the corner of his eye and started to turn, but never completed the movement - at least, not alive.
I holstered the automatic and left the carriage without a backward glance. They say revenge is sweet, but the taste in my mouth was sour.
I'd not long left when I picked up the message about Chris' car being found by the cops, and I went back so that I could be the one to call it in and search the sidings. I deliberately waited for Bodie and Doyle to arrive though, and let them be the ones to discover the body.
I felt no remorse; Chris was scum. When I saw just how little he'd been paid for helping to take Jake Williams' life, I was glad I'd repaid him.
Lex talionis. An eye for an eye. That's what the Bible tells us, after all...