If there is one thing that keeps Senior Inspector Aadish Shahane sane between solving gruelling cases, witnessing gothic crime scenes and danger chasing him at every turn of his life, it’s getting to see his sweetheart, Dr Teejay (Tisya Jain)’s smile.
He does it once a week if their schedules permit. Sometimes even imagining it during his breaks does the job. He doesn’t know how he dealt with stress before. Things changed after she joined the Mumbai CID force.
Things fell into place like the planets aligning. Their rapport from day one surprised him; their passion for work, extreme love for black coffee — they had too many things in common. Slowly but surely, he was falling in love.
He didn’t explicitly express these feelings in the three years of their companionship. He felt words weren’t needed. She knew she was special. Most of his colleagues thought it was a shame.
Maybe words are needed? He should come clean about his emotions during their next private rendezvous. As he aimlessly makes way to the forensic lab early in the morning, he imagines the same serene smile on Teejay’s face.
When did he last see her? Last month, he was on a long mission. On their consecutive day offs following his return, he’d been asking her out in vain.
His somber features twist into a frown. He brushes a hand through his dark chestnut bangs and exhales. Is she avoiding him on purpose? His hand clings to the heavy metallic handle, even as he’s filled with dread.
Locked from the inside? Right, recent security measures. The forensic lab was relocated underground, at the end of a winding corridor with the archives, and its automatic sliding doors grant entry only to the CID officers and forensics with authorised palm prints.
The air is dank and smells a mix of chemicals as Aadish takes a step inside, past the security check. “Tisya!”
She is alone at her desk, reading a chunky medical tome. Her pale cheeks and temples tinged red in the wake of her concentration, she is a picture of grace in her work suit. And her flowy chocolate curls held in a tight bun… Such unparalleled beauty.
“Tisya! How are you? Long time no see. My messages deserved a response despite our busy schedules. And you declined my invitation for coffee this morning, a month after we last spoke?”
Tisya refrains from looking at him. “Aadish, I’m studying. Could you leave?”
Is she mad?
“Are you a student? Answer me, Teejay!”
She stands abruptly from her chair and they enter a standoff, her golden brown eyes meeting his auburn ones. It’s easy to look her in the eye. At 5’8’’, she’s a tall, slim woman. His height of 6’0’’ demands he look downward, otherwise.
Another thing he loves about her is… her height? Bizarre but cute.
“I’m a forensic doctor, Aadish.”
Tisya masks her bitter expression behind a business smile. She never smiled at him this way; a smile devoid of warmth. Something inside Aadish trembles. This conversation doesn’t belong in the forensic lab but—
“If there’s something wrong, we can talk.”
“Aadish, please. You know what’s wrong. This can’t go on forever. Aren’t you tired of making it up to me?”
Tisya brushes off the sadness creeping into her eyes. “We’re always busy to keep this going. Let’s keep working. I mean, let’s be colleagues because work is all we love.”
“What the heck, Tisya! You know I love you! I love you more than my life!”
A confession. That’s what it took him to confess? Talk about bad timing. Tisya’s expression clouds over. Soon it’s replaced by an exasperated smile.
“Really? You’ve never said that before.”
Aadish heaves a sigh. “I told you in other ways. You know I put my work first, then comes my life. But everything changed since you came. I could die for my duty, but now I could die protecting you.”
Tisya chuckles, her eyes vacant as she surveys the lab. “My superior will be here soon. This place isn’t for private talks. Please leave, Mr Shahane. And don’t approach me outside of work.”
Twin murders in Colaba. Aadish joins his comrades as they set out to investigate. Another mishap in the city of dreams. At thirty-two, and four years as a senior cop, he can’t help but feel strongly when there is a crime.
Two children, barely twelve, were brutally murdered in their bedroom in an apartment. He felt like punching holes into the wall while at the crime scene. They died, left in their Nanny’s care, as their parents were away on a brief trip.
The nanny fled. An easy mark as a first suspect. But there can be a nefarious plot.
How does he stop crimes? He can’t. As his mentor said, he can only strive to bring justice. Aadish’s emotions are turbulent as he returns to the CID building. He is a bit more emotional than usual; is it his spat with Tisya?
Lunch time. Senior Inspector Darshan Kamble pokes Aadish in his shoulder as they sit, relishing Paratha and Kaddu ki Sabzi at one of the cafeteria’s many tables. Aadish has been his friend from their academy days. They’re of the same age and carry the same ideals. Which made them instant friends. Thus, this candidness.
“You look upset from the morning, Aadish. Is it Teejay? What did you mess up this time?”
Aadish laughs despite himself. “Why would you think it was me? Not like I keep messing up and she’s fed up with me.”
She’s not fed up, is she? Even as his talk with Darshan switches to lighter topics, Aadish can’t keep a straight mind. Is it really over for us?
To a cop, duty comes first. A couple of days pass with Aadish focusing on the case. He can’t always visit Tisya in the lab without reason. Possibly why their relationship never progressed. She should know they can’t be an ordinary couple. On a break that Saturday afternoon, he chides himself for letting his thoughts drift.
A moderately built young man in his early 30s arrives in the office just then, announcing himself as Dr Anurag from CID Bangalore. “I’m here for Dr Teejay.”
Tisya arrives just as the words leave his mouth.
A pang of jealousy hits Aadish as he watches them chat and step out. Just when he thinks he’s in control, his endurance maxes out?
Tisya didn’t even look my way. What brought on this sudden coldness? I have to find out what’s wrong.
I’ve only confessed once, but I could tell her a thousand times to save our relationship. I love her. For the first time in his life, Aadish wants to be a man who gets what he wants, not just a cop who does his job.
When you are lost, seek help. He puts in an urgent personal request with the senior forensic expert, Dr Pratipad Sawant, visiting the lab. Please inform me if you notice anything strange with Dr Tisya!
Then he shifts his focus to the twin murder case.
Dr Sawant’s lips curl in disgust after Aadish leaves. A forensic doctor can’t eat in peace because of a petty emotion called love? He wasn’t blind to notice what was cooking between the senior cop and the forensic lab assistant. Yes, he treats Teejay as his daughter. That explains this constant repulsion.
He tried warning the two. Theirs would be a star-crossed love, and with what Aadish said, are they falling apart?
The fax machine beeps after he has lunch. Sawant‘s eyes widen as he clutches the document that’s arrived. Dr Teejay just sent her resignation letter. This is more than falling apart!
Teejay’s residence in street number 12, Jamnagar, is a single storied apartment she rented not long ago. Spacious, with a little front yard and a tenacious fencing wall.
Aadish finds the large iron gates unlocked. That busy Saturday morning, he has to hire a locksmith to break into her house. He’s here as per the ACP and Sr Forensic expert’s orders. It’s also his personal quest to find Dr Teejay.
“Break into the good doctor’s house, Saab?”
The locksmith is the generous sort with his sense of justice too high. Aadish would’ve appreciated it in a different scenario. Convincing the man takes a while. His ID on hand and Darshan’s timely arrival helps.
“India’s crime rate would decrease by half if our citizens were this vigilant, don’t you think?”
Darshan agrees with Aadish. They got to venture past the living room after an hour.
“I don’t think anyone’s here. It’s been two days.”
Darshan switches on the lights and watches Aadish move about, also observing his surroundings.
“Her books lining the breakfast nook are intact.” Aadish breezes past the open kitchen into the bedroom. “Oh, the CD player I gave her!” He picks up a portable music device from the mattress.
Darshan raises a brow. “She listens to CDs? What about online music?”
“She prefers offline and is into heavy rock metal.”
As Darshan chuckles, Aadish’s eyes train on a framed picture on the bedside table. A picture of him and Tisya together from a formal event. They somehow took a snap together that night. If she still has this… When did she frame it?
The vase he gifted her is also right here, next to the frame. Darshan’s polite clearing of his throat breaks Aadish’s stupor.
“Uh. I’m intruding on someone’s private domain. Yes, I came to help, but… I will wait outside.”
“No, you’re friends with Teejay. And you’re my best friend. Stay.”
Aadish replies without glancing at Darshan. Then finds another CD on the bed, titled ‘to A. S.’ His initials?!
A recorded voice of Dr Teejay rings out in the room as he plays the CD.
“Aadish, I’m sorry for cold-shouldering you. I have no choice.
The message that begins with an apology soon expresses regret for her misconduct.
“I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at myself for not being honest with you. What you said that day in the lab touched my heart. I wish you could tell me every day that you love me. I can wish over a shooting star to make this wish come true.”
Aadish collapses into a wing chair nearby. Never have his legs given out like this. Sheer exasperation and helplessness course through his veins. He clutches his temples, all ears.
“You must be confused. I’ll tell you how this started.”
He glances at the gleaming, silvery CD player resting on the bed as if it were Teejay, while Darshan mutely listens in, fidgeting on his spot.
“It started the day before your confession. I couldn’t answer any of your messages for work reasons, I swear. Early that day, I received a package that contained a voodoo doll.”
Aadish’s eyes widen. “A voodoo doll?”
“Normally, I wouldn’t touch anything carelessly with my bare hands. It was my unlucky day. I grabbed the doll and injured my finger on a needle. How childish.” Teejay lets out a self-deprecating laugh before continuing. “Then I received an email from an anonymous source. I was injected with a rare, fast-spreading virus.”
Aadish clamps a hand to his mouth. “Virus?”
“Yes,” Teejay’s voice answers him again. “Dr Anurag was my classmate and an expert in virology. He worked at the National Institute of Virology in Pune before joining the Bangalore CID. So I sought his help. You saw him in the bureau, remember? I was spurred to take action because the perp threatened me. He intended to target and infect all CID officers.”
The voice message cuts off with that. Aadish steps out of Teejay’s house after hearing the mind numbing facts. He had a hunch she could be in danger! But this…
Balling his fists, approaches his car and answers Darshan’s unasked question. What next?
“We have to find Dr Teejay and Dr Anurag.”
“Yeah… One thing struck me as odd. If this perpetrator was targeting the entire CID, then why did he stop? It’s been a week.”
“I had the same thought. Maybe Teejay is their target. Who could hold a grudge on her? She’s a forensic doctor, barely interacting with criminals. Anyway, let’s find the answers from the woman herself.”
Flummoxed and out of ways to comfort his friend, Darshan rejoins the team investigating the twin murder case. He has duties to attend to. The faster he solves the case, the sooner he can help Aadish.
Quite predictably, Teejay’s phone is out of network coverage. Aadish ropes in the help of CID’s resident computer expert Dr Neena.
“Could you track a certain GPS location, Dr Parker? I need it fast.”
Neena flashes him a wry smile and gets to work.
“The device’s working,” she says, sounding delighted. “I could locate it right away.”
The flashing dot across the map on her computer screen floods Aadish with relief. “Ha, it’s a good thing Teejay doesn’t know I put a GPS tracker in her watch as a safety measure.”
Neena sends him an affronted look. Oops. Spoke his thoughts out of relief.
“I mean, she wouldn’t have appreciated the overprotective streak,” he adds with a chuckle. “Strong women don’t want to be protected.”
Dr Neena pushes her spectacles up her nose. “Hmm they don’t. But they appreciate help in certain cases. This seems to be one. Your desired location is close to the Amber cliffs in Lonavala.”
“Oh, thank you.”
Aadish smiles in satisfaction. He pulls his blazer tight around his form and dashes out of the computer lab. Every second counts. He has a mission to rescue a member of the force and someone dear to his heart.
Yes, love requires heroic measures. Not just solving cases.
The wintry weather and high altitude are why Amber cliffs are deserted. Aadish and one other junior officer, Pankaj, arrive atop the clearing — a steep plateau opening to the skies.
The winds are rather calm. A lone figure stands ahead, close to the edge, bathed in the colours of sunset. Dressed in a long hoodie and joggers, a protective mask, eyeglasses and gloves. She doesn’t move for quite a while, glancing between the skyline and the lush greenery of the valleys below.
Aadish is convinced the woman is Teejay. Is she about to jump off? She can’t cure her sudden illness, so she is throwing her life away? Impulse propels him to run to her, lightning fast on his heels.
She stares at him once they are face to face and clamps a gloved hand over her mask. That voice is Teejay’s!
“You can’t die, Teejay! How dare you try to jump off the cliffs! Where is Anurag? And why didn’t you talk to me? If you can display a photograph of us in your bedroom, why can’t you be open about the danger you were in?”
“Aadish… wait! You invaded my bedroom?”
“I went on a search operation!”
“Search operation! Oh God, I will never forgive you for this!”
A smile plays on Aadish’s lips. Teejay sounds like her usual self.
“And how did you find me? I’m not here to commit suicide, Aadish! Anurag and I were trying to strike a deal with the blackmailer. He’ll show up soon. Could you leave? Anurag is behind those bushes, if you don’t trust me.”
“I trust you.” Aadish lets out a breath, looking at the vague lines of a figure poking its head out of the bushes in the distance. “But you shouldn’t have tried to tackle this on your own. And all the cold shoulder! So dumb! You pretended you were abandoning me!”
“The possibility of my death was real. I didn’t want you to mourn me. Just wanted to give you a softer kind of heartbreak, if possible.”
“Can heartbreak ever be soft?” Aadish’s dry chuckle echoes in the quiet. He involuntarily touches the revolver in his trouser pockets. “When will this blackmailer show up?”
Tisya responds, biting her lip, “He said he’d be thirty minutes late. So a good while from now. By the way, I think it’s her.”
“Woman’s intuition. It was only an automated voice but… I had a feeling.”
Quiet settles between them for a moment. Tisya remains at a loss for words. Aadish reaches for her hand. He takes off her mask before she can react, and his lips are on hers.
The surprise kiss sweeps her away momentarily, but she gathers her bearings, shoving him with all her might.
“Why would you do that?” Her embarrassment morphs into indignation and then panic. “How could you! Oh no, the infection! You would’ve contracted it just now.”
An incensed Dr Teejay rambles. Aadish is only glad to see her pretty face. Good that the mask came off. He chuckles. Haha, she’s cute even while scowling.
“Really, how could you? This is a fast-spreading virus that can—”
“I don’t care!”
Aadish pulls her into his arms and presses a kiss to her forehead. “It’s okay. We’ll be okay. I love you. I’m here to stop a crime. A crime against the woman I love.”
A moment passes in silence.
“I was worried why you would suddenly hate me…”
Tisya thinks Aadish never sounded this hurt. She hugs him back, resigned and trembling. She never planned to give up the fight to survive. Her attempt to protect Aadish from the outcome fell short, and she mercilessly hurt his feelings. She feels like an idiot.
Pulling away, she looks him in the eye.
“Now what? I at least wanted to prevent this stupidity. The risk of me passing this infection to others.”
Aadish shrugs. “I’ve come with protective gear.” He retrieves a protective mask from his shirt pocket. “It’s fine as long as I don’t pass it on to someone else. If I’m infected, that is…”
“We must move to isolation! Anurag prepared a room at an abandoned inn nearby. You need the antidote!”
“Typical doctor-like words. Well, let’s go. Dr Anurag and Pankaj will deal with the perp. We can’t work with them and put CID in danger, right?”
Tisya can’t believe the nonchalant words are coming from a steadfast cop like Aadish. All will be well, he reassures her as he grabs her hand once more. She doesn’t hear the end of his whisper — everything will workout or we die peacefully next to each other.
He bluffed to Tisya. He’d like to live a long, fulfilling life, solve more cases and share lovely moments with his loved ones. Yes, he still doesn’t regret his impulsive actions. Arriving at the inn, Aadish is the picture of calm. Tisya is again filled with regrets.
Aadish made sense. She did it wrong. She took it on herself, wanting to minimise CID’s losses. With how quickly she fell ill following that 48 hour incubation period and nearly lost herself if not for the antidote, she was desperate. And overlooked the basic concept of team spirit.
The team and Aadish may forgive her. The guilt will haunt her for a while. “If” she’s alive.
If this virus takes her and Aadish down… How intense is Aadish’s love that he’d risk his life for her? She blushes, recalling his actions as they lock themselves in the room.
She just administered him with the antidote. So far, he doesn’t display any side effects. She takes off her mask, and he, his.
Embarrassment crashes down on her again, watching him flop into a chair. She perches on the edge of the bed, on guard. The knowledge that they’re alone in a room doesn’t help. Who knew she could feel like this in the middle of the mess? Aadish is cool as a cucumber, though.
“So Dr Anurag was only helping you…”
His sudden remark is a welcome distraction.
“Of course. What did you think?”
Aadish treats her to one of his sweet, dimpled smiles. “I’ll tell you later. If you didn’t want me to come after you, why did you leave the audio CD?”
Tisya shrugs. “Maybe I wanted you to come after me. I don’t know.”
With a heavy sigh, Aadish takes off his blazer. Never privy to the sight, Tisya averts her eyes. To her surprise, he sits on the roomy bed and beckons her.
“Let’s lie down. We’re sick, aren’t we?”
Aadish! Has he no shame, no reservations at all?
“Ah, you had to complicate things, Teejay… I’m sick from the stress of the past week’s events. Ugh, how I missed you!”
How can he be this casual? Tisya can’t help but smile despite her bashfulness. He’s already sprawled out on the bed. When she scoots closer, he rolls so his head rests in her lap.
He chuckles at her cry of surprise. “Can I stay like this? My head hurts.”
“Because you’re infected.”
“No, because I missed you, and thought I lost you!”
Aadish stares up at her, lips pouting. Then dons a rakish grin. The weight of his head on her lap, their closeness, puts a blush on her cheeks again.
“Teejay! Think you could be with me? I need you with me every day. Even outside of work.”
He tucks a stray strand of her hair behind her ear. Tisya blushes furiously. Life takes unexpected turns. Three years ago, when she travelled from Kanpur to Mumbai with nothing but determination in her eyes, she was clueless she’d be here — having heart to heart with her soulmate. In fact, when she first talked to Aadish, she didn’t know he was her soulmate. To think she wanted nothing apart from a thriving career… and still fell in love with a colleague…
Desperately trying to normalise her heart rate, she runs her hand through his soft, silken hair. She can’t help it. The temptation is real.
“Cut the mushy talk. What about the twin murder case? Besides, do you believe we’ll survive?”
“We will, my love. Did Dr Anurag confirm it was a dangerous virus?”
“No, he’s still working on it. Along with his seniors.”
“Good. And the twin murder case… Hah, I loathe not being in action, but sometimes it can’t be helped. Darsh and others will bring the children justice. Part of me wants to work, but we don’t wanna spread infection, do we?”
“Aha, now you’re thinking and acting like me.”
“No. I’m here, but my team knows what I’m up to. I let Darsh know the situation through Pankaj.”
Unable to come up with a retort, Tisya smears his hair again. Aadish urges her to lie down, but falls asleep in her lap before he can move.
Soft evening breeze wafts into the room through the open windows. She watches the last golden ray of the evening sun disappear and holds onto its glow in her heart. She’d like to believe that was a ray of hope delivered to her.
She and Aadish will share the sight of many sunrises and sunsets together over the course of their lives.
The following morning, Darshan, Dr Anurag and the CID team solve not just the twin murder case but also the virus one. The children’s murders were orchestrated by their parents. They figured the nanny was an easy blame as she would be the one to feed them the prior poisoned food.
They did this to acquire the property their parents wrote off to the grandkids? Aadish recoils at the elaborate update he received on his phone. But deep down he’s relieved; the case is solved.
And the mysterious virus. The voodoo doll came from an expelled forensic assistant who worked before Dr Tisya. Dr Amita Kale, who was a virologist before she worked at the Mumbai CID. She was expelled, having been accused of accepting bribes from unknown subjects and manipulating forensic evidence. Jobless and penniless, she let her growing hatred turn into a soul-sucking black hole. With an old friend’s help from the virology institute, she procured the said virus.
The rest is history. Wasn’t she lucky she wasn’t jailed last time? The police lacked evidence the last time. Now they do. Such a simple-minded plot. Thankfully, Dr Anurag and others who’d assessed the virus predicted it was a fast acting Nd75 variant. Not too harmful, but infectious. Fatal, if not treated with the right drug.
He and Teejay are safe. A happy ending for their crushing love. For sure, there’d be more bumps, but they’d always hold their ground.
Teejay is asleep on the bed. Oh, how it gladdens him she’s okay… He was shaken when he first learnt of the virus. Her fever has gone down while he has none; might be the work of the antidote and the medicines Dr Anurag brought them. He and Teejay will be fully cured.
The morning sun’s bright rays illuminate the room. Aadish feels glad he held onto the last ray of hope. He clasps Teejay’s hand and weaves their fingers together. Lying on the bed next to her (with a respectful distance between them, of course), he closes his eyes, taking pride in himself. He hasn’t relinquished his duty or his love in his life. He never will.
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