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Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

MrDave's picture

*** Aug 6, 2005 ***

There is darkness. There is pain. There is evil. These things I recognize because I am these things. I feel the movements of the trulls above me. It has been a long time and the trulls have built many things above me. It is a marvel that they have built.

I can feel the sprawl of their village...it reaches into the landscape like a hard scab that holds the flesh of the countryside together. I can feel the trulls of all kinds. The gentle innocents. The hard violent ones. Even the ancient ones like myself but younger...much younger. They are all trying to make a life in the scab.

Scabs heal. They slough off and become one more bit of dust in the earth. I am the dust. I am where all scabs end up. And I am awake again. I look farther into the land and see a closed hellmouth. I see madness, chaos and disbelief.

I am going to have fun here. The trulls do not remember, otherwise they would have kept the ancient places clean. They cannot imagine what will happen or they would still have champions and guardians in place. They will remember soon enough. I am awake and they are the ones who are sleeping.


Mrs. White's apartment had been converted weeks ago into an office. The phone lines and DSL connections were in place and the knick-knacks had been thinned down to a point where most people assumed the small apartment was a reception area.

Victor scratched his head at the tangle of wires behind the desk and the arcane symbols that Ian was typing on the screen. "Are you sure it will work okay? I don't know anything about how to fix these things...much less use them," said Victor.

Ian chuckled, "Come on, Victor, it's time for you to get wired! There's no shame in not knowing but I find it hard to believe that a guy as young as you hasn't had to use these since he was a kid in school."

Victor smiled uneasily. "I grew up in Europe, they aren't as advanced as the States," he lied. Ian had expressed this same sort of curiosity at Victor's discomfort before. Truth was, the technology scared Victor, and it was more obscure than black magic to him.

There was a quiet knock on the door. A young woman stood there in a white tee shirt that showed her midriff. Her tight black slacks accentuated her shapely legs, and the tiny nose stud drew attention to her very attractive face.

"Is this the place looking for the receptionist?" she asked.

Ian gracelessly stood up and tripped on the office chair rushing to greet her, but Victor deftly cut him off and extended a hand. "Pleased to meet you," he said, "My name is Victor. What's your name?"

"Henna," she said, "I am here about the job."

Ian was behind Victor making an ass of himself by waggling his eyebrows and winking at her, and she looked down in embarrassment. Victor stepped back and deliberately applied most of his 450 lbs to Ian's toes. He escorted her in and invited her to sit on the sofa where Ian hopped quickly to sit beside her.

The interview was short, and Henna was quick to assure Victor she knew about stocks, property management, computers, messages, and everything he was looking for. She had been working in the billing and customer service industry for her mother's online stocks business since she was 13. Even at 23, she was a veteran of managing volatile companies.

She left with a job, and Victor was quick to talk to Ian (who was trying to follow her out the door). "When are you going home?" asked Victor.

Ian opened his mouth and decided that he didn't want to push it. "Tonight," he replied.


That night there was a noise in the basement. A young figure of a girl walked slowly up the stairs. She looked around the corner from the basement stair and seeing the coast was clear, strolled out into the hallway. Her tight tee shirt was clean and white, and her dark slacks and tiny nose stud accentuated her best features.

She looked into the office and patted the electronic box. Its secrets were open to her, and she held her hand there for just a moment longer as information about the trulls of this new age flowed through her.

She smiled and closed her eyes. One bit of information interested her. Henna. A name, a phone number, a residence.


Henna walked around the small efficiency apartment in her workout bra and bicycle shorts. She had already slid the compact folding stair machine under the bed. She sat on the corner of the bed, drinking her spring water with one hand and clicked on the television with the other.

She was glad she had this great job. Now she could really get something accomplished. They had a sweet setup there, and she didn't think they would mind if she ran a small web business on their computer while she was doing work for them. It was only bandwidth and they had more than they needed.

She stopped flipping channels, and flipped back a couple of clicks. She had seen something that caught her eye. The channel looked like a cheesy horror flick from the 70's with huge crowds of cave people fleeing across the savannah from some unseen evil.

There were a few that stood their ground and huge misshapen horrors came and engulfed them. Henna wasn't sure why she was watching this particular program...it wasn't her usual fare of E! or VH1.

She thought it must have been the special effects. They were better than anything Lucasfilm ever produced. She didn't have a HDTV (she was saving up for it) but it was sharp and crisp.

Real. It seemed real. That was it totally. She set down the water and the remote. She approached the set and extended a hand. *This is crazy!* she thought. *This is like some sort of weird movie.*

As her fingers touched the screen and felt only hard glass, her skin stopped prickling. She breathed again (not realizing until just then she had been holding her breath). She stood up.

As she turned around, she saw the young girl sitting on the corner of the bed with the 3lb free weight in one hand and the bottle of water in the other. She smiled at her and dentist-white teeth flashed an evil smile.

Henna barely registered that she was seeing herself before the 3lb weight smacked her in the face, and she didn't get to see the end of the movie. Ever again.

The doppelganger stood over Henna's slim form, thankful that it would not have to clean up blood. Not that it minded cleaning up blood, it's just that lots of blood led to embarassing questions. She dragged the fit body into the bathroom and proceded to insert the real jewelry where only the appearance had been before. Over the next few hours the colorful tattoos faded from the tan skin and appeared on the skin of the clone.

She was a good one. The markings that made her unique had power. She especially liked the "sensual" rune on her lower back. It felt warm and sexy. The rings and baubles each held memories and skills. The ring in her belly button gave her knowledge of movements and combat. The stud in her nose told her stories of places and the thrulls that inhabited them.

The shamans had worn such things. Earplugs and tattoos of power made them unique and guarded their selves against the evil. But they were applied with care, with prayer and with protection. These little things were carelessly applied. They did not protect anything. That was a change it liked.

Tomorrow it would work. It would do menial things while it scouted around. The markings and decorations would disguise it as one of the thrulls. Even the sensitive ones would not know.

When it was time the others would come. Whole armies of them would come forth from the dust and swallow this scab.

A Telephone Call

Meredith Bell's picture

Kate woke late the next morning. As she stumbled down to the kitchen hoping to find something drinkable in the disarrayed house, the first thing on her mind was Galen. She rummaged through the bare cupboards and managed to scrape together a can of grape juice, a half-empty box of dried crackers and a ‘Chunky’ bar. As far as breakfasts went it wasn’t much to write home about, but Kate was thankful for it, not having eaten for over 29 hours.

Afterwards she wandered into the hallway and began rummaging through her jacket pockets. She pulled out the piece of paper with Galen’s number on it. She hesitated for a moment; there was a pay phone at the end of the street. It wouldn’t take that long…

A few moments later Kate had dressed and was already standing in the phone booth. Her hand wavered over the telephone for a few indecisive seconds before she picked up the handset and – with shaking fingers – began to dial…

******Some Time Later******

Kate sighed deeply. She’d been trying for ages to get through to Galen’s office but the woman on reception kept putting her on hold. Finally the shrill voice sounded on the other end:

“Sorry to keep you waiting how can I help you?”

“Hello, I’m trying to contact Assistant Director Galen Eldridge…” she punctuated each word clearly. She’d already been put through to an Agent Ethan Granvich and Special Agent Gillian Vanriche… she was beginning to run out of loose change, not to mention patience. “No I don’t have an extension number… …yes I understand this is a federal building… …Look all I want is to talk to him…” Kate sighed again, “Well, look, can you just – just give me an address… no for the building… okay.” She hastily jotted down the address.

Kate put the phone back on the receiver and sighed. She smoothed out the small piece of paper that held the office address on one side and had Galen’s phone number scrawled across the other. As Kate walked up the street back home she remembered when he’d given it to her; the thought made her smile...


“Look, here’s my number in case you want to talk, or cry. Either – or both! I don’t mind. Just remember you’re not alone, okay? Catherine?” Galen smiled and handed her the piece of paper. “Can you read that? My writing isn’t very…”

“It’s fine,” said Kate. She took the paper and their hands touched for the briefest of moments. Kate looked up into Galen’s eyes and saw a small flicker of affection there. He seemed to gaze at her for a long time before shaking his head clear of whatever thoughts he had been thinking and hastily drawing back his hand.


Kate had been confused at the time; Galen had quickly grabbed his coat and headed out of the door. He’d seemed upset or concerned about something. Now Kate recognised it for what it had been. The first time he’d felt anything for her besides mere concern or friendship.

She opened the front door and wandered into the sitting room, slumping down on the sofa and tucking her legs underneath. She stared at a half finished game of chess that still rested on the coffee table, a thin layer of dust coating each of the small, handcrafted pieces…


Galen placed the glass to his lips and drank deeply from the rich carmine liquid. Then he returned his concentration to the game at hand. His fingers hovered over the board as he deliberated as to which piece to move.

This was the first time Kate had noticed Galen – really noticed him as she waited for him to make his move. Maybe she’d been a little drunk at the time but that didn’t alter any of the facts. She’d watched him as he concentrated on the game. At first she’d been amused by the intensity of his concentration, but then as she continued to watch him she’d found herself noticing how handsome he looked. How much she liked the intensity of his gaze, the way his hair sometimes fell into his eyes, his strong jaw and his full lips.

Galen moved the heavy chess piece across the board with marked assurance and then looked up to see Kate watching him. She quickly looked away and fixed her eyes back on the game, trying to clear her thoughts…


The address on the piece of paper stared back at Kate. She couldn’t stand it! All the questions, all the doubts that ran through her mind. Would he be happy to see her? Would he still feel something for her? Would he have found someone else? With a determined sigh Kate rose to her feet and climbed the stairs back to her bedroom. She began pulling out various items of clothing, discarding them on the bed. As she began to get dressed her determination became fixed. No matter what the answer would be – whether Galen still had feelings for her or not, she had to find out, one way or the other...

The FBI Visit

Kaarin's picture

Kate had never felt as tiny and invisible as when she stepped into the Los Angeles Federal Building. The lobby area was immense; everything was made from polished white marble with the FBI seal emblazoned across the floor. Kate walked through the milling crowds in a daze, her heart beating furiously within her breast. The heels of her shoes made a ‘tapping’ noise against the cold stone floor as she walked over to the security checkpoint. There were several rugged looking guards carrying firearms patrolling the area. Kate walked up to one of them; a tall, African man with a clean-shaven head and a pair of beady eyes framed by wire rimmed glasses.

“Excuse me...” Kate smiled as she gained his attention. “Hi, I was wondering if you could help me? I’m trying to get hold of a friend of mine who works here, his name’s Galen Eldridge… he’s the Assistant Director… I wondered if you could tell him I’m here?”

“Well Miss, that isn’t really something…”

“Oh please…” she clocked the name on his badge with a slight lean forward, “…Jackson… just this once…?”

Jackson smiled and picked up his radio, “Sure, okay, why not? I’m gonna need some ID though.” Kate looked in her purse and handed him her Driver’s Licence. “Catherine Aradia Wiccham?” he read out loud. “That really your name?” Kate nodded, smiling again in an effort to mask her rising nervousness. “Well, okay, I’m going to have to call and check this out though…”


Galen shook his head as he considered the pile of paperwork on his desk. He had hated desk jobs before getting one, and disliked them even more now. Then there was the phone. It had been ringing constantly today, usually when he was in the middle of something important. When the phone rang again, he wondered if he could get away with tossing it out of the 12th floor office. The number was for security downstairs. *Great. They probably have the wrong extension.*

"AD Eldridge," he said, picking up the handset.

"Sir, this is Jackson with security. There's a woman down here who says she's a friend of yours. Name is Catherine Aradia Wiccham."

He almost couldn’t believe what he was hearing. She had been gone for five months, and was back? "You're joking, right? Henry put you up to this, didn't he?" Henry was the office prankster, and was always arranging things like this. The fact that Galen had spoken with nobody about Kate never occurred to him.

"No, sir. That's what the name says on her driver's license."

"All right, let her through," Galen said. "I'll be down in a minute to meet her." The guard didn’t get a chance to respond when he hung up and started towards the elevator.


“He’ll be down in a minute,” said Jackson.

Kate smiled nervously “Thank you.” She anxiously brushed her fingers through her hair and smoothed out her dress. “Tell me honestly… How do I look?”

Jackson smiled and led her through the metal detector. “You look just beautiful Miss.”

“Okay, all right…. Okay… I’m a little nervous,” said Kate, as she paced back and forth anxiously.


Although the elevator was moving at its normal speed, the ride down seemed to take forever. Galen adjusted his tie and realised he must look like a fool without his jacket, and wtih his ID clipped to his belt. The doors opened on to the first floor and the other people on the elevator started to get off. It was too late to go back now.

As Galen stepped out of the elevator and caught site of Kate his heart leapt. She was busy pacing back and forth and he managed to almost get behind her when she turned and caught site of him, letting out a small startled gasp.

"It's really you," he said, taking her hand in his, almost as if he couldn't believe she was back. "How are you, Kate?"

“Galen…” the words fell out of Kate’s mouth like a prayer. As he took her hand in his, drawing her closer into his arms she felt a warmth flood her inside. There was so much she wanted to say but she found the words had completely deserted her.

Galen gently began to run his fingers through her hair and stroke the smooth curve of her cheek – as though trying to prove she was real. “Aradia…” he whispered softly with a slight mischievous smile creeping across his face.

Kate smiled happily, “I’m well, much better now for seeing you.”

He could have easily stood there forever just holding her, but knew that the middle of the lobby was not exactly the best place to be. "Would you like to go someplace more private to talk?" What had begun as a bad day suddenly became wonderful.

"Yes… I would," Kate replied. Galen quickly got a visitor pass from the security desk, Jackson chuckling at the two of them. They started towards the elevator and found themselves holding hands halfway there. This time the ride to the 12th floor seemed to end too soon, as they walked to his office.

"Can I get you anything to drink?" Galen asked, becoming nervous. Having no way of knowing if she’d found somebody else, or even reciprocated his affections for her, made his current situation quite precarious. He felt like he was walking a tightrope over an abyss.

Kate sat down on a small leather couch pushed against the far wall. She smiled at Galen; he seemed just as nervous as she had felt earlier. Upon seeing him she’d felt a calm stillness wash over her, but her heart still beat furiously and she began to feel a little light-headed – which was why she’d sat down so quickly before her legs gave way. She didn’t say a word but gestured for Galen to sit with her, which he did gratefully.

They sat in silence for a moment. Galen seemed a little removed – like he wanted to say something but didn’t know how. Kate quickly leaned forward and drew Galen into a passionate embrace, merging her trembling lips with his. She wrapped her arms around him, pulling him closer into her body. Galen’s surprise was obvious; he’d just about collected his thoughts and about to reciprocate the kiss when Kate pulled away breathlessly.

“I hope that wasn’t too presumptuous of me… I just…” she stopped short, catching her breath. The intensity of the moment had left her quite dizzy.

"No, no," Galen said quickly, still recovering from the shock. There was just so much he wanted to say to her. Now that she was back he felt as if a part of himself long lost had finally been found again. "It wasn't."

The phone began to ring again and for once Galen didn't care. Instead of answering it, he pulled Kate close to him again. Their eyes met and he leaned in close to kiss her again, trying to make up for five months in that one long, slow moment.

When the kiss ended again they continued to hold each other and gaze into each other's eyes. Galen broke the silence again after a couple of minutes. "Catherine... I was just wondering, would you meet me for dinner tonight?"

Kate sighed deeply in an attempt to compose herself. She felt butterflies in her stomach and the dizziness in her head had grown worse. Their intimate proximity was overwhelming Kate felt as though she were drowning in a sea of emotion. Galen held her securely in his strong arms.

“Well?” he asked anxiously.

“Well, gee let me think… dinner, with you, tonight….” she smiled playfully, “Of course I will.”

Galen smiled back. Everything seemed perfect. "Great," he said. "Pick you up around 8:30?”

Kate nodded earnestly.

Galen smiled. "Already know a place. I'll make the reservations as soon as I'm able." Galen was almost overwhelmed by the emotions he was feeling. Surprise, happiness, elation - most of all regret that no matter how pleasant it would be to spend the entire day on the couch just holding Kate, he had to go back to work.

"I'm sorry," he said, standing up, "as much as I…” he took her hand as she rose to her feet. “I have a mountain of papers that I have to move from one pile to another. Want me to walk you out?"

Kate nodded, “I’d like that.”

They rose from the couch and moments later they found themselves waiting outside for the elevator to arrive. Galen drew Kate back into his arms one last time. “I’m really glad you came back.”

“Me too,” said Kate earnestly. There was much more to say, more to talk about but that would wait until later. She gave him a quick kiss on the lips, “Don’t work too hard now.” She smiled as she slipped free from his arms.

Galen laughed at that, and they took the elevator back downstairs. Kate handed the pass back to the security guard and the metal detector went off as Galen stepped through it.

"It's all right!" Galen said, holding up his ID while Kate laughed at him. "Remind me to use the employee exit next time." Outside, the two hugged once again before parting company.

Daye and Drew come home

Firefly's picture

***** Saturday, August 6, 2005 6:00 pm *****

Daye settled back in the passenger seat of Drew’s comfortable Toyota Celica, listening with her eyes shut to the soft music playing in the speakers. Drew was just climbing in and starting to pull away from the airport. There was a faint scent of ocean and sun in the car and it reminded Daye fondly of the past few weeks she and Drew had spent lounging on the beach in Tahiti. After he finished up the research on the castle they had decided mutually that a nice vacation might be in order. Drew faxed his information to his home computer, packed up his equipment and they hopped a plane to the island, with only the things they’d packed for Ireland. Most of the first few days in Tahiti they had spent shopping, buying clothes and necessities. That and all of the rest of the trip had been delightful. Daye had regretted hopping on the plane to come home. Now, she was enjoying more pampering from this wonderful man, letting him drive her home while she basked in the lovely relaxation resulting from their holiday.

“Sweetheart,” Drew’s voice broke the light doze Daye had drifted into, ”we’re here.”

Daye opened her eyes and looked at her lover leaning over her, holding open the car door. On impulse she grabbed him, pulling his face down to her for a deep kiss. When she released him there was a hungry light in Drew’s eyes. He smiled wolfishly, offering a hand to help her out of the car. Daye allowed herself to be drawn to her feet, cuddling into his embrace for a moment and sighing extravagantly. “We should get all that luggage inside before we think of anything else,” she said.

“You’re right,” Drew replied, releasing her and stepping away.

Daye waited while he closed the car and opened the trunk. He filled his hands with bags and gestured for her to lead him into the building. A few minutes later they were standing in front of her locked door. Daye sent her senses out, feeling for the wards she had set before she left. The place seemed undisturbed. She quickly broke the barrier and slipped her key into the lock, stepping aside to let Drew pass through the door first. He walked into the living room and placed Daye’s loaded bags on the floor near the end table. Then he turned to watch her as she kicked off the high heeled sandals she was wearing and approached him.

Drew opened his arms and Daye fell into his embrace. She pressed her body to his and turned her face up to his kisses. Drew teased at her mouth with his tongue, running his hands down her back to pull her into his body, grinding his hips against her. Daye moaned throatily, tangling her hands in the hair at the nape of Drew’s neck as she lapped at his mouth with her tongue. They began to kiss and caress mindlessly, until finally Drew picked Daye up off her feet and carried her into her bedroom. Drew was about to lay her down on the bed when he noticed the state of the room. There were pillows and clothes thrown all around the room. The lamp was broken, the bed torn apart, and there were personal items of Daye’s scattered about the floor. The standing mirror in the corner was broken and the closet door was flung open, more clothes piled in front of it. Drew could see that some of the clothes were torn. He set Daye on her feet gently, saying nothing.

Daye watched him with a puzzled expression before turning to look around the room. “What’s the…?” her voice trailed off in a horrified gasp. “Oh, no! What happened here?”

Drew saw Daye’s face fill with dread as she gazed at the mess before her. “Oh, Drew, someone’s been here,” she said softly.

“I’ll call the police,” he said. As he turned to get the phone from the living room, Daye grabbed his arm.

“Wait, you can’t,” she said. Drew turned to look at her, surprised.

“Why not?” he asked. “You’ve had a break in. You need to call the police.”

“They can’t do anything,” Daye replied, "don’t you see? Whoever broke in here wasn’t your average thief. I set up wards. There was no sign of anyone having tampered with them when we came in. Drew, someone or something broke in here. Whoever it was, the police won’t be able to find anything out. This would just draw unnecessary attention to me and the people I know.”

Drew shook his head. She was probably right. The circles Daye ran in didn’t exactly turn to the police when things got hairy. She would do better trying to find out who had busted up the place on her own. That didn’t make him feel any better, though. “Well, what are we going to do, then?” he asked, raking a hand through his hair.

“I’ll clean up and then try a spell to trace who or what was here,” Daye replied. She had a feeling that she wouldn’t be able to find anything though. Whoever was behind this would have known to cover up any lingering traces. As it was, she could get no impression of what had happened in the room, no matter how hard she concentrated. She could see that Drew was not happy with her answer. He had begun to pace.

“Well, you can’t stay here tonight,” he said. “You’ll have to come to my place.”

Daye smiled at him. “Are you worried about me?” she asked, stepping in front of him. “I’m a nasty witch, remember? I can take care of myself.”

Drew shrugged sheepishly. “Maybe you are,” he replied, “but I love you. So it’s hard for me to just stand by and wait for you to take care of things. It would help me sleep easier tonight if you came home with me.”

Daye nodded. “All right,” she said, “but you’ll have to bring me back in the morning. I have to get the place picked up before I go back to work at the shop on Monday.”

Drew agreed. They grabbed a few of the essentials that Daye could find and headed out. Daye locked up and reset her wards, although she didn’t see what good they would do. Then they went back to his car and Drew drove them to his place. On the way, Daye tried to imagine who would have cause to do such a thing to her.

Kate and Galen's first date

Kaarin's picture

Maxim's was an odd place to go, but the oddity was what kept it in business. Some people might use the word eclectic, as it almost literally had something for everybody; there was even a space for dancing at the other end of the restaurant. The waiter was in the middle of handing Galen and Kate the menus at the time. Galen almost couldn't believe this was actually happening. He’d spent 40 minutes trying to pick out the right kind of flowers to get Kate before finally deciding to stick with tradition and just get roses – red, a dozen – for passion and love, the salesgirl had said. When he’d actually gone to pick her up he’d been so damn nervous at the thought of their going on a ‘real’ date that he’d been unable to speak properly. He’d been stuttering and stumbling his words like an idiot but as soon as Kate had taken his hand gently in her own, looking completely at ease, he knew everything would be fine and finally began to relax.

They had already been seated and had ordered. The waiter had just brought over the wine, a Chateaux Mouton-Rothschild 1999, and proceeded to pour the deep red liquid into two glasses.

Kate smiled as Galen took her hand from across the table, restlessly playing with her fingers until the waiter had left. She looked so beautiful tonight he thought, her hair falling over her bare shoulders in loose curls. The dark green silk of her dress seemed to hug her body in all the right places. Slowly Kate leaned forward and ran her free hand against Galen’s cheek.

“You don’t have to be so nervous. I’m not going to bite...” she lowered her voice to a gentle whisper and smiled playfully “… not yet anyway.”

Galen smiled back at Kate and forced down a chuckle. "Don't bite too hard." He leaned across the table and lightly kissed her once. "I missed you while you were gone." The other half of the thought was left unspoken; I should have asked you to stay.

“I missed you too,” said Kate warmly then she looked away for a moment. “I’ve been miserable without you,” she smiled again suddenly “and from what I hear you weren’t any better! Something about drunkenly singing Italian opera on the back of a motorbike I think it was."

Galen looked down for a moment laughing. "It wasn't opera actually, maybe Dean Martin. I’d prefer not to talk about it though, at least not right now with what else happened."

“Daye told me what happened with Tash, we sort of met while she was over in Ireland. Let’s just say you weren’t the only to have an eventful five months.” Kate sipped her wine while she related to Galen the entire story about what had happened to Daye in Ireland and her part in everything. “Sounds like trouble follows both of us around, whether it’s restless ghosts or 25 foot long pythons…”

"Most people would say you have a very active imagination after hearing that." Dinner arrived shortly after that, and Galen deliberately waited until the waiter was gone before continuing. "Just once, it would be nice for the occult forces to take a vacation. Not have to worry about stopping or performing rituals. Certainly would cut down on the backlog of paperwork."

Kate frowned slightly, “Which is something you never actually talk about, just what do you do in that big federal building all day?”

Galen reached for his glass and sipped at the wine while considering how best to word his reply. An outright lie seemed wrong and quite frankly unbelievable. "That is the million dollar question, isn't it?" he said with a smile. The truth was worth a shot, even though it never would be believed. He glanced around to make sure nobody was listening and lowered his voice. “I’m a member of a secret government conspiracy to conceal the truth about the existence of supernatural forces.”

Kate laughed aloud, hitting Galen playfully. “Seriously, what do you do?”

“Seriously,” Galen replied in his normal tone, "I can't talk about much of what I do without jeopardising my security clearance. All I can tell you is what you already know, that my work involves the occult. Please, Catherine, try to understand."

Kate grimaced at his tone, and calling her ‘Catherine’ seemed distancing somehow. Still she didn’t want to press the issue; Galen looked quite uncomfortable despite his best efforts to conceal it from her. Finally Kate squeezed his hand across the table and offered him a reassuring smile. “Of course I understand, I have the same problem in my job. Well I did, unemployment doesn’t really require an oath of secrecy.”

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean for it to come across like that," he said after her initial grimace. Galen fumbled mentally for a few moments to find something to say to change the topic. Looking at her was off-putting, he couldn’t think of the words he needed to say when she was watching him with those big blue eyes of hers. All he could do was stare at her slightly pouty lips, thinking of that morning…


“W-what?” Galen looked up to see Kate still watching him, although now she looked a little concerned. “Oh, I - I was just thinking I really like your dress…” the concern in her eyes was un-abating, “…I mean the way it sets off your hair and your eyes..." Galen inwardly cringed at his words, they’d sounded so much better in his head.

He hesitated slightly before continuing. There was something he needed to know the answer to; he didn’t know how to ask but it would drive him crazy if he didn’t. "Kate, can I ask you a personal question?" Galen said, his anxiety returning. He was afraid to hear the answer, but had to know her feelings. "Not that I'm complaining, but... well... uh... what made you decide to come back to LA?"

Kate looked away slightly, she was unsure of the answer herself. The basic truth was that she didn’t really have anywhere else to go after quitting the Coven but there was so much more… Los Angeles had been her mother’s home, and then there were all the friends she had made here - whom she so desperately wanted to be reacquainted with. Then there was Galen, whom she hadn’t stopped thinking about the entire time she’d been away. Finally she returned her gaze to meet Galen’s.

“Los Angeles is my home now, I felt that while I was away and besides, everyone I care about is here.”

Galen was both pleased and kind of hurt to hear Kate's answer. He had hoped that he might have been the sole reason for her return. However, it was obvious she cared about him. He knew he’d have to be satisfied with that for now. "Oh," he said, then smiled at her gently. "Then, welcome home.... Aradia," he said rather teasingly.

Kate scowled in mock annoyance "And what does that 'D' on your FBI card stand for?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

"You don't want to know," Galen said. Kate smiled in a way that dared him to tell her. "All right, all right, it stands for Drussus. You happy now?"

“Immensely,” said Kate smiling triumphantly, “and I thought my parents were sadistic! So, Agent Duffus…”

"Okay, I had that one coming," Galen said, shaking his head. "Still, I’ve heard worse."

"Oh? Really?" asked Kate, her voice laced with intrigue.

"Back in the Academy, they used to say things like, 'So, Doofy, they have you piloting the flying saucer?'"

Kate giggled, “Because of the…”

“…Roswell thing, yes…” Galen shook his head in feigned dismay.

Kate laughed again and Galen held on to her hand tightly. Suddenly the band started playing a few moments later; Galen eased a sigh of relief. "Would you like to dance?"

Kate nodded her head in agreement and let Galen take her hand and lead her on to the dance floor. The band had just begun to play as they joined the other couples who were already dancing. The light bass and guitar strumming combined with soft beat of the drum and the soft mellow lyrics from the vocalist filled the room.

“Did I drive you away? I know what you’ll say, you say “Oh, sing one we know,” But I promise you this, I’ll always look out for you…”

Galen savoured the feel of holding Kate close to him as they moved slowly in time with the music. Everything seemed perfect, and he found himself never wanting the song to end.

…That's what I'll do. I say "oh," I say "oh." My heart is yours, It's you that I hold on to, That's what I do, And I know I was wrong, But I won't let you down…

Kate hung on to Galen as they slowly danced. She rested her head against his shoulder, breathing in his masculine scent and enjoying the warmth of his body against her cool cheek. Galen looked down at Kate; suddenly any worries he had about the problems this could raise with his superiors didn't seem worth considering.

I say "oh," I cry "oh." Yeah I saw sparks, Yeah I saw sparks, And I saw sparks, Yeah I saw sparks, Sing it out…

All too soon the song seemed to end, and the band moved on to the next one. "Just one more," Galen said softly. "Please."

Kate didn’t hear a word, she didn’t even notice the song had ended, she just remained in Galen’s arms, never remembering a time when she had felt so at ease and at the same time so alive. She could still feel his nervousness as he held her closely so she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and pulled him closer. Again she trailed her fingers against his cheek and drew him lower into an intimate embrace.

Galen joined his hand with hers, wrapping his fingers around hers. He could feel Kate’s warm breath against his cheek and smell the deep scent of her perfume. She looked steadily into his eyes before leaning forward and gently brushing her lips against his. The second kiss was ever so slightly firmer, followed by another; soon they had stopped dancing altogether – consumed in the tenderness of the moment.

As another song drew to a close they were still completely absorbed in one another to notice. Galen wrapped his arms low around Kate’s waist while she slid her hand around to the back of his neck, teasingly running her fingers through his hair.

As the two of them stood just holding each other, Galen was overcome with the sudden desire to confess the truth about his position to Kate. He quickly fought it down. The organisation had killed - he had killed - to keep it secret. No, he cared for Kate too much to put her life in danger that way. So he settled for the next best thing, just standing there in a loving embrace with the woman he loved. Galen couldn’t ignore the aching in his heart. He knew in that moment, stronger than he’d ever felt it, he was so in love with her it was crazy. It was all happening so fast, despite the fact that they had just been parted for the past five months. He had never wanted a woman as much as he wanted Kate right now, to hold her, kiss her, make love to her…

“So, where do we go from here?” Galen whispered.

“I think, you should take me home, quickly” said Kate intently, looking into his eyes with a burning desire.

Galen nodded seriously. Soon the two of them were walking out of the restaurant towards Galen’s car. On the way back to Kate’s house it almost struck Galen as odd, not being attacked by any vampires or demons. Like a gentleman, he opened the door for her again and walked her up to the house. "I really enjoyed this evening with you," he said, taking one of her hands in his and lightly brushing her cheek with the other.

For a moment they both just stared at each other, waiting for something to happen. Finally Galen quickly drew Kate back into his arms and kissed her like she’d kissed him that morning, passionately, zealously and without abandonment. Kate was completely breathless when they parted; though Galen still held her closely pressed against his body, his arms around her lower back. Kate rested her hands against his chest, smoothing out the fabric of his shirt.

She hesitated quite a while before finally speaking. “If you'd like, we could always go inside... for coffee.”

"Coffee?" Galen said looking intently into Kate’s eyes, "I’d like that… I’d like that very much…" He softly kissed her on the lips as she turned to unlock the door. They passed through the door quickly, Galen shutting it behind him while Kate flipped the light switch. Galen was surprised when the room remained in relative darkness.

“I forgot,” said Kate abashedly, “no electricity…”

“I think we have plenty of our own to spare," grinned Galen as he pulled Kate close to him again, kissing her, no longer holding back any of the passion that had built up between them since first meeting her that morning.

Kate felt her skin tingle as he gently stroked and touched her. Galen too felt the same fire burning within him desperate for release. Kate pushed off his jacket eagerly, letting it fall to the floor. Galen gathered her into his arms, fumbling with the hooks on her dress as they stumbled and slid down onto the sofa.

“Guess I’ll have to owe you that cup of coffee” said Kate between kisses, “I don’t have my water turned on either…”

Galen continued to kiss her hungrily, “…I’m stimulated enough anyway…”

Kate smiled through her kisses, wrapping her long bare legs around Galen, and rubbing her knee against his back. Galen held onto her waist while pushing the silky fabric of her dress further up her thigh and kissing across her shoulders up towards the back of her neck…

The cell phone in Galen's pocket picked the absolute worst time to go off, and the pair continued to ignore it while Galen fumbled to remove his tie. Eventually he got tired of the phone ringing and broke the kiss with Kate long enough to hit talk and say, "Call back," before hanging up.

"You know, it might help to turn that thing off," Kate said between kisses when it started ringing again.

This time Galen caught the number on the cell phone. It figured. The man had impeccable timing. "I'm sorry," he said. "I have to take this." Then grabbing the phone, "What? Make it quick. Can't someone else handle it? All right, fine." Galen thought he would break the disconnect button when he jammed it.

"Work?" Kate asked breathlessly, sitting up.

"Emergency back at the office," he said. "I'm sorry. You know the way the government is, always having to mess everything up.”

“I don’t know about the government,” said Kate teasingly “but I have an emergency of my own that needs some serious attention…" she took hold of his shirt and pulled him close again.

“Kate… Kate!” Galen was desperately trying to control himself, but it was difficult while Kate continued to kiss and touch him. “I wish I could just drop everything, boy do I wish I could…” said Galen in torment as Kate began to kiss his chest, against every aching fibre in his body he began pulling away.

“Great,” Kate pulled him back towards her with a wicked grin, “you want to drop everything. Let’s start with your pants.”

This time Galen had to be more insistent, despite himself – he climbed off Kate and zipped his pants back up. “I really have to go, I’m sorry…” Galen picked up his jacket from the floor and walked towards the door. Kate reluctantly followed him out, re-fastening her dress.

Before leaving he leaned in one last time and kissed Kate good night. He hesitated for a moment, silently cursing the invention of mobile phones, before heading off.

Kate watched Galen as he half ran back to his car and pulled away down the street. She closed the door and leant against it, sighing in frustration before heading upstairs to her bedroom, alone…

Daye straightens up

Firefly's picture

***** Sunday, August 7, 2005 9:30 am*****

Daye gazed around her bedroom in dismay. She had been at it for hours, rising early at Drew’s and sneaking out to get the job done alone. Although she had managed to sort everything out, there was a huge pile of her clothes that had been torn or damaged beyond repair. She sighed at the daunting prospect of braving the malls to replenish her wardrobe, but felt somehow that sarongs and string bikinis would not be appropriate business attire for the manager of Bibliophile. She would have to go out that afternoon and buy some stuff. Luckily, as long as she reported the incident to the Council they would foot the bill for her credit cards. Daye bagged up the remnants of her wardrobe, near tears at the loss of some of her favorite clothes. She took the bags out and set them in the hall. She would have to take them to the garbage chute later.

Daye went back into the bedroom and knelt in front of her altar. She proceeded to light candles and put incense to burn, breathing deeply of the fragrance and closing her eyes. Daye began to chant softly, centering her mind on the bedroom, trying to hone in on the person or thing that had perpetrated such wanton destruction. She allowed her mind to empty and focused all her power.


A man stood inside Daye’s bedroom, his back to her. She could not quite make out any specifics about him. He was sorting through her things, methodically, searching for something. To Daye, the man appeared blurry. She moved forward, trying to make out his features, as the man bent to the bed, breathing deeply of her pillow. She felt chilled as he lay down for a moment and then rose up in a blind rage. He began to tear the room apart and Daye could feel the murderous anger in him. She strained to focus on the man, when she heard a voice, childlike and eerie.

“Silly prying girl,” the voice said. “That creature belongs to me now, and I protect what’s mine.”


Suddenly Daye felt dizzy and ill. She opened her eyes to find herself back in the bedroom as it was now. Her stomach rolled, and she lurched to her feet, dashing for the bathroom just as the retching began.

Daye was coming out of the bathroom, holding a hand to her queasy stomach when she heard a knock on the front door. Daye left the bedroom, closing the door tightly, and went to answer the knock. She smiled, figuring it was Drew coming to berate her for leaving without saying goodbye that morning. She knew he wasn’t going to be too happy about her coming to clean up by herself, but Daye could tell that the whole supernatural thing still gave him the willies. She preferred to remind him as little as possible of her own nature.

“I know what you’re going to say,” she began, swinging the door open. She stopped dead at the sight of the tall, dark haired man standing in the doorway. *Ryan,* she thought. Daye had been hoping to avoid this a bit longer.

“Hello, Daye,” Ryan’s tone was warm and affectionate. He leaned forward and brushed his mouth lightly over Daye’s. Daye stiffened at the contact, as Ryan straightened up, grinning boyishly. “Sorry, I couldn’t resist. You look so beautiful.”

Ryan watched her, reveling in her sudden discomfort. So, the little bitch wanted to run off and betray him with no thought to the consequences. Well, he’d be sure she regretted that impulse. He grabbed her hand and stroked it gently, leading her back inside the apartment, and shutting the door behind him. He heard Daye sigh audibly as he led her into the living room.

Daye followed Ryan, trying to decide what to say to him. He seemed so hopeful and so happy. She didn’t want to be the one to shatter those feelings within him. Still, she couldn’t lead him on. After Ireland (not to mention Tahiti), Daye knew without a doubt that her feelings for Ryan were a part of her past. Her present and possibly even her future lay with Drew. She was falling in love with him as much as he was in love with her. It was time, no matter how painful, to end things with Ryan.

Daye faced Ryan, looking into his familiar smile. “Why don’t we sit down?” she asked. “We really need to talk.”

Ryan nodded, settling very close to her on the sofa. He took her hand as soon as they were seated. His thumb traced lazy circles in her palm as he watched her. “I’m so glad you’re home,” he said. “I really missed you, Daye.”

Daye listened to his confession, her stomach knotting. “Well, I’m glad to be home,” she said. “It was good to get away, but there are a lot of things that need my attention right here.”

Ryan nodded thoughtfully. “Of course,” he agreed, “I assume you stayed with the Council after I... well, after you thought I died.”

Daye frowned. “Ryan, I was so unsure after your death,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do or where to go. At first, I just wanted to run away from the Watchers, from anything that reminded me of you. But, I had nowhere to go. I didn’t know anyone outside the Council. My magic was still raw. I was so young, and scared. So very scared. When Delancre offered to transfer me to England, I thought it was the only choice I could make. I would get away from him and the others who helped capture you. The people that killed you. I would be freer than I had been in Ireland. Losing you changed my whole life. I learned that not everything the Watchers told me was necessarily true. I learned that even those with the best motives can do the worst things. I was so afraid that you would have resented me staying in the Council.”

Ryan looked very understanding. Inside, he was boiling with rage. How could she sit there and look so hurt, so innocent. She thought he didn’t remember the hours of torment at her hands. She thought he didn’t know her traitorous heart. Good. That would only make his revenge all the sweeter. He would woo Daye, make her love him again, and then he would drain the life out of her, one sweet drop at a time. He would feast on her tainted soul, and at last be truly free.

“I don’t blame you, love,” he said. “I know that you did what you had to do. That’s what we all have to do. I’m just glad to be back. I’m so glad to be sitting here with your hand in mine. The very idea kept me going for so long. I love you, Daye. Everything is going to be fine now.”

Daye felt tears welling in her eyes. “Oh, Ryan,” she said. “I wish I could agree with you. I wish I could just pick up as if the past years hadn’t happened. I wish I could, but I can’t. I’m not the same girl I was back then. Things have changed. I’ve changed.”

“Daye, I don’t care about that,” Ryan said. “I don’t care about the time we’ve lost. It doesn’t matter.”

“But you see, it does,” Daye could barely control the urge to cry. “I... I’ve met someone else. I’m involved with someone. I can’t go back.”

Daye watched the tender look on Ryan’s face crumble in pain. He suddenly looked very young and very lost. Her heart ached. She longed to take him in her arms and soothe the pain she had caused, but her words had taken away that possibility. Daye watched as Ryan seemed to consider what she’d said.

Ryan felt his rage bubble up at Daye’s words. She thought she could just throw him out, like rubbish, and he would disappear so she could get on with her life. Well, he wasn’t going to let her off so easy. He schooled his features into a determined look. “I’m sorry, Daye,” he said. “I just can’t accept that.”

Daye was shocked. “What? What do you mean?”

“I mean, I’m not giving up so easily,” Ryan grinned ruefully. “I want to be with you. I think you still love me, and I’ m going to do my best to convince you we belong together.”

Daye was aghast. This wasn’t supposed to happen. They were supposed to both accept this inevitability and he was supposed to leave. He wasn’t supposed to ignore her feelings and go on about his business.

“Look, Ryan, I appreciate that you’ve been through a lot. I understand that what I’m saying is hard, but you can’t convince me.”

“I think I can,” Ryan replied. He grabbed Daye and pulled her into his lap, fixing his mouth over hers. She wanted to protest, to fight him off, but his lips were warm, firm, and familiar. Daye felt herself responding to the kiss, despite her best intentions. She was melting into Ryan’s embrace. She couldn’t seem to get a hold of herself. Finally, Ryan set her back on the couch, rising to his feet.

“Well, shouldn’t push too much this early on,” he said cheerfully. He winked and strode out of the room; leaving Daye alone, flustered, and very worried.

At the Ulti-Mart

Meredith Bell's picture

******Sunday, August 7th 2005 – 11:44am******

Kate wandered down the cool, air-conditioned aisles of the local Ulti-Mart – ’for your convenience’. Again she’d woken up to an empty house, reminding her once again that she needed to go grocery shopping, in a major way. It was such a hot day outside that this shrine to elevator music and strip-lighting was actually a refuge from the sweltering heat.

She casually picked up a can of Maxwell House and dropped it in the basket next to the bottled water and green pesto, sun dried tomatoes and canned corn. Her shoes made an irritating slapping noise as she continued to walk and browse, not really concentrating on anything, her mind more occupied with other, more pleasant thoughts.

Daye had laid down for a short time after Ryan left, her thoughts and feelings a jumbled mess. When she'd awoken and gone to look for something to ease the gnawing hunger in her belly (not having eaten since the bag of complimentary peanuts on the plane) she had found that there was no food left in the kitchen. Being gone for over two months, Daye recalled deciding not to stock up before she left. It had seemed a sensible idea at the time, but now, facing bare cupboards, she heartily wished for at least a pita and some fresh humus.

Sighing, she grabbed her purse and headed out. There was an Ulti-Mart not far away. She could stock up and drop everything off before she headed out to the mall. Maybe on a full stomach the prospect of rebuilding her wardrobe wouldn't seem like such a daunting task.

Daye soon found herself carefully perusing the aisles of the cheery, brightly-lit supermarket. She turned the corner, headed for teas (she was desperately short of her favourite Early Grey) and stopped suddenly, catching sight of a familiar face.

"Kate?" Daye couldn't keep from smiling. It was just so good to see that friendly face.

Kate looked up at the sound of Daye’s voice and smiled brightly, seeing her friend. It seemed such a long time ago that they last saw each other – it was a long time, almost two months. Kate dropped the heavy basket on the floor and embraced her friend warmly.

“Daye, it’s so good to see you again!” She stepped back for a moment, looking at her appearance, “Okay, now I hate you – don’t tell me you got a tan like that in rainy old Ireland cause I won’t believe you!”

Daye laughed. "No, of course not," she said. "Drew and I decided to go to Tahiti for a few weeks after he finished up his work. We both thought a true holiday was in order. Honestly, it was really great; lots of sun, surf, sand and fun. Add to that no demons, vampires, crazed warlocks, or any other life threatening events, and you have the perfect holiday."

“Okay, now I really hate you!” Kate smiled. “You look really well, and happy,” she paused for a moment, seeing a glint of sadness in Daye’s eyes, “Daye? What is it? Is something wrong?”

Daye nearly winced at Kate's astute question. Something was very wrong. But how much could she tell Kate about Ryan? Her friend already knew about her past with Ryan, but she thought he had died. How did you tell someone your late lover was not so late after all?

Daye sighed, frowning. "There's a lot to explain," she said. "I don't think I can really get into it here." All of a sudden, Daye had an idea. "Look, do you have plans for this afternoon?"

Kate looked concerned, afraid that it might have something to do with the forces they had faced in Ireland. But no, it looked like something more… personal; Daye really looked upset actually, it was obvious she needed a friend right now.

“No I don’t have any plans,” she gestured towards the brimming basket of food, “only grocery shopping. You know, I came home two nights ago and realised I didn’t have any food; no water, electricity or phone connection either.” She smiled, remembering Galen’s words last night, “I was a total idiot about leaving, I just dropped everything. Now I have to sort it all out.”

"Well, I have to pick up a few more things here, and then I need to head to the mall," Daye said. "I need to replace my entire wardrobe before tomorrow morning. Interested in an afternoon worshipping at the altar of America's pantheon...Greed, Excess, and Capitalism?"

Kate felt a little puzzled at Daye’s comment – why on earth would she have to replace her entire wardrobe? She decided Daye had the right idea, the middle of the instant coffee aisle wasn’t the best place for this sort of conversation.

“Oh, you just listed my three favourite evils,” grinned Kate jokingly. “Sure I’d like that,” said Kate as she retrieved the her shopping from the floor. “Besides I think I’ve been neglecting my worship to the Goddess of High Fashion.”

Daye laughed. She glanced at her cart, which was still only about half full. "I have a few more things to get here," she said, gesturing at the cart. "Maybe we could meet at the mall in a bit. Would half an hour be good, or do you need more time?"

“Nope, I’m almost done here. Okay, so half an hour? I’ll see you then.” Kate smiled again as they parted. She grabbed a few more items before making her way to the checkout counter. She felt a lightness in her heart, regardless of the demons, vampires and other things that went ‘bump in the night’. Here in Los Angeles, Kate felt truly at home.

Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

MrDave's picture

***** Aug 7th...around Noon

Henna waited by the new laser printer for the printout. She wanted to make sure Mr. Tek had a copy for his file. He was always asking her if he had a copy, although with the computer she'd had to help him with twice since she arrived this morning he should be able to open the file from the network. She shrugged and placed the printout of the classified ad on the desk with the other reports and things she'd put together for him.

    Janitor Wanted Able-bodied person capable of simple repairs and cleaning
    needed for small apartment building on Poplar Avenue.
    Duties include trash removal, upkeep of facilities, and general
    assistance. No experience necessary.
    Contact Henna (201) 555-1212

Henna was feeling a little bored by midday and Mr. Tek was out of the building doing whatever it was he did. She surfed the 'net and found a small hang-gliding school that was running specials. She called and made an appointment.

Ian came down the stairs and poked his head into Henna's office. "Hey gorgeous, I'm leaving town in about three hours and I need a ride to the airport. What say I buy you lunch, and we discuss all the things we'll not get a chance to do until I come back to town?"

Henna smiled and dropped her eyes. He was cute in a 'mutt' sort of way, and he didn't ever take 'NO' for an answer. He'd been here three times already to invite her to Breakfast, Brunch, and something he called 'elevenses', whatever that was. He seemed genuinely disappointed when she didn't realize what he was talking about.

Mr. Tek had left instructions for her to arrange his transport to the airport, and she had done everything else on her list already, so she called the cab company she had contacted and cancelled Ian's taxi, grabbed her keys, and followed a practically dancing Ian out to her Jeep Cherokee.

Ian jabbered on to her as they drove, and she had an odd idea as they were passing through town. She felt as if she needed to drive through a relatively bad part of town. There was a man on the sidewalk and he was waving at her... she felt like she had to stop.

As she slowed down to the curb, Ian grabbed the wheel and pulled it hard, "What are you doing, girl? There are creeps and nuthouses all over these streets that would eat a pretty thing like you for lunch! Lucky I'm here to watch out for you or we'd all be in big trouble!"

She stopped the Jeep cockeyed on the lonely back street. She was really angry, then it sort of went away. "I guess you are right, Mr. Pollock...Ian. I don't know what I was thinking."

Ian beamed at the affirmation. He looked around, "Seems the bum has moved on as well. Let's go, I know a great Mexican place by the airport. When they got there, his 'great Mexican place' turned out to a Chevy's, but she didn't really mind. She liked their margaritas and had slugged down two of them before the meal was out.

She ordered her third drink as they placed her food in front of her. She didn't feel in the least bit drunk (which seemed odd to her). She excused herself and went to the Ladies' Room. She entered the stall, opened her mouth and watched detachedly as two margaritas exited her stomach and entered the toilet.

She then checked her hair in the mirror and went back to the table. Ian was busy wolfing down his tostada. She sat and stared at him moon-eyed. He stopped mid-bite and looked back at her. With his mouth full of shredded beef he said, "Fwat?"

"I'm not hungry," she said, "for Mexican. I was thinking something more... Irish?"

Ian wasn't Irish and he hated to be called Irish. In fact he usually pitched a big fit about being called Irish and punched people out for it. But Henna's message was not lost on Ian. He swallowed quickly and called for a check. They were back in the Cherokee in no time folding down seats and kissing.

Henna climbed in the back on top of Ian's luggage, and he made little gagging sounds at her audacity. "Whoa sister! " He sputtered, "Let me move that stuff first."

Try as he might He could not seem to arrange the bags to suit him, so he pulled them out and sat them next to the Jeep. *I can keep an eye on them for a little while,* he thought.

Henna had to fight back a yawn. She was losing interest already. She had placed the stud into her tongue while he was fussing with the bags, and stuck it out at him every chance she got just to see him turn red.

When he finally got everything out, he hopped back into the Jeep. He was undoing his trousers when he realized that even with the tinted windows the open back door was very exposed. Ian pulled her into the truck and closed the back. He kept low and nuzzled Henna's neck as he tugged on her skirt.

Henna had lost the mood. It was gone as fast as it had come on. She tried to be polite at first. Then she got pushy. Then she grabbed some tender anatomy. "Back off!" she said.

Ian was trying to be casual, but her hands were warm. She applied enough pressure to make her intent clear, but not enough to cause pain. Ian liked it when they were firm. He grinned at her astonishment that he would be so excited. He leaned back and said, "What are you going to do now, huh? You got me at your...HEY! Dumbass, leave that shit alone!"

There was a man outside in what looked like pyjamas rummaging through Ian's suitcase. He scrambled to the door and tried to open it and fell sprawling on the parking garage pavement. The man turned to him and brandished a gizmo shaped vaguely like a ray gun.

Ian stood and faced the burglar. He stepped forward and jabbed him in the face twice in rapid succession. He snatched the gun shaped object and pistol whipped the creep. "Never point a thermal sensor at me when my pants are around my ankles!"

The thug covered his beaten face and staggered back a step, then two. He paused to regain his composure and stood just as a parking space-seeking Dodge Ram Pickup rounded the corner at well over the posted 15 MPH.

It struck the thief square in the chest and he slipped beneath its wheels. The truck's suspension made him seem like less than a speed bump, and his body spun out from beneath the rear wheels like a limp break-dancer. Ian watched with horror, then reached down and pulled up his pants quickly. He stuffed his bags carelessly and shouted at Henna in the back of the truck.

"Look, I gotta go. I want to make sure I get all this gear through security. It always takes me longer than usual." He smiled. "We can pick this up the next time I'm in town, okay?"

Henna sat in the back of the truck feeling a little sour. She was not sure how she had gotten into this mess in the first place. This was very unlike her. Or unlike how she thought she was. She re-fastened her bra and straightened her skirt. She climbed into the driver's seat and checked carefully in the rear-view mirror before backing out.

A face appeared in the side window and she jumped. It was Ian. Well it looked like Ian if he had been run over by a truck. At some level she knew it wasn't Ian it was something else. Something she had a connection to. She rolled down the window and said, "American Airlines, flight 456." The Ian look-alike nodded once and turned to head back into the terminal.

Henna had forgotten the encounter by the time she exited the garage.


Ian was standing in the security line checking his bags. The man looked at his rumpled clothing and hastily packed bag open before him. When the security guard looked at Ian, he smiled and shrugged, "Had to leave a hot woman waiting. I didn't want to miss the flight home. You know, discount flight. Non refundable."

"Right," the security man said in a voice that clearly indicated he didn't believe Ian and didn't care. He closed the bag and placed a tag on the handle that indicating the contents were fragile and should be handled separately from the regular luggage. He had carefully checked that there were no explosives, detonating devices, or drugs in any of the gizmos and gadgets. Ian had shipped that stuff Fed-Ex. They tended to ask fewer questions.

Ian entered the gate and sat in the waiting area for his flight to board. Elsewhere in the station a strange man wearing one shoe and a tire tread mark across his pyjamas was in the Traveler's Aid office. He had explained how his car had been carjacked outside his hotel and all of his tickets, traveler's checks and luggage had been taken. The thief had thrown these pyjamas out of the window as a joke.

The lady behind the desk, Iris, listened without changing her expression. Iris had heard all of these stories before. People would do anything to get something for free. She had asked for identification but of course he could not produce any.

His name, flight, and other information all checked out. She offered him a chance to change clothes from the bin of lost and found, but the man seemed insistent on wearing the pyjamas and one shoe on the plane. Ian Pollock was one strange dude as far as she was concerned. The airline person said they could replace the ticket if he had ID. American Express said the same for the traveler's checks.

She referred Mr. Pollock to the airline security office. They could pull his driver's licence records. Ian's twin walked out of Traveler's aid and saw that the flight was leaving in 10 minutes. It would never get through the Security office and onto the plane in time. So it snuck through the terminal until it found a secluded baggage claim conveyer, and slipped through the curtain into the back.

He ran out onto the runway towards American Airline flight 456. Baggage handlers and security guards chased him down and dragged him back inside. Airport security questioned him, and he said nothing. The police questioned him and he said nothing.

He was placed in a holding cell and his clothing was confiscated and replaced with plastic slip-ons and an orange jumpsuit until the police could figure out what to do with him. By 4:00 that afternoon he had melted into a puddle of goo.


Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

Kaarin's picture

***AUGUST 7, 2005, 12:43AM***

Galen walked towards the building with the sign Constillias Publications on the front. Anthony Constillias was not down to greet Galen personally, instead having a security guard buzz him in and direct him to the elevator. As he got in, he pulled the security card from his wallet and used it to access the top floor – Anthony’s private residence.

Galen knew a little about the company’s history; it had been created as part of the test run for Project Midas, an attempt to make MJ12 self-sufficient. The project was initially made up of four such companies, however, the other three steadily ran themselves bankrupt in less than five years. Constillias Publications survived, barely, and Project Midas was terminated.

Despite his advanced age, Anthony appeared to be in his mid-fifties. A heavyset man, the dark suit made him appear smaller and his glasses added a touch of refinement to his appearance. He greeted Galen as the elevator door opened, leading him through the entrance into the well-furnished living room. It was obvious upon entering this room that the person who owned it was both wealthy and influential.

“Thank you for coming on such short notice,” Constillias said, then offered a drink and invited him to sit down.

“Thank you,” Galen said sitting, though inwardly wanting to strangle Tony for his less than impeccable timing, despite the friendship that had developed between them. “So, what was so important to drag me here in the middle of the night?” Galen looked at his watch in irritation; he was trying not to think about what he could be doing right now.

“I received an interesting file today,” Anthony said, when the two sat down. His face, normally dispassionate, now betrayed deep concern over something. Books covered the table between their chairs, and a single sheet of paper sat on top of the books. Although most people would find the words, “CLASSIFIED TOP SECRET MAJESTIC” (stamped across the page in red block letters) rather suspicious, neither paid much thought to it. “That is a copy of the cover-sheet for Dr. Walsh’s proposal of Project Lazarus.”

“You mean that crazy experiment back in Sunnydale?” Galen started to share some of Anthony’s alarm. Lazarus had been the official codename of the project more commonly known as 314. “But that was canceled back in 2000, wasn’t it?”

“Officially, yes. Walsh’s monster had the ability to destroy us.” He motioned to the coversheet on the table, which Galen began to read. “However, some of us believe that Lazarus continues.”

Human subjects?” Galen asked in alarm, reading the document. When Lazarus failed, it had failed big. Most agents had heard about the machine/demon/human hybrid called Adam. None of them ever suspected that Majestic might be trying to alter human DNA or use other treatments on humans. “Please tell me command tossed that part of the Project out!?” he exclaimed.

Anthony said nothing, instead getting a distant look on his face. Neither of them were completely fond of some of the more heavy-handed methods the organization employed, but that distant look told Galen everything he needed to know. They had done it, and hidden it from everyone not directly involved. “Who’s 'us'?’” Galen finally asked. “You said ‘some of us believe Lazarus continues’. So, who is ‘us'?”

“Just a group who believes that Majestic has gotten away from its original goals,” said Anthony. That distant look remained in his face. “We have become the very thing we sought to fight, to protect people from.”

*You’re holding something back,* Galen thought. As his mind raced and began to consider the possibilities, it made sense. Something like Lazarus would take a lot of work to conceal from the organization, including support from command. If they were willing to kill to keep the organization itself secret, why not a project within it? “What do you want me to do?”

“Right now, be on the lookout for anything suspicious. Discrepancies in shipments, transfers of men and materials, that sort of thing.” They continued to talk for a while before Galen was shown to the doorway leading to the stairs. “Just one other thing,” said Anthony. “How close are you and Ms. Wiccham?”

*We would have been a lot closer if you hadn’t called,* Galen thought although he remained silent. Alarm raced through his mind. He knew he had enemies who wouldn’t hesitate to kill her if they thought it would bring advantage. Best to play dumb he thought. “Who?”

Anthony looked slightly annoyed, “You know you can’t keep secrets in this line of business not for long. Someone in security is not fond of you. Fortunately, they assigned the monitoring of your phone line to me. Don’t worry, the record of her visit this morning has been erased, but be careful. I like you Galen, you’re one of the few people I trust in Majestic – your records speak for themselves. You wouldn’t want to throw all that away on a pretty girl would you?”

Galen looked angry, it wasn’t enough that he had to lie to Kate, now Majestic was trying to dictate how he could live his life too!

Anthony looked apologetic, “You do realise her name appears on the list of known telepaths. You know as well as I do, the organisation doesn’t approve of ‘relations’ between agents and telepaths. Perhaps you should consider ending this before it gets too… serious.”

Galen felt ill. It was already ‘serious’. He knew there was no way he could end things with Kate now, she was the only thing that was keeping him sane at the moment. He also knew he had to do something to protect her from Majestic. When he went back to work, he’d see to it that Kate’s name vanished from that list and then he could work on altering her file. He wanted to do it right away, but he knew going back to the office at this time of night to access a few files and then leave would look more than just suspicious.

Rather than say anything else, Galen left. Returning to his apartment, he had a great deal to think about. It seemed that they had a leg up on the other anti-demon organizations, because they recognized that not all demons had to be eliminated. A number of them posed no threat. More wanted to be left alone; seemed downright human in the way they acted, as though the only differences between human and demon were appearances and genetics.

One thought prevented Galen from getting any sleep that night. If Lazarus was real, if it still continued, if they really had used human subjects, it was a frightening way to come full circle.


Parasol's picture

***August 7, 2005 – 8:00 p.m.***

The front door slamming woke Parasol up. She rolled her head against the pillow, turning to the picture window. The heavy drapes across the large window were pulled back, revealing through the fronds of a palm tree, the brightest stars twinkling in a violet sky.

She lay for a moment, watching nighttime wringing the last of daytime’s rays from existence. Though Parasol had not at first agreed, Chinaka had been right to put Parasol’s room on the eastern side of the house. Parasol slept like a brick through the brightest part of the day and often caught the last of the day without immolation. She was glad for Chinaka’s habit of opening her drapes well before sunset.

She threw back the covers, got up and padded down the stairs to the large kitchen to find Chinaka putting groceries away. Parasol stood for a moment in the doorway watching her. Chinaka wasted no effort; every movement had a purpose, sometimes several. She was absent-mindedly singing a tune familiar to Parasol, an old hymn, Wade in the Water.

“You go to church today?” Parasol asked.

Chinaka jumped three feet off the floor. “Aaahhh!” She put her hand on the counter of the island and panted. “Don’t DO that.”

“Sorry.” Parasol went to sit down at the kitchen table. “You go to church?”

“Yep. Great fun had by all. Reverend Sander’s wife got the spirit and smacked Miss Walters right in the face. I suspect the spirit knows the good Rev is smacking Miss Walters on his own.”

“You’re lucky to go.” Parasol chuckled and then looked around. “Great hang-out kitchen. Big reason I bought the house.”

“Yeah, it is. Do you want coffee?”

“I drink tea, but no.” Parasol listened to the silence of the house, watching Chinaka putting away groceries. “Did you go see that butcher in Encino I told you about?”

“Mr. Kleinsman? Yeah, I did,” and she pulled out of the last of the paper grocery bags two large glass bottles of blood. “And eeewww” and set the bottles in front of Parasol.

“Just blood.”

“And still, eewww. Why that butcher?” Chinaka sat at the table.

“Mr. Kleinsman’s is kosher.”


“So…I prefer it.”


“The taste suits me.”

“Eewww. Why?”

“What are you – eight? Because it does.”

“No, really. I want to know why. Why?”

Parasol sighed. “Chinaka, you don’t want to know this.”

“I do. I mean, it’s kinda macabre and all, but I want to understand everything. Especially if we’re going to live here together.”

Parasol didn’t respond.

“I live with a vampire – not Auntie Parasol just visiting, only at night, which by the way I feel like an idiot that I never noticed. Living with a vampire. I have to know how to do that.”

Parasol got up from the table, got a goblet from the cupboard, poured a glass and put the bottles in the refrigerator.

Chinaka wrinkled her nose. “We have to keep those in the fridge?”

“Unless you want to know real ‘bad blood.’ It turns fast.” Parasol was standing by the island, swirling her glass.

“That why you drink from live people?”

“Ugh, Chinaka. Come on…”

“Look, sit down, Auntie Parasol. Mama told me about your…circumstance, but she didn’t tell me the particulars.”

Parasol just looked at her.

“You can’t leave me out here unarmed, uninformed and unprepared. The other night was…was…like nothing I could ever imagine. But I was unprepared because I didn’t quite believe.”

“You believed enough to ask a geechee woman to protect your car. Besides, you had the holy water,” Parasol countered.

“That’s a habit our whole family follows. You know that…always has been since I can remember. Get together with other folks in the family and we could baptize a whale. I just didn’t know it was because of you. I didn’t believe that, you know, vampires walked the earth, old women cast spells and God knows what else.”

Parasol flinched at the word.

Parasol went to the radio fastened under the cupboards and turned it on. KTWV. Boney James. She listened for a minute. “He plays a sexy horn.”

“We used to play bid whist all night in this kitchen.” Parasol continued, looking around the room again. She sat down across from Chinaka, who watched her attentively, waiting.

Parasol finally said, “I drink kosher blood because they kill the animals humanely. There’s no fear or panic in the blood. That is not a taste I wish to get used to having. Fear and panic taste like…” Parasol searched for an explanation, “…warm clover honey.” Parasol raised her eyebrow and shrugged her shoulder. “What else?”

“Why don’t you sleep in a coffin or live in a lair?”

“I don’t lair,” Parasol said dryly. “As for a coffin. Let me quote a great philosopher – ‘eewww?’ I sleep like a swastika on that California King up there. What else?”

“Why do wooden stakes kill you?”

“What do I look like – Van Helsing…? Okay...I’m not exactly sure, but I would guess that it has something to do with the cross on Calvary. What else?”

“Would you eat me?”

“Oy vey iz mir, Chinaka…!”

“Would you eat me?”

“I don’t think…”

“Would you eat me?”

“You keep yappin…”


“Yes. Yes. Okay. It’s what I do. But I’ve managed to subsist for a long time without eating my people. The girl Parasol who was born, lived, and gave birth is gone. She’s gone. If I could pray, I’d pray her soul’s within G-G-G, arrgh, the supreme being’s presence. What’s left is me. I am nothin’ but demon. Nothin’. I resist it…constantly…but I can smell the blood in you and it smells like my mother’s did on the ground – like baking bread. You like the smell of bread baking? It’s warm, and it’s comforting and it’s irresistable. But I send you to kosher butchers to get blood that isn’t tainted with everything in you that makes you alive, and I drink it, so I don’t drink my generations. It’s the only little bit of me I can keep within G-G-G’s, ARRGH!, you know who I mean’s, presence.

“So, you ask me if I’ll eat you. Yes, Chinaka, yes!!! I’ll eat you and kick my heels up afterwards. I’ll eat you when there’s nobody left on the whole wide earth but you and me.”

Boney James’ very sexy sax surrounded the room for a full minute.

“O-Kay. Just asking! No need to get defensive…" Chinaka's hands were shaking. "Want some tea?”

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Heather's picture

7th August, 2005 – 2:00am

Tash dropped her shoulder at the last instant. The female vampire, caught off-guard, found her momentum carried her over the hunter’s back and onto the ground. Tash wasted no time in plunging her stake into the vampire’s heart.

The dust had barely begun to settle before Tash sidestepped lightly, her senses alert for any new danger. The distant roar of traffic mingled with the ‘zzzaap pop’ of broken neon signs. But there was no scrape of a shoe on the footpath. No rustle of a weapon being drawn from beneath a shirt. No whistle of air as a knife slashed at her.


Tash’s breathing began to slow and the sweat from her exertion started to chill slightly, though the night wasn’t that much cooler than the day had been. Her stake disappeared back into the waistband of her pants and Tash prowled down the street watching for any more black auras.

For the past couple of months Tash had been almost fanatical about going out every night to walk the streets. This was what she was supposed to do, she reasoned. She’d vowed to hunt vampires. She’d let herself be distracted since she’d come to LA. Well, no more. Hunting vampires was what she was here for now.

She absently fingered the shape of the stake beneath her clothes. How many was that tonight? Four … one pair and two individuals. Not bad for a night’s work. She permitted herself a small smile of satisfaction.

Every time she dusted one, she wondered if this was the one that would put an end to her nightmares. But still every night she woke, her body drenched with sweat and the dream vivid in her mind’s eye.

But something else was happening with each unlife she took. She was losing that detachment. Her coolness. It was evaporating. In its place was a sort of feral joy. It frightened her, and so she tried to suppress it. But it kept building up and it needed an outlet. She could feel it sometimes as a physical sensation. A knot in her belly.

She reached the place where she’d left her bike and kicked it into life. As it roared along the back ways to Poplar Avenue, Tash felt that knot. It burned deep in her system. She cranked up the throttle a notch and reflected on how much she enjoyed going home to Victor after such a successful hunt.

Confessions and Shopping

Firefly's picture

***** Sunday, August 7, 2005 6:30 PM *****

Hesch pulled his taxi up to the side of the mall entrance. Two attractive redheads stood on the sidewalk, waiting. Scattered around their feet were an obscene number of shopping bags from just about every clothing store in the shopping mecca. Hesch stepped out of the cab, flipping on the meter. These ladies could afford to be generous from the look of things. He came around and pulled open the trunk, offering them a sardonic smirk as he went to load their purchases in the car. At first glance, the pair appeared to be normal, uptown meat with too much money to spend and not enough sense to get off the streets after dark. However, when they climbed into the back of the cab and gave Hesch a destination, he got a feeling. These girls were not what they first seemed. They both radiated power that wasn't too hard for him to pick up on. He pulled away from the mall, concentrating on the road and eavesdropping as well.

"Kate," Daye turned to her friend as the taxi pulled away," thanks for coming with me. I really did need the distraction more than the clothes. I appreciate it."

“I can’t say I didn’t notice” replied Kate, “you never did tell me what was wrong, you know? Before in the store… there seemed to be something troubling you.” Kate paused for a moment, reading Daye’s expression – again the same sad look appeared on her face. Kate frowned in concern. “Daye, what is it? You can tell me.”

Daye sighed. Where did one begin? She still wasn't sure how to tell this particular story. "Do you remember what I told you in Ireland? About the man that the Council killed? The man I loved?" she asked.

“Yes, of course I do. You said he was the man of your dreams, I mean, the man in your dreams – when you were under the sleeping spell…” Kate cringed inwardly at her faux pas. “Ryan wasn’t it?” she said hastily to cover her embarrassment, “his name was Ryan…”

Daye nodded, distracted by her own thoughts. "Yes, in the dream world, he never left me...never died," Daye looked back at Kate. "It's funny sometimes. We think having our dreams come true is a good thing." Daye laughed bitterly. "For years, I wished that somehow Ryan would come back to me," she said. "You really should be careful what you wish for."

Kate looked away, feeling slightly ashamed; there was a time when she would have done anything to bring Luc back including going against everything she believed in order to cross the divide and return him to the earthly plane. These memories were not forgotten in Kate, she would never let herself forget how close she had come to touching darkness…

She returned her glance to Daye, shaking away her own problems and focusing on her friend. “What are you trying to tell me?” Kate asked, afraid that she already knew the answer…

Daye took a deep breath. Best to just say it and get it over with. "Ryan's not dead," she said. "He's come back. It seems he never really was dead. The Council held him prisoner all these years and Delancre led me to believe he had been killed." Daye shook her head ruefully. "I wanted this for so long, but now it's all wrong. He came to me that night in the clearing. The night we stopped Serapis. I didn't know what to do, what to think. So, I asked him to give me some time to sort things out and I went to Ireland with Drew. The thing is, I think I'm in love with Drew. He's very different from Ryan. Ryan was a rugged, outdoorsy type. He lived in the middle of the forest and made things with his hands. Drew told me he loves me. He's sweet and quiet and smart. And he makes me feel good. When I look at Ryan now, all I feel is sad. That part of my life is over." Towards the end, Daye's tone seemed a bit desperate. She was looking at Kate, her eyes bleak. "Do you understand?"

Kate nodded sadly; boy did she ever understand! Returning to the coven only served to show Kate how much she no longer belonged there. The more she had tried to fit in the more lonely and isolated she’d felt. It was true, you can never go back, you can’t live in the past.

“I understand Daye, of course I do. Jeez, and I thought I had cornered the market on bad timing, this is just… amazing.” She paused for a moment then continued “but what I can’t believe is that Ambrose could deceive you like this, the two of you always seemed so close, much more than just teacher and student. He was more like a father to you.” Kate felt Daye’s despair acutely, “Does Drew know anything about Ryan?”

Daye nodded. Ambrose Delancre had been like a father to her. She had felt his betrayal as keenly as the loss of Ryan and to this day could not find it within her to forgive the man. "I don't know what to think about Ambrose. I decided long ago he wasn't the man I had believed him to be. And I haven't told Drew anything about Ryan yet. How do you tell someone who loves you that your first love, long since believed dead, is not as dead as you were led to believe. I told Ryan today that the past is the past. That what we had is over."

“And he accepted that?” Daye frowned at Kate in confusion, “Daye, this man, Ryan… He’s come back from the dead, he’s escaped from where ever the Council were holding him and come all the way to Los Angeles to look for you. These aren’t the actions of a man who gives up easily!”

Daye laughed. Kate's perceptions were so right on. "That ability you have to read people so well must come in handy," she said. "You're right, of course. Ryan didn't accept what I said at all. He's not like he used to be. I swear, it's like my feelings are completely unrelated in his mind. He means to have me back, and he told me he's going to convince me that I want to be with him as well."

Daye paused. There was something else to tell. She just wasn't sure about it. There were times it seemed as if Ryan were more and less than he seemed. Hadn't she felt something odd about him when they'd spoken? What was she missing?

Kate watched Daye, she was holding something back, she was certain of it. However she seemed upset enough, Kate didn’t want to make matters worse by prying. “You do love Drew right? I mean you said Ryan wants you back, you are absolutely certain that’s not what you want? Don’t get me wrong, I really like Drew and he makes you happy which is fantastic but…” Kate paused for a long time, there was a lot left unspoken in that silence. “It just wouldn’t be fair to him, Drew I mean, if you still had feelings for Ryan…”

Daye knew that what she felt for Ryan was not love anymore. When they were together, she was sad...and uncomfortable. "I don't want to be with Ryan anymore. When I think about it, I just feel sad...and something else, something that doesn't make any sense."

As Daye sat musing, the taxi pulled up in front of her building. The driver turned to look at them. "That'll be $21.35," he said. Daye handed him a few bills and climbed out of the cab. With Kate following, they grabbed the bags from the trunk and hurried into the building.

Dinner Date - Part I

Kaarin's picture

****** Sunday, August 7, 2005 7:03 PM ******

Daye led the way up to her apartment, unlocked the door and ushered Kate inside. After setting down all her packages, Daye noticed the angry red light blinking rapidly on her machine. "Do you want something to drink?" she asked, Kate, leaning over to press the play button.

“Sure” said Kate “tea would be great.” Kate wandered into the kitchen and began searching in the cupboards as Daye hovered over the answer machine as the first of many messages began to play…

Daye grimaced at the sound of Drew's voice coming over the machine. It really had been too bad of her to not even call him all day. There were a dozen messages from him, starting out cheery, moving through concerned and ending up positively frantic. He said he had even come by the apartment looking for her. Daye grabbed the handheld and made her way into the kitchen where Kate had begun searching her cupboards. "It's in the little one over the stove. If you want milk, there's some in the fridge. And there's lemon and honey too," she said. "I need to call Drew. He's beside himself." Daye bit her lip. "I forgot to mention that when we got here from the airport last night someone had torn apart my bedroom. I spent the night at Drew's and came home early this morning to clean up. That's when I realised I needed the clothes. I can just imagine what Drew must be thinking about now. You don't mind, do you?"

“Of course not” said Kate as she turned the heat up on the stove and placed the old fashioned tin kettle over the heat. Drew had sounded positively frantic on the answer phone, considering what Daye had just told her about her place being broken into she wasn’t surprised either.

Daye dialled Drew's number, wincing when he answered on the first ring, his voice full of concern. "Hello Drew," she said. "I'm sorry I didn't call you earlier. I just got in and got your messages."

"Where have you been?" Drew sounded like he was fighting not to shout. "I've been going crazy here. Why did you leave without me this morning? I didn't know where you went or even if you were ok."

Daye responded," Look, I am sorry. I needed to clean this mess up myself. And there are a lot of things going on. I wanted to think about some stuff. I didn't mean to worry you. I was wrong not to call. I'm fine now. After I cleaned up the room, I went to get some groceries and ran into Kate at the market. You remember Kate, right?"

"Yes, how could I forget her," Drew asked. "I'm sorry I blew up. I was just scared." Drew's voice grew husky. "I love you. I don't want anything to happen to you."

Daye smiled. She felt much the same way herself. Daye suddenly wanted very much to see him. "Hang on a second, okay?" she said into the receiver. "Kate," she spoke to her friend, who was putting the kettle on the stove," I just had a thought. Do you thing you and Galen might want to have dinner with Drew and I tonight? I could whip up something and we could just sit around and talk. i know it's sort of tame and normal for us, but what do you think?"

“No demons or Vampires? No ancient, portal opening devices or megalomaniac witches?” Kate smiled. “Oh okay you talked me into it.” She grinned again to herself as she poured the boiling water into the teapot, *a double date, that’s… that’s urm, that’s normal* she thought. Right now ‘normal’ was the most blessed word Kate could think of.

Daye nodded, putting the phone back to her ear. "Drew," she said, "do you want to come over for dinner? I invited Kate and Galen to join us. And I'm cooking."

Drew had already had some of Daye's cooking, so he knew firsthand how good it was. Besides, he missed her. "Sure, love, I'll be there in a bit, ok?"

Daye agreed and after a few "I love you's" hung up the phone. She strode over to the refrigerator and pulled out some ingredients. She quickly started assembling a vegetable lasagne, speaking to Kate over her shoulder. "Do you want to call Galen?" she asked.

Kate smiled taking up the phone and started punching in the long number for his cell phone, Kate hated that phone… Daye rushed around the kitchen putting pans on the stove, measuring different ingredients and then mixing them all together. Kate wished she was that adept at cooking, the best she could manage was toast, even then she burnt it half the time. She was beginning to think that Galen wouldn’t answer his phone *typical* she thought, *now he decides not to answer the bloody thing* when suddenly the ringing stopped and she heard his familiar voice on the other end.

Kate suddenly wondered if Galen would mind being roped into this double date thing. He obviously knew Daye, although not that well from what she could gather. He didn’t know Drew at all… But knowing Galen he’d probably charm the pants off them like he did everyone else – this time hopefully without vomit.

Daye glanced at Kate as she talked to Galen. It was obvious from her smiles and occasional laughter that things were going well between them. Kate lowered her voice whispering something and then smiling again, Daye grinned and returned to her cooking. A few minutes later Kate had hung up the phone and had re-established herself in the kitchen.

“He’s got somethings to finish up at work, can you believe he has to work on a Sunday? Oh and then he’ll come on over, he shouldn’t be long.”

Kate smiled again; “Is there anything you want me to do? That’s assuming of course you don’t want it ruined by the anti-chef here.”

Daye laughed lightly. She glanced at the lasagne she had just finished putting together and shook her head. That was well on its way. It would go good with some home-made bread. She glanced at the clock, which read 7:30. If they were going to eat tonight, she would have to nudge things along a bit. She slid the lasagne pan into the oven, and turned to the pantry. "If you could put together a salad, I'll make up some bread. The lasagne will be done in a half-hour. There are all sorts of salad fixings in the fridge," Daye began to pull flour, salt, yeast, and such from the open pantry.

Kate watched Daye in amazement “You make bread?” she shook her head in wonder, “yeah I can’t muck up a salad, or at least I can’t burn it or set it on fire…” Daye looked at her with speculation, “I haven’t done that in a while… but I’m very handy with a fire extinguisher just in case…”

They spent the next twenty minutes chopping, peeling, or in Daye’s case, kneading and… kneading some more – it looked like a lot of trouble baking bread. Kate thought she’d stick to buying it from the store, safer that way – at least it was fit for human consumption.

The next time Kate looked at the clock it was 7:56pm, Daye had just nipped into her bedroom to get changed when there was a knock at the door. Kate looked stressed, she was just trying to straighten things out when she knocked over the flour, managing to get half of it all over herself.

*Damn, damn, damn* she thought as the oven timer rang, she quickly turned off the stove as Daye had instructed her, and dusted some of the flour from herself as she hurried to answer the door.

Galen had been on his way downstairs to records when the cell phone rang. The only thing that let him know he had forgotten it was that it began to ring after shutting and locking the door to his office. Fortunately, whoever was calling didn't hang up as he fought to open the door. Hearing Kate's voice on the other end gave him an uplift after another nice stressful day. "I’ll be there as soon as I can," he had told her when she mentioned dinner, despite knowing neither Daye nor Drew that well. They were friends of Kate’s and that was good enough for him. "I just have to take care of something at work real quick."

When he hung up the phone, Galen raced downstairs to records with the file he had pulled. Editing it would have to wait until later. On the way to Daye's, Galen decided to grab a cup of coffee, then was successful in spilling it all over his arm when some fool decided that now was the best time to pull out in traffic, despite the Ford pulling out in the street. *Great. Have to keep my jacket on now.*

After seeing the door open at Daye's, Galen suppressed a laugh. Kate was in the kitchen. He got a chance to try her attempts at cooking before, but would shut up, eat, and be full of glowing praise if it killed him. "Hi, Kate," he said, kissing her cheek. Then he couldn't resist making the joke. "So, who's winning the fight, you or the flour?"

Kate sighed, sending another small cloud of flour particles into the air, “Oh you know you love my cooking so stop pretending.” She smiled as he dusted the flour from her nose and then kissed her again. “Daye made bread” Kate said after he pulled away, leaving her dazed. “She actually made it with her own hands, isn’t that amazing?”

Galen leaned in and kissed her again, “Daye’s in the… bedroom… hmmm, cleaned up…“ mumbled Kate as Galen continued to kiss her softly and assuredly. Suddenly there came another knock at the door. Kate drew away from Galen in surprise and Daye popped her head around the doorway.

Daye had slipped into a comfortable, dark blue skirt and cream-coloured peasant blouse. Her hair was down, tucked behind her ears and she wore simple silver on her earlobes and neck. She smiled warmly at Galen, and raised an eyebrow at Kate's flour covered dishevelled appearance.

"Why, hello, Agent Eldridge," Daye said, brushing past them to reach the front door. "I'm so glad you could come."

Daye swung open the front door to reveal Drew standing in the hall, holding a bouquet of wildflowers in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. Daye took hold of his arm and led him through the entryway. Drew followed, nodding at Kate and Galen as they past. He set the wine and flowers down on the bar that separated the kitchen from the living room, and pulled Daye into his arms. He kissed her breathless and then released her, grinning wickedly. Daye laughed softly, and then turned to wait for Kate and Galen to come out of the hall so she could make introductions.

Kate felt kind of silly that she and Galen had been caught kissing in the hallway like a couple of over sexed teenagers. They both followed Daye and Drew back into the kitchen, Kate still brushing flour off her clothing.

“I urm, had a mishap…” mumbled Kate in reply to Daye’s questioning glances.

Daye smothered a laugh at the sight of Kate and her kitchen. "Right," she said. She turned to Drew. "Drew, you already know Kate, and this is her...uhm...friend Galen Eldridge. Galen, this is Drew Langley."

Drew extended his hand to Galen. "Nice to meet you," he nodded at Kate.

Galen took Drew's hand only slightly apprehensively, as his usual paranoia had dropped considerably over the past two days. "Pleased to meet you as well." The temptation to make a wisecrack was too great to resist after releasing Drew's hand, and he made as if to motion to something standing next to him. "Were you going to introduce Harvey?" Hopefully, the look on his face would make it plain that he did not intend to be taken seriously.

Daye looked confused for a moment, and then turned to Kate. "So, does he have a ghost companion," she asked," or is the guy just nuts?'

“Just plain nuts” said Kate in bewilderment “you know… I think I’m just going to get changed, I think the flour look was last season..” she smiled before picking up some of the things she had bought that day and then wandered down the hallway in search of somewhere to get changed.

"There's a guest room on the left," she called out. Daye smiled at Galen and Drew. "There's some stuff to drink in there," she said, pointing to an oaken cabinet set near the patio doors. "There's ice in the freezer. You can go ahead and fix some drinks if you like. I have a couple of things to finish up in here."

Daye turned her back on the two men and walked over to the towel covered bowl resting on top of the stove. She lifted the towel, and pulled out a large ball of dough. To conserve time, she had set a small spell on the bread to get it to rise quickly.

"Beats the heck out of the old fashioned way," she mumbled, dividing the dough and placing it in two prepared bread pans. She slipped the pans into the oven, and glanced surreptitiously over her shoulder to make sure the men were doing alright.

Galen had managed to avoid breaking out laughing over Daye and Kate taking him seriously. Drew looked slightly concerned at the prospect of being left alone with him. "Don't worry, that was just a joke. About Harvey." He considered the prospect of drinks for a minute, then followed Daye in to the kitchen. "You don't have anything without alcohol, do you? Been trying to cut down recently..." and the wine last night was an exception, he didn't say.

Daye was chanting over the oven when Galen came in, asking about non-alcoholic refreshments. She turned quickly around, looking guilty.

"Never mind," Galen said after seeing her look and heading back into the living room and looked over to the other man. "Drew, right? Let me introduce you to a good friend of mine, Mr. Vodka Tonic...."

Daye followed Galen out in the living room, feeling rather foolish. "Uhm sorry," she said. She went over to the bar; pulling open cabinets and removing bottles. "I've got plenty for non-drinkers here."

She was avoiding meeting Galen's gaze, quite embarrassed to have been caught using her magic to hurry the meal along. She turned around, braving a smile. "What did you have in mind?" she asked brightly.

At that moment Kate returned from the direction of the guestroom. She’d managed to clean up the flour from her face and brush most of it our of her hair, which hung simply over her shoulders. She had to admit she was happy with the new dress she had bought, even though she felt slightly over dressed for a simple dinner party with friends – the ‘little black dress’ was a classic, even if this one was very little – cut just below the knee, and strapless. The silky fabric felt good against her skin, Kate loved it, and she had the feeling Galen would appreciate it too.

“Hi everyone,” said Kate brightly, “sorry it took so long, it just so happens that flour is almost impossible to get out of your hair.” She looked around the room to see Daye rummaging around in the drink cabinet, Drew hovering over her and Galen with his jaw almost hitting the floor.

Galen's heart skipped a beat when Kate came back in to the room. Daye's question was lost in his mind. "Oh my god, Kate," he said, walking over to her and smiling. "Wow." This last came out as a stammer, and it took a moment for his mind to start working again. *Look at yourself* his mind screamed. *She's turning you in to a babbling idiot! Drool later you fool, even if it does hug her body in all the right places.* "You look radiant." Then Galen started mentally kicking himself in the head. Even though it was true, it sounded too much like a line.

Daye watched Galen and Kate, hiding a smile. She wondered how long Kate would leave him floundering like that. She turned her smile on Drew. "Why don't you finish up here?" she asked. "I have a bit more to do for dinner."

Drew nodded, brushing a kiss on her cheek before she stepped out of the room. Drew turned to regard the other couple, obviously oblivious to his presence at the moment. He cleared his throat audibly.

Kate had just given Galen a long, lingering kiss as Drew’s cleared his throat in an attempt to make his presence known. Kate drew away from Galen and turned to face him. Drew handed her a glass of red wine and Kate smiled appreciatively.

“Tahiti obviously agrees with you too” she said smiling, “so how did the research go in Ireland after my departure, I trust you weren’t too distracted…” she smiled again knowingly. “The Emerald Isle is very beautiful this time of year…”

Drew blushed and stammered, "Uhm...Ireland was...nice. I got a lot of information on the castle and it's surroundings. The university was pleased. And Tahiti...well, Tahiti was...amazing."

Drew went to sit down in one of Daye's overstuffed arm chairs, leaving the sofa for Kate and Galen to snuggle up in. "So, Kate, how did you and...uhm...Galen meet?"

Galen coughed awkwardly at the question, unsure of how much Kate would want to tell, and how much would be believed at any rate. When he and Kate sat down on the sofa, Galen froze for a moment before cautiously placing an arm around her. "That's a rather interesting question," he said, whispered in low voice to Kate. "How much do you want to tell him?"

Kate raised her eyebrow in speculation, Drew looked from Galen and then to Kate waiting for a reply. “He was my knight in shining armour...” smiled Kate looking up at Galen. Drew frowned in confusion. “I don’t think you’d believe me if I told you” said Kate taking another drink from her glass.

Galen took the hint to not tell everything, smiling back at Kate. "I work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation," he said. "We met at work. Let's leave it at that." Kate was right as well, he probably wouldn't believe the story if he heard it. Who in their right mind would?

Daye came breezing out of the kitchen at that moment, and guffawed when she heard Galen's explanation. She caught his eye, her own twinkling with mirth. She placed a finger surreptitiously against her mouth in silent promise to keep quiet.

"Drew, baby," Daye said, "quit grilling my friends. That's the FBI agents job. You'll make him feel inadequate. By the way, dinner is served."

Dinner Date - Part II

Meredith Bell's picture

****** Sunday, August 7, 2005 8:27 PM ******

Daye returned to the kitchen for Kate's salad and the fresh bread. In moments, the four of them were seated around the dining room table, passing food and stories like long time friends.

******Sometime Later******

Everyone was just finishing up when a loud rap sounded at the front door. Daye looked up at the clock puzzled. It was nearly 11 and she had no idea who might come by so late.

Galen glanced around nervously, and looked at Daye, the clock, then back at Daye again. His instincts told him that something was wrong. "Are you expecting anybody?"

Daye shook her head. "No, no one," she replied. "I haven't even let anyone know I'm back in town yet." Daye started to rise from the table as the knock sounded once more.

Kate also rose to her feet, she could feel something was wrong. The palms of her hands were itching and she felt short of breath. Galen frowned at her distress.

"Kate? What is it?" he asked in concern.

"No, nothing… I don't know." Kate muttered distractedly as she walked with Daye towards the door.

The two women exchanged a glance, as though they were both thinking the same thing. Kate held Daye back and opened the door a crack. The darkness from the hallway gave the stranger at the door an eerie, malevolent look, but it wasn't that what forced the audible intake of breath from Kate, it was the fact that she recognised this man, the same dark, handsome stranger that had stood beside Daye in her dream. The man was Ryan…

Daye felt overwhelmed by apprehension when she and Kate approached the door. That apprehension turned to frustration when she caught sight of Ryan standing on the other side. He held a bouquet of wildflowers in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other When he moved forward and kissed her fiercely, Daye felt hysterical laughter bubbling up in her. Hadn't Drew arrived in the same fashion a few hours earlier?

Galen had followed behind the two women, and let his hand trail in to his jacket to rest near his pistol. Experience taught him that being armed at all times in his line of work was good. He removed his hand when the man entered, but tried to position himself better if the situation got out of control. That was when he turned to the hall and saw Drew beginning to enter the room, as this new stranger held Daye in his embrace. "Try to stay calm," Galen cautioned Drew. "We don't want any trouble."

Drew looked at Galen as if he was completely crazy. This guy was asking him to remain calm while another man pawed the woman he was in love with. "Exactly how calm would you be about now?" he hissed, pushing past him towards where Kate, Daye, and Ryan now stood.

Kate saw Drew storming towards Ryan, knowing what Daye had told her about her demonic ex-lover, she knew he'd flatten Drew with a single blow. Kate positioned herself between him and Daye, pulling her free from Ryan's embrace. She frowned at him in guarded suspicion as he released Daye but remained standing triumphantly in the doorway.

Daye looked dazed, gazing up at Ryan in bemused shock. This was the second time today that he had managed to do that to her. He, on the other hand, looked almost smug as he stared down Kate. *Daye's found herself a friend,* he sneered inwardly. Maybe Ryan could find a way to use that to his advantage. At that moment, Drew managed to reach them, taking hold of Daye's arm and drawing her away. Ryan kept his expression neutral while white hot rage boiled within him. Here was Daye's new lover in the flesh. He mastered the urge, nearly overwhelming, to beat the guy to death

"Daye?" Drew had turned her into his arms and was clutching her tightly. "Are you okay, baby?"

Daye snuggled against Drew, wishing she could take back the last few minutes. She nodded against his chest, not quite ready to speak.

Kate felt the burning anger boiling in Ryan, it frightened her that anyone could feel such intense, murderous hatred towards another person. She held her ground firmly, watching Drew hold Daye protectively. She turned back to Ryan.

"I think you should leave, you're obviously not welcome here anymore."

Ryan sneered, "I don't take orders from you," he looked over towards Daye as she hung on to Drew, wrapped in his arms. Ryan pushed Kate aside in an attempt to get to Daye.

Kate turned on the spot, "I said, you should leave now" she repeated more firmly.

Ryan returned to face her, he stood only inches away, towering above her menacingly. "Who are you to tell me what to do little girl?" he spat venomously, keeping his voice quiet and controlled.

Galen swore to himself as the situation had started to degenerate, and rapidly moved over towards Kate. This newcomer was obviously dangerous and determined. Mostly, he was concerned for Kate's safety more than her friends'. The menace in his voice was unmistakable. Galen allowed his right arm to drift inside his jacket as he slipped the other arm around Kate's waist. "Sir, we don't want any trouble here." The sound of the safety clicking off was inaudible. "Leaving now is in your best interests."

Daye suddenly realised the situation was rapidly spiralling out of hand when she heard the click of Galen releasing the safety on his sidearm. She pushed away from Drew and swung around to face her friends, who were facing off with Ryan. He stood just within the doorway, his body completely blocking the opening. He was staring coldly at Kate and Galen, but as soon as Daye turned around, his complete focus was on her. Daye felt physically ill at the sight of the pain and anguish in his eyes.

Ryan saw Daye's moment of weakness and seized on it, calling forth a well of hurt to shine in his eyes. He knew he'd hit pay dirt at the mirroring sadness in hers.

"Daye," he made sure his tone sounded lost and confused. "I just wanted to see you. I'm sorry if I've caused trouble. Please, love, I just want to talk to you."

Kate was reeling in confusion. The overwhelming malice had just vanished, as though someone had shone a light into the shadows. If she didn't know any better she'd be feeling sorry for him right now. The hurt in his voice sounded so genuine, his face had softened completely, he didn't seem like the same person at all. However this only made Kate even more suspicious of him, *just what kind of game was he playing here?* she thought in bewilderment.

As Ryan moved to go over to Daye, Kate once more blocked his path. Although she kept her eyes fixed on him her voice called back, questioning to her friend. "Daye…?"

Daye hesitated, wanting only to tell her friend to send Ryan away. She wished she could tell Kate to make him disappear...permanently. Daye knew, however, that she couldn't do anything of the sort. She stepped away from Drew. "No, it's alright, Kate," she said. "I'll talk to him. I mean, I should talk to him." She turned to Drew, and implored him to understand. "I promise I explain all this just as soon as I can. For right now, I need you to trust me."

Drew frowned, but nodded reluctantly. Daye walked over to where Ryan was standing. "We'll go talk out there," she said, indicating the hall. "I only have a couple of minutes, though."

Ryan agreed, taking her arm possessively. Drew was steaming, but he'd made a promise. He didn't move as Daye and Ryan went out the door, shutting it behind them. He was left standing alone in the entryway with Kate and Galen.

Galen watched Daye and Ryan disappear down the hall, and removed his hand from his jacket again. Despite doing this, he was still as nervous as ever. Hopefully, they would be able to reach her in time if something went wrong. Letting go of Kate, he positioned himself to be able to follow in the shortest time should the worst happen. Drew seemed to be rather nervous. There was something mighty peculiar about the stranger, but he wasn't about to say that.

"Don't worry," he told Drew. "Kate and I are here if anything happens. Which it shouldn't...." Galen glanced hopefully at Kate for her help in reassuring Drew, as she seemed to know more about what was going on.

Kate looked anxiously towards the door; she could sure use a cigarette right now, shame Daye was such a fanatic about not smoking in the apartment. She fiddled with her fingers nervously before turning back to Galen and Drew.

"Nothing's going to go wrong, besides Daye can take care of herself. She's a lot stronger than you all give her credit for…" Inside Kate was tied up in knots, she knew Daye was being pulled in two over Ryan, though she hated to admit it. She also didn't trust this Ryan as far as she could throw him, *which must be quite far actually* she thought, *especially using telekinesis…* She shook the stray thoughts from her mind and turned to Drew who was impatiently biting his fingernails.

She walked over to him and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "You haven't got anything to worry about you know? Ryan is in the past, Daye told me so… she doesn't have any feelings for him… she loves you."

Drew gave Kate a strange look. "She talked to you about this?" he asked. "I don't even know who the hell this guy is. Before he showed up at the door a few minutes ago, I didn't even know he existed. Now, Daye's out there alone with him, and he just had his hands all over her, not to mention his mouth. Who the hell is Ryan anyway?"

Kate looked away cringing, as she recalled Daye's words "I haven't told Drew anything about Ryan yet. How do you tell someone who loves you that your first love, long since believed dead, is not as dead as you were led to believe." She'd sure as hell put her foot in it now! "Urm, I thought she would have said something…" Kate lied hopelessly as she leaned against a side table. "Ryan's, well Ryan was…" *Oh bloody hell he's gonna find out soon enough* she thought. "…He's Daye's ex… as in over, past tense, finished with" she added hastily.

Drew still looked angry. He couldn't believe Daye had failed to mention this Ryan guy to him. If he was her ex, what was he doing here? Why hadn't Daye mentioned him? They had talked a lot in Ireland about their mutual pasts. Drew thought an ex-lover was a serious enough thing to bring up. He'd told her about both of the women he had been involved with before meeting Daye. Why hadn't she done the same? What was she trying to hide about this guy? Drew was going to ask Kate some more questions, but realised that wasn't really fair to her. He held his tongue. Drew walked into the living room and started to pace.

As Drew left the hallway Kate began to pace herself, biting her lip regretfully. "Damn it! Damn it!" she said, berating her slip up.

"Well, look at it this way," Galen told Kate. "At least they aren't trying to kill each other." Her look said that she was not amused. Galen glanced at the doorway, in to the living room, then back at the doorway again. This was not a good situation to be in. Still, there was something bothering him about this whole thing. "What's going on here? Really."

Daye followed Ryan out into the hallway and glanced around. It was late and there was no telling if her neighbours were already in bed. She started down the hall without speaking. There was a small patio area at the end of the hall near the elevators. She made her way there with Ryan in tow. Once they got outside, she turned to him, her thoughts a whirl of anger and sadness. "Why are you here?" she asked. "I told you earlier, we're through."

Ryan looked hurt. "And I told you Daye, I'm not giving up that easy," he said. "I love you. The time that's past hasn't changed that. I mean to win you back. So, who were those people? That was the guy you mentioned earlier, right?"

"Leave them out of this," Daye snapped. "They're my friends, and this has nothing to do with them. This has to do with you and me. I don't have the same feelings for you anymore. Can't you see? I don't want to be with you."

Ryan didn't respond. Instead, he grabbed Daye and pulled her roughly against him. She couldn't stop the quick intake of breath or the sudden pounding of her heart. "But you still want me, Daye," Ryan purred, stroking her arms slowly. He cradled her against his body and crooned. "Your blood burns like mine. We belong together. You can feel it too."

Daye felt herself falling mesmerised as he continued to woo her with his words and touch. She felt as if she were drugged or enchanted.

Ryan used his powers to lull Daye, careful to not do too much. He only wanted her to feel comfortable. He gently coerced her to believe what he said, not totally controlling, but rather nudging her on a path that a part of her already desired.

Finally, he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers. The taste of her excited him, and he lost control. He started to draw her essence into himself, felt her weakening, He revelled in her taste, when suddenly he was thrust back by an outside force.

In his head Ryan heard a familiar voice. "Now, now, pet. Patience. You have work to do still. Your time will come. Now, let her go."

Ryan gritted his teeth and fought his own urges. Daye still stood in his arms, held loosely, her eyes closed and a dreamy smile on her lips. He could taste her on his own. "Daye," he said, softly, waking her from her daze. "Maybe you should go. I don't want to take advantage of you. When we come together again, it will be because we are both ready. But don't forget, I know how you really feel."

Daye was staring at him in shock. Ryan brushed his mouth across her forehead and turned to leave. Striding purposefully out the door, and leaving Daye alone in the dark. She stood there for a moment and then hurried back to the apartment, feeling disgusted and confused.

Kate was waiting as soon as Daye opened the door to the apartment. She shuffled over to where she stood, looking like she was about to throw up. "Daye, are you all right?"

Daye felt so odd. "I...I don't know," she said. She looked around the hall, noticing Drew was not there. "Did Drew leave?" she asked, her voice filled with dread.

"Urm, no" said Kate gesturing towards the kitchen, "I kind of let it slip who Ryan was, I'm sorry… I wasn't thinking he was just... he looked so…" Kate didn't finish her sentence as Daye hurried to find Drew.

Kate and Galen followed slowly behind as Daye approached a frantic looking Drew. Galen held on to Kate, clearing his throat uncomfortably. Daye turned around fleetingly.

"Perhaps we should go and…" he cleared his throat again, "… you both have things to talk about…"

Kate looked searchingly at Daye, to make sure she was going to be okay, she gave a slight, thankful nod then turned back to Drew. Kate heaved a sigh of relief as Galen picked up her things and they headed home.

Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

Kaarin's picture

******Sunday, August 7th 2005 – 11:24pm******

Galen loaded Kate’s things into the trunk of his car while Kate shakily lit up a cigarette and inhaled deeply. She leaned against the side of the vehicle trying to relax, and failing. Galen watched her with concern, replaying everything she had told him about this demon guy Ryan. Kate stubbed out the cigarette as Galen pulled down the trunk and walked over to where she stood.

Galen cautiously brought his arm around Kate’s shoulder and held her close, trying to comfort her. “Kate, there’s no way you could have known this would happen,” he said. “Try to relax. There isn’t much else we can do here, at any rate. Our meddling probably won’t help Daye and Drew right now.”

“I know… I know” said Kate reluctantly. She wrapped her arms around Galen and rested her head against her shoulder. She was so glad to be back in Los Angeles, to have him here, holding her close. Galen tightened his hold on her as he felt her relax in his embrace.

He just stood there for a few minutes, holding Kate before finally speaking again. There was so much he wanted to say, he didn’t know where to begin. Making a mental note to have a background check run on Ryan, he asked, “Do you want to go home?”

He slowly traced small circles on her bare shoulders with his fingers. Kate looked up into his eyes and shook her head no. “I don’t want to be alone tonight,” her heart was beating furiously now as Galen slowly ran his fingers through her hair, holding her gaze.

“Do you want to come back to my place?” he asked slightly nervously.

Kate nodded her head in agreement.

“That’s great, come on, let’s go!” he said hastily, ushering Kate into the car and starting the engine at breakneck speed.

In less than twenty minutes they were outside Galen’s apartment. Galen already had his keys out before they reached the front door, and quickly opened the lock. They stumbled inside as they kissed each other with an insatiable passion. Kate pushed Galen back and hard against the door, shutting it and began loosening his tie as their hands travelled where they pleased.

“Maybe… we should… slow down,” Galen said between kisses.

“We waited…. didn’t we?” Kate replied as she slipped his jacket off and let it fall to the floor.

“Longest 48 hours of my life!” The air was thick with the urgency of desire between them, as each let their hands wander around the other’s body searchingly. Galen forced himself to pull away for a moment and shut off his mobile phone. “We aren’t going to get interrupted this time” he grinned, as he casually threw it on the side table.

“As if I’d give you a chance to answer it tonight” Kate replied, unbuttoning Galen’s shirt and pulling him towards what she hoped was the bedroom. As the shirt fell from Galen’s shoulders, he began to pull her in the opposite direction. In a brief moment of confusion they stumbled and fell together on the couch laughing, Galen pulling Kate down on top of him.

For a long moment, they paused and gazed into each other’s eyes, beginning to grow breathless. With Kate above him, Galen slowly reached around to unzip her dress. Kate arched her back and pressed her body next to his as much as she could, she adored the feeling of him so close against her. Galen sat up and trailed kisses down Kate’s face, starting at her forehead and ending down at her neck and shoulders. Kate shivered in anticipation as Galen slowly caressed her bare skin. Letting the dress fall from her body as they rose, the pair stumbled into the bedroom.

Collapsing on the bed, Kate and Galen let their emotions take control while they worked on the final barriers between them. Kate savoured the feel of Galen’s naked body wrapped around her own in a loving embrace, she gripped his back tightly, pressing her fingers into his flesh as their bodies moved together in impatient desire. Galen felt every muscle in his body tense like a coiled spring, he held onto Kate breathlessly, sinking into her warm embrace as together they reached fulfilment.

When the pleasure coursing though their bodies eventually began to die down, they slowly disentangled their bodies from one another, with a deep relaxed sigh Galen rolled to lie beside Kate. They lay side by side, not able to speak, just breathing and staring up at the ceiling - their heartbeats still throbbing hard, gradually slowed as their breathing returned to normal.

Galen languorously sought out Kate’s hand, and wrapped his fingers around hers. Kate smiled as she turned her head to face him; her cheeks flushed a warm, delicate pink. Galen tightened his hold on her hand and pulled her over to lie against him kissing her softly. Kate sighed contentedly as she rested her head against his chest while Galen wrapped his arms around her body and gently stroked his fingers through her hair, happy and completely contented…

The Morning After

Meredith Bell's picture

When Galen began to wake up in the morning, the first thing he noticed was the feel of a warm body against him. As memories of the previous night returned to him, he smiled and lay in bed just enjoying the feel of being wrapped in Kate's warm embrace. That was when he started to notice an odd feeling. Although the left arm felt perfectly fine, it was as if part of his right had vanished - in reality, it had become trapped under Kate during the night.

He heard Kate let out a little moan as she began to stir and wake up. Galen smiled and lightly kissed her. "Good morning Kate. Rise and shine."

Kate smiled sleepily and returned Galen’s kiss, rolling onto her stomach while still resting against his firm body. “Morning,” she mumbled, stifling a yawn.

"Um... Kate," Galen said after a moment, his arm still pinned. "As pleasant as this is... I can't feel the lower half of my right arm."

“Oh!” Kate giggled and rolled to one side, Galen stretched out his arm as the feeling surged back. Kate watched him as a wicked grin spread across her face. “Oh, let me kiss it better…”

Galen grinned as she laid a trail of soft kisses across his arm, brushing her cheek against his flesh. Galen gathered her into his arms, rolling her over and kissed her deeply. Kate giggled again as he gently pulled away.

"Thank you," Galen said, smiling back at her and letting his other arm trail up the side of her body. It was, he figured, an extreme stroke of good luck that he had found a woman like her. A little sunlight shone through the blinds into the bedroom, the dim light making Kate look even more beautiful to him.

"Sleep well last night?" he asked, his grin as wicked as hers, knowing that there was more than one way to interpret that question.

“Sleep? I can’t remember doing much of that,” she said through a playful smile, drawing him back down into her arms. “Maybe you should refresh my memory about last night…”

They began kissing again; Kate ran her hands down Galen’s warm body, caressing his toned chest. Suddenly she pulled back, “Uh,” she said in surprise.

Galen sat up frowning, “What? What is it?”

“Oh nothing,” said Kate a little puzzled, “I just didn’t notice… this scar…” she trailed her fingers across a patch of scar tissue near the top of Galen’s shoulder.

Galen was confused for a moment before he remembered the scar. "Oh, that," he said, laughing and shaking his head. Thoughts of security occurred to him. *To hell with security.* The only problem was finding the right way to tell the story. "You know, there are some really weird species of demons out there. Got this scar from one of the more bizarre ones, down in the Louisiana swamps. Try to imagine, if you will, a pink anthropomorphic crocodile with porcupine quills and a spiked tail. Oh, webbed feet as well,” said Galen as he gestured with his hands. “Anyway, to make a long story short-"

"Too late," Kate said playfully and a little worried at where this was going.

He continued as though she hadn’t said anything. "The damn thing stabbed me with that tail of his. Really hurt bad too." Galen deliberately left out what happened afterwards; he had spent a week in the hospital with a massive fever and a great deal of pain, trying to overcome the poison that the demon had injected into his bloodstream with just one of the spikes that covered its body.

Kate pouted playfully as her fingers traced the outline of the scar. “Does it hurt?”

“No, not anymore,” said Galen watching her expression intently.

“And… this one?” her fingers trailed over his body to another scar just below his ribcage.

"That's a far less interesting story, and a tad more embarrassing," Galen told her. That one went back to his early days with the Bureau. "Was chasing a suspect in a fraud case - that was before they had me on odder cases – he ran into an old abandoned warehouse and I, um, I tripped and kind of landed on a nail. Got it stuck right the way through"

Kate tried hard to hide a smile, running her hand down to his lower abdomen. “Appendix..?” she said questioning, tracing yet another scar.

Galen nodded his head, watching her intently, enjoying the feeling of her hands playing their way across his body. Kate softly kissed each of his scars and Galen sighed in contentment as her silky hair brushed against his bare flesh. Suddenly she pulled away, frowning a little and tilting her head on to one side.

“What?” said Galen watching her contemplative expression.

After a moment she looked up into his eyes and smiled, tapping her fingers lightly against the first scar. “You know…? If you squint your eyes and turn your head a bit, this one kind of looks like Burma.”

Galen could not avoid laughing at that. He pulled Kate close again, kissing her passionately and feeling her body. "Maybe that's where the Crocopines are from," he said, causing Kate to start giggling again. Then his wicked grin returned. "If you want, I can always call in sick today."

Kate smiled, “You do look a little flushed, I definitely think you need to be confined to your bed for a while.”

“Only if you promise to be my nursemaid,” said Galen grinning.

Kate pinned him down in the bed smiling. “Well I do give a good sponge bath… I use my tongue…”

Galen gazed at Kate in awe, a wide grin across his face. Suddenly he leapt for the telephone by the bed and frantically began punching in the numbers.

Daye and Drew talk it out

Firefly's picture

Daye heard Kate and Galen leaving, but her attention was focused on Drew, who sat facing her on the sofa. His expression was tormented, and he hadn’t said a word when she came in. Slowly, Daye walked over to an arm chair and perched on the edge. She watched Drew for a moment longer. “Are you all right?” she asked him.

Drew didn’t answer for a moment, considering the question. “I don’t know how to answer you, honestly,” he said. “I’m not all right, obviously. I’m angry, confused, hurt, and worried about you. I’m not all right though. No, definitely not all right.”

Drew’s voice was so calm that Daye shivered. He was angry, very angry. He had a right to be, too. Daye realized now that she had put off telling Drew about Ryan because she was afraid. She was afraid of how he might react, but she was more afraid of how she had been reacting. To Ryan. Ever since he came back, Daye found herself confused and out of control in his presence. She knew in her head and in her heart that she no longer loved him, but when he was there, she became muddled. It was as if she couldn’t think straight whenever Ryan was around. Frankly, Daye was beginning to doubt her own sanity.

“I should have told you about Ryan,” Daye began.

Drew cut in, “Yes, you should.”

Daye nodded. Drew wasn’t going to give her an inch. *It’s as much as I deserve, I suppose.*

“I can’t explain why I didn’t,” she said. “Not in any way that makes sense, anyway. I just... I have been falling in love with you. And it was so nice. It was so nice getting to know you, and spending time with you. I haven’t felt this way about anyone for a long time. I guess I was being selfish. I didn’t want my life to intrude on what we were doing.”

Daye looked at Drew beseechingly. She wanted him to understand. She saw that he was trying to. “Ryan and I were lovers once, a very long time ago,” she said.

“What happened?” Drew asked. “I get the feeling that it wasn’t your usual break up.”

Daye laughed ruefully. “No, not exactly,” she said. “You see, the thing is, we met when I was very young. Ryan was my first. My first love, my first lover, the man I wanted to spend my life with.”

“So, what happened?” Drew repeated. “Did he cheat on you? Did you cheat on him? I don’t get it. There was some major emotion flying around here earlier. Even I could see that, and I’m just a regular guy.”

“He died,” Daye blurted out.

“Died?!” Drew stood abruptly. “What are you talking about? He was just here a few minutes ago. How can you be telling me he died?”

Daye sighed, looking down at her hands. “Maybe I was a little ashamed of this, maybe that’s another reason I didn’t tell you. It’s been years, but I still felt sort of guilty getting involved with you. Sometimes I still dream about him, you know. It’s like The Council never got involved, like our time together is frozen outside of the rest of the world.”

“Please, sit back down,” Daye instructed. “I’ll try to explain this all to you.”

Drew sat back down on the couch. He watched Daye expectantly.

“Seven years ago, I met Ryan while I was living on the Watcher’s Council estate in Kilkarney. I had been there for almost five years, studying the histories, duties, and responsibilities of the Council. I had very little contact with the outside world. Since I had begun my studies so late, Ambrose, the man who brought me to Kilkarney, wanted me to waste no time early on. I never left the estate grounds. The only free time I had, I spent exploring the wilds around the manor house. I was out on just such an exploration when I met Ryan. He lived in a little cottage on the grounds. I don’t know if the Council even knew he was there. I imagine at some time someone had been aware, but he had never been bothered by anyone while living there. He was very handsome, and mysterious. I was sheltered, and very, very lonely. We started talking that afternoon, and I was fascinated. I came back every day, talking to him, learning about the world. I had never known anyone like him before. It seems only natural now that we fell in love. Then, though, it seemed like a miracle, the most wondrous miracle of all time.”

Daye paused, remembering how young she had been. “We had the most wonderful romance,” she said. “But Ryan had a secret. He wasn’t what he appeared to be. You see, the thing is, Ryan is a demon. He has another appearance, one he assumes after the sun goes down. He explained all of this to me so I wouldn’t be afraid when we finally slept together. He wanted me to understand and trust him completely. And I did. I wasn’t ever afraid of him, not once. We carried on that way for months. But I didn’t realize that there were people following me. I had kept Ryan a secret from the Council, because their stance on demons is cut and dry. They exterminate them. All of them. No matter what.”

“Ryan wasn’t a danger to anyone. I knew that. So, I snuck out to see him. I thought I was so clever. I thought I was fooling everyone,” Daye laughed bitterly. “I was wrong. One night, late in the year, I found out how wrong. Ambrose Delancre, my mentor, my savior, my surrogate father, caught Ryan and I together. He was convinced that Ryan had bewitched me, used his demonic nature to trick me into falling in love with him. He refused to believe that what I felt was real. He ignored my pleas, and brought Ryan up to the main house. Delancre kept me away while they tortured Ryan. To this day, no matter his misguided intentions, I have never forgiven Ambrose for what he did. He came to me later and told me that Ryan had died under torture. I believed him. Why wouldn’t I?”

As Daye spoke, remembered, tears slowly rolled down her face. Drew had risen and come to kneel beside the chair where she sat, taking her hands in his own to offer comfort. “I understand,” Drew said softly. “But why is he here now? Obviously he didn’t die, so where’s he been all this time?”

Daye sighed, wiping tears from her cheek with the back of her hand. She sniffled. “He showed up a few months ago when I was helping my friends rescue Kate. She’d been kidnapped by a group of witches, led by this complete nutcase named Serapis. He was trying to raise another witch from the dead, Janus. Funny thing is she was Kate’s teacher and also the woman Kate had been accused of murdering a few months earlier in England. Turns out Serapis and Janus planned the whole thing and set Kate up. That night, while I was fighting some of the cultists in the clearing, Ryan showed up. He sort of saved me and helped us to defeat the lackeys we were fighting.”

Daye smiled weakly. “You know, that’s where Kate and Galen really met,” she said. “They were sort of tortured together.”

Drew snorted. “Figures,” he said. “You don’t know any ‘normal’ people, do you?”

Daye shook her head, genuinely laughing. “I don’t think so,” she said. “Anyway, after Ryan showed back up, he told me he wanted to get back together. He claims the memory of me is what kept him going in whatever hellhole Ambrose had him stashed. He managed to escape and he says he started looking for me right away. He says he still loves me.”

Drew looked hurt. “I see,” he said. “So, what then? You want to get back together with him, right? I mean, the guy practically died for you. He lost seven years of his life because he fell in love with you. I totally understand. How the hell is a Professor of the Occult supposed to compete with a handsome, heroic demon anyway?”

Daye reached out and cupped Drew’s chin in her hand, bringing his gaze to her. “No, Drew, I don’t want to be with him. I told him that today. I went away with you, and I told myself it was to sort things out in my head, but I knew before we left. I want to be with you. I love you. Ryan is my past, but you’re my present, and hopefully my future.”

Drew’s gaze softened. He touched Daye’s cheek, stroking it gently. “And I guess Ryan doesn’t want to take no for an answer?” he asked. “He doesn’t much seem like the type to give in easily.”

“No, he isn’t,” Daye replied, feeling melancholy all over again. She dropped her gaze from Drew’s. “He doesn’t believe me. He thinks I don’t know my own mind. Says he’s going to convince me.”

Daye didn’t mention her own confusion. She knew what she wanted. She did!

“Nice of him to consider your feelings,” Drew said sarcastically. He pulled Daye into his arms, and settled into the chair with her on his lap. Daye laid her head on his shoulder. It felt good and safe to be held. She was so lucky to have found Drew.

“Don’t worry, baby,” Drew said, stroking her back. “We’ll figure this all out.”

Daye didn’t say anything. She wanted to agree, but her mind kept going back to the kiss she’d shared on the patio with Ryan. No matter what, she couldn’t deny that Ryan had an effect on her. Sighing, she snuggled closer to Drew. Together they sat in silence as the night wore on.

Mariah and Wyatt reunite

Firefly's picture

***** Monday, August 8, 2005 afternoon*****

The man in the crimson robes drank deeply of the foul tasting draught, closing his eyes.

In moments, he stood in the temple, his robes gone in favor of tight fitting black clothing. As one of Mother Mariah’s chosen, he was familiar with his surroundings in her world. He hurried forward to the raised dais at the head of the room, which was surrounded, as always, by burning candles and permeated with the scent of sweet incense. Mariah lounged on a deep red, plush sofa, dressed in layers of gauzy, red fabric. When the man approached, she rose gracefully. He quickly lowered his eyes when he caught sight of her lithe body through the fabric.

“Brother Wyatt,” Mariah’s young voice rang like bells in his ears. Wyatt felt a flood of warmth when she came forward and took hold of his shoulders. “How good to see you. You’ve been away for far too long. I’ve grown lonely without you.”

Wyatt glanced up to find the dazzling girl pouting at him. He felt a flush of pleasure at her words. Wyatt was a special favorite of Mariah. They had shared many deep, meaningful, intimate moments. The secrets of Mariah’s body were not unknown to him, and Wyatt longed for the day when they would find the means to return her to the flesh. Mariah’s work for the Lord would finally begin in earnest then, and she had promised Wyatt he would stand at her side, as her aide and lover. Wyatt longed for the power almost as much as he longed to taste of his mistress in the real world. To show his faithfulness, Wyatt had lain with no mortal woman since he joined Mariah’s ranks nearly four years ago. Many of the men in her service took on similar self imposed celibacy. Few, however, managed to restrain themselves so long.

Wyatt smiled euphorically as Mariah drew him down onto the sofa with her, climbing onto his lap and settling herself astride him. There was no one else in the temple, and Wyatt knew that it would now be closed off to all others until he and Mariah were finished. He leaned back, reveling in the feel of Mariah’s warm flesh rubbing against him. He could feel her heat through his clothes, and although he knew rationally it was not real, Wyatt had never been as aroused as he was in Mariah’s dream.

“Tell me, pet,” Mariah’s childlike voice purred, “did you find anything of use in Europe?”

“Mmmmm, yes,” Wyatt had his eyes closed. He spoke through a haze as she continued to writhe against him. “The ritual is documented, Mother.”

“Wonderful,” Mariah had leaned forward to brush kisses over his skin with her tiny mouth. She was slowly unbuttoning the shirt he wore. “Where is it written?”

“A journal,” Wyatt replied. “The girl has it. She brought it home from the castle. She set the spirits free, as well, Mother.”

“Witch,” Mariah hissed. “Well, never mind that, they will get what they deserve when they are judged. But we must take care of the girl, Amanda. And we must retrieve the journal so we can prepare for the Birth.”

Wyatt’s eyes came slowly open, as Mariah undid his pants and slid her hands inside. He arched against her hand, staring into her face in awe. Long ago, he had shied from her touch, uncomfortable with her youthful appearance. Now, though, he knew this was no child. Only a woman could do the things Mariah was capable of. “Soon, Mother, “Wyatt said, “soon we will have the Soul. Soon we will witness the Birth. Your time is at hand.”

Mariah said nothing, but her joyous laughter drove Wyatt to take her in a sudden burst of lust. Her cries of rapture soon rang out, filling the temple and echoing in his mind.

Wyatt sat up in his tiny apartment, and rose to his feet. He quickly donned street clothes and headed out the door. He would need to be in Alahambra by sunset if he was going to find the creatures Mother Mariah had told him about. Grinning, he strode out of the room.

Daye has an idea

Firefly's picture

***** Monday, August 8, 2005 late morning *****

Daye sat in the back room of Bibliophile, sorting through a box of items and books she’d brought home from the castle in Ireland. There wasn’t much left of value there, as the place had apparently been ransacked on more than one occasion as it stood empty. Daye had brought back only the few things she thought might have value. Among these things was an old book, which might have served as a journal for the heads of the Blaise family. Daye wanted to take some time to read through it, so that she might get a feel for her ancestors, the family she’d never had a chance to know. Today, however, she didn’t have the time or the inclination. She had slept poorly and was feeling really ill. She finished with the box, set out some things to be packed up and sent back to the Council, and locked the journal up in the cabinet in the storeroom.

Daye opened the computer on her desk and proceeded to go through the books, checking to see how the store had done while she was gone. She was happy to see that the summer business had been steady. Daye answered a few e-mails from customers seeking hard to find items, and shut the machine down. She sighed wearily, and leaned back in her chair rubbing her temples, where an African tribal drum solo was beating away at her sanity. She could not remember feeling so tired, or so low. Daye wanted to get in contact with Tash and her other friends, but she just didn’t have the energy. She needed to do something to break the desolate feeling she had now.

Daye glanced around the room, noticing the painting propped against the back wall. It was an atrocious work, depicting a group of unruly, drunken revelers doing the can-can on a city street. Staring at it, Daye was suddenly inspired. Not to go out and get drunk and do the can-can, but rather to have a party. She could invite all her friends and they could invite theirs. She could have it right here in Bibliophile. Maybe Joshua would be willing to cook. That would be a sure way to get her mind of the whole Ryan debacle.

Smiling for the first time all day, Daye flipped the computer back on and opened a new file. In minutes, she was compiling a guest list and drafting an invitation.

Sam gets a job

MrDave's picture

Aug 8th around 10 am

Henna set the papers on Victor's desk. Victor muttered a "thank you" even though he was desperately clicking his mouse trying to get the computer to work. Henna peeked over his shoulder and said, "Um…need some help?"

Victor swivelled around in his chair. "I am trying to see how my stocks are doing on this thing but it is running so slow I can't get anything to come up!"

Henna smiled, "It’s because you have so many windows open. You don't need to keep all of them open at once; you can bookmark things so you can get back to them again."

Victor had an explanation, "But I didn't want to lose them…." He trailed off at her look, "I feel so stupid around these things."

She moved in close to the desk and closed most of the windows. She cancelled the pending print jobs and book marked the important pages. She had to admit to herself that at least there wasn't any porn. Mr Tek didn't seem to go for that. Not even a little. Strange, but then again so was Mr. Tek.

Victor was grateful for her help, "Thanks, Henna, I don't think I would know what to do without you sometimes."

She lowered her eyes, embarrassed, "Mr. Tek, it’s only my second day. You did just fine without me before. I never met anyone who was so diversified. And it’s extremely well organized and documented. It’s almost as if you have spent all your time making sure your assets would manage themselves."

"To be honest, Henna," he said, "it was supposed to. But I am trying to build the Tek Foundation before I need it. It has to do more than provide me with all the money I need. It will have to provide all the money the foundation will need. In other words, it has to grow."

Henna rolled her eyes. Victor laughed, "Don't quit on me yet, Henna, its going to happen. I did not get where I am without anticipating trends. I need you to bring me into the 21st century. I've been doing things like it was still the 19th."

Henna corrected him, "You mean the 20th, right?"

Victor paused. He had slipped, "Yes, of course."

She nodded and started to leave when she pointed to the message at the top of the stack she had brought. "I got a call on that ad this morning. He sounds okay; a little slow maybe. But you aren't hiring a brain surgeon. He gave me a telephone number reference and I called it. They say he'll work hard and show up every day. He also faxed me this reference letter. The cover sheet says it's from Office Depot, so I guess that means he doesn't have a home fax. Not that that means anything. Anyway, I made an appointment for him at one o'clock today."

Victor barely glanced at the letter. He would read it later. He was searching through the Internet reading archaeology studies making sure that the scrolls he had cached in Egypt had not been found. He had barely managed to get out of Turkey with that stuff and he thought it might be useful now that he had allies that could use them. If the scrolls were worth anything he hoped that they could help make this Foundation a reality.

He might have to go back to the University library and search through their library again today. He had managed to locate at least one cache and hired a team in Switzerland to recover it from the Alps where he had hidden it at the turn of the 12th century (or was it the 13th?) He never forgot anything, which helped, but he could not keep tabs on everything either.

It took a lot of money to track down all the stuff he had hidden over the centuries. Soon he would have the infrastructure to retrieve, catalogue, and sell or study everything. He knew that he didn't have much time before some new threat to humanity would raise its head again. And he would try to stop it.

1 pm the same day

Victor punched at the ringing phone a third time hoping he'd hit the right button. Henna's voice came over the speaker, "Mr Tek, remember that applicant I told you about? He's here for his interview."

Victor replied, "I'll be right down," and hoped she had heard him. He left his office and went downstairs to the converted apartment.

Sam wasn’t nervous; this was no big deal. It was just another interview. He’d been through the process so many times now that it was becoming a lifestyle. One bit of advice - one good bit of advice - his father had once given him: “Make looking for work your job.”

Sam had been following this advice. He’d all but forgotten his quest to find Bunny. But now that he was on the verge of a steady income he reminded himself of her treachery; that she was the reason he’d come to this hostile city in the first place.

The waiting room was filled with the clicks of a secretary toiling at her computer. She’d offered Sam a comfortable sofa to sit in, much more pleasant than the folding chairs he’d endured when going for that ‘armory’ job. But this job sounded perfect for him; physical, not too complicated and above all out of the way, a secure place to hole-up in the late hours when indefinable “nasties” roamed the streets.

A wave of relaxation and security came over him. He cleared his throat and smiled at the secretary. She glanced up, grimaced - which was sort of a smile, Sam rationalized - then she resumed her work.

A man entered the room. It was time. Sam’s heart started thumping. Perhaps he wasn’t so carefree after all, now that he was being threatened to perform. The tops of his legs erupted in needle-pricks and his stomach swirled with excitement.

The man was brilliant - gorgeous, well dressed, refined, stern - like no one he’d met so far. Sam zeroed in on his suspenders then glanced down at his own wrinkled attire. A spilt stalk of broccoli had, this morning, besmirched his shirt with a long streak of green across the belly. *I’m under-dressed. I thought I was going for a janitor’s position.* It was too late to go home and change.

Most notably, the man’s jaws sat like iron. He stared at Sam with certain stoicism; Sam watched his jaws rippling and remained seated, immobile. He regarded his potential employer with fear. But he smiled, of course, as sociably as he could.

Always smile. That was the #1 rule for getting any job.

Victor wasn't sure what he expected, but this wasn't it. This guy looked like he had come from Oregon and moved into a gutter in LA. He had a slight odor to him as well. It smelled like...desperation. Like he really didn't care about himself, or anything for that matter. It was the smell that hung around the homeless and desperate men that walked the streets muttering to themselves when they weren't asking for spare change.

Sam had given up. His smile was clean and his breath was fresh. The fragrance of Dial soap was evident. But his clothes were rumpled and his shoes were ... well they didn't look right on him. And nothing matched. Victor looked at the letter Henna had laid on his desk and was now in his hand.

It made sense now, the things in the letter. Sam would never be a captain of industry. He would never be the head of any department. He might not even be able to hold a job. But he was punctual. And right now Victor needed punctual.

The man continued to sit on the sofa, so Victor walked past him and sat next him. He held his hand across his body in a close handshake. *Let’s keep this intimate...this guy might go psychotic if I press a formal interview,* thought Victor.

"How ya doin’ today, Sam? My name is Victor."

“I’m fine, fine,” Sam said. “Thank you for seeing me. I’m very glad to meet you. I… I know I’m underdressed, is that okay? Um, and… I trust that my resume is in good order.” *Oh man, I’m sounding stuck-up.*

“It’s a very good resume, sir, you can read it. Very nice office, will I be working here?” *Shut up, shut up, shut up, Sam, will you just shut up? You’re going to poop away another interview.*

He couldn’t let himself fail again. Not again. Frankly, Sam was running out of choices. And esteem.

Victor nodded at the verbal diarrhea and kept a non-threatening, sort of pleasant ‘I'm listening to you’ smile on his face. He was praying for break in the stream of consciousness when Vrithetek chimed in, *Oh, this guy is a walking hors d’oeuvres. I bet he tastes JUST like a tater tot. Taste him and find out huh?*

*Shut up! Shut up!* Victor wasn't sure who he was thinking to.


Tash yawned and stretched as she climbed out of bed and went about her morning (well, noontime) ritual of shower, coffee and breakfast. Last night’s vampire hunting had seemed as though it would be futile; she’d spent hours patrolling various haunts and finding nothing. Then, just when she’d decided maybe she could call it an early night and go home there’d been a gang of three bloodsuckers menacing some girls leaving a nightclub.

Now she was a little stiff and sore but at least the new scratch, while long, wasn’t deep. It would heal soon enough, probably without even a scar. The day was already hot, so Tash dressed lightly in shorts and a bright blue halter-top. So long as she stayed within the apartment building she wasn’t overly fussed about covering up the scars.

Her coffee downed, she left to see what Victor was up to today, taking the stairs down to his office two at a time. She felt in high spirits this afternoon.

Bursting brightly into the office, Tash nodded a 'hello' to Henna then flashed a beaming smile at Victor, her eyes sparkling. Her glance took in the scruffy individual sitting next to Victor. His aura was full of browns and dull pinks and yellows. An overlay of red fear spotted the drab colours here and there. This guy was seriously down and out.

The smile she reserved for Victor dimmed only slightly for the newcomer, "Hi, sorry to interrupt." She made an embarrassed moue at Victor, "Sorry, love, I'll come back when you aren't busy."

Victor jumped on the distraction from the awkward moment. He stood up and put an affectionate arm around her waist to draw her back into the office.

"No, no! Tash, this is Sam. He's applying for the janitor position.” Victor turned his back to Sam and rolled his eyes for Tash's benefit.

"Sam, this is my..." Victor paused as he turned back towards Sam. He was unsure how to introduce her to this guy. *Best be blunt. This guy may not take the hint.* "...girlfriend," he finished.

Sam nodded. He kept nodding, not sure what else to do or say in the presence of the unexpected. Tash was a black woman, a Negroid. No - Sam’s failure at the Denny’s was rising in flashes - she was an ‘African American’. The boss’s girlfriend wasn’t a black at all. No sir. She was simply a girlfriend. An African American girlfriend. *Don’t act racist, don’t act racist… You are not your father… You are not him. Tash is just a person. Act normal, Sam!*

And while he was nodding he was stooping forward. His hand reached out tentatively, erratically, afraid to touch her gloved hands. His own hands were soaked in sweat, for the weather in these parts could do that - freeze you, then boil you. Golly, how could Tash be wearing gloves? Her flesh should have been melting in those things. At least Sam wouldn’t have to touch her palms; the hands of African Americans had always repelled him. Sometimes they looked orange, a mockery of white.

Sam was now on his feet.

Tash didn’t seem to be suffering his awkwardness, and she gave him her hand with a kind gesture. The tension eased from Sam’s shoulders as her fingers curled around his. She seemed, if anything, amused, not antagonistic. It was as if Sam noticed her face for the first time. She was ... shiny. Not black. Her skin was dark, yes, but smooth and glowing against the lamplight, and in it he saw gold and vanilla and a feminine blush that was not black by any means, but instead a cosmos of shades. Sam looked to Victor, then back to Tash. They sort of made sense. These two struck Sam as right together.

In an instant, Tash’s hands grew strong, indicating the handshake was over, so Sam pulled back and remembered to say, “Nice to meet you.” He couldn’t look her in the eyes. Not for her ethnicity, but for her sudden beauty. Dad would never have thought to notice something like that. Maybe there was hope for Sam after all.

As Sam stood and slowly inched his hand towards hers, Tash managed to keep her expression from turning frosty. His thoughts had come through clear as a bell. It wasn't often she'd been confronted with racism. She guessed she'd been lucky in where she had been living. But then his thoughts of repugnance were replaced with something Tash found perhaps more disturbing. *Oh, God, please don't let him fancy me...*

For the briefest instant she tensed involuntarily and Sam disengaged his hand from hers. She stood before him for a second or two longer. There was something… It was just on the periphery of her awareness. What? There were so many murky colours in his aura they tended to wash into each other. But there! In the region of his throat. It was almost lost among the general brown of low self-esteem.

But it was there. The deep red of chronic trauma. But no sign of any black. Hmm. Maybe it wasn’t vampire bites. Tash knew she tended to see vampires in any wound. A pity she couldn’t see the flesh of his neck to be sure. Was it possible he was being bitten without being aware of it? She perused the sorry state of the man in front of her. It certainly wouldn’t be hard for even a moderately skilled vampire to enthral him.

*And it may not be anything like that at all, either.* Tash berated herself. She could feel Victor’s approval, and guessed he was about to hire this man. *Fine, I’ll be able to keep an eye on him. I’ll find out and take it from there.*

Victor watched the exchange with interest. Tash could be both friendly and loving or she could be hard and unforgiving. She seemed to harden for a second and then softened. But only a little. She didn’t dislike him, but something about him made her guarded. He'd have to ask her about it later.

Sam's reaction was more interesting. He stood and waves of tension and heat radiated from him. Victor could smell the sweat rolling down his back from apprehension and fear. Victor wasn't sure this guy would be able to cut it. Then he watched Sam all but gawk at Tash's smile and look down at her gloved hands. Victor knew that there might be some hope here. Here was a man who appreciated people who appreciated him. Victor knew the kind. And they were excellent clay in the hands of a master sculptor.

Victor knew right then he had to hire Sam. He could be moulded into a fine addition. Loyal, trustworthy and stable. It would take careful work and Victor would need to be sure that Sam was not going to freak out if things got surreal.

Tash laid a hand briefly on Victor's shoulder as she turned to leave the room. She'd have to talk to him about Sam later. She couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy, but there was some disturbing undertone there. It went beyond the unfortunate thoughts he'd had and even beyond her suspicions about his nighttime habits, but she couldn't put her finger on it. It was just a feeling. She’d been bombarded with so many thoughts and emotions in such a short space from Sam that she couldn’t sort them all out yet. He was so completely unguarded.

Keeping her voice light and friendly, Tash spoke to Sam, "Nice to meet you too, Sam. Good luck."

Victor gave Tash a quick kiss on the cheek and told her he'd be upstairs in just a few minutes. Her fingers trailed lightly - promisingly - down Victor's arm before she left the room, carefully closing the door behind her.

Victor watched her leave with a wistful smile on his face and then turned back to the interview. "Sam, have a seat there for a second and close your eyes."

Sam’s courage was collapsing. He struggled to stay upright. Tash was gone, and a vacuum opened in her wake. Sam didn’t realize how much he’d been relying on her brief presence. She was no longer distracting Mr. Tek, so now the man gave Sam his full attention, waiting, his incredible jaws rolling.

“Close my eyes?” Sam said. Sam had only been asked to close his eyes once during an interview - the interview with Mr. Kyle, the foreman of Bob Strombeck Construction. And Mr. Kyle punched him right in the nose that day, four long years ago, knocking him to the office floor! Sam, ever so guileless, had crawled to his feet and asked if that meant he didn’t get the job. In reply, Mr. Kyle and his gaggle of supervisors erupted in laughter, helped Sam to stay balanced. They flapped their hands jokingly against his back and shoved a hard hat into his arms. They told him he was going to need it.

Mr. Kyle had possessed monster jaws too.

Sam obeyed Mr. Tek’s instructions, plopped down in the soft cushion and closed his eyes. He peeked just once and saw the secretary shaking her head as though he were a buffoon. But what did her opinion matter? She wasn’t doing the hiring. Hopefully, Mr. Tek would be kinder. Whether faced with kindness or harshness, though, Sam was determined to land this job. He had run out of choices.

Henna had been typing some letters when she heard Victor ask Sam to close his eyes. Her curiosity aroused, she stopped and swivelled around to see what was going to happen. Working for Victor Tek was never dull. She liked having to handle accounts for spelunkers in Switzerland, gold deposits in The Dominican Republic, and even the odd characters like Ian Pollock who seemed to congregate in this little nowhere in Alhambra like hair on the tub drain.

Sam heard Victor's voice. It was smooth, even and carefully spoken, "I am going to give you a test, Sam. It's like an eye test or a blood test so it’s not something you needed to prepare for. I am going to hold something for you to touch and I want you to reach forward keeping your eyes closed and tell me what you feel.

"I want you to reach forward now and tell me what you are touching, " came the voice.

Sam listened to the man’s words, unclenching his fists, and stretched forward. He was far less hesitant than he’d been when he was about to come into contact with the woman Tash. This was obviously just a silly test, something to see if Sam could handle the elementary skills of janitorial work. He was probably going to have to identify a mop or a bucket. At least this test didn’t require him to solve math problems. Sam stayed his hand, though, the moment the backs of his fingers tingled and his hairs hardened into twigs. It was static. Sam almost answered immediately. Was this a TV? No, obviously not. Who’d hold up a TV?

Sam moved closer.

Henna watched with interest as Sam reached forward and touched Mr. Tek's head. He ran his fingers through Victor's hair and tugged on his ears. At one point, he was running a finger down Victor's jaw line and pulled back his finger like he'd gotten a splinter. *Curiouser and curiouser,* she thought.

“Ow,” Sam murmured. He controlled his pain, ran his finger over the pointed ... thing ... which felt like a spike. There were quite a few of them jutting from the surface. Again, Sam paused, confused, because the base of the object was covered in fluid. No, slime. It was thick. Sam was starting to see what this was all about. This was a joke, just like the horrible jokes that his ex-millworker buddies used to play on him. So, this Mr. Tek was trying to get under Sam’s skin by grossing him out. That was the test. For goddsakes, Sam had faced monsters—demons—since arriving in L.A. What’s a little goop if it meant getting hired?

The rest of the object was smooth, and apparently it had been made out of a football. How mundane. Sam tittered to himself, tracing the football’s contours for more surprises. But the farther he probed, the less he liked this thing. He wasn’t, after all, locating Mr. Tek’s fingers. What was holding the thing up? Sam’s investigation soon revealed two, hardened shoulders - not hands, nothing natural - and he stopped once more. The test was getting weird.

Oh. Of course. A mask. A football mask and shoulder pads. This Mr. Tek had a sick sense of humor.

Sam smiled. “It’s a mask!” he said. He heard Henna giggling. Was he wrong? “It’s a mask with stuff all over it. Listen, Mr. Tek, I don’t mind gross, goopy grime. I’m here to be your janitor, right?” The object went away. “So … can I open my eyes?”

Victor said, "Yes, Sam, you can open your eyes."

Sam saw the pretty secretary shaking her head with a mocking smile on her face. He felt disappointed he must have gotten it wrong. But when he looked around, he didn't see a mask anywhere. He looked at his hands and saw hair gel on his fingers.

Victor stood up from his crouching position in front of Sam, smiling, "Tell you what, I'll give you some money to buy some work clothes. You'll need a sturdy pair of boots and some new jeans. Can you start Wednesday? We should have things ready for you by then. Henna here will take care of your paperwork. Welcome on board. You did just fine. I think you have all the qualities we need for this job."

Victor reached into his pocket and peeled off two $100 bills and handed them to Sam. He patted him on his shoulder and smiled at him. *Yes, he will do just fine,* he thought. As Victor exited the office Henna was already pulling out a receipt book for Sam to sign for the $200.

Sam pranced through the doors of the building with boldness filling his heart, the sun splashing into his face. A steady job lay before him, the uncertain search behind. Triumphantly, he made a fist and waved it at the sky, as if in challenge of the heavens. But all was not perfect. His fingers were still slippery, slimy. Without Mr. Tek to impress, Sam allowed himself a shudder. In terror, he patted his pant legs, hoping to scrape away the icky, icky goo. But it wasn’t coming off so easily. Sam inspected his hands in the sun. Lordy, to the best of his perceptions, his fingers were - suddenly, frantically, he wiped them across his arm, his shoe, the sidewalk, anything to get the sensation to go away! - and he looked again. But still, they were…


Persistant Interruptions

Meredith Bell's picture

******Monday, August 8th 2005 – 11:38am******

It took them a while, but eventually Kate and Galen had managed to drag themselves out of bed. The exertion of making love all morning was not just tiring but also worked up an appetite. Reluctantly they got ‘dressed’. Kate had pulled on one of Galen’s shirts, despite it swamping her slight figure, the sleeves completely obscuring her hands while Galen had grabbed a pair of boxer shorts.

Although Galen had fully intended to make the tea, the sight of Kate sitting on the couch in his shirt - her long bare legs crossed ever so slightly - drove him to say, “bugger the tea” before taking her in his arms as they once again became slaves to their passion.

Finally they had to give in to exhaustion; Galen sat on the couch with an arm wrapped around Kate who was curled up next to him resting her head against his shoulder while warming her hands on a hot cup of tea. They were now totally engrossed in conversation; they had talked about many things, from their childhood, to music and the best way to make an Alabama Slammer. Reluctantly Kate had admitted that Galen’s scars worried her. He’d assured her that yes, his work was dangerous, but that she gave him the best reason to avoid being killed that he’d ever had.

“Yes, dear, I’m completely serious,” Galen said, completely absorbed in yet another strange turn of conversation. “You really can sing every Emily Dickinson poem to the tune of ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas.’”

As he began to sing ‘The Moon is distant from the Sea’ Kate gigled so much so that she had to replace her cup on the side table to avoid spilling its contents. It was at that same moment that the telephone began to ring.

Galen shook his head when the telephone started ringing. For a moment he considered letting the answering machine get it, then remembered that the answering machine had broken last week. “Don’t answer it,” he said. “With my luck, that’s someone wanting to drag me in to work. Maybe they’ll hang up.” Kate’s giggles turned into laughter as the telephone continued ringing. “Hang up! I’m not home!” he shouted at the insistent ringing.

However, the ringing didn’t stop. It must have carried on for a further ten minutes before, with an antagonised sigh, Kate picked up the handset despite Galen’s protests. Kate slipped easily out of his grasp, rising to her feet and out of his reach. She was about to hit ‘answer’ until Galen caught her again, grabbing her around the waist and began kissing her shoulders. Finally she hit the button and the ringing stopped.

“Hello?” she called, trying not to laugh as Galen continued his playful ministrations.

Hearing the voice of a woman answer the phone was not the last thing Anthony had expected to hear, and in fact was downright unsurprising. Galen had been offered good advice and as usual refused to take it. Galen did not realise how far his enemies would be prepared to go. ”I’m sorry, Miss, I think I may have misdialled,” he said. ”I was trying to reach 555-2495. Is this the right number?” *So much for security,* he thought.

“Yes, that’s correct” Kate replied after checking the number on the handset. “Whom were you trying to call?”

”Just a friend who used to live there,” Anthony said, falling in to his old habit of hiding lies between bits of truth. ”Don’t know if he still does or not. A man named Galen.”

“Oh” said Kate slightly surprised, “Well yes, he still lives here…” she held the phone against her shoulder, muffling the earpiece in the shirt fabric as she turned to Galen. “Well what d’you know? It’s for you…” she held the handset out for Galen to take.

Galen sighed as he took the handset. Giving Kate a quick kiss before she went to sit down again, he held it up and contemplated telling whoever was on the other end to just leave him alone. Best to find out who it was first though. “Yes?”

”Should have known you would be at home,” Anthony’s voice came back. It was full of no small measure of disapproval. ”We have a situation. Meet me in the usual park in two hours, the one near Poplar Avenue.”

“What happened?” *If this is just another one of your lectures, I’m going to be more than just irritated,* thought Galen angrily.

”Something that requires our immediate attention. Just one thing: don’t bring your date.” Anthony hung up the phone at that point, hoping that Galen might have actually broken it off with Kate. But that was obviously not the case, the woman most definitely had the right accent.

Galen stared at the handset for a minute before hanging up. Anthony had not even given him the time to come up with an excuse to not go. *As if that would have helped!* he thought with annoyance. Which was also when the next thought occurred: just what was he supposed to tell Kate? He couldn’t tell her about his work, not until he had at least taken some precautions to protect her. And she was a telepath, which meant that she might already know.

Finally, he walked over to Kate, sat down next to her, and took her hands in his. “More bad news….”

Kate felt a bit unnerved by Galen’s tone; his light playful mood had completely evaporated and his forehead was creased into a perplexed expression of worry. “What is it? Nothing bad I hope?” she asked, her voice full of concern.

“I honestly don’t know,” Galen replied, feeling even more guilty at the prospect of having to lie to her. At least that was the truth. “That was just a friend of mine. He needs to meet with me about something urgently, and knowing him it’s not for a cup of coffee to catch up on old times. Which means I have to go. I am so sorry about this, believe me I don’t want to leave, I’d much rather stay here with you… ” Galen trailed off, half-hoping that she would demand to go along with him. Maybe paranoia could work for him for a change.

“No, no…” said Kate softly, squeezing Galen’s hand supportively. “You said it was urgent. If your friend needs you of course you should go.” She smiled weakly, “that doesn’t mean I won’t miss you…”

She smiled more convincingly this time, and wrapped her arms around Galen, kissing him lovingly on the lips.

Galen melted in to Kate’s embrace, returning the kiss gently. One of his hands brushed her thigh lightly before reluctantly pulling away. “I’ll miss you too,” he said, going back towards the bedroom. A few minutes later, he returned in a pair of pants, and was starting to button up a blue shirt. “I might be able to drop you off somewhere, if you wanted to me to. Or at least can bring in your stuff from the car… I just remembered, we, uh, kind of left your bags out there last night.”

“I guess we had more important things to think about,” she smiled, helping Galen to do up his tie. She kept her eyes completely focused on the task when she spoke again. “Last night… “ she looked up into his eyes smiling, “last night was pretty amazing, I’m only sorry we waited so long…”

Galen stared back into her eyes, and for a long moment they remained locked in each other’s gaze. Finally Kate looked away and finished fastening Galen’s tie. “You’d better hurry or you’ll keep your friend waiting,” she said glancing at the clock.

“I know,” Galen said, sighing with regret. “Again, I’m sorry. There’s a spare set of keys in the drawer of the nightstand that you can use to lock up.” He sighed and picked up his mobile phone, then hunted around the table for his sidearm.

“You’re taking your gun with you?” Kate asked, with a surprised and worried look on her face. Her first thought was that Galen knew exactly what kind of trouble his friend would be in, and was trying to stop her from worrying. It was not a very comforting thought.

Taking Kate in his arms one last time he forced a smile that was more cheerful than he felt. “Paranoia is an occupational hazard in my line of work.” After kissing her lightly, he pulled back and started towards the door.

He came back shortly afterwards with her bags from the car. “Okay, now I really do have to run. Wouldn’t have felt right running off with your things in the trunk though. I’ll call you as soon as I get a chance, okay?”

Kate nodded in agreement as Galen smiled awkwardly before closing the door of the apartment as he left. She slumped back down on to the sofa with a sigh and hoped this kind of thing wouldn’t become a habit…

'Hangover Treatment'

Evalyn Toussaint's picture

***Monday 8th August, 2005…12:11pm***

Reah lounged down in the middle of the sunken bed, most likely worn away by previous occupants of this run down motel room doing things that she’d rather not think about. At the moment her head was pounding as she rubbed her temples from the night's events, the thought of concentrating on something else other than her sobering coffee would be to much to handle.

The armoury had its grand opening the day before. Reah remembered Joe letting her cut the ribbon that either her or Sam had insisted on having…she couldn’t remember, couldn’t really care either at that moment. They had a couple of browsers, and someone brought a throwing knife from what she could remember, but everything else seemed to blur together once she started having a few celebratory drinks. The last thing she remembered was seeing 9:45pm on the clock…or was it 9:15? She couldn’t recall anything that happened from then on.

Reah tried comforting herself with a long sip of coffee, *Oh shit! Coffee and hangover, not good!*

She rolled off the bed, landing with a thud on her knees on the worn out carpet floor, "Ow! Bugger it!" After a brief reviving from her short fall, she crawled her way over to the small cupboard next to the mini-fridge. She opened it up and fingered through the multitude of herbal teas, *Come onnn chamomile!* "Bingo!"

A short time later she was sitting at the small two seater plastic dining table, alternating between coffee and chamomile tea, depending on her need. Not a combination she’ll be having again anytime soon. Surprisingly though, her fine-tuning efforts managed to pay off; despite the peculiar taste left in her mouth, she only threw up twice! But her head no longer throbbed, nor did it feel so stuffed full of wool.

She sighed, slumped in the chair and began drumming her fingers on the table, slightly bored… There was nothing much else to do in the motel room during the day. At least at night she could go out and hunt vampires. The ants near the sink weren’t quite as satisfying to kill.

She found herself thinking about what an odd day Joe had chosen to open the armoury. Sundays just weren’t an opening day! *Back home everything opened on a Thursday!* She smiled slightly, although it was soon replaced with a sudden feeling of home sickness, though it might have been her improvised hangover treatment again.

Returning from a quick dash to the toilet, Reah glanced at the angry red digits on the clock and decided on getting dressed. "Maybe Sam’s up to doing something!" she thought aloud after putting on a top and her jeans. She stomped her feet into her boots, strapped them up, then picked up the handset on the phone and began dialling the number Sam had given her. The dial tone rang…and rang…and rang…. She sighed impatiently. It soon became obvious that he wasn’t home, "Damn it Sam! Where the hell are…Oh yeah!" *He had some…thing…this arvo!* "Well crap!"

Originally Reah had decided not to go to work today, but alas, boredom and the lack of other friends had left her with no choice.
Picking up her keys she made her way to the check in office to pay for the next night, then got on her bike and made her way to work.

…it was 1:15 in the afternoon.

Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

Kaarin's picture

***August 8, 2005: 2:13pm***

Galen was sitting on the bench in the park, watching people walk by and pigeons land in front of him. Like most city pigeons, these were fat and looked at humans entirely as a source of food. Checking his watch, he saw that Anthony was late. Galen’s thoughts turned to what exactly he still had to do to try and protect Kate.

“It’s almost a shame,” Anthony said, coming up from behind and sitting down on the bench next to Galen. Adjusting his glasses, a look of concern was etched across his face, and Galen could guess what the concern was about. “You know, I was hoping you would pick the other side of the park so we could feed the ducks.”

“Feed the ducks?” Galen asked, not believing what he was hearing.

“We all have our hobbies. I feed the ducks, and you…” the disapproval was evident. Anthony seemed lost in thought for a moment, searching for the right phrasing. “By any chance, was that Ms. Wiccham who answered the phone?”

Galen didn’t say anything, instead electing to look embarrassed. Anthony continued, “You should have taken my advice. Our enemies are prepared to use anything or anyone against us. I can’t protect you if you insist on seeing this woman-“

That was enough for Galen. The only thing keeping his voice down and words carefully chosen was the secrecy that had been drilled in to him for years. Majestic had been regulating his life for years, and now they wanted to take away the one thing that was making him truly happy. “Is this what you called me here for?” he snapped. “To give more lectures on my personal life?” As though it wasn’t enough that they wanted to tell him where to live, work, eat, and sleep, he thought.

“No, at all. Giving friendly advice is something of a bonus.” The amount of scorn contained in the words 'friendly advice' made Galen wonder if this was a threat or not. No, that couldn’t be the case. Anthony needed him, at least for the moment. But what about when he was no longer needed? He handed an envelope to Galen. “You may find some of these shipping records of interest.” Anthony left without saying another word, leaving Galen alone. He waited another 10 minutes before heading to the office. Paperwork would make a good excuse, God knew there was more than enough of it.


The keys of the computer went clack, clack, clack, sounding much like a machine gun as Galen typed furiously. One of his eyes constantly went to the door, waiting for someone to try coming in the office. Not many people bothered, but you never could be too careful. Especially when using a stolen ID and password to alter files.

Highlight, delete, print. While it went to the printer in Galen’s office (a luxury, he knew), he also knew that there would be no record of the print job. Still, he had specially brought his own paper for this occasion. Two folders sat open on the desk, the hardcopies of Kate’s file and the telepath list. As the telepath list finished printing, he transferred the old list to an envelope and replaced it with a new one.

Replacing that list was easy, and Galen went back to the more difficult task: rewriting Kate’s file. The less he had to change, the better it would be for all concerned. His main goal was to make sure that any reference of telepathy was expunged. There was information on what they estimated were her magical powers. Highlight, select, delete, retype was the pattern in here. By the time Galen finished with that area, Kate’s records reflected her no longer being a telepath or telekenetic.

“Oh my God…” he muttered, reading the next part. Galen didn’t know if he should consider the fact that they had a more extensive biography on her than other Sindell members fortunate or unfortunate. She had been married. He read that section through twice to be sure he was really reading it. Guilt at the fact that he was now reading this, something she obviously didn’t want to talk about, welled up inside of him. A change here and there was all that was required to eliminate any implication of telepathy.

Hitting print, Galen checked the time again. The longer he used the ID, the greater his chance of being caught. Fortunately, printing didn’t take long and he could log off. Kate’s old file joined the list in the envelope, the new copy replaced in the folder. Galen sealed the envelope and stamped the word “CLASSIFIED” on it out of habit, then locked it in his desk drawer for the time being.

Galen picked up the other folders and locked his office, then proceeded down to the basement of the building. *Calm down,* he thought to himself. *Just stay calm. If you aren’t calm, they’ll suspect something is wrong.* As he thought of security swooping down to take Kate away from him, his body instinctively forced itself to relax. The records area lacked any quality about it that could be called pleasing to the eye.

All the woman who let him back in to records knew was that he worked with sensitive material, and always insisted on personally getting and removing any files he needed. After replacing the files, Galen thanked her for being helpful and returned to his office. He took the time to actually finish reading yet another report, then put the old files in his suit jacket and began home. The plan was simple: he would burn them, stir the ashes, then flush them down multiple toilets in multiple buildings.

Later, Galen tried calling Kate at home and got the message that this number was disconnected. He had forgotten about that. No answer back at his place, either. On the way home, Galen stopped the car and just sat. By going through with it, he had just crossed a line that would mean death if it ever got out. “She’s worth it,” Galen said to himself.

Wyatt hires the Black Veins

Firefly's picture

***** Monday, August 8, 2005 a few minutes before sunset *****

Brother Wyatt stood just outside the crypt in the middle of the cemetery. He was surrounded by half a dozen burly men in dark suits, others of his brotherhood, all armed with crossbows loaded with large wooden stakes. As the sun settled behind the hills, Wyatt’s men raised their crossbows and pointed them at the door. Stakes notched, they waited. Wyatt adjusted the cuffs of his well tailored suit and dusted himself off as the first of the vampires began filing out of the crypt.

“Damn,” the girl who had just emerged stopped, eyeing them warily. “Who invited the stiffs?”

A young man had followed her out, and at the sight of the ambush, his face contorted. “Great, dinner delivered right to our door, Jem,” he said.

Jem’s face changed as well, although she wanted to be careful. There were only two other members of the gang inside the crypt. It was well past time that she and Chris started actively “recruiting” new vampires to join the Black Veins.

“Now, now,” Wyatt smiled cheekily, “is this any way to treat a man with a genuine business proposition?”

Jem laughed. “A business proposition?” she repeated. “Does this look like an employment agency to you? Do you think we’re in the habit of working for prey like you? We’re hunters. We have people like you for dinner, and lunch, and breakfast. Sometimes even in between meal snacks.”

Chris snarled, preparing to pounce on the man. Jem restrained him with a hand on his shoulder. “What do you want?” she asked.

“I am part of a… religious organization known as the Crimson Brotherhood,” Wyatt replied coolly. “We are interested in hiring you and your… colleagues to procure an item from a neighborhood establishment that is of great value to us.”

“So, what is it?” Chris asked. “Some sort of jewelry, or something?”

Wyatt could see the predatory gleam in the vampire’s eyes. “No, nothing like that,” he replied. “We are seeking a certain book, a journal. It has sentimental value to us. If you could retrieve it from its current location, it would be worth quite a bit to The Brotherhood.”

“How much?” Chris asked.

“And where is this book?” Jem added. “It won’t do us much good to get paid if we die trying to get the book for you.”

Wyatt chuckled. “True, and very astute, my dear,” he said. “The book is being kept at The Bibliophile.”

Jem nodded. She had seen the store that was across the street from Bob’s, although she had never been inside. It was one of those places that that bitch Tash and her friends usually hung out. Jem thought that one of them might even own the joint. Her face contorted into a feral smile. It would be good, real good, if they could accomplish this job and punish that goody-goody vampire hunter and her pals as well.

“Ok,” Jem said suddenly. “We’ll do it. When do you need this book?”

Wyatt smiled. Mother Mariah had been right about this foolish demon and her gang. They would be just desperate and crazy enough to pull off the robbery, and if they got caught, oh well. They were not among the chosen. They would not survive the Birth anyway. There were many who would not survive the Birth. Wyatt was very pleased at this thought. He gave the information and a down payment to the female vampire, Jem, and then casually, he and his men left the cemetery much the same way they had come.

The Moon is Distant From The Sea

Meredith Bell's picture

******Monday, August 8th 2005 – 12:09pm******

Kate allowed herself to relax as the hot needles of water pouring from the shower met with her bare flesh. She knew Galen could take care of himself but she still couldn’t shake the feeling that he wasn’t telling her something, that something was wrong. Whatever it was Kate couldn’t quite put her finger on it.

Rinsing the last of the shampoo from her hair she turned off the water and stepped out of the cubicle, reaching for a towel. She’d decided to stay and make use of Galen’s hot water, knowing that although she had sorted everything out with her utilities company the other day there was no way everything was going to be magically switched back on by the time she returned home. Kate wrapped the fluffy towel around her dripping body and began rubbing her hair dry as she wandered into the living room to find something to wear.

Some time later Kate was dressed and waiting for her cab to arrive to take her home. She had dressed simply in a tight white T-shirt and jeans, both of which she had bought the other day. Her things were all packed into a few bags that waited by the door. Kate had tidied things up as best she could although she had to admit, the apartment left her feeling a little cold. It was very functional and unlived-in – she guessed Galen probably just used it as a place to sleep, doubtless spending most of his time at work. There weren’t any pictures or plants or anything of personal significance that would suggest someone actually spent a lot of time there.

She crouched near the VCR, seeing a couple of Blockbuster rentals, “The Maltese Falcon”, “Rear Window” and “The Big Sleep”. He appeared to be halfway through watching “Chinatown”. *Wow, big film noir fan,* she thought – without much surprise. She smiled and rose to her feet, walking over to the bookshelf.

She ran her finger across the rows of books. It all looked pretty sporadic really. There were a few classics – Beowulf, Aesop’s Fables, Doctor Faustus, Paradise Lost – and a few occult texts including a copy of The Key of Solomon and The Prophecies of Nostradamus. Kate noticed a worn copy of ‘The Flying Saucers Are Real’ by Donald Keyhoe wedged between Agrippa's ‘De Occult Philosophia’ and Emily Dickinson’s Complete Works. Kate smiled as she picked up the thick book of poetry. She turned the pages, landing on a familiar chapter.

”The Moon is distant from the sea, and yet with amber hands she leads him, docile as a boy, along appointed sands…”

Kate laughed to herself as she carried the book over to the sofa and sat down. As she flicked through the pages a piece of paper fell out and slid across the polished floor to disappear under the sofa. Kate crouched on her hands and knees to retrieve it. She pulled it out to see it was actually a photograph – an old one at that, of a young boy standing next to a pretty blonde haired woman. Kate could tell instantly that the young boy was Galen. She smiled to herself as she traced a finger across picture. She flipped it over reading a note on the back written in ink. ’Mommy with Galen aged 12 – Roswell Academy For Boys’.

At that moment the doorbell rang. Kate jumped as though she’d just been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. She carefully replaced the photograph in the book after taking one last look, and then returned the book to its place on the shelf. She answered the door; it was the cab driver.

On the way home Kate couldn’t get the image of that photograph out of her head. It made her feel sad that she didn’t have any memories of her own parents. She could barely remember her mother and as for her father…

She closed her eyes and leant against the window. The early afternoon sun warmed her face as the cab made its way down Huntington Drive. The warmth made her feel glad to be back in Los Angeles, made her remember why she had longed to come to this place she now called ‘home’. With a sudden jolt Kate remembered her earlier inclination to be reacquainted with her friends. She was especially anxious to see Tash again after everything Daye had told her about this strange voodoo ritual that had almost got her killed!

The cab stopped outside her house and Kate asked the driver to wait until she had taken all her things inside. A few minutes later Kate was back in the cab on her way to Poplar Avenue.

Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

Evalyn Toussaint's picture

***Monday 8th August, 2005...1:30pm***

Reah strolled through the large iron doors of the armoury, pausing for a moment to take in the atmosphere since it had been opened. A fresh scent of newly polished floor boards and the forged iron beams supporting the levels spaced along the walls, five metres separating each, three down her left, and four down the right. She couldn’t actually see the fourth beam on the right because her view was blocked by the double security doors at the far end of the counter that reached wall to wall. The doors were only new, as just about everything was, but they were the most recent things to go up only a couple of weeks prior. Bullet proof glass made the counter top and a third of its front level with the counter, holding an assortment of daggers and knives, batons and saps, and just about anything else fitting enough for that area, right up to some cap guns even. A glass cabinet between two doors behind the counter held some more weapons of interest.

*Mainly for show!* Reah thought as she admired the Samurai swords encased in them, the bend pointing upwards, a lesson Sam had learnt quite pointedly when Reah all but smacked his head in for placing them with the bend facing down. He apparently didn’t realise the things were sharp enough to gradually slice through their own sheathes.

A possible customer was browsing at the knives in the counter. *Where’s Joe?*

She sighed and made her way over to the security doors, patted around her coat and pants to locate her security pass card, swiped it, and punched in her code. There was an audible 'click' and she pushed the doors open; they closed solidly behind her after she’d passed through. She smiled and chuckled lightly at the deadly seriousness of the doors alone, *I love this job!*

Dropping her sunnies just inside the doors onto a small bench, she made her way over to the guy who was all but breathing on the glass, leaving marks on her wonderful ‘spit shine’ job. "Are you right there?" She hadn’t quite mastered the politeness of the job as yet.

The guy looked up from his breathing and stared at Reah. He was only some teenager, finally he managed an "Uhhm!" Reah stared waiting at him for a little while longer before turning her glance down to the knives he had been looking at. "Um…oh yeah! That one there. How much is it?" He pointed as best he could through the glass down to what she assumed was the ‘Ranger Knife’ he was pointing at. It had a tag in front of it to identify it, but apparently he couldn’t read.

"The ‘Ranger Knife’?"

He glanced back at the tag and nodded, "Ah…yeah! That one." He sounded nervous, and was shying away, blushing.

"Um, I think it’s around $118."

His eyes widened at the price, but soon nodded and looked back to Reah with a smile. "Cool! I’ll take it."

Reah sniffed lightly, smirked, and slightly shook her head, "Do you have a licence?"

His face sagged. "Licence?"

She nodded, "That’s right! I can’t sell you it unless you have a valid licence to own one."

He looked confused, "But it’s just a knife!"

"Well yes… and no! This knife is not considered your regular dinner knife. The way it is and what it’s made for aren’t taken lightly. Even if you only wanted it for a ‘cool’ dust collector, I still couldn’t sell it to you… there would be the temptation to use it. I have to minimise the risk of it falling into unskilled hands. That’s what a licence does, it identifies people who are fit to handle it. Hence I can’t sell it to you because you don’t have one."

"Oh!" Disappointment marred his face.

"We do, however, have some top of the range cap guns if I could interest you!" She grinned. Play the happy proprietress!

He grinned cheekily, "You already interest me enough, you luminous belle!"

Reah couldn’t help but crack up laughing, "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"Look it up." He winked and strode out of the store.

"What a dreamer!" She shook her head unable to stop laughing. A woman who had wandered in was looking at her strangely. She shrugged and stood there for a bit longer, reruns of what the guy had said playing over and over in her head, each time sounding more and more ridiculous. Eventually curiosity got the better of her and she popped down below the counter, scanning along all the books and files below the shelf.

Joe flushed the toilet, then after washing his hands he made his way from the second level, where he’d made his residence and personal office, down the spiralling staircase into the gunnery room. He didn’t want to leave the store; Reah was supposed to be there, *But she didn’t turn up this morning, now did she?* Unfortunately his bladder wouldn’t allow him to hold on anymore so he had to make a quick dash. (As quick a dash as you can make when you have to pass through a lock-down room and run up spiralled stairs.)

In the gunnery storeroom, he made a quick check on all the weaponry out of habit before making his way to the door, swiping his card and punching in his code, then opened it to the main store front area behind the counter. He stopped short when he noticed Reah leaning against the counter, bouncing around with her head in a book, all the while with a massive grin on her face. The distress of leaving his store unattended melted from his face as he saw her there happily bouncing around. Relaxing he watched her silently for a moment, contented. It was only a little while though before he put a serious face on and got straight down to business. "Reah!"

She lifted her eyes slightly from her book to acknowledge him, before they went straight back again. "Oh! Hi Joe." She replied cheerfully.

"What are you reading?" he asked calmly.

Reah lifted up the cover of the book keeping a finger at her page, while she checked it, "Dictionary!" She let it fall back down.

"Do you know what the time is?"

"Ahh…yep! Time; the general concept, relation, or fact of continuous or successive existence, capable of division into measurable proportions, and comprising the past, present and future."

Joe stared blankly at her. "…Nooo!"

She cocked her head at him, "Are you sure?" She looked back at the dictionary, "Duration with reference to finite existence as distinguished from eternity…. A system of measu…"

Joe rubbed his temples in frustration, "You're late Reah! It’s a quarter to two!"

Reah stared up at him, stark innocence and shock plastered on her face, "Joe! You cannot earnestly contemplate my arrival to be on schedule, if the occurrence is at all, considering the events of the concluding twilight! Tis’ a transgression fronting creation!"

Joe’s eyes stared wildly, his face creased with confusion, "Che il fuck? Gimme that." He snatched the dictionary from Reah and tossed it into the bin. The customer that was moseying around was now staring at Joe in astonishment.

"Tale lingua! Io il wont è la venuta qui ancora," she muttered as she stormed out of the store.

"No, no, no! Non ho realizzato! Per favore! Gli darò una pistola di cappuccio libera!" Joe pleaded quickly to the woman. The door slammed shut. Joe glared at Reah.

She smiled nervously, "Um…Did she speak Italian or something?" Joe nodded stiffly. "Oh…well…" She swallowed, "Did she say what a nice place this was by any chance?" He slowly shook his head. Reah looked away from his stony gaze and nervously hit her thighs. "Didn’t think so!" she muttered under her breath.

Suddenly Joe smiled and relaxed. *Oh! This can’t be good!* She cringed, waiting for what he was about to say, do, or get her to do.

"You know, I’ve been thinking Reah…"

She jumped in with stark terror, "You're not firing me, are you?"

He looked at her reassuringly, "Heavens no! Why would I do a thing like that?" She sighed and relaxed against the counter. "If you’d let me finish, I was going to mention how you complained to me about the shit jobs I’m always giving Sam. I’ve just decided to relieve him of…"

She jumped in again horrified, "You're not firing Sam, are you?"

"Easy, easy!" He gestured to her to settle down. "No one's getting fired, Ok?" Reah relaxed a little, but she was still tense, not knowing what he was thinking behind his evil grin. "I’m going to give him a break tomorrow."

Reah looked around confused, "That’s it!"

He smiled. *It’s not it!* she thought to herself at his oh so not comforting smile. "You get to pick up an order."

Everything went still.

Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

Jessica Travers's picture

The summer months passed quickly as did Jessica’s training as a watcher.

She had written several reports for the Council and visited England to talk with the Council about her findings in Los Angeles and the end of her training. Jess never mentioned any of the stories Daye had told her.

Seeing London again was good. It had been home to her for so many years, not that she really liked living there in the city but that was where her only family was as well as her career.

In theory, by now Jess should have been training a Slayer, as she once was. Training her in weaponry, demonology, how to fight like a warrior and how to protect herself from the worst kinds of evil. Instead she was sitting in L.A. on the settee reading a book.

Eventually she pulled her eyes from the Watcher's Diary she had been reading, her mother's. She would report everything that happened to her slayer, the Slayer in this little book. For her mother had once been Watcher to the Chosen One. Glancing over to the bookcase that stood against the other side of the room she caught sight of the necklace glinting in the light. Its silver surface still shone even after the many years and generations it had passed though.

Jess turned away from it and, grabbing her dark brown leather coat, left the apartment. She walked several blocks, just thinking to herself. She thought of her mother's diary; she hated it so much, to read what her mother had been through. Being a watcher wasn’t a very nice job, but being the Slayer was worse. The memory of the leather bound book stayed in her mind until it was replaced with another thought, a horrific thought.

The demons filled the Great Hall at “the house on Great Russel Street”; the Council headquarters in London. Their sheer number was amazing yet terrifying. Jessica’s parents froze stiff, not believing their eyes.

This had happened before, in the 1930’s or 40’s it must have been, the attack of the Watchers' Council in an attempt to rid the world of slayers and demon hunters so the demons could rule the world. As with most people who try to rule the world they usually fail, but not without cost.

Her parents had been hacked to peices. Jess never witnessed the event, for which she was very grateful as she probably wouldn’t have remained sane. After this the Council was in devastation, many of its members had been killed and part of the headquarters destroyed but it still lived on and by now its numbers had recovered.

Jess continued walking with Skye by her side, shaking free the memory of her parents' death.

Catching up with old friends.

Heather's picture

Monday, 8th August 2005 - 2:18pm

The taxi pulled up outside 1318 Poplar Avenue. Kate paid the driver and he slowly pulled away. Kate looked up at the building; it was amazing how different it looked when it wasn’t being stormed by a pack of Beazor demons and a portal to another dimension wasn’t being opened on the third floor. Kate was also surprised at how much repair work had been done. The last time she stood here the entire third floor had disintegrated, showering the streets with debris. Now it had been completely re-built. She trailed her hand over the front door; it opened with a satisfying ‘click’ and swung open. Kate wandered inside.

The foyer smelled of fresh paint and the whirring of computers and a fax machine could be heard coming from the first apartment, which now had a brass sign on the door reading ‘Reception’. *Wow,* thought Kate as she walked towards the stairwell, *someone has sure done a lot of renovation work here in the last six months.*

Kate climbed the stairs up to Tash’s apartment and knocked firmly on the door, hoping that Tash would be home.

Tash moved gracefully, her body in perfect balance as she performed the actions of the kata. Sweat dampened her hair and darkened the blue of her top. She finished the set she was working on before responding to the knock at the door. For a second she thought it was Victor, come to make good on the promise she’d made him earlier, then a frown creased her brow. *Why would he knock?*

"Who is it?" she called.

Kate smiled at the familiar voice of her friend. That was typical Tash, just as cautious as ever. Then again, considering the kind of strange occurrences that always seemed to happen at Poplar, she wasn’t in the least surprised.

“Tash? It’s me, Kate,” she replied.

"Kate!" Tash couldn't get to the door fast enough. Wrenching it open, she beamed at her friend. "Come in, come in. The place is a frightful mess, I'm sorry. But come in. How was England?"

Tash held the door wide for Kate to enter, grinning like a madwoman all the while.

“England was cold, and raining as usual,” smiled Kate as Tash bustled her in through the door, “and I’m glad to say I won’t be going back there for a long while if I can help it.”

Tash gently closed the door and gestured towards the couches before scuttling into the kitchen. For just a second she'd picked up a bad vibe from Kate. *I guess things didn't go so well with the Coven as she hoped.* She called from the kitchen, "Do you want tea? Or how about a real drink?"

Kate laughed, “Tea would be great thanks,” she said, sitting down on the sofa. She looked around the apartment, noticing a pair of men’s pants and a suit jacket slung over the back of a chair. “So, how’s Victor?” she asked smiling.

Tash didn't answer for a minute, waiting for the kettle to boil. Soon she emerged with a cup of tea for Kate and a good, strong coffee for herself. Placing the steaming mugs on the coffee table, Tash sat back on the couch with a sigh.

“Victor's doing fine. He's starting up a Foundation, to provide funds and resources for saving the world next time we have an apocalypse on our doorstep. But in the meantime we take care of each other." Tash's eyes sparkled mischievously.

She cocked her head as she regarded Kate. Her aura seemed more... alive, somehow. "Hmm," she mused, "so what's been up with you since I saw you last?"

Kate blushed under Tash’s scrutinising stare. “Would you just give the aura reading a rest for once?” she laughed. “Anyway, where do I begin? I went back to England; can you believe the Elders actually wanted me to take Serapis’ place on the council?”

She sighed tiredly. “Oh and I met Daye, she was in Ireland with Drew - you know Drew right?” Kate didn’t wait for a reply before launching into a full account of their ‘adventure’ at the castle. “By the way, Daye told me all about your birthday celebrations…”

Tash's head was reeling by the time Kate finished. She blew out her breath slowly when the flow of words finally stopped. "Wow," was all she could say for a minute.

"OK, first of all, I can't give the aura reading a rest," Tash playfully poked her tongue out at Kate, "You ought to know, it's just there..."

"And speaking of which, I'm sure there's some good news you haven't told me yet. But, secondly, yes, I know about Drew, though I haven't met him yet. Daye's been keeping him under wraps. And - in her dreams, you say? That's rough." Tash cast her mind back to Valerian and his effect not only on Jade's dreams, but her own. *Hmm, I wonder.*

Tash drew another long breath, "And thirdly, yeah, I had some fun on my birthday. But I'm still here, thanks to Victor and Daye, and Galen. In fact, if he hadn't found Victor I'd have long been dust."

Tash's eyebrow rose involuntarily at the flare of activity in Kate's aura. She leaned forward, "Galen?" she asked, and saw another corresponding spike. She smirked. "So when were you going to tell me?"

“Would you quit that already!” said Kate squirming under Tash’s studious gaze. “Okay, okay, I wasn’t telling anyone because, well at first there wasn’t anything to tell. I mean everything happened so quickly it sort of frightened me. Luc had just died and Galen was there…” Kate’s voice trailed off slightly.

“Then I met Daye in Ireland and she told me… well she sort of made me realise just how much I…” Kate blushed again. “We only met again two days ago but nothing had changed between us and…”

“Hmmm?” said Tash in interest.

“Well, last night,” she continued “we finally… we spent the night together.”

Tash regarded Kate thoughtfully. "I have to say, you really don't have to be very psychic to see there's a new glow about you. You look incredibly happy. But," Tash hesitated. She hated to put a dampener on things, but... "Well, it's just that I hope you're being careful with him. He's a man with many secrets. We don't really know what he's involved in. I want you to be happy; God knows you deserve it after all you've been through. Just... be careful."

Tash bit her lip, hoping she hadn't said too much. *Or worse yet, too little. We really don't know much about him at all.* Tash was very distrustful of the whole Government secret agent thing.

She gave Kate a reassuring smile. "But one thing I know for sure," Tash continued, "is that he's making you glow."

Kate smiled, although inside she had to admit she did have her own worries regarding the secrecy surrounding Galen’s work. Sometimes she felt Tash was too perceptive when it came to reading her thoughts.

“Galen told me there were things he couldn’t tell me about his work, and I suppose…” she sighed, “I suppose I just have to respect that. At least he was honest enough to tell me so much.” She sipped at her tea then sank back in the sofa. “I’ve tried careful. ‘Careful’ is what took me to England; it made me miserable.”

Tash chuckled, "And I'm hardly one to talk. Look at me, shacked up with a demon, no less." She gazed into the bottom of her empty coffee mug for a while. "All you can ask in this life is a little happiness from time to time." Tash swirled the dregs around distractedly. "I'm sorry if I seemed to pry. It's just how I am. Always too curious. It'll get me into trouble, that's what Matthias used to say."

She looked at Kate, "He's gone, you know. They 'recalled' him, apparently. He barely had time to say goodbye..."

“I’m sorry,” said Kate frowning, “I know the two of you were very close. Maybe someday the Sidhe will allow him to return.” She replaced her cup on the table; the silence between them echoed the fact that neither expected the Sidhe to be so generous as to allow Matthias to return to the Mortal Realm.

“And no, I don’t think you’re prying,” said Kate, finally breaking the silence. “It’s actually nice to be able to speak to someone about this. I couldn’t talk to anyone in England about my feelings for Galen, it just wouldn’t have been right - not while I was still mourning Luc’s death. And I am very happy with Galen. I don’t know if I’m in love with him or, or what I feel for him right now. But he makes me so very happy, and that’s as much as I could ever ask for.”

Tash winked. "Well, if he ever stops making you happy, just let me know and I'll kick his butt for you."

She put her mug down, aware she was fiddling with it too much. "And this means Daye's back too, then? We'll have to get together sometime soon. I need to meet this Drew guy. I wish Jade and Sorrow were back." She looked thoughtful, "And I hope they've found what they were looking for. I really don't want to have to stake him." She looked at Kate, all seriousness, "But if I have to, I will. I won't let him do to anyone else what he did to Inanna."

“To be honest I don’t really remember much about that night, not after Serapis drugged me, then Inanna pulled me from the altar and I remember holding Luc as…” she closed her eyes tightly. “Maybe it’s better that I don’t remember. Besides, Inanna filled me in. She’s still pretty traumatised by it all. She’s very young and inexperienced when it comes to actively dealing with demons and vampires. She also told me about Sorrow being possessed, or something? I didn’t really see either of them before they left Los Angeles.”

Tash gave Kate a puzzled look. “I thought you knew.” Tash replayed the last week of February in her brain. “No, you’d already been kidnapped when it all hit the fan. Um, there’s no easy way to say it, so here it is. Sorrow was embraced by a vampire when he was twelve. But he didn’t die, for whatever reason. There was some sort of block against the vampire, but I…”

Tash bowed her head. “Dammit, it was my stupid fault. I knew there was something hidden there, but he did ask me to find out. I ‘read’ him. I touched him with bare hands, the way I did with you that time. And it let loose the demon inside him. He could stay in control – barely – if there was no blood or violence. But the vampire wanted out.”

Kate shuddered. Serapis had taunted her with the knowledge of Jade’s parentage; could it be he’d also known about Sorrow’s demonic possession too? Maybe he’d been about to tell her all of Sorrow’s dark secrets until she begged him to stop.

“Inanna told me about the binding ritual, how it didn’t hold - but then Luc never paid much attention in his Latin Translation classes…” She smiled slightly, thinking of happier days at Sindell. “So do you think they could have found a cure? If there is such a thing, it’s certainly not anything I have ever heard of.”

Tash shrugged. "I really don't know. But until I met Jade and Sorrow I'd never heard of a person born of a vampire, or someone who was embraced but not killed. So who knows what's possible?"

Something niggled at the back of her brain. One of Ohenewaa's memories wanted to come to the fore, but she pushed it back angrily. *Piss off, you necromantic bitch!*

“Whoa, who’s Ohenewaa?” asked Kate worriedly. Although she usually kept her telepathic channels closed she had been unable to block the raging anger that suddenly flared through Tash.

Tash glanced sideways at Kate, "Now who's doing the telepathic whammy?" She looked away, suddenly uncomfortable. "Ohenewaa was the vodoun witch who tried to suck me dry. I ended up with all her memories that night. 593 years of them. For added fun, she was an evil necromancer." Tash snorted with forced laughter, "And I thought your memories were bad."

She shuddered, "I can feel them there, sometimes, like a pressure at the back of my mind. Mostly I can ignore them." Tash smiled wanly.

Kate grimaced. 593 years worth of memories was a great deal of knowledge to cope with; it was probably better that Tash could learn to ignore them for the sake of her sanity. “Maybe you should look at it as a gift, a strange one I know. That kind of gift I’d want to take back for a refund but… there must be a positive to draw from.”

Tash chuckled. "Well, I've already used a benign ritual I learned from her." At Kate's inquiring look, Tash told her the story of Victor's suitcase full of souls. Soon laughter was ringing out through the apartment. Before they knew it, the coffee table was covered in mugs and the hours had passed in a blur of reminiscences and amusing stories.

Get Connected

Meredith Bell's picture

******Monday, August 8th 2005 – 6:22pm******

It was pretty late by the time Kate arrived back home from Poplar Avenue. As yet another cab sped away into the city Kate was surprised to find a van with the logo of Pacific Bell emblazoned across the side. As she walked up to the front door a man poked his head around the corner of the house.

“Oh hello Miss, sorry to startle you. I’m with the Telecommunications Company,” he said, holding out his ID for Kate to read. “I came to test your phone line - I’ve just finished the reconnection.”

Kate smiled awkwardly at the young man. He looked about 25, very tall and well built with a thick clean-cut crop of blonde hair hidden underneath his company baseball cap. He had startling green eyes, hidden behind a pair of thick rimmed glasses. He fiddled with a hearing aid while removing his cap and scratching his well-manicured fingers through his short hair.

She sought out her keys and opened the front door, then pointed to the phone in the hallway. “There’s another in the kitchen if you need to check that too,” she added while hanging her jacket up on the rack.

“No, this one is fine Miss,” he said while picking up the handset. Kate thought it strange at first that he didn’t have any tools until he removed a screwdriver from his pocket and began fiddling around with the earpiece.

Kate smiled, “I hope you don’t mind me leaving you to it?” she called as she walked towards the kitchen.

“No Miss, I won’t be long!” he called. He watched her leave then quickly unzipped his spotless overalls and pulled out a small rollup pouch. He unscrewed the old-fashioned ear-piece and began pulling out some of the wires.

When Kate returned ten minutes later, her hair untied and her shoes removed, he had already packed up and was ready to leave. He replaced the handset on the receiver with one swift motion of his gloved hands.

“Oh, have you finished? That was quick,” said Kate in surprise. She picked up the phone and listened in at the other end, hearing the familiar dial tone.

“Yes Miss, most of the work was done at our end. I just needed to check your line at this end – make sure everything was working okay.”

“Well, thank-you. That’s really considerate of you.”

“Not at all Miss, part of the service,” he said slipping his hat back into place.

Two minutes later the young man had returned to his van and was pulling off down the street. Kate returned to the kitchen as the kettle finished boiling and began pouring the water into a teapot. It was then that she noticed the back door was slightly open. *That’s strange,* she thought, *I don’t remember even using this door lately, never mind leaving it open!*

She closed it firmly and turned the key in the lock. She looked warily around the kitchen and then cautiously wandered into the living room. Nothing seemed to have been taken, or even disturbed. It didn’t look like anyone had been inside. *Perhaps I did leave it open,* she thought to herself.

She was about to sit down when a loud knock at the door made her nearly jump out of her skin. She quickly returned to the door, unfastening the security chain and drawing the safety bolt across. She frowned at the man on the other side.

“Yello Ma’am, I’m from Pacific Bell, come to check yer connection.”

Kate looked confused. The overweight man scratched his belly as it protruded from under his overalls. He held his clipboard across his chest protectively.

“Oh! Did I forget to sign for something?” said Kate looking at the clipboard.

“Urm, nope, you sign that after I’ve checked yer line missy.” The man wiped a line of sweat from his balding head with his sleeve, “Sure is hot today ain’t it?”

“I don’t understand. Someone just came to check my phone line about five minutes ago. A youngish man, about this tall...” she gestured with her hands, “Does any of this sound familiar? He wore glasses, blonde hair, muscular…?”

“Nope. Look Miss, I have another five appointments this evening…”

“Okay, sorry,” Kate said stepping back allowing the man into the hallway. He looked around; seeing the phone he picked it up and listened to it for a while then replaced it, leaving dirty fingerprints on the handset.

“That sounds okay,” he said then thrust the clipboard into her hands, “Sign there please,” he said, handing her a chewed up pen and pointing at the bottom of the form.

Kate still frowned. She didn’t know what the hell was going on here. Maybe they’d just sent two people by mistake. She took the form, avoiding the coffee stain and… she didn’t want to think what the other mark was. She signed her name at the bottom then handed it back to him.

She showed him the door, closing it behind him then walked back into the living room. As she sat down on the sofa she noticed the red standby button on the television was on. She sat forward and flicked the switch on the remote. The TV crackled into life; a rerun of ’Another World’ was just about to start. Kate snuggled deep into the sofa, her cup of tea cradled in her hands as all thoughts of a possible intruder disappeared.

Monday, 8th August 2005 - 8pm

Heather's picture

Everyone creates disturbances in the world. Each being in the universe has an impact on those around them, whether for good or ill. Some leave little mark, causing barely a cosmic ripple in their wake. Kind of like a karmically friendly dishwashing liquid. Sometimes such were simply boring geeks who did nothing and were loved by nobody. Others were honoured as holy ones, those who had achieved spiritual enlightenment and were at peace with the cosmos.

Such was not the case with Deon. His wake was wide and brutal. He had a definite impact on those around him. A bevy of shattered lives and families, broken dreams and lost hopes followed in his path. And that path had led him back here. St. Louis. Where it had all started.

His handsome, boyish features belied the cast of cruelty behind his eyes as he surveyed the familiar buildings around him. “Home, sweet home,” he muttered.

Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

Evalyn Toussaint's picture

***Monday 8th August, 2005...10:53pm***

Reah stormed down the empty streets of LA, looking for signs of struggle or un-life forms that she hoped would present themselves tonight. She was pissed off, *A bloody delivery!* She kicked anything that was loose on the ground and crunched any bugs or pieces of paper that got in her way. The light emitted from the street lamps cast a shadow on her face making her appear most unfriendly. She needed to kill something. Her head was on the verge of exploding from sheer rage.

Most people probably just would have taken the punishment and left it at that. It wasn’t really that big a deal anyway, it was only a pick up. Unfortunately for Reah, doing this was like admitting she was wrong. She didn’t like to be wrong, she hated being told she was, and she loathed having to pay for it.

Nothing had presented itself yet, and she had been stalking around for nearly an hour. Frustration was getting to its peak. Even when she had wandered into Bob’s, pranced around like an innocent ditts and ordered a midori lemonade with a little pink umbrella sticking out of the top to try and bait some vampires, none had followed her out!

"What the hell are they all doing?" She looked down what she wearing and let out an antagonised sigh at the loudness of what she was wearing. She had managed to conceal her katana and some stakes beneath her coat without causing much alarm, and still show off enough of the clothing she was using to bait vampires.

There was a scream suddenly that caught Reah’s attention from the opposite side of the road in a park, "Finally! It’s about time someone got attacked!" She quickly darted off in the direction the cry had come from, and was nearly hit by a car she didn’t notice in her quick dash across the road. The horn beeped and they yelled something, but she was too focused on her little mission.

Brush crunched beneath her feet as she as she wound her way through the trees. There! She spotted a girl lying on the ground at the base of a tree and paused, looked down at herself, then back at the girl again. *She has the same bloody top!* "Man is that annoying!"

She quickly remembered that the girl was collapsed, and looking awfully pale. Jumping down to squat beside her, she searched for a pulse… *Nothing.* "Oh, this guy's really gonna get it."

Getting up she searched around on the ground to find a sign of tracks that weren’t caused by a struggle. Slightly off from where the girl was some steady tracks lead off to the right towards the way a little offset from where Reah had come from. She quickly followed them and soon found what she was looking for. He must have heard her coming because he turned around and noticed her too as she started to slow down to a walk. A wicked grin spread across his face.

Reah decided to play it casual and pretend she was just roaming the park for no particular reason. *Yep! I’m just another mindless twat who’s decided to wander in the park in the middle of the night all on my little lonesome. Oh hello Mr tall dark and handsome, I’m just going to blush now!* Reah glanced, flushing her eyelashes at the vampire who had started to approach her.

"Hello there!" he began, still grinning. "Now what’s a pretty thing like you doing out here on your own? You haven’t got any friends waiting for you in the trees have you?"

*Could he be anymore obvious?* she thought. *Oh well! Can’t blame him for being cautious now, can I?*

She giggled, "Nope! I’m here all on my lonesome!" He grinned and moved into her. "But I’m probably the one you should worry about!"

He pulled back confused. Reah gave him a quick smile. He snarled and vamped just as she delivered a square head butt to his face and kicked him off…


By now Jess’ wanderings had taken her to the park. She took a seat on a near-by bench letting Skye off her leash. She ran off into some trees, probably to find the nearest squirrel scent then chase the poor creature up the nearest tree.

Jess pulled her mother’s necklace out of her pocket and stared at it for a while, thinking of the thoughts she’d had earlier. Suddenly a loud grunt then shout pierced the air. Looking around she heard it came from in the trees.

Getting up she followed the noise to the clearing where she saw a vamp obviously in pain and a woman, younger than herself, fighting back with obvious skill.

Jessica was not the only one who had been drawn to the noise; three more vampires approached from the opposite side of the clearing. They circled the woman, coming for the kill, yet she kept fighting. *I really should give up these evening strolls,* she thought to herself as she ran forward pulling a stake out her pocket as she went.

"Hi," she said to the woman. "Need some help?" She smiled then looked at the vampires that now stood around them both.

The vampire was starting to waver as Reah continued to deliver blow after frustrated blow. He tried to clock her over the head, but she dodged to the side and grabbed his arm, pulling him forward using his swing against him and greeted his jaw with her knee, sending him sprawling on the ground.

She was about to go in to dust him when she was suddenly thrown back by something with reasonable force. She fell back on the ground, following through with a tumble to land in a squat supporting herself with her left fist. Reah looked up to see what had thrown her and noticed three new vampires who had decided to join the fight and were now closing in on her. *Shit!*

"Oh well! If that’s the way you want it!" She lunged at the foremost vampire, grappling with him to try and disarm him of the lovely knife he’d brought out, "Drop it you mutha f…"

"Hi!" A voice came from her left. Reah shoved the vampire back at the sound of the new comer. A woman grasping a stake was running up smiling at her, "Need some help?" Reah gave an uncertain smile back. The woman nodded, then turned her attention to the vampires that encircled them both now. Obviously she knew what she was doing. *At least I hope she does!*

A sudden blow to her head knocked her off balance and turned her attention back to the job at hand, "That really hurt ya bastard!" she yelled. He took another shot at Reah; she avoided it the second time and whipped out her katana as she straightened up.

"Watch this!" she muttered and stabbed it into the vampire's gut, then sliced it up as hard as she could splitting him right up the middle, before a strong grip took her around the waist strapping both arms to her side. She flung her head sharply back and felt the crack as her holder's nose broke. The hold loosened, but not enough for her to get free. She heard the thing gurgle as the grip suddenly tightened around her, forcing out her breath.

Jess was grappling with several of the vampires at once, or attempting to anyway. She thrust a high kick in one's chest, knocking him off balance and sending him into an appropriately placed branch where he dissolved to dust. She turned to the next vamp, slipping her hand into her coat pocket as she went and pulling out a selection of herbs she had already mixed up and put in her pocket just for safety after her last walk at night. She muttered something under her breath then thrust the herbs at the vampire. He immediately caught on fire, his clothes and skin burning rapidly; he quickly began to turn to ash and was swept away by the weak but cool wind.

"Be prepared." she said to herself as she remembered the Girl Guides' motto which was seemingly appropriate.

*This is not good! Enough playing Reah!* Purple spots started battling with her vision as she struggled frantically for one of the stakes in her coat. Her arms being pinned down did not help whatsoever, but she finally felt what she wanted come free into her grip.

"Piss off!" she muttered breathlessly, then with a yell she summoned the strength she could and stabbed it into the vampire who held her. The force was enough that the there was cried of pain and grip around her loosened.

She then managed to pulled herself free and quickly picked up her katana that was sticking out of the bloodied vampire she’d sliced in two. She finished him off quickly with flash of Sharier, then spun around to face the vampire with a stake embedded in its thigh.

He hissed at Reah and yanked it out as she ran in with Sharier ready, slicing his hand off that held the stake causing him to cry out again. She then followed on to kick in his knee joint. With a loud crack, he yelled out clutching his twisted leg and fell over backwards.

Reah strode up beside the grounded vampire, her own face twisted with disgust at the contorted face of the thing that was once human. Flashes of her parents' bodies flooded her mind as her grip tightened on the blade.

The sickened beady yellow eyes turned to look at her and widened in sudden horror as they saw Reah’s katana rise up above its head. She grasped it in both hands and shoved down where those eyes peered from. The vampire screamed as his face was smashed in with that one sudden strike of the blade. Unable to see he writhed in darkness on the ground, only the sound of shifting feet on the ground accompanied him on his side…he waited in blinding pain.

She left him pinned to the ground as she pulled out her other stake. A burst of flame went up out of the corner of her vision. She didn’t take much notice of it before plunging the stake into the vampire's chest, piercing his heart, then retrieving it back out as he burst into a screaming skeleton of dust that settled on the ground and ran off in the steadily blowing breeze. She pulled Sharier out of the ground, heaving a sigh at the sudden halt of action.

The vamps were dusted and they were both relatively okay. Jess walked up to the other woman who stood with a stake in one hand and a blade in the other.

"Hi," she began to introduce herself, "I’m Jess." She smiled "I heard a shout and, well, thought I better help out, what with the vampires and the fact that there was four of them and one of you."

Reah looked in amazement at the woman who had just approached her again. For a moment she just stared at her before what she said actually reached her. She shook herself out of her daze, smiled and wiped back the bits of hair that had fallen in front of her face, "Um…Thanks! As much as I hate to admit it, I reckon I probably needed it. Your help that is."

*Strange! The woman… Jess… was just passing by and thought she might help? That’s probably the nicest, yet possibly also the most stupid gesture someone could make!* She cleared her head and chuckled; she certainly wasn’t going to hate this Jess, that was for sure!

She held out her fist that was supposed to be a hand, then realised she was still holding her stake and quickly tossed it aside, then held her hand back out to her, "Reanna. Well, Reah mostly."

"It’s nice to meet you, Reah." Jessica shook her hand then looked to the side as she heard the padding of feet, paws on the ground. "Skye!" Jess called her dog to her side. "This is Skye," she told Reah as she attached the dog's lead to its collar once again.

Reah looked down at the arrival of the dog. "Aww!" Her face completely softened like an absolute sap of a person as she bobbed down to greet it, "Hewow there!" She giggled as the dog licked her face. ‘Skye’ she thought she’d heard Jess call her.

She tried to tear her eyes away from Skye to talk to Jess, but found the task alone near impossible to take her gaze off her adorableness. "So…what…, tehe…do you…do?" She tried to talk between the dog licking her face and giggling.

Jess laughed as Reah became acquainted with her dog. "I, uh, work for a council back in England. You?"

"Stop it, stop it!" Reah giggled to Skye, and managed to pull herself away, flushed and covered in dog slobber. "Um," she still giggled wiping it off and she tried to put on a straight face, "I actually work in a new armoury that’s opened up. I’m not sure if you…hehehe", she giggled again as Skye began licking her hand, "I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it." She grinned as Skye continued to tickle her palm, "We only opened yesterday." She scratched Skye’s head to try and keep her at bay.

"Nope, can’t say I have." She paused looking at Skye who was wagging her long feathered tail wildly and hit Jess’ leg every time it came back. "So you hunt vampires in your spare time?" Again she looked down to Skye then pulled her back as she began to attack Reah’s face once again with slobber.

Reah was near hysterics now as Skye tried to jump and give her kisses full of slobber again, then was allowed to breathe when she was restrained by Jess, "Hehe! What? Ah yeah…" She chuckled and pulled playful faces at the dog, "I guess you could call it a…fixed ‘hobby’ of mine!"

She looked around the empty park and shivered slightly as the cool breeze caught up with her, now that she wasn’t full of rage or tumbling with vampires. "Did you want to walk and talk?" she gestured with a nod as she rubbed her arms.

"Sure." They began walking, Skye pulling on the short lead to reach Reah. "I think you’ve got a fan." Jess smiled then nodded at Skye. "A hobby?"

Reah continued chuckling and patted Skye as she walked, faltering mid-stride at Jess’s question. *Couldn’t have said something more nondescript like, oh, I don’t know, ‘Yes!’ But nooo! Not for you. For you, it’s a hobby!*

She mentally kicked herself and thought of different ways to answer Jess' question without dragging the conversation down to an uncomfortable silence, "Um…let's just say they aren’t one my favourite things!"

They continued to walk silently for a moment, Skye’s feet padding on the concrete path of the street they’d now reached. "How about you?" Reah broke in, "I mean, not many people would risk their lives and jump into the middle of a vampire brawl! You fight well!"

"Thanks, but I’m not that good." Jessica paused to think about her answer to the question. "Well, er, it’s kinda my job, I help people with slaying," she said, trying not give away her occupation too much.


They continued walking in silence. Obviously they had reached a personal level in the conversation and neither wanted to tell anymore than they already had. Finally Reah spoke up again; uncomfortable in the sudden silence, she tried to re-steer the conversation, "Soo...whereabouts are you staying around here?"

"I’ve got an apartment on Devon Street. You?" She smiled reassuringly, she could see the unhappiness in Reah’s face.

Reah returned the smile, and sniffed, "I’m currently residing at a cheap run down motel!" She grinned and chuckled. "I live with style!" Rolling her eyes she caught a glimpse of a fancy restaurant and a couple of love birds seated near the window, spoon feeding each other around wrapped arms. "Don’t people normally do that with champagne?" She stared wondrously at the couple.

They appeared to be laughing as they struggled to get the food into each others' mouths and Reah felt a pang of envy. "Don’t be silly you idiot! Who wants to be doing that anywa…Oh! Is that pork?" Her stomach rumbled.

"Huh? Do what?" Jess hadn’t really been following what Reah was talking about. "Look, I - uh - should be getting home now. It’s late and I have to work tomorrow." She reached into her pocket for a card and handed it to Reah. "That’s got my number on it if you want it. Maybe we could catch up again some time?"

Reah took the card Jess had given her. Had she just made a new friend? Excitement bubbled up in her, *Don't get carried away now and make an idiot of yourself... I'm surprised she hasn't run screaming already!*

She smiled brightly at Jess, "Thanks! I’ll be sure to. Hopefully next time without the vamp ambushing. Oh!" She remembered the business cards for the armoury, which so conveniently happened to be called, ‘The Armoury’, reached into her coat and pulled one out.

"Here’s my work number. Well actually, the workplace's number. I have neither my own phone line at work, nor do I have a private living address number. One of the many minuses of living in a motel." She chuckled again, "Just in case you felt like catching up as well… or need a weapon!" She pulled a face at her attempt at speech. Conversing with people was so much harder than dusting vampires.

"Thanks again for helping me tonight! And believe me, you do fight well!" She shook Jess' hand that wasn’t holding Skye’s lead, then bent down to say goodbye to Skye as well, "Don’t go missin’ me, Ok?" Skye licked her face again in a new coat of slobber. Reah giggled, pulled herself up and pat her on the head. "I guess I’ll catch you later then!" she said as she started backing away.

"I'll give you a ring then." Jess waved to Reah as she walked off in the opposite direction back home.

"Cool!" Reah smiled to herself both on the inside and out. The day hadn't turned out to be as bad as it appeared it would. She turned about and headed back in the direction of the motel.

She thought about that whole motel scene, it was rapidly growing old on her, *Not that it ever grew new on me either!* She needed her own private apartment, and her own personal bed that she knew only she could be blamed for the eventual loss of springs. She'd walked a couple of blocks before she slowed down and looked around. "Uh...where the hell am I?"

Sighing, she shrugged her shoulders. She was lost, true, but she was also in a good mood, and there was no way in hell she was going to let a thing like ‘utter directionlessness’ take it away from her! Stubbornness ran strong in her family.

Nervous Breakdown

Kaarin's picture

Galen checked the clock in his car and saw that it was after 8pm. The time had gone... somewhere. Remorse over his actions had paralysed him in the parking lot. Even though he’d had the best intentions while doing so, the simple fact of the matter was he had just started digging into Kate's past, learning things – private things – about her life that she obviously wasn’t ready to talk to him about. Trying to rationalise it as a natural side effect of trying to protect her wasn't helping his conscience either. Looking at the clock on the dashboard convinced him that sitting around moping wasn't going to do anything to make it up to Kate, a task made much more difficult since he couldn't just tell her what he had done and ask for her forgiveness.

Part of him said that was probably the wisest course of action. Tell her the truth now before he’d have more secrets to keep from her. However, he knew that telling her would so easily put her life in danger and that wasn’t a risk he was willing to take.

An hour later Galen was standing on the porch of Kate's house with the most expensive bottle of wine he could find and a box of Godiva chocolates. Galen hesitated for a moment, trying to think of what to say, then forced himself to knock on the door and waited for Kate to open it.

"Surprise," he said as she opened the door and grinned as he caught a glimpse of her chemise beneath her robe. "Beware Greeks bearing... what's wrong?" Galen asked as he noticed Kate had been crying. She stood aside and let him in as she wiped away her tears. Galen walked into the sitting room and put his peace offerings down on the side table before holding her in his arms. “Kate, you’re worrying me now, what is it?”

“Oh it’s terrible!” Kate pointed to the television, “Vicky just told Grant that he’s the father of her baby, only he’s in love with her sister Felicia – Felicia’s the one who just had major brain surgery following a freak car accident, only it wasn’t really an accident. Rayburn planted a bomb in her car because he was jealous about her relationship with Grant, but nobody knows that yet…” Kate sat down on the sofa and fumbled around looking for a tissue, before blowing her nose loudly.

Galen stood in shock for a moment before an amused grin spread across his face and he sat down beside Kate. “You’re getting so worked up over a cheesy soap opera?”

Kate hit him playfully, “Hey, don’t make fun, this is quality television!”

Galen laughed and kissed her hand as she rose to her feet, walking past him towards the kitchen. She stopped when she noticed the bottle of wine and chocolates on the table. She frowned slightly as she picked up the wine.

“Wow Chateau Lafite 1983, this is, wow… very, very good” she placed the bottle back down on the table, returning to where Galen sat. “Either someone’s been a very naughty boy or hoping to get lucky tonight. ” She smiled, looking into Galen’s eyes and then pulled him close, kissing him deeply on the lips. “I can tell you now, you could have saved your money,” she whispered into his ear with a grin.

Wrapping his arms around Kate while she pulled him close, Galen returned the kiss with all of his feeling. She was right the first time, of course, which only made him feel more guilty. He held her close as they slowly parted and brushed her hair back from her face, "I, uh, I wanted to apologise for leaving so abruptly earlier today."

"I told you Galen, it's all right, really," she replied. "How is your friend, by the way?"

"Good, good." It was at that moment Galen discovered he actually could feel more guilt-ridden than he had earlier. "He… he was having some personal problems, his wife left him.”

“Oh, that’s awful…” said Kate frowning.

“He’ll be all right,” said Galen, hating the fact that the lies came so easily to him he hardly had to pause for breath. “So, what did you get up to today?” he asked, glad to change the subject.

“Oh I went to see Natasha. I’ve been meaning to see her since I got back only I… I’ve been somewhat distracted.” Kate smiled as she squeezed his hand.

“Distracted huh? Maybe I could ‘distract’ you some more…” Galen slid behind Kate and brushed her hair over her shoulder. She smiled as he placed his arms around her waist and began lightly kissing her neck. The way he was feeling, he was willing to do pretty much anything Kate wanted that night to make her happy, anything to alleviate the guilt he was feeling.

Kate turned to face Galen; his expression was soft and tender as he gazed into her face. She knelt on the sofa and leaned forward, cupping his face in her hands and kissed him intimately. Galen wrapped his arms around her waist as she pushed her body against his; he was completely surrounded by her intoxicating scent as her hair fell loosely against his face. He carefully lowered her down on the sofa, pulling her robe free and then began eagerly removing his own clothing.

“Wait… wait...” said Kate anxiously.

Galen had just removed his shirt when he suddenly stopped kissing her looking confused, “W-what is it?” he asked breathlessly, still holding her body in his arms.

“I was about to ask you the same question.” She ran a hand down his bare arm. “Look at you… you’re shaking. What is it? Are you okay?”

Galen looked down at his arm in surprise. It was shaking. "J-just nerves, I guess." That would do for the understatement of the year until a better candidate came along. The stress of secrecy, guilt, and deception came crashing down on him all at once, causing Galen to rest his face in his hands as he began to sob silently.

Kate sat up and moved over next to Galen allowing him to fall sideways in to her arms. She looked around the room in obvious distress as she held him. "Don't worry," she said softly. "You can tell me about it." Her concern rose for Galen as she felt him go tense in her arms.

"That's just it," he replied. "I can't." Memories of earlier in the evening came back, the alterations made. A new burst of guilt, one of worry that he had been caught, another that it wasn't enough to protect Kate, yet another that she might leave him if she knew about any of it. Then as he remembered that she was a telepath, he realised that he must be overwhelming her with emotions at this point. That only served to add on another layer of guilt and worry.

Kate held him tightly in her arms as he continued to sob and gasp. She had never seen him like this, not even when they were held captive in Serapis’ basement. Whatever was bothering him it must be intense to cause such an emotional outpouring. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” she soothed, stroking the back of his neck while still holding him tightly. His body was still trembling, worse now with the ferocity of his emotional state.

“It’s okay… you don’t have to tell me, it’s all right.”

She loosened her hold on him and he sat up, wiping at his eyes self-consciously. Kate gently stroked his cheek, wiping his tears away. She looked away for a long moment, looking down at their hands, how they were intertwined. Galen’s breathing was still jerky and laboured, his eyes red and sore. Slowly Kate looked up to see he’d closed his eyes in frustration.

“I know there are things you can’t tell me, things you have to keep a secret for whatever reason. But none of that matters because, well because I love you,” she said softly, touching his cheek.

Galen immediately opened his eyes, looking directly at her.

“I’m in love with you Galen, I have been for a long time. I just didn’t realise. Whatever this is about, I know we can sort it out together, you don’t have to be afraid… you’re not alone anymore.”

One of Galen’s hands came up to touch the back of her hand as she continued stroking his cheek. She loved him. His heart sang with the news before new feelings of guilt and remorse returned. “Oh Kate, I love you too,” he croaked out. She smiled at him with a mix of surprise and expectation, knowing it to be true. One day, he would tell her, would have to tell her, if for no other reason than to save his sanity.

She started to say something else before he stopped her. “That’s why I can’t talk about it. Not right now, at least. One day, though, I’ll be able to.” He squeezed her hand gently and sniffled. Galen melted back down in to her arms again, and she continued to hold him tightly. “One day, Kate. I promise.”

Kate continued to hold Galen silently, stroking his neck once more. “It’s okay. You don’t have to explain, I understand,” she said. Although Galen had stopped trembling, she could tell that he was still upset over something, probably work-related. “Have you ever thought that maybe a career change is called for?”

“Not until recently.” That was certainly true, and Galen couldn’t bring himself to say anything more than that. He made no attempt to move from Kate’s comforting embrace, and she made no attempt to force him to do so. Kate only gently laid him down when Galen at last fell asleep, when she placed his head down on the pillow before getting a blanket to cover him.


Meredith Bell's picture

******Monday, August 8th 2005 - 11:13pm******

Kate was unable to sleep. All she could think of was what had happened earlier that evening with Galen. How upset he had been, how she had sensed his surging feelings of remorse and guilt as they flooded through him in waves. It had unnerved her, although she had remained silent at the time.

She closed her eyes and tried to relax, but as soon as she did she was hit by a blinding vision…

A girl, running down a dark alley. She could hear footsteps, that and the terrifying beat of her heart as her pursuer closed in… Everything went black; for a long time darkness was all that existed… then suddenly a flash of red, blood, followed by a terrified scream…

Kate opened her eyes and sat bolt upright in bed holding her head painfully. *Damn, that hasn’t happened in a long time. Not since I stood outside Poplar Avenue all those months ago.* Struggling against the violent pain, Kate pulled herself out of bed and hastily began pulling on some clothes. She wasn’t happy; she’d neglected her training for so long she wasn’t sure whether she’d be up to fighting whatever she might come up against. Her powers had been significantly reduced since the entire Janus/Serapis nightmare. In England they’d begun to level out some – returning more or less to what they had been before that terrifying night almost a year ago.

All that was beside the point, an innocent was in danger and Kate couldn’t ignore the sign.

Tying her hair back and grabbing a black leather jacket from the closet, Kate quietly walked down into the living room. Galen was still sleeping soundly on the sofa. She thought for a moment about whether to wake him; she could probably use back up. She quickly rejected the idea. She could move quicker on her own and besides, Kate wasn’t sure if Galen was in any fit state to fight at the moment.

Silently Kate unlocked the door and slipped out into the quiet street.

Second Thoughts

Parasol's picture

***Monday, August 8, 2005 -- 11:45 a.m.***

“She said… she’d eat me.”

Chinaka had the handset cradled against her shoulder and ear while she was mixing the paint to the particular color of red she saw Parasol sip from the goblet last night. The color in that goblet was richer, darker, than what was in the bucket she was squatting around. She poured in more black but it rendered the color too dead – congealed.

Chinaka stared into the bucket, shaking her head and continued, “Mama, I don’t know if this is such a good idea.”

Her mother did one of her effective long sighs, making Chinaka feel, as she always did, like an idiot. “Girl, she’s not going to eat you. She doesn’t eat her family.”

Chinaka poured a generous dollop of red into the bucket and stirred. She examined the goblet of fresh blood sitting on the pedestal that she decanted from the bottle in the fridge. Chinaka drew the sheers on the window back to get cleaner light. The light in the lower room of the house that she turned into a studio was amazing – facing east like Parasol’s room. Sunlight shone opaque crimson through the blood.

“Look, Mama, that’s what she said. She told me she’d eat me.” Chinaka continued her recipe for the blood paint in the bucket, adding more red, adding more black, much more blue and finally a smidge of green.

“Really? When did she say she’d eat you?”

“What?” Color still wasn't right -- more blue.

“When did she say she’d eat you?”

Now the color in the bucket was right. Chinaka grabbed a large paintbrush and turned to the 4 by 4 canvas on the easel. She dipped the heavy brush into the bucket of blood, watching the rivulets of rich red string from it back into the bucket.

*This is the color of passion – liquid passion.*

She slashed the color diagonally on the canvas from corner to corner.

“Chinaka, are you listening to me? When did she say she’d eat you?”

“Huh? Oh…last night.” Chinaka stared at the paint on the canvas with her fingers pressed to her mouth.

“No, baby, under what circumstances did she say she’d eat you?” Her mother was exasperated, which annoyed Chinaka. How dare she be exasperated with her? Chinaka was the one living with the soulless blood-sucking dead. Chinaka paced back and forth in front of the canvas, getting a view of the slash from different angles, talking to her mother who was, as usual, not understanding.

“Mother! I don’t know what you mean. When she was hungry, I guess.”

“Baby, now you know she didn’t say that. Who you trying to fool? You think you the only one in the family ask her that? Hmmph. Everybody wants to live.

“She’s had the same answer for all of us, including me. Number 1: she is what she is. Number 2: she doesn’t eat her family. And number 3: yeah, she’ll eat you when it’s just you and her left. You think anything hungry would do less?”

“Mama, I’m just not sure that I should be living with her. It’s dangerous. It’s like tempting the gods.” The red on the canvas seemed to beat with life, drawing the air from the room.

“Well, baby, you gotta captain your life. If you can’t live there, you can’t. Move out.”

“Me move. Why should I move?”

“’Cause it’s her house.”

“Her house!! She’s dead. Don’t know when that happened because nobody ever told me Auntie Parasol was a… a… God, I can’t even say it. Look, Mama, I gotta go. Bye.”

“Don’t you hang up on me Miss Thing..." Her mother got that edge in her voice that could still stop Chinaka dead in her tracks like she was eight. Small blessing that Chinaka didn’t see those “don’t-test-me” eyes staring out of her mother’s head. "...you ain’t that grown. Now, lookit. Parasol’s your ancestor; your family. Everything you got -- everything we got -- is because of her. Thought I taught you better, but it seems you can’t go on what you already know about your Auntie Parasol and have known, I might add, for all your little fast-assed life. Then ask her about how she got it and you might learn a thing or thing, including how to live with her." Her mother's voice softened -- "I love you, baby, and wouldn't let you walk into harm's way," -- and got irritated again. "Now you can hang up,” and the line went dead.

Her mother’s soliloquy caught but a little of her mind's and none of her eyes' attention from the canvas. Yes, this was the color of the blood in the glass, corrupting the virgin white of the canvas. The sight of the gash on the canvas compelled Chinaka, drew her into it. Staring at the canvas was physical stimulation. She dipped into the paint and slashed the brush at the canvas again, and again, and again. Her breath came ragged. She never saw Parasol watching from the inner shadows of the hallway outside the studio.

Close Call

Meredith Bell's picture

******Monday, August 8th 2005 - 11:56pm******

Kate had reached the alleyway just in time. She’d recognised it instantly as one only a few blocks away from Bob’s Bar. As she’d rounded the corner she’d seen a dark shadowy figure pulling a screaming girl into the darkness.

Kate ran across the street and stepped cautiously into the dark alley. She closed her eyes and concentrated.

*Please let someone help me, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die, oh god please save me… Oh god they’ll never know, I should have told my mom that I love her, why did we have that argument? She’ll never know… I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die…*

She could hear the girl’s thoughts loud and clear. Her fear cut through Kate like a knife; she could also feel the desperate hunger of the girl's captor.

Kate kept her back close to the wall as she slowly peered around the corner in the direction she had seen the vampire pulling the girl. They were huddled in the corner, the girl moaning her protests while the vamp held her tightly and pulled her neck back, ready to take that first taste.

“Hey, don’t you know that when a woman says ‘no’ it’s polite to back off?” said Kate as she stepped out into the alley.

“Oh great,” muttered the vampire, dropping the frightened girl to the floor. “Another wannabe vampire slayer! Do you know how many of your kind I’ve killed?”

“Can we skip the witty banter this once? Nothing against you but I like to sleep at night rather than stalk the undead of Los Angeles. In case you didn’t guess, I’m new at this.”

“Fresh blood is always welcome, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy drinking yours much more than hers.” He looked down at the girl cowering on the floor. “She’s not feisty enough, not like you. I like you… you’re tasty.”

Kate helped the girl to her feet, not taking her eyes from the vampire for a second as they slowly backed away down the alley. “Are you okay?” Kate asked the girl anxiously. The girl was so frightened she couldn’t even speak; she nodded her head slowly. “You can get back to the main road, it’s two blocks away, get out of here and turn left, you know the way?” The girl nodded again. “Then go, get the hell out of here.”

“B-but w-w-what about..”

“Just go, quickly you hear me?”

The girl took one last look at the vampire then turned and fled for her life into the darkness.

“Just you and me now Red. Wanna dance?” With that the vampire lunged at Kate.

She was ready for him. With one sweeping gesture of her arm she propelled him back into the far wall. He hit the hard stone and slid to the ground groaning. Kate walked slowly to where he lay.

“So what are you? Some kind of witch? Cool power you have there…”

Kate was completely silent as she reached inside her jacket, her fingers wrapping around a wooden stake. Suddenly the vampire kicked out, knocking Kate’s feet from under her. She cried out as she fell. Her head smacked against the hard floor, the stake rolling out of her grasp into the darkness. Kate lay stunned, as the vampire walked around her tauntingly.

“Too easy pretty girl, I thought you’d be a challenge.”

Kate tried to get up but he grabbed her around the neck. For a moment he held her fast against the ground before swiftly pulling her up into the air. He held her suspended; Kate struggled against his grip, her feet kicking in mid-air. The vampire’s laughter echoed down the empty alleyway.

Kate looked around the darkness for help; she concentrated hard, focusing her telekinetic powers. Suddenly a dumpster rolled out of the corner and hit the vampire. He dropped Kate to the floor as he was knocked to one side. Kate dropped to her knees gasping for air, holding her throat.

She didn’t have long to recover before the vampire flew at her again, launching a punch aimed at her face. Kate dodged his blow and his fist rammed into the wall behind her. She grabbed hold of his arm and applied pressure with her knee. There was an audible ‘crack’ as his arm snapped in two.

Kate used the ‘distraction’ to put some distance between herself and the vampire as he struggled to move his limp arm.

“You little bitch…” he groaned, straightening himself up.

“Witch…” corrected Kate with a smile.

“Okay, whatever, I’m gonna enjoy sinking my fangs into your sweetness.” The vampire advanced once more, picking up a long piece of wood as he did.

As he moved forward Kate reached into her opposite pocket and pulled out a vial of holy water. Before she had time to remove the stopper the vampire hit her across the back with his weapon. She fell face first to the ground, the glass vial smashed, its contents spreading across the ground. The vampire laughed again reaching down and grabbing her by the hair. He dragged her a couple of feet across the ground then dropped her again. Kate struggled to her knees and looked up long enough to see his foot as it met with her back, kicking her down to the ground.

The vampire rolled her over, using his weight to hold her down as he brushed back her hair and leaned in close to her throat. Kate struggled to get free, her arms flailing around, searching in the muck and grime for something to use to defend herself with. Her fingertips lightly brushed against the tip of the stake. Kate turned her head to see it – just out of her reach.

“Nice dancing with you…” the vampire cooed as he ran his tongue over her vein in preparation.

Kate focused on the stake; it was all she could see as the vampire’s fangs lightly brushed against her skin. *Come, come to me,* she willed with every ounce of her being. Slowly the stake rolled across the floor into her outstretched hand. She wrapped her fingers around it, holding it high before plunging it deep through the vampire’s back, piercing its heart from behind. As he evaporated into dust Kate just lay there, exhausted and hurt, but very much alive.

Flash backs: Maria

Mantheana's picture

Early December 1999, China.

Mantheana sat down, Mikhail beside her, her hand in his.
"Mikhail. I'm so glad you're back. China isn't the same without you."

"I know, I know. I'm so glad to be back. To see you." Mikhail's hands idley tugged at the ribbon that held Mantheana's corset together. As his eyes moved over her skin they glinted like a child about to open a present.

She stopped his hand quickly. "Mikhail…"


"I don’t think we should…"

"Come on… It's been too long…" He wriggled his large hand from her dainty clutch.

"It's just… you're only just back and… I don't know if I can trust you again and…"

"And what?" He began tracing the veins down her chest and pulled at the ribbon. "I'm back. That’s all that matters." Mikhail's hands caressed her body as he kissed her and pushed her down.

Mantheana was moving with him now. "That's… all that… matters…"

It was no good. Mikhail had won again.

January 2000, France.

"What is it?" Mantheana's French was perfect. She had travelled all the way to France to find a doctor who could deal with her 'special' condition. "What is it?" She was getting tetchy now. She had been feeling this way for a while.

"Well," the doctor looked uneasy. "There's never an easy way to say this…"

"Look, just tell me what it is. Am I going to die? Look, whatever it is I can take it."

"Miss Alashkov, you're pregnant."

"What?” She hadn’t been expecting this. “Are… are you sure?"

"Yes. Even given your… circumstances. I did a blood test and some others, and I'm pretty sure. Are you going to be OK with this Miss Alashkov?"

"Oui." She had coped with worse things.

"Erm, I hope you don't think I'm prying, but I can't help but notice that your title is stated as ‘Miss’. You're about two months in. Do you know who the father is? Does he know?"

"What are you implying?" She answered hautily. There was no doubt as to who the father was. "And no, I don’t think he does. We stopped seeing each other about two months ago."

"Ah. Well, Miss Alashkov, I hope to see you again on your next check up. Au revoir."

"Et tu." Mantheana got up and walked quietly out.

This had not been expected. A baby? And that clod of a man Mikhail was not around. *He wasn't coming back either. Chort! If only I had not sent that letter, maybe he would come back and then…. *

Mikhail's arms around her. Moving with her. Around her. Over her. Inside her. One being. His breath on her face. Being held so close. She felt needed. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered.


She caught herself going down a hole that she had tried so hard to get out of for so many years before. A baby. Her baby. His baby. Him. A tear rolled subconsciously down her cheek as she forced herself to remember the morning that he left. He had only stayed for one night. Bitter thoughts filled her mind. After all the promises. For that last time when she had woken to the empty bed. Shivering. Unwanted. Wretched. Alone. Used. Empty. Cold. So very cold.

Mantheana wondered why she had not realised. She and her mother had been there during the Czarina's pregnancy and the birth of all Maria Romanov's younger siblings. Olga, Alexandra, Constantine, Nicholas, Michael. Mantheana had longed or a sister of her own. Maria had been that to her.

She thought hard. It had been so obvious. The number of times she had thrown up on the train just coming to France, and not from travel sickness. She winced. The strange feeling of warmth. Inside her. Her baby. A child of her own. A child of her own. Thoughts spun around and around.

She got back to her flat and sat down. She placed a hand gingerly on her stomach. Now she could feel it. An intense warmth. So tiny now. But it would grow. A tiny fire from the ice. Her baby.

She looked at herself in a mirror. She wasn't showing yet but she still felt bloated and whorish. She was pregnant and unmarried. She didn’t even have a partner. Mantheana was aware that this was acceptable in modern society, but her head still worked like it had in the day when she was still warm.

Any girl with a reputation for doing that kind of thing with a man that she wasn’t married to would find it hard to get rid of. What would her mother say? What would her father say? He’d probably disown her and eject her from the family. That is if he wasn’t dead. If they weren’t all dead.

Mantheana fell to her knees as cold tears rolled freely down her cheeks. She wept. *My baby.*

August, 2000, England.

Mantheana ran inside her room and locked the door. It had started. Congealed amniotic fluid stuck crusted to her legs and she cursed childbirth. Hospital was not an option. She would just end up with people poking at her to do with her 'condition'. She was going to have to do this the old fashioned way. Mantheana had watched it done five times and helped out at each occasion.

*I can do this,* she reassured herself and rubbed her large belly.

To her dismay she had found that she had outgrown all her favourite corsets and dresses a while ago; now she was stuck with her looser velvet dresses. Mantheana tried to slow her breathing.

*Wish I'd stayed in France.* She wondered why she had moved again. A contraction hit her and she fell to her knees. After breathing so much that she nearly hyperventilated, Mantheana stood up and started to set out her room. All the towels she had were put on her bed. She fetched a basin of water and a flannel. Mantheana started to wash herself. She would have her child put in to this world as clean as she could..

She tied her hair back completely so as not to become irritated by sweaty locks as she had seen with the Czarina. She thought back to those days. How it was done. She could do this. Then came another contraction.

Mantheana decided she didn't want to be here. She let her mind take her other places. She sent mental messages to Mikhail. *You svohluch! You leave me here with your baby and I'm here having it! Men!*

As she sat on her bed in agony for hours she took herself to her favourite memories. She played the piano in her mind, trying to blank out the squeezing pain in her belly. She would not permit herself to scream. People thought things about screaming women in a scabby motel.

She focused on the piano. She could just touch the keys past her swelled stomach. Her pain flowed through her fingers and played a painful but beautiful tune. Tears rolled down her cheeks. Still, in her mind she played as she pushed, and as she screamed silently in her head she hummed along, keeping rhythm.

Mantheana tried to think of dancing. How she loved to dance. But dancing was something she could not conjure up. She had quite forgotten how she looked with a thin waist and knew she would never dance with such a fat lump on her. So now she played violin. Her violent but graceful strokes illustrated her feelings in the real world. She could feel it was almost over. She could finish this. Her child. Her child.

As her ordeal neared an end, she started thinking of the positives and negatives of ejecting the contents of her womb.

She could once again regain her figure. That meant she could dance. She could actually see the baby that she had harboured inside her for the past nine months. She might stop having cravings for eating ice. And she could move out of the temporary hellhole she had to rent in a hurry when her contractions started.

But she would lose the burning heat that had been growing inside her. She would be cold again. She would be putting a baby into the world. Was the world good enough for her baby?

Then it was over. It had taken many hours, her whole night. She looked at her bedside clock. 5:00am. But she knew what was a lucky time. The Czarina took two days for Nicholas. Mantheana looked down at the bed between her legs. There it was. A baby. It wasn’t crying. For a second, Mantheana’s heart stopped until she heard the tiny sound of it breathing.

She sat upright and picked he baby up. It was a girl. Mantheana walked duck legged to what the motel owners called a ‘bathroom’. This consisted of a small sink, a fall-apart shower and a toilet. She ran the water to a lukewarm temperature and start to gently wash the baby. She gurgled quietly and opened her eyes. Mantheana’s tired face gave a joyful smile as she saw that her child had inherited her unusual eyes.

After putting her baby through several washing, disinfecting and other after-birth processes, washing and dressing herself and the baby, Mantheana sat down. Her face looked less worn. She cradled her prize. The baby was hers. Not Mikhail’s. She knew that now.

Now that the small amount of belongings she had brought to England were packed, Mantheana picked up her bags. She rested her little treasure over her shoulder. She checked out of the cess-pit her daughter had been born in and got a train ticket to France. Here she could get her child looked at and have no questions asked about her ‘condition’. *All in all,* she thought, *I think maybe I can cope with this.*

Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

Kaarin's picture

Kate fumbled with the lock on the front door and slowly pushed it open. It had taken her a while to walk home, partly because she was hurting so much. Her back felt like someone had run a car over it. She raised a hand to her aching head. Drawing her fingers away she saw they were covered in blood. Kate stumbled into the hallway, closing the door securely behind her and then leaned against it tiredly, sliding to rest on the floor.

Galen was startled awake by the sound of the door closing. Forgetting where he was momentarily, he fell off the couch and made a thump as his body hit the floor. The momentary disorientation passed, and he started towards the sound of the closed door. Panic set in as his eyes focused and he caught sight of Kate on the floor and ran over to her side. "Oh my God, Kate, what happened? You’re bleeding...”

Slipping an arm around her, he gently started to move her towards the couch he had just vacated. Kate moaned slightly as Galen hauled her up from the floor, but as he moved her over to the couch she held her arm out, protesting. “No, no, not the couch. I just had it cleaned.”

Galen rested her down onto the floor; Kate sat with her back propped against the coffee table. "Rest here while I just go get something to help clean you up." So saying, he bolted towards the bathroom and came back with a wet washcloth and a towel.

When Galen returned from the bathroom he carefully began cleaning up her wounds. She had a large bump on her forehead, and several scratches and bruises around her neck. He took Kate’s hand to help her sit up properly, noticing that the knuckles were bloody and scraped badly too.

Galen started by doing what he could to clean up Kate's head, to find out the extent of the wound there. He was relieved to find that it was just cut, nothing too serious – although the amount of blood had been worrying at first. He beat down a feeling of guilt at having slept through Kate getting in to a fight, despite the fact that he had no way of knowing about it in advance. When the first washcloth started to look too covered in blood, he went back and got some more to start working on her hands.

"Now, don't you even think about complaining," he said at one point. "You took care of me last night, now it's my turn to take care of you. So, you gonna tell me what happened?"

Kate winced as Galen dabbed at the cuts on her neck. “Well I sort of had this vision and I… ouch!”

“Shh, keep still,” soothed Galen as he continued to tend to her wounds.

Kate flinched slightly. “O-ow, yes, well, like I was saying I was asleep and I had this vision about this girl, she was being attacked by this vampire…”

"Don't tell me, you felt you had to do something," Galen said, getting a smile out of Kate. He was impressed at her determination to help others, even if taking on a vampire alone was not always the wisest course of action. Smiling at her and kissing her forehead, he tried to push thoughts of fear at losing her from his mind. "Well, next time you decide to play heroine, at least steal my gun. I couldn't stand the thought of losing you..."

“I hate to break this to you, but a .357 Magnum isn’t a very effective weapon against the undead. OW!”

"Sorry, sorry," he stammered out while Kate winced. "At least .357 will slow them down."

Galen stared in to her eyes a moment, and started to help her to the bedroom. "Come on, you need to lay down. Let me get you something to drink, then we can start on making that back of yours feel better."

Kate let Galen lead her up the stairs. He helped her take off her clothes, frowning in concern at a few bruises along her back and then held her while she put her slip back on. Carefully he lowered her down onto the bed. Kate lay awkwardly on the sheets.

“Urm, okay, this is fun, in a not able to move sort of way.”

"Yes, that tends to happen when you fight vampires. I'll be right back." Then he playfully added, "Don't go anywhere."

Galen moved as quickly as he could to get Kate a glass of water, before his eyes fell on the wine he had bought earlier. He put down the water, found two wine glasses and filled them, then went back to the bedroom. He helped Kate sit back up before handing her a glass.

"It will help deaden the pain. Yes, aspirin works just as well, but I think you've earned a little pleasure." Placing his own glass on the table by the bed, Galen slipped around her and began to rub her shoulders, trying to find the right amount of pressure to help the muscles relax while not hurting.

Kate took a long drink of wine and then replaced it on the table, feeling herself relax under Galen’s touch. He started at her shoulder, rubbing and squeezing her flesh. “Oh my god!” she moaned, rolling her head to one side. “where did you learn to do that!?” Galen grinned as he applied a little pressure in-between her shoulder blades. Kate cried out as the initial sensation of pain flooded through her as she felt something crack back into place, that was soon replaced by pleasure as Galen continued to work her flesh between his hands.

"Oh, you pick up a few things trying to hunt demons and have a social life at the same time," Galen joked. The truth of the matter was, he had received no small measure of training in this from Cassandra. He continued to work his hands inward, then instinctively moved back to her shoulder blades before slipping his hands under her chemise and moved his hands lower down her back. Lightly kissing her neck, he helped Kate lie down on her stomach and continued to work on her back.

"I know it's hard, but try to relax." Something else popped into place, making Kate cry out again before pleasure took over. "Shhh, it's okay," he whispered.

Kate bit her lip in an effort to suppress another moan as Galen leaned down again and trailed kisses down the length of her spine. His tender touch elicited another delicate sigh from her lips as she felt the tension begin to ease away.

“Are you okay?” Galen enquired gently.

“Hmmm” sighed Kate softly, “Yes, yes I’m fine… Don’t stop, that’s wonderful.”

Galen continued to massage Kate's back gently, moving from one area to another. She occasionally let out small moans of pleasure as he managed to hit just the right spot. Between the combination of wine and soothing effects of Galen's touch, Kate gradually began to feel drowsy.

"Just need to get something," he said, finding with no small amount of hunting a container of Icyhot. Liberally applying it to her back, he continued to rub gently until she seemed ready to fall asleep. Carefully he gathered her into his arms and pulled the sheets back before laying her gently back down on the bed. She wriggled around sleepily, opening her eyes just as Galen was about to leave the room.

"Hmmm, where are you going?" Kate asked sleepily.

“I was just going to…” said Galen gesturing out of the room.

Kate sat up and Galen returned to her side, kneeling on the bed. She took his hand in hers and kissed him gently. “Please, stay,” she said softly.

Galen nodded, smiling slightly and climbed into bed next to her. They lay facing each other, not touching until Galen wrapped his arms low around her waist, drawing their bodies together. He held her gently, as though afraid to hurt her further, then slowly began to rub the small of her back until she fell into a deep, untroubled sleep.

Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

MrDave's picture

**** Monday Aug 8th 4:45PM

Victor walked down the stairs and stuck his head into the office. "I am headed out to the University. I need to look up something they don't have online. I should be back in an hour or so." He didn't wait for a reply before heading out the door and down the street.

Henna had started to tell him that they can usually scan and email anything that's not already digitized, but she figured a half hour discussion on how books were better wasn't going to be very helpful.

She set down her bag and prepared to wait until he got back. She didn't have anything better to do anyway. She fiddled around at her desk chatting with some new friends she'd made online when a knock at the door startled her.

"Got a delivery for a Mr. Tek." The familiar brown uniform of a UPS driver stood there with his electronic keypad waiting for a signature. Henna looked at him blankly for a moment. He looked familiar but she could not place his face. He was not young enough so it couldn't have been a Rave or around town at one of the clubs. *Maybe he's delivered somewhere else I've been,* she thought.

He nodded his head at something she'd said. She blinked. *What had I said?* It wasn't clear.

He turned and headed down the hallway towards the basement. She felt like she was in slow motion. *He's going the wrong way!* She needed to tell him that that was the wrong way. Her mouth was paralyzed. Her feet were clay. He entered the basement door and it closed.

Suddenly her feet were free and she jogged down the hall to the basement door.

It was locked. She was sure she had locked it earlier when she found it was open. She pulled out the keys that Mr. Tek had given her and rattled a few in the door until one of them opened it. She could hear some sound downstairs. It sounded wet and sticky. The light was on, but she could not see anything.

"Hello?" she called.

"Yeah! I'm here, where did you say that bathroom was? I can't find it!" came the reply.

She still could not see him, and she did not want to go down there. She REALLY didn't want to go down there. "It's up here. You must have misunderstood me. It's back in the office."

The UPS guy rounded the bottom of the stairs. He was tucking in his shirt and zipping up his pants. He stepped up one step then ran back and returned with his electronic pad. Henna's eyes opened wide and her nose wrinkled with disgust. The wet noises... the pants, the shirt. *That sick bastard pissed in the basement drain!*

"I need a signature..." he started lamely.

"Sign it yourself dickhead! Get the fuck out! And the package stays here!" she shouted at him. She took a half-assed kick at his rump as he jogged out.

She was so mad she forgot to lock the basement door. Now anyone who might wander downstairs could see the naked body that was missing the scars on its forearm from the car accident when it was 16. The wedding ring it had continued to wear even though the wife had long since completed the divorce and taken the children to live with her mother was missing as well.

The body lay there naked for a long time until a thick wet appendage near the basement drain extruded from the floor and tasted the foreign object. the body was tasty so it got swallowed. This was the second meal in a year. If things kept up the thing might actually be full for once.


Evalyn Toussaint's picture

***Tuesday, 9th August, 2005…11:36am***

"Flight 236, New York has landed."

Reah’s head came up at the mention of some plane's arrival, but unfortunately she was too busy trying to squeeze a malteser out of her packet at the time so she missed which flight it was that had arrived. The malteser popped out unexpectedly; her efforts to catch the thing proved futile as it bounced off the tip of her fingers, landed on the speckled blue and grey carpeted floor and rolled under the set of chairs opposite her.

"Damn it!" The attendant waiting at the gateway watched her with a cocked eyebrow. Reah noticed she’d noticed her, whistled innocently and diverted her gaze elsewhere.

She looked up at the giant screen above her, scanning her eyes down to the flight she was waiting for. "Ah! It has landed." She then recalled the attendant at the gateway, *Why else would she be standing there?*

Pulling herself out of the cushy seat, Reah stood up and picked up the small placard Joe had given her to hold at the airport before she had left the armoury at ten o’clock. She’d been waiting now for around thirty to forty minutes and her patience had been tested. She looked at the placard and grimaced at it before turning around to hold it up in front of her. The attendant at the gateway chuckled at her. *I’m seriously going to kill you Joe!*

At first only a couple of people emerged from the gateway at a time. Luckily most of them had family and friends that were there to greet them as they came out, although most of the people, welcoming party or not, noticed her and her placard and either grinned, chuckled, or made a passing comment they found to be quite amusing. Reah glared at them. Someone even had the nerve to walk past and give her an apartment number... she gave them a dead arm in return. *If they complain, I can accuse them of harassment!* She grinned despite her humiliation.

Eventually a man in a dark leather jacket, sunglasses, and black jeans much like the ones that Joe wore, emerged from the gateway and paused at the sight of Reah. He glanced at the placard, smirked, chuckled lightly to himself and approached her. Reah was fuming, but managed to keep her face calm. "Cari?" he asked.

She nodded her head; it was her mother's name. Joe had insisted she used a different name other than her own for specific reasons which she knew the logic of since that day in the armoury when the Tony guy had come around searching for Joe. She had confronted Joe with Sam later that day when he had returned, eventually finding out about his past dealings in drugs and the little tiff he has with his uncle!

Reah sighed. "Darling?"

He grinned, showing extraordinarily white teeth, "If you insist." She nearly clocked the guy, instead she snapped the placard in two at shoved the pieces into a nearby bin as they made their way down to customs.

Reah waited beside the teller while the guy talked to the man behind the desk about a special, delicate parcel. After a while, the guy pulled her arm as he followed the man behind the teller into a special holding area filled with boxes and packages of all shapes and sizes. A couple of German Shepherds on leads were running along the packages sniffing each individual one. Reah was distracted as she admired the furry creatures. There was another tug at her arm, a bit more savage this time, returning her attention to the guy. "What?" He held up a rather large box with some holes in its sides, it appeared to be rather heavy by the looks of his grip. Reah stared quizzically at the box, then back to the guy, "Um…what the hell is in there?" He grinned at her then looked to the man who had led them in, who nodded and led them into a security room.

The guy heaved the box carefully onto the table in the centre of the room, then cautiously removed the lid, peered in, smiled, then looked to Reah to take a peek. The man who had led them into the room was keeping his distance from the open box. Darting looks between the two men, she slowly moved over to the box, peered in… and froze, "Oh…my…god!" She jumped back from the long serpent as it lifted its head to regard her and stuck its tongue out flickering. She shuddered, "Very funny! Ha ha! Now where’s the real package I’m picking up?" She stared hopefully at both the guy and the teller man. Seeing only a giant grin on the guy's face, her heart sank. "You can’t be serious!"

"Oh I’m deadly serious!" He grinned, "Cari, meet Darling. She’s a Diamond…"

"Python! Yeah I know!" She shuddered. "I’m not stupid. But there is no way in HELL am I gonna take that… thing… back with me! Besides, I don’t think it’d fit on the back of my bike anyway." She finished arguably and stubbornly.

The guy grinned shaking his head, "Sorry, but a pick up's a pick up! You have to take her, and believe me, we’ll find a way to attach her securely to your bike so you won't have to worry about losing her." He held out a form he produced from his jacket, handing a Reah a pen to sign it off.

*Pfft! Worry? I’m hoping!* Her eye began to twitch as she gingerly took the pen and signed the form. *Why the hell does Joe want a snake anyway? He will pay!* She sneered and shoved the form back to the guy.

A short time later, Darling had been fastened to the back of Reah’s bike, the box protruding out the sides as she sped along the highway back to the armoury, leaning as far forward as she could on the bike and travelling slightly faster than the limit as though she could distance herself further from the snake the faster she went. The sooner it was off, the better.

When she reached the armoury, she parked her bike in a sudden halt out the back just outside the delivery entrance, and all but leapt off her bike, "Eeeeyyuuck!" She immediately began wiping and rubbing her hands and arms like something chronic.

"I see you’ve met Darling."

Reah spun around, noticing Joe leaning in the open doorway with his evil smirk spread across his face. "Why the HELL do you want a friggen SNAKE?" She questioned in a shrill voice causing Joe to cringe slightly.

After clearing his ears he wandered over to the box on the end of her bike, "What are you talking about? I’ve always owned Darling. Haven’t seen her though since I moved here to LA." He opened the lid and smiled at the sight of his beloved pet, "Hello Darling!" He reached in and pulled out the jet black python with well defined yellowy-white speckling, although from a distance the speckling appeared silvery.

Reah’s jaw dropped at the size of the thing; it was near six foot long! "Bloody hell! How bloody big does it want to be? It’s near six foot!"

Joe looked at her over the python that was now wrapped leisurely around his arms, and looped over the back of his neck, "She is! But she’s still young. There’s still another three to six feet left to her to grow." He tenderly held the python as he carried it inside the armoury. "But I’ll tell ya, I sure have missed her! She’s the last of my belongings I care for to return to my possession. I wanted to wait until everything here settled in."

Reah wheeled her bike in after him leaving it just inside the storage room door, then closed it behind her with a thudding ‘doom’!

"I’m glad at least one of us is happy," she muttered quietly to herself as Joe had all his attention on Darling, whispering to her as he made his way into the store via the blades room, then up to his second level via the gunnery room.

Reah followed, at a distance, as far as the counter area inside the store. "So long as I don’t have to touch it, all will be fine!"

Luckily, they had a bit of business throughout the remainder of the day, making it easier for her keep her mind on anything but the snake that was now right above her head.

The EE claims another

Firefly's picture

***** Thursday, August 11, 2005 around noon *****

Melissa rechecked the address on the slip of paper in her hand. Usually Jimmy or Tom made the few deliveries for The Bibliophile Café. She preferred to stay in the bookshop, stocking or straightening shelves. Melissa didn’t like meeting new people in any capacity, not even when delivering their lunch. In her experience, it was better to stay invisible than to be noticed by strangers. Still, Jimmy was out sick, and the café was slammed, so Tom couldn’t get away. He was Miss Blaise’s best server after all. So that left only Joshua, the boss, or Melissa herself to make the delivery to the lovely brownstone before her. Obviously, Miss Blaise was not going to do it, and Joshua was too busy cooking to take the time. Thus, Melissa was the only one for the job.

“1318 Poplar Ave,” Melissa said to herself, checking the numbers on the side of the building. "Yup, this is it.”

Melissa girded herself and opened the door to the lobby. She was not an overly friendly person obviously. As a matter of fact, the other girls in her dorm called her “Mouse”. Melissa was sure they didn’t mean it in a good way. She couldn’t help it though. Melissa was timid. She was afraid of just about everyone and everything. Her mother had made sure of that. From as early as Melissa could remember, Aida Blue had made a point of letting Melissa know that she was as unwanted as it was possible to be.

Aida claimed to have been a brilliant dancer once, before Melissa was conceived, robbing Aida of her future and her happiness. Aida punished Melissa every chance she got, denying the little girl any love and affection, starving her, and beating her regularly. Melissa had never known her father. Aida had instead brought along a large collection of boyfriends, one of whom had decided plain, little Melissa was a tastier tidbit than her caustic, alcoholic mother when Melissa was 10. From then on, Melissa dreaded the arrival of one of Aida’s new men, never knowing which ones might sneak into her own room when her mother passed out.

At 17, Melissa had managed to escape. She’d always been bright, and she’d desperately wanted a way to get away. So, Melissa worked hard in school, getting good grades while hiding from anyone and everyone behind books and frumpy clothes. She had managed to graduate at the top of her class and win a scholarship to UCLA. Once she got there, Melissa thought things would be easier, but she still was afraid most of the time, and she hadn’t quite figured out how to interact with other people. She loved her job at The Bibliophile, because most of the time, she was left alone with the books.

“Until today, anyway,” Melissa said, glancing around the lobby. There seemed to be an office of sorts on this level, so she decided to head in there. Clutching the paper bag carrying the order in one hand, Melissa entered the office to the sound of someone typing away at a computer while a fax machine beeped softly in the background. Seated behind the desk was a young woman. The sight of her sent Melissa’s heart racing. Here was one of those 'Goth’ people that so made fun of her style at school. This one was just covered in tattoos and piercings. She glanced up when Melissa entered.

“Uhm…I’ve got a delivery…for …uhm…,” Melissa glanced at the ticket stapled to the bag, which had become crumpled up during the delivery. “Hannah?”

Henna was surprised by the sudden appearance of the other young woman. The girl had straight brown hair and big brown eyes. She was dressed in an out of date brown skirt with a white blouse and a brown cardigan. Henna thought that for a delivery person, she seemed really frightened. The woman nodded at whatever Henna had just said and started walking back out the door.

Henna was confused. Where had she told the woman to go? That was the lunch she’d ordered for herself walking away. The woman was heading down the hall when Henna rose to follow her, making her way to the basement door. Before Henna could stop her, the woman disappeared down the steps. Henna went to catch her, confused, when the woman reappeared, smiling timidly. She held the bag clutched in her outstretched hand, but seemed unaware of anything unusual.

“Here you go,” the other woman said to Henna. “That’ll be $6.50.”

Henna nodded slowly. She reached into her pocket and pulled out some cash, paying the delivery woman. Then she watched as the woman quickly left the building. Somehow, it seemed as if something might have happened there, but Henna couldn’t figure out what. She shrugged and went back to the office to eat, already forgetting about the woman and the basement.

Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

Soulless Zombie's picture

Monday, August 9th. 10:30 PM.

Word choice. Of the few tidbits he’d gleaned from High School English, he knew that an inspired word choice lead to clear expression, while a lazy word choice lead to obfuscation. “Obfuscation.” He looked that one up once. It seemed the best word to describe the secretive manner in which Joe, his on-call boss, had handed him a hundred dollar bill and told him about the assignment. The assignment required Sam to deliver a plain, brown package to a street corner along the 900 block of Stoneman. Once there, he was to wait for someone called “the Big H” to show up. No money would exchange hands; no questions were to be asked. Sam found his role in this affair totally... obfuscatory. Yes, obfuscatory. But Sam didn’t mind, really. He was thrilled to have the assignment, because he wouldn’t see his first janitorial paycheck for a month at least.

So when Joe called him on the phone and summoned him to the armory, Sam used the word "super.” When Joe withdrew the shoebox-sized package from under the counter and handed it over, Sam accepted it reverently, using the word "gosh." Sam prided himself on his consistent ability to use an expletive other than the F-word.

When Sam found himself waiting on the unoccupied street corner, only shadows skirting in the corners of his vision, he felt like he was begging for a mugger to chance upon him. But it wasn’t a mugger that showed up. It was a stranger shrouded in darkness. It approached with unlikely speed, brushing the true shadows aside as it skated over the sidewalk. The flickers of the street lamp failed to penetrate the figure’s drooping wool hood. It could have been a ghost but for its alabaster hand creeping out from the cloak that hung around its long, feminine arms - it graced Sam’s face with a corporeal touch. In a flowery voice, it said, “Tasty.” Sam didn’t have to see its fangs to know that it was a vampire. The stranger’s intent was clear. It had chosen its word most carefully.

This was no occasion for Sam to be picky. Instead, he panicked.

“Oh darn, oh darn, mother-mother-darn it!” he howled, throwing the package into the monster’s face. He leapt into the crosswalk, dropping and rolling as if ducking bullets. He bounced to his feet and headed for the next block. The vampire, a tall creature with a triangular chin of white, appeared at Sam’s side. They were running shoulder-to-shoulder. The vampire was moving in playful strides, mocking him, giggling. It had to slow its gait to fall alongside Sam, who was frantically throwing his feet forward and back, giving all he had to his sprint of freedom. The vamp’s hood flowed in the wind but didn’t collapse. The thing’s face remained hidden.

“Leave me alone!” Sam shouted, striking sideways at its iron chest.

“Good, good. . .your adrenaline will taste fine.”

“I taste terrible, I swear.”

“I smell something tantilizingly different."

“Shoo, shoo! Go eat someone else!”

On the next corner, Sam stuck out his arm and grabbed the pole of the stop sign. The vampire shot ahead, while Sam twirled around - a swift 180 that popped his shoulder - and Sam cried in pain, but he managed to send himself running in the opposite direction. The vampire turned up again at Sam’s heels. The maneuver had bought Sam five fleeting seconds.

He spotted the package lying in the street. Joe had used the word, “precious” when describing its contents. Sam had taken this word seriously. There was something about Joe; he didn’t not seem dangerous. Sam didn’t want to see what would happen if he lost the boss’s merchandise. Vampire at his heels or not, Sam intended to deliver that package! He bent down as he passed, snagging it by the tie strings. Sam rounded the corner and headed for Essex Street. He glanced over his shoulder.

The vampire was gone, completely gone.

Sam let the package rest on the ground as he bent forward, panting uncontrollably, wondering why the creature had given up the chase. Sam wished he hadn’t spent the last several months sitting around Kimmie’s apartment scarfing chocolate, potato chips, popcorn, and cheese-drenched broccoli. He was out of shape. His arm felt like it was dangling out of its socket, and he rubbed it with great compassion, feeling very sorry for himself. When he straightened up, though, the vampire was right there! Sam backed up; the creature walked forward. Its chin bumped his chin. Its fangs grew long, hugging Sam’s jaw line, and it breathed arctic gusts. Sam choked.

“I’ve been watching you,” it said softly. “They say you taste sweet.”

“Wh-Who says that?”

“But what do those Fascion liberals know? They can’t truly know the taste of humans... not if they let them live.” The vampire slipped behind Sam and held him in place by his tremulous shoulders. The odor of raw meat flowed upon the thing’s cold breath.

“You can’t truly taste someone,” the vampire said, “until you’ve sucked him to the core. Blood is a surface trait. All pathways connect to the soul. Where the flavor cooks.”

“But my music teacher said I don’t got no soul. In fact—”

“Do you know what my favorite part of hunting a human is?”

“It wouldn’t be scaring him and then let-letting him go, would it?” Sam struggled in vain.

“Oh my, no. Human, I am going to peel you like an artichoke. And then, for desert, I’m going to tap into your sweet, sweet brain.”

“Oh,” Sam said, his thoughts like storm clouds, “you won’t like me then. No sugar up there. I’m like a grapefruit. My teachers always said so. Go ahead, ask them. I’ve got their phone numbers at home.”

“We’ll just conduct a little taste test then.”

Sam let go. He knew this was The End...

A blast of headlights crossed their faces! The vampire hissed, shying away in a cloud of smoke. It was Hesch’s cab, screeching to a stop in the middle of the intersection. The passenger door popped open. “Get in!” Hesch yelled. Sam lurched from his assailant, stumbled backward into the front seat. He himself had been blinded.

“Hope that fucker chokes on his taste of my ultraviolet sun-lights,” Hesch said proudly as they were speeding away. “My Madeline’s a pip, a real pip. Listen to her engine roar!"

“Don’t curse,” Sam said, wiping the glare from his watery eyes. “Since when did you name your cab Madeline?"

Hesch hesitated. “It’s good luck to name something that can save your life.” He seemed eager to change the subject. Hesch looked at Sam’s empty lap. “Where’s my package?” He started squinting into all three of his mirrors.

"Package?" Sam asked. Then it dawned on him. "Oh no. Don’t tell me...”

“There it is. Damn it, kid, you left it back there in the street? Didn’t Joe tell you it was precious?”

“You? You are the Big H?”

“Hold on tight. This ain't over.” Hesch turned the cab around. Under his breath, he said, “Here we go, Maddy, let’s see some of that piss and vinegar.” Sam watched as he rubbed the dashboard tenderly, steering with one fist. The scene of the crime was approaching fast over the hood of the car, and the vampire, just then recovering from the attack, froze in the oncoming headlights. Hesch switched to high beams and pressed the pedal to the floorboard.

Sam braced himself. “Look out!”

“Here we go!”

Ungodly shrieks rebounded off the buildings, and brown smoke began issuing from the vampire’s pores. Hesch scooped the monster up with the hood of the taxi. Its body thumped over the roof. Sam turned in his seat. He saw it roll off the trunk and land—still smoking—in the road. Hesch cackled. “Hit and run, bloodsucker!” Sam pried his eyes from the back window.


“He deserved it.”

“Is he dead?”

“Of course, you goober. That’s what makes it fun,” Hesch said. He fishtailed to a stop and pressed the button to open Sam’s door. “Get it, get it now, before Mike regains his senses.”

“Mike? Mike?”

“Do it, hurry!”

Sam reached out, groping the cement for the package. He lifted it into the cab and said, “Go, go, go!” Soon, they were driving again.

Hesch sighed. Sam shuddered.

“Mike?” Sam asked, angry at a world that would engender such a thing as a vampire named Mike. It was outrageous. For the tenth time, Sam promised himself to get used to such atrocities. After all, a demon named Killroy was nothing to scoff at. So, really, what was the big deal, a vampire named Mike? “I thought it was a girl. I thought Mike was a girl vampire.”

“Yeah, that’s Mike, a fairly young vamp. You’d think he’d be a wuss. But he was sired by a big bad named Roy Stout, head of research for Coca-Cola USA. Mike was just an advertising rep back then. A real girl's man."

“I’m going out on limb here; he was in charge of taste tests, right?”

“Taste tests, that’s a good one. Mike was on the team that started the worst campaign of the 80’s. Remember New Coke?”

Sam had never heard of it. He said, “I was a kid then.”

“Long story short; somebody had to pay for that blunder. Stout didn't tolerate failure in his employees." Sam though immediately of Joe. "Our Mikey lost more than his job. He lost his soul. Now he's cursed to roam these parts with a really big potato chip on his shoulder.” Hesch sighed. "I suppose we're all cursed in one way or another."

“Is he—” Sam glanced into the mirror on the passenger door. “Oh lordy, he’s getting up.”

Hesch checked his rear-view. “Hah! Sadistic prick. Look at him smolderin’!”

Hesch parked just outside the old Woolworth’s building and provided Sam time for his nerves to settle. Sam rested his head against the window. There used to be a large hole in the street behind them. He’d read about it in the tabloids. The city had filled it with cement months ago, but to this day it was still surrounded by police tape.

He said, "I hear Satan made that hole."

Hesch frowned. "No one knows what that's all about. All I know is it's quiet here. People are afraid of it. Non-people too. I wouldn't worry about Mike. This is a monster-free zone."

"Unless the hole opens again."

"Yeah. There is that."

Silence fell.

Sam sat up. “So what’s in the package?”

“Glad you asked.” Hesch untangled the brown strings. The flaps of the package fell around the man’s blubbery thighs and a white box appeared. He removed a brown, foot-long stake, admired it for a moment, then handed it to Sam. “A gift,” he said.

“For me?”

“Yeah. I’m a regular goodhearted person.”

Sam couldn’t focus on a ridiculous stick right now. He got mad. “Why didn’t you just have Joe give it to me?” he said. “I almost got killed, you know."

“No good. You see, your boss has some assistant working for him. A real stickler for ancient weapons. If she saw him giving you this stake... well, let’s just say this ain’t a toy. She’d never allow something like this to fall into the hands of an amateur. This gal’s an artist when it comes to these things, a real bitch.”

“I know her. I’ve worked with her. Her name’s Reanna. And she’s not a bitch.”

“Ah, yes. I forgot, you would know her, wouldn’t you? Dumb of me. Sorry.”

“We were hired at the same time. I like her. More than I like Joe.”

“Sorry. Hey, relax. I hear she’s an asset to his store. Anyway, he clearly fancies the girl. Otherwise, I’m sure he’d have fired her by now. She’s got a big mouth on her. Personally, I think Joe just wants to get inside her sunnies, if you know what I mean.”

“I’m done talking about this, Al.”

“Me too. Go ahead. Look at your present.”

Sam nodded. He didn’t want to argue, just to rest. He wiped his eyes so he could see. The stake, which he held end to end between his palms, was wonderous. It was an exquisite creation of smoothness and style. He tried bouncing it in his palm - it was lighter than he expected. “Is this oak?” Whichever ancient genius made the weapon had veined it with thin, silvery designs, intricate carvings too accurate to be merely decorative.

“Say hello to your new best friend,” Hesch said. “It’s straight from third century Orient.”

“It looks new.”

“It always will. Unless you manage to break it. You won't break it, will you, Sam?"

“What am I supposed to do with it?”

“Name it. Then keep it close. You’re going to need it in this town. It’ll give you a fighting chance. Especially now that you’ve managed to piss off at least one moderately powerful vamp. I can’t always be there to help you."

Sam understood. He didn’t like the sound of that, but it was true. Just how Hesch talked Joe into parting with this gem was a mystery best left mysterious. Joe probably owed him a big favor. Everyone owed Hesch favors. Sam, most of all. It took Sam a moment to think of the right words to express the proper gratitude. He shrugged his shoulders and chose to say, “Thanks.”

Hesch grinned, baring what teeth he had left. “You’re welcome, boy,” he said. He tapped the weapon’s spiral grip. “This little baby will work on werewolves, too, you know.” He was nodding, a father explaining to his son the features of his first BB rifle.

“Were... w-wolves? There's such thing as The Wolfman?”

“Do you really have to ask that?”

“Any of them named Mike?”

Hesch frowned. “Joe tells me this stake has been used on werewolves, vamps, bog demons, vengeance demons, mermen... and I’m sure he said a snake creature, too, but we were getting a little drunk that night, so who knows? I was showing your boss the sights of L.A...” Hesch faded off, bemused.

Sam bounced the stake again. “Gee, what should I call it?”

“Something meaningful.” Hesch was still staring into space. “Once you name it, it becomes a part of you. It will... stay with you. Even when you’re too stupid to hold on to it. Think of it as being magnetized to your soul.”

Sam wondered where it would end up if ever he lost his soul. “I think I’ll call it...” Sam twirled it around his fingers. His lack of dexterity didn’t seem to matter. The smoothly coiled grip wound its way back into his palm, immediately into his heart. Then he knew. He said, “Bunny.”

“What?” Hesch went from bemused to un-amused.

“I’m going to call her Bunny.”

“It’s not a ‘her,’ Goober. It’s a ‘him.’”

It hurt Sam to be called Goober. He was out of high school now. No need for name-calling. Besides, how did Hesch know that had been his nickname? Or was it plainly obvious that Sam was a goober? He stuck out his bottom lip and said, “It can be a ‘her' if I want it to.”

Hesch grit his teeth, speaking sternly. “Look, this ain’t some dolly for you to play with. It’s an item to be respected. You don’t name it stupidly.”

“What should I call it, Al?”

“Like... I don’t know... like for instance... name it after your life’s quest, something momentous. If it were me I’d look up the Latin word for ‘freedom’ or something. Or if its purpose is to kill your arch enemy, maybe you could name it after her.”

“After ‘her’?” Sam felt like he and Hesch had engaged in this conversation before. “Okay. Then I’ll still call it Bunny. She deserves to die. Did you give this to me to kill my wife?” Sam got scared. He wanted her dead, but for the first time he was holding what actually might become a murder weapon.

“No," Hesch said. "Well, if you want, sure. But not necessarily her, no.”

Obviously, Hesch had someone specific in mind. Sam pursed his lips, then said, “I think I like Bunny for its name.”

“I’m not going to let you name a weapon of great power Bunny! Got it?”

“You gave it to me and I say her name is Bunny.” Sam raised his shoulder and snuggled the stake protectively.

“It’s a 'he,' Sam!”

“Okay, it’s a 'he.' But I’m still calling him Bunny.”

The cabbie smacked the dashboard. Sam jumped. “Look,” Hesch said, “if you’re so hell-bent on naming after a rabbit, at least name it after a boy rabbit, huh? For me, Sam?”

Word choice. Sam could do that. He pursed his lips again.


Thumping one’s enemies. Sam liked it.

“Okay,” Sam said. Thinking himself terribly funny, he held the stake as if he were going to kiss it passionately. “It’s okay, Thumper. You’ll just have to get used to Albert. He works long hours.” Hesch winced. “You won’t ever leave me, will you, Thumper? Of course you won’t, Thumper."

Sam winked at Hesch. It felt good to release some of the stress.

The cab driver opted for bemusement again. He chuckled resentfully, saying, “Hoo, I’m taking you home now, Sam, I'm going to take you home now." He started the engine.

Sam remembered something. "By the way, congratulate me, Albert. I got another job. Forty hours a week sort of deal."

"Hallelujah. It isn't driving a cab is it?"

"No, it's janitorial. My boss is really cool. It's on Poplar Ave..."

“Oh gods.” Hesch revved the engine. “I bet now you’re going to tell me it’s at 1318 Poplar Avenue.”

“Well... yeah. You know something about the place that I should know?"

Hesch squinted hard. It looked like he was choosing his response carefully. The cab pulled away from the curb and turned the corner. Sam waited, but Hesch never answered the question. Perhaps there weren’t words to describe what the old guy was feeling. Hesch was a sorry fellow who knew too much about he City of Angels, and Sam knew when to stop asking questions. He tightened his grip around Thumper and held the warm, splinter-free stake to his cheek. “It’s okay, buddy,” Sam whispered, “I’ve got myself a job. And you... I think you do too."

Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

Meredith Bell's picture

******Thursday, August 11th 2005 – 8:00am******

Kate rolled over in the large bed, meeting nothing but emptiness on the other side. She hadn’t seen Galen in the past two days; although Wednesday and Thursday were supposed to be his days off he’d had urgent business that he had to tend to immediately. Kate had missed him more than she thought she would. It was then that she knew just how much she really did love him - it was a wonderful feeling.

She climbed out of bed and made her way to the bathroom. She looked at her pale reflection in the mirror. The bump on her head had gone down a lot, just leaving some residual bruising and a small cut. The marks around her neck were much better too. Lots of the bruises had already begun to fade and the scratches had already healed.

*Amazing,* she thought to herself as she examined her injuries. She’d spent the last day concocting various potions and herbal remedies. It had made her feel like a first year initiate again, going through all her old spell books.

As her old potions teacher Mackentire Jenson had once said “To run we must first learn to walk. It is the same with magic. Some of you are already gifted with powers beyond your years, but in order to become a successful witch we must first return to the first lessons that our ancestors learnt – the magic of nature. The world of Herbalism.”

Kate sighed as she filled the wash basin with cool water and splashed her face. She returned to her room and began to get dressed, covering her injuries as best she could. She tied a silk scarf around her neck to hide the bruising and used a little make-up to cover the bruising on her forehead.

She’d decided to go down to Bibliophile. She wanted to check up on Daye, see how things had worked out with Drew, and mostly find out what the hell was going on with this Ryan guy. Then Kate had other things to sort out too. Important things that couldn’t wait any longer – despite her continuous efforts to put them out of her mind.

Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

Jessica Travers's picture

******Thursday 11th August – Early Morning******

Kate walked down the sunny street of the Commercial Centre. It was a bright morning but the streets were relatively empty. She was hoping to catch up with Daye before The Bibliophile got too busy. Kate hadn’t seen her since Sunday night when they’d had dinner. She was pretty anxious to find out how everything had gone with Drew after the incident with Ryan.

There was something about Ryan that gave Kate the creeps though she didn’t know how to explain it. She was hoping Daye might explain a little more about what had happened between the two of them since he showed up in LA. These thoughts were playing through her mind as she pushed open the door – the bell ringing overhead - and stepped inside the store.

Kate looked around appreciatively. She hadn’t been inside Bibliophile since the night they had returned from the attack at Pasadena – when they had retrieved the Shards from Kain’s henchmen. Kate looked around the shop as the pleasant smell of freshly baking bread wafted from the kitchen. She couldn’t see Daye anywhere. She was about to leave, thinking it must be her day off when she heard a familiar voice coming from the direction of the storeroom. Kate halted; the voice wasn’t Daye’s but it was very familiar.

Jess finished up what she was doing and put her head round the storeroom door to see if there was a customer who needed any help. She had been chatting with one of the other staff whilst finishing some work. She looked around to see an old friend standing near the door looking around.

“Kate!” Jess came out of the small room then hugged her friend. “It seems like ages.”

Kate was surprised at first to see her old friend Jessica Travers until she remembered the conversation she’d had with Daye back in Ireland. Of course she’d mentioned Jess getting transferred to Los Angeles and how she was now working at Bibliophile, the legitimate face of The Watcher’s Council in Alhambra. Jess showed Kate over to an empty table and they sat down.

Kate and Jess had been close friends for many years. Upon her initiation into the Inner Circle almost five years ago Kate had been brought to the Watcher’s Council Headquarters in London to meet with some of their affiliates. Jessica had been there, performing her role as the famed daughter of Quentin Travers, one of the directors of the Watcher’s Council. Kate and Jess had hit it off immediately, being of a similar age and both sharing similar interests.

When they could manage to escape the watchful eyes of their elders they’d find some quiet space where they could catch up. Kate would teach Jess the odd spell or two, mainly as a means of protecting herself – conjuring, illusions – small feats of elemental magic, nothing too complex. While Jess would show Kate various combat moves, and update her on the Legends of the Slayers. Kate was fascinated with everything to do with ‘The Chosen One’ – especially knowing that Jess had once been destined for such a calling.

It had been over a year since they had last met, before the whole sordid mess with Janus and Serapis had erupted changing her life forever. She held Jess in a tight embrace, remembering happier days. “Daye told me you had been reassigned to LA,” she said as they parted. “It’s so good to see you! So how are you finding Los Angeles? Pretty different from back home uh?”

“It’s good to see you again too.” Jess paused to look at Kate “It’s very different. I mean I’ve got a load more work due to the numbers of the fanged variety, that can’t be good but apart from that it’s been good. How about you?” She didn’t want to pick up on anything in particular about Kate’s experience in LA so far after what Daye had told her.

“Oh well, this place is certainly interesting I’ll give it that,” Kate smiled. She knew Daye had informed Jess of everything that had taken place six months ago and so was glad not to have to explain all that again. She rubbed at her neck under the silk scarf absently as she continued to talk. “Things are quiet at the moment, I don’t know if you were aware but I sort of resigned from Sindell. Things just weren’t working out after…” she let her voice trail off, she didn’t want to get into all that, she didn’t!

“Hey, it’s okay, I know.” Jess gave a small smile but couldn’t keep it up. She noticed the small cut on Kate’s forehead and thought of what she must have been through. “What happened to your head?” she asked in a soft voice, not intending to upset Kate.

“Oh!” said Kate self-consciously touching the small cut. “No, nothing much,” *except nearly getting killed that is.* “I guess I’m a little out of my depth when it comes to doing this ‘lone vampire hunter’ thing. But what do you do? I got a vision that someone was in danger, I couldn’t ignore it.” Kate looked around the almost empty store; a long silence passed before she spoke again.

“You know what I miss? All those days we used to spend together at the Watcher’s Council – remember when you almost flooded the lower hall when I taught you that rain spell? I thought your dad was never going to let me see you again! And what about the time we accidentally turned Will into a chicken with that metamorphosis spell… and he was laying eggs everywhere, took us a week to reverse that one!”

Jess laughed. “Me too. Except turning my brother into a chicken,” Jess paused for a moment “although it was kinda funny.” She laughed again. “We should get together and do something like that again. I could teach you some more combat skills if you like, and you could teach me how to turn Will into an elephant this time.”

“I’m sure he’d appreciate that,” smiled Kate. “That sounds like a good idea, I sure could use some help with training, I don’t think I could survive many more nights of getting the holy hell kicked out of me.” Kate glanced at her watch. It was only 10am but she had some other business she needed to take care of.

“Look, I’m sorry to cut this short but I really have to be somewhere and you’re probably gonna get rushed off your feet as soon as the breakfast crowds start to descend. I really came to see Daye; she’s had a few… personal problems recently and I just wanted to see how she was. If she comes in later today could you tell her I dropped by?”

Jess nodded in agreement and the two friends hugged before Kate made her way out of the store, just as half a dozen college kids came bustling in through the door.

Old Death at Hecate's Gate

Meredith Bell's picture

******Thursday, August 11th 2005 – Midday******

Kate looked up at the old sign above the dilapidated shop door: ‘Hecate’s Gate’. This was certainly the right address, the official residence of ‘The Circle of Hecate’ – an entirely female coven based in the Pasadena region of Los Angeles. Kate was looking for direction right now. Help. She wasn’t sure she’d get it here from the looks of things.

The door itself was locked firmly; an old yellow police tape with the words {CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS} barred the width of the doorway. Kate placed her hand over the lock and gently heard the soft ‘click’ as the door slowly swung inwards. She ducked under the tape and entered the room.

Kate’s breath caught in her throat at the scene that greeted her. There must have been over a dozen markers on the floor – the floor that was almost entirely stained with blood. Kate stumbled and staggered back against the wall. She cried out in shock as something brushed against her face. She turned, taking several steps backwards from the wall. Her hand flew to her mouth as she beheld the six-foot words scrawled across the walls:

‘Daughters of Satan Be Damned’

‘Devil Worshippers Burn in Hell’

‘Die Whores of Lucifer’

A cold breeze blew through the room and Kate looked up to see a partially boarded up skylight, the metal frame contorted. Most of the broken glass was still scattered across the floor upon which Kate stood.

*What on Earth had happened here?* Kate turned around blindly seeing more obscene messages scrawled across the walls. The entire room was filled with an aura of violent death and pain. Kate was overwhelmed by the powerful sensations that flooded her mind. Against her will she sank to the floor. As her hand met with the blood stained floorboards she was shot through with a violent scene of carnage...

A lone man leaping from the heavens fired a shower of lead at the various women as he landed on his feet. Blood flowed like water, flesh torn apart, limbs severed by the roaring force of this intruder. Screams filled the room, desolate, beseeching, begging for mercy. The man was unyielding. He continued his mass slaughter until only one woman was standing, and then he shattered her skull with one swift blow from the butt of his gun.

Kate began to cry as the visions continued to play out against her will. She struggled to her feet and half crawled to the doorway.

The man looked pleased with his work. He stood in the centre of the veritable blood bath, then suddenly picked up one of the half dying bodies and sank his fangs into her flesh…

Kate wrenched the door open, ripping through the police tape. She gulped in the fresh cool air of the alleyway, unaware that she’d been holding her breath. She didn’t even notice how her body was trembling until she tried to walk. She sank against the wall, resting amongst the dirt and the garbage.

She would have to wait along while before she could continue on her path.

Disturbing Research

Kaarin's picture

***AUGUST 11, 2005, 7:37 AM***

Galen needed a drink.

That was his first thought after reading through the first of the documents contained in the package. Finding and getting it had not been easy, and the contents were enough to drive a man to drink. Wednesday and Thursday were his official days off work; in order to keep up the façade of actual employment, he would only be contacted in an emergency. He continued to read the papers with a glass of whiskey in hand. They were addressed to someone obviously in health care, who was running at least this part of the project – from L.A.

“If it wasn’t in front of me, I wouldn’t believe it,” he muttered to himself. Formula X72 is approved for initial testing. Standard cover story to be used and subjects in military monitored. Free Clinic will be used for initial test of formula X73….

Human subjects. Galen dropped report onto a stack, and looked back at the maps scattered over the table, the list of names of places, and remembered the investigation that lead him to find the package.


Wednesday finally gave Galen a chance to look in the envelope that Anthony had provided him. What he found was not shipping orders per se, but instead a list of tracking numbers for UPS. Inquiries had to be made discreetly, getting the lists through the web at multiple public machines.

Galen is sitting at home, staring at lists of locations and packages. A glass of water sits on the table. The pile of lists continues on the table, until Galen catches something: a package disappears in Nevada. Suspicious of the route, he grabs an atlas and opens it up. Tracing the route, his finger comes to the location of a town not on the map due to its small size. “Rachel,” he mutters. “They went through Rachel.” Getting a sheet of paper, he writes down the name of the nearby Air Force base: Nellis. It is the home of Area 51.

More maps are strewn on the table as the day continues. Galen’s shirt becomes unbuttoned as he frantically shuffles papers around, making a mark here and there. Glancing at the list, he writes down the name of a town: Los Alamos. “God damnit, where is it?” he yells, then screams in triumph as he finds the right tracking information.

Although it is now one in the afternoon, Galen has worked through lunch. A map of the United States is spead out on the floor as he continues to work. The names on the list now number nearly a half dozen. Several papers with the results of tracking order inquiries are thrown on the floor crumpled up, the discrepancy to look for now clear.

The clock reads 4 in the afternoon. A coherent picture is at last beginning to form. Not a single package, but a set of several. Different colored lines drawn on the map represent different paths the packages took. A green line denotes the path from Vandenburg AFB to Los Alamos, another in red from Castle AFB to Fort Hood in Texas. There is a third line being drawn in blue, this one beginning in West Virginia, Galen not putting the marker aside until reaching Nellis.

At 6 o’clock, Galen shuts the door to his apartment, placing an order of pizza on the table in the undersized dining room. While holding a slice he looks at a new sheet of paper. It has a list of packages with their approximate paths and destinations before vanishing without a trace. “Shit!” he yells, a glob of tomato sauce falling on the map. The list of names of places involved sits out in the living room. It has grown to a dozen.

At 8 o’clock, Galen checks his gun one final time and starts out the door while swearing to himself. One of the packages is nearing its final destination, and he suspects the pattern may hold. All packages are delivered to the final recipient and signed for, very likely under a false name. An extremely discreet inquiry reveals the truth: the shipment is nearing its final destination, and will be delivered the next day. There is no time to lose.

11 o’clock at night, and Galen is driving through the streets and very nervous. A single package sits on the seat next to him, fruits of a break-in at the UPS building. Gloves concealed fingerprints, a mask his identity. Stolen plates added to the deception. And as he turned the block and heard the sirens in the distance, a silent alarm had almost lead to his being caught. Still, the package is safe. He’ll examine the contents the next day.


Other papers and the maps still sat out on the coffee table. A sudden, panicky thought jumped to Galen’s mind: Kate knew that he was off today, and he had told her that he would be available today if she wanted to stop by. Personal business would take up most of Wednesday, so he unfortunately couldn’t see her then. He felt like Rimsky-Korsikov’s Flight of the Bumblebee should be playing as he put everything away, but he missed one sheet of paper. It fell to the floor, landing with its edge sticking out from under the couch. It was the list of towns and bases.

Our Own Fears

Meredith Bell's picture

******Thursday, August 11th 2005 – 8:43pm******

It had grown dark as evening set in. Kate had spent most of the afternoon at home cleaning the house – it was what she did when she was upset, when she didn’t want to think. There were lots of things Kate didn’t want to think about at the moment, most prominent being the traumatic ordeal at Hecate’s Gate in Pasadena. When she ran out of things to clean she became a bit fidgety. She didn’t want to be alone tonight. Whenever she closed her eyes all she could see was blood and violence.

And so that was why she was standing outside Galen’s apartment. Although Kate still had a set of keys in her pocket she decided to knock on the door, not wanting to intrude on Galen’s privacy.

Galen had spent the better part of the day reading through the various files that were contained in the package. After a certain amount of reading the mind became dull to the horrors both explicit and implicit contained within through harsh repetition. It seemed heartless, but it allowed the reader to remain sane. Galen glanced down at the pack of cigarettes he had opened in the morning. A pack of 20, now down to 5.

He jumped at the sound of the knock on the door. "Just a minute," he called out, putting the papers back in the box, then hiding the box in a cabinet. Could they have figured out what he did? His gun was hidden behind the door when he opened it just a crack to look out, gladly putting it aside when he saw who was out there. Galen threw his arms around Kate while she came in. "Hi, Kate. I missed you yesterday. How have you been?"

Kate had never been so pleased to see anyone in her life and she let Galen hold her a long time before she attempted to break from his close embrace. Kate coughed as she came into the apartment; it was terribly smoky. She walked over to the window and drew open the sash, letting the cool evening air inside.

“Jeez, Galen. What have you been doing? Trying to smoke yourself into an early grave or something?” She clocked the full ashtray on the coffee table, along with a half-empty bottle of scotch. “Is everything okay?” she asked warily. He didn’t look too good; his eyes were red and weary – probably from the smoke - but it also looked like he hadn’t slept much in the last two days.

Galen hadn't noticed the amount of smoke that had built up in the room, and began to look embarrassed as Kate opened the window. He loved her dearly and was grateful for the concern, but didn't want her to worry. "Not really," he confessed. "Trust me, you don't want to know. Can I get you something to drink?"

Kate wrapped her arms around Galen’s neck and smiled, kissing him softly on the lips. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to worry, I just missed you these last couple of days.” She kissed him again and then gently pulled away. “You sit down and I’ll make some coffee. You look like you could use it!”

"Thank you," Galen said sitting down, reflecting that what he could really use right now was something - anything - to get Lazarus off his mind. Kate stopped with a concerned look on her face as he picked up the pack of cigarettes, which changed his mind about having another one. "Actually, let me help," he said, following her to the kitchen.

Kate laughed, “What? I can’t cook so I can’t make a good cup of coffee either?” She filled the kettle with water and put it on the stove, lighting the ring. “I’ll have you know I make the best coffee this side of the Atlantic.”

"I didn't mean it that way at all," Galen stammered out, then smiled at Kate. "I've just been a little on edge lately." Her look said that this was an understatement of the obvious. He returned to the living room and waited patiently, finishing off the glass of Scotch. Kate returned a few minutes later with two cups.

"This is good," Galen said, taking a sip from the cup she'd offered him as a false look of seriousness crept across his face. "Let's see... making delicious coffee, sudden visit on a Thursday night, dressed to kill. You do realise I have work in the morning, right?"

Kate laughed as she sat down beside him, “Oh I see, you think I have some ulterior motive? Can’t a girl drop in on her boyfriend just to see how he is without there being any other reason behind it?”

Galen tried to keep a straight face and failed, worries over the project gone for the moment. Just being with Kate was enough. "Of course. You've already turned me in to a vegetarian, so what else is there left?" Kate laughed again at that, when Galen's cell phone began ringing on the table. He picked it up, glanced at the number, then sent the battery hurling across the room. "There, that should make it a touch more difficult for us to be interrupted."

Kate smiled and put her coffee down on the table, then she took Galen’s cup and put it next to hers. “So…” she said smiling while slowly rubbing Galen’s chest through his shirt. “What did you have in mind?”

Galen trailed his arms around Kate's body and pulled her closer in to him. "Oh, I don't know," he said, leaning down to kiss her. "Just talk, or watch a movie." As his voice trailed off, he leaned in to kiss Kate fully. Her arms moved up his chest to settle around his neck. "Then again, this works too," he said while unavoidably laughing.

Kate pulled Galen down into her arms smiling. “This works pretty damn well if you ask me.”

For the next forty minutes they gave into their feelings, allowing passion to take over as they made love. Afterwards they lay in each other’s arms, quiet, not saying a word. Eventually Kate told Galen about the house in Pasadena and the things she had seen there, the blood and the violence.

“It was awful,” said Kate sadly. “All those people were murdered and no one cared… nobody asked ‘why?’ They were… glad, because they were witches and that made them unworthy of their compassion.”

Galen swallowed hard as he considered what Kate said. He held her protectively, trying to offer her some comfort. They had both seen their own horrors that day. "I'm sorry," he said. There was a depressing thought he refrained from giving her, that most of the people who did care didn't have the time or energy to pursue it. "Nobody cared? At all?" Kate silently nodded, and Galen could find no way to reply other than to continue holding her.

“I’m sorry,” said Kate, looking up at his serious face. “I didn’t mean to upset you too.”

"No, it's okay," said Galen softly. "It's not your fault. Truth be told, I was upset before."

Kate sat up, frowning. She looked around for her shirt and picked it up from the floor. “Do you want to talk about it?”

"More than you can ever know," Galen replied while they began to get dressed. "Only I also don't want to put you in danger, which talking about it could do - and your skirt is on the other side of the couch," he playfully added when he figured out which article of clothing Kate was looking for.

Kate grinned and picked up the item of clothing. “Galen, I can take care of myself.” She paused for a moment, realising how pathetic that sounded considering two days ago she came stumbling home in a bloody mess after fighting one vampire. “Well contrary to what you may have witnessed, I can take care of myself and I have been doing so, pretty successfully I might add, for the past eight years. I think I can handle a few FBI agents… your pants are over by the stereo."

Galen shook his head while retrieving his pants, still torn between what to do. He played the possible ways the evening could go through his head, and knew immediately how this conversation would end: both of them would be remarking that they loved the other, Kate saying that she wanted to help for this reason, Galen again offering it as a reason to not tell her for her own protection. Then there would be the trump card: that after all they'd been through (including being tortured together), she should be the one to decide if it was really too dangerous. There was no use fighting it.

"Well, if you really want to know, I could tell you," Galen finally relented. He considered the now cold coffee, then decided to get a second glass for scotch and filled both. "Congratulations, honey, you've finally got me talking about work!"

“Don’t make fun,” said Kate helplessly, “not when it’s serious.” When he sat back down she took his hand in her own. “I know I fool around, make jokes I mean, but I love you Galen. I don’t want this to tear us apart. If you love me as much as you say you do, you’d trust me enough to tell me what’s worrying you.”

Galen sighed and gazed in to Kate's eyes for a moment. While it wasn't the trump he was expecting, she was right in a way. Squeezing her hand in his own, he considered exactly how to put it. "Well, I don't really like my security clearance anyway...." Kate glared at him and he put up his hands in surrender, as if to say 'no more jokes.'

"I've been investigating a black project run by the government. Certain documents have come into my possession which indicate some disturbing things. Attempts at trying to alter the human body to emulate certain characteristics found in demons, testing on human subjects in secret, that sort of thing." He reached for the scotch and took a sip.

“’That sort of thing’. You make it sound like this happens all the time!” Kate caught Galen’s anxious look before he drained his glass empty and reached for the scotch bottle to pour another glass. Kate took the bottle from his hands. “This won’t help any Galen. This won’t help at all, only deaden the horror of it all. Is that what you want? To feel dead inside?” Kate stood and took the bottle and placed it on the kitchen counter. “Is this what you were upset about on Monday night? Why couldn’t you just tell me?”

"Two reasons," Galen said, going to retrieve the package. "One, I didn't have evidence then, and hoped it was a sick joke." He put the package down on the table, removed the documents, and placed them in the centre of the coffee table. "Then we obtained these. Second, I didn't want to worry or endanger you. These are the kinds of secrets that are valuable enough to kill to keep hidden."

At this point, Galen was standing and pacing. It felt good to finally be able to talk to someone about his concerns, and there was a new fear: in a gamble to keep Kate safe, he would loose her love. "That was the main reason, in fact. To protect you." More accurately, it was the reason. Galen had thought of little else besides protecting her.

The papers covered the table and Kate looked through them with fearful interest. She didn’t understand many of the reference codes, or the footnotes but one thing kept repeating itself throughout the many pages, ‘Formula X73’. Kate bit her lower lip in worry; it was an inexorable scheme if it were to be carried out – testing a secret formula on humans without their knowledge. “Isn’t there someone at the Bureau you can tell about this? There must be someone… Galen, you can’t allow this to take place. If you know, you must do something to put a stop to it.”

Galen sighed as he collapsed back on to the sofa and watched Kate look through the papers, grateful that she apparently couldn't understand most of the technical references or abbreviations. Without that knowledge, she was essentially viewing the tip of the iceberg. "You're right, Kate. Something has to be done, but official channels won't work." He looked through the papers on the table quickly, and found the right document, the oldest. "This is the official notice of termination of the project. Note that every other paper on the table is dated after this one."

Kate rested her hand reassuringly upon Galen’s knee, squeezing it gently. “So someone is running this project covertly? Then isn’t that more of an incentive to alert the proper authorities?”

Galen shook his head softly, then put his arm around Kate. "Kate, you're an idealist, which is part of the reason I love you. Unfortunately, even if the proper authorities were interested in acting, they couldn't. Not when the main evidence was obtained in violation of Miranda rights, so would be inadmissible as evidence."

Kate felt more confused than ever, she knew very little about the judicial system in her own country, let alone America. She just wished that she could do something to ease Galen’s burden. “Then what are you going to do?” she asked cautiously.

Seeing Kate's concern and confusion, Galen shook his head again. "I've been in contact with certain individuals opposed to the project," he said truthfully. "If they can identify who is responsible for protecting it, they can end it."

“You make it sound so easy,” said Kate, looking into Galen’s eyes. “But I know you, if it were so simple you wouldn’t be so worried.”

"Oh, knowing what to do is easy. There's just one problem with the plan." Galen smiled, trying to inject some levity in the situation and dispel Kate's worry. "No idea how to do it.” Galen tried hard to stifle a yawn.

Kate looked at Galen. Despite his attempt at humour she was unable to disregard her caution. She ran her hand against his cheek softly. “Right now you need to rest. Look at yourself. Have you slept at all in the last two days?”

“Well I, uh, I don’t recall, I, no,” Galen replied, rubbing his tired eyes.

“I thought not. You’ll get through this - I know you will. I have faith in you Galen, I know that whatever you decide to do it’ll be the right thing.”

Who can it be now?

Heather's picture

Wednesday, 10th August 2005 – 11pm

Tash was checking her weapons for the night's hunt. Gun fully loaded, stakes in easy reach, holy water stoppered properly, knives sheathed. Victor watched impassively as she went through the same routine she'd done every night for the last few months. He’d long since given up trying to talk her out of taking even one night off. She seemed driven.

He well understood obsession. Ghortab knew he’d experienced enough of it himself. *Remember that time we…*

*Shut up!*

The phone rang shrilly, disturbing the quiet in the apartment. Tash looked over at it, startled out of her preparatory ritual. Frowning, she glanced at the clock. It was just after 11pm. Tash looked at Victor, one eyebrow raised. He shrugged. He had no idea who it might be, either.

She approached the phone apprehensively. If someone were calling this late, she’d lay odds it wasn’t with good news…

Picking up the handset, she spoke. “Hello?”

"Hello? Tash? It's Jade!" Despite the ear-piercing crackle of static, Jade smiled as she heard her friend's voice. The last time they'd spoken was before she and Sorrow left for England back in February and Jade hadn't realised till now just how much she'd missed Tash. "It's been ages! How've you been?"

"Oh, my God! Jade!" Tash could hardly believe her ears. So many times over the past few months she'd wondered about Jade and Sorrow.

"I'm fine. Well, fine now... Long story. But how about you?" Tash hesitated slightly. "And how's Sorrow?"

"He's fine! Better than fine actually..." Jade paused, a little lost as to how to summarise the events of the past months. Deciding to cut to the quick, she said, "We did it, Tash. We found a cure. The ritual was," Jade rolled her eyes and let out a huff of breath, "disturbingly gory but it was a success."

Not for the first time, Tash wished she could read people over the phone. But Jade sounded genuine enough. Relief made Tash sag. She hadn't realised she'd been so tense.

"Thank God for that. So he's completely OK now? No residual effects?"

At Jade's affirmation, Tash finally allowed herself to smile. "Oh, that's great! You have no idea how worried I was. So, are you staying over there much longer? It's quiet here without you guys."

"Actually, that's the reason I'm calling. Tris and I are coming back! We're leaving on the first flight out. Should be back in L.A around six in the evening." Jade still felt a little apprehensive about going back. She missed her friends dreadfully but she wasn't too sure how everyone would react to their return. Tris hadn't left under the best of circumstances after all…

Tash found herself grinning, while at the same time a little voice niggled at the back of her mind. *I won't be sure until I've seen him for myself.* She nodded to herself and let the grin control her voice.

"Fantastic! Do you want to be picked up? There's nothing worse than coming home and having to catch a cab. I'll come get you, if you like."

"Sure! If you don't mind?" Jade beamed into the receiver. "Wait a minute, I'll give you our flight details." She turned around to find Sorrow behind her with their air tickets in hand. Mouthing her thanks, Jade kissed him quickly on the mouth before picking up the receiver again. "Tash? You got a pen and paper ready? Ok... We're on British Airways, touching down at LAX at 6.20pm... Flight number's BA0269."

Tash scribbled furiously on the back of an envelope. "...0269. OK, got it. I'm so looking forward to seeing you again! But this must be costing you a fortune... I'll see you tomorrow, OK?"

"Great! Catch you then!"

Tash stared dumbfounded at the dead handset for a minute after Jade had rung off. “Wow,” she muttered.

Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

CryingKnight's picture

Tash sent up a silent apology to Henna as she crunched the gears again. It had been ages since she'd driven a car and she was beginning to really loathe the clutch on this one. But her bike was no good for picking up two people plus luggage, so she'd shamelessly presumed on her status as the boss's girlfriend to ask Henna about borrowing her car.

The radio started playing commercials, and she mentally tuned them out as she navigated her way onto the freeway. Then the 6pm news came on and she pricked up her ears. Sometimes news items gave her clues to likely vampire haunts.

A powerful earthquake near Fiji confused seismic monitors thousands of miles away and led to false reports of small temblors in Southern California early Wednesday, scientists said.

Temblors of magnitude 3.0 or higher were recorded at 4:12 am in widely separated areas near Bakersfield, San Bernardino and Palm Springs. But none of those quakes existed.

Nope, nothing weird there...

A city firefighter trainee pleaded innocent today to threatening his workplace and keeping a 4-inch pipe bomb.

Christopher Sooy, 39, was arrested last Saturday at his San Fernando Valley home after a pipe bomb was discovered and detonated by a police bomb squad. Semiautomatic guns and ammunition also were found during the serving of a search warrant.

Hmm, interesting, but hardly supernatural...

Police today refused to comment on the identity of the body found yesterday near Garvey Reservoir.

Initial reports are confused, but some sources say that the body was devoid of any distinguishing marks, making it difficult to identify the deceased. The Coroner's office has also refused to comment.

Tash frowned, then shrugged. Probably just been in the water too long...

The nation's largest pension fund adopted procedures Wednesday designed to root out conflicts of interest among its money managers and investment bankers.

The California Public Employees Retirement System approved rules requiring greater disclosure about how money managers, brokers and bankers are compensated, sever the link between analysts' pay and investment banking and establish a monitoring process.


Ah, there it was - the turn off to the airport. About time, too. Los Angeles International was right on the far side of the city from Alhambra. And she'd been doing it in peak hour. Still, being a little late wasn't going to be really bad. Jade and Sorrow still had to get through customs. She'd be there in plenty of time.


Sorrow stretched a little. Even first class flying could pall a little after eleven hours. All Sorrow wanted to do was get home and rest. As the customs area opened out Sorrow looked around for Tash.

He found her in an island of calm amidst a churning mass of humanity. Walking wearily over to Tash, Sorrow gave a wan smile, "Hi Tash."

As the pair approached her, Tash eyed Sorrow carefully. His aura was... not human. But there was no real black there, either. It was dusky, faded. That black overlay had gone, replaced by a mere shadow, a hint of what had been. And maybe it would improve as time passed. Tash shrugged, and brushed her hand over the stake in her pocket. Looked like she wouldn't need it, thank God.

She gave Jade a long hug before turning to Sorrow. They eyed each other warily for a second or two, neither one sure how the other would react. Finally Tash opened her arms and said, "Go on, give me a hug."

Sorrow smiled then hugged Tash for a moment. "So, not going to use it?" Sorrow had seen Tash move her hand towards the stake. He understood her earlier wariness. After all, he'd been close to a ravening monster when he left.

"What do you see?" Sorrow wondered what marks his ordeal had left on his aura; hopefully Tash would be willing to share.

Tash laughed quietly. "Not much gets past you, does it?" She'd known he'd spot the stake, but no power on Earth could have made her leave it behind.

His second question caught her by surprise. She'd thought the last thing he'd want to be reminded of was her psychic powers. She still blamed her own use of those powers for Sorrow's descent into madness. Still, it was a fair enough question.

She cocked her head slightly, and described as best she could the swirling colours and the faint duskiness that had replaced that awful black overlay he'd had before. "It's a pity you can't see auras. Some of them are quite pretty. Not to mention being damned useful when hunting vampires!"

Tash turned to Jade, wondering at her quiet. Usually Jade was so full of life. But one look at her told Tash all she needed to know. "You guys need some sleep. You're dog-tired. C'mon," she said, grabbing Jade's arm. "It's an hour's drive back home, but you can sleep in the car if you want."

Jade smiled faintly, "Yeah, I'm exhausted. Sorry, you'll have to get Tris to tell you what happened..."

Sorrow followed Tash and Jade to the car then loaded the luggage. Jade slipped into the back and fell asleep almost immediately. As he got into the front seat he looked back towards Jade then looked at Tash, "She's still not over the venom yet."

At Tash's sharply indrawn breath he smiled a little, "Drive, I'll explain as we go..."

So as Tash navigated her way through the rush hour traffic Sorrow spoke of the risks they had taken to find a cure.

Tash found it hard to concentrate on driving as Sorrow related his and Jade's adventures. She couldn't help but interject from time to time... "Ouch, lava - nasty."

And, "Oh, God, obviously she survived, but was she stung badly?" And, "How awful... you must have been so worried you'd lose her."

And, "Oh, no, you're kidding me? Really? Behind that very first alcove?" She shook her head at that one. "You must have been so furious with yourself that you didn't see that shortcut."

Although they'd gone through so many horrible trials after that sandstorm, and Jade had almost lost her life, Tash couldn't help herself. She felt the giggles rising up until they burst out uncontrollably.

"I'm sorry," she gasped between chuckles, "but you have to admit, it's pretty funny, really."

"Yeah it's funny, now anyway, but at the time..." Sorrow looked back towards Jade, "at the time..." he said softly.

Sorrow shook him self a little, "So I raced over the desert - practically snapped the axle on one of these." He gestured to the Cherokee.

Tash could hear the pain in Sorrow as he spoke of Jade's long slow recovery from the scorpion stings. Tash took the turn off the freeway to Alhambra as Sorrow talked about getting the scrolls back to London, their eventual translation and the gathering of the materials for the ritual.

"We were running out of time at the end. The demon was pretty close to taking full control and we couldn't wait till we got back to L.A."

Tash shuddered. She could feel the residue from Sorrow of his simultaneous terror and desire when the demon ruled him. She was extremely glad he'd found a cure.

And there it was again - that niggle that she'd felt the other day, with Kate. She'd pushed it aside then, but it had surfaced while they were discussing Sorrow. *Damn you, witch! You mean I could have fixed this in March??*

Tash tried not to look guilty, but something must have shown on her face, for Sorrow frowned and asked, "What is it?"

So Tash found herself spending the last few minutes of the drive home quickly explaining to Sorrow about the events on her birthday. "...and I think she must have known how to fix you. I'm sorry, it's all such a jumble in there, and I really hate thinking about any of it. Damn!"

Tash slammed her hand against the steering wheel. "Not only did I make you crazy in the first place, but I didn't help you when I could!"

"Fix me? Cure me maybe, even exorcise my demon, but please, fix me?" Sorrow smiled at Tash. "As for the rest, you weren't to know and I'm not sure I'd want to dig around in those sorts of memories."

Sorrow sighed a little as Tash pulled up to the building. "I know you feel guilty for setting off the whole mess but with Valerian hanging around it was only a matter of time... I don't know. Maybe you gave me enough time to solve this problem. It doesn't really matter any more. It's done with."

Sorrow glanced back towards the soundly sleeping Jade. "Could you get the bags? I don't want to wake her."

August 11th - Midnight

Meredith Bell's picture

Kate rolled around restlessly, mumbling quietly in her sleep. She was tired - so tired. But sleep afforded her no rest as she continued to dream the same dream again and again…


Kate lay on her back looking up. She had been looking up for a long time. At first all she could see was a bright, refracted light. Her vision was blinded by the intense illumination. She could see shadows that passed in front of the light, like clouds shifting their weight back and forth.

An age seemed to pass by as Kate lay looking at the light. Slowly she dipped her eye lids, opening them again to see the light slowly roll out of sight, darkness taking its place. Her fingers moved slightly, feeling a warm sticky substance run between them like water. It soaked into her hair and coated her skin. Kate could feel it seeping underneath her body till she was almost swimming in the tepid liquid.

Everything seemed to move incredibly slowly as Kate languorously rolled her head to one side. The liquid rushed to meet her skin, coating her cheek and brushing against her lips. As Kate opened her eyes once more she saw an object only inches away from her own face. It was round and pale, the colour of alabaster. As her eyes focused she could see the delicate curve of the chin and the shape of a nose. A pair of large blue eyes stared back into her own. Kate could see herself reflected in the lucid glassiness of those eyes.

She could see herself covered in the blood of her sisters. Laying in a pool of their blood as all around her lay scattered limbs and dying bodies. Blood filled her ears, dulling their screams, their moans of pain and terror. The river of blood began to rise, swallowing everything in its path. Kate’s screams soon joined those of her sisters as she was devoured by the rapidly expanding red fluid.

Suddenly a hand reached under the river of blood and pulled her out. Kate spat out the blood in her mouth, wiping her eyes to see her saviour.

“Hey Red! Want to dance?”

Kate screamed again as a flash of sharp white made contact with her throat.

Her screams were joined by soft, child-like laughter.

Mariah had seen her fears, formed her nightmares around them, would nurture them and help them grow.

“I am very good at getting what I want, I’ve been doing it for centuries,” she sang in the darkness. “I won’t let a pitiful girl stand in my way.”

Kate could feel the sharp fangs of the vampire tear into her throat and she was powerless to resist.

Mariah laughed from the darkness; she bent over Kate and excited in the taste of her blood as it poured over her lips and began to drip on the floor, pooling at her small feet. Her victim’s body hung limp in her arms and she gently lowered her to the ground.

Kate heard nothing from the vampire’s lips except a light, breathy, satisfied laughter. She lay on the hard floor as her own blood poured from a wide gash on her neck where he had fed from her. Her own breathing became shallow and laboured; all she could hear was the heavy beating of her heart echoing in the cold, dark silence. Gradually she yielded to that overwhelming darkness and closed her eyes…

The Black Veins Start Recruiting

Firefly's picture

***** Thursday, August 11, 2005 around 11 pm *****

Jem and Chris stood in the shadows of an alley across from a flashy nightclub in Hollywood. They and the rest of the Black Veins had scattered about L.A., staying as far as possible from Alhambra. Rumors flew about a slew of new vampire hunters in the area, and the two had decided they couldn’t be too careful. Out here, however, they had to watch for other vamps as well as hunters. This was not Black Vein territory and a couple of their number had already been taken out by rival vampire gangs. Jem wanted to build up the ranks before they struck at that redhead bitch’s bookshop. The entire gang had split into pairs, with the task of bringing one new member over before the night ended. Jem figured if they kept to that schedule for a week or two, they’d have enough manpower to take on Tash and her crew if necessary.

Chris inclined his head towards a couple that had just exited the nightclub. They appeared to be middle class teens in the midst of a full fledged rebellion. They were dressed in black leather and lace, and exuded attitude. The boy was young, probably no more than 16. His face was so pale, it was undoubtedly powdered, and he wore dark make up around his eyes and mouth. His date was so similar in appearance that they could have been related. Jem nodded and she and Chris strolled out of the alley towards the couple.

The young man and woman watched the other couple approach, completely nonplussed. They were bored, as usual, and looking for a new drug, deviation, or other diversion to fill the empty night. Maybe this would prove at least interesting.

“Well, well,” Jem purred, stopping directly in front of the girl, their bodies almost touching. “Aren’t you out a bit late? This is no place to be out playing after dark.”

The girl sneered. “Whatever,” she said. “Do you and your scruffy friend want something?”

“Sure and we do,” Chris drawled, sizing her up with his gaze. “We want to party with you and your … boy. Interested?”

“What did you have in mind?” the boy asked blandly.

“Something that will blow your mind,” Jem smiled wickedly. “Just follow us.” She and Chris led the couple around the corner to a deserted alleyway. They followed like numb sheep, and Jem laughed at their stupidity when they came to the end of the empty shadowed alley. She turned to face the boy and girl.

“So, are you ready?” she asked.

“Yeah, sure,” the boy said, looking around. “What’s so fucking amazing in here, huh?”

“Us!” Jem and Chris transformed and leapt at their gullible new friends. Chris made quick work of the girl, draining every drop of blood and dropping her to the ground. A foot or so away, Jem carefully drained the boy and then slashed her own wrist, bringing it to his mouth and letting the blood dribble past his lips. Jem and Chris carried the boy’s body back to the crypt in Alhambra and laid him with the others that had been brought over that night. They stood, embracing as they surveyed the room, growing crowded with their new recruits. Soon they would be ready to complete Mariah’s task and receive their just reward.

Season Two: Aug 6 2005 - Jan 6 2006

MrDave's picture

*** Thursday Aug 11, 2005 1:46pm
Detective Rachel Gray and her partner Aitch Perkins stood at the water's edge at Garvey Resevoir. The coroner's men were bagging the body and the ME was chainsmoking cheap cigarettes while talking to them.

"Two bodies, two days, same spot. Same lack of marks. Ever see a body with no marks? Last time I did it was at my son's bris. And he had a mark after that was over." The ME was shaking slightly and the smoke from his cigarette was making little wobbly trails from his fingertips.

Detective Perkins turned to his partner, "That reminds me Rachel, June wants you to come over for the kid's birthday tomorrow. You bein' her godmother and all. Thought it would be nice."

Detective Gray smiled thinlipped, and nodded. Something was going through her brain. She looked at the baggie with the personal effects, such as they were. A plastic comb, some spare change, a ticket stub from a Star Wars marathon. It was soaked in water and the bag had a slight mist to it.

She mused out loud, "There isn't anything here that we can use to ID this body. No marks. All we got are fingerprints. Aitch, have we gotten the ID on those prints from the other floater yet?"

"I'll check," he said and flipped his phone open. A few minutes later he said, "I got a name, Harry Levin. His prints came through the DMV database."

Levin. Something about that name was making her brain itch. "Aitch, has the body been IDed by anyone from the family yet?"

Perkins mumbled in the phone then he answered, "Nah, they called his mom and she's supposed to come later this afternoon."

"I think I want to meet her. Got something to ask."


Mrs. Levin was a wreck. She cried and wailed and tore her dress. She was unable to talk for almost an hour after identifying the body of her dear boy, Harry. She seemed apalled at the smell.

"How could this happen? He was such a good boy. Never did anything to get in trouble. He was a dental hygenist, you know. He has his own practice and everything. I'm surprised his receptionist, that nicy goyem girl Julie didn't call me when he was missing. Three days you say? I haven't heard from him, but when is that so strange? Like he couldn't call me once in a while to say 'I'm sorry I didn't see you this Tuesday, Mom, I was planning to be drowned in the resevoir later'. All those patients with their toothaches and their gum disease, Oy, I'd hate to be them. You know how hard it is to find a good dentist on short notice?"

Detective Gray listened to every word. She was waiting for something that would scratch her itch. She hadn't heard it. She offered Mother Levin a refill on her coffee. While she was pouring the cup it struck her. No calls. Not a one.

She went back and asked if Mother Levin had one of her son's cards. She quickly produced one and Det. Gray thanked her before running back to her desk. She called the number on the card.

"Hello, Dr. Levin's office," came the pleasant slight Valley voice on the other end.

"Hello. I'd like to schedule a cleaning for this week if possible." Rachel held her breath. If she was right this might be more than just a simple drowning.

"Sorry, no openings this week. I have some in two weeks, if that's okay. Have you seen Dr. Levin before?"

"Uh, no. I've been neglecting this and my regular dentist is away," Rachel was getting eager but she didn't want to sound suspicious, "Is there anything next week at all?"

"Dr. Levin will be attending a conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He won't be in town all next week."

*Bingo!* Rachel thought.

"Thanks, but I really need this now. I'll keep calling." She quickly hung up the phone. She opened her cell phone and started to call her partner. Then she stopped. The receptionist said 'will be attending' not 'IS attending'.

She looked at the card. No address. She pulled out the yellow pages, and after 10 minutes of searching found Dr. Levin's office address. She dashed out to the car and drove to the office listed.

It was on the second floor of a nice professional building. She didn't bother with the elevator and dashed up the stairs. The office was like a hundred others. Blue indoor outdoor carpet, white walls, and the same selection of People magazine and Highlights for Children that could be found in any dentist office in America.

The receptionist was definitely a Valley Girl. She looked up and tapped the clipboard on the formica counter. Rachel just flashed her badge and went straight into the back.

He was standing over a patient and had some wicked metal object in her mouth. His smock had little flecks of blood on it and the clear plastic shield over his face was covered in little spots of saliva. It was Harry Levin.

Dr. Levin looked at Rachel and pointed back to his receptionist. "I'm with a patient," he said.

Rachel held up her badge, "I'm with the LAPD, Dr Levin, and I have to see you Right Now." They had trained her at the police academey how to say that with capital letters. People usually obeyed without question. Not Dr. Levin. He smilled and showed a mouth full of pearly white teeth. *Only a dentist could have teeth that perfect,* she thought.

"Officer, I have a patient who has two impacted wisdom teeth. She cannot wait, and you can. If you want to sit down in the reception area, my receptionist will be happy to get the basics, and I'll be right with you."

The receptionist had moved smoothly up behind Rachel and was making little "Right this way officer" noises that weren't really words as much as polite sounds while tugging gently on her arm.

The girl tried to ask Rachel a few questions about what was going on, but Rachel cut her off with a terse "Police Business." In the end the receptionist was able to tell Detective Gray that Dr. Levin had been here every day for the past three days.

The receptionist blushed slightly when asked if she knew where 'Harry' had been spending his nights. *You dog, Harry,* Rachel thought, *Dipping your pen in the company inkwell isn't a good idea. Bet this is your third receptionist in a year.*

The small talk was just starting to turn to 'girl talk' and Rachel hoped that something would slip when Dr. Levin came out to join them. He had Julie the receptionist go back to check on his patient. Dr. Levin sat down and looked Rachel right in the eye.

"Officer, what is this all about?" he asked smoothly in a "what I really meant to say was would you fuck me later" tone.

Rachel felt her skin crawl. This guy was sitting here looking for all the world like the lounge lizards that sat in the bars trying to hit on her becasue she wasn't drinkng with a body builder holding his arm around her. Back in the morgue was this same guy taking a self-learning class in decomposition.

She wasn't sure where to begin. So she didn't. He shrugged his shoulders and leaned forward in a false intimacy, "Are you going to cuff me?" he asked in a greasy tone.

Rachel just put her badge back in her pocket and turned around. "Call your mother once in a while, Harry," she said before walking out.

Driving back she didn't understand it, nor did she know what to make of it. Since she took this post for M12 she had seen more things that were crazier than a shithouse rat. This was one of them.

She called in the report dutifully. She didn't think that M12 would move on this. She'd go through with the investigation, but she was betting if she dug into the past of this floater number two she'd come up empty again.

She silently hoped that M12 would tell her to bury it. She didn't want to keep chasing the live ones. Maybe they'd even make it go away.

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