Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or worlds used in this story, including (but not limited to) Angel the Series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Psych. No harm is intended toward any of the copyright owners. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.+++++ON SLAYERS, WATCHERS, AND HELLHOUNDS IN SANTA BARBARA
by Listener+++++Continuity Notes: The following story takes place in July 2010. Also, I’ve forgotten the name of the vampire bar in the Psych episode “This Episode Sucks”, so I made one up based on a vampire novel that my friend Bri_Chan and I tried to write in 1996.
The story is about 8900 words in length, and will be posted in two parts. It is complete and un-beta'd; any errors are mine and mine alone.+++++PART ONE
Henry sprinkled food flakes into the fish tank at the Psych office. Gruff as he might be, he didn’t have any desire to see innocent creatures starve to death because Shawn and Gus were too busy rubbing elbows with sci-fi stars or whatever they were doing. And, truthfully, his life was a lot quieter without the two of them hanging around and getting into trouble.
“There you guys go,” he said, screwing the cap on the little plastic canister and setting it on the shelf. “See you tomorrow, huh?” He turned to go--
“Holy crap!” Henry jumped backward, and only a quick move kept him from knocking over the fish tank. He felt his heart pounding in his chest, and that stopped him from getting a good look at--Wait a minute...
Kate Lockley grinned at Henry and held out her hands; he took them, smiling at her, and let her pull him into a hug. “Hi, Henry,” she said again. “Been a long time.”
“Sure has.” He looked her up and down: still blonde, still in excellent shape, still with the healthy air of cynicism that all good cops should have. Except
, he thought, she got thrown off the force. They don’t know what they gave up.
“What...” He guided her to the couch and they sat down. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, I was in the neighborhood--”
She looked down a moment, then smiled up at him, guilt in her eyes. “Okay, fine. I confess. I came here to talk to your son.”
“My... my son?”
The Psych door opened and a short, slender young woman breezed in. “Well?” she asked. “Where’s the genius?”
“Henry? Is Shawn here?”
He shook his head. “He’s... he and his partner are on vacation. Some comic convention or something.”
“Nerds,” said the other woman. “Who’s this?”
“This,” Kate said, “is Henry Spencer, possibly one of the best cops I ever met. We worked together a few times when cases brought him to LA.”
“And you are?”
“This,” Kate repeated, waving her hand at the new arrival, “is Janna Sutton. She’s...” Kate paused. “She’s my apprentice.”That’s a lie
, Henry thought, but he didn’t say it. Kate must have had a good reason for lying, or she wouldn’t have done it. “Janna. Pleased to meet you.”
“Uh huh. Sure.” Janna perched on Shawn’s desk and fiddled around with one of his tchotchkes. “So, is he as good as his kid?”
“As... As good as...” Henry looked hard at Kate. “What the hell is going on here?”
She sighed. “It’s a long story.”
Janna rolled her eyes. “We’re chasing a murderer who killed five people in LA.”
Kate frowned. "Apparently not that long."
“Kate," Henry said, "you’re not a police officer anymore--”
“I know,” she said. “I’m in... let’s call it ‘private security’, okay?” Henry took note of Janna’s indignant sniff at the turn of phrase. “We tracked him here. We think he’s on his way to Sunnydale, and we have to stop him before he gets there.”
“Why?” Henry asked. “What’s in Sunnydale?” What’s left of it, anyway.
Janna was plaiting some of her long, dark hair into a braid, not even looking at them, when she spoke. “Could be nothing. Could be the end of the world.”
“Henry, please,” she said. “I need you to trust me on this.”
“But why did you need Shawn?”
“Because he’s psychic. And our killer is supernatural.”
Henry wasn’t sure if Kate’s story was even within the realm of possibility. He knew Shawn wasn’t really psychic, knew that his son’s supposed supernatural gifts were really just the observational and analytical skills Henry had taught him throughout his childhood. He didn’t understand why Kate would be buying into metaphysical claptrap, and he certainly had no idea why her private security firm would be chasing a murderer.
But he trusted her. Implicitly. She’d saved his life once, and a police officer -- even a retired one, or at least one who just recently un-retired -- didn’t forget that sort of thing. It allowed Kate a lot of leeway with him.
Which was why he’d called the police station and asked Lassiter and O’Hara to meet him there. He knew Juliet was a good detective, and he knew Lassiter would instantly respond to Kate’s no-nonsense manner. After introducing her to them -- and Janna as well, who instantly raised Lassiter’s hackles -- he turned the floor over to Kate, who opened her briefcase and passed out manila folders.
“First of all, thanks for meeting with me,” Kate said. “I know I’m not a police officer anymore, but Henry says you two are the best the city has, and that’s what I need: the best.”
Henry watched Lassiter preen a little. Juliet gave him an odd look; he just shook his head slightly.
“The man we’re after is named Tucker Wells. In 1999, he was put in prison for being an accessory to murder -- we actually think he was the killer, but accessory was the best we got because there was no evidence directly linking him to the murder weapon.”
“What was the weapon?” Juliet asked.
“Dogs,” Kate said, and her tone told Henry there was more to it than that. “Wild dogs that he trained to rip people apart.”
In the corner, Janna was texting someone. Henry heard the little noises she made each time her phone vibrated. He glanced at her, but she didn't look up.
“Wells got out in 2002,” Kate continued, “and stayed off the radar for a while. In fact, he was so far off the radar that even his brother, who’s very high up in the ICW, didn’t know where he was.” Henry noticed that Janna stopped texting when the brother was mentioned. Interesting
. “Last month, though, someone turned up dead at Wells’s place of employment and police determined he was killed by an animal attack.”
“That sort of thing can happen,” Lassiter pointed out, “even in LA.”
“Not on the fifth floor of an office building.”
“Fair point,” he admitted. “How did you get involved?”
“Henry told you I work private security?” Lassiter nodded. “Well, I’m contracted to the ICW. I’m head of security for the LA branch.”
Kate turned to Henry and put her hand on his arm. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you,” she said. “I didn’t want you to know; I didn’t want you to get involved. I was hoping that Shawn could help--”
“Spencer?” Lassiter scoffed. “Maybe if you have some snack food you want eaten, or if you need something smelled you could ask his partner, but otherwise--”
“Carlton,” Juliet said, “be nice.”
Lassiter grunted. “Any help you could get from Spencer, you can get from us. And I’ll be damned if I let a murderer run loose in my town.” He paused. “How did you know it was him?”
“We have resources,” Kate said, and Henry saw Lassiter start to ask a question before Kate simply shook her head. “We have resources,” she repeated, “and connections with the police. I was brought in as a consultant on the case, and we determined the man who was killed had been treating Wells unfairly on the job, making sure he never advanced.”
“That’s no reason to kill someone,” Juliet said.
“I agree.” Kate pointed to the folders. “Wells went into hiding -- there’s a lot of places in LA that are hard to get to -- but my associates found his bolt-hole. He set his dogs on them and escaped.” She swallowed hard, but otherwise betrayed no emotion. “Three of my best people were killed. Janna barely managed to escape alive.”
Now Henry turned toward the younger woman and really looked at her. Under the breezy, harsh exterior, he detected almost a constant state of physical readiness; since she was wearing a tank-top, he could easily see the tense definition in her arms and shoulders once he was looking for it.
She caught him staring and looked away, but not before Henry saw the predatory look in her eyes.This girl is a killer.
To cover the fact that he no longer wanted her at his back, Henry stood up and went to the water cooler behind Juliet. He filled a cup and stood there, leaning on the five-gallon-jug and sipping his drink.
Kate was still giving Lassiter and Juliet the details of the case. “Wells killed a man shortly thereafter -- another dog attack -- and stole his car. We found the GPS and the body by the side of the road in Glendale. Now, no one else is dead yet, but Wells is definitely capable of killing, and--”
“Say no more,” Lassiter said, patting his gun through his jacket. “We’ll catch him.”
“You’ll have to do more than catch him,” Janna said, hopping down from corner table where she’d been perched. “You’ll have to take him out.”
“Little girl,” Lassiter said, “I like your style.”
In a flash -- well before Henry could react -- Janna had leapt across the room and onto the conference table to grab Lassiter by his lapels and haul him to his feet. “Let’s get one thing straight,” she growled. “I’m not your little girl. I’m not anyone’s little girl. And if you call me that again--”
Henry saw the effect Kate’s sharply-barked reprimand had on the younger woman. She immediately dropped Lassiter into his chair and slid back, away from him, to stand behind Kate in a classic at-ease position.
“Sorry about that,” Kate said. “She doesn’t like nicknames.”
Lassiter adjusted his jacket, and Henry could tell he didn’t believe the girl had moved that fast -- it was the only thing keeping him from trying to arrest her, he guessed. “Understood.” He swallowed. “But if you ever do that again--”
“She won’t,” Kate said. “You have my word.”
They stared at each other for several seconds before Lassiter jerked his head in a single nod. “O’Hara,” he said without taking his eyes off Kate, “come with me.”
The two detectives left the office, Juliet closing the door gently. The moment they were gone, Henry stalked to the table and slammed his hands on it, leaning toward Kate. “What the hell was that? Those people are my friends, and--”
“I’m sorry,” Janna said, her voice soft and vulnerable. “I... I overreacted.”
“You’re damn right you did.” Kate’s tone had gone flat. “Go back to the hotel,” she said, passing Janna a keychain, “and wait for me. We’ll discuss this later.”
“Yes, ma’am.” There was no sarcasm in Janna’s voice; just resignation.
Now it was just Henry and Kate. He took a seat and folded his hands on the table. “I’m going to need a little more here,” he said. “Specifically about just who the hell that girl is.”
Kate closed her eyes slowly, then put her elbows on the table and her face in her hands. She sat that way for almost a minute before looking up at him. “I know you didn’t believe me when I said I wanted Shawn to help us with Wells,” she said. “I know you don’t believe in the supernatural.” A pause, almost too long. “Neither did I.”
“So let me get this straight,” Henry said, flabbergasted. “All the crap that goes bump in the night... is real.”
“Wells is using gigantic dogs--”
“Hellhounds,” Kate corrected.
“Fine, hellhounds. That’s his murder weapon.”
“And Janna is a superhero?”
“For the most part.”
“You’re right,” Henry said. “I don’t believe it.”
“You saw how fast she moved,” Kate said. She sipped from the cup of water Henry had given her while she’d told her story -- her absolutely-impossible-to-believe story
-- about how she’d first found out about the supernatural via a good-guy vampire who’d run the state’s most prestigious law firm before resigning in 2004 and disappearing to parts unknown. “She’s stronger and faster than anyone you know, and can heal nearly anything. There are thousands of girls like her across the world. Hell, we’ve got almost forty in Los Angeles alone.”
“And you’re in charge of them?”
“Oh, hell no.” Kate looked incredulous that Henry would even suggest it. “Our LA branch is run by Ashley Hayes--”
“Why do I know that name?”
“Because you watch television? Because she’s a community activist who’s the city’s public face of the ICW?” Kate sighed. “LA is too big for anyone to have absolute power. Ashley, myself, and three others are in charge, although if there’s a final word to be given on any issue, Ashley’s the one to do it.”
“Lot of power for someone so young.”
“You don’t know the half of it.” Kate collected the folders and put them back into her briefcase. “Look, Henry, we can’t tell the others. I trust you, and I know you won’t say anything to anyone. If I thought there was the slightest chance, you would’ve gotten the cover story.”
“That Wells is her cousin, and she wants to be there to try and talk him down.”
“Are they actually related?”
Now Kate looked down. “Yeah,” she said. “Andrew and Tucker’s mom is her mom’s sister.”
“Oh.” Henry let that sink in for a moment. “You know Shawn’s not psychic, right?”
Kate’s head snapped up. “What? But he’s solved all those cases, and...” Her voice trailed off, and when she saw Henry’s expression, she started to laugh. “Oh, you bastard,” she said when she could speak again. “You and your powers of observation.”
“He’s amazing,” Henry said. “Don’t tell him I said so -- ever -- but he’s even better at it than me, and you know how good I am.”
“No one but myself and his partner know he’s not really psychic. Let’s keep it that way, huh? He really likes working with the police and solving crimes, and -- and I’m being completely honest here -- he’s pretty good at it.”
“But if he was here, and he’d come with us to take on Wells, and we’d asked him to set up a shield so the Hellhounds couldn’t smell us...”
Henry shook his head.
“Damn. I’m sorry.”
“You didn’t do anything.”
“But I could have, and he could’ve been killed.”
“I’m sure he would’ve found a way out somehow.”
“Since he’s not here, though...” Kate grinned. “You want to come along?”
The problem with fugitive cases, Henry knew, was that, if no one actually saw the fugitive, then no one could report him to the police. Although the SBPD had given Wells’s picture to the media, and although Chief Vick had given a press conference stressing the need to find Wells, the only leads Henry and the others tracked down in the first two days were false ones.
And then they found Bloodlines.
Henry didn’t think Lassiter and Juliet would be sanguine -- so to speak -- about going to a bar where people masqueraded as vampires, and Kate agreed. So, on Friday night, he, Kate, and Janna dressed up and waded into the fray.
Immediately upon arrival, Henry knew he was out of his depth: for him, dressing up was a sport jacket, button-down, and khakis. At least Kate in her tight jeans -- don’t look at her ass, don’t look at her ass, don’t... damn it!
-- and high-heeled boots had the swagger to pull off a vampire hunter kind of look, and Janna... well, the girl was in her element, made up to look like the classic young-girl victim from so many late-night direct-to-cable vampire movies. Henry felt an instinctive desire to protect her, but every time it started to get too strong to ignore, he just remembered how she’d menaced Lassiter and it went away.
“Okay,” Kate said as they moved through the bar-goers, “time to put your powers of observation to work.”
“What am I looking for?”
“Anyone out of place.”
She flashed a grin. “Clothing that looks too authentic, and too comfortable, to be a costume. Especially from the 40s through the 70s -- older vamps tended to get stuck in that time period, for some reason.” A flicker of something wistful moved through her eyes. “Also, the hair: vampires can’t appear in mirrors, so they overdo it on the gel. Men more than women.”
“But why are we looking for vampires?”
“Because they can lead us to other supernatural things that might have better information.” She took a wooden stake out of her purse and slipped it into his pocket. “Try not to kill anyone, though. At least not until Janna and I talk to them.”
“With... a stake?” He saw her long-suffering expression and sighed. “All right, all right. I’ll be careful.”
“You do that. I’ll bet you ten bucks there’s at least three real vampires in here.”
“In my city?” Henry felt his eyebrows rise. “How did I not know?”
Kate didn’t answer; she just slipped away in the direction of the bar.
Henry sighed again and searched the room, looking for a good table. He found one in the corner, raised a little, where he could see the entire space -- inasmuch as any dimly-lit bar could be seen from one place -- and claimed the seat that put two walls at his back.
And he watched.
Most of the... he vaguely remembered Shawn using the term “cosplayers”... were smart enough to stay out of Henry’s immediate area. One girl who looked like a post-apocalyptic refugee invited him to join her hunting party, but he just stared balefully at her until she walked away.
The watching itself wasn’t going terribly well; Henry prided himself on seeing things out of the ordinary, and once he’d readjusted his local definition of the word to include the kinds of people who apparently frequented places like Bloodlines, he just didn’t see anything that fit the description. Sure, there were plenty of young people in period costumes, and a couple of creepers that he was certain shouldn’t be dressed in that much eyeliner, but no one in 40s, 50s, 60s, or 70s getups, and no one with too much gel in their hair.Although
, he thought, watching a tall dark-skinned woman with hair shorter than his own, that might be a way to get around the lack-of-a-mirror problem.
The woman was making her way in his direction, too; he was well-versed enough in stakeouts to know when someone was trying not to look like she was doing something. She sat down at his table without a word and flashed him a smile. Up close, her features were striking: high cheekbones, aquiline nose, full lips, and solid brown eyes. He also took in her clothes -- surprisingly non-revealing for a place like this, though not so much that he didn’t get a chance to appreciate her figure. Jewelry was minimal, but it was all gold: a necklace looped twice with a pendant resting on her upper chest, a bracelet-watch that probably cost more than Henry’s entire outfit, and several rings -- but none on her ring fingers themselves.
He decided that, if she was a vampire, she was hiding it well. “Hello,” he said, trying not to sound surly.
“Hello,” she said back -- her voice was smooth and alto; her teeth were very bright when she opened her mouth to speak. “My name is Regina.” She held out her hand.
He took it and held it a moment, but neither shook it nor put on the act of kissing her knuckles, as he’d seen others do. “Henry,” he said. Then: “can I buy you a drink?”
She smiled again and shook her head slightly. “I already have one, as you should have seen.”
“What?” He looked at the space in front of her, and sure enough a wineglass full of dark-red liquid sat in plain sight. “Sorry,” he said. “I guess I missed that.”
“I guess so.” Regina picked up the glass by its stem and swirled it a bit; the liquid clung to the sides of the glass longer than it should. Henry wondered why that didn’t bother him; he looked up at Regina again, and her smile had an edge of something uncomfortable in it. “You’re looking for something.”
“I...” His voice was suddenly scratchy; he cleared his throat. “I am,” he said.
“You’re not a cop; I’d know if you were.”
“How so?” He nudged his glass -- a vodka tonic, his second of the night; not nearly enough to even begin to impair his judgment. Certainly not enough for him to accept that someone’s hand -- Regina’s hand -- was on his knee. He started, but she gave him a meaningful look. “Miss, I think perhaps--”
“--that you’re going to come home with me?”
Henry blinked hard, but he didn’t want to disagree. Here was a beautiful woman -- made more so by the confidence she exuded; confidence that he’d not picked up from almost anyone else here -- and she wanted him
“--is my name.” She kept finishing his sentences; he found it a little off-putting, but different enough to keep his interest. She reached for his hand. “Come with me.”
Henry let her slip his hand into hers and they stood up. Regina began leading him toward the back of the bar. “This isn’t--”
“--the way to your car? No, it’s not.” She squeezed his fingers and, when he turned to her, caught his eyes again. “I’m parked in back. I’ll drive.”
Well. That sounded like a wonderful idea.
Once they were outside, Henry found himself pushed up against a humongous SUV -- he couldn’t place the model if he tried, which sent a little tickle up through the back of his brain, but the sensation went away when Regina pressed her mouth to his. Good God, the woman can kiss!
Almost of their own accord, Henry found his hands on Regina’s hips, pulling her body against his. She chuckled -- a low, sensuous sound -- against his mouth, then drew her lips along his jaw until her face was buried in the bend of his neck and shoulder. She inhaled, slow and long, and he felt his fingers flex, digging into her skin. She made a soft sound that bypassed Henry’s ears and went straight to the base of his spine, and that, plus her body so close to his, gave him a charge he hadn’t felt in some time.
He felt her hand in his pocket, but barely registered the clattering sound that followed.
“Wait,” he said, catching his breath. “Wait--”
“--for what?” She was looking at him again with those devastatingly-powerful eyes.
“For nothing,” she murmured, and then moved to his neck again. Her lips were cool and gentle as she played them along his throat before suckling at his pulse point. “You taste so good,” she whispered, her breath...That’s strange. Should be hotter.
Then he felt a quick pinch, like an insect bite, and she started sucking harder.
“Regina,” he whispered. Then, louder: “Regina, what are you--”
His voice was cut off by her fingers in his mouth, pressing hard against his tongue, her thumb jammed beneath his chin. He could either stop trying to talk, or he could gag, choking on fingers that were suddenly much longer than they had any right to be.
Henry realized that Regina’s body was still tight against his, her right leg looped around his left, and the very thought made him start to relax into her grip.
She rewarded him by easing up on his mouth, and he rewarded her by not fighting. Despite the wooziness he was starting to feel, the sensation of her mouth on his neck and her body pressed to his, so much stronger than he’d ever felt from a woman, was intoxicating. He tried to say her name, his mouth garbled around her fingers, and she hummed against his neck, swallowing, swallowing, always swallowing--
Without warning, Regina went stiff, pulling away from his neck with an audible pop, and then, before his eyes, she turned to a pillar of dust, screaming as she went.
Henry’s world shifted, tilted, and faded to black.+++++Your continued readership, support, and reviews are, as always, greatly appreciated.
There's a reason I mentioned Angel's disposition in this story. It's not relevant to this particular piece, but it will be in the future. Possibly. Depends upon when I write another story that covers it.
On Thursday: the conclusion!