Wreck of the Day
Sorry for the ridiculously long wait. The past few months have been hell, fic-wise. This is shorter than usual and one of the dreaded transitional chapters, but I'm just now getting back into the swing of things, so be kind :) And a *big* thanks to whomever nominated me in the COA for best unfinished fic. I really appreciate it.
32: Wreck of the Day
Anita’s night was not off to a good start.
For the first time in months she had decided that she was in serious need of a day off, a day spent to herself, reveling in her rare and precious solitude and allowing herself some time to relax, to unwind. Sleeping in had been her greatest pleasure and the highlight of her day off, not rising until well after noon and luxuriating in bed for awhile before even attempting to move.
A long hot shower and a quick lunch led to a couple hours spent on the couch watching television before her laziness started irking her and she had given in and called Ronnie for a late jog. The nights were shorter and the days longer, something she had grown to abhor thanks to too much time spent with Jean-Claude and his brood, but today she found it pleasant. The sun was low in the sky when the two women set out, a light breeze fluttering through the trees cooling their now sweat-dotted skin.
When she got back home and said goodbye to Ronnie, she jumped into the shower again for a quick rinse and didn’t even bother to blow dry her hair, allowing it to dry naturally as she prepared a meager microwave dinner to sate her hungry stomach.
It was shortly after full dark when she got the call, or the page to be exact.
Dolph didn’t know that she wasn’t at work in the cemeteries that night, so instead of calling her on her cell, he just left an urgent page which she knew not to brush off. When Dolph went out of his way to stress the urgency, then the situation was bad and time, usually, was of the essence.
Kissing her quiet night alone goodbye, Anita thrust herself up off the couch where she had parked herself and hustled to the phone in her kitchen, running a disappointed hand down her face as she went.
Punching in his phone number by memory, she waited, foot idly tapping on the floor until his gruff voice finally answered on the other end.
“Dolph, it’s Blake,” she announced in her usual toneless manner. Normal people tended to take offense to the emotionless monotone she had adopted over the years, but Dolph was one of the few who could appreciate it. If brevity was a virtue, the two of them had it in spades.
“We’ve got a fresh one, Blake,” Dolph grunted, his voice slightly drowned out by the noises made by other officers coming and going from the crime scene. “We’re going to need you on this one.”
“I’ll be there in ten,” she promised, glancing at her watch and catching her rather rumpled appearance in a mirror hanging on her wall. Her hair was a mess of dark waves, not in that tempting tousled way, but in frumpy, distasteful manner and she made a face, but in end couldn’t bring herself to care. No one would give a damn about how she looked when there was a dead man in the same room. “How far are you from my place?”
“About five blocks, corner of Baker and Mulhollen,” he said distractedly, occasionally barking orders at her subordinates. “I’ll wait for you there and then take you to the scene, its a little ways out.”
“Got it,” she nodded, grabbing her keys from the counter. “And Dolph, is it bad?” she wondered, preparing herself for the worst, which unfortunately was becoming easier and easier to do as the years went on.
“Let’s just say you’re gonna need those coveralls,” he warned ominously before hanging up on her unceremoniously.
She reached the scene in only eight minutes, the lights of the police cars shining like beacons in the night. Dolph was waiting just outside the perimeter, arms crossed and expression sober as she stepped out of her car and moving to her trunk, pulling out her standard coveralls and identification. She changed quickly and met up with him in less than a minute. Dolph offered no greeting, just nodded and turned his back to her, leading her past the police tape and toward the scene.
Baker and Mulhollen Street intersected in a small, less populated part of town. On one side of the street was a run down liquor store and some low cost housing, on the other side was grass and wood. Dolph led her past the grass and well into the wooded area, following the footpath the other policemen have created so as to not interfere with evidence.
A little ways in, they came to a small clearing and Anita found herself closing her eyes for a moment after catching a glimpse of the man who lay on the ground before them, obviously dead.
It wasn’t that the picture was any more gruesome than others she had witnessed, it wasn’t even shock that brought that uncharacteristic expression to the Executioner’s face. No, the only feeling coursing through Anita’s veins at that moment was anger, with a healthy does of frustration as well.
“This number eight, or nine?” she asked darkly, taking a deep breath and inhaling the clean, fresh air before stepping forward and being overwhelmed by the scent of decay.
“Eight,” Dolph grunted, content to stand back and watch her work.
Eight vampires, all killed within the last ten months, all with the same method of execution. Anita observed the body critically, a hard frown pulling down the corners of her mouth. His throat was slit, she couldn’t make out his exact hair color since it was matted with blood, eyes open wide and unseeing, and a gaping hole in his chest where his heart once was. Someone wanted to make damn sure this guy was dead.
“This one’s off,” she commented, glancing back over her shoulder at Dolph, who was nodding his agreement.
“They didn’t bother to string him up for the public to see,” Dolph grumbled.
“Not just that,” Anita shook her head in morbid curiosity, taking a step forward and kneeling down next to the cold body of the corpse. Ignoring the surrounding policemen’s distasteful grimaces, She pried open the mouth, running her fingers over the teeth and noticing something peculiar. Putting a little pressure on the fang, it gave with a pop and Anita studied it closely. “It’s fake.”
“What?” Dolph stepped up, brow furrowed and mouth set in a tight line.
“The fangs,” she clarified, sitting back on her heels and staring at it in wonder. “They’re caps, he’s not a vampire. Probably a fang banger, from the dental work. But I don’t get it…it doesn’t fit.”
Dolph’s angry curses filled the night air as he stopped off, cell phone in hand. Anita just stared at the body in confusion.
This was definitely going to be a long night.
Willow stepped inside the Circus, having learned to ignore the crowds all around her that once proved irksome. Her gaze flitted about, looking for someone in particular, and noticing the peculiar feeling in the air that night. All was not well in the Master’s house.
In the distance, the shadows gave way to a familiar form and Willow found herself smiling at the sight of Asher, who seemed to appear from darkness itself, and began weaving her way through the crowds to meet up with him.
“Petite sorcière,” he murmured, expression hidden skillfully behind his mane of golden hair as he offered her a polite hand and escorted them to the familiar rooms below the Circus. “What brings you here?”
“I wanted to thank you,” she replied, glancing up at him awkwardly, a small nervous smile on her face as they reached the bottom of the stairs and she let his hand slip from her own. “For your help the other night. I…appreciated it.”
“I did nothing worth your thanks,” he said, looking away, hands coming back to his sides as if he wasn’t sure what to do with them.
“That’s not true,” she disagreed, taking a step forward, forcing him to look her in the eye. “I just…okay, I’m not doing this right,” Willow muttered in annoyed frustration at her own inabilities. She tried to think of the best way to phrase it and Asher watched her curiously.
“I…oh forget it,” she sighed, deciding to take a risk of embarrassing herself immensely, abandoning words and taking his face in her hands, the feel of his scars doing nothing to deter her as she brought her lips to his in a tentative kiss.
Taken by surprise, it only took Asher a second to reciprocate, pressing his mouth more firmly against hers and allowing the barest sweep of his tongue before she pulled away to breathe, her face flushed, cheeks a delightful pink.
“Um, so yeah,” Willow rambled, feeling a little off balance as Asher smirked above her, “that’s what I wanted to say.”
“I suppose I should be thanking you then, petite,” the arrogant look on his face a familiar one that Willow had to resist an instinctive groan.
“Yeah, well—” she tried to think of a witty retort, but was cut off when they were knocked slightly off balance by one of the younger vampires who was rushing down the steps to the underground halls, in an obvious hurry.
Asher let out a displeased growl and the younger vampire instinctively cowered, offering muttered apologies as he turned tail and continued at a near jog down the hall, until he turned the corner and vanished from their sight.
“What was that about?” Willow muttered in complete puzzlement, brow furrowed.
“I do not know,” Asher murmured, his eyes still focused on the now empty hallway. “But I intend to find out.”
Throwing her supplies in the trunk of her car, Anita sighed, her coveralls now lying in a messy heap in the corner. She took a moment to stand there and simply clear her head. This made no sense, and that alone was on the verge of driving her crazy.
Things were bad enough as it was, Jean-Claude was not a happy camper. Seven of his boys had been killed already, and when she had gotten the call that night, she was afraid she was going to have to deliver more bad news. But in this case, she honestly didn’t know what to tell him, if she should tell him at all. The victim wasn’t a vamp, she wasn’t even sure how immersed he had been in the vampire subculture, there might not even be a connection between this killing and the vampire murders that had been happening all these months.
Still, it was too similar to ignore. And somebody really wanted this kid dead, that was for damn sure. But if Jean-Claude got wind of this and thought this might even have the slightest chance of being connected with the other murders, well, she really wouldn’t want to anywhere near him when that happened.
She slammed the trunk shut with a bang and marched to the car door, dropping into the driver’s seat with a grunt and swinging the door shut swiftly. The engine roared to life and she silently debated whether or not to suck it up and stop at the Circus, or to just call it a night and go home.
After all, the kid wouldn’t be any deader tomorrow, and she didn’t need the headache Jean-Claude would inevitably bring.
Throwing the car into gear, she pulled away from the crime scene with a rev of her engine.
She pulled into the parking lot of her apartment building and climbed the stairs to the second floor, unlocking her door without a second thought and trudging inside. She dropped her keys on the side table by the door and was about to tumble onto her couch when she noticed the blinking light of her answering machine taunting her silently.
Grumbling, Anita dragged her feet across the room and pressed play absently before turning and starting back toward the couch, barely paying attention as the tape snapped into place and the message began to play. That was until she heard the voice filling her living room after a long pause.
“Being seeing you soon.”
The message wasn’t exactly big on detail, but the familiar, chilly voice told Anita all she needed to know.
Edward was coming.