In Tenebris, Veritas


Kate: "You told me to forget about it. I’d like to."


Night, and it's raining, streetlights, headlights, traffic lights reflecting gaudily in the black mirror streets. Kate sees none of it as she drives home on autopilot. She pulls the Tercel up in front of the apartment, turns off the engine and just sits there, too tired to get out of the car. The music is soothing.

<Slippin into darkness>

She remembers this song coming on the oldies station, when she was a kid, and Mom (if Daddy wasn't around) would turn up the radio. Remembers Mom singing along with the weird lyrics, an infrequent smile on her face.

<Take my mind, beyond the trees...>

Trees? she wonders, not for the first time. Closes her eyes and leans forward to rest her forehead against the steering wheel. She's so goddamned tired; tired of chasing monsters, night after fucking night, and *nothing*. The entire LAPD scouring the city and they can't find the bitches despite plastering their faces across every squad room in the city. They're supposed to be vampires not fucking ghosts and she's been assured that they can't turn into bats or anything else, or fly, but still all they ever find is the drained corpses they leave behind.

Darla and Drusilla seem to like the Westside. Over the past couple of weeks Kate's been to way too many chi-chi shops that she'd never have been inside otherwise; she's sick to death of looking at beautiful clothes spattered with blood. It's getting hard to find a store open late nowadays.

<I was slippin into darkness....>

Two weeks since she answered the call to the Manners' house. It's a beautiful place in a neighborhood a long way in every sense from her Harbor City apartment. Everything was lit up like Christmas by the strobing coplights that turned the long smear of blood on the porch black and red and blue by turns. At the end of the blood trail is the first victim: Mrs. Manners, ex-trophy wife, lying beautiful and very dead where she'd managed to drag herself in a useless search for help. The cop standing guard over the body met her eyes as Kate stood there and shook his head.

"Damn shame, but there's worse downstairs," he said, trying to prepare her.

<Take my miiiind beyond the trees...>

Kate's been a cop for what seems a long time, almost seven years, and she's seen way too many awful things: dismembered bodies sealed in car trunks, women raped and dumped in the brushy hills like garbage, young men, women, and children blown away in drive-bys, and so on and fucking on. So the scene in the wine cellar wasn't the worst thing she'd ever seen, there were no kids involved, but it was bad enough.

<Where I talked to my brothers.... who never said their names >

The overwhelming stink of blood hit her as soon as she stepped through the shattered doors. Even after all these years it still amazed her how much blood there is in a single human body, and she guessed the two of them couldn't manage to drink it all. There was blood everywhere, splashed on the walls, clotted in half-filled wine glasses, on the neck of a broken bottle; smeared on $1000 dresses and Armani suits, caked in $200 haircuts, pooled under the bodies that had held it. 15 lawyers, clever mouths stilled, all thoughts ended. Every one of them, absolutely, positively dead.


Holland Manners had had his head handed to him, literally, and the head of a dark-haired young woman balanced carefully on his shoulders. It had taken the coroner to determine which body it belonged with. Darla and her buddy had been very *thorough*; there wasn't an intact corpse in the room. Images of torn flesh, obscenely repositioned body parts, in sharp focus every time she closes her eyes.

<Slippin into darkness>

And Kate couldn't shake the feeling that they were all looking at her, glazed eyes staring accusingly at her because Angel hadn't made it in time. Because she'd let her fears, her feelings get in the way till it was too damned late.

She told herself then, keeps telling herself that she did everything she could, that it wasn't her fault, that she'd *tried*. Talking to Angel earlier, that night, had been one of the hardest things she'd ever done. Sitting in the close confines of the car, remembering the smell of her blood on his breath when he whispered into her ear: "Stay down or they'll kill you." Dealing with him, and not trying to kill him or run away. She'd still been having bad dreams about that moment when she'd known she was going to die, and not just die, but be *eaten*. Just like Daddy.

But Angel hadn't killed her, in fact he'd saved her life…but she'd still needed 3 units of blood when they got her to the hospital. And that wasn't his gun she'd felt prodding her stomach.

<When I heard, my mother say>

The papers shrieked and the evening news plastered flashy new graphics across the nightly broadcast. "Massacre in Bel-air!" "Terror Stalks LA." A terrible tragedy, all those powerful, wealthy, white people dead. These are no South Central/East LA who-really-cares kinda homicides. This is hitting a little too close to the homes of people who matter. The department has thrown everything they have into the search…and there's getting to be a distinct edge to the Chief's voice when he asks for updates on the case.

<I was slippin into darkness, (yeaaaah)>

No-one, especially Kate is saying anything about vampires, good or bad. She's personally checked Forest Lawn, Evergreen, Hollywood Memorial, Veteran's, Rose Hills, -- only the ones with tombs, not the newer monument-free ones. She's killed a couple of new and dumb vampires. But not a hint of the ones she's looking for.

<When I heard my mother say>

<(Hey what she sayin what she sayin)>

He calls every day, keeping her updated, and every time there's a moment of sheer panic when she hears his voice. She can push it down, but she can't forget any of it: not the terror, or the pain, or the horribly seductive need that she'd seen in his eyes, the bottomless, unqualified want.

<You've been slippin into darkness…>

She never wants to hear Angel's voice again, but she always takes the call, hoping that this time he's phoning to tell her that it's over. That the deadly duo are dust and she can finally close the case and get a good night's sleep. And then maybe she'll transfer over to traffic, or fraud. Or possibly she'll take a disability out, and move out of the city to some nice quiet monster-free town. She's not sure she wants to be a cop anymore, not here anyway.

<Pretty soon you're gonna pay, (yeaaaaaaaah)>

The song's done. Kate lifts her head and notices that it's stopped raining. Might as well go inside. She steps out of the car; the air smells clean, washed by the rain and the coolness feels good. Yawning she walks up to her door, fumbling in her pocket for her keys. She's not paying as much attention as she usually does to her surrounding. Later, she blames herself for that. She turns the key in the door, nothing on her mind but a shower, maybe a drink, and bed when she hears a footstep behind her.

"Hello Detective Locksley. I remember you. You were nice, so worried about the grieving widow." Kate spins around, going for her gun even before she consciously recognizes that sweet cyanide voice. Sees Darla standing smiling at her just inside the circle of light cast by the porchlight, so pretty.

Then she moves, impossibly fast, slams Kate into the wall so hard she sees stars. Darla holds her immobile, arms at her side and the cold steel strength of her is just so fucking wrong. Kate fights, but the slim body pinning her down might as well be made of lead for all the luck she's having shifting it. Darla blithely ignores her struggles and leans forward to put her mouth close to the thin scars marking her neck.

"Mmmm. My boy's been here," she purrs, a dank breeze against Kate's skin. "Should I be jealous, Detective?"

"Let. Me. Go," Kate says, trying to project Cop Authority while underneath she's fighting panic, trying to keep her mind focused on freeing her weapon. Because if she can just get a shot, maybe… It won't kill the bitch, but it might make her let go and her door is right there, and if she can just get inside, she'll be safe…

She's shocked when Darla lets her go and steps back. Before she can react Darla's talons rip open her shirt and her bra, exposing her breasts.

"Pretty, pretty," Darla approves. "My boy has good taste." There had been a husky with eyes like Darla's in her old neighborhood, the cops had had to shoot the crazy bastard when he mauled the neighbor's kid. Darla dips her head, snake fast; and Kate shudders at the feel of an ice-cold tongue on her nipple but her arm's free and she has to try. She has her weapon in her hand and her finger on the safety… and she screams in agony as her arm is twisted till it feels like it's going to break. The gun drops as she's spun around, held from behind.

"Naughty," the giggly English voice chides. Kate feels the last bit of hope wither as she realizes that, Oh God, the other one is there too. Kate' is face to face with the dark haired vampire: Drusilla, the crazy one.

"The Angel-beast dreams of her," she whispers. Kate can see her frightened face tiny and lost in Drusilla's beautiful, empty, eyes. Kate rakes her foot down the inside of her leg and stamps on her instep, but Drusilla is oblivious as she forces Kate's mouth open and shoves her tongue inside.

Behind her, Darla giggles and licks Kate's neck. "Mmm, sweet. I see why he likes you," she whispers. "He's been watching you, and I've been watching him." Kate tries to scream as Darla sinks her fangs in and she feels that razor sharp agony again, the horrible drawing sensation as her blood is sucked away.

Fuck, she really doesn't want to go like this, molested and killed by fucking vampires. Six months ago she'd been happily ignorant of the fact that there was any such thing as a vampire, and now the Locksley clan is about to be wiped out by them.

Desperately, Kate bites down hard on the tongue that's choking her and gags on the taste of sickly sweet rot that seeps into her mouth. Drusilla moans, not in pain, and sticks her tongue further down Kate's throat, but Darla stops feeding and admonishes her partner.

"Dru, honey, she needs to breathe."

"Oh, Sorry mummy..." Drusilla lets Kate go, and drops to her knees, nuzzling at her crotch. "He wants to be here," she murmurs. Kate main concern is sucking air into her lungs until she feels a cold hand unzipping her jeans and insinuating itself between her legs, long nails scratching at her thigh.

"Invite us in Kate dear," Darla asks sweetly. "This is a little bit public, don't you think?"

Kate shakes her head stubbornly. As long as they are outside, in view there's always the hope, however tiny that someone will interfere, try to help. Somebody must have heard her scream; call the cops goddammit!

"Well, alright then. If you're not going to be sociable." Iron hard hand around her neck as Darla leans back close to her throat, no hint of breath against the skin. Kate shuts her eyes, waiting for the pain, and sure that this time there will be no reprieve, just death this time. Trying to convince herself that that's the worst thing she faces.

"Give Angel my love," Darla whispers. Quick, soft kiss on the lips and then Darla's hand squeezing, cutting off her air till the lights go out.


She opens her eyes and Angel is looking down at her with those blackhole eyes in that beautiful face. He's too close, she can feel cold coming off him like the wind off a glacier. Remembers being held against that chill, body going numb. She's scared, but knows she's not as scared as she probably should be.

"Angel?" Her arms hurt, her hands have been cuffed behind her, and with her own handcuffs she bets. "What's going on?" Angel looks guilty, but what else is new? "Sorry," he says and hastily leans across her to unlock the cuffs. Helps her sit up and stays there, looming beside her on the edge of the bed.

"Thanks," she says, trying to discreetly sidle away from him as she works at shaking some feeling back into her arms. Reflexive check to confirm that no, Darla didn't think to tuck her gun back into the holster. Great. Two for two.

There's something around her neck, she tugs at it till it comes free, stares in incomprehension at the stained red satin band. Then she gets it, about the same time she realizes that she's falling out of what used to be her shirt. She tries to hold the tatters together, but it's a lost cause.

Notices that Angel is carefully keeping his eyes focused on her face.

"You're at the hotel. Do you remember what happened?" Something about his tone tells her he already knows.

"It was them. Darla and Drusilla... Caught me outside my apartment. I was sure they were going to kill me," she fights down the shakes that come with the memory. She looks at Angel, but his eyes, his face, give nothing back "Why am I here?"

"Darla's trying to remind me of the good old days," he looks away, his words with their bloody implications of Angelus hang in the air between them. Kate can't think of a damned thing to say to that. She's sore, she's exhausted, and as soon as she gets a minute she's going to have a nervous breakdown...but not here, not now.

"You have to find somewhere else to stay for awhile. She'll kill you next time," he says. "I'm sorry."

There's not a lot she can say to that either, since it wouldn't be too tactful to ask what exactly he's sorry about: Sorry for not finding and killing them yet? Sorry for stalking her and leading them to her? Sorry for screwing up her career? For getting her father killed?

The lights went out.

In the seamless black, Kate feels the last of her courage drain away. She starts to shake, and a little voice inside her frozen mind screams. No no no no no...they've found her, they're here… Angel reacts as though he hears it, so maybe she said it out loud.

"Kate. Hold on. They aren't here, I'd know," he makes her stand, half-carries her to the window, so she can see the lightless city spread out under the starry sky. "See, it's O.K. It's the whole city. Just a blackout." She nods, but she still can't seem to stop shaking.

He walks her back to the bed, and drapes a blanket over her shoulders. He sits back down next to her. She's so cold, he feels almost warm. Without thinking about it much she leans into him, accepts his arm around her shoulder as the waves of terror moving through her slowly subside. "It's going to be alright," he says.

Is it? She kinda doubts that. She's very damned aware of how big and empty the hotel is and of the unnatural stillness of the body holding her. She can feel a wet trickle down the inside of her leg that she's pretty sure is blood, and she knows he has to be aware of it. And her neck is open, right there, in his face. He's stroking her arm now, trying to comfort her, maybe. His fingers are dry and cool. It feels like he's memorizing every tiny hair and imperfection, tasting her through her skin. She feels the hair on the top of her head stir as he inhales deeply, and doesn't let it back out. He has both arms around her now.

Not sure why she isn't completely freaked out at this point. Is it the knowledge that Darla and Drusilla are out there? Maybe right outside in the dark, watching and waiting to see what Angel will do with their present. And yea, I shall fear no evil...because Angel is the baddest SOB in the valley and she knows that if anyone can he'll keep her safe from all the other monsters.

Or is it because even in the dark she can feel the pull of that face, that fucking gorgeous body, and the need? It's comforting to be held, sheltered in his shadow. But she's not making that mistake again of thinking that he is something he isn't. This isn't a man holding her. But she won't make the mistake either of thinking he's just a monster.

"Kate," he says softly. His hand has moved up her arm to stroke her cheek. His lips, soft and cool as rose petals, press gently onto her forehead as a flashing neon warning sign goes off in her brain.

Especially since his touch reminds her of just how long it has been since anyone touched her with friendly intent. Story of her life. Not much opportunity for dating, not when you're working to become not just the youngest female detective but the youngest detective period in the LAPD.

Things haven't gotten a lot better since. She spends all her time with cops, perps, and victims. Not exactly an ideal dating pool.

Angel is none of the above, and his touch is cool but gentle and sure. She'll never have to worry about him getting hurt because of her job. Never have to worry about him wanting to chain her to a house in the suburbs and kids.

Oh, Kate, she thinks, as his fingers delicately trace the shape of her lips, and trail down her chin, to her throat. You really do need to take some time off and get some *major* therapy. She knows this isn't really what she wants, but it feels...

Then the lights come back on, and she pulls away.

"I need to take a shower," she says. Looking him in the eye, and waiting. He shifts, then removes his arms. She stands up immediately, letting the blanket fall as she hurriedly puts a little distance between them, fully aware that it won't make a damned bit of difference if he changes his mind. But all he does is gesture behind him.

"The bathroom's through there. I'll bring you some clean towels, I think Cordy left some clothes around somewhere."

"Thanks." She takes a few steps towards the door, then turns, can't just leave it there. "Angel, uh. I know you saved my life..."

"But you're too smart to date anyone without a pulse," his smile is totally human in its deadpan pain. "Yeah." "I know. I really do." She gives a sigh of relief, turns to go.

"But part of me doesn't accept it. Won't accept it. I've tasted you Kate." He's backing away from her. "I want you," he says and then he's gone before she can say anything at all.




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