Disclaimer: I don't own Kim Harrison's books (she's a bloody genius to say the least). If I did, Nick would've been publicly flogged in Fountain Square, then fed to a rabid were pack and Rachel would have realised that yes, she bloody well is attracted to Ivy in the first book. Having said that, Grant and Sparks (and Klaus) are my own creations, so no playing with them.
Inderland Security – Preternatural Death Division (PDD)
Agents in charge of scene:
Detective Sara Parks
Detective Grant Hughes
Saturday 25th January 2007
5.55 PM – Mackinaw, Michigan, 120 miles from Cincinnati
Detective Grant Hughes sighed as he stared up at the holiday cabin in front of him, smoothing a large hand over the wavy brown hair falling into his face. He usually kept himself meticulously neat, but at the moment his hair sported a distressingly large cowlick which defied all attempts to flatten it. An appearance amulet would've sorted out his mussed state, but to Grant's great frustration and annoyance he remembered too late that he'd left it on the bedside table before he'd gone to sleep this morning.
He'd just gotten the call about five hours ago (he hated long distance drives, especially on his day-off); pulling on a (somewhat) clean shirt and trousers over his vest and boxers and stumbled to his car as quickly as he could. Without his normal cup of willow bark tea, which had to beat some sort of personal record. His girlfriend's curses (as well as a well-aimed jolt of leyline energy to his backside) had followed him out the bedroom. Grant's behind still stung, which meant she must've been practicing.
According to his boss, who'd been the one to personally make the call, there were two dead bodies at one scene; one witch and one vampire -both female. In Mackinaw, Michigan of all places. He'd already been informed that they were 'persons of interest' to the I.S. so that meant he and his partner would have to preside over it personally. They were the best after all. But what Grant still didn't really understand was why…after all, it didn't exactly take a genius to figure out what had happened. He could already feel the anger bubbling up like bile inside his throat at the thought.
Godamned vampires. He'd like to damn well banish every last one of them into the ever-after and rid the Cincinnati of the blood-sucking bastards once and for all. He was sick of being called to scenes where some naïve shadow/human/witch/were had believed some vampire's bullshit and allowed themselves to be fed on like cattle. And like cattle, they were inevitably slaughtered.
At least this vic, -Grant paused and looked at the notes he'd carefully copied down while half-awake- Rachel Morgan, had taken the leech -Ivy Tamwood- down with her.
Hm. Now why were those names familiar…?
He blinked and looked at his notes again. Shit, was he high on brimstone?! Tamwood? Ivy Tamwood was the vampire? As in, last of the living Tamwood bloodline? He didn't really follow the machinations that occurred on a daily basis within the city, but even he knew of the Tamwood's, one of Cincinnati's most powerful vampire families.
And wasn't Morgan that witch who'd terminated her I.S. contract a year or so ago? He vaguely remembered hearing something about two hundred to one odds on how long she'd last as a dead witch walking. No one really knew how she'd managed to pull through that.
Grant closed his eyes in disbelief and braced himself for the migraine which was undoubtedly going to hit him hard in the next thirty seconds. No wonder they'd been sent…Piscary, master vamp of Cincinnati, must have demanded the best, being in prison must be ticking him off faster than a clock at an Anti-Terrorist Seminar. This whole case was going to turn into a Godamned shitstorm, Grant could feel it.
Sighing deeply in resignation, he ducked under the yellow crime scene tape, nodding to the local Michigan I.S. officers and entered the motel cabin. He felt himself bristle in annoyance at the morbidly fascinated gazes from the cookies -or humans if you were into that PC crap- who were hovering like vultures. Murder was not a tourist attraction for people to rubberneck on, although he suspected a good deal of their interest stemmed from the fact Inderlanders were involved. A worrying number of humanity seemed to hold the misguided impression that Inderlanders were somehow glamorous.
Of course some Inderlanders didn't exactly help the stereotype…
"Detective Hughes, so glad you could finally join me." The dry, sarcastic voice of his partner floated out of the semi-dimness of the hallway, making him jump in surprise, then tense up.
Speak of the devil. He hated it when she did that.
"Cut the crap Sparks." Grant snapped, annoyed that he'd fallen for the trick yet again. Her amused chuckle didn't help matters; Sparks clearly enjoyed making him uncomfortable, since she had been doing it from day one of their partnership. Grant was sure she knew of his dislike for vampires and delighted in using her own innate vampiric powers to make him uncomfortable. It was a complete mystery to him why they'd been paired together at all.
Stepping into the dying sunlight, Sparks -Detective Parks if you were her boss or Sara if you wanted to lose blood- smiled lazily, exposing two perfectly white (and slightly pointed) canines. "Please Detective, no pet names while we're working. What will everyone think?" She was a petite vampire, her body deceptively fragile looking, but in fact capable of snapping bones like toothpicks. Her hair was an unusual shade for natural hair; a white blonde that looked as if it had come out of a bottle and which was, without fail, always messily spiked. Grant's anal personality made his fingers itch to smooth it back into some form of order. The smirk of amusement curving her lips as she eyed the offending cowlick grated on his nerves. She knew he loathed personal untidiness. "Want me to fix that for you, Detective?" Sparks inquired in a sickly-sweet tone, eyes fixed on his as she gave an (intentionally) erotic lick to her palm and took a step towards him, hand upraised to slick down the hair. Grant's cheeks flushed with heat as he gritted his teeth and stepped smartly backwards to avoid her. Ignoring her was usually an effective strategy of dealing with Sparks. Thankfully this time it worked and she didn't decide to pursue her threat/flirtation/irritation (which she was perfectly capable of doing). It was always a nightmare working with Sparks when she hadn't fed yet.
Mentally counting to twenty to help him regain his composure -a frequently employed tactic, although he'd given up being frustrated or offended at her lack of respect for the gravity of the cases they were assigned a long time ago- Grant tried to be professional, the mischievous glint in her green eyes causing him to feel a twinge of concern. That look never boded well. Especially for him. "Have you seen the bodies yet?" He asked, just wanting to get it over with as soon as possible. "Where are they?"
Amazingly, Sparks' face, which never wavered from its smiling mask around him, went blank, her green eyes dulling as they became…haunted? Her hand returned to its pocket as she withdrew into herself. That couldn't be right. Grant knew she didn't give a shit about anything apart from herself; there was no way she'd feel empathy for a case like this. Maybe she just felt bad for the vampire. Bloodsuckers always felt bad when one of their own snuffed it, it reminded them of their own mortality. "No." She said and Grant noticed her fists bunch in the pockets of her black leather pants. Why she felt it was appropriate to dress in a low-cut purple blouse and tough biker boots for work was beyond his ken. He hated the fact she looked good in them too. Or maybe his own state of dishevelment was irritating him more than he'd realised. "But I can smell them."
That didn't sound good. It had to be pretty bad if it was disturbing Sparks.
"They were found in the large van out front, the door's been kept shut to preserve the scene." A pale hand snaked out of her pocket and closed with comfortable familiarity around the sword hilt at her left hip. It was high-content silver katana which made her look, in his opinion anyway, like a vampire hunter from pre-Turn B-movie, not a professional I.S. agent. He consoled himself with the fact she had proved numerous times in the past that she was extremely skilled in its usage.
"But no one's touched them, right?" Grant hated working with amateurs. Or glory hounds. On a big case like this everyone wanted in on the action and it always ended up destroying evidence.
"Only their partner. He was the one who called it in." She paused, tilting her head to the side as she thought. "Jenks, his name was. Damnedest thing…he's human size, but smells exactly like a pixy," Sparks jerked her head towards the cabin. "came out to see if they wanted to catch a movie and smelled the blood."
Sparks didn't even crack an off-colour joke about threesomes. "They owned a runner business together; 'Vampiric Charms'," Grant braced himself for another joke about the name sounding like an escort service. It didn't come. "seems they were pretty successful too. They were out here on a break, from what Jenks was telling me."
"Any known disagreements recently?"
"None, apparently. Jenks claims they were like one big, dysfunctional family. He was pretty torn up about this…I don't think he can believe it's happened."
Grant sighed. Great, just another case of 'vampire gets hungry, decides those closest to them would make a great snack'. He'd been hoping…what had he been hoping? That it was an accident? That somehow Tamwood had fallen on Morgan's neck with her mouth open?
"Guess we should check it out." Sparks nodded, without any of her usual enthusiasm he noticed, and removed the hand from her sword hilt, jerking a thumb at the door he'd just come in.
"Back out there." He followed as she slowly lead the way down the porch and grass towards a large, delicately tattooed van and then paused, one hand on the door handle. She appeared to be bracing herself. The uniformed witch standing next to it nodded respectfully to them both and then turned and made his way back to his fellow officers to assist with crowd control.
With a sudden jerk of her wrist, the interior was laid open before them and Grant squinted in attempt to adjust his vision, before a wave of metallic copper hit his nose, making him gag uncontrollably. Grant winced as he imagined what his partner must be experiencing. He glanced over and saw that Sparks' nostrils were flared, but also, more disturbingly, a band of obsidian had closed around the rim of her iris. Why was she-?
"Sparks?" He tried to keep the quaver out his voice, knowing it could add fuel to whatever fire that was trying to ignite. Her eyelids fluttered closed as she shuddered, breathing deeply.
"God…" She whispered, her silky voice sliding over Grant's ears and caressing places he'd rather not think about. Ever. He could feel his skin crawling with disgust. Grant didn't think he would ever get used to these unnatural displays of hungry arousal -and was pretty sure he didn't want to- especially considering what triggered them.
"Sparks!" Her eyes flashed open, the black receding and he breathed a sigh of relief.
"Sorry." She murmured, actually looking a little embarrassed and shuffling her feet like a child caught playing in the dirt with her Sunday school best. "It's…pretty overwhelming."
Grant glanced at the open doorway and back to Sparks. In all the crime scenes they'd been to -some bloody enough to give Hannibal Lecter nightmares for a year- he'd never seen her react like that before. "What is?" He was actually feeling apprehensive about the damn thing now.
Sparks looked at him, the vibrant green of her eyes hooded sensually. "The pheromones." She gave a lazy, seductive smile that made him blush involuntarily. "Tamwood must've pumped out enough to seduce the entire Howlers baseball team. It's…intense."
This sounded dangerous –for him. "Will, uh, you, um…be okay?" Sparks laughed at his obvious discomfort and clumsiness at asking.
"Why Detective, I had no idea you cared." Her amused expression faded. He couldn't get used to the serious look she now wore. "But there's no need to worry. There's enough sorrow and hopelessness in there to choke a moon-struck were, it'll keep my instincts well in check." With that weird parting shot, she turned and pulled herself up into the van. Grant followed slowly behind as he pulled on his spelled crime-scene gloves, not entirely sure what to expect.
Afterwards, and for the rest of his life, the thing Grant would most remember about the scene was the expressions upon the dead women's faces as they lay cradled in each other's arms.
The red-head's pale face reflected a content peace that he had had never before witnessed.
The taller woman's short black hair fell forwards over her face, but didn't completely obscure the look of heartrending sorrow marring her otherwise perfect features.
Grant's vision blurred abruptly and he blinked in surprise, fingers reaching up to discover that tears were leaking unashamedly from his eyes. What in the Turn was wrong with him?! Grant wondered as he surreptitiously wiped them away.
"Ivy…what have you done?" Whispered Sparks, her voice choked with emotion. Glancing over at his partner, Grant confirmed his suspicion that she was crying too. It made him feel better about his own tears. He filed the fact that Sparks had called the vampire by her first name away for later.
Trying to shake off the extremely unprofessional behaviour he and his partner were both exhibiting, Grant inched forward and crouched beside the two wome -bodies- For some reason he couldn't explain, he was loathe to separate them.
His eyes swept clinically over the pair. Morgan he could tell now was the red-headed witch. Underneath all the blood there was still a hint of redwood. Her skin was unnaturally pale in death, but he guessed she must've been pretty pale anyway; Irish blood did that, if she was a red-head she probably had green eyes too. It seemed vaguely wrong that she didn't have freckles, though he couldn't have said why. She was lying fully clothed, barely a mark on her and if it wasn't for the ugly tear on her neck, Grant would've sworn she was only sleeping. It was then that he realised where all the blood was coming from.
Tamwood, with the inhuman strength only a vampire could possess, had staked herself.
He swallowed and marvelled at the intensity of emotion the woman must've have been experiencing to do that to herself. It looked like all the blood in the woman's body had pumped itself out onto the witch beneath her. Tamwood was, he couldn't help noticing, extremely beautiful. It was odd the way she was hugging the witch's body to her, head pillowed on her chest, as if afraid of being parted.
"Heartbroken." Came suddenly from Sparks and Grant found he was angry at her joke, even though it was typical of her.
"Sparks!" He hissed, but she shook her head to forestall him.
"No, I mean, that's what she's trying to tell us." Grant cocked his head to one side, puzzled. "She was heartbroken. And didn't know how else to express the pain. Probably didn't want to live with it, either." Grant felt an uncharacteristic wave of sympathy wash over him for the dark-haired vampire.
"So they were in love?" He asked, feeling stupid.
"What did you think they were holding onto each other for?" Sparks sounded faintly amused, which made him flush hotly in embarrassment.
"I just-I mean, I assumed…" Well excuse him, if his definition of love didn't involve ending up dead.
"I can see I need to have a serious talk with your girlfriend, Grant." Sparks intoned, with mock seriousness. "She can't be doing a good job if you can't recognise a lover's embrace when you see one." His blush intensified and he gritted his teeth against the teasing. Turn take her, one of these days he'd stir a spell that'd wipe that aggravating smirk off her face.
"But why would Tamwood kill Morgan if she was in love with her?" Grant hoped Sparks would take the Godamned distraction and stop needling him. It worked, as Sparks' expression sobered and she sighed sadly.
"Sometimes…when a vampire hasn't fed for a time or if they're put under too much strain, they can lose control of their bloodlust…" Her voice lowered, taking on a tinge of guilty embarrassment. "or if the person they're with -especially if they have strong feelings for them- sends them the wrong signals."
"You mean…this was an accident?" He asked skeptically, his natural tendency to believe the worse (especially of vampires) struggling with the concept. He hadn't ever dealt with a case like this before. And that was saying something. Sparks nodded, a deep sadness lurking in her forest green eyes.
"Look at Morgan's body. There are no other marks consistent with physical assault, ignoring the bite mark." Grant nodded, finally looking round at the rest of the van's interior. Curtains covered the rectangular windows -which were open and let a current of air in- blocking out all but a sliver of natural life from entering. There was a kettle and mug on the counter furthest away and Grant wondered how this whole mess had happened. There were no obvious signs of a fight, at least to his eyes, but that could've been due to the dim light.
"So what do you think happened?" He was feeling out of his depth, although he couldn't have said why. Maybe it was because this hadn't been a calculated attack by a predator. Sparks rose in a single, graceful movement and prowled around the enclosed space, eyes fixed on her surroundings. Grant kept silent, allowing her to take in the scene. Despite his dislike of her, she was a good detective.
"I'd guess they were talking," Sparks muttered aloud, "maybe about something upsetting since Rachel was crying…Ivy obviously made the cocoa for her," She indicated the abandoned mug and Grant felt a grudging admiration for her sense of smell. "But something changed." She pointed at a crumpled part of the van door they'd closed behind them. It looked like someone had been slammed into it. "It probably caused Tamwood's instincts to kick in; pheromone production kicks up in response to olfactory stimulus after all…" Sparks looked over at Grant, who was trying to hide his unease at the implications hidden within her uncharacteristically serious use of 'bio babble'. Was Sparks implying it was Morgan's fault? "She had sworn off blood, y'know. Three years. Ivy hated what, no who she was, what she'd become. She was managing to balance on the razor's edge…then she was pushed," He was disquieted to hear the hard edge of hatred enter Sparks' voice and saw her fists clench in anger. "right back to where she started." Grant's sharp detective mind pieced together several snippets of information that led him to wonder if this 'pushing' Sparks was talking about had anything to do with Piscary. Hadn't Tamwood only become his Scion, like towards the end of last year sometime? "Now any chance of redeeming herself is destroyed."
Grant's eyebrows practically flew off his forehead. He knew there were things Sparks wasn't telling him (just how did she know Tamwood, anyway?), but he was surprised and preoccupied by the admission that it was possible for a vampire to feel remorse for their actions. Did Sparks? "What?" He blurted out, unthinkingly. The look of disgust Sparks shot him chilled Grant to the bone.
"We're not all monsters Grant." She said icily. "Even if we aren't human," Her gaze went accusing, silently pointing out that he wasn't part of the human race either. Witches were a species apart from humans -about as genetically similar as a housefly is to a tomato- and a hell of a lot closer to elves or demons. Not that they liked the fact to get about. "we are people. Like everyone else; capable of good or evil." She looked at the women and her glare softened. "It's just unfortunate that when we screw up there's always a much larger fallout…"
For the first time since working with her, Grant felt like he was actually seeing the real Sparks. It made him feel the beginnings of what might have been shame. It was an unpleasant experience.
"Sparks…" He began, having no idea of what he wanted to say.
"It's alright Detective. I know you hate us." Grant flushed, but met her eyes unflinchingly. He felt a twinge of…remorse? "It doesn't have to be that way." Sparks said, watching him carefully. He gave a mental wince as he realised she must be scenting the changing emotions. "It depends on you, Grant." She gave a faint smile, before turning to the room. "It's never too late to make amends. To start again." Her voice sounded distant, as though she was recalling something from a long time ago.
Feeling at uncomfortable at the intensity of the conversation, Grant turned his attention back to the bodies and steeled himself, lifting Tamwood up slightly, to better examine the object lodged in her chest. It was an intricately carved silver cross, chain still attached. Beautifully crafted, it had a simple prayer engraved into it, as well as several runes he didn't immediately recognise. It was probably priceless. He wondered what had made Tamwood choose it to end her life. Maybe Sparks knew, she was still pacing up and down, muttering to herself; something about '-stake Piscary' and 'Godamn Skimmer-'. Deciding he didn't want to know, Grant concentrated on gently pulling loose the cross and inadvertently caused more blood to sluggishly pump out as he carefully held it up for closer inspection.
"Hey Sparks." She turned expectantly, halting her violent mutterings. "What do you reckon this means?" Grant gently swung the cross by its chain.
"That's Ivy's cross. Pure silver. Used to wear it all the time to piss off her mom, I think, or maybe protect herself from the undead." She snorted bitterly. "Doubt it's been much help recently."
"It was the suicide weapon." Sparks' eyes widened.
"You mean that was in her heart?" Grant nodded, missing the note of horror in his partner's tone and held the cross higher so he could better see the runes. Hey, was that the futhark symbol for protection…?
"Grant…" Sparks' voice was low and even, but held a command that demanded to be obeyed. "Get away from them. Right now." Grant roused himself from contemplation of the silver cross and blinked at his partner in confusion.
"What? Wh-?" A low moan cut off his question. It came from beside him. With an oath, Grant scrambled away, drawing on a leyline through his osprey familiar back in Cincinnati as he did so and channelling the power into a protective circle surrounding both him and Sparks. "Geshra." He uttered, triggering the invocation.
Damn he was good.
Through their mental link, Grant felt Klaus click his beak in admonishment; the large bird of prey hated being woken at night. Sometimes Grant thought he should've tried to bind an owl as a familiar instead, they were nowhere near as high-maintenance as the powerful raptor and naturally nocturnal. Catching the gist of his mental musings, Klaus ruffled his feathers in outrage and terminated the link between them. Great. Now he'd have to buy a huge rainbow trout or Canadian salmon to appease the huffy feather-bag or face being pecked bald once he got back. Klaus had a highly developed sense of pride. Sparks' sharp intake of breath snapped his attention back to the present.
Tamwood was twitching, her limbs convulsing and twisting like a macabre puppet, one whose strings he longed sever and release from its torment. Finally, pale arms planted themselves against the wooden floor and pushed, levering the newly risen vampire up to her knees.
"Sparks?" He breathed, confusion obvious in his voice. He'd thought vampires had to wait a whole day before rising.
"Tamwood blood, very old, very strong…and she's already fed." Sparks replied in answer to his unspoken question. "Removing the holy object which killed her was enough for the body to start healing itself. The sun has been down for a while."
A wet hissing sound was audible. Jerking his gaze back to the vampire, Grant saw it was caused by air escaping through the hole in her chest as the undead took breaths that her body no longer required in a horrible parody of life. A low moan slipped from her mouth as her body shook uncontrollably. Slowly, she rose from her protective crouch, blinking and gazed dazedly around as though disorientated. For several minutes she did not move or speak, her face completely devoid of emotion or thought. Finally she raised her head, her eyes falling first on the two detectives and narrowing dangerously. Grant felt his lungs contract as though a hand had closed around them at glimpse of the eternal darkness of Tamwood's eyes. She looked like a dark goddess rising from the ashes, smeared with the blood of the fallen.
"Who. Are. You." The velvet steel in her soft voice made Grant tremble and despite the protection of his circle, found himself edging unconsciously towards Sparks.
"Ivy, don't you recognise me?" Sparks asked softly. The black-haired woman's gaze switched to Sparks and an elegant eyebrow rose in surprise. Grant was amazed how composed she looked for someone who was completely soaked with her own blood.
"Sara?" The blonde detective pulled a face.
"You know I prefer 'Sparks'." She whined petulantly, while Grant looked on in silent amazement.
"I see you still haven't matured since we first joined the I.S." Tamwood remarked dryly, continuing with a finality that was impossible to argue with. "It makes you sound like a cheap stripper." Grant realised their conversation had the unmistakable ring of banter to it. "So who's he?" She asked, sounding less hostile, almost...pleasant. It gave him the creeps. "And what are you doing…" Her voice trailed off, as though trying to remember something important and Grant noticed with interest that she hadn't looked down at the body beneath her once.
"This is my partner, Grant." Grant couldn't help flush slightly at the insinuation in her tone and opened his mouth to protest, but Sparks silenced him with a vicious pinch to the arm. He bit off a yelp. "And I think you know why we're here, Ivy." The undead stood silently for a moment, then took a deep, shuddering breath and looked deliberately downwards.
"Rachel..." Tamwood breathed the witch's name softly and stared, transfixed at the animal-like tear on her throat. "What have I done." It wasn't a question and therefore needed no response, for which they both were grateful. "This…this wasn't supposed to happen…no…" In a heartbeat, Tamwood's eyes had bled to an all-encompassing black and she had launched herself at the nearest wall, kicking and punching with jerky and uncoordinated motions. It was vastly different to usual vampire grace.
Grant and Sparks flinched at the horrible scream that tore itself free from the broken undead's throat as she tore the wall apart, venting her rage and sorrow. Grant couldn't help thinking that it was incredibly sad the price of immortality came at the cost of your soul. Tamwood would never again feel as human as she did now and as the hours passed she would become less and less of the woman she had been, gradually slipping into the skin of a soulless and cunning beast.
And the worst part was she probably wouldn't even notice the difference.
But even so, this display of raw emotion was unnerving in its…humanity. Either the undead were better actors than he thought, or she actually still felt some vestiges of emotion. Grant's eyes narrowed at a sudden -wildly stupid- thought, then closed as he called on his second sight. It always disturbed him to see everything coated in the hellish-red of the ever-after, but right now it was necessary. As Grant opened them, he had to bite back a gasp of surprise.
Ivy Tamwood, an undead vampire -as in a completely soulless monster- possessed an aura.
Admittedly it was faint, the golden colour seemingly stretched thin over the vampire's body, like the last dregs of butter scraped over a large piece of toast, but still it was unmistakably an aura.
Beside him, Sparks was speaking quickly and quietly into a communication amulet -specially designed to work inside a protective circle without breaking it and leaving the user exposed- and making certain absolutely no one came near the van until she gave the all-clear.
"Sparks." He murmured, hoping the raging vampire didn't pay attention to him. A still-full mug of cocoa was hurled with deadly force at his circle, rebounding with a wet thud and cracking on the hard floor as it landed. "She has an aura…" Sparks' head snapped around and fixed him with a disbelieving 'you're shitting me' look. She always got (more) difficult when he pulled on a line. If he didn't know any better, he'd have said she was nervous. Grant puffed out a breath of annoyed air, trying to ignore the soothing orange of her aura which usually indicated a kindness of spirit, but in her case had to mean something else. Because really, this was Sparks he was talking about. "Give me your hand." Sparks' deceptively innocent sea-green eyes stared suspiciously into his storm-grey ones for a moment before slowly acquiescing. Her gasp of wonder more than made up for the fact his hand was prickling uncomfortably where she was touching it.
"Yes. How is it even possible?" Sparks chewed on her bottom lip for a minute, still warily watching Tamwood leave a trail of destruction throughout the van. Then her gaze fell on the forgotten figure of Morgan and her face cleared.
"She has Rachel's."
"What?" Grant blinked. What was she talking about?!
"Ivy has Rachel's aura." Grant was still confused. How would a vampire get a witch's aura? Sparks sighed. "When a vampire feeds on someone willing to share themselves body and soul, parts of their aura are also transferred." Grant felt his body tense. What in the Nine Hells?! Vampires could take parts of people's souls? "There has to be a complete trust and acceptance of the vampire to be able to lower the mental barrier, but that must be what happened here…Rachel offered it all and Ivy couldn't stop herself from taking it." Sparks' face pinched in pain. "That's why she's acting so 'normal', Rachel's aura is acting as a stop-gap, protecting the mind against the loss of her soul."
"So it's going to dissipate." Grant said, his thoughts racing ahead. There was no way -without some sort of demonic ritual perhaps- that Tamwood would be able to keep the aura, her body was dead and couldn't give Rachel's soul the nourishment it needed to survive.
And then Tamwood would complete the transition into a monster. Grant released his second sight, blinking rapidly to clear the blurs of red ever-after from his vision and silently watched as the grief-stricken vampire tore the van seats out of place and hurled them through the windscreen. He found himself thinking it was sad that something that was supposed to be as pure as love could be so…harmful, destructive and just plain dangerous. Was this what Sparks had to deal with? A constant, never-ending battle against her instincts? Against herself? Was it possible he had been…wrong? About vampires? About her? Grant didn't have any answers and was extremely uncomfortable at the turn his thoughts were taking.
After what felt like eternity, Tamwood finally slid brokenly onto the floor, sobbing amidst the rubble and debris of the used-to-be van. She crawled over the limp body of Morgan and gently pulled the red-head into her arms, rocking them both back and forth. Grant could just hear her whispering something about being sorry over and over.
"Ms. Tamwood," Grant began finally, ignoring Sparks' frantic signals (and admittedly, his own good sense) to shut the hell up, "may I ask you a question?" The growl and baring of razor-sharp fangs that came as a response was hardly heartening. "Why did you use this particular object to kill yourself with?" He held up the silver cross, watching as the undead's face as recognition and pain flickered over it.
"…To…remind myself." She said finally, her long pianist fingers on Morgan's corpse trembling slightly.
"To remind you of what, Ivy?" Sparks pushed, sensing the vampire wasn't going to saying anything else. Tamwood let loose a laugh; a horrible sound filled with bitterness that chilled the blood in his very veins.
"That I don't want this. That I wanted-" She swallowed and then continued, staring into the lifeless face of her partner as she stroked a loose strand of red hair back. "-that I want Rachel." Her face hardened and her eyes flicked towards the detectives, piercing their souls like a twin spears. "Kill me." She ordered and Grant felt himself unconsciously reaching for the leyline under the sheer force of her will. He felt as though he were standing at the end of a long tunnel, unable to focus on anything but the woman at the other end. Sibilant whispers swirled through his ears; coaxing, demanding, urging him to obey her.
"Ivy why?!" Cried Sparks, distressed. The undead gave a mirthless smile and Grant abruptly snapped out of his haze, frightened at the ease with which she'd ensnared him.
"Because I'm not Ivy anymore. Anything worth saving died…with Rachel." Tamwood gave a long blink, looking like she was trying to hold back tears. "I damned myself when I gave into the lure of her blood...when I couldn't stop myself…why couldn't I be happy with what she offered? Why did I have to push for more? Why did she ask me not to love her?" The last words came out as an anguished cry.
"Ivy…I can't kill you…" Sparks protested weakly. The dark-haired vampire smiled again, but this time it was filled with cruelty.
"I'm already dead…but if you need a more convincing reason…" The woman's voice shifted, becoming hypnotic, powerful and impossible to ignore. "Kill me, or I'll tear your partner apart before your eyes and drain him dry." The unspoken words 'and you'll be next' hung ripe with intent. Grant felt a shiver travel from the base of his spine all the way up to the roots of his hair. She'd do it, he believed her. Suddenly his circle didn't seem so safe anymore.
There was a tense, pain-filled silence.
"…As you wish." Sparks muttered finally, the tone of her voice holding a curious (and totally uncharacteristic) note of formality as her shoulders slumped in defeat. Grant was taken aback. He hadn't expected the threat to sway her; she didn't like him after all. Probably trying to save her own skin.
Tamwood stood with an unnatural grace, especially considering she was still cradling her partner to her chest and walked towards them, stopping an arms length away from the circle. "Do it." Was all she said, a look of serenity settling over her features. She bent her head forward, resting her forehead against the witch's. Her short, ebony hair swept forward like a curtain, just long enough to obscure both the women's faces. Grant dropped the circle and, as he did so, thought he heard her murmur something to the dead woman. It sounded like 'soon'. He didn't think he imagined the chaste kiss Tamwood pressed against the dead witch's lips. Grant swallowed, unaccountably feeling like an perverted intruder for witnessing the tender intimacy of the gesture.
It hit him, really hit him, perhaps for the first time, that Ivy must have truly been in love with Rachel. And that in fact, despite dying, she still was. Vampires could feel emotion; remorse, guilt, love, regret. They weren't monsters. They were people. Just like him.
With an eerie grace, Sparks pulled forth her blessed katana from its sheath and shifted into a striking stance in a single, fluid movement as she levelled the sword at Ivy's head. Grant felt an unfamiliar burst of pride as he realised her arm wasn't shaking.
"Ivy…" Sparks began, then stopped, biting her lip. Grant thought he knew how she felt. There were no words for this. "Goodbye."
In his report later, Detective Hughes will passionately testify to the skill, bravery and speed of Detective Parks as she sliced off the head of the newly risen, but apparently completely insane Ivy Tamwood. He will attest to the fact that it saved both their lives and undoubtedly countless others. Their Boss will believe them because he is well aware of two facts that: a) Detective Hughes hates his partner and certainly wouldn't lie to cover her ass and b) Detective Hughes is a fine, upstanding, by-the-book officer who wouldn't lie even to save his own ass. Grant will not mention the tears in his partner's eyes afterwards or that he held her close to his chest without flinching in disgust as she wept for the loss of her friend.
They will not speak again until they are safely on the street corner outside their headquarters, squinting up into the bright morning sunlight. Grant will then say two very important words which will change the entire course of their relationship.
"I'd like that."