AUTHOR'S NOTE And this is it! I hope you've enjoyed the story. Some of you will notice that the end of this story flows directly into the episode "Somnambulist" is season one of Angel. Oh also, the point of view changes a couple times in this chapter – sorry!
DISCLAIMER I don't own these characters.
He met Kate that evening at the Los Angeles Hard Rock Café. She smiled when she saw him at the table. "Hi Dennis."
Unable to meet her eyes, Booker stared at the plaid tablecloth. "Hey," he said.
She frowned as she sat down. "Is everything okay?"
He sighed and looked at her. "Yeah. It's great."
"Okay," she said slowly. "Then why do you look so upset?"
Idly tapping on the table, he did not answer at first. A waitress came to bring them water, but he waved her off when she asked if they needed anything else. They sat in awkward silence.
"Is it the case?" Kate asked. "Because if it is, then I've thought a lot about it and I think that maybe – "
"It isn't the case," Booker interrupted.
"Oh." Kate brightened. "So the case is going well then?"
He looked her in the eye and could not hide it from her. Reluctantly, he nodded. "The case is solved."
She grinned. "Solved? That's wonderful!"
He did not share her enthusiasm. "Yeah, wonderful."
She waited expectantly. When he said nothing, she prompted, "Well? What'd you find out? What's his secret?"
He looked away, gazing intently at the door, the other customers, the guitars on the wall, anything other than her. "It's nothing."
"It's nothing?" Kate repeated. "What do you mean it's nothing? You told me the case was solved!"
"It's nothing, okay?" he snapped. "Just forget it. Forget all about it."
She stared at him, dumbfounded. "Dennis, I can't just forget it! I hired you to find out what Angel has been hiding. Now did you find out or not?"
He did not want to lie to her. "I found out."
"So tell me!" she said.
Determined not to let his hurt show through, Booker shook his head. "I can't tell you."
Her eyes showed the first signs of tears. "You found out what he's been hiding from me, from everyone, and now you won't tell me."
"That's right," he said, determined not to look at her once again. "I won't tell you."
"Is this some sort of investigator fraternity bullshit?" she asked angrily. "Some solidarity you feel with your brother in arms?"
That was an easy enough excuse. "That's part of it."
Kate held back the tears enough to snap, "And the other part? Dennis, do you care about me at all?"
"This is not about us," Booker said quietly.
"The hell it isn't!" she shot back. "This is all about us! You are choosing keeping Angel's secret over saving this relationship, whatever it is."
He didn't argue. She was right and he knew it. "I'm sorry, Kate."
She shook her head. "Sorry isn't enough." Then she got up from the table and stormed out.
Booker sighed and dropped his head in his hands. He did not even bother to go after her. He knew that Kate would only forgive him this time if he gave up Angel's secret. That was not something he was willing to do.
He threw a tip on the table for the waitress and got his bike out of the garage. For two hours, he rode through Los Angeles, letting the air blow his hair into horrid shapes until his face burned from the wind.
Ioki was not home when Booker knocked, so he figured he would catch up with his old friend later. Ioki would be happy to learn that the investigation was over and he could stop worrying about Booker's safety.
He stopped the motorcycle on a bluff just north of Santa Monica that overlooked the Pacific Ocean and thought of Kate. He only allowed himself a few tears, which the strong ocean breeze dried almost immediately.
He had screwed things up beyond repair with her. He knew it. She knew it. He only hoped that Angel knew what he had sacrificed to keep his identity a secret.
In the basement of Angel Investigations, Angel sat alone in his living room. Cordelia had given him Dennis Booker's message a few hours ago, so he knew that at least for now, Kate would stay oblivious to his true nature.
He wondered why Booker had chosen to keep his secret. He had never met a Los Angeles PI who had shown that kind of loyalty to another in the business. Apparently there was more to Dennis Booker than met the eye.
Perhaps it was time to add another name to the list of those he trusted enough to help him on tough cases. Angel smirked. Asking Booker for help occasionally would make Cordelia so happy.
The light bulb in the lamp beside him flickered and suddenly blinked out. Angel did not bother to replace it. Instead, he sat alone in the dark of his living room.
In the hills about Santa Monica, the roar of a motorcycle engine echoed off the rocky cliffs. Booker sped back to his apartment alone.
The next morning, Kate Lockley arrived at her precinct to find a new case file on her desk. "What's this?" she asked.
"Homicide victim found last night," the lieutenant on duty said. "Be warned though, those pictures are pretty graphic."
Kate ignored his word of caution and opened the folder. The body in the picture stared up at her, a deep bloody cross carved into its cheek.