a Blood Ties/Forever Knight crossover written for Dizzy Dia in the Yuletide 07 Challenge
by Amy L. Hull
Notes: This was intended to be much shorter. Really. Hopefully it will be accessible to and enjoyable for fans of both series. Thanks to Valerie for the beta, suggestions, and dialogue/character checking. Thanks to Tricia for the read-through and copy editing. DO have a look at the renovated Royal Ontario Museum: commons./wiki/Image:RoyalOntarioMuseum.jpg
"Hi. I saw something on the internet this morning that looked connected to the case and...odd, so I may be a little late."
"Ms. Nelson, I'd like to meet with you about following my wife's movements..."
Vicki absently scribbled down the stodgy-sounding man's phone number, skimming through the major headlines and gulping coffee at the same time.
"Vic, I may have a lead for you on that case. Gimme a call."
Vicki scribbled down Mike's name.
"Um, Vicki? I'm doing a little research at the library and, well, this is looking creepy. I'm going to head to the ROM to confirm an idea. You and Henry may want to meet me there."
"I'm calling from the Royal Ontario Museum with a message for Vicki Nelson from Coreen Fennel. She said it was important for you to meet her at the First Peoples exhibit as soon as possible."
"I really need you guys--"
Coreen's nervousness was the last thing Vicki heard as she let the door slam behind her, already listening to Henry's phone ringing at the other end of her cell.
She was walking cautiously toward the main entrance when Henry stepped out from behind one of the sharp corners of the addition. She worked to make her sharp intake of breath sound like annoyance.
Henry just smirked at and fell in step with her. "Took you long enough. I was about to go in and take in an exhibit just to get away from this...thing."
Vicki took longer steps. "No time. Anyway, you can look at the building the modern art-architects pushed over into the ROM all night long from your place."
"Tell me about it. I had to turn my drafting table around just to avoid--"
"Henry! Focus. Coreen could be in trouble."
"And you couldn't have mentioned that?"
Vicki tossed a glare in his general direction, though she was amused at the way his voice pitched up a register when he was exasperated. She just sped up again.
"Lucky night, it seems? It's the end of the day, so entrance is free. It's a Friday, so they're open late. But what did you send her out alone for, anyway? It's Coreen. She could find trouble--"
"I didn't send her. She decided to do a little freelancing. She said she's in the First Peoples exhibit."
"Oh, I heard that was...fascinating. I'm sure they got bits of it wrong; they always do. Do you suppose they put it in the Obscene Modern Art Wing, just to add insult to--"
"Henry, shut up," Vicki said as they entered the museum's main hall.
He nodded and murmured a thank you to the clerk who handed him a map that Vicki, still on the move, was already frowning over.
"This way," she announced.
"I know. I can hear her."
As they got closer, so could Vicki. "Remember the Wendigo we dealt with back--"
"Mike. What are you doing here?" Vicki stared at him where he stood next to Coreen, looking over her shoulder as she fluttered through her notes.
"It's all right, Vicki, I called him when I couldn't get you earlier, and he wanted to check in with us anyway and Dr. Mohadevan had mentioned--"
Vicki held up a hand. "Coreen! Just...start at the beginning."
"Okay. You know how we kept running into the name Lambert a couple of cases ago?"
Vicki nodded, for all it mattered; Coreen had just kept going.
"I got curious and started doing some digging, and it turns out that there is a Dr. Natalie Lambert who's a coroner here in Toronto. I called up Dr. Mohadevan to see if she knew her and it turns out this Dr. Lambert has quite a lot of...well, there are things she's filed reports on that don't quite jive and about ten years ago, for nearly five years, she worked exclusively on the night shift--"
"Sorry." Coreen flipped through the pages in the folder she was holding and read from her notes. "I've been reading up on various demons and demon sub-types and there was a mention of an ancient book of miracles and secrets called the Abarat--"
Henry, stepping into the circle of the conversation for the first time. "You've heard of the Abarat? Coreen, tell me you're not looking for this book let alone already reading it."
"Not the real one. I read the one by Clive Barker the day it came out, though. All my friends did too and we made lists--"
Henry, looking some combination of perplexed and relieved, turned away and rubbed his eyes. Vicki glared at Coreen again, but bit her lips together and mentally counted to ten. She had only reached two before Coreen was continuing her monologue.
"Anyway, it's pretty clear the original text probably no longer exists, and most of the records in the books I've gone through at the library are sketchy at best. The last time the records indicate anyone searched for references to it are, again, from about ten years ago. Natalie Lambert. I followed the research trail she left and found a reference to a connection between a Native legend of a Wendigo and a 'raven knife' made of obsidian that could be used as protection even in dream trances. A little more digging and, well..." Coreen stepped aside and pointed to the display case behind her.
The case was well lit, setting off the smooth, crisp points of the edge sharpened into the knife which seemed to absorb and reflect light in equal measure. Vicki felt herself take a step toward it as she heard Henry step back.
"This knife was involved in a homicide a little over ten years ago--same time as most of the oddities in Dr. Lambert's records--and then, a few years later, was anonymously donated to the ROM. That raised some eyebrows; no one was every quite sure who it was returned to after the homicide case was over and it wasn't needed for evidence."
"I see how interesting all of this is," Mike said, in the flat tone he reserved for talkative witnesses, "but what does it have to do with what you're working on now, or with any of us, and why the urgency?"
"Because the way I'm reading this, there is a convergence of energy about to happen that will almost certainly involve a group of local loonies trying to steal this knife to use it in a ritual sacrifice." Coreen nodded once, her expression both earnest and grave.
Vicki stared. This was thorough. Even organized, for Coreen. "Good, uh, work," she said.
Coreen was grinning broadly, hugging her folder, and practically rocking on her heels.
Vicki frowned, running through ideas. "Okay. Let's get on this then. Mike, you go look up any arrests, threats of the end of the world, strange activity the police have noticed--that kind of thing."
"Whoa, ex-partner. I don't work for you--"
"Does this look important to you?" Vicki demanded.
Mike met her glare for a long moment, then exhaled loudly. His shoulders dropped and he looked down, nodding slowly. "Yeah. I haven't heard anything, but I don't think they like me to hear about the strange stuff."
Coreen pulled a sheet of paper from her folder, thrust it into his hands, and pointed to the information she seemed to think was critical. "These are some of the words or phrases that might come up."
"Thanks," he said, then looked closely at Vicki again. "What are you three going to do?"
"Well, while you check that, I thought we'd meet one Dr. Natalie Lambert." At Coreen's near squeal she added, "Yes, you too. Come on. Call you as soon as we've got something, Mike."
Vicki rapped sharply on the door.
"I'm busy," a voice replied. "What do you want?"
"Dr. Lambert, my name is Vicki Nelson. Could I come in and ask you a few questions?"
After a pause there was a, "I suppose so, if you think you can stomach it. Make sure to grab one of the masks just inside the door."
Vicki's first glimpse of the woman was of someone swathed in white, hands buried inside a corpse. Henry made a sound halfway between a growl and a retch behind her. "I'm a private investigator and--"
"Yes, I know," Dr. Lambert lifted a large, dark red object, set it in the scale by her table, held up one finger, and dictated, "Liver weight: 1825 grams." She turned back to her work and said, "I've heard about you. Had to retire, went into the private sector, have been nosing around in the tales of the weird and the strange." She looked up, smiled, twitched her eyebrows impishly, then continued, "Are you going to ask your friends in?"
Vicki gestured to them and Henry slipped around the door, muttering, "Is the whole department like this?" before leaning his shoulder against the door frame.
Coreen smiled widely and held out a hand to shake. "Hi! It's good to meet you...oh," she stopped when Natalie waggled bloody, gloved fingers at her.
Vicki blew a breath out slowly through the paper mask she was holding. "We've received information that a group of people may be planning to steal the raven knife from the Royal Ontario Museum. That knife that was involved in a case you worked on."
The doctor's easy manner washed off her like water draining down her body. Her jaw stiffened and her shoulders tensed. After a moment she said, in measured tones, "I'm assuming you know what you're dealing with? I mean, you are here with him," she pointed at Henry.
Henry stood to his full height and took a step toward Dr. Lambert. Coreen had lowered her chin slightly and was looking amongst them like a cat watching a three-person ping-pong game.
"What do you know?" Henry asked, voice clipped.
"I know enough. I know you are far older than you appear and you are not what you seem to most."
Henry stepped forward appearing to relax but staring closely. Dr. Lambert maintained direct eye contact and it was Vicki's turn to look from one to the other.
"It doesn't work on me," Dr. Lambert said mildly. "Or, I suspect, you, Ms. Nelson, otherwise you wouldn't all be here together."
The stare-off continued for a brief moment until Dr. Lambert continued. "Why don't you let me put this customer to bed, and we can sit and talk?"
Natalie took heated water off a bunsen burner and poured them all tea in beakers. Henry's was a particularly horrible green color. "It's a protein drink I concocted for an old...friend. I just happened to have some left," she grinned, winking at Vicki.
Henry's expression looked exactly like a five-year-old boy asked to eat creamed asparagus.
"He made a face much more dramatic than that," Natalie said to Henry as Vicki smothered a laugh. "Spit it out, too." She compared notes with Henry, rapid-fire, in what seemed like a well-rehearsed checklist.
Vicki tried to pay attention, but wanted to ask about the matter at hand. Coreen, of course, was watching like the groupie she was.
"It sounds like the vampires you met are a different type altogether, like a completely separate strain or class or breed," Coreen enthused to Natalie. "And the ones you knew--know--are really burned by crosses and holy water? And they could--can--really could fly? That is so cool!"
Henry grimaced. "They're...they're something...different. They're social, even familial. They don't keep a low profile and interact too closely with humans. They have superstitions and rituals that are not only unnecessary but distasteful and they are..." he grappled for a word and finally said with distaste, "emo. Broody. My kind do not speak of them."
Vicki stared at him, then shook her head as she felt her lip curl. "You should talk!" He could be such a...hypocrite sometimes. "Apparently their kind don't speak of your kind either. Now that you three have had your little goth-geek...thing...do you think we could focus on what's going on now?" The other three looked at her expectantly, silent for the moment, so she continued. "Your name keeps coming up, Dr. Lambert. Do you know why?"
"I said it's Natalie. And...no. I know I haven't gone unnoticed, but I've kept a pretty low profile, and there are those in the" here she grinned, "other community who've made it clear that I'm off-limits."
"And what do they get in return?" Vicki asked, feeling her throat tighten slightly as it did when she heard something that set off cynical alarm bells.
"I do them some favors now and then," Natalie answered, "including a few...larger...favors a long time ago."
Vicki thought there was something melancholy in that carefully-schooled expression but said bluntly, "You help them cover things up."
"Vicki, what do you want?"
"I want to know what you know about the mystical beliefs in the power of the raven knife and what the vampires you know think is in the Abarat--not the one by Clive Barker," she clarified as Coreen leaned forward to jump into the conversation.
Natalie started slightly, "You've heard about the Abarat? Have you heard of a copy still existing?"
Coreen jumped in before Vicki could answer. "No, just an incantation that refers to it and that we suspect someone wants to use in a sacrifice with the knife."
"I guess I shouldn't be surprised. N--They were pretty sure the last one was destroyed no later than the mid 1960s. If someone has an incantation referring to or from the Abarat, they could want to use it for practically anything, from what I understand. But if they're combining it with the raven knife, I'm going to guess 'evil.' Last time that was used, well, I scoffed at it, but anyone who touched it killed." Natalie seemed to talk into the distance for a moment. "I guess I've embraced more possibilities since then; science can't tell us everything. I think it was Rajani who told me that."
Vicki looked up sharply from the notes she was scribbling. "You know her?"
"Of course. It's a fairly small department, and, anyway, I hired her. I didn't know how long I was going to stay and there needs to be someone in this city who can deal with the tales of the weird and strange, as she called it. At any rate, I'd recommend making sure that no one gets their hands on that knife." Natalie drained her beaker of tea and stood. She shook hands and held the door, saying, "I really have to get back to my clients. You'll let me know if there is anything in the references to me I should be concerned about?"
Vicki nodded. Before the door was even closed all the way behind them, she was pulling out her phone. "Mike? Can you meet us back at the ROM?"
"There've been half a dozen arrests, Vic. Disturbing the peace, mostly. All high school or college kids. No real pattern to their locations, though, and some of them were pretty stoned, so we added that to their charges. One group even said that they were trying to fulfill a prophecy given to the First Peoples that their losses would be avenged." Mike shook his head and kneaded the side of his neck with one hand.
For an instant Vicki was distracted by thinking that she could give him a proper massage later to ease that tension. She immediately shook her head and turned to say, "Henry, keep watch on the roof in case--"
He was already gone.
"Show-off," Vicki muttered, glaring at Coreen's broad, star-struck grin. "Okay, Coreen, this is where you go down the block to the coffee shop with internet and phone access."
"You can help us coordinate while we keep the exhibit under surveillance--"
Vicki blinked. "What?" she demanded.
Coreen fidgeted and couldn't quite meet Vicki's gaze. Her voice only wavered slightly, though. "No. This is my case. I found all the leads. I did the research." She looked up. "I want to be part of this too."
"No. You can't." Vicki could hear the sharpness of her voice as Coreen's expression hardened with defiance.
"Vicki, please. You need me. I understand more about this than you and Mike together. And," Coreen looked at the pavement again, "it's after hours. It's dark in there. You practically walked into part of that new wing that looks like they pushed a building over into the museum."
"What time did you say this convergence was supposed to start?"
Coreen's response was immediate. "At 1:38 in the morning."
Vicki closed her eyes and took a slow and deliberate breath. "Fine. It's after one already and we're running out of time. And if I left you out here, you'd probably manage to fall right into the middle of trouble."
Coreen was practically bouncing, doing a gleeful little clap.
Vicki turned and started for the building. "But stick close. Mike, I'll get the door, you check the perimeter."
"Yes, ma'am," he said sarcastically.
"How long do you usually wait?" Coreen whispered.
"Much longer if they hear us and leave!" Her phone vibrated and she checked the message then showed it to Coreen: Activity on roof.
Long moments later there was the soft skitter of feet across marble. Vicki tightened her grip on her baton, listening in the dim exhibit room for movement, voices, breathing.
All hell broke loose. Someone grabbed her and she struck out with her baton, spinning toward the next set of footsteps. A punch grazed her cheek and as she fought back, the large body seemed to trip away from her. Coreen's soft squeal of glee made it clear she'd helped dispatch that one.
"Coreen, get back!"
There was a thud and Coreen moaned.
Vicki swung her baton at a sound behind her and glass shattered.
"Vicki!" The shrill voice came from the floor. "To your left!"
She kicked that way but met only air and then was shoved hard and staggered back into a wall that knocked the breath out of her.
There was a low growl that might have been Henry, then lights flooded the gallery and Mike was shouting, "Freeze! Police!"
Cringing against the sudden brightness, Vicki reached out and hit one of the intruders in the shins, sending him crashing to the floor. Coreen, similarly, knocked one to the floor by body-slamming him from the side at hip level. Vicki looked a question at her.
"My brothers liked American football growing up." Coreen's grin was a bit lopsided around a swollen lip.
Vicki finally processed that she was hearing sirens and pieced them together with the blue and red lights flashing against the walls. She rubbed the back of her head and found a lump there. Mike dragged a man in wearing the same deep red ski mask as the others. This one was handcuffed and Mike sat him down forcefully against the wall.
"Vic, you two okay?"
She nodded absently.
"Good. The backup I called is here. You two should get out now; save us all some questions."
Vicki blinked hard, then looked around the room. The case with the obsidian knife was smashed, and the knife gone. "And you're going to explain that," she pointed.
"Umm...yes. I'll just say that one of them clearly escaped in the chaos. Go. And be careful."
"Aren't I always?"
Mike sighed heavily as she and Coreen slipped toward the door they'd left as their own escape route. Before they rounded the first corner he called, "Good work, kid!" Coreen glanced back and made a little squeal of pride.
She hadn't heard from him in two days. He wasn't answering his phone, messages, or email. She picked the lock and began to prowl through the condo, out of habit not touching anything. She stood back then moved closer to examine his current graphic novel drawings, and had to admit they were even better than his usual stuff.
Her phone alarm beeped. Sunset. "Henry?" she called.
"Has it occurred to you that some of us in this world actually sleep?" came Henry's voice from the doorway of the bedroom.
"Sleep? Naw. You don't need that; there's just too much in the world to do."
"Well, I've got the time. At least when it's dark."
Vicki stood still, looking around his place everywhere but at him until he finally asked, "Everything working out?"
"Well, Mike and the other officers arrested the guys who broke into the ROM and also found the ones who were waiting for the knife to do the ritual. Seems it was one of those, 'We have to do this thing and kill this person at this time in this way to keep the world from ending,' kind of crazies. So, they're probably going to get psych evaluations and, in the meantime, the only sticky part of the case is that, somehow, a valuable and beautiful obsidian knife was stolen from the exhibit. Can you imagine someone doing something like that?"
"I had to take it. You know that."
"Yeah. So you can hide it in your closet along with that doomsday box and the rest of your miniature Ark of the Covenant warehouse."
Henry just blinked at her.
Her nose wrinkled up. "You haven't even seen Raiders of the Lost Ark? I'll have to fix that." She paused and swallowed. "You're going to keep it, aren't you?"
"I've already sent the ROM a sizeable donation for their England in the 1500s exhibit, including copies of several contemporary diary entries I've gifted them with as well. It will be fun to go and see how much of their notions of the 16th century are-- miles off the mark, usually. Maybe if I remind them, they'll let me help them present how everything truly was."
"Oh, and that makes it all okay? The bad guys came and we caught them and we live to fight another day and you paid off the museum for their missing piece and now you're going to go and mock their exhibit?"
"Pretty much sums it up there, yes." Henry flashed that arrogant grin.
"What...Where did you put the obsidian knife?" she demanded.
"Where it's well hidden and can't cause any more trouble."
"So where is that?"
"My own secret place. Have patience and you may get to see it."
Vicki rolled her eyes and walked out without another word.
ooo end ooo