by Valerie Vancollie
valeriev84 at hotmail dot com
Spoilers: Pilot, Man Hunt
Note: This fic was written for the multi-fandom Spook Me Halloween Ficathon of 2008. I choose the creature vampire and received the prompts Torture Garden and Destination Nightmare.
Don cried out as he was slammed up against the wall, his gun clattering uselessly to the floor as a hand seemingly made of steel squeezed his wrist. Dazed, he could only gasp for air around the second hand clamped at his throat.
"End of the line, Agent," McBride declared as he leaned close.
It was all Don could do not to gasp in disbelief and horror as he got a good look at the man's face. It was clearly still the same man whose photo he'd seen and studied, and yet it wasn't. The eyes were an icy sapphire that gleamed in the feeble light instead of blue, his face was sharper, more chiseled, and his teeth... Don's breath caught in his throat at the elongated fangs that protruded over McBride's lower lip.
"How do you know it's the same guy?" Colby inquired.
"You mean besides the fact that the victims are similar and completely exsanguinated?" Special Agent Gabby Hellar questioned. "He leaves his mark, if you will, the ankh you found carved into your victim's cheek has been found on all of the bodies."
"You mean the cross?" David asked.
"It's not a cross, it's an ankh, distinguishable from the Christian cross by the loop at the top."
"What does it mean?"
"It's the Egyptian hieroglyph for life or immortality," Don stated.
"Yes," Hellar confirmed, startled. "It has also become associated with vampires."
"Great, so we really do have a vampire-wannabe," Colby muttered, dropping his pen and leaning back in his chair. "What's he think? That drinking blood will make him immortal?"
"The behavioral specialist in New Orleans thought that the immortality associated with vampires may be what motivated our killer to choose them," Hellar explained. "He thought we could be dealing with a fantasy prone personality who has chosen to adopt a mythical being as his particular focus and is now living out his chosen lifestyle."
Don dropped his head into his hands, wishing desperately that Megan was still here.
"Are you sure there aren't copycats involved?" Nikki asked. "We're talking four different cities in four different states."
"It's not abnormal for this kind of serial killer to move about," Hellar said. "He is not your usual type."
"But why the long gaps between cities? If he sees himself as a vampire, then wouldn't he need to eat regularly?"
"You'd be amazed at the differences between vampire stories."
Don glanced up at the visiting agent again. "Have you figured out which one our guy thinks he is?"
"Not yet," Hellar admitted. "There are thousands of different ones, some differing only in minor details, while others hardly seem to be the same creature. I'm working my way through them as quickly as possible."
"Nikki will help you with that. What can you tell us about what he'll do next?"
"If he stays true to form, he'll wait a few days before he kills again, but he will do so. He has generally stuck to five or six kills in a city before he moves on. We have not yet been able to discern a predictable pattern to his attacks, besides the fact that he strikes in the more shady areas of the cities."
"Yeah, well, I know someone who might be able to help with that."
The fangs became more visible as McBride smiled and Don felt his blood freeze in his veins, the old demons from his childhood clawing their way to the top of his mind. He swallowed back the familiar terror and denial, forcing himself to focus and remember his training. If overpowered by an opponent and restrained from the front-
Don screamed as McBride closed the remaining distance between them and sank his teeth into the vulnerable flesh at his throat. The bite was vicious, sending hot spikes of pain tearing through him, nearly incapacitating him. Nearly. With all his might, he pounded at the creature's back with his free hand, but his strength was rapidly failing as he felt his blood flowing out of the wound and into McBride's eager mouth. No, he dimly realized, it wasn't merely flowing, it was literally being sucked out of him. He could feel McBride drawing it from his veins. An icy lethargy slowly crept through him and the room darkened, his feeble efforts to free himself vanishing as all he could do was cling helplessly to the creature's back.
Where was his backup?
"How did you know about the ankh?" Colby asked as they reached their cubicles.
"It was in a movie," Don shrugged, dropping into his chair.
"A movie?" David repeated.
"Yeah, some vampire film."
"Did I just hear what I thought I did?" Charlie questioned in disbelief as he arrived. "Did you finally watch another vampire movie, Don?"
"No," Don replied curtly, separating his notes from the files Hellar had given him.
"Finally? Don't you like vampire movies?" Colby asked, sensing there was more to the issue.
"Nope, he hates them," Charlie stated, with a hint of laughter. "Has ever since we were kids."
"That was years ago, Chuck."
"What happened?" David pressed.
"The babysitter allowed me to watch one with her. It was quite graphic."
"That's Don's way of saying it scared him and caused him to have nightmares for years."
"Vampire nightmares?" David said, a smile blossoming on his face as he shared a look with Colby.
"I was ten!" Don protested.
"Meaning I was five and even I knew vampires couldn't possibly exist," Charlie declared. "Admit it, bro, it was irrational. Of all the things you could have been afraid of, you chose something that isn't even real."
"Are you sure of that?"
"You can't possibly still think they exist!" Charlie exclaimed.
"I don't know," Don began, then smiled at the identical expressions of disbelief spreading across the faces of the three of them. "But if you're so sure, then you won't have any problem helping us catch our elusive vampire serial killer."
He was going to die.
The thought entered Don's mind suddenly, spurring him into action. He released his grip on McBride's back and squeezed his arm between their bodies, hoping to use the wall as leverage to shove him, it, what the hell was going on here anyway?, away from himself. He succeeded in getting his arm positioned but found he had no strength left. He was tired, so very tired and McBride was impossible strong. He'd damn near lifted Don off the floor when shoving him across the room and into the wall.
He was going to die.
"Where is everyone?" Charlie asked as he entered the war room.
"Hey, Charlie," Colby greeted, looking up. "Nikki and Hellar went out to dinner while David and Don went home."
"We've hit a bit of a dead end and are waiting for a warrant to come through."
"So why are you still here?"
"A hunch I wanted to check before telling your brother. Good thing too as it didn't prove to be anything. What about you? You got something worth calling everyone back for?"
"I'm not sure," Charlie answered, frustrated. "I analyzed the locations of the victims in the other cities, both to see if I could detect a pattern and to find where he was based while there."
"To find where he killed them?"
"So, what's the problem?"
"Well, the first part worked fine and corroborated what Agent Hellar said about the bodies being dumped in shady areas of the cities. I think I can work out where he might strike here as a result," Charlie began. "When I tried to find the killer's base of operations, though, I ended up with places that don't make logical sense."
"In New Orleans it was a cemetery, in Boston an old mansion and in New York an opera house. And it's not just that, the Boston police actually searched the mansion in question during the case!"
"And if he was exsanguinating the victims there, they should have seen something," Colby agreed. "Could he have had another place?"
"I tried adjusting the algorithm like in the serial rape case Don and David worked with Terry, but it didn't work. I don't get anything even remotely near a good percentage."
"Hmm... cemeteries, mansions and opera houses," Colby mused. "Maybe we're looking at this in too human a fashion."
"You don't honestly believe we're dealing with a real vampire here, do you?"
"I didn't say that. What I meant is, we're approaching this as we would any serial killer. Maybe we need to look at it differently, he is pretending to be a vampire."
"So, factor in what we know of vampires that a serial killer with vampiric aspirations would be interested in?"
"Yes, exactly. To a vampire, these victims aren't human, they're food. Isn't there some predator-prey food equation thingy you can use?"
"Some predator-prey food equation thingy?" Charlie repeated incredulously.
Fear sliced through him as he struggled weakly, only managing to draw an irritated growl from the creature. A growl! Don could have laughed if he weren't bleeding to death down some vampire's greedy mouth.
'Vampires aren't real!' Charlie's phantom voice insisted in his mind.
'Yeah, they are,' Don retorted mentally, fervently wishing he couldn't feel the wet suction that drained the blood from him.
Don caught sight of the wooden chair arcing through the air seconds before it collided with vampire's side and back. They both cried out as McBride was abruptly ripped away from his feeding, the cries of rage and pain mingling into one sound as Don dropped to the floor like a marionette whose strings had been cut.
Don pulled the Suburban into the alley and drove to the end where he'd discovered a small parking lot on one of his nightly prowls of the city shortly after his return from Albuquerque. In this part of the city, it was never a good idea to leave a LEO vehicle unattended as the locals relished the opportunity to make their distain for the authorities well known. If this hunch didn't pan out, he'd try the trendy nightclub areas of LA, but he didn't think it would be necessary.
He killed the engine and removed his cell from its holder at his belt. Normally he just turned it to silent, but he knew that wouldn't be possible tonight, his prey would still be able to hear incoming calls just like him. He'd have to leave it in the car and hope that no one tried to reach him. Don placed the phone out of sight in the glove compartment, picked up his leather jacket and got out of the car. He'd swung by his place on the way to get changed so he'd be able to blend into the shadows completely and not have to worry about ruining a suit. Besides, the dark colors, leather and silk were so much a part of his wardrobe when not disguising his true nature that it would have felt weird to hunt in anything else. Even if he was stalking a different prey than normal tonight.
Don checked to make sure his jacket covered his gun and that his other weapon was in his pocket before striding out of the alley and into the street beyond. He didn't need the Glock, but its mere presence could often persuade groups of young men he wasn't worth the hassle. Besides, if he was wrong about their killer but still managed to find him, he'd need to make an official arrest. If he was right however... well, there would never be an arrest, not if he had anything to do with it.
He wondered what the media would make of that. It was already a small miracle that they hadn't realized the Vampire Killer had settled in LA and once they did, they'd descend upon the city, hounding him and his team. What would they do if the killer just vanished without a trace? How long would it take them to believe it or lose interest? Don cursed as he could almost feel the bureaucratic headache his actions would cause; he'd not be free of this one anytime soon even if he did manage to kill him tonight.
It was just something he'd have to deal with, though, as Don wasn't going to allow this to continue. Los Angeles was his city and no one hunted the innocent in it, no one. That had been part of their pact when they'd come to terms with what had happened and their new condition. No innocents, ever. Their were certain realities they'd have to come to terms with, but luckily they could tell the innocents from the guilty and the redeemable from the evil.
As he crossed the street and rounded a corner, Don could already hear the base of the music played at the Torture Gardens. As LA's biggest blood bar, it was at the top of his list of places to check tonight. Although he hadn't said anything, he'd recognized the locations of some of the previous victims' bodies as being near blood bars he'd heard about in those cities. He'd even been to two of them. The variety of methods people used to share blood with Doms allowed him to partake of it without turning anyone.
Don growled at the thought of this new vampire carelessly infecting others or the pain and panic his victims felt when attacked and fed upon. There was enough evidence to indicate that he hadn't even attempted to douse the pain or sedate his prey. No, they'd been awake and aware as he sucked their blood out of their necks.
When he passed under a street lamp, Don caught a reflection of himself in a car window and saw his fangs were fully extended and his eyes were dark as obsidian, glittering iridescently. A dark angel, he'd once been called by a woman he'd saved from a vampire in Kentucky.
The beat of the music got louder, but Don's attention shifted abruptly as he caught a whiff of the distinctive scent of blood. Instantly he took off to the left, effortlessly honing in on the source several streets away.
Don lay on the floor, dazed and not entirely sure where he was. He felt sluggish like that time the fugitive in Tennessee had managed to shoot him with a tranquilizer dart. What little he could see of the dark room swam alarmingly and his mind seemed to be working in slow motion. He moved to shake his head and bit back a cry as pain flared to life, lancing along his neck.
The thought entered his mind just as a scream echoed around him and his head snapped towards the right. He had a brief view of a familiar face contorted in pain before the bodies shifted and Don was left looking at McBride's back as he straddled his partner and drank from his neck. Where was his gun? Looking around frantically, Don's gaze fell on the shattered remains of the wooden chair. One of the legs had come off and it lay on the floor just two feet away, one end jagged and sharp. He hesitated briefly, fragments of stories and movies coming back to him, before he grabbed the blunt end.
It was worth a shot.
With all his might, Don rammed the chair leg into the creature's back and through his heart. McBride gave a sharp, inhuman shriek of pain before his body disintegrated into a cloud of ash and dust. Coughing and blinking, Don struggled to get a good look at his partner.
The moment Don reached the alley and glanced into its shadow cloaked depths, he knew he was too late. He attempted to shove the small flicker of relief he felt aside, but was forced to acknowledge it. He would have done all he could to save her if at all possible, but he was glad not to end up with a fledgling on his hands as he had neither the time nor the ability to properly guide one into their new life.
The second thing Don noticed was that their killer, currently crouched over the body, was female. Since she had her back to him, all he could really see of her was the long sweep of dark red hair and her provocative outfit. She'd definitely been at, or was planning to go to, the Torture Gardens tonight.
"Satisfied?" Don inquired as he stepped further into the alley.
Faster than the human eye could follow, the woman spun around, fangs bared and ready to attack. Don merely paused, letting her assess the situation as he studied her. The eyes that were probably a hazel or greenish-blue in human form were now a gleaming emerald set in a classically beautiful face that was naturally pale. From a gold chain at her neck hung a pendant which read 'Carmilla.' The snarl that twisted her lips melted into a delighted smile as she realized what he was.
"Mmm, yes," Carmilla laughed, glancing dismissively over her shoulder at the discarded body.
"She annoy you or were you merely hungry?" Don asked carelessly as he stepped forwards for a better look.
The girl appeared to be in her late teens or early twenties like the rest of the victims, though she'd tried to appear older. Hellar had speculated that their killer was a young man who'd once been rejected by a girl whom the victims reminded him of. That was obviously not the case and he wondered what was. Unless it was because this was the typical victim in vampire movies. Regardless of motive, he knew he had the Vampire Killer as she'd pulled up the girl's shirt and carved the ankh into her stomach.
Carmilla laughed, gazing briefly at her work before focusing on him. "Neither, really."
"Exactly," Carmilla purred, looking him over before she stepped close to him, placing a hand on his chest and sliding it under his jacket. "The exquisite taste of blood as it flows into your mouth and down your throat."
"Mmm," Don murmured, studying her through half-lidded eyes.
Of all the myths, legends and theories about vampires, they had been pleased to discover the enhanced sexual prowess was true. So it didn't really surprise him that she'd see him in that light. And yet, there was something slightly off. She was clearly attempting to seduce him, but there was something else there as well, something...
In the blink of an eye, Don reached up and roughly grabbed the back of her neck as she leaned in towards his neck, whether to bite, lick or kiss he wasn't sure. Carmilla hissed in annoyance at being thwarted but made no effort to free herself and her hands remained on him as he pulled her back just enough to bare his fangs and growl at her.
There! Although she pulled her own lips back, Carmilla dropped her eyes submissively. So he was right. The victims were chosen to match those from the silver screen and the ankh for its symbolism of vampirism. It also explained why she killed so often, far more than necessary to survive, because everyone knew vampires were ruthless and loved the act of killing itself. The easy sexuality and idea that the male vampire was dominant finished off the common themes of current vampire lore.
"The excuse of expectation," Don whispered. He'd seen it before among his kind.
"That's why you've been killing so many, isn't it?"
Carmilla looked up at him in surprise. "You know-"
"That you're the Vampire Killer? Oh, yes, I've been following your work."
A lascivious smile spread across her face and her eyes lit up with bloodlust and cruelty. "Gorgeous, isn't it?"
"That's not the word I'd choose."
"More like perverted," Don explained, waiting just long enough for the realization to dawn before pulled his free hand out of his pocket and stabbed her with the stake he carried.
Carmilla shrieked once before she disintegrated into a pile of ash, partially covering Don in the process. He shook as much of it off himself as he could before he looked sadly towards the young girl's corpse. He itched to pull down her shirt and cover her or remove her so she didn't rest among the trash, but he knew he couldn't risk contaminating the scene anymore than he already had. As it was, there was a possibility the crime scene techs would find signs a third person had been present. Not that this would be like the other scenes, not with Carmilla's ashes.
Let the technicians and Charlie try and explain that away. Don laughed at the thought, completely unsympathetic to the consternation so much ash would undoubtedly cause, especially when the Vampire Killer failed to strike again. If he had to be buried in paperwork and faced with endless inquiries about his inability to locate and arrest the killer, then they could wrestle with this little conundrum.
Billy's shirt was slowly soaking in blood near the collar and his skin was paler than normal, but his eyes were open, albeit starring in stunned disbelief at the wooden weapon in Don's hand and the pile of ashes between them.
"What... what the hell did you just do?"
"I, uh, staked it."
Hehe, I made Don a vampire!
Sorry, I just love vampires and relished the opportunity this challenge provided.
As you may have guessed, Special Agent Gabby Hellar is named after Gabriel Van Hellsing (I couldn't resist). What you may not have known is that Carmilla is named after a female vampire who chose young female victims.
Although I'd originally only planned to have Donny be a vampire, Billy managed to worm his way in there as well and now both are attacking my muse incessantly. So don't be surprised if, after November, you find more Numb3rs vampire fic starring two of our favorite boys.
Have a fantastic Halloween everyone!
Please let me know what you think of this fic! Leave a review or end me an e-mail. Thanks.