Author's Note: I'M BAAAACK! hahaha and it feels so great! Welcome to my latest story, I'm so excited to share it with all of you. I hope you like it! I'm back at school now, so I most likely won't be able to do my usual daily chapter gig unfortunately. :( But once I start writing one of these fics I usually can't stop until it's done, so who knows! :D The chapters might just be a little shorter than usual, I haven't decided how I'm going to do this yet. Love you, read on friends!


I

"Hey, Ryan," Natalia greeted as she walked into the locker room.

Ryan didn't turn around or respond as she passed behind him, heading toward her own locker.

Natalia raised a quizzical eyebrow at her friend, taking a step toward him. She frowned when she saw his eyes were closed and he was massaging his temples with one hand. His face was pale and sweaty and his shoulders were slouched forward as if the weight of the world were on them.

She placed a hand on his shoulder. "Ryan?"

He jumped and looked at her, as if surprised to see her there. "Huh?"

"Are you okay?" she asked, her voice concerned.

He grinned and seemed to shake himself off. "I'm fine."

Natalia looked at him doubtfully. Usually her friend was a good liar, good at hiding his troubles from other people, but she could see right through him this time.

Ryan noticed that look in her eye, secretly both amused and a little annoyed at how easily she could read him sometimes.

"This case is just starting to get to me, that's all," he admitted.

"Yeah, you look a little pale," she remarked. "You feeling okay?"

He hesitated, then shrugged. "I'm just tired."

She reached a hand up to feel his forehead. He quickly recoiled from her touch.

"Natalia, I'm fine!" he cried, obviously attempting to laugh her off.

She wasn't amused. "You feel a little warm, Ryan," she said seriously.

"I'm just worked up about the case, that's all," he told her offhandedly, busying himself with gathering up his jacket and closing his locker back up.

She surveyed him for a few moments, but she knew pushing the matter would only drive him deeper into that damn shell of his. She returned to her own locker and started spinning the lock's numbers to form the combination.

"So how is the case?" she asked mildly. "I've been up to my eyeballs in DNA reports all day, I never really got a chance to ask you or Calleigh about it."

Ryan sighed. "We still haven't been able to pin the guy. All of our suspects are checking out. They all have some kind of alibi and they don't match the DNA we found on the two victims."

Natalia frowned. "You found the same DNA on two victims killed at different times? You thinking serial killer?"

Ryan leaned against his locker, his arms folded across his chest as he looked at her. "Kind of hard to say yet," he said quietly, his gaze drifting off into space, lost in thought. "But it's certainly turning out that way. Both of the victims were women, fairly young and prostitutes, killed within two weeks of each other. But there aren't any physical characteristics that are similar between them. The first was short and blonde, and the second was a tall Asian girl. Their only connection was their occupation."

"So your guy doesn't have a fixation with a certaintype of woman yet," Natalia remarked, digging her keys out of her purse.

Ryan shook his head. "Making his next move and victim even more unpredictable."

"And you found DNA on both victims?"

"Yeah," Ryan answered. "Perfect match, same guy had sex with both women right before they died. The worst part is he doesn't have a record. We even tried the national databases."

Natalia closed her locker with a clang. "Well, hang in there. You'll get him."

His hazel eyes were pained as he met her gaze. "It's been almost two weeks since the second victim. If he is a serial, he'll start to accelerate, meaning there could be a new victim on the table any day now, if he hasn't killed her already."

Natalia smiled at him kindly. "You'll drive yourself crazy thinking like that. All you can do is start again tomorrow."

He sighed again, coughing slightly into his sleeve. "I know, I just hate to think that this guy is out there, that's all."

They stood quietly for a moment. Natalia knew there were no words of comfort or encouragement she could offer that would make him feelbetter. She worried about Ryan sometimes. Usually he was completely steadfast on a case, as if nothing could bother him. But once in a while he got that look in his eye, the look that meant he was taking something to heart and was, despite his professionalism, still deeply affected sometimes. It happened to everybody on the job, but Ryan was the kind of person who kept his feelings bottled up inside until they ate away at him. Natalia hated to see him suffer in silence like that.

"You heading out?" he asked her, breaking the comfortable silence.

She smiled. "Yup. I would ask you if you want to go for a drink or a milkshake or something, but you look like you should just go straight to bed."

He chuckled. "That's right, you're off tomorrow, aren't you?"

She smiled even wider. "Oh yeah, I can't wait."

"Plans?"

"Oh, I don't know," she said playfully. "Thought maybe I'd go out on the town, get hammered, hook up with a couple random guys... You know, the usual."

"So... sleep in, catch up on soaps, get takeout for dinner and rent a movie?"

She laughed. "Yeah."

-()-

Simon Clovis sat in the front seat of his beat-up Toyota, chewing his fingernails down to nubs. His hands shook as he gnawed on them even after there were no longer any nails left to bite. Blood oozed forth from a few of his nailbeds, having broken the skin in a few places. He ignored the angry sting of exposed pink skin where he had peeled it off.

His watery blue eyes were wide and bloodshot. He hadn't slept in nearly three days. His breath hitched in his chest as if he were drowning. Tears quivered at the edges of his eyes, precariously close to spilling over down his unshaven face.

He didn't want to do this.

And yet he had to do this.

A few speckles of raindrops started musically splattering onto his dirty windshield. He scanned the darkness, half-illuminated by the yellow streetlights. Finally he saw her.

He put his car in gear and pulled up to the curb slowly, rolling down the passenger side window. The young woman regarded him for a moment, and then came up to door. She leaned in halfway through the window, pushing out her chest seductively. Her face was exhausted and caked with thick makeup and grime. She had long, curly brown hair that looked as if it hadn't been combed in at least a week.

She looked at him under darkly shadowed eyes. "You lookin' for a date, sugar?" she purred.

Simon swallowed thickly and nodded, his whole body quivering ferociously.

"It's three hundred a turn, five hundred a night," she murmured to him, slowly stroking a stray lock of hair from her face and looking at him sidelong.

Simon nodded again and unlocked the door.

The young woman climbed into his car and closed the door. Simon quickly pulled away from the curb and sped off into the night.

The girl lay a silky hand on his leg, softly stroking his thigh. Her touch sent a carnal shudder of desire shooting up his spine, tingling every last nerve in his body.

She belonged to him now, or at least she would very soon. Maybe she would finally be the one to quench his thirst.

The first two had failed. They had proved less than satisfactory.

His hunger had once again reached an unbearable peak and only this could make it stop, at least for a little while. He hoped this girl would find a way to satisfy his uncontrollable desire.

He hoped she would succeed, because he didn't want to have to kill her too.


Author's Note: So there you have it! Another start to another story :D. PLEASE REVIEW! I'm so nuts about them, it's ridiculous. They really do inspire me to write more and faster, so if you want more, tell me so! :P The massive ego boost I get from them doesn't hurt either lol. Hope you enjoyed, more to come ASAP!