A/N: Well, here I am again. I apologize for my disappearance, but my life got so complicated that I finally had to put everything down and do only what was directly in front of me. Now I hope all that is behind me and I can play again. This is a Halloween story I wanted to write in response to last year's challenge on the Live Journal Don Hurt/Comfort page (What: Magic, Where: Graveyard) and I was determined to get it on paper for this year. I was equally determined not to post until it was finished, so that I could break my streak of leaving things unfinished. So now that this one is done, I will finish Ice and Carousel and hopefully a whole lot more. In fact, while I was writing this I realized that each one I had written so far included Don with one of the other characters: Don and Nikki, Don and Billy, and in this one, Don and Colby. I decided to try and answer each challenge pairing Don with another one of the regular characters until I cover them all.
This was supposed to post in three parts (Halloween, All Souls Day, and All Saints Day) but the final part got so long that it will now post in four.
Things that Go Bump in the Night
Colby groaned. "You gotta be kidding. Here? Really? Tonight? What is it with you and your hunches?"
Don's eyes swept the area outside the car window, one hand releasing his seatbelt, the other on his gun butt. "Not superstitious are you, Colb?"
Colby made a face, releasing his own door. "I'm just wondering why they never lead any place nice - like a sauna or a strip club or something."
Don smirked, keeping his voice low. "Hey, I don't choose 'em, I just follow 'em. See anything?"
Colby grunted, pushing the car door shut behind him. "Just a lot of dark and a whole string of tombstones."
"Yeah, well, this has worked out for me before. You wouldn't believe how many murderers can't stay away. Just gotta come back and reconnect with the victim."
"Hard to see how that would work out. Considering the victim is dead and all."
"I never said it made sense." Don jerked his head toward the gate arching in front of them. "Why don't you go that way? There's a gate on the west side - I'll come in that way."
"Aren't these places supposed to be locked or guarded or something after dark?"
Don adjusted his comlink. "Only by the spirits of the dead," he intoned solemnly.
Colby frowned. "That's not so funny."
Don grinned. "Come on - only difference between now and daytime is that it's dark."
"And it's Halloween. It's just - kind of creepy." Don gave him a look and he lifted his hands in surrender. "I'm just sayin'."
"Yeah, well, keep your eyes open for the regular kind of creep. The kind that can shoot you."
Colby nodded, wrinkling his forehead at the arch.
Don slapped his shoulder. "Hey, if you run into any ghostly spirits, just show'em your badge."
Colby scowled, unholstering his gun. "Even less funny."
Don gave him a thumb's up then pushed his shoulder into the brick wall towering above them, using it as a combination guide and cover. The wall tossed an inky shadow, but it looked prosaically normal and static. He chuckled silently, remembering Colby. Who'd 'ave thought? He'd have to see if he couldn't get a conversation on the topic started between Colby and Charlie - that was bound to be entertaining.
Something rustled and he brought his attention back to the task at hand: he was almost to the west gate. He pulled out a small penlight and a fold of paper and traced the route to the grave he had marked. Maybe this would turn out to be a wild goose chase, but something gut-deep told him he was on the right track. He doused the penlight and tucked it back in his pocket, flattened himself against the wall and peered through the gate, orienting himself. There was a breath of wind and a faint whisp of mist hovered over the ground, but otherwise nothing seemed to stir inside. Security lights pockmarked the darkness, allowing sporadic visibility.
Nobody here but us dead guys. He smiled to himself. Colby would find that even less funny. He'd have to remember to tell him. He slid silently around the gate, keeping the wall at his back. A thin sliver of moon, alternately hidden and revealed by the scutting clouds, cast a moment's glow on the path at his feet before disappearing again. He reviewed the map in his mind and nodded. Yeah - this should do it. He took a few measured steps, gun at the ready. The comlink in his ear hummed, uninterrupted by any input from Colby. It almost seemed as if he was alone here.
Almost. Under the trees ahead he thought he caught a flicker of movement and he twisted toward the motion. Could be the wind in the mist, but…the moon peeked out again and he could see more clearly - almost preternaturally clearly - the slender figure of what looked to be a young woman. She turned in his direction as though picking him out of the darkness, her face a white oval in the moonlight. She was casually clad in jeans and tall suede boots, red braids swinging around her shoulders.
Oh, great. A college student, probably, here on some kind of goofy Halloween stunt. Just what he needed if there really was a dangerous felon visiting a grave here tonight. He lifted a hand to catch her attention, shining the penlight briefly on his badge, though he knew it probably wasn't visible from this distance, then turning slightly to show her the large white letters blazoned on his windbreaker, gesturing her to come closer. She must have seen him, because she stood poised for a lingering moment…then broke into a run.
He groaned inwardly. Oh, man - don't do that…he had been hoping to clean this up fairly early and make his way home, where Robin had promised to be waiting with both trick and treat. But his feet were already moving after her, flashlight re-stowed and wrist at his lips. "Colby, there's a civilian here, headed your way - female, about twenty, five foot five, maybe hundred fifteen pounds, red hair, blue jeans. No sign of Grabowski, but she could be with him. Keep your eyes out - " The ground softened and sank under his boot toe and he jerked to an abrupt halt, almost toppling backward, digging in his heels; looked down at his feet. It took him a second, but he could just make out in the blackness of the grass an even blacker rectangle, like a gaping maw, stretching out in front of him. He caught a breath, glanced around at the surrounding grounds and now could distinguish another crouching lump of blackness off to the left - what had to be a mound of earth.
He whistled softly. Man, that was close, heard Colby's voice in his ear and turned away from the hole at his feet and lifted his wrist to answer.
Maybe he should tell Colby to watch out for open graves. Didn't need them both taking a six-foot dirt - his lips parted to speak, but he was interrupted by a whistle of air in his left ear and he automatically turned his head in that direction. Something hard and cold and metallic-tasting slammed flat against his face, tossing him backward and into the air. He tasted blood, reached out to grope helplessly at nothingness, and then the earth was there.
It was like being rammed full-length against an iron door - and he knew what that felt like - a bruising, bone-rattling force that scattered sparks across his vision and started a low, dull ringing in his ears. Underneath the ringing he thought he could make out Colby's voice, tried to spit out some of the blood filling his mouth and answer.
Something solid hammered him in the chest, spraying dirt. What the - ? He pawed at it, let go to fling an arm over his face as something else drove into his shoulder. Wait a minute, wait a minute, what was…? His stomach chilled and rose into this throat, something very like panic fluttering through his veins. This had to be a dream - some kind of a crazy, Halloween dream - somebody couldn't actually be trying to bury him alive…? He brushed at his wrist mike, trying to get it near his mouth.
Another clod exploded near his head and he rolled onto his stomach, tried to push himself up. A new clump smashed him mid-back and he was flat again, on his face, breathing dirt. Heart palpitating wildly, he got an elbow under him, then a palm, nearly made it to his knees. The next hunk struck him viciously in the cheekbone, a direct hit on the swelling wound left by the first blow. The ringing in his ears blasted loud as carillon bells, the sparks behind his eyes loomed huge and hot and white…then blinked out all together.