Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Notes: The characters are not mine and this short piece is. Inspiration came from the 30 Losses prompt A life of lies; Sodium Pentothal, as well as from the episode Horror in the Heights. I certainly do not dispute that Carl trusts Miss Emily; it's apparent from the episodes that he does. But it's also apparent from the episodes, as well as from The Night Strangler, that there is someone else he trusts too. And I think it's about time that he realizes he needs to appreciate that person more. Thanks to Kaze for the hilarious idea of what Kolchak says to Tony at the end!
For someone who had lived a life of lying—sometimes to stay alive, sometimes to help others do so—it was often hard to separate the truth from the falsehoods.
Along with the lies came a distrust of people—all people, no matter who they were. They had cheated and betrayed and used him to get ahead in their own ventures. And he had determined that he was the only person he could rely on.
The Rakshasa had shown him that in spite of his cynicism, he trusted Miss Emily. It had been somewhat of a surprise to him at first, but he had settled into the idea with thoughtful consideration. If he were going to trust anyone, it made sense for it to be the sweet Miss Emily, who often felt like his only friend at the news service.
And yet, she was not the only one. Nor was she the only one he trusted. He had pondered long and hard about it over the days since that experience and had arrived at the only conclusion he could. He had known it deep down for ages but had not consciously thought or said it.
He trusted Tony Vincenzo.
During the early days of their association, in Las Vegas, he would not have ever imagined it. They had been at each other's throats during the majority of the vampire case, their first exposure to a supernatural mystery. Perhaps neither of them had known quite what to make of such a thing and it had come out partially as antagonism towards each other. But their interaction had rarely been pleasant before that, either. Their personalities had badly clashed from day one.
And yet, when Tony had found him in that Seattle bar a year later, down-and-out and discouraged, he had been softhearted and offered him a job again. And as for Kolchak, well, he remembered greeting Tony cheerily, despite their slew of problems in Vegas.
They had still argued, of course. And they argued now, in Chicago. But something had changed. They had grown closer through those years. And the more Kolchak thought about it, the more he came to another realization.
Tony had tried to come through for him many times. Kolchak had not always recognized or appreciated it because of his stress and frustration and discouragement over his stories often being repressed. In Seattle Tony had called him ungrateful, and perhaps to some extent it had been true.
Tony never liked when Kolchak brought him a story involving bizarre creatures formerly of legend; the majority of the time he did not print them or they were pulled by someone in higher authority if they were printed.
In Seattle, however, he had printed more than one of Kolchak's stories, even the ones showing the more paranormal side of the Pioneer Square murders. He had also tried to print the big one that revealed everything. It had been their boss who had pulled it, not Tony.
And Tony had never left Kolchak in jail, the times he ended up there. Even in the middle of the night, wearing a robe and slippers, Tony came to get him out.
He had shown concern for Kolchak's well-being whenever he knew Kolchak was in trouble or not feeling well. Even if his way of showing it was sometimes to blow up and scream and rant that Kolchak was going to get himself killed and no, he wasn't worried at all; he had the newspaper to worry about and didn't have time to worry about Kolchak too. He was really wearing his heart on his sleeve. Kolchak knew that, and probably so did anyone else who heard his outbursts.
There were many times when Kolchak wandered into Tony's office to talk with him about the cases. Sometimes he would stretch out on the couch to wait for him or perch on the edge of the desk as they talked. He did not feel that relaxed and comfortable with anyone else.
Kolchak leaned back on the couch in the darkened room, gazing at the ceiling. It was strange; part of him was still having trouble wrapping his mind around it. But the truth had been staring him in the face. Not only did he trust Tony—they were odd, yet tried and true, friends.
The door opened, shining some light into the room. He glanced up as Tony entered, shutting the door behind him. The editor stiffened, not having expected the late-night visitor.
"What is it now, Carl?" he sighed. "Let me guess—you've got a story on flesh-eating ghouls."
Kolchak shook his head. "Nope," he said, his tone grand.
"Birds attacking people." Tony walked to his desk, weary and not in the mood for whatever Kolchak wanted to discuss. He had only come back to get something he had forgotten. He was more than anxious to get home and not deal with the news service until morning.
"Have you been watching classic horror films again?" Kolchak asked in all innocence.
"Again? After the stuff you bring back, why would I ever need to? Or want to, for that matter."
"True, very true," Kolchak mused.
Tony slammed a file folder into the desk in frustration. "Kolchak, can we just get to the point?" he exclaimed.
"Of course, of course." Kolchak stood, waving his hands at Tony in a vain attempt to calm him down. He paused, staring thoughtfully at the other man. "Tony, do you know what you are?"
"Yeah," Tony retorted. "I'm going to be very angry in a few seconds if you don't stop doing the cha-cha around the bush and tell me what you're doing in here!"
Kolchak was unfazed. "You are a teddy bear!" he proclaimed, pointing at Tony in emphasis.
Tony was dumbfounded. "I'm a what?"He could only stare at Kolchak in stunned shock as he started to stand up straight. "Kolchak, what did you just call me?" he gaped.
"A teddy bear," Kolchak repeated. He reached to straighten Tony's vest. "And you're an old, grouchy dog. But your bark is far worse than your bite." He turned to stroll to the door, waving to Tony. "I'll be back bright and early tomorrow morning!"
Tony gawked after the reporter. "But . . . Kolchak, what do bears and dogs have to do with . . . ?" He trailed off, slowly sinking into the chair. "I'll never understand him," he muttered. "Never."
He glanced up again, staring at the open doorway, and then shook his head.