Different Lives

Natalie pushed down her surgical mask with a sigh. She sadly pulled a sheet over the still form in front of her, mentally reviewing what she had learned from this latest unfortunate guest to the morgue. The latest "Slasher" victim had provided no more information than the previous three. All the victims were women, no longer young, living quiet, uneventful lives. Uneventful, that is, until a madman targeted them for death.

"I'm finished with this one, Grace. Has someone from the funeral home called about picking her up?"

"There's a note on your desk from Hayes Brothers about picking up the deceased. And Det. Knight called, asking if you had found anything."

Natalie smiled sadly. "No more than with the others. This murderer is about as familiar with forensic procedures as I am. I could swear he bathes them before he dumps them."

"I think he does." Natalie and Grace turned to the source of the unknown voice. Capt. Cohen was standing in the doorway flanked by a woman neither had seen before. The woman's crisp three piece suit and perfectly coifed golden hair made Natalie feel even more rumpled than she was. Her cold gray eyes examined Natalie with the detachment of a doctor examining a lab specimen. "And I suspect he has quite a bit of knowledge of, if not forensics, than at least police procedures. In each case, all traces of where the victim had been and who she had been with had been totally cleaned away."

"Dr. Lambert, may I present Special Agent Alice Morgan of the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Division. The Crown Prosecutor has agreed to allow her to observe our investigation."

"Why? Toronto isn't within the FBI's jurisdiction." Removing her lab coat, Natalie tried to fight back the unease she felt in this woman's presence. There was a stillness surrounding the woman, a coldness that reminded her unpleasantly of LaCroix.

"It seems your slasher has attacked women in several large cities in the U.S. as well as in Canada. It was determined that since our investigation was already quite developed, that it might speed up the process of his capture if we shared our information. We've been working on a profile of the killer ever since we became aware of the similarities in the cases. His pattern of movement suggests he will move his operation when the authorities here get too close. Or when he gets bored." Alice eyed the sheet covering the latest victim dispassionately. She gestured to a stack of files on the desk behind Grace. "Have you run a background check on all your victims?"

"We are in the process of doing that right now. Is there something we should know?" Capt. Cohen watched the FBI agent circumnavigate the table, lifting the sheet from the corpse to take in all the abuse that had been heaped upon the unfortunate woman before she had been killed.

"I think you'll find that she has a police record - one that involved children. Child abuse or child endangerment seems to have been the case most victims have been involved in. Two of the victims in Washington State were on parole for injuries to their children. One woman in New York had been involved in a drunken driving accident where she was responsible for the deaths of a father and his three year old son. The others had similar backgrounds. And one other point. - all the women were on parole."

"Sounds like our man is a vigilante, trying to extract justice where he thinks none existed before." Everyone in the room turned, startled by the sound of Nick's voice. He had walked in so quietly that no one had seen him until he spoke. No one except Agent Morgan, who examined him curiously, as though she could see something about him the others could not. "Hi, I'm Det. Nick Night. I didn't know we were going to have company on this investigation." He reached to shake hands with the silent agent, and then drew his hand back, confused. The woman's hand had been cold as ice and strong, far stronger than her physical appearance would have led him to believe. It had almost been like shaking hands with another vampire, yet he could hear a heartbeat, slow and muted, but definitely there. Something about this woman just wasn't right.

"Not company, just an informed observer. Part of an agreement of joint cooperation between our two federal law enforcement agencies. You will, of course, still be in charge of the investigation. I'm just here to kibitz." Alice flipped the sheet back over the body's face and motioned for the others to precede her out the door. She stopped just inside the entrance, allowing the others to exit ahead of her. As Knight walked out the door, she motioned him to one side. "By the way, Det. Knight, can I speak with you for a moment, privately. We need to work out how this joint effort will be organized. It won't take but a minute." Nick nodded motioning to Natalie not to wait for him. He eyed the American agent curiously.

"Is there something you need to tell me, Agent Morgan? Something not related to the case?"

Alice watched the far door close, making sure that no one was close enough to hear her, "Does the Toronto Police Dept. know that they have a vampire investigating a serial murderer?"

Nick stared at her, stunned "What are you talking about?'

"Just a question, Detective. No need for you to get nervous. I just find it interesting that you're a homicide detective. Isn't that likely to create some conflicts of interest?"

"You're mistaken." Nick concentrated, trying to use the force of his will to erase her knowledge. To his consternation, Alice just smiled and patted him on the shoulder.

"That won't work with me, Knight. I'm one of those people that just won't go under. Sorry!" Alice walked off, mildly amused at the consternation she had caused. "Serves him right. That boy has caused the community enough sleepless days with his pursuit of humanity. Kahn will laugh himself silly when I tell him about it." She fingered the ankh on her lapel, thinking fondly of her Egyptian friend, one of the oldest of the undead. He would find any discomfort felt by Nick Knight to be very well deserved, even though he had much sympathy for the young man. She thought back to the conversation she had with her old friend before leaving for Toronto.

FLASHBACK

"Any fledgling that has had Lucien for a master can't have had too many good experiences with the Dark Gift." Kanh had said, reading once again the information Alice had found for him after the Enforcers last meeting with Knight. "But he obviously has not thought the consequences of his actions through to their bitter end. I hope for his sake this is a passing thing, yet I fear his need for humanity may lead to his death, and the death of innocents. Even I, as old and powerful as I am, can not keep the Enforcers completely away from him forever."

"That's his problem, not yours. Or more precisely, that's Lucien's problem. " Alice had replied, settling on the divan opposite from him and wrinkling her nose. Her visits in his home tended to be short and to the point. Kahn preferred his rooms filled with incense and as much as she loved the scent, it had a tendency to make her sneeze. "Personally, I don't see the attraction to humanity. It's not as if human kind hasn't been equally as bloodthirsty for as little good reason as vampire kind has. Being human doesn't automatically absolve you from past sins, and it sure isn't a cure for future ones. I think he's forgotten what it is to be human, with all the emotions and impulses, good and bad, that go with that existence."

"You're probably right, my dear. But he must learn for himself. As I said before, he's not MY fledgling."

RETURN

It was just almost sunrise before Nick was able to share his disturbing conversation with Natalie.

"She WHAT!" Natalie stared at Nick in stunned disbelief.

"She knows what I am. Agent Morgan knows about the vampire community." Nick paced his loft anxiously, wishing he could risk a drink from the bottles in the refrigerator. "And, before you ask, no she's not a vampire either. She's not human but she's not a vampire."

"How can you tell she's not human?"

"Her heartbeat's wrong, and her body temperature is too low. I'm not sure what exactly she is, but it's not human. Which makes me wonder what exactly her agenda is – catching a mortal killer or a vampire."