Disclaimer: I own only the original characters. All the really good ones belong to Joss & Co, TNT, and Tess Gerritsen, damn it.
A/N: Special thanks to Xanthe for creating the Dom/sub universe. I've borrowed liberally for this. If you aren't familiar with Xanthe… Every person is born a Dominant, submissive, or switch. That means the vanilla world is pretty much missing. In this society, it is common for submissives to be collared, sexually teased, or punished in public – and in the workplace.
A/N2: To make this even more complicated, the premise behind this story is an amalgam of fic requests from the Glee_Kink_Meme (without any of the Glee). For this fic, keep in mind that everyone has a soul mate picked by Fate and with whom they share a telepathic and empathic bond. This bond can be broken with traumatic results. Those whose bond is broken are known as the Forsaken.
Eyes burning with exhaustion, Cat peered at the white board at the front of the conference room. They were missing something. They had to be. Five glossy pictures; five victims. All from different sections of the city. All different ages, races, genders... To give her mind a break, Cat leaned her head back and focused on the quiet - yet intense - discussion going on across the table. It was probably supposed to be private, but voices carried in the nearly empty room this late at night.
"You're kidding me, right, Frankie? Ma?" Detective Rizzoli's voice rose in disbelief.
Her brother, Officer Francesco Rizzoli, was a little more restrained. Cat actually had to work at making out his reply. "I'm tellin' you, Janie. Ma's seeing someone. Did you look at her this morning? Lipstick. She had on lipstick. And she was wearing a new dress."
For the first time in what felt like years, Cat had to fight a smile. She needed to check out Ma Rizzoli. Jane Rizzoli was one of the best detectives she'd ever worked with. It would be interesting to see if Jane had overlooked some sign of love in the air that the brash and impetuous Frankie had noticed. Cat sat up and looked at the cluttered conference table. Files, more files, legal pads, stale coffee in Styrofoam cups, and who-knew-how-old pizza. Score. She snagged a piece, ignoring the congealed grease and questionable topping selection (was that pineapple?) and took a bite. At least she wouldn't be tired and hungry. The only thing that could make the night better was more coffee. Good coffee, not the crap they'd been drinking from the machine down the hall.
"Doing a coffee run," she announced, interrupting the ongoing argument over Ma Rizzoli's dating status. "Want anything?"
Both Rizzolis looked up. "I'm good." Jane grimaced. "Well, I could mainline caffeine right now, but Maura's been on a health kick lately. Only herbal tea."
"And the fifteen empty cups over there," Frankie pointed at the cups on the far end of the table, "all belong to Korsak. Right." He rolled his eyes. "You might want to clean that up before Maura sees them. If I can tell you're lyin', I'd hate to be you when she shows up." His grin was malicious for an instant before snapping back to his usually goofy expression. "Biggest white chocolate mocha they have, with as much whipped cream and sprinkles as possible." He dug in his pocket for his wallet, but Cat waved him off.
"You get the next round." At the rate this case was going, they'd have plenty of time to pay each other back dozens of times over. Sliding her arms into her leather jacket, Cat hurried from the room. Movement was necessary. She'd been sitting in this one room since noon. A little of her exhaustion faded with the exertion, and the frigid air helped. She shrugged a little deeper into the warmth of the jacket and listened to the snow crunch under her boots. The all-night coffee shop was a couple of blocks away. Cat enjoyed being alone. The task force was full of good cops, good people. But Cat was a loner, and their constant chatter and the reminder of what they had - and what she didn't - took its toll.
Unfortunately, the trip was too short to really help much. Cat saw the bright lights of the coffee shop ahead. As she dodged another couple of late night walkers, huddled close and faces obscured in shadow, Cat overhear one of them say, "I keep telling you, sweetie, life would be a simpler if you..." The soft voice floated on the cold air as the pair continued down the sidewalk.
Cat chuckled. That was a Dominant, despite the gentle teasing and soft tone. The poor sub was definitely getting a lecture. She reached for the door handle right as a sudden wave of vertigo hit. Her foot slipped in the slushy snow and ice in the doorway, and the night spun crazily. Cat flushed hot then shivered. The pizza from the conference room threatened to make a reappearance. "What the fuck!" She kept her feet by sheer will, hanging onto the door until her balance returned. When Cat thought it was safe to move again, she pushed weakly until the door came open and she stumbled into the warm shop.
She must be more tired than she'd thought. She'd nearly face planted on the sidewalk. Wouldn't that be something to explain to the paramedics? Not to mention Doc Blaylock would have a field day if it ever got back to him. She'd be stuck with individual and group sessions every day, not just the once a month minimum she got away with now. That would be a fate worse than death.
By the time, Cat stepped back out of the coffee shop with her cardboard carrier of coffee, the last of the dizziness had faded. All that was left was an odd pressure behind her eyes and a static-y buzz in her head. Considering she'd been working for over sixteen hours, she was in fabulous health.
She didn't linger during the return trip. Maybe the coffee run had been enough to give her a new perspective on old evidence. Cat didn't really believe that; it just sounded good.
Voices spilled out of the conference room when she reentered the bullpen. "We consulted with two detectives, Slayer detectives. Why did your Council decide to send you?" Jane sounded defensive. No cop liked a federal agency stepping in, and the Slayers' Council was the worst of the bunch. Secretive. Convinced of its superiority. If the Council had sent in heavy hitters, their case had been hijacked.
Cat shifted her grip on the cardboard holder. She'd say her hellos, drop off the coffee, and head home for a couple of hours. The mystical muscleheads could take over the research. She was tired, and she really didn't feel up to the inevitable posturing. Her skin suddenly tingled, like she'd touched a live electrical circuit.
"Don't go gettin' your gunbelt in a twist," a new voice answered Jane.
That voice. Oh, God. Cat knew that voice. She'd heard it every night, shared whispered secrets and dreams with it. Tears filled her eyes in direct contrast to the surge of excitement that sent her bounding for the doorway.
Faith. Her mind reached out, needing to feel Faith for the first time in fifteen years. She couldn't get to the conference room fast enough. In fact, everyone looked at Cat with varying degrees of amusement or shock as she burst through the door and skidded to a halt.
She had to be the well-built brunette. Faith the Slayer. Cat shivered and licked her lips. Wow. Just... wow. She wanted to say something suave or funny. But her mind was blank.
There was nothing in her head. No thoughts. Not hers. Not Faith's. Just a terrible, echoing silence. The same silence Cat had heard and railed against for nearly half her life.
"You didn't have to run back. Frankie would've survived another ten minutes without his chocolate and sugar fix," Jane said. The humor was muted by the searching look she gave Cat. It was a look that indicated she knew something was wrong, and she was determined to figure out what.
That could never happen. If Jane knew, she'd have to report it. And Cat would lose what little happiness she'd managed to carve out of life. Although, staring at Faith, trying to come to terms with the fact that Faith clearly didn't know her, didn't remember their bond... "You really think I'd put myself out there for your brother?" Surprisingly, Cat's voice sounded completely normal instead of strangled by the spinning ball of razor blades in her throat. "Come on, Rizzoli. I ran because it's fucking freezing out there."
As Cat moved closer to the table, she was aware of being two very separate emotional entities.
On the surface, she was Detective Cat McClearen. A competent if sarcastic member of the Boston Blood Sucker Taskforce. A cop worn around the edges from too many late nights and too many years alone. Deep inside, Cat was also an older version of the twelve-year old girl she'd once been, screaming and begging for her bondmate to come back. To forgive her for whatever she'd done to send her away. The girl who'd spent a year hospitalized and on suicide watch.
Detective Cat set the coffee on the table and held out a hand to Faith. "Cat McClearen, detective from C6. I'm on loan for the taskforce."
Oops. Maybe Cat wasn't as functional as she'd thought. Faith's eyes widened slightly and flickered toward the woman standing next to her. Out of the corner of her eye, Cat saw Jane stiffen. And that's when Cat noticed the delicate platinum collar around Faith's neck. Cat dropped her hand and heard Young Cat sobbing in her head. Pivoting slowly, Cat dropped her head and eyes in a show of submission. "My apologies, Ma'am," she murmured to Faith's Dominant. "I meant no disrespect." With her eyes down, she could better see the matching platinum Dominant marker on the woman's left wrist.
Faith was a sub? That didn't make sense. Cat was a sub, and two subs never formed a bond. What if this wasn't her Faith? Had the break in their bond done this? Turned Faith into something she wasn't supposed to be? Cat's thoughts ping ponged wildly.
Cat wanted to look up. To examine Faith more closely. To find answers. She didn't, though. One breach of protocol, nearly touching a collared submissive without permission, was enough for tonight.
"It's very nice to meet you, Detective McClearen." Faith's Dominant moved closer. "I'm Tara Maclay." Cat watched the Domme's feet, clad in clunky combat boots, and the hems of her bell-bottomed jeans. She could feel the weight of Tara's stare and forced herself not to shift anxiously.
As an unbonded sub, Cat was subject to judicial punishment from the Department's Discipline Officer. One word from the other woman – or anyone in the room… Cat made like a statue.
The boots stayed planted in Cat's line of sight only for a moment before walking away. "Show us the evidence you have so far, Detective. Faith and I aren't used to working with traditional law enforcement. Faith's more of a specialist for the Council."
Cat waited for Jane, the lead detective on the case, to step in.
"Detective McClearen?" Gentle laughter edged Tara's voice. "It's OK to move. It's going to be hard to show the evidence from over there."
Very slowly, just in case she had misunderstood, Cat relaxed her posture and looked up. Tara stood in front of the whiteboard watching Cat with a half-smile. Fine. She was fine. "I can give you the basics," she said. "But Jane's your best bet for information. She's been working the case from the beginning." When Tara didn't look away, Cat understood. Tara wanted Cat to provide the information. "There are five victims," she continued at Tara's unspoken order.
"Rachel Morton. White, thirty years old. Killed October 31 and left in Hatch Shell." Letting the familiarity of the case wash over her, Cat relayed all of the relevant information and finished with the same thought she'd had earlier. "We're missing something; I just can't figure out what."
"Huh." One little grunt from Faith made the hairs on Cat's arms stand up.
She shivered convulsively and tried to disguise it by finally wresting the coffee cups from the holder. The heat burned her hands and helped to ground her a little.
"Me and T are gonna need to see the crime scenes." Faith wandered up to the board and peered at the photos. "Slayers and witches can see things you might miss. Maybe what you're missin' is the fact the perp's a demon."
Jane snorted. "I may not be as special as you, but even I know demons and vampires come out at night. Maura is sure at least two of the victims were killed during daylight hours." Cat didn't need to glance in Jane's direction to know she was glaring at Faith. "There's nothing that says we need help from the Slayers' Council."
Faith and Tara shared an amused glance. "Please, Detective," Tara said. "I know you don't like what you think is interference, but we're here to help. Not take over. Sometimes we just provide a new perspective." Tara was very pretty, Cat thought, when she smiled. "And we're used to boring research. All of you look like you've been here for days. We'd be more than happy to look through the case file while you get some rest. Wouldn't we, Faith?"
It was clear Faith did not agree. However, she was well trained. Her lips twisted in a poor approximation of a smile. "Right."
A mini standoff started. Jane dropped into a chair and crossed her arms. She didn't quite glare at Tara. She was smarter than that. Locking eyes with a Dominant, even if they weren't your Dominant, was a bad idea
For her part, Tara didn't push for Jane's agreement. She simply picked up a couple of files and gave one to Faith, who sighed and dropped into a cross-legged pose on the floor. Tara took the chair next to Faith.
When Faith's head tilted to lean against Tara's knee, Cat knew she had to leave. She had to leave right now. Her chest ached. There was a growing hollow spot where her heart had once been. Her bonded Dominant sat on the floor in submission to someone else. Her Faith. The husky, teasing voice that had warded off loneliness and fear when she was eight. The solid presence that had been with Cat every step of the way for four years.
If she didn't leave, Cat was afraid of what might happen. Unreasoning hatred for Tara swelled until it choked her. And on its heels was desolation so deep, her hands ached to pull her gun from its holster and turn it on herself.
"I'll see you in the morning." Ostensibly, Cat directed her words to Tara, the only Dominant in the room. She didn't want to address Tara, though. Never Tara. Cat spoke to Jane as the lead detective on the case.
Jane shook her head. "Come on, Cat. We can't just leave them here." She didn't clarify if that was because she thought they should help Tara and Faith or if she simply didn't trust them with the evidence.
Whatever the truth, Cat didn't care. "I'm tired. It's late. Maybe Tara's right. Maybe we do need new eyes." Without another word, Cat spun on her heel and hurried from the room.