"What did Alina say?" The woman wanted to know.
Cat didn't answer right away. Instead, she casually examined the room. It wasn't a playroom. There were no shackles on the walls. No chains hanging from the ceiling. There were only the two metal tables. Shifting so that her left knee was propped against Sam's side, Cat shrugged. "Not much. She wasn't happy." With a lifted eyebrow, she asked, "Did you think she would be?"
She received a scowl in response. "How were we supposed to know you weren't working with the Slayer?"
"I guess you couldn't." Cat needed to keep the woman talking. Using her knee as camouflage, she searched for a way to unlock the band around Sam's arm. "I was there. Vampires died. I suppose I might have thought the same thing." She noticed the woman relax. "Did you call in before coming after me?" Cat didn't care if the woman and her companions had followed protocol before abducting her. She simply needed to know if anyone else knew they were here.
"Of course!" One of the men spoke up. "We wouldn't do anything without approval. Our sponsor was here earlier."
The other female voice. Cat couldn't believe she'd forgotten the loud, angry voice. From that conversation, Cat didn't believe the man's assertion that the other woman had approved. His sponsor had been pissed about their decision. She filed that away in case she could use it as leverage later.
As she sat on the table, desperate for a way to escape, Cat regretted putting on her jacket. It was suddenly stifling in the room. Her sweat-slick fingers slipped and slid over the metal cuff. She couldn't risk looking at the restraint. "Maybe she and Alina can figure out what to do with the kid here. While we wait, you mind finally telling me who you are?"
"Garrett." He'd been quiet until now. Tall, reed-thin, John Lennon glasses. He certainly couldn't be the brawn in the operation.
Cat nodded at him then turned her attention to the other human man. "You?" She wasn't surprised by his defiant glare. He'd been less than cooperative from the beginning of her charade.
When he refused to answer, however, Cat decided she'd had enough. "Listen, asshole. I've had enough of your crap. I finally manage to get some tiny speck of my life in order; I'm planning to get rid of the bitch who collared the woman I used to love – and you and your crew interfere. I don't care if you don't like me or if you'd rather strap me down and kill me. I asked you a fucking question. Answer me before I beat the information out of you."
The threat was complete bluster. However, it earned Cat a sullen, "Franklin," from the other man.
"Is it some weird Legion thing to use formal names?" Cat asked the question she'd had at the advanced session. "Because I haven't been Catherine for a long time, and I've got no plans to give it a second try." She prayed her comment hid the click of the cuff around Sam's arm releasing. Now what? How could she unlock the rest of the cuffs?
Garret chuckled. "If you've got Alina answering your calls, it won't matter."
Cat slid off the table and removed her jacket. It helped with the heat, and it just might provide cover for Sam to help with the cuffs if she woke up. "I can pick one, huh?" Tossing the jacket over Sam's upper torso, she wandered to the end of the table and leaned against it. Her hands immediately went to the cuff on Sam's right ankle. "Something with a historical angle…" The cuff opened. Cat had a future in lock picking. "What about you?" She turned to the woman as the other leg cuff released.
"Linda." The woman obligingly waved at the two vampires. "Seamus and Jack."
It wasn't clear which of the vampires was which. Cat didn't really care. The humans she could arrest. Eventually. Once Jane and the taskforce arrived. The vampires needed to be dead. Two less demons for Sam and the Boston Slayers to fight. "I'd like to say it was nice to meet you..."
Cat's constant chatter had broken the ice enough for Linda and Garrett to smile briefly.
Using that connection, Cat pressed for information. "So what do you do when you aren't tracking practicing your kidnapping skills? You all know I'm a Vice cop. I spend my nights in my best hooker-wear, arresting fat businessmen looking for a good time." It was tough not to reach her gun when Franklin's eyes slid over her body, pausing at her chest.
"I work here," Garrett volunteered. "I'm a lab tech."
"You like it?" Cat prodded for more details carefully. Lab tech. Metal tables. This wasn't the medical examiner's office. A morgue? At which hospital? Or... she scanned the room again. The equipment was new and up to date. Private lab?
Before Garrett could offer more, footsteps sounded outside the door. Cat tensed. The door swung open and the man who'd hosted the advanced session Cat had attended burst into the room. Two women followed him. One Cat didn't recognize. The other...
Cat's gun cleared her holster before Carrie could say a word. "Everybody freeze! Put your hands in the air now!" The shouted command was barely out of her mouth when Cat heard metal tearing and Sam dove past her. She and Seamus (or Jack) collided inches in front of Cat's outstretched arms.
The fight was fast and brutal. Cat glanced back and forth between the humans standing statue still and the twisting, writhing bodies. The second vampire had joined the fray. Her gun dipped and wavered momentarily as Sam tossed one of her opponents across the room into the wall. Tiles broke and pieces rained to the floor with delicate plinking sounds.
Her inattention allowed Franklin the chance to move. He hurtled the table that had held Sam and headed straight for Cat. Cat didn't waste time worrying about facing Internal Affairs. She fired two shots into his chest and watched as he dropped to the floor. The shots echoed in through the room and coincided with Linda's scream and grunts of effort and pain from Sam and the vampires she still fought. Cat ignored the sound effects. Her attention stayed on the people plotting her certain death. "Like I said, freeze and put your hands in the air. Or do you want to end up like Franklin?"
Slowly and grudgingly, hands filled the air.
Cat relaxed slightly. She had a perfect line of sight in case anyone else decided to be a hero. The only remaining concern was the vampires. Glancing to her right, Cat saw Sam pressed against the far wall with her hands locked locked around one of the vampire's wrists. He held a dagger over her chest and it moved slowly closer to Sam despite her best efforts.
They were so close together. Cat hesitated. If she missed or the bullet went through her target...
The knife hovered against Sam's T-shirt.
Aiming for the vampire's back, Cat fired another shot and the vampire staggered. Sam shoved him away. Or, she tried to. Cat watched, transfixed, as the vampire managed to maintain his position despite the bullet wound and Sam's attempt to move him. The knife moved in a blur that ended with Sam's pained cry and a fountain of blood. The hilt protruded from the younger girl's chest as she toppled bonelessly to the floor.
Rage eclipsed Cat's training. She fired at the vampire again, not caring that she couldn't kill him. He grinned at her even as a hole appeared on his shirt and blood stained the sleeve of his jacket.
Fine. If she couldn't take him out of the equation... Cat's aim swung to the humans in the room. She was going to die. It was a given. Cat pulled the trigger, feeling the familiar recoil. Once. Twice.
The third shot went wide as a vampire tackled Cat to the floor. Hard hands wrenched the gun away and slid it across the floor. Rolling Cat onto her back, he straddled her hips and pinned her hands to the floor on either side of her head. "I don't care what the Master says. You're mine now," the unwounded vampire lisped. This close, Cat noticed the yellowed staining on his fangs and a series of scars tracing along his neck and face.
No matter how hard Cat pulled against his grip, she couldn't get loose. He was too strong.
His head lowered slowly. He was taunting her, daring her to attempt an escape he knew was impossible. Writhing and twisting didn't work. Cat bucked her hips. Her feet scrabbled for purchase on the slick tile. Nothing worked, and the vampire closed the final gap. His fangs scraped Cat's neck, breaking the skin.
"Bastard!" Panting and shaking, Cat suffered the indignity of his tongue licking at the blood leaking from the scrapes on her neck. "You need to work on your technique, pal. Licking? Really? If you want me all hot and bothered, slobbering on me isn't the best choice."
He reared back for an instant. "In another minute, you won't care."
Cat didn't have the chance to respond. The vampire stopped playing with her. His head dove for her neck and twin pricks of pain erupted in her neck. "No!" She meant to scream her refusal to die, her refusal to allow the vampire to continue. It came out as a breathy whisper. No. Her mental voice was still strong. Get off me! Unfortunately, the vampire couldn't hear those inner protests.
Each time the vampire swallowed, Cat grew weaker. Colder. And so very tired. Her eyes drifted closed. She was vaguely aware of voices. Of movement in the room. She just couldn't find the energy to care.
It was over. She'd failed. I love you, Faith. I'll always love you. Cat relaxed into memories of happier times.
"When I grow up, I want to be a police officer," Cat confided to Faith. She was supposed to be doing homework but the lure of television had proved too strong. "I can be just like Lilly Rush."
There was a twinge of unease through their link. "Little cat," Faith started.
Not this time. Voice growing stubborn, Cat interrupted. "Why don't you want me to be a cop, Faith? I can feel it. You don't like cops. Why? If I want to be a police officer, will you get mad and punish me?"
"I'll love you no matter what you are, little cat..."
"Cat! Cat? Come on. Wake up," a faraway voice pleaded. "Don't you dare die on me, Detective!"
The voice chased away some of the biting cold surrounding Cat. It demanded Cat's unquestioning obedience. Her lips twitched. "Sorry, Ma'am," she tried to say but couldn't manage to form the words.
"Sorry isn't good enough, Cat. I told you to go straight to the Council HQ. You didn't listen," Tara said. There was no flexibility in her tone. Yet... Cat somehow knew Tara wasn't angry. In fact, Tara was terrified. Fear and grief swamped Cat for a minute before something shut off the flood of emotions.
That wasn't right. Tara shouldn't be afraid. Or sad. Cat wanted to understand except she was so tired.
Immediately, Cat felt warm, strong arms wrap around her. She curled into the body heat and sighed as someone pressed a tender kiss to her forehead. "You can't sleep yet, tiger." Something damp dropped onto Cat's face, followed by a shower of more. "You gotta stay here with me and T," Faith pleaded.
"'Yes, Faith," Cat mumbled. "Won't...sleep." The words slurred despite Cat's valiant effort to follow Faith's request.
"I'm sorry, tiger. Little cat," Faith said. "I should have been there for you. None of this would have happened if I'd have been here, if I'd have been with you." There was a wealth of self loathing in the words. So much that Cat tried to protest, to reach out - and felt Tara reaching out, too.
Good. Faith might not listen to Cat, but there was no way she could ignore Tara. A hint of amusement brushed Cat. It was followed with enough grim determination that Cat stiffened. The arms and chest under and around her did, too. "That's enough of that, Slayer. We have other things to focus on right now, don't we, Cat?"
What? Cat frowned. How had this suddenly become about her?
"You know, tiger," Faith reminded her. Damn it, why did Faith always do that? Make Cat think and do the right thing?
With a sullen mumble, Cat responded, "Don't fall asleep." She expected Faith to take her to task for the less than polite response. Faith had never been happy when she hadn't shown respect. Instead, though, the arms around her tightened and a wash of approval, love, and protectiveness cradled her. Snuggling into that feeling, Cat floated.
Other voices swirled around her. Loud one minute, soft the next after Tara made them be quiet. Cat giggled to herself at that. Everyone obeyed Tara.
"You bet they do," Faith said. She didn't sound upset anymore; though Cat knew she was still worried. She wiggled closer in an attempt to comfort her.
Something pricked Cat's arm and she jerked. "Easy, Cat. Don't move, sweetie." Tara stroked Cat's hair with fingers that trembled. "Everything's going to be fine. Just hang on a little longer."
"Why?" Cat really wanted to know. "Why are you scared?" Her eyes had lead weights attached, and Cat fought to get them open even a crack. Bright light stabbed at them, and they started to water. Cat had to blink the tears away in order to see Tara.
Tara's face was streaked with tears and smudges of blood.
"Tara?" What had happened? Cat tried to sit up, but Faith's arms locked her in place. "Let me go!" She pulled against Faith - and that's when the pain she'd only dimly noticed flared back to life. Her throat and the bend in her right elbow burned. Her head pounded. And she was still so cold. Not even Faith's body heat and the scratchy blanket tossed over them helped.
"We have to put her under," a new voice announced. "It's risky but we don't have a choice if she's going to keep moving around."
Suddenly, she heard Jane's angry voice. "Where the Hell do you think you're taking Cat?"
"You've been angry since Faith and I arrived in Boston. To help, I might add, not take over," an equally exasperated Tara responded. "You want to blame me for this, Detective Rizzoli? Fine! Go ahead. I take full responsibility for dragging Cat along to hunt vampires. I take full responsibility for what's happened here – and that means I'm also responsible for fixing it."
"We have an ambulance on the way…" Jane started.
Tara didn't allow her to finish, though. "Council medical facilities are better equipped to deal with these types of injuries." Cat loved the cool, clipped way Tara spoke when she was angry. Especially since it wasn't directed at her.
"Then take your Slayer there. Cat is ours." For someone who'd left her family behind, Cat was suddenly swimming in people willing to claim her.
Faith never glances away from Cat. In fact, she watched Cat intently as she told Jane quietly, "No, she isn't."
There was more. Cat tried to follow it. Tried to fight against Faith, until a soft, fuzzy wall separated her from the world. The wall thickened little by little until everything...faded...away...