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(Contains: sexual themes and strong language)
Chapter 15

Evey stiffened, suddenly having a vivid flashback to a horrible dream of a couple of weeks ago. She paled and stiffened in her seat. Jezz looked at Ju confused.

"Why?"

He frowned and shook his head, rubbing his temples as he took a seat.

"I don't know. She didn't tell them."

Will, however, was more focused on Evey. The news had surprised him, yes, but he didn't know why it would upset her.

"Evey?" he asked, rubbing her shoulder. "What's wrong?"

Evey took his hand and leaned against him, shivering slightly.

"A dream. From a while ago. Carmilla was in it. She... wanted you. I don't know why, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I brought you into her grasp. That she paid more attention to you than she would have normally because of me. I tried to stop thinking of her as my mother after that dream. Because I got the feeling that she knew – she knew who I was, and she just didn't care. That my mother – the person I knew when I was little was always just a sham. A fake. I never really ever had one... did I?"

Will pulled her close to him, hugging her tightly.

"You had a mother, even if it was just an act. You still had one. Carmilla killed her..."

It was hard for him to say those words, but he didn't know what else to do.

"We aren't fighting your mother; we're fighting her killer."

At the other end of the city, Cei and Brendan were pulling up to the police station. The cruenta had been flipping through less useful sections of Ashton's phone all the way there, primarily the pictures he'd taken.

"Well, there's one thing that my brother and Lios don't have in common..."

She glanced over at Brendan.

"Ashton doesn't like girls."

"Somehow," Brendan said as he got of the car. "I'm not surprised. And on a sidenote, he isn't your brother, Cei. Your only connection is that you were both turned by the same fuck. That doesn't make him your brother."

He led the way inside having already called up the precinct and gotten a tech in.

"This better be good," the tech said as Brendan approached him.

"It is Mike."

Brendan tossed him the cell.

"Get everything you can out of it – though you're warned, some of it will make you sick. Texts, names, numbers, the works. It should connect to that email I gave you that you pulled from the Keatting's computer. I also want you to tap and connect the phone, so any incoming calls and texts, as well as outgoing ones, we get. And if you can, make it so we can send texts from it as well. This guy is directly connected to the drug ring. One of the ones in charge."

"Of course I can," Mike said with a roll of his eyes. "This is a mini goldmine, isn't it?"

"It's our ticket to catching the bastards. All of them."

"Beautiful. Give me an hour. I'll have it done by then."

"Awesome."

He paused.

"Hey, is Malone still in the holding cell?"

"Last I heard, why?"

"I'm going to check."

Brendan turned to Cei.

"Stay close, but you can't go to the back with me. Shout if you need anything."

"If Mike doesn't mind," Cei said, looking over at the tech. "I'd like to watch him work. Frankly, I know better than to be anywhere on my own nowadays."

Brendan smiled briefly. He stuck his hands in the pocket of his overcoat and headed to the back, where Malone was supposedly being kept. He was well aware that Charon had made an appearance the night before, so he wasn't keeping his hopes up that Malone would still be in his cell.

But he was there, sitting calmly on the bench in his cell, staring distantly at the wall. He didn't even turn to Brendan when he arrived.

"So you finally show up to talk to me, eh?" he asked, his tone sharp and bitter. "They expected you sooner."

"Well," Brendan said, crossing his arms. "One friend almost died and one did. It's been busy. I also have a really nasty slave creating drug out in the streets robbing people of their free will and making them easy slaves for the same fuckers you work for."

He shrugged.

"Busy. So here's a question. Why? I mean, I know you want to kill a guy who – as far as I know – hasn't done anything to you. But I can't quite figure out why you work for you know who. I know there's no such thing as black or white. Everything is gray. Things that should be evil aren't, and things that should be good, aren't. So why?"

Brendan's brow furrowed.

"And why a cop? Just to make us look bad?"

"Firs' of all, I was an officer long before my contrac' with them, so that's jus' an unfortunate coincidence. And Zuriel mus' be destroyed cuz only an angel of death should wield Azrael's Scythe, not a demon. That blade is rightfully mine!"

If there was any anger in his voice, it quickly vanished, almost as brief as his glance towards the detective.

"An' I work with them cuz I have to."

Brendan shrugged.

"To be honest, it sure as hell don't look like you deserve that scythe, from here anyway. After all, look who you got yourself into a contract with in order to get it. That – if anything at all – makes you less worthy than demon to wield it."

He watched Malone for a moment wondering how dumb this guy could be.

"So... Any way to get you out of that contract? After all, if you're not killing people because they tell you to that'll sure be an ease off my back. Then all I got to worry about is you trying to a kill a softy of a demon."

"If Zuriel done its job righ', it wouldn' have to be killed!" Lemuel retorted, though once again, the anger didn't last long. "I'm not the only one who's looking to own that scythe, you know. I'm jus' the one it was promised to."

He folded his arms and sank back against the wall, closing his eyes.

"I don' know where Carmilla keeps the contrac'. Hell, I don' even know if it's on this plane of existence! She's older than I am, so there's a lot I don' know about her."

That one line got Brendan's attention. The stuff about Carmilla and the contract was good to know, but if Malone couldn't tell him anything then there wasn't much he could do for now. But that one bit...

"Who else wants that scythe? And why is it so fucking important? Because from the sound of it that thing must be pretty fucking powerful, and if it IS that powerful then the only person who should have it is that good spirited demon. Because I sure as FUCK wouldn't want a baby-faced, quick to temper, fledgling like you using something that has that kind of power. Especially when you're being used by a pair of evil, old brats."

Brendan stepped forward, tightening his hands on the bars.

"Who wants that Scythe? Carmilla? And why?"

"I don' know why, if she wan's it at all," Lemuel explained with a shrug. "The only time she ever mention it was when the contrac' was made. Other death angels wan' it because it is the scythe. What religion are you?"

"Does it matter? It'll do what it does no matter what the belief. I've noticed that religion sure as hell doesn't play a part in real life. After all, demons can be good, angels can be evil, and a creature that gives birth to angels makes the Devil look like a pansy. Hell, by the looks of things I'm half convinced Lucifer is a poor schmuck who got handed the job of taking care of Hell and never fell to begin with. And God – well, whoever that is, he, she, or it – is nowhere in sight. So what does this all powerful scythe do? Why is it so coveted by the unworthy?"

Lemuel glared at him like he wanted to kill him for that comment, but looked away with a smug frown (if that was what you could call the expression on his face).

"You are familiar with the four horsemen, yes? Whoever owns the scythe of Azrael, the firs' angel of death, will lead the other three when the time comes for the next apocalypse."

"Oh. Oh, fun." Great, Brendan thought. A weapon of the apocalypse. Carmilla the crazy vampiress from hell must want it, Charon the teenager wants it, and Zuriel the gentle demon has it. Fucking PEACHY.
"Malone, you want to know why you never made lieutenant? You had a good record, until you know, you started working for the bad guys, but you weren't promoted. Do you know why?"

Brendan walked away from the bars.

"Because you're still a kid. You're hotheaded, you got a short fuse, and you're irresponsible. No one is going to give a teenager an AK47. A person only gets that kind of firepower when he has the ability to be responsible for it. When he knows how to use it – but especially, when he knows when NOT to use it. The people who can handle that kind of power are the ones who don't want it and don't need it. They're the ones who can be the most responsible with it. Who won't lose their heads. The people who would never use it, unless they have no other choice."

He turned to look at him.

"Clearly, you're not thinking straight. You're definitely not thinking like an angel, nor are you thinking like a cop. Considering the position you're in, and the crimes you've committed – against BOTH professions – do you really believe you have the right to call yourself an angel or a cop, and question the most traditional angel-like demon I know? Zuriel may have been demoted, but no one has risen to the plate he left behind. When someone does, I'm sure he'll pass on the Scythe. But take a good long look at yourself. Can you honestly say, with what you've done that you deserve to have it? Hell, a human with angel blood in her didn't even think you worthy enough to help a soul reach peace. You need to redeem yourself first. Do you even believe in what you are? Have you any right to question someone else's worth, when you have fallen far lower than he ever could? Take a good, long, hard look at yourself. You were always a good cop, Malone. Hot headed, dumb, had a short fuse, and even after years, you're still a rookie, but a good cop. And now look at yourself. You're in a place you never should've been, because you let your ambition blind to you to who you are supposed to be. Would you have tried to kill me, if it meant you would be a detective once I was dead? Or would you have just worked hard to get to my place and earn a spot as a detective yourself? Why can't you do the same your other job? I'm less than you, genetically. I don't have your power, and I certainly, by your standards, have no right to hold a position above you. But I do because I earned it, and if you want it, you have to earn it too. Why is it any different with Zuriel? Demon or not, he's a good man. Isn't that what you should respect? Being a good man? Especially if you're an angel and a cop. That is all you should ever look at. Is he a good man? Is she a good woman? Because you were a good man once. When did you stop respecting goodness, and only looked at the surface? Because that – and that alone – is what got you into this mess."

Brendan met Malone's gaze.

"I'll make you a promise. I'll find your contract. I'll destroy it if I can. And in return, all I want is for you to face yourself and find the good cop you forgot about."

He could see Lemuel was seriously thinking about what he had said, and would be difficult for the angel to admit that this whole time, he had been wrong. The young man sighed, bringing his knees up to his chest while he thought.

"I still have to remain within the boundaries of my duties," Lemuel said at last, losing the Hawaiian dialect he usually maintained. "And if the contract deems I break them, then I must, for the laws of the contract override divine duties."

He looked back over at Brendan, staring sullenly over the rims of his glasses.

"They haven't tried to contact me since my arrest, but I don't know how long it will be before they do."

"Then I'll do what I can to destroy that contract as soon as possible. But I can't give you a guarantee for a certain time period."

Brendan grinned. However, one out of the two he didn't know made a mistake. Thanks to that horrible dream, he now knew what Lios looked like. He was the only one that Brendan hadn't known his appearance. Until now. The bastard was too cocky for his own fucking good. Heh.

"But I'd rather have you doing your divine duties, than working for evil. Don't you feel the same?"

He smirked. Lemuel shrugged, adjusting his glasses.

"Does it matter what I feel? Rules are rules; laws are laws. They must be followed, regardless of one's own personal feelings. That's why I'm still an angel... and why Zuriel is not."

"And why you're working for evil against your will and nature, and feel shitty about it. Why you're a bad example of an angel, and Zuriel is a good one, despite being a demon."

Brendan shrugged.

"A good soldier, a good cop, and a good man is one who can think for himself and who knows when the rules are wrong and when to question them. Laws and rules are there to protect and serve. But when they stop doing both, then you have to question them. If you don't, then you're nothing but someone else's puppet, Malone. The law is there to protect you and serve you, not to control you. Cops don't enforce the law, Malone. We protect and serve. That – and that alone – is our credo. Remember it. The law can be wrong. Nothing is infallible. That is why we were given the ability to think for ourselves and to feel."

Again, Lemuel was silent, digesting Brendan's words. It didn't take him long to sigh.

"That's what makes you human – or at least mortal, in your case. You have free will. I don't know where Jared got his from."

It was the first time he had referred to the demon by its mortal name, and that alone seemed to resonate with Lemuel. After a much longer pause, he looked at the detective again.

"Come here," he said. "I want to whisper something to you."

Brendan arched an eyebrow, but he approached. After all, one never gained anything without risks. Besides, after everything he'd laid on Malone the last half hour, it was the least he could do. If he died – well, he wouldn't let himself.

He leaned against the bars, giving Malone a level look.

"Hey, if Jared could get one, I don't see why you can't, Malone," he said softly before nodding. The young man stood, walking towards the bars with a zombie-like stagger. Had he slept at all lately? When he reached the bars, Lemuel pressed his forehead against them, so that his nose and lips barely passed through to the other side. He was as close to Brendan as he could get with the barrier between them, and in a barely audible whisper, he said one word: an impossible word, one that could never be written and barely spoken. He gave Brendan a moment to hear it before standing back, waiting to make sure he had received the word.

Brendan stood there for a moment, digesting the sound, burning it into his memory and then locking it away so no one else would be able to take it from him. Then he took another moment to analyze the significance of what Malone had just done. He turned to the 'younger' man, meeting his gaze, his eyes glowing a soft wolfish gold.

"I'm going to find that contract," Brendan whispered, his tone emphatic. "I'm going to destroy it, and I'm going to give you back you're free will, Malone. And I won't stop, until the hotheaded rookie cop is back getting ribbed by his sergeants. That's my vow. I'm going to make sure you get the right to choose."

Lemuel nodded very slowly, backing up to the bench and sitting down again.

"And I shall wait here, for now, unless commanded otherwise."

His last words were almost as soft as his whisper as the realization that he had no ability to choose was firmly sinking in. He gripped the edge of the bench.

"Try not to take too long. Who knows what the next task will be?"

"Trust me," Brendan half growled as he turned away. "I have no intention of wasting anymore fucking time."

With that he walked away, heading back to Cei and Mike.

Mike was packing up his things when Brendan caught up to them. He gave the detective a nod.

"Everything's been put on this thumbdrive," he handed Brendan the drive and the phone. "Phone's been tapped. We can intercept all incoming and outgoing messages, and send our own making it appear like it was our perp. Good luck catching the fucker. I hope to hear good news soon. Anything from Malone? I still can't believe he's a dirty cop. He was always so passionate about justice."

"Get the feeling that he might've been brainwashed or manipulated. Probably by the drug if it was slipped into his system," Brendan said.

"The drug? I thought the CSI guys were still doing tests?"

"Yeah, well, it's really carefully hidden. They're going to have to dig really deep to find what makes it dangerous. But I already know. It turns people into slaves. Makes them easily prone to suggestion."

"Like hypnosis?"

"Yeah."

"Fuck, hypnosis in a bottle. No wonder they're making a fortune and getting it everywhere. Anyone who takes it is another fucking volunteer."

"Exactly. I have faith in our CSI guys though. They'll find it."

"So you think Malone had that in his system?"

"I'm thinking he's a fucking guinea pig. There's no reason why Malone would turn on us unless he had no fucking choice. Literally. His free will robbed away."

Mike shivered.

"That's scary shit. Good luck catching the bastards. I hope what I got you covered it. The moment you're ready for a sting, I want in on it. I got you the data, you owe me."

"I'll tell the Chief, Mike."

"Thanks, Graham."

Mike waved at Cei and Brendan and left. Brendan turned to Cei and nodded outside.

"Let's go. We got a phone to drop off for little Ash to find so he doesn't get in too much trouble with Daddy and no one is aware of our little plant, and we got to get your shit from your place."

Cei waited until they were both in the car and on their way before asking, "So what's the real deal with Charon? I know as well as you do that it wasn't that drug Crudelis and Carmilla concocted. What's going on with him?"

"He's stuck in a divine contract with them. It overrides his divine duties, and basically makes him their slave. It's his own damn fault. I don't know what they promised him, but I'm guessing it has to do with Zuriel and his Scythe. Charon wants the thing pretty damn bad, and it's been implied that so does Carmilla."

Brendan shrugged.

"Apparently, it can cause the apocalypse. I'm glad as hell Jared is the one who has THAT thing."

He shook his head.

"I figure if we can break the contract he has with them, then he won't have to do their bidding. That'll get one problem off our back. Malone was a good cop – back when he was one and I had no idea he was a bloody angel of death – a rookie and a bit overzealous, but a good cop. If he can choose his own path again, well... I don't think he's going to kill us. But he needs to have the ability to choose. Apparently, with that contract, he HAS to do what they tell him. That makes him a lot like an ancillae, don't it?"

"Sounds worse, if you ask me," Cei sighed, shaking her head and almost laughing. "With ancillae, you have to constantly (and regularly) supply them with blood, otherwise the control is broken."

She gasped, suddenly realizing something.

"That means if we're able to cut off the supply of the drug, it'll eventually work its way out of addicts' systems!"

Brendan lifted the thumb drive.

"And all that is possible in this tiny little beauty. Ooooh, my mind has been working a mile a minute since Evey pulled out that phone tonight, coming up with sting operations."

A low growl rose in the back of his throat.

"This time next week, I'm going to have 'Ligo's prison block full of these fuckers. Well, the human ones. The vampire ones are going to be dead. And hopefully, we'll be able to strike hard and fast so it'll be too late before Ashton and Crudelis notice."

And, he hoped, by the time they did, they had protection against Druclerd's psychic invasions.

They went to the graveyard first. It was further than Cei's, but they wanted to get the phone back there as soon as possible, before Ashton noticed it had been moved. Cei didn't want to get out of the car when they arrived and wouldn't even look at the cemetery as the pulled up.

"I can't do it," she said with a shiver. "I... I just see the whole thing playing over again..."

"No problem. It'll be quicker if I do it, anyway."

Brendan was out of the car and leaping over it and into the graveyard with a powerful jump. Two more and he was on the mausoleum. He wiped the phone down, put it back where Ashton had dropped it. He looked at the blood stain on the building, the mark of Jon's death, for a moment before he leapt down and back over the gate.

He got into the car and headed toward Cei's place. He didn't say anything. She'd lost the man she loved there. There was nothing he could say.

Getting Cei's lab from her attic over to Ju's warehouse looked like it was going to be a daunting task at best, until the cruenta lifted half of her equipment with one hand like she did this every evening. It was going to be more difficult getting it all into the car!

Brendan was an expert packer, so in no time he had more than half the SUV packed with Cei's equipment, and in a way that made sure nothing would get damaged. Within an hour of arriving at Cei's they were back at the warehouse, coming in hauling stuff. Almost three hours since they'd been gone. Jezz was making "lunch".

Ju would have probably objected to where Cei and Brendan were setting things up, but he'd fallen asleep in one of the armchairs. Will wasn't fairing much better, but he wasn't supposed to be on a nocturnal schedule like the vampire was. To keep himself awake, he helped them carry in what was left, leaving Evey alone on the couch.

Jezz came out and shook Ju gently on the shoulder waking him, whispering into his ear that Cei and Brendan were back. She sat on the arm and adjusted his glasses for him. She then propped him up and gently handed him his mug of fresh coffee, holding the cup close to nose so he could inhale the rich steam. She'd been making a steady batch for him all night, and for herself too. She would have to get used to the new schedule too.

Evey was half asleep herself, her cup long since cold. She was trying desperately to stay awake, but kept yawning.

"That can't go there," Ju said, yawning out the last two words. "It's not right..."

"Drink your coffee or help us move it," Cei quipped back with a smirk. "We likely won't get to the actual experimentation tonight, but we need to at least get this stuff in here."

The younger noctis snorted, almost spilling his coffee. Taking a careful sip, he yawned again.

"Agreed."

Once he was secure with his drinking, Jezz gave him a quick kiss on the temple and headed back to the kitchen to finish making food. At the very least, she was getting hungry.

Evey smiled a little through sleepiness at Ju and Jezz. She really... just hadn't expected Jezz to fall for the eccentric vampire. Though really, she shouldn't have been so surprised. She yawned again and slumped back a little. Her eyes drifted closed.

***

The theater. Evey could see the blur of the audience through the washed out glare of the spotlights on her. She was on the stage... or at least it seemed so. But she was in a nightgown, sitting on a large bed... and someone else was in the "room."

It was the musical. Evey recognized the scene. The other person onstage with her was Will, taking up his brother's role as the lead...

This was the scene where Hyde kills Lucy.

The lead-in for the reprise of Sympathy, Tenderness began to play, but as Will sat beside her on the bed, brushing her hair out of her face, he didn't sing the lyrics. Instead, he whispered in her ear, "He doesn't belong to you anymore..."

A sharp pain shot through her back as the knife stabbed into her. A real knife, not the prop that should have been used...

And Will only smiled...

Evey shot up with a strangled scream, tears streaming down her cheeks. One hand flew to her back, trying to remove the knife while the other tried to protect herself. Her hand touched air, and she froze.

Her skin was cold and clammy, and icy sweat slipped beneath her clothes. She struggled for air as she slowly brought her trembling hand to mouth. She closed her eyes tightly. Even her tears felt cold.

A solid thud accompanied her cry as Will fell off the make-shift bed they'd been sharing and onto the floor. Scrambling around to the other side of the mattress, he placed his hands on her shoulders and shook her gently.

"Evey! Evey, what's wrong? Are you hurt? Why did you scream?"

Still shaking violently, Evey stared at him completely terrified. But the concern in his eyes... Letting out a small cry, she leaned against him.

"Nightmare," she rasped. The vivid images of the dream tumbled through her mind again, and she clutched him to her.

"I was Lucy," she breathed, her voice still full of fear. "You were Hyde. But you... you really killed me. Stabbed me with a real knife after telling me..."

Will's voice echoed in her mind, "He doesn't belong to you anymore..."

He. The other dream with Carmilla. What Ju had said earlier. She looked up at him.

"You said 'he doesn't belong to you anymore'. I think you were talking about yourself..."

His brows furrowed briefly, but his expression quickly softened as he wrapped his arms tightly around her.

"It was only a nightmare," Will said softly. "A nightmare and nothing more..."

"I wouldn't discount it so quickly."

Ju stood over them, arms crossed, eyes puffy with lack of sleep. He looked like he was going to fall over at any moment. Will glared at him.

"You aren't helping, you know."

"I'm not trying to comfort her, only warning you not to discount dreams. For some people, it is a form of prophecy, and given how shaken she is, it's probably more significant than just another nightmare."

Evey held onto Will, her knuckles white with her grip, as if she was afraid he'd vanish if she let go. She was still cold and still pale with terror.

"In a different dream, Carmilla was telling me Will was perfect. Then what Ju said last night reminding me of that dream. And now this one... Where a Hyde-Will tells me that Will isn't mine anymore. It could mean so many things, but none of it good, and it all points to Carmilla wanting..."

She looked at Will, fear etched in her face.

"Carmilla wants you for some reason."

Her voice broke.

"She's going to try and take you away from me."

Tears spilled from her eyes. Will rocked her gently, rubbing her scalp with his fingers.

"It'll be alright," he said to her. "Everything's going to be alright."

"I wouldn't be so sure..."

"Shut up, Ju!" the hunter growled, but the vampire seemed unfazed. He pushed up his glasses before wandering off to his room, leaving them alone. Will turned back to Evey.

"Why don't we get up and get out for the day? Try to... enjoy the day, or something?"

Evey nodded after a long moment, still holding him close.

"It is a warning though, Will. We just have to figure out why she wants you. Then... Then we can defend against her."

She lifted her head, pressing her lips against his.

"I can't lose you again," she breathed before kissing him.

"We won't need to defend against her once we defeat her," Will whispered softly, pulling her carefully back so that he could look at her. "And I promise: I will never leave you."

He kissed her one more time before standing, stretching his arms and popping his back. Evey smiled and cracked her neck. She slid off the bed too and stretched, making a small squeaking sound as she did so before leaning against him.

"I need a change of clothes. I've been wearing the same thing for days. My place then your place?"

"Sounds good," Will agreed, taking a moment to pop his shoulder. "Personally, I'm feeling a bit funky and could probably use a shower too. Come to think of it, I haven't been home for a while either."

She looked at him worriedly for a minute. Going home was going to be hard for him. She'd never had siblings... well, Sarah apparently was one, and so was Jesse... sort of. She was used to being alone though. Her father had died a while ago, her mother's been missing – presumed dead – and now she found out the woman that was never really existed. Just the act of some evil creature.

Evey couldn't let Carmilla take Will from her. She'd already taken everything else.

"My place first," she said softly. "It's closer. And... I don't want to be alone. You can shower with me at my place. Then we'll go to yours so you can change."

"Ah, yes," Will laughed, giving her a quick squeeze. "Let's save water!"

He snuggled her a little longer before releasing her, only a small frown on his face.

"Uh... I guess we need to call a cab though. My bike's at home, and the car is... well..."

Evey nodded.

"My car is at home too."

She put a hand to his face, caressing his cheek. She got up on her tiptoes and kissed him.

"I'll make breakfast too. I'm in the mood for waffles. I'll call the cab."

She got her coat off the floor, dug around for her phone and called the cab, leaning comfortably against Will.

She left a note for Ju and Jezz before they left. Brendan was drinking coffee, sitting on the couch and wide awake as he looked through something on his laptop. He gave Evey and Will a nod, but didn't say anything. She figured he was working on the thumb drive with Ashton's information on it.

Before long they were back at her place. Evey stretched as she tossed off her coat and stuck her purse in her room.

"Oh, shower, clean clothes, food..."

"Not necessarily in that order," Will chuckled. "I'll need to go home for my clothes, but I'd really like to get something in my stomach first. Guess I'll just have to walk around in these until then."

A sly grin began to stretch across his face.

"Unless, of course, you don't mind me going naked until I get something clean to wear."

Evey arched an eyebrow, walked over to him and grabbed his lapels. She tugged him toward her, her own sly smile matched the one on his face.

"I don't mind at all. But when you get tired of me jumping you, I've got a nice, big, fluffy bathrobe for you to use."

One of hands began to tease the buttons of his shirt.

"So in what order do you really want this?"

She grinned.

"Babe?"

Will's eyebrow rose to match hers, and the smirk grew.

"I think we need to insert something between getting undressed and the shower."

"Oh, I'm all for that," she said, moving a little closer as she playfully undid a button. "So when do you want me to make the waffles?"

He helped her with the next one, leaning forward so that his lips were barely above hers.

"Well, we need to work up an appetite first, don't we?"

Evey smiled and leaned against him so her body was pressed up against his.

"So is the order bed, bath and then food," her bottom lip rubbed softly over his, "or bed, food, bath?" she breathed.

Will couldn't resist the invitation, tilting his chin to bring their lips together. Only when they parted did he smirk again.

"I suppose that depends on how much of an appetite we work up."

"Then let's start," she whispered. Evey tugged off his coat, tossed it, and then jumped. She wrapped her legs around his waist, her arms around his neck and shoulders and kissed him passionately as she held onto him. She wanted to drive him crazy so he would take her to the bed and have his wicked way with her.

Will deepened the kiss, pulling Evey closer with his hands firmly grasping her perfect rump. It was a bit hard to walk like this, but he managed to carry her all the way across the apartment and into her bed room, releasing her with a playful toss onto her bed.

Needless to say, he quickly followed her.

***

As the days progressed, Brendan, Evey and Will made it their business to start arresting every last member of the drug ring they could, while Cei and Ju worked all night trying to create the potion that would protect them from Crudelis. Brendan saved the "sting" for Ashton himself. He knew the vampire was going to be pissed with the cops suddenly raiding every interaction and was probably busting his head trying to figure out how they were doing it.

So when Brendan posing as "Import Greg" asked for a meeting and a transfer through text, bitching about the lack of security lately and the fucking cops all the while, Ashton walked straight into the trap to smooth some feathers. Of course, Brendan wasn't going to pass up getting Greg in the process, so with Ashton's reply, he sent a revised version back to Greg so both were caught in the sting.

The moment the drugs were in the open and both were becoming just a tad confused, the cops jumped them. Brendan had a task force of almost fifty men in the place, posing as workers, homeless and most of them hidden.

Evey sent a stake deep into Ashton's back right where his heart was and dug it in deep. It allowed Brendan to leap on Ashton before he could try anything else and clamped the handcuffs Brendan had especially blessed by Amelie herself. Brendan buried the stake even deeper, so the end barely stuck out of Ashton's back, and the front only barely peeked out of his flesh on the other side. You couldn't even see it under the front of his clothes.

Will managed to sneakily kill a few other vampires, and the ancillae were all arrested or shot.

Greg was killed in the shoot out.

Brendan even had his cop car blessed by Amelie so when he shoved Ashton into the back the bastard couldn't do a damn thing.

"Sucker," Brendan said with a wolfish grin plastered on his face.

All the drugs were confiscated and locked away. The CSI guys had finally come through. They couldn't figure out what was the exact chemical inducer – yet – but they had confirmed it was a drug that not only upped strength and speed, but it restrained thought and made the user easily prone to suggestion. I.e. instant loyal, mindless soldier –
bordering on super soldier. Which, as Brendan said loudly during the meeting concerning it, "means we're in deep fucking shit."

By now there were several ongoing investigations on top of the drug ring busts. Including the missing headless bodies that had been collected throughout the ring, and an investigation as to who the vigilante was that was cutting off heads. But thanks to Det. Graham's insistence – those were left mostly on the back burner. The drug ring was the priority.

And Brendan was just about giddy when he kicked Ashton into the farthest cell he could find from Malone. Which – on a sidenote – he'd also had Amelie bless. That angel was proving mighty fucking handy.

"Sit there and fume, you little fuck. In a couple of hours, I'm going to have you sitting in a blessed interrogation room, with the cameras off, and I'm going to beat you consecutively until you tell me what I want to know. The beautiful part? There won't be a mark on you to prove police brutality. By tomorrow, you should be on your way to the state prison, locked in a blessed cell – I'll insist on solitary. But if you're lucky – you'll be dead before you get there."

Ashton couldn't move because of the hidden stake, but his telepathy was still active and he wasn't about to keep his mental mouth shut.

"I see you have everything worked out, detective."

He could practically hear the smirk.

"But don't think I'll make it that easy for you. I've no intention of trying to leave your custody."

"Well, that's nice," Brendan said aloud. "But I'm sure after I've beaten you several hundred times you'll be reconsidering a nice, quiet blessed prison cell. Or at the very least, you'll be fucking praying for somebody to kill you. Which, I assure you, I will accomplish in a couple of hours."

"It isn't that simple. You should know that Death and I are very well acquainted..."

Ashton went silent after that, letting Brendan come to his own conclusions about what he had meant. Brendan smirked.

"Not for long. After all, I'm pretty well acquainted with Death too. And he likes me better."

The cruentus made no response to this, but even if he had started one an officer was already jogging towards them.

"Detective Graham," he said, looking over at Ashton with a mix of confusion and hesitation. "One of the other prisoners wishes to speak with you."

Something made him jump and look around, but he calmed after a moment.

"He... uh... said it was important."

Brendan mentally blocked out Ashton. He knew who wanted his attention, and the psychotic vampire really had no business peaking. An impenetrable barrier formed around his thoughts. It took concentration – he wasn't like Evey – he couldn't just think and it was there. He had to concentrate on it. But it was ironclad. Ashton would be raving silently at nothing, because Brendan's head was no longer privy to him.

He went clear to the other side of the hall of cells. There was at least a hundred feet between Malone and Ashton. Brendan would've preferred something closer to a thousand, but the precinct just wasn't that big.

"Yeah," he said quietly as he reached Malone's cell. The angel was pacing nervously about his cell, but staying mostly in the far corner.

"He gonna fin' out I'm here an' make me do something bad... I jus' know it!"

Lemuel looked at him over the rims of his glasses.

"He jus' needs to think my Name, an' that's it!"

"Shhh... Relax. I'm keeping him far from you. I'm hoping to beat the location of the contract out of him," Brendan breathed. "If I can get that, I'll be on it in a heartbeat. I'm going to have him moved to the maximum security prison tomorrow morning and confined in solitary. He'll probably be dead before he gets there."

But Lemuel didn't seem convinced and just shook his head.

"He's gonna do something bad. I jus' know it..."

He sighed, at last sitting down.

"I don' know if he even knows where the contrac' is."

That made Brendan curious. If Malone really had no control once he was ordered to do something... why the hell had they left him in here for so long? And why hadn't they just ordered him to kill the lot of them? There had to be some limitations. And if there weren't... God, Malone really WAS a fucking idiot to let someone have that much power over him.

"I'll find out. And if he doesn't, he'll tell me where Daddy is, and I'll have him tell me before I cut out his heart," Brendan growled quietly. Lemuel simply nodded, resigning to the fact that he had no control of the situation either way. Brendan's cellphone went off at that moment with a text from Cei:

"Success!"

"Yes," he said quietly, barely containing his shout of joy. Unforunately, now wasn't the time for celebrating. Soon though. He closed the phone and looked at Malone.

"Isn't there things they can't tell you to do?"

The angel shrugged.

"Only a few: I cannot be made to kill myself or another angel; I cannot be ordered to retire; an' I cannot be made to forfeit my weapon or any other divine item I might possess. That's it."

"Then why haven't they had you kill us yet?" Brendan whispered.

Lemuel was quiet for a long time before he answered.

"I really don't know..."

"That's reassuring," Brendan muttered. "Well, I guess we'll worry about it when you come hunting for my head. For now, I'm going to go beat the shit out of a stupid vampire and hopefully get some information that'll help us, and you."

He patted the bar reassuringly, trying to give Malone some comfort. The corners of his mouth twitch for a moment, but that was the closest thing to a smile he was going to get. Lemuel knew there was nothing more he could do.

Brendan left but didn't bother going back to Ashton. He needed Amelie first. He gave her a call; she arrived a little while later and blessed the interrogation room. He asked her if she minded coming early tomorrow morning when the transport bus was there so she could bless that and if she could come with him to the prison to bless Ashton's solitary cell. Amelie was completely fine with all of it.

When she was finished blessing the interrogation room, Brendan came back for Ashton. Amelie went to see Malone, effectively blocking view of him from Ashton – not that Brendan would've allowed it. His bulk was in the way as well.

Brendan tossed a still paralyzed Ashton into the room. He didn't take off the cuffs. He closed the door and locked it. He used the comm, asking Rick for to turn off the cameras for a little alone time with the perp, and was rewarded with a "don't do anything stupid" and the cameras going offline.

Brendan turned around to face Ashton, and cracked his knuckles and his neck. His gray eyes became a wolfish gold, he got bulkier and taller, and he gave Ashton a wide, feral, fangish grin.

"Good thing these walls are sound proof, right?"

The detective turned Ashton's "pretty" face black and blue, broke his nose, all his fingers and his legs in three places (including the knees – that was fun) before Ashton finally yelled into his head that Carmilla and "Father" were going to be at the masquerade. When Brendan asked as what, and Ashton clammed up, so he took off Ashton's shoe and tore off a big toe. Brendan suddenly received a vision of Carmilla and Crudelis in their costumes – the Red Queen and the Red King – with lots of leaning toward "Death" in their embroidery. Brendan let the toe reattach itself, patted Ashton's face and let the vampire heal up.

He assured Ashton, as the vampire healed, that this was just the beginning. When Brendan asked about the contract, it took him ten minutes of breaking ribs and face, bending arms in unnatural positions and dislocating the vampire's hip before Ashton finally said that the contract allowed the three of them (Carmilla, Crudelis and Ashton) to control Charon. After a resounding "No shit," from Brendan and breaking both of Ashton's thigh bones, his back in several places and sending a fierce kick into the testicles, the vampire elaborated a little. He telepathically told Brendan that the contract had been divided into separate pieces and that Crudelis and Carmilla each had a piece. Brendan assumed that Ashton had a piece as well (he wasn't an idiot – and the phrase "separate" and not "two" was fairly indicative), but he would get that information later. There was other information he wanted – and asking for specifics on the pieces would probably make Ashton clam up again. Brendan wanted to make him start rambling first. So he asked what exactly was on the contract. A bit more enthusiastic about giving information this time as he healed up, Ashton told Brendan that the conditions of the contract stated that Charon would be their loyal servant until such a time as it rightfully and permanently acquired the Scythe of Azrael.

Ah, the Scythe. Brendan's grin was meant to send fear curling down Ashton's spine. He had to ask Ashton a couple of times before he finally got a confirmation from him.

Carmilla wanted the Scythe. Very, very badly. Which meant Charon would never get it.

So Brendan asked Ashton then – "Where's your piece of the contract?" He couldn't tell if Ashton's shock was from the mere idea or if it was from Brendan's guess.

The werewolf's money was on the latter.

But Ashton's thoughts indicated the former. But Brendan knew better. Ashton was sly. They might not have cut him in on the action, but he wouldn't be left with a disadvantage. One thing he'd give the vampire, the little weasel was good at looking after his own ass. He asked about the contract pieces that the other two had, and Ashton admitted that Carmilla kept her piece on her person. He didn't say anything about Crudelis, and Brendan didn't get a chance to induce more pain. His keen ears heard movement by the door just before the knock. He released Ashton, letting him heal up, while he went to the comm and told Rick that he was just about finished.

Once Ashton was in pristine condition and Brendan back to looking like his usual self, he grabbed the vampire by the collar and pushed and jerked him around easily – like a ragdoll – taking him back to his cell. The other cops were surprised that despite the half hour interrogation, the "perp" looked as healthy as he had on the way in. After Ashton was tossed back into his cell, Brendan was commended by a handful of cops, especially Rick, for his self restraint.

More than a little amused, he told them to keep a sharp eye on Ashton and if something happened – anything at all no matter how bizarre – to run like hell.

On that note, Brendan got to work finishing up the paperwork for Ashton's departure to the prison in the morning – heheheheheh (Brendan's quiet, evil chuckle to himself did not go unnoticed) – and then left to Ju's to give everyone the information he had acquired from Malone and Ashton, and to get his hands on some of that new potion.

What he arrived to was an argument.

"Damn it, Julian! Why are you making this difficult?"

"I'm simply saying that the elders are going to notice if my information is lacking in detail. Besides, as far as any of them know, I don't exist."

Ju was standing in the center of his living room with his arms folded, eyes following Cei as she stormed back and forth, cheeks flushed red with anger.

"The whole purpose of creating this formula was to protect everyone; that includes you!"

Ju calmly shook his head, pushing his glasses up.

"For someone of your intellect, I'm surprised you don't see why that could make matters worse: we've already determined that the formula blocks my psychic feedback as well as other unwanted intrusions. Lately, the information I have gotten from them has been important. Who knows what I might be missing right now, as we speak? We've learned that it works, and frankly I think we're more at a disadvantage now than when my mind isn't silent. Why don't you agree?"

Cei began to open her mouth to protest again when she saw Brendan out of the corner of her eye and abruptly halted what she was about to say. Looking back at Ju for a moment, she turned to the detective, arms akimbo.

"Please tell me that at least you see what a fool he's being."

Brendan arched an eyebrow. He looked from one to the other and then shrugged.

"It's a double edged sword, Cei. We get information from Ju. If it hadn't been for him, and what he's seen so far we'd be far more at a disadvantage. We wouldn't know what we know. Hell, crowding in the warehouse is dangerous too. The less they know about Ju, the better. That's the only way we're going to keep him safe."

Brendan didn't know if Crudelis was aware that Ju was Cei's filius. He didn't think so, because he would've used Ju a long time ago. Blocking off Ju's ability would only hinder them, even if it did put him at risk.

He walked up to Cei and put a hand on her shoulder.

"Everybody is in danger, Cei, not just Ju. This is good protection for us – you, me, Will. We just have to protect Ju the old fashioned way. We need Ju to see what we can't. Like I said, if it hadn't been for that power up to now, we'd probably all be dead already."

He looked up and saw a nervous Jezz hovering by the kitchen counter. He looked back to Cei and smiled.

"Besides, I'm sure once this is all over Ju will find a reason to drown out the noise for a little while. If he hasn't become too addicted to knowing everything."

The cruenta frowned; that wasn't the answer she had wanted to hear.

"Brendan..." she began, but again stopped. Cei wasn't ready to tell him the truth about Ju yet. She changed the subject instead.

"Let me show you what we made."

She led him over to the lab they had set up to show him the collection of small vials she had already prepared for them. The little shots weren't much more than a tablespoonful of black, viscous liquid, entirely opaque as it stuck to the walls of the small containers. Cei held up one for Brendan to see.

"Just one of these will last up to twelve hours," she explained. "So we'll only need two in a day. Hopefully, with a little more tweaking, I can make them a little easier to take... like putting them in a gel cap or something. For now, this is all I've got."

"That's good enough for me."

Brendan took one she held.

"How bad does it taste?" he asked. A smirk twitched on his lips.

"I suppose that depends," Ju said with a roll of his eyes. "On how much you like salt."

"It's like drinking soy sauce with half the water evaporated out," Cei explained further, grimacing a little. "But at least it works."

Brendan winced, but shrugged.

"Hey, it's better than the alternative."

So he popped the cap and drank it with another wince.

"Blegh."

"Told you so..."

His cell phone began ringing: a call from Mike. Again, Ju rolled his eyes.

"You know, if I hadn't had one of those capsules five hours ago..."

"Shut up, Ju."

Brendan waved at them to be quiet and answered the phone.

"Yeah, Mike, what's up?"

"Graham..."

Mike's voice on the other end was raspy. Brendan stiffened, sudden fear curling in his gut.

"Were... attacked. Everyone's... dead... can't..."

His breathing was harsh.

"I'll be right there! Hang on, Mike!"

Brendan hung up and dialed the paramedics – the cops all had a direct line, just in case. He was running for the door as he shouted into the phone.

"Brendan?" Cei called, startled by his sudden departure. She ran after him.

"Brendan, what's going on? What happened?"

Brendan had frozen outside of the warehouse by his car, looking up into the night sky. He couldn't see much of it, but he could smell the smoke. Even from all the way out here. The paramedic on the phone was trying to get information from him, but Brendan was mute for a full minute.

"The station..."

He didn't explain to Cei. Instead, he yelled into the phone, "Get everybody to the station! Every ambulance you can grab! HURRY!"

Finding strength in his legs again, he climbed into his SUV, breathing hard as he jammed the key into the ignition.

Cei stopped when she got outside, catching the end of the lupine's call to the paramedics. She covered her mouth in shock, backing up towards the warehouse.

"Oh my god..."
A dramatic turn for the better only turns back as disaster strikes again.

This story is also available on ~dulcis-absinthe's page, though we sometimes crop chapters in different places.
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