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Living Strange

Chapter Text

            Part of Kate wanted to focus on the problems with old sacrificial artifacts and whoever might want to use it.  To track down who had it, where they were now.  To dig for cultural notes – to solve this just like Angel and his staff would be doing if they were here.  A small part wanted to curl up in bed, throw the covers over her head and pretend that she didn’t know any of this, that it wasn’t happening, and everything would be just fine.  She knew that was just child-like wishful thinking, but that part was there.  Except she had a job to do, and it wasn’t focus everything on one specific mystery.  There were so many other problems – stolen things, assaults, murders, drugs.


            She wondered if Ada Walters had liked the taste of Venkman, or if he was too smarmy for even vampires.  If Ada would turn up again, or if they’d run into trouble with whatever vampire had made her one.  There had to be far too many vampires in New York, and she’d never be able to get rid of them all.  Though it sounded like the Ghostbusters got a kick out of making them explode with their proton packs…


            It was almost enough to make her want to start giving that painted man directions to vampires.  Let him start thinning the herd.


            Her apartment didn’t feel like home yet, but she was mostly unpacked.  She’d put up a decorative mirror with some fancy crosses in that elaborate style reminding her of old cathedrals.  The dark iron set with red and black stones felt very fancy to her taste, but the crosses and mirror felt more like a security precaution to her.  She didn’t know if it would help repel vampires, but she didn’t think it could hurt.  Just like it couldn’t hurt that she added Holy Water to what she was giving to her little houseplants, which hopefully wouldn’t die like the last potted plant she’d had in LA.


            The best thing about her job was it kept her busy.  It was hard to dwell too much with all the new problems, irritations and minor errands.  There were a few more fire-house runs to drop off things to the Ghostbusters, and she had an invitation to have lunch Thursday with Janine so the other woman could talk to someone halfway sane.  It was an invitation Kate was looking forwards to, perhaps more than anything else planned for a while.  She was considering seeing if Janine wanted to make it a regular event.


            Wesley had finally forwarded contact information for some people local to her.  She’d visited the antique store owned by the elderly Mr. Zachary Sutcliffe, a place filled with old furniture, paintings and frames, decorative things she couldn’t name, and assorted lamps, bric-a-brac and kitchenware.  The fact that a great many of the old frames had mirrors in them or some of the decorative things had cross themes could almost be a coincidence.  He thought she seemed like a nice girl, had attempted to convince her to have lunch with his son, and made her promise to both carry a cross and never invite anybody inside after dark.  Ms Regina Harper worked at a branch library, and had given her several books on Central American peoples to search for information, assuring her that they were not the only copies, and she was in no danger of being without needed information at the library.  She had also signed up for fencing class with Allan Zabuto at a small martial arts school that apparently didn’t feel the need to advertise.  At least she knew who to talk to about strange things now, and all three had agreed that with the dreams, the stolen knife, and the mysterious phone call, Kate needed to get more information and be prepared.  Unfortunately, nobody was quite sure what she should be preparing for, which didn’t help much.


            Kate hoped she’d never need to use the things she was learning in her fencing class.  But it made a good way to get some exercise and help deal with the stress of work.  Considering some of what she’d learned about in the last few years, she’d rather take the class and never need it for anything but a workout than find herself desperately wishing she’d learned while trying not to die.  Probably at the sharp bits of something out of a demented fairy tale.


            While Kate pondered her new contacts among the Watchers, the city moved on.  Crime happened, people went about their lives, schemes were hatched and nurtured, and scavengers searched among the city’s refuse.  A two-headed poodle was quite pleased at chasing away another would-be burglar.  A pack of vampires plotted to destroy another over-confident human predator, the desires for revenge and dinner mingling into a terrifying whole.  A young Fyarl demon boasted about a fight with what looked like a painted human with feathers caught in his hair, wielding a blade of solid smoke, showing off the slash that had narrowly missed his eye.  And space warped in what had been a small green park, now thick with trees and vines, a few big, bright flowers flourishing in defiance of the city’s tainted air.  No longer could a person see from side to side across the park, and in the middle, the ground was heaping upwards.


End part 14.



            “Another missing person.  Ryan Cline, mid thirties, works at an auto garage changing tires, brakes and oil.  His boss is complaining he didn’t show up for work the last couple days, and hasn’t been answering his phone.  Go look into it, O’Rourke,” demanded the Captain as he tossed a report to the desk.


            “On it, Captain,” O’Rourke agreed, gathering that paper as well as a few others.  Glancing at Kate, he gave a thin smile, “Ready?”


            Trying to push back fuzzy bits of a dream involving following a blue and yellow bird through a jungle, Kate nodded.  She wondered what trouble tonight’s shift would uncover.  She hoped everything would be normal problems, involving drugs and violence and traffic violations, instead of demons and possessions and spells.  It was a hope she didn’t bother voicing, and definitely wasn’t willing to bet money over it.  “Does Cline have a police record?”


            A quick check found that there were two Ryan Clines listed in police records, one of them a seventy year old man and the other their missing person.  The Cline they were looking for had a scattering of traffic misdemeanors, and a few drunk and disorderly conducts.  What caught Kate’s attention was that the last drunk and disorderly had resulted in a group of people being locked up to cool down. Among those people had been Mike Walters.


            “Ada,” Kate sighed.  “From what I’ve been told, going after people with previous associations is a standard new vampire tactic, and if she considered him a friend of her late hubby…”


            “He might be dinner,” O’Rourke finished.


            “If he’s lucky,” Kate shuddered.


            They were already heading towards the address on record for Ryan Cline when dispatch relayed that an anonymous tip had reported something wrong and what was described as ‘a weird smell’ at a duplex on George Street. Kate and O’Rourke exchanged a glance and nodded as dispatch gave the number as six forty eight. Ryan Cline’s address.


            Pulling up to the sad row of duplexes, Kate decided they looked to have been built somewhere in the sixties, based on matching the houses in television shows set back then. From the looks of it, the neighborhood had been slowly decaying ever since, with the houses getting dingier, rooftops partly covered by some dark green mold, and a cluttering of old bicycles, trash cans, scrap metal and a few crumbling cardboard boxes along the narrow divisions. Here and there, windows had been boarded up instead of being replaced or repaired. Some had fencing around the yards, most often chain link or wooden boards which were faded and broken. A dog was barking somewhere, accompanied by the sound of a rattling chain.


            There was a smell, strong and disturbing and spreading through the neighborhood. Part rotting leaves and cardboard, part weathered wood, part rusting metal, and a small part blood and fear.


            “Bet the blood and fear are coming from Cline’s place,” Kate muttered, looking along the numbers for the right door.


            “No bet,” O’Rourke’s voice was a bit shaken. He was staring at a faded wooden door, barely hanging to the frame by the top hinge, the bottom broken and stained a rusty shade. More of the rusty brown had run out underneath the door to pool on the step. “I’d call that an obvious sign of foul play.”


            She didn’t call him on the reluctance clear in every step towards the damaged door. Kate was in no hurry to see whatever the door was so poorly concealing herself. Her nose told her there was a lot of blood, and that special sort of awful stench that meant someone had died, as well as the reek of fear. Most likely the missing Ryan Cline.


            Very carefully, O’Rourke used his gun to swing the door open a few inches.  His face paled a little and he stepped back, the door swinging back shut with a thump. “Call it in, we have a crime scene.  Blood everywhere and at minimum a severed hand. I don’t want to contaminate the scene.”


            “Cline?” Kate wondered if the hand belonged to the missing auto garage worker, or if someone else had been caught up in a messy nightmare.


            “I didn’t get close enough to tell, but it seemed to be a man’s hand,” O’Rourke had the tight expression of someone trying very hard to not throw up just now.


            So they waited for the CSI crew.


            Four hours later, they could say that most of the very dead Ryan Cline was inside. His death hadn’t been quick or painless, but there didn’t seem to be drugs or alcohol in his system. They couldn’t tell if his home had been searched or if he was just… had just been a messy housekeeper. All evidence suggested he lived alone, and some easily portable electronics may have been taken, or perhaps recently sold, going from clutter patterns and outlets. Several bloody prints of a high heel, roughly a woman’s six or seven had been found in the mess. There was also an empty wine bottle, with two tumblers, one of them with red lipstick on the edge.


            Kate was fairly certain he’d been killed by Ada Walters.


End part 15.