8 Months Ago
After the euphoria of a successful bust, the next few days were filled with the all-too-familiar frustration of lawyers and paperwork. Kate's leg injury got infected and she took a few days off, leaving to me the delights of report writing and cross-examination from the still unsatisfied legal staff.
Kate came back, with a pronounced limp and a worse attitude than usual, and took to growling in place of coherent speech for another few days until someone at the station had a quiet word with her doctor. Who obliged them by switching her onto a different pain medication and returning her to a comparatively blissful semblance of normal.
Lawyers tried to stamp all over our case, but the testimony of two cops was a hard case to beat. I was however concerned that defending lawyers had a tendency in such instances to dredge the records of the cops involved to find something to cast doubt on their word - and I was horribly aware that digging too closely into my record could throw up all sorts of inconsistencies. Things I'd done that a human shouldn't have been able to do; things that, happening every so often over three years could go unnoticed, but all examined together might prove too much of a coincidence to ignore.
I fretted. Kate grouched.
It was pretty much business as usual.
"Damn it," I said to Kate, tossing the file of the lawyers' latest complaints across the desk, where it landed on a pile of papers. The momentum sent it skidding another inch or so after touchdown and, very slowly, the entire pile crawled its way off the edge of the desk to land noisily on the floor, attracting a few glances from neighbouring desks. "If we could only explain to them about our contacts..."
"I suppose Phil and his pals wouldn't be much welcome in a court of law," Kate said dryly, regarding the fallen papers down the length of her nose and not moving an inch to retrieve them. Her hands flexed on the thick file she held and she turned back to me. "But I know what you mean. As far as everyone else is concerned, we seem to have a case based on the fact that these people fired upon us when we went to make routine enquiries without a warrant, and that one of the arrestees apparently had a gun which matched the bullets fired at Murphy and Gerrold, but which is mysteriously missing from the evidence room."
"And couldn't you just guess who arranged that. If bloody Wolfram and Hart didn't have half the upper echelons of this division in their pockets, I'd bet anythin' every one of the bastards'd be in jail."
"I hate lawyers." Kate spoke absently, but her hands were either consciously or unconsciously making little strangling motions.
"I hate court rooms. I get all dry-mouthed."
She nodded. "Hate courtrooms. Hate lawyers."
"Yeah." The pencil I held in my hand snapped in two and I stared at it. "Okay," I said, frowning, "I think I'm tense."
"You're tense?" She held up the file she'd had in her hands at the beginning of the discussion. It was three inches thick of papers and the spine was bent drastically out of shape. "You know, I think we're both really, really fortunate that you're the one with the demon strength..."
"Hey Doyle," Newton said. He was already at the temperamental coffee machine down the corridor when I arrived, good naturedly slapping at the side of it with one of his large hands until it finally gave up the fight, choked indignantly, and vomited a stream of coffee powder and hot water into the waiting plastic cup. Carefully shifting a bunch of papers tucked under his arm, he took the cup and moved aside for me. "You're working late."
"Yeah," I said. "Lawyers. You know the drill."
I pushed the button on the coffee machine and it defiantly did absolutely nothing. I growled a curse and kicked it. It spat out a plastic cup. I waited. It stubbornly stilled once more and refused to budge further. "Shit, when are they gonna stretch to a new one of these?"
Newton laughed. Little seemed to faze him; he was easy-going to a fault, impossible to dislike. In his dealings with Kate and myself, had always treated us no differently to how he treated anyone else, despite our status as a precinct joke in the eyes of those he generally hung around with.
"I think the Department feels they're upholding a grand police tradition by making us drink this stuff," he said, smiling. "So... how's Lockley now? Heard she had a few complications with the leg."
"She's fine," I told him wryly. "Save your concern for the poor souls who hafta work with the woman when she's hurtin' an' pissed off." I gave a fake long-suffering sigh. It turned into a splutter of indignation as the coffee machine finally decided to expel sugar, coffee powder, hot water and cream with a force that blew the cup out from the slot and across the floor, its contents scattering everywhere.
I cursed strenuously. Newton wordlessly handed me paper towels from the table next to the machine and I knelt down to clear up the mess. I waved him off when, depositing his own coffee and his papers onto the table, he moved to lend a hand: "I've got it. You get back to catchin' bad guys. Those prostitute murders, wasn't it?"
"Yeah," he said. "Awful business. The last one was just fifteen years old. Fifteen. She'd been working the streets for two years, since her stepfather abused her and her mother threw her out, until somebody decided to kill her because she wasn't pure enough for them." A muscle in his face twitched, hinting at depths of rage which didn't show.
Yeah, Newton had an anger burning behind that mild facade, when he got going. He sure wasn't somebody I'd ever like to have against me. Fortunately, Newton's temper was reserved to deploy against injustice.
"You'll find the bastard," I said.
He nodded, his focus elsewhere, picking up his coffee and papers - grabbing after them as half the pile started sliding down out of his grasp, juggling the coffee cup in his other hand. "I hope so," he said, turning away down the corridor. "See you around, Doyle."
A small white paper rectangle flitted to the ground in front of me in his wake.
It was about the size of a business card, I thought, watching it fall, and when I picked it up from the floor I found that it was indeed a business card. "Wolfram and Hart," it said on the front, underneath sodden coffee marks I tried to brush away with my fingers and only succeeded in spreading further across the lettering, "Attorneys at law."
On the back of it there was nothing but a simple phone number, written in blue ballpoint by a steady hand. I didn't know Newton well enough to recognise whether it was his own handwriting or someone else's.
I slowly got to my feet, still staring blankly at the card, the mess on the floor forgotten. I felt slightly winded.
There was no reason, really, that Newton shouldn't have a Wolfram and Hart business card. After all, they were one of LA's major law firms, one of the necessary evils we had to deal with regularly in the course of our business.
But... there were the rumours. Everyone knew they had half the city council and police officials in their pockets. More rarely voiced were the rumours of how they seldom lost a case because the evidence against their clients tended to suffer mysterious disappearances, and witnesses to suffer oddly convenient accidents.
I always knew they'd have their own cops on the payroll - but surely not Newton. Newton was a solid guy. Newton was a goddamn saint. Everyone knew it.
Grimly, I headed for the nearest phone, and punched in the number that was written on the back of the card.
Someone picked up almost instantly and a smooth male voice with a slightly southern twang said, "Newton, I thought I told you not to ring me on this extension outside office hours?"
I put the phone down, feeling numb.
I walked back along the corridor, coffee forgotten, barely feeling my feet on the ground.
Of all the cops I'd never have expected to be crooked... It had to be a mistake. It had to be.
And not just because I personally liked the guy, either. If Newton really was crooked, it was pretty much a certainty that nobody would believe my word on the issue. Maybe not even Kate. Damn the guy, but he was liked...
What the hell was I going to do about this?
I halted, suddenly aware of voices nearby. No, not voices. One voice. Newton's.
Through the glass in the door of a nearby office I saw him, then, talking into a cellphone. He must've ducked out of the corridor for some privacy when it rang.
I froze where I stood and I listened: couldn't help myself.
"No, I don't know who else could have gotten this number," he said. "I certainly wouldn't advertise the fact you'd approached me, would I?"
There was a long silence while the person on the other end of the line responded. To my own ears, my breathing sounded so loud I was amazed Newton didn't hear it and catch me listening in.
"No, I haven't decided yet," he said when he finally spoke up again, actually sounding what, from him, passed for irritable. "It's difficult. I-"
"You think I don't know that? Hell, I know how they'd react if they knew what I really am, that I'm not completely human. I know they wouldn't give a demon any breaks in this joint. I know I'm not really like them-"
The pause was briefer, this time.
"Yeah," Newton said, sounding weary. "Yeah, I know. I'll think about it, Mac. I'll think about it."
He put the phone away and headed for the door.
I only just collected my shock-scattered wits together sufficiently to duck into another side room in time.
Ms. Allen's Wolfram and Hart-provided lawyer looked barely out of school, but his gaze was uncannily sharp. He gave me a smug smile when he caught me looking his way outside the court room during recess.
I was up next. Kate had already been. In her words, they chewed her up and spat her out, but they were only sharpening their teeth in preparation for the main course. Which would be me: the prosecution's most significant witness. The sort of witness cases hung on.
A responsibility I could have done without, all things considered.
"Keep cool," Kate said to me under her breath, joining me in glaring daggers back at the lawyer.
Keeping cool was something I'd found increasingly hard to do, the last few days.
I shot a covert glance towards Newton, where he stood like a shadow to the defendant, Ms Allen, who despite Wolfram and Hart's inevitable protestations that she was a sweet valley girl who wouldn't hurt a fly, was still being considered downright lethal and requiring of a police escort. Her face twisted in hatred when she saw me. Newton turned to see what she was getting all riled up about and I quickly looked away.
I hadn't spoken to him since those words exchanged by the coffee machine.
I hadn't said anything to Kate about the incident, either. Didn't know if she'd believe me. Or perhaps it was more that I didn't know if I'd want her to believe me. If Newton was like me... if Wolfram and Hart were trying to get their claws into him...
They hadn't got to him - yet. But he was part demon and they were using that to reel him in, and it wouldn't be long. He was on his own, trapped amid people who'd no doubt freak if they found out what he truly was. It wasn't an unfamiliar situation.
I could hardly rat him out. My own fear of discovery ran like ice in my veins at the mere thought, reminding me that what we risked was just the same. We were the same.
"Just try to relax and console yourself by thinking of how wasted we're both going to get after this is over," Kate said to me, mistaking my reaction to be trial-related. I didn't correct her.
"Right," I said tightly, looking back at the oblivious Newton, wanting badly to tell her what was going on and biting my tongue. I didn't know what Kate would do. She was barely okay with me being half demon, and that only because she'd gotten to know me before she found out. Asking her to understand what was happening with Newton... I recalled the encounter in Phil's store and winced.
"I'm going to go home and shower," Kate murmured, leaning close to me, as a brief commotion at the far end of the room signalled they were ready to start up again. "I'll meet you back here later.
"I hope the vultures leave some of your entrails intact."
The Assistant District Attorney, a mature African-American woman who had a calm, steadying presence, asked me the basic questions about what happened. The Wolfram and Hart lawyer sitting at the defense table looked up abruptly and leaned forward several times as though he were going to object, once going so far as to pick up a pen and stab the air in my direction, then sat back with a patient, long-suffering expression.
I realized after a while that he was putting on a show for the jury. His sudden movements were likely to catch someone’s eye and might distract the jurors from my testimony. I tried not to let him distract me.
“What happened next?”
“When the door opened, I saw four people.”
“Did you recognize any of them?”
“Not then. I’d never seen any of them before.”
“Have you seen any of them since that night?”
“Yes.” I looked over toward the defense table. “I see one of them right now.”
“Objection!” The guy from Wolfram and Hart was on his feet, pen in hand. “No foundation - “
I caught myself frowning slightly. The voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it.
“Overruled,” the judge said firmly. “Foundation is where we are, Mr. McDonald. You’ll have your opportunity on cross-examination. Counsel,” nodding toward the Assistant District Attorney, “you may proceed.”
McDonald? I hadn’t caught the name before, and tried for a moment to place it. Then I had to turn my attention back to the question.
“Detective Doyle, on the night in question, did you have an opportunity to observe the four individuals in that room?”
“Some opportunity, yes. Some of them more than others.”
“Why was that?”
“One man was already on the floor when the door opened. He never moved, so I didn’t spend much time lookin' at him.”
“And the others?”
“There were two men and one woman. The woman did most of the talking.” I heard a juror or two chuckle at that, and felt surprised. I hadn’t meant it as a joke.
“What opportunity did you have to observe the woman, Detective Doyle?”
“I was looking straight at her through most of the incident, since she had a gun pointed straight at me.”
“Objection. Not responsive to the question.”
Annoyed, I turned toward the defense attorney, but with the ease of long practice, the Assistant D.A. stepped between me and the defense table. She didn’t have to say anything; the expression on her face telegraphed “Be cool” without a single word.
“Your Honor,” she said dryly, “I believe the answer was responsive, since one’s attention level might be at least somewhat affected by a gun pointed in one’s direction.”
“Objection! Unfair comment by counsel.”
Now that guy was really starting to bother me, and the nagging familiarity of his voice was driving me crazy. With an effort, I dragged my attention back to the matters at hand.
With excruciating slowness, step by step, the prosecutor guided me through the process of identifying the defendant. In the moment when I was finally allowed to point straight at her and say, “That’s her, sitting at that table,” I felt a rush of triumph.
The triumph was short-lived. What had taken less than five minutes to happen took over an hour to reconstruct, one small piece at a time.
Finally, the Assistant D.A. concluded her direct examination, and she took her place back at the prosecution table. The defense attorney stood up, stretching just a little like a bored cat finally given a chance to play, and moved toward me.
“Good afternoon, Detective Doyle,” he said, his voice a smooth, slightly southern burr. “My name is Lindsey McDonald, and I represent Alicia Allen. I have just a few questions for you.”
Everything seemed to go still. I forgot to breathe. I remembered how I knew that voice.
"From start to finish, this whole incident took only a few minutes, isn't that right, Detective Doyle?"
"Yes, that's right."
"Yet you claim to remember every moment, in detail?"
"Yes. It made an impression," I added, and McDonald stepped in swiftly to interrupt me. "Just answer the question 'yes' or 'no,' Detective Doyle."
"Yes, I remember."
"Then of course you noticed one of the men putting the gun into Alicia's hand, didn't you?"
"No, absolutely not."
"You missed that? Perhaps you weren't paying such close attention as you claim, Detective Doyle."
"Objection," the Assistant D.A. said, her voice remaining calm. "Counsel is assuming facts not in evidence, and arguing with the witness."
"You say that you remember everything that happened during this incident. Didn't you notice, Detective Doyle, that the dealers were using Alicia as a shield when you and your partner burst in, shooting?"
"No. That didn't happen."
"How do you know? Do you know what happened before you kicked the door in?"
"I know what happened after."
"Yes or no, Detective Doyle. Do you know what happened before you broke in?"
"No," I said reluctantly.
"Do you know whether any of the others actually put the gun in Alicia's hand, and then hid behind her, just before the door opened?"
"Do you know who fired the first shots through the door?"
"So, you have no reason to believe that Alicia did any of the shooting before the door opened, did you?"
"Did you know before you broke down the door that there was a teenage girl in the room?"
"So, when you started firing through the door, you had no idea who was on the other side?"
"Someone who was shooting at us," I responded, in as strong a voice as I could.
"Just answer the question yes or no, Detective Doyle. Did you know who was on the other side of that door when you started shooting?"
"When your partner was shot, you had already ducked for cover outside the door, isn't that right?"
"So, you couldn't possibly have seen which of the individuals in that room fired the shot that wounded your partner. Isn't that right?"
"I saw her standin' there with the gun after-"
"You claim that you saw Alicia point the gun at your partner, but you didn't see Alicia fire the gun, did you?"
"In fact, Detective Doyle, isn't it true that you never saw Alicia fire the gun at all?"
"Isn't it true that you punched this young girl in the face before she had a chance to do anything at all?"
"Before she had a chance to pull the trigger," I answered quickly.
"Detective Doyle, just answer the question yes or no. Isn't it true that she hadn't fired a shot, to your knowledge, when you punched her in the face and knocked her to the floor?"
"I saw her pointin' the gun - "
"Yes or no. Had you actually seen Alicia fire that gun, even once, before you hit her?"
"Tell me, Detective Doyle, are you in the habit of carrying a Halloween mask when you are on duty?"
"Uh, yeah..." I felt my face flush red with the silliness of the statement, but what else could I say?
"Do you have any children?"
"Uh-huh." There were some quiet laughs from the jury as McDonald gave that sardonic grunt, one of his eyebrows archly shooting up into his hairline. "Detective Doyle, why do you carry a Halloween mask while on duty?"
I mumbled something fairly feeble about it coming in useful to surprise the bad guys, a trick that worked (true enough), which was greeted by another snigger from the jury, and a lawyerly smirk.
"Isn't it true, Detective Doyle, that you put on a mask to scare Alicia because you saw how young she was, almost a child, and you wanted to terrify her?"
"You didn't put on the Halloween mask in order to terrify this adolescent girl?"
"To startle her - or anybody else - "
"To scare her right out of her wits?"
"Objection," said the A.D.A. "Argumentative. Badgering the witness."
"Sustained. Counsel, it's almost five o'clock," said the judge. "This Court is now in recess. Detective Doyle, you are cautioned not to discuss your testimony with anyone while this court is in recess. This court will reconvene in the morning."
As the members of the jury stood, I noticed a few of them glance at me doubtfully.
The assistant DA walked over to me as people started filing out. Her voice low with grim conspiracy, she said, "Keep it together, Doyle. McDonald's grasping at straws - but given Ms Allen's record, the fact that you're weird isn't going to break this case."
Working my way outside, I caught sight of Newton through the milling crowds. The man he was talking to was partially obscured in the crush of people, but a glimpse of the arm and shoulder of a neatly tailored grey suit told me enough. I broke away from Kate and pushed my way closer to them, only in time to hear Newton say, "...more time.. It's not easy, what you're asking me."
"Don't take too long," Lindsey McDonald said, with a hint of threat. Then he was stalking away, his back straight and aloof, his stride businesslike. I watched Newton stare after him.
Newton turned around, and his eyes inadvertently met mine.
His mildly ruffled expression sort of crumpled, and he spun on his heel and hurried away, turning in the opposite direction to McDonald as he exited the courthouse.
I ran. Caught up with him cutting down an alley leading to a car park. My hand on his shoulder stopped him in his tracks and spun him around. He greeted me with both fists raised in classic boxer pose and I was uncomfortably reminded that he had about twice my own body weight behind him, and who knew how his demon blood might manifest?
He lowered his fists, breathing deep. "Doyle. What are you doing?"
The alley had dark walls and too much shadow, even this early in the evening. Crumbling brickwork in the walls, garbage gathering in clumps at the alley's edges. Tall buildings looming oppressive overhead. No windows looking down from the blank walls which faced inwards towards us.
I drew in a breath, prepared to speak. Ended up biting my tongue on the edge of a lie. I couldn't do this...
Harshly, I said, "I know, Newton. I know everything. What you are. What those Wolfram and Hart scumbags are up to with you."
He stared at me blankly. The expression made the large slab of his face look slow, but he wasn't slow. I knew that from experience. "Then you know more than I do," he said, "Because I don't even know what you're talking about. Have you been drinking? I know you've been stressed lately..."
"I ain't drunk and I'm not imaginin' things," I snapped. "You might as well lose the innocent act. You've been careless, Newton. I found your calling card from 'Mac'. I heard you talk to him, on the phone the other day and again just now. I know they're tryin' to get you to go over to their side, and I know why."
"Why's that, Doyle?" he said, no inflection in his voice, neither affirming or denying.
"Because you're part demon." I took a breath. "Just like I am."
I waited for his reaction. I was aware that this was all or nothing. That, in extending him this line, I was setting myself up to be dragged down with him if I failed to hold him, because if Wolfram and Hart knew I was half demon I shuddered to imagine how they'd use that knowledge.
Newton's expression had gone blank. He didn't move - not to breathe, not to blink. We stood in silence. I didn't breathe or blink either. My chest felt strangely tight. My eyelids could've been taped back.
A car came past down the alley, cutting a divide between us, the glare of headlights and the irate blare of a horn shattering the atmosphere. I stumbled back. My shoulders hit the brick wall behind me. Newton also backed off, turning his face aside and shielding his eyes with his hand.
Then, the car had passed and the glare and noise were gone, leaving us again with the deathly silent evening.
Newton breathed now: in heavy, harsh gasps. He stared at me across six feet of space, a distance he maintained even though the car occupied it no longer. "You... what is this?" he said. "This is a joke. Funny, Doyle. Very funny."
"It's not a joke, an' if it was it'd be a bloody lousy one," I said. "I'm half demon, an' rumour has it that's somethin' the two of us have in common."
He took a step towards me, hesitantly, disbelievingly. He stopped. He said, "No. No, it's a trick."
I didn't have the patience for this shit. It had been a long day in court and I was near the end of my tether: stretched out, worn out, talked out. With a snarl, I closed the gap between us, dragging my demon aspect out even as I moved.
"Feelin' a bit more inclined to believe me, now?" I growled, holding him - twice my size as he was - pressed up against the wall by his throat.
He nodded minutely, his eyes wide. I relaxed my grip, stood back, and let the demon fade away. Faced him once again as a human.
"You're... for real," he said, hoarsely, hardly audible.
"Yeah." I hesitated. "And now that's established, how 'bout we go get us a drink? I think we got some business to discuss."
We went to a small demon bar a few streets away. It wasn't overly busy, which suited both of us just fine. We found a table tucked away in a corner and lined up the shots.
"Lockley - she knows, right?" Newton said.
I nodded slowly. "Yeah, she knows. But she still ain't what you might call happy 'bout it. Back when, we, you know, sort of had a thing. But then she found out and then-" I made a bitter cutting gesture, slashing through the air with my hand. "What about you? How many of those guys you hang out with know about this?"
He just shook his head. "I never told them. Everyone but Wolfram and Hart think I'm normal - and I don't know how they found out. Used it on the job a few times too many, I guess. I try not to use it much." He punctuated the statement by downing a shot of whisky, his face wrinkling up as he did so. He avoided meeting my eyes.
"No skin off my nose," I said. "I'm with you on that one. Came too close to endin' up a popular freak show exhibit a few times myself. Wouldn't have told Kate, except she found out by accident. And shot me."
Newton choked on another shot, set his glass down and stared across the table. "She shot you?"
"It was a mistake." Uncomfortably, I changed the subject - to one only a little less uncomfortable. "When did you find out? What you were, I mean?"
"That you weren't human."
"Oh, I always knew. My mother made her displeasure with my father's 'secret' pretty obvious. She wasn't too keen to be rearing a kid that could sprout horns, armoured skin and six-inch claws at will, and once he walked off she got tired of trying pretty quickly." He studied me carefully. "Do you mean to say you didn't know?"
I shook my head. And thought about that, for the first time, in a different light. At least I'd been spared what Newton had been through. I'd had a shot of normal life. "I just found out a few years ago, man. You could say it was a bit of a surprise."
"Your parents didn't tell you?"
"My mum." I thought, abruptly, of the depth of caring it showed, that she'd even tried, when as Newton proved it would have been so easy to give up. "I suppose I had a few lucky breaks really."
But Newton shook his head. "I can't imagine what it must have been like, to think yourself human, normal, and then - is it easier or harder, to know from the start?" His expression said he didn't know, either.
"I guess we can't know," I said. "But that's the past. What matters is what we do now - an' you can't give in to these Wolfram and Hart people. I knew I had to talk to you, when I found out what was goin' on. I couldn't rat out your dealings with Wolfram and Hart, but I couldn't just stand by and let you do this. You have to know they're only interested in usin' you."
"Using me? You say that like the same's not true for the LAPD. For all the rest of this damn world. Lindsey McDonald's right. They'd kill me if they ever discovered what I am: a monster. They'd do it in a heartbeat. I've been there before, Doyle. I guess you've never had to really face what happens when you're discovered, or you'd know you can't trust anyone not to betray you. Wolfram and Hart, I know what they're after from me - but they know what I am, and they don't care. Or rather they do. It's the reason they're interested in me. I have a place there. I'll always be a misfit here, trying to fit into this world."
His sentiments rang too many bells for comfort. "Newton, pal, they're evil," I protested. "Don't you get what that means? The people you've been fightin' to put behind bars, you'd be fightin' to keep out on the streets. That bastard who was killin' the hookers. Ms Allen and her cronies, peddlin' drugs to fourteen year olds..."
"You're wrong. Wolfram and Hart have their standards. I think Allen's a favour for someone else. Drugs aren't their usual sort of scene, and Allen's small-time for them."
"And how many favours d'you think there'll be, Newton? They're still gonna get those people off to continue doin' what they do."
Newton hesitated, but it wasn't with doubt. His gaze fixed mine, and his eyes were uncomfortably intense. "Doyle. I don't think you're seeing the picture here. Maybe because you were raised human, you don't get it. You're used to thinking of yourself as human, as a part of their world, even if you know you're not. That must be a difficult habit to break, and I don't envy you it. We're not human, though. We're not bound by their laws. We're different. You and I, maybe we've both of us been trying to blend in for too long. We're demons. We're supposed to be evil. We're probably bound for hell anyway - who knows if we even have a soul to lose, or any of that shit?"
He leaned in closer to me, looking through me. "Take a look around you. You've got one real friend in the world and even she can't abide the true Francis Doyle. I've seen how the rest of the guys treat you. They treat you like dirt. And you know why they do that? It's because you're different. They sense that, even if they have no idea just how different."
"They don't hate you," I pointed out, trying to keep the tremor from my voice, and to still the tremor in my limbs. Too many truths...
He said, with a trace of bitter irony, "I've spent my life learning to blend in. You've had four years. This isn't me. What you see, what they see. It's just a facade. Me and you, Doyle - our humanity is just skin deep."
"Newton, man," I said, my voice a rasp, a whisper. "Think about this..."
"I have thought about it. You try thinking about it, Doyle. This could be the best chance you ever have. These people, they have an equal opportunity policy regarding demons. They have company pensions, no matter how long your life span might turn out to be. I'm not going to give you away to them if you don't want to go, but just think about it. You and me, we'd be among our own kind. We wouldn't have to hide any more. What future do you think you have, going on like this?"
I didn't want to think about it. But I did. Couldn't help it.
And I knew that I had to get away from there, and quick.
I stumbled backwards, knocking my seat over with a crash. Stammered, "I... I have to go, Newton." And I cleared out of there, almost tripping on a table leg in my desperation to get away.
I hurried from the bar, almost running, but he didn't come after. My mind was buzzing and I felt dizzy and disoriented, like someone had just given the world a good shaking then as their grand finale turned it full upside-down.
Newton was right. Not about Wolfram and Hart, perhaps, but about the rest- What did I owe the LAPD? What did I owe any of these people who invaded my head with visions of their distress? People who, were they to find out what I was, would see me as a monster.
Hadn't I done enough? What future did I have? Revenge could only carry you so far, and Darla had run off into the night... and however many vampires I killed there'd always be more, and they wouldn't be her.
I was tired. It had been three years and I was just too damn tired. Tired of working my ass off for no thanks save hostility from the surrounding world. Tired of a fight that never seemed to end. Tired of it all.
And Newton... Newton knew the inside of my head a little too well for both our good.
I sidled into the bar the cops used as a hangout. Kate was there, sitting alone on the edge of the counter. She looked up as I joined her. "Where did you get to?"
"I got caught up talking to some of the guys," I said evasively, and felt like a complete shit.
I sat down next to her, ordered a beer, opened my mouth. Soundlessly, I sat there with my jaw hanging, about to speak, not speaking, and I wanted to tell her - but I couldn't.
"Detective Doyle, when we recessed I was asking you about that Halloween mask you were wearing during this incident. When did you put it on?"
"After my partner was shot, when Alicia Allen turned the gun toward her. There were three of them still standin' - "
"After your partner was shot," he repeated back, interrupting me in mid-sentence. "You didn't know how badly your partner was injured, did you? You didn't know if it was just a graze, or something life-threatening."
"No, I didn't know."
"But instead of going to your partner's side, to help her, you put on a Halloween mask to scare Alicia and the others, isn't that right?"
"If I hadn't done somethin' to stop them, they would have shot her again. Fatally this time. Allen was threatenin' to-"
"Just answer the question, Detective Doyle. You ignored your injured partner, put on a Halloween mask, jumped at Alicia Allen and punched her in the face, didn't you?"
"It wasn't exactly like that."
Lindsey McDonald stared straight at me, his gaze level and knowing, and I could feel a prickling sensation at the back of my neck, as though my demon might come out at any moment. How much did he really know about me, anyway?
How much did he suspect?
"You didn't feel very threatened then, did you, Detective Doyle, if you had enough time to stop what you were doing, take out a Halloween mask, and put it on?"
"I was threatened. Alicia Allen was pointin' that gun, first at me, and then at my partner - "
"But you took the time to put on the mask anyway, isn't that right?"
"Yes." What else could I say?
"It was a monster mask, wasn't it, Detective Doyle? A green face, and red eyes, and spines poking out?"
One or two members of the jury laughed as I muttered, "Yes." He had described my demon face with surprising accuracy, given that Allen had only glimpsed it for a moment.
"And then you jumped at Alicia, wearing that monster mask, and you hit her in the face. Isn't that right?"
"Yes, but - "
"No further questions," McDonald said.
The assistant DA swiftly returned to the floor. "A few more questions, please," she said curtly, glowering at Lindsey.
"Detective Doyle, you have worked for the Los Angeles Police Department for some three years now - what was your impression of Ms Allen with the gun? Did she seem to you to be nervous? Under duress? Did she seem as though she didn't know what she was doing?"
"No," I said positively. "She looked comfortable holdin' that gun. Like she'd used one before. Like she knew exactly what she was doin'. She threatened us with it. An' it looked very much to me like it was her idea. Her pals were too busy hidin'. She threatened to shoot Kate - my partner."
"You must have seen a lot of things in your time with the LAPD. Do you believe an eighteen year old girl with a gun is any less dangerous than a thirty year old man with a gun?" Her question was loaded with implications of years of feminist struggle as she flickered a sly smile across to Lindsey, who winced.
I shook my head. "No less. More, maybe. A kid - any kid - will more likely shoot out of fear or bravado than calculated necessity."
"And your mask. It's an unusual prop for a policeman. Has it helped you make arrests before?"
Lindsey objected strenuously to that, but the assistant DA argued and he was overruled. I described a case a few months back involving a couple of now-convicted murderers, incidentally also the case which had won me my detective status.
The ADA smiled conclusively and nodded smartly around the jury, before sitting down again.