8 Months Ago
"Rough night last night?" Kate asked, appraising my bedraggled self.
We were standing outside a club in a mild drizzle. Above our heads, still lit up in the pre-dawn hours, was a pink neon sign outlining the shape of a naked woman with improbable breasts. A shoot-out in the street of some of the club's more gangland clientele had resulted in half the police force turning up on their doorstep. Most of the trouble was over now, the shootees largely having shot each other, but I could've done without the early-morning wake-up call nonetheless.
"Vision. Vampire. Dust," I said succinctly. My head was ringing. I hadn't had much more than an hour's sleep. "An' it's still last night," I added belligerently.
Kate nodded absently.
The paramedics were loading the bodies into the ambulances, and you couldn't move on the street for police tape and chalk marks. Some of the daubs of blood on walls and pavement were a remarkable distance from the chalk outlines. The gang mentality liked a firearm with kick. It was a mess.
Over by the police barrier, a number of the club's clientele and, uh, staff waited to be questioned. A number of the officers seemed to be enjoying taking in the view. Some of those girls must've been freezing. Kate and I sipped at hot coffee from a coffee bar on the wrong side of the police tape which had nonetheless escaped closure. The reporters were hovering over by the tape where Newton was stationed, his task to keep them out. Occasionally he glowered at them and they shuffled nervously. He'd already dragged one back out to the other side of the tape.
All in all, it was precisely the kind of media farce we needed to overshadow Allen's ongoing trial and headlines like 'Teen Addict Victim of Police Brutality'.
Kate still dealt with my visions in much the same way she did with the demon - by ignoring their existence as much as possible. So she surprised me when she said, "Visions. Right. Are you... having any trouble with those?" Her eyes searched my face. "Something you've not mentioned?"
"Huh? No." Taken aback, I wondered what she was getting at.
"It's just that you've seemed distracted, these past few days. Ever since you gave testimony at the trial, in fact. I was concerned it was something to do with your visions, something you might not have told me because, you know, not great with the supernatural stuff." She hesitated, then added, "You can tell me, though. I am your friend. I won't freak."
I shook my head. "Thanks, Kate, but there's nothin' goin' on on the vision front that I've not mentioned."
"Okay." She sipped at the coffee and winced, and blew over the top of the cup aggressively. "Don't let the trial get to you, Doyle. They'll nail Allen. They're just running through the formalities, now. Nobody has any real doubt she's guilty."
I nodded slowly.
"And you can talk to me," she said pointedly. "You don't have to be spending so much time going off and brooding alone."
I didn't tell her that I wasn't.
We took witness statements for the next three hours. As the last of the ambulances left and the police presence started to disperse, Newton caught my eye and I followed him away down a side street.
I knew I shouldn’t have spoken to Newton again, after what had happened, but somehow I couldn’t help myself.
I don’t really think either of us consciously planned it, but the night after our conversation, I found myself walking back through the doorway of the bar we’d visited.
I sat down at the table we’d been at, and ordered a beer.
Ten minutes later, Newton walked in.
Over the next couple of days, it became a kind of ritual. There wasn’t a formalized meeting time, but we’d be seated by nine-thirty without fail. We didn’t speak until we’d each had at least one beer, hell, sometimes we didn’t even speak at all.
It was enough just to sit there, and know that the person opposite you understood.
Other nights, we talked about whatever came into our heads…work…sports…places we’d been, things we’d done….
As it turned out, Newton had been up and down the coast more than a few times, and he had a few really wild stories about demon bars in New York, or the succubus he met in New Orleans.
My tales of “Went hunting. Staked vampires. Drank a bottle of scotch and passed out,” paled by comparison. Sometimes I told Newton about my time with Harry, and he sat there, drinking it in, imagining a life that he could have only seen on TV.
The fact that, today, he'd pulled me out to some demon bar in the middle of the morning - and not even our regular one, at that, but the closest: a tiny place stuck behind a laundry, almost empty at this time of day - coupled with the look on his face when he'd caught my eye across the chalk-marked street, told me he had something on his mind. But whatever it was, he wasn't in any immediate hurry to voice it and I didn't ask. In fact, we were halfway through the second round before Newton spoke at all.
“You look shitty.”
I rolled a mouthful of beer around my mouth and swallowed. “You too, now? Between you and Kate, I’m startin’ to feel kinda hen-pecked.”
Newton brushed off my flippant comment. “Well, obviously one trait Lockley and I share is the ability to notice the blindingly obvious. What happened to you?”
I shrugged. “Went out huntin’, saved someone’s life in the process. They ran off shrieking about green-faced monsters. Pretty much business as unusual.”
He frowned. “Why do you do that? Risk yourself for no reason, just to kill off some two-bit bloodsuckers?” He paused. “Scratch that, I know why. But how?”
“The usual way,” I replied. “Stake, heart, poof. It’s not really a complicated procedure.”
Newton shook his head dismissively. “I meant how do you track them? LA’s one hell of a big city for evil to hide in, but you kill what, one or two vamps a night? That’s one hell of hunting record.”
“I get visions,” I said, by way of explanation. Curt, I know, but I didn’t really want to talk about vampire-killing right now. I pretty much just wanted to get smashed and pass out - see if I could catch up on my lost rest that way,
Newton looked at me dubiously. “How many beers did you have before we got here?”
“None, more’s the pity,” I told him, smirking.
Newton frowned again. “Quit dodging, Doyle. You’re killing yourself going out constantly like this, as sure as if you blew your brains out. At least give me the full story - it’s not like we haven’t done the huge-secret-sharing thing already,” he added wryly.
I raised my hands in surrender. “This really isn’t a secret on the scale of ‘Hey, I’m a demon.’ I just get these headaches. They come with pictures and surround sound, and they’re usually about some kind of danger or threat, demons, vamps, that kinda thing. Maybe it’s somethin’ to do with the breed of demons I come from, I don’t know. To be honest, I don’t really care.”
Newton took a sip of his beer, a slightly far-away look on his face as he considered my words. "Well, I'll be damned."
His response was ironic, even trite, but something flickered behind his eyes.
“What do you know?” I asked bluntly.
Newton shook himself slightly, returning from wherever he'd been. “Nothing solid,” he replied slowly. “But I’ve heard things. Demons who get visions of the future, even though they don’t come from particularly mystical backgrounds. Seers.”
“Seers, huh?” I repeated, unconvinced. “Do they tend to be cranky and buy lots of extra-strength Tylenol? ‘Cause then we might be kindred spirits.”
“Your guess is as good as mine. I’ve never met any, but a lot of demons agree that they exist. The real arguments start up when people ask where the visions come from.”
Newton’s melodrama was starting to irritate me, so I cut to the chase. “Where do they come from then? Major demon television network?”
“The Powers That Be,” he answered simply.
I frowned. “Be what?”
Newton laughed softly. “Your guess is as good as mine. But according to what I’ve heard, and seen, there’s definitely something out there, and it’s definitely keeping an eye on our kind. How else do you explain your visions?”
I didn’t have an answer for that, so I just drained my beer and slumped further down in my seat. Frankly, the thought of something, anything, watching over me and using me as some kind mystical radio antenna disturbed me more than I wanted to admit.
Painful as it was to believe myself alone in my crusade, it was far less scary than the alternative.
Newton seemed to pick up on my change in moods, since he let it lie and talked quietly for a few minutes about baseball. I gave non-committal answers and engaged myself in slowly peeling the label off my beer bottle.
Newton’s semi-serious discussion of baseball trailed off, and I looked up expectantly. He looked uncomfortable in the extreme, his jaw working slightly. Then, finally, he spoke again.
“Wolfram and Hart called me today.” His voice was flat and emotionless, and he looked at me intently, as if wondering how I’d react.
We sat in silence as the blue-skinned waiter replaced our drinks. Newton and I hadn’t spoken about Wolfram and Hart since our first discussion, and part of me had been quietly hoping he’d told them where to stick their offer. Evidently, he hadn’t.
I leaned forward once the waiter moved out of earshot. “What did they want?”
Newton toyed with his beer, refusing to meet my gaze. “Mac wants me to come and meet him - so we can discuss my salary.”
I felt sick, and not from the beers. “So you’re goin’ with them?”
“I don’t know,” he answered honestly. “I…it really seems like the best deal I’ll get anywhere. But…”
“But?” Newton sighed. “I’ve never done anything like this before, Doyle. Not even close. I don’t want to do it alone.” His gaze met mine. “I want you to come with me.”
I nearly choked on my beer. “Listen, man - “
“Hang on a minute,” he said, raising his hand in a placating fashion. “I know you don’t trust them. Neither do I, really. For guys like us, trust is a luxury we can’t afford. You know what I mean.”
I shook my head in denial, but the memory of how quickly I’d lied to Kate nudged me, laced in guilt.
“Of course you do,” Newton continued, his voice low and persuasive. “Our very existence is bathed in lies. I bet your father’s name isn’t filled in on your birth record, right? From birth, we’ve been lied to, or we’ve had to lie to others. Wolfram and Hart’s giving us a way out - where the lies aren’t necessary any more.”
“Those lies aren’t necessary any more,” I retorted. “I bet Lindsey has a whole new set of ones for you.”
“Maybe. But we’ll be safe. No more stupid risks…no more ‘monster masks’ or holding back to avoid out-performing the other cops…it sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Wolfram and Hart takes care of their own, Doyle. They want to help us.”
“The LAPD takes care of its own, too,” I said defensively. “And they don’t put murderers back on the streets.”
“When are you going to get it, Doyle?” Newton asked earnestly. “Sure, the LAPD takes care of their own, but we aren’t part of their own. We’re different. Why can’t you accept that? The humans can’t tolerate us; it just isn’t in them.”
“Kate tolerates me,” I disagreed angrily. “She understands me. What’s more, she’s my friend. I won’t go behind her back.”
“Kate tolerates a part of you,” Newton retaliated swiftly. “The human part. Be honest. If she could destroy your demon side without taking the rest of you with it, she would do it in a second, wouldn’t she? She’s a bigot, plain and simple.”
“Hell, I’d probably do the same if I could,” I growled back. “Does that make me a bigot?”
Newton looked directly into my eyes, as if he was reading my thoughts off the insides of my eyeballs. “No. It makes you confused and hurt, loathing yourself but unable to do anything about it.”
“You’ve been there.”
He laughed bitterly. “Some mornings, I still am. You know, back when I was fifteen, I actually tried it? Tied a noose up to my bedroom ceiling, stood on a chair, the whole performance.”
My throat was as tight as if I was the one being hanged. “What happened?”
“I chickened out. Went demon when the chair tipped over. As it turned out, my demon side was a hell of a lot harder to suffocate than the human. My mother was in the next room, watching TV. She must have heard me gurgling like a clogged drain, because she opened my bedroom door and looked in at me, dangling there in demon form. Then she closed the door and locked it.” Angrily, he downed about half his bottle in one gulp, and then slammed it down on the table. “Tell me again how understanding humans can be.”
I shook my head: no words came to mind. I remembered standing at the window of my shabby rented apartment in the early months after Harry's death, contemplating the four floors and street below. But that hadn't been so much about the demon as it had all the rest.
"The court case," Newton said, then, looking at me intently, abruptly breaking the silence. "Wolfram and Hart..."
"You won't get a better opportunity to prove your loyalties to them. If you were willing to go back on the stand, to let Mac recall you as a witness, to question you again about some new stuff you 'remembered'..."
He stopped, maybe seeing the reluctance in my eyes. I saw the hint of desperate hope in his. He didn't want to do this alone. I didn't want to let him down. "I - I don't know Newton, I... Kate..." A movement behind him caught my eye and I looked up. "Kate."
She was standing not ten feet away, and from the look on her face, she'd been listening for some time.
"Doyle, what the hell's going on?" she said.
Kate was staring at me like she couldn't believe the scene that was in front of her.
"What's - going - on?" she repeated, her voice grating in her throat.
"Just talking, Lockley," Newton said smoothly, setting the 'charm' switch onto full.
She just glared at him. I could've told him that one wouldn't work. "Wolfram and Hart," she said slowly. "So the rumours really are true that they employ demons other than their legal staff. And you two - they're making a little recruitment drive on LA's demon population, huh? Do they have to fill an equal opportunities quota on you guys or something?"
The air around us dropped to Arctic temperatures as Kate and Newton faced each other. Newton glanced away.
I was glad the bar we'd come to was so quiet. The only person around was a drunk guy with horns, who slumped oblivious over the counter. The staff had found some pressing tasks to attend to in the back.
Kate strode over to us. She said flatly, "So now I know where you've been getting to lately. Sneaking off to meetings of Demons Anonymous."
Newton got up. He'd paled visibly in the face of the discovery he feared so much. He looked about ready to flee, but he didn't move, just stared at Kate. I stared at Kate too.
"You don't understand," I told her.
She cut me off before I could continue. "Too damn right, I don't. You were talking about throwing this case over to their side. Have you gone nuts? Hello? Don't you recall they're the bad guys? I knew something was going on, but I thought you were in trouble, not... not..." Words failed her. A rare enough event.
I took the opportunity to get a word in edgeways. "Kate, no. It's not about Wolfram and Hart. I mean, he wants to go over to them, sure, and he wants me to go with him. That doesn't mean I'm gonna do it, right? An' Newton, he's got his reasons, his life among humans hasn't exactly been a ball. It's not his fault. He's not a bad guy..."
"Only the enemy," she snapped.
"No," I said. Newton looked drawn. "It's not like that - and don't talk about him like that, Kate. You might've heard some of what we were talking about, but I can tell you didn't get any of it. Not in here." I angrily bounced my fisted hand off my chest in the region of my heart. "He's a decent guy. It's just that he has a different perspective on things. He sees so much that others don't-"
"Things that you see as well?" she asked, her features set in stone. "Because you're a demon too?"
"Half." But I nodded. "I never met nobody else who knew what it was like, really knew. He's been in the LAPD, tryin' to protect humans, for years - but he's not really one of them. He'll never belong. They'll never accept him as he truly is. He'll always have to hide from them, or suffer the consequences of discovery... and that's all true for me, too."
"When you say 'humans'," Kate said softly, "You sound like you're talking about the enemy."
"Maybe I am. Kate, what if he's right?"
"Bullshit. When did it become 'them' and 'us' with you, Doyle? When were things ever that simple?"
Newton spoke before I could respond, surprising me. He seemed to have regrouped; he now glared at Kate with intense dislike as he said, "You know, I don't like the attitude you take with him, Lockley. You do this often, do you? Tell him he's not good enough because of his blood? Make him think that he has to repress what he really is, and then call yourself his friend? Three years of crushing everything that's in him that you can't accept... is it any wonder he doesn't know who he is anymore?"
I glared. "Thanks a bunch, Newton, pal."
"I'm sorry, but it's the truth," he said. "This...this is what you need to get away from, to give yourself room to grow. And not just you. It's you and me both that I'm talking about, Doyle. We've both let ourselves be overrun by a world tailored to them."
Kate glared daggers at him. "I never told him he wasn't good enough..." Her eyes sparked fury.
"Perhaps not overtly. But it's all there in your attitude. You can't escape it."
"I never - I..." She stopped, and looked at me, and suddenly she looked doubtful and lost. "You want to be a demon full-time now?" she asked. "Is that what you're saying? 'Cause I always thought you were only slightly more comfortable with that than I am." She slammed both fists down on a table, hard enough to bruise - but apparently she didn't notice the pain. "Three years I've known you, Doyle. Three years. Does he know you better than I do, after a matter of days?"
I couldn't answer but she read the answer anyway from my face. Her features became all the more tight and strained. Behind her, Newton, looking uncomfortable and a little mortified, made a quiet exit, apologetically mouthing across to me soundless words I didn't catch.
Kate said, "If you're looking to fit in, you're looking at the wrong place. You're not a demon, Doyle. Wolfram and Hart isn't your home."
"That's right, but what about Newton? Him and me, we're two of a kind. What you think of him, goes for me."
"Just because you've a lot of common ground doesn't mean he's doing you any favours, or that this weird catharsis you seem to be sharing is any good for you!"
Her muscles were taut with tension, the fists hanging at her sides white-knuckled. "I know it must be difficult, being what you are, but maybe you have to face that you don't really belong anywhere - because, hell, how many of us really do? You just have a really peculiar ancestry to blame it on."
She silenced me with a glare. "Am I your enemy now, Doyle?" she asked, and there wasn't just anger in her face.
But she'd spun on her heels and was already walking away. I staggered to my feet, tripping over my chair. By the time I recovered my balance, she was already out the door.
"Damn it, Kate!"
I ran out and along the quiet street, and turned one corner in time to see her car disappear around the next.
I wasted maybe a couple of hours angrily walking the streets kicking at debris on the sidewalk and putting off the moment when I'd have to face either of them again before I made my way back to the precinct.
And when I got back, it was to find the place in turmoil.
I grabbed onto the arm of one of the bodies that was rushing around talking. It belonged to Ed Smith, a homicide detective I vaguely knew.
"What the hell's goin' on?" I yelled, above the noise.
"Doyle. Oh, shit, Doyle." He looked flustered. "In the cells - they just found that suspect, Allen - shit, there's gonna be trouble... Harrison'll be waiting to see you."
"Found Allen? What-?"
Someone else snagged his arm, dragging his attention away from me. I pushed past him and down the corridor that led to the cells. Stopped short.
They were wheeling her out, uncovered, on a morgue stretcher.
Her body flopped like a broken doll on the stretcher as they wheeled her along. There were black bands of bruises ringing her neck, deep marks sunken into her flesh, the unmarked skin white and puffed around them. Her face was colourless, her expression a grimace in death, and she didn't look even her pitiful eighteen years. Her eyes were open and staring, terror in their glazed depths.
Eighteen years old and she'd hanged herself in her cell - and, somehow, looking at her now, it was easy to forget the things we knew and suspected she'd done, the people she'd hurt, the people she might've killed. I stared at her body and I think I knew, then, that this was it. This wasn't just the end for her.
The stretcher rolled by and Harrison was on the other side of it. He approached me with one hand outstretched; index finger jabbing, pointing viciously. His face, distorted with anger, shouting into mine.
You. My office. Now.
Harrison read the note she'd left aloud. When I saw it, later, the note itself was almost incoherent, badly spelt, grammar practically non-existent. But none of that came across right then.
"...I see that spiked, red-eyed face every time I close my eyes, and when I do it doesn't look like a mask, it looks real. He's a monster. I can't stand the way he looks at me outside court; when I'm in my cell. He's determined to see me in prison. I can't rest for the memory of that face, and I can't take it any more."
Harrison finally fell silent and looked up from reading. His gaze on me was hostile in a way that went far beyond the usual pompous irritation. "It's clear to me," he said accusingly, "that you badgered this suspect to the point of suicide."
I opened my mouth, closed it again when words failed me. After working my lips silently for a few seconds, I finally managed to choke out, "I... it can't be - I haven't seen her since court. Not for days. I-" Surely I couldn't have bothered her so much, my demon face couldn't have preyed on her enough that she'd kill herself after days without any direct contact with me. Surely...
Lindsey McDonald's protestations came to mind: that she was still a child, still just a girl. My own defence, that a youth was more like to panic, less able to think with calm and logic...
This couldn't be happening.
Did Alicia Allen realise it wasn't a mask she'd seen? That monsters were real? Had my demon killed a girl... without even meaning to?
"This didn't happen for nothing," Harrison was saying, his voice a snarl. "Don't try to worm your way out of this one, Doyle. You're suspended, pending an enquiry. Now get out of here before I have you thrown out. And I want your badge handed in ASAP."
I went straight to the nearest bar. There didn't seem to be anything much else to do. Of the two people I might've gone to for support, Newton was nowhere to be found and, in all the uproar and confusion, I didn't know where Kate had gotten to either. Not that she'd probably even deign to speak to me if I did find her. She probably didn't even want to know me any more.
After a drink in that bar, I moved on to the next. And the next again after that. I drank my way across town to the bar which had been Newton's and my customary haunt.
I was working my way through a second scotch when he finally came in. He sat down beside me, looking flustered and harassed, and his hand went straight for the bottle that stood in front of me on the counter.
"I went back to the station," he said. "Shit, Doyle."
I nodded. That was an assessment I agreed with, on the whole. We sat in silence for a time, drinking. Newton breathed heavily at first, like he'd hurried there, but his breaths evened out after a time.
Then, he opened his mouth and, raggedly, told me what I already knew. "Damn it, Doyle, but they've done for you with this. Didn't I tell you they'd get to you - that you'd go down because of your demon side. I just didn't expect it'd be so damned soon. But no way this one slips through an enquiry. Even if you didn't directly do anything to her beyond the arrest. Dead teenagers turn heads, even if they are murderers themselves."
I nodded slowly. The alcohol had anaesthetised me somewhat by that time. I stared blankly into the middle distance, which happened to be the bare brick wall at the back of the counter, seeing not the brickwork but everything falling apart again around me.
"I know, Newton," I sighed. I drank. I reclaimed the bottle from Newton, re-filled, and drank again. "Get your own," I said, waving the bottle at him with half-hearted mirth. "This one's taken. I think I'm just gonna crawl into it and build myself a little home inside there for the next decade."
Newton frowned at me. "There is... another option," he said hesitantly. He stopped, as though he regretted bringing it up again. "I'm sorry, Doyle. I know it's not what you want. You already told me that much. Forget I mentioned it again." He patted my arm in a gesture of consolation, of sympathy. "Let's just get drunk."
He didn't have to outline what he meant, I already knew what it was. And I couldn't help thinking it over again, despite his efforts to move onto other subjects. I'd lost Kate. I'd lost my police career. What was there left? What else was there for me to do?
"You know," I said slowly, doubts dragging my voice, but spurred on by drink and an overwhelming desire not to end up alone again, whatever the cost, nor fighting against the only person I had left that I might call a friend, "I guess I don't have a lot left to lose. Maybe I could just talk to your Wolfram and Hart guy for now, right?"
He nodded, understanding and a warm hint of gratitude in his eyes. "Yeah, Doyle, I can arrange that."
That was when the door of the bar bounced back on its hinges, smacking into the wall with such a fearsome crack that I looked up in faintly nervous anticipation, wondering what demonic terror was about to stride across the threshold.
Kate stomped into the bar, her hands balled into tight fists at her sides and an expression of grim, determined fury on her face that sent nearby demons ducking out of sight behind their tables or scuttling hurriedly out of the back door. Beside me, Newton swore under his breath.
I couldn't tear my eyes from her as she stalked over to our table. I hadn't expected to see her again, not so soon, certainly hadn't thought she'd seek me out after what had happened between us. "Kate?" I asked. "What're you-?"
"Get away from him," she said, in a low, cold voice. I was startled to realise she was talking to Newton. "Right now." She drew her gun and levelled it, seemingly oblivious to the hordes of very angry demons watching her from the room's shadows.
Newton gaped at her. My face must have been a mirror of his.
"Kate?" I repeated stupidly. I knew she didn't think much of Newton, but this was rather excessive, even by her standards.
"He's not your friend." She didn't turn her eyes from him. "Now, stand up, Newton. Stand up and move away from my partner, and keep your goddamned hands where I can see them or I swear I'll blast them clean off."
"Excuse me," an Arreck demon growled pointedly at her, tapping its claws on the top of the table it was sitting at. "We only allow a very exclusive clientele in-"
"Yeah. The warty and the slimy." She still didn't turn. "Shut the hell up unless you want to exchange that ugly mug of yours for a blast crater." Her fingers flexed on the gun with a certain glee. The demon fell silent, and the majority of the bar's clientele started enthusiastically pretending to be oblivious to the three of us. Newton cast me a disbelieving glance that said, 'This is your best friend?'
I would have shrugged back at him, if I hadn't been too busy trying to figure what Kate could possibly be talking about. Newton not my friend? "Kate, what's goin' on?" I asked somewhat pleadingly.
Newton was looking slightly nervous, Kate was looking more than slightly trigger happy. I moved in front of Newton, interrupting Kate's line of fire with my own body.
She studied us, her expression wary. A jerk of her head flipped hair from her narrowing eyes. Even though it was now pointed at me, she didn't lower the gun. Probably on principle.
She said, "He works for Wolfram and Hart, Doyle."
"Yeah, Kate, I told you-"
"No. I don't mean he's some sap they're just getting their hooked tentacles into. I mean he works for them. For a few years now, I should think."
She took a breath. There was no doubt in her eyes. Maybe a trace of pity, as she finally let her gaze meet mine. "When I left you after we'd argued, I managed to pick up Newton's trail again. I didn't believe his story. Call it prejudice if you like, more than any special instinct. You know how I feel about this demon stuff. It's immaterial in this instance, though. He was talking on a cellphone inside his car when I found him. He sat there for a long time, talking. I couldn't hear anything, of course, but the conversation looked pretty intense. When he finally drove off, I tried to follow. Lost him close to the station, and wasted time trying to catch his trail again - when I gave up and returned to the station his car was in the lot outside.
"I found him," she said, her voice hard, "coming back from the cells - and promptly lost him again in the furore that erupted after they found Allen dead." Her implication was clear in her voice.
I didn't know what to think. My grip on Newton's arm slackened but neither he nor I otherwise moved. There had to be some mistake. With Kate's attitude to demons, it could easily be an overreaction. I wasn't just going to let her shoot Newton.
Kate continued. "While everyone was distracted, I did a little digging through your new friend's desk. Some pretty heavy-duty locks on those drawers to keep things from your police buddies, Newton." I'd mused a few times that I'd have liked to know where she'd acquired those lock picking skills. "The papers I found in there are suspect to say the least. Papers about the court case, about Allen, about someone referred to as `the target' - now who would that be, Newton?"
She said, "I've been looking for you for hours, Doyle, to tell you, and the demon bars I've trolled..." A brief flash of malignance in her eyes before she took a breath and visibly made herself calm. "But never mind that. This whole thing was a set-up. A set-up to lure you in, because they knew you'd fling a direct approach right back in their faces. The whole point of this isn't to get him, they've already got him. It's you. It was always about you.
"Now get the hell out of my way so I can shoot the bastard, huh?"
I didn't get out of her way, but I did turn to Newton, whose expression was stonily blank. He wasn't looking at me, though. He was looking at Kate. He put his hand on my shoulder, squeezed, a friend's gesture of support which he made as though the last few minutes hadn't happened.
"You think this makes any difference?" he told her, his voice calm and reasonable as ever. Nothing was changed. Still Newton. No evil facade uncovered, just the same man I'd been talking to for the last few hours. "It makes no difference, Detective Lockley. He knows now that he doesn't have to live like this, hiding pathetically from the humans around him. That there's somewhere else to go. Another option. People that are like him. You think he's going to turn that down? You are too late, Lockley. You couldn't have been on time. He's already made his choice. It was inevitable."
His confidence made it clear he believed what he was saying, that he couldn't imagine me choosing any other path but his and, watching him, I couldn't see the deception, only the guy I'd come to know with whom I shared so many common experiences, the only person who'd ever really understood.
"So she's right, then?" I said softly. "This was all a bluff? All the time, Wolfram and Hart were after me?"
Newton shook his head. "At first they wanted Allen. You were targeted to win us this case, a way to get to her. We'd suspected you weren't completely human for some time. A few too many miraculous escapes, a few too many off-the-wall cases. It was either you or Lockley. The mask story clinched it. It was me that persuaded the firm you were more important than Allen. That we were going to lose the case anyway, but we had something better to concentrate our efforts upon."
`We', I thought blankly. Wolfram and Hart weren't `them' to Newton, they were we. Kate was right. The rest took a few more seconds to sink in.
"And Allen," I said, realisation sweeping over me. "Allen was prepared to make a fuss because you were losing her case. So you cut your losses. You decided you had more to gain with her out of the way."
"That's right. That's how important you are to the firm, Doyle. Your demon abilities, your visions-"
"You killed an eighteen year old girl to set me up so I had no option but to go your way," I snarled. My fist came around with all my strength behind it, in a roundhouse punch that stretched him out on the floor.
"No fighting!" growled the demon behind the bar. "I may not be able to call the cops-"
"We are the freaking cops!" Kate barked at him.
He ignored her. "-but I can ask Mollach and his friends to escort you off the premises." A group of four very large demons stood up from a table in the shadows.
I stared at them. If they'd ever made the movie 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Hippos', the cast would've looked like that - but probably a lot less scary. "We'll take it outside," I said quickly, seeing Kate bristle and clutch her gun tighter, and recognising the danger signs.
I reached down and snagged Newton's collar. Marched out of the bar dragging him behind me - out into the quiet street which the bar faced onto, dark now, illuminated by a single streetlight some way down and the faint glow escaping from the mostly blacked-out windows of the bar.
A street largely hidden from human view.
I flung Newton away from me. He hit the wall and bounced back off it, but he kept his balance and turned it into a spin round to face me. I was aware of Kate behind me, not interfering, just waiting to see what I would do.
"I know you're angry now," Newton said, wiping blood from his face, "but when you think about it you'll see - I couldn't have done anything else. I know what you've been through. We're the same. I wanted to get you out of this, to give you a real chance..."
"You lied to me!"
I lunged forward to smash his face against the wall again. But his hands shot out to meet mine and we grappled. He had about twice my body weight, leaving me no choice but to call my demon side to the fore.
"You see? It's what you are," he said. "You can't not use it. If you stay in their world, playing by their rules, sooner or later someone's going to discover you. And then you'll be finished. Your only choice is to come with me."
"To do what? Kill junkie kids in their cells?"
"Survival, Doyle. Who knows if their concepts of good and evil even apply to us? Like I said before, how can we be sure we've even a human soul to lose? And you know as well as I do that Allen was a murderer. Not one of those you're so hot to protect. One of the ones you'd protect against. One of the one's you'd have killed yourself, in the line of duty."
The image of the man I'd shot flickered before my eyes. I banished it. Different. It was different. I shook my head grimly, as I shoved Newton backwards, the strength of my demon making a mockery of even his muscular human physique. His back hit the exterior wall of the demon bar. I yanked him forward, then slammed him back again. His head jerked against the brickwork with a dull smack and he choked on a grunt of pain.
"No," I growled. "You guys murder her when she's helpless, and that makes her a victim. You think I'd ever join your people, with methods like that?" His head hit the wall again: punctuation.
It wouldn't take much more to smash his skull completely. But then I hesitated, held back. He looked up bloodily, snaring my eyes with his own.
Time slowed down. I stared into Newton's bleeding face, and thought of all the things we'd shared in so short a time. We'd made a connection - and if all those things had been lies, surely that connection couldn't have happened. In some sense, he must have been honest with me.
Minutes ago, I'd understood completely Newton's reasons for going over to Wolfram and Hart. Nothing had changed. The deception only meant that it must have happened earlier.
I knew then that I couldn't do it. Yeah, Newton was the enemy, but I understood all too well how he'd gotten there. He could've been me. He was as human as I was. He might've been me.
Newton looking at me must've seen... what? That I wasn't going to kill him. That, whatever he might say now, his methods and his treachery had lost my trust forever. That my decision was made, and I didn't belong to his world.
I barely saw him move - only the brief shimmer as his features blurred and then the pavement as it crunched up into my face.
What-? Newton-? I blinked. The hands on the ground in front of me were human again, which explained why I felt so lousy. Squinting at the concrete wasn't going to solve anything, though. I forced my limbs to move. Small points of light danced over my vision as I staggered to my feet. I almost fell down again. My face hurt about as much as you'd expect it would after being mashed into the pavement. Blood dripped off my chin.
Newton was already running, already about fifty yards away down the alley. I knew he was in his demon form, which I'd never seen. I couldn't see it now - only a vague impression of horns jutting from the side of his head, and a figure more bulky than even his human norm. He was too far away already for me to make out anything much. Kate snapped off a shot and levelled her gun for another - and I lurched desperately across the six feet between us and dragged her arm down, ruining the shot.
In the distance the running figure, which had stumbled at the first shot, righted itself and ran unsteadily on. It disappeared out of sight around a corner, already almost indistinguishable from the darkness it moved through.
I stared at the space where it had been for a long moment, then sat down heavily on the ground. Kate looked at me and swore.
"You look like shit. You know, you deserve to look like shit. Why in the hell did you let him go?"
I couldn't muster any more reply than a shrug. I took deep breaths, tried to get a hold of the wreckage he'd left my thoughts in. Choked on the breaths, and couldn't do much with the thoughts either.
Kate regarded me wordlessly. After a moment, she said, "I don't understand why you ever considered his offer to start with."
"I'm sorry," I said awkwardly. "I guess... the urge to belong is stronger than I imagined."
"Even to 'belong' with the bad guys?" she asked, staring flatly back at me.
I nodded slowly. "Even that, I guess."
Her expression remained unmoved. "I'm human. You think I 'belong'? You think those assholes with their Scully jokes and their 'get laid' jokes think I 'belong'?" She grit her teeth.
"If you ask me," she said, "You're nothing like him."
I shrugged and turned away. "It's academic anyway. He betrayed me. He played me. I..."
"He's a demon," she grated.
"I'm a demon."
"You're... different. You're you."
"It's not like Newton had any reason to be loyal to humanity. He said that-"
"Spare me the sob story, Doyle. For all you know, it could be just another pack of lies. You can't let yourself believe anything that guy told you."
"No," I protested. "That's not true. There was something there. Something... real."
Kate looked back at me cynically. After a long moment she sighed and reached out, hauled me unceremoniously to my feet. Once there, she gripped both my shoulders at arm's length in about the closest she'd probably ever come to a consoling hug. "It's okay, " she said. "They found a weakness and they exploited it. It's okay to want to... to be understood. To belong somewhere. I just wish you'd come to me before letting it get this far."
She just held me like that, in silence, as the seconds ticked by, and I thought of what had happened, and how I hadn't trusted her.
I sighed and I nodded, slowly, finally meeting her gaze.
"Come on," she said. "Let's get back."
But although I nodded again and I followed her, I found my attention drifting back over my shoulder to the street corner where Newton had disappeared.
A couple of days later, I went back to Harrison's office.
When I entered the station, I found that walking into an ice factory might have allowed for a warmer reception.
Whatever working atmosphere the place had quickly died once I walked in, churning into an ugly low hustle. It could have been one of those slow-mo shots, like in those old western movie flicks, when the sheriff walks into the saloon before some dramatic showdown and the piano just shuts off.
I knew two things for sure.
One, that I was a sheriff without a badge.
Kate's desk was empty. Hell, her coffee mug was empty. A rarity these days with the workload and everything. I hadn't seen her since my last night with Newton, after she saw me back in one piece and made damn sure I missed the rest of the bars on the way. I couldn't say the same for her when she left.
I unclenched my fist; looked down at my hand and watched the blood return to my whitened knuckles.
It might actually be easier. Facing Kate would be left for another time, a time much less sober. Then, I noticed the edge of something square tucked neatly behind a pile of files.
I unconsciously pushed it further into the paperwork, burying it. She didn't want others to know, but I did. Kate had asked a friend to snap a picture of him at a precinct New Year party. He hadn't ever even known it existed. From what Kate told me about him, he'd only have laughed at her sentiment if he had.
Harrison's office was unnaturally quiet when I reached the door. I could almost feel the stir of hushed voices behind me dying into an echo.
This town wasn't big enough for the both of us.
As I began to walk out of the precinct for the last time, I stole one final glance at Kate's desk. The picture, tucked out of sight. Then, letting my gaze slip, the rest of the station I'd spent the last three years growing into.
Crude, but nonetheless there.
Another life lost. How many did Brachen demons have, anyway?
Newton... I never found out what happened to him. He didn't come back into work, not even to resign. There was a lot of concern for a time - until people forgot, like people do. Maybe Newton's friends weren't too friendly after all. Maybe there was something in what he'd said, about how we were too different, behind the human facade, to ever be really accepted in this human world.
Newton's disappearance was blamed on me in whispers and rumours, but since nobody had anything solid to pin on me, whispers and rumours they stayed.
Kate always maintained to me that she killed him, with that one shot. She claimed she was aiming to: hit him square in the back with a shot that would have killed a human, but probably the demon could stagger on, survive for a little longer. Maybe she's right, and he bled to death in some alley, ending up a John Doe in a morgue, or else in a lab with his demon corpse being prodded by curious scientists. Would he have reverted to human if he'd died?
Despite everything, I hope he's still out there. Collecting a three figure salary from Wolfram and Hart's New York branch, or some such.
I guess if you try to suppress something, it'll eventually end up coming back at you - in spades. I spent the first three years of my life since Harry's death pushing to one side most every thought of what I was in favour of revenge. Dealt with the demon in me by not dealing with it at all - hiding it from the world and using it simply as a weapon when I needed it. Pretending it was nothing more than a tool to serve my own ends, and not an integral part of who and what I was. Wolfram and Hart just found the right buttons to press.
I thought Newton and I were two of a kind, and he turned out to be a killer.
Maybe I wasn't so far wrong, after all.