The conversation with Frank had petered out slowly, and finally Richie had been unable to find anything else to say without giving away that he was digging for information. He wanted to know more about the mysterious Lillie who had had such an amazing effect on Mac, but Frank either didn't know or wasn't willing to tell. It had been just over an hour since the cop had wandered away and found himself a quiet corner and Richie was beginning to wonder if Mac was ever coming back. Given the circumstances, he wouldn't blame his mentor for not doing so. He had chatted to a couple more people over that time, but he had not left the bar and he had not tried for anything deeper than a casual comment or two about the music, or some such subject. It was as a brown haired man who looked about twenty five sat down next to him and smiled, that knew he had gained some attention he didn't want.
He could tell by the way the man looked at him in an almost hungry fashion that there would be a pick up line coming very shortly. The two reasons this was bad were that, firstly, he didn't swing that way and, secondly, he was not looking for any entanglements in case Damon showed up.
"Good evening," the man all but purred with what had to be considered a very handsome smile even if Richie wasn't interested.
At least he seemed to have attracted someone good looking, but the last thing he needed was to upset one of the locals. From the way several people in the room were trying not to look as if they were looking, he had to assume the man now sitting next to him was a regular.
"Ah, hi," Richie replied with a nice a smile as be could manage, "excuse me, but I have to go find my friend."
The fact that Mac was probably in flagrante and would not want to be disturbed was neither here not their; it was a good excuse. That just made the other man smile wider.
"Oh, you don't want to be doing that," the stranger said smoothly in a very captivating voice, "it's still early."
The dark green eyes looking at him seemed to grow almost and the gaze snared him, trapping him as if it was a physical thing. The muscles that had tensed to help him stand relaxed and suddenly his body had decided it didn't want to leave. It was the most bizarre sensation and he began to feel as if he'd had one too many and his thoughts were all jumbled. Thinking was suddenly very hard and he couldn't remember what he had been about to do. Most of his mind was completely confused, but, deep inside, there was a voice yelling that something really strange was going on here, and it would not quit.
"My name is Andre," the man said in an amiable tone. "Can I buy you a drink?"
The weirdness continued because Richie found himself smiling.
"Thanks," he returned and found that he couldn't recall what he had been thinking before, "I'll have the same again. I'm Richie."
Richie tried very hard to remember what he was doing, but every time he managed to form a thought Andre would say something and everything would become irrelevant again. He found himself talking to the other man animatedly about all sorts of things, but he didn't really follow what the conversation was about. It was as if he was disconnected from it in some way. The only time anything came into sharp focus was when Andre put his hand on his knee and then he reacted, but as soon as the hand was withdrawn he settled back down again. His higher brain seemed to have been disconnected from his reactions, but at the back of his mind there was a pressure building. He felt strangely like he did after a quickening; disorientated and not really with it, and his brain was trying to readjust, only it was as if the same force kept being reapplied.
At a less than surface level Richie's brain thought what was happening was not good, and slowly his mind was sorting out the mess. When he had enough brain power to notice it seemed as if Andre was having a little trouble with something, but Richie didn't have enough time to work out what. The fog around his thoughts just kept swirling making Andre the only thing he could really think about, and he could not escape. Part of him didn't even want to, but that part was slowly diminishing.
It was the familiar tingling behind his eyes that snapped him back to reality and when he felt that Andre was no longer important. His head shot up and he looked towards the door. The man sitting next to him stood up and moved to stand in front of him, snaring his gaze again.
"It's nothing," Andre said and Richie felt the fog trying to come back, but he fought back and something surged within him.
Adrenaline flooded through his system as he sensed danger on two fronts and then his mind was free. Things seemed surreal for a moment and he couldn't quite remember what he had been doing, but he didn't care as his eyes looked across the room and found a very familiar face. Damon had just walked into the club and everything else was irrelevant. As far as Richie was concerned, the presence of another of his kind had impinged itself on his consciousness and wiped everything else into insignificance.
Damon spotted Richie at the same moment, and their eyes met, but surprisingly Damon just stood there. He was quite a tall man, and broad with it, but Damon had changed his appearance since Richie had last seen him. Damon had worn his hair slightly long when Richie had been confronted by him, but now it was short, almost all shaved. The folds of the other Immortal's long black overcoat hung with familiar heaviness, and, as the two looked at each other, Damon smiled.
The animosity was heavy in the air as Richie and Damon sized each other up and then, with a flick of his head, Damon indicated that they should take their discussion outside. Richie gave a slight nod back; it was only sensible and then he stood up.
"If my friend ask where I've gone," he said quickly, turning to the barman, "tell him I'll meet him at the hotel. Thanks."
His mind was a little fuzzy and he frowned as he turned back and found a man standing in front of him, but he didn't remember what they had been talking about, or even if they had been talking, so he just muttered an excuse me and walked towards the exit. He had business to attend to and he focused on it completely.
Frank watched the whole exchange between Richie and Lillie's guest with interest. He knew Andre was visiting from Europe and was a high ranking Artiste, famed for his artistic ability. He'd met him once the previous week, more by bad luck than judgement and he had become painfully aware that Andre cared for little but art. The Kindred had gone on to him about his cheek bones for ten minutes and it had taken Lillie's intervention to save him from the conversation.
He wasn't quite sure how it worked between Kindred, but it had been clear that Richie was not comfortable the moment Andre sat down, but something had made Richie stay. Frank still wasn't sure what it was and he had been trying to work it out when Richie had seemingly completely lost interest.
It wasn't just his cop instincts telling him that Richie and the guy who had just walked in had history and the way they acknowledged each other suggested it was going to be dealt with. After thinking about it for a minute or so after Richie walked out, he decided he was curious enough to see if he could find out. Being friends, if you could call it that, with Luna meant that most other Kindred left him alone, so it wasn't a completely suicidal urge.
Standing up, he walked casually to the door and then stepped onto the sidewalk. However, outside Richie and his not-friend seemed to have vanished completely; there was no sign of them anywhere. He stood there listening to traffic noise for a long moment, and gazing down the street, but there appeared to be no indication of which way the pair had gone.
"Dammit," he said loudly and glared at a couple of Cash's Gangrel hangers on perched on a motorbike. "I don't suppose you saw which way they went?"
It was worth a try even though he doubted the pair would tell him anything. They favoured him with amused smiles and shrugs, before gunning the bike into life and speeding away. It was like watching a rerun of empty world, not a soul remained in sight. He was left with two choices, go back into the club, or just head home, it was after all his night off.
Five minutes later, Frank was still standing there trying to decide what to do; there was just something about this situation that nagged at his instincts. He was almost convinced that it was a Kindred thing going on, but it wouldn't let him just leave it alone. Being a cop wasn't just something he could stop being and his spider-sense was pricking. He was beginning to talk himself out of the need to investigate when he heard a faint clanging of metal. With the city noises it was almost masked, but he'd worked the city a long time and he quickly narrowed it down to an alley across the street. He didn't need urging twice, and with an 'I don't believe I'm doing this' shake of his head he jogged across the road.
The alley was long and dark and Frank wasn't stupid, so he pulled out his gun and began to slowly make his way forward. He almost fell over his own feet with what he found at the end under the only light down the whole stretch. Richie and the other man seemed to be doing a very skilful job of trying to carve each other into little pieces with swords, and Frank's twentieth century brain rebelled at the idea. Two men were actually hacking at each other with four foot long blades, well hacking probably wasn't the right word, but it was just about all Frank could come up with. It was only the thought that this might be Kindred business that kept him in the shadows.
He noted one of the Kindred he vaguely recognised, who had taken up a viewing position just behind a dumpster, as the woman grinned, seemingly excited by the battle going on, and he also spotted Andre. The thought of two pissed off Kindred going for him because he interrupted a private dispute kept him in place for a few more blows. Part of him admired the skill the two combatants showed, and he noted the way that both players had taken at least one chunk out of their opponent. Yet there was still something that seemed very wrong about two people fighting with swords in the current day and age. The fact that the cuts on both warriors seemed to have pissed them off more than hurt them, was unsettling.
Frank managed to control himself for a full five minutes, before finally his cop instincts took over. He lifted his gun just as Richie seemed to gain the upper hand. He took a deep breath and stepped out of the shadows, levelling his weapon on the two men.
"Stop, police," he said loudly and managed to cause both men to look round.
Richie made a face, and if expressions could have killed, Frank would have been dead. The older man, on the other hand, looked slightly relieved, and smiled wickedly.
"Dammit," Richie said, thinking up a whole heap of swear words as he did so, "loose yourself, Frank; you really don't want to get involved in this."
The sensible thing might have been to back off, but Frank had never been overly sensible according to most people.
"Can't do that," he said and he felt a little apologetic, but not much.
People fighting with swords was just not something that was supposed to happen. He had absolutely no doubt that the two men had been very serious about doing their best to kill each other, and he couldn't allow that.
"Sorry, Ryan," the other man with a sword said coldly, and drew Frank;s attention, "but I've had enough of this. Maybe next time."
Then, before anyone could move, metal glinted in the air and a stunned look crossed Richie's face. Frank couldn't quite believe what he was seeing as Richie gazed down for a moment and just about had time to investigate the ornate dagger sticking out of his chest before he began to fall over. If Richie's opponent was anything, he was accurate, and, unless Frank missed his guess, the blade had found the Richie's heart.
"You bastard," was all the blond man had to say, and then he collapsed ungracefully.
Frank was so shocked by the move that Richie's opponent was already on his way past before reality kicked in. The truth of the matter became starkly obvious as he was sent reeling backwards by a hefty shove. He managed to level his gun just as the fleeing man disappeared, but that was all. By the time he glanced back at what was now a very still individual, Andre was gone, along with the other Kindred, and another, worried looking vampire jumped off the roof at the end of the alley and ran towards the Haven. A feeling that he would not be in control of the situation much longer settled squarely in Frank's mind.
Frank thought that MacLeod might have been able to spread some light on the situation and explain why Richie Ryan, as his wallet proclaimed his full name to be, had been going for someone else with a sword. He wasn't sure how long it took Kindred to recover from wounds, but it didn't look like anyone was planning on helping Richie any time soon. Sonnie had explained that Kindred could be paralysed by a stake and so Frank assumed Lillie, who had taken charge at first, and then Luna who had shown up a few minutes later, were using the whole stake thing to control the situation better.
Given that he thought it was Kindred business Frank actually lent his help in clearing the whole thing up, which was why he ended up in Lillie's office about twenty minutes after the whole thing had begun looking at what looked very much like a corpse. It was unsettling the way Lillie and Julian just stood there with frowns on their faces, just like he seemed to be doing. Why one of the Kindred didn't remove the dagger which was keeping the young looking individual immobile was beyond him.
"Would someone mind telling me what exactly was going on in that alley," he finally asked, fed up of not knowing. "Is there some weird ritual that Kindred have for finishing each other off?"
For the first time, Luna seemed to actually take some notice of him. The Prince of the City raised one eyebrow and frowned thoughtfully some more.
"He's not Kindred, Frank," Luna concluded after a moment's thought, "and I'm afraid he's very dead. We're as much in the dark about this as you. It's just we'd rather not have such a peculiar crime on our doorstep. This I think may be more in your line of work."
Frank's mouth dropped open at that; he had been working under a false premise all evening and now he had just wrecked a crime scene. The number of rules he had just broken didn't even bear counting. If anyone ever found out what he had just done his career was more than just over. They'd put Richie on Lillie's desk with his sword next to him and Luna picked up the blade almost reverently.
"A truly beautiful antique," was the respectful comment, "and very well maintained."
Frank still hadn't decided what to say as he battled with outrage at the others for using him and himself for being so stupid. Luna looked at the dagger next and to Frank's growing horror just pulled it out of the body.
"So is this," the Ventrue said quietly, "but of an entirely different era."
Honestly, Frank didn't give a shit about antiques except for the fact that one of them was a murder weapon.
"But if he's not ..." he said slowly, just voicing his thoughts, "how come ... what was he doing in the Haven, and how is it his friend knows Lillie?"
It was the Primogen of the Toreadors' turn to look awkward.
"His friend?" Luna enquired evenly and Frank picked up on the fact that Lillie had not mentioned Duncan MacLeod to her Prince yet.
It was clear she was thinking about how to put what she had to say and Frank just gave up trying to fathom the whole situation.
"Duncan MacLeod," Lillie finally gave up the name, "I've known him ... a while."
It was clear Lillie was having difficulty explaining Duncan MacLeod and Frank had a feeling that not all his suppositions were off base. It was going to interesting watching Lillie trying to find the right words and Frank let himself enjoy it just for a few moments, but, as it turned out, Lillie became secondary very suddenly, because Richie's body chose that moment to regain life. One second he was lying flat on his back and the next he almost rolled onto the floor seemingly trying to defend himself from a threat that was no longer there. Richie wobbled precariously as he sat up way too fast and it looked as if he was in pain, but Frank did not move to help. When Richie groaned loudly and just lay back down again Frank decided that someone was messing with him, seriously. If it hadn't been for the fact that Lillie and Luna appeared as shocked as he felt he would have accused them of talking bullshit.
"Shit," Richie said seemingly as pleased by the situation as Frank was, "Mac's gonna kill me."
Luna recovered his composure first, even as Frank decided the Twilight Zone had decided to call in and make his life even more complicated.
"That would seem a somewhat difficult thing to accomplish," Luna said slowly.
Richie chose not to comment on that, and Frank didn't think the whatever the hell he was, felt like communicating. About then Frank was willing to go with anything from werewolf through alien if it would just explain what was happening. The fact that one of the three people looking at him was holding his sword, and the dagger that had killed him, seemed to be very unsettling to Richie and Frank almost sympathised. The young looking man sat up slowly and appeared to be assessing the situation. What ever Richie saw had him looking at Luna, an annoying, but sensible assessment of the rank in the room in Frank's opinion.
"I don't suppose we could just forget you saw any of this, could we?" Richie said in a vaguely hopeful tone.
Frank almost laughed.
"No, I don't suppose," Luna returned evenly.
Someone coming back from the dead seemed to have all of Luna's attention and Frank couldn't fault him for that.
"Why don't you explain how it is that you are still alive," the Prince said with a smile that sent shivers up Frank's spine and he wondered what it was doing to Richie.
"And while you're at it," Frank put in, "why the hell you were trying to kill someone with a sword?"
It was an accusation and Frank was surprised by the indignation it caused on the other man's face.
"I was trying to kill him because he has been trying to kill me ... for quite a while," Richie said vehemently and he actually managed to go up a little in Frank's estimation.
It made him feel a little better as well, because maybe he hadn't misjudged Richie quite as badly as he had thought. Luna, however, didn't seem to care about that and the expression on Richie's face said he was not in the mood to talk. Frank had no doubt who would lose.
"I asked you nicely," the Ventrue said calmly, "now I'm insisting."
The Kindred pushed his face directly into the younger man's line of vision and Richie's eyes opened in shock as Luna's irises turned a violent yellow. Frank shivered; he still wasn't comfortable with all this Kindred stuff. It seemed that Luna was not pulling any punches, and Richie didn't stand a chance, gaze going glassy and vague almost instantly.
"What is your full name?" there was no holding back with the enquiry, and there didn't appear to be any resistance from Richie at all.
"Richard Ryan," he said dully.
"How old are you?"
"Why were you fighting?"
There was a slight hesitation before Richie replied that time, which Frank thought was interesting.
"There can be only one," Richie eventually responded, as if it was a familiar line he knew by heart.
"One what?" Luna was quick to jump on the information.
"Immortal," Richie responded with even more of a pause.
Frank didn't know much about Kindred mind powers, but it looked to him as if Richie was fighting back.
"How many of you are their?"
"Don't know," was the honest reply, with no resistance again.
It was beginning to dawn on Frank that Richie was choosing his battles and that Luna might just be up against more than he thought.
"Is Duncan MacLeod one of your kind?" Julian asked, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his control was slipping.
"Yes," the response was dragged out of the Immortal, and now his inquisitor noticed something wasn't quite right.
Frank was feeling even better about Richie as he realised that the self confessed Immortal was protecting his friends as well as his own secrets.
"If there can be only one," Luna tried a slightly different approach, "why are you travelling with one of your own?"
There was a long moment when it looked like Richie wasn't going to reply, but then he lost the battle.
"He's ... my friend," it was almost a look of pain that creased the Immortal's features.
"You're loosing him," Lillie commented and Frank had to agree, not that he was going to say so out loud.
Luna just glared at Lillie as if to say 'I know' and continued.
"How do you kill each other?"
That looked like a last ditch attempt to get answers before time ran out to Frank; he had seen cops do the same thing in the interview room and it rarely did any good. The battle being waged was slowly tipping in the Immortal's favour, and that, it seemed, was just the wrong question to ask. Frank felt his jaw go slack again and he saw Luna step back a little startled as blue lightening lanced across Richie's eyes and the man blinked. The trance like state was broken instantaneously and the Immortal was suddenly staring into the eyes of a Kindred unmasked.
"Jesus," Richie said breathlessly and moved backwards sharply. "What the hell?"
Frank knew the feeling and couldn't help but sympathise. He, however, wasn't an Immortal who seemed almost totally invulnerable, so the emotion lasted only a few seconds as he remembered what Richie was.
"Interesting," was all Luna said and let his eyes fade back to their normal dark shade.
The two kindred looked at each other and Frank knew they were coming to some decision that he wasn't allowed to have any part of and then Luna made a hand signal. Richie did not seem to like the smile Lillie gave him after that and Frank couldn't blame the other man, but he did nothing to interfere. He was very glad when he realised that the plan was not a violent one yet.
"You're tired," Lillie said in a gentle, hypnotic tone, "sleep."
This, it seemed, was not an attack Richie could defend against and as the Primogen of the Toreador clan waved her hand in front of his face, Richie literally relaxed into her arms.
"We have to know more," Luna said firmly, "but we're not going to find out anything by forcing it out of him. Have him taken back to the alley, and make sure he forgets all this."
Frank was feeling out of his depth and bemused, so he wasn't really ready when Luna turned his attention back to him.
"Frank," Luna said lightly, but Frank's internal alarms went off anyway, "how do you feel about keeping an eye on this young man for us?"
"Are you going to kill him?" he asked suspiciously.
Kindred did seem to have a tendency to terminate anything they perceived as a threat and Frank was having no part of that.
"The truth is, I'm not sure," Julian, it appeared, had learnt that he had to be honest with Frank and for that he was grateful. "At this point I don't think so. I have to speak to Daedelus."
The only mortal in the room reluctantly agreed to that; there wasn't exactly a lot else he could do.
End of Part 2