The face outside the window blinks, looking confused. "Jadan?" the face says, bewildered looking and muffled by a layer of grimy glass. "Wouldja just roll down the window?"

"Sunny! Goddammit, you idiot, what are you doing?!" I shout through the glass, opening the side door and stepping out onto the grass with my hand pressed to my forehead. "I thought Kai told you to go wait with Sheryl."

Sunny coughs nervously and looks at his shoes, which grind the grass down into the soil in embarrassment. "Yeah, I know, and I was gonna. But when I heard the yelling comin' from the car, and it being all dark and spooky-like... I thought maybe something was happening that I oughta be here for."

Oh. Oops. I'd forgotten that he could hear things much better than Sheryl could. "Nothing is happening that I can't easily handle," I inform him, pointedly directing my gaze towards Kai, who is still in the driver's seat with his head slumped against the steering wheel.

"Oh," is all he says. Realizing that he doesn't get it, I jerk my head towards the policeman again, widening my eyes. "OH! Oh yes, I see. Okay," he breathes, finally understanding.

"Come on. We should go find Sheryl anyway," I sigh, tilting my head up towards the velvet canvas of the sky and wishing I had just run instead of playing the passenger to a moody comrade. Why did I let him drive us here? I don't even know exactly where 'here' is. From the looks of things it's probably just the outskirts of a city park; a nice, clean, innocent place. Who commits a crime in the middle of a giant public sandbox, anyway?

"Sheryl?" Sunny's eyes light up considerably. "Sounds like a good idea to me," he chirps, prancing away.

I can't help grinning as he flits around, feeling quite relieved that I was only imagining Jadan's face through the window as opposed to actually seeing it. But the slamming of the driver side door of the car dissipates my relief almost instantly, reminding me of the pressing problem already at hand. Resolutely closing my eyes, I brace myself for another barrage of angry questions and accusations.

But the storm never comes. Instead, Kai steps up and stands next to me some feet away. Though my eyes are closed, I can feel his stare boring into me, though I refuse to acknowledge him. My face remains tilted to the heavens, my hands stuffed casually in my pockets.

"Is he a human, Reelo?" he asks softly. Surprised by his calmness and impressed at his usage of a semi-intelligent question for once, I decide I may as well give him a straight answer.

"No. Sunny isn't human; at least, not completely. You've heard of lycanthropes? He's one."


Had my eyes been open, I would have rolled them. "LY-CAN-THROPE. Sometimes called lycans for short, and for those too unfamiliar with either term, a slightly more common but undignified usage is werewolf." I glance at him briefly, then turn back to the sky with my eyes open. "Don't call him that, though. You get it now?"

Though most people would fall into a conniption fit upon hearing that their girlfriend was trouncing around a city park at night with a potentially dangerous werewolf, Kai remains mellow. How annoying.

"He isn't going to hurt anybody?"

"Unless he turns, he's relatively harmless. As he is now he is only slightly more skilled in his perception and abilities than your average human being. But if, for some unexpected reason, he should turn... or be unable to restrain himself... Then I couldn't say."

"Is he something you could handle?"

A brief silence. "...Maybe. I don't know. It depends on a lot of factors."

"Factors such as?"

"Such as... how long ago he received his bite, how often he has turned before, how strong he is now... They're all statistics that make him potentially more dangerous. But this would only be a problem on the nights of a full moon. So," I say, pointing languidly towards the half filled orb in the sky, "at least it won't be a problem tonight."

He nods slowly, turning the information over and over in his mind. "We should follow them," he states, heading off in the same direction as Sheryl and Sunny without another word to me. When I finally drag myself into a full standing position, he is out of my sight. Briefly, I consider hot wiring the car and leaving the three stranded on foot, but no doubt that would seem quite childish of me. Instead, I slowly trudge after them, following the trail of crumples grass left by their feet.

When I finally catch sight of them again, it is obvious that something is very wrong. Ironically, they are crowded around a small sandbox. I snort. A sandbox indeed. But any sense of humor I considered retaining immediately flows away as the smell of blood hits me hard, a blunt blow to my senses as my vision becomes momentarily groggy. This strong, this far away... it must be bad. Very bad. Sheryl looks as though she might be sick in the sand.

They are standing in a semi-circle, blocking my line of view, so that all I can see are the men's' backs and Sheryl facing away, massaging her stomach and on the verge of nauseous tears. One of the men is clicking away with a flash camera; Sunny, as it turns out, is taking pictures of random things in the park at momentary intervals.

"Hey, I got a squirrel in this one!" he coos at the digital window depicting his latest picture. But he looks sick too, and his joke lacks the usual luster, replaced by a thick sound of dread and a bit of disgust. Only Kai retains a straight face as I step up next to him. A straight, grave face, riveted on something I can't bring myself to see. He glances at me and nods, understanding, as though he knows I don't wish to look. I don't want his sympathy. So I look.

The blood. Oh god, the blood. Now I know why Sheryl and Sunny look so exceedingly queasy; even I find myself wobbly and unintentionally grab onto Kai's wrist. As I let go, Sheryl winds her fingers around his free hand and whispers, "Why... why hasn't anyone else shown up yet? We're the first one's here... Wouldn't crowds be compelled to gather at the scene of a crime?" Her question is directed to her partner, who nods.

"Usually. But it's a closed city park in the middle of the night, and it's just recently happened. Luckily it was a retired officer who found it first, and he had the sense to call us before spreading it anywhere else. Hopefully there won't be any need for crowd control tonight, kiddo." Her cheeks glow red, and she looks ashamed. "Oh... sorry." He squeezes her hand affectionately as she buries her head into his shoulder. They both appear to ignore the two bodies on the ground.

"Excuse me for interrupting a tender moment, here," I say icily, eyeing the bodies. "But as it appears you have forgotten the two slaughtered humans on the ground in front of you, allow me to redirect your attention." The two skitter apart as though surprised, but they do examine the bodies once more.

A woman, young, perhaps in her late twenties, is sprawled across the sand, her eyes wide in shock. Her face, even in death, is twisted with the fear of the end of her life, her mouth open in an 'o' of a silent moan. Long grooves had been torn into her clothes and upper body, along with less serious runnels that ran along her face and arms. Her baby is lying beside her, unborn, dead before it was truly alive, the umbilical cord unattached. "Oh... man, I'm gonna be siiiick..." Sunny groans, handing the digital camera to Kai and clapping his hands across his mouth, turning away.

"Holy hell. What happened here?" I whisper, feeling for all the world as if someone had taken an eggbeater to my insides and left the setting on high.

"Nobody's sure yet," Kai answers solemnly, although my question was rhetorical. "That's why I came.. That is, we came to you. A couple of the regular men who handle homicides have tried to figure out what killed her, but they're amateurs, really. If it wasn't done wit a gun or a knife, they're useless."

This," he makes a sweeping gesture at the scene, "was not done with a gun or knife, as I'm sure you can tell. And we're not allowed to take the body to a morgue for a proper examination until the scene has been officially checked for evidence. And who knows how long that will take, especially this late. If the murder is as recent as it seems, who or whatever killed her is still here. Every minute will count now. So I... we called you."

Nauseated into silence, I can't find it in me to respond. "Kai... I can't. Not tonight. I can't... can't do it this time, not now, I..." My stomach is churning as I grow increasingly dizzy, watching the world dip and turn. Sunny, previously bent over in a precarious attempt to keep his stomach contents to himself, weakly raises his head. As his blurry eyes meet mine, he seems to grow alarmed at my loss of control. My own weakness must have ignited something in him, because through the haze I dimly hear him order Sheryl and Kai back to the car, then to the station. To my surprise, they both obey without question.

Kai casts one backwards glance at me, quaking with my arms wrapped around my middle, before snaking his arms around a quivering Sheryl and escaping my line of view.

"Reelo." The lycan's hands gently squeeze my shoulders, shaking me a bit. "C'mon vampy, get up. Yes you, up off the ground now." His hands move down to support me as I struggle to stand again, before even wondering how I wound up on the ground in the first place.

"Did I... fall over?" I choke out, blinking my eyes in an attempt to focus them.

"Yeah, you did. Scariest damn thing I ever saw, you losin' your cool like that. Snapped me right outta my case of the willies, lemme tell ya. You alright now?"

I shake my head so fervently that my hair gets caught in the corner of my mouth. "No. But I will be."

He tried to pull away and let me stand on my own, but when I wobble he catches me and resumes his place beneath my left arm. "Maybe you oughta try deep breathing. I know you don't need to, but maybe it'll help."

"No... No. Just give me a minute and I'll be fine."

A short time later I scrape up what's left of my pride and resolve, marching towards the bodies with Sunny's help and examining the woman at great length. The lycan stands closely at my side. "She was clawed to death," I state matter of factly, though in something of a monotone. "Those cuts are too ragged to have been made by a knife or a similar instrument." I walk in the patches of sand that aren't steeped in blood. "Large cuts. Long. Whoever did it was strong. And obviously he's a sick sonuvabitch to have gone to such an extreme with this woman. Mental, probably, or just evil."

Sunny is quiet. "Paranormal nasty?" he asks.

"I said most of them were smart, not all of them. When somebody slips up and something like this happens," I motion at the bodies, "...Well, that's when I get called in."

"Can you figure out what sort of nasty did it?"

"Maybe, but probably not until we receive access to an official autopsy. Coroners are very good at their jobs, and even though I doubt they could offer any real information, the comments they leave for investigators in the reports often contain helpful hints. But, to hazard a guess..." I point to three long ribbons of red on the woman's neck. "I would say that these injuries are consistent with a struggle with a lycanthrope."

Sunny sounds deadly serious, a tone he has never before used, when he whispers, "I didn't do this, Reelo."

I shake my head. "No, no, I know you didn't. If you had, I could tell. Even if you had done it days before, I would still be able to smell the blood on you. I know this wasn't you. But Sunny, these marks, this kind of wild viciousness all fit the lycanthrope profile so well..."

His face collapses into shame. "I know. We're not exactly peaceful creatures by nature, but... it still hurts to think that someone like... someone like me did this..."

He looks so crestfallen, with tears gathering at his eyes. "Oh, Sunny..."

A laugh. Haunting, echoing from within the trees not far from where we stand. "Ahh... I see that you are admiring my handiwork." The voice is content, purring maliciously from the shelter of the branches. A male voice, dangerously silky and delighting in its own masquerade. But not Jadan this time. Who the hell...?

"I don't suppose you'd consider showing yourself to me, even if I asked you nicely?" I call into the open air.

"Ask and you shall receive," the voice sings happily, much like that of a delighted child. Leaves and twigs crackle beneath the sound of light footsteps. It was the woods then. Damn the luck, though, that I cannot see him yet in the denseness of the forest. Sunny is tense beside me, also aware of our approaching stranger.

Slowly but surely, the voice emerges from the oppressive shadow of the woods, stepping into the pale glow of the moonlight. Tall stature, male as I had expected, but different. Dark skin, but not black. Heavy, muscled build, like a back alley thug. Oiled back hair. A wardrobe dark enough and leather enough to rival my own, and a sense of a cheap James Bond knock-off.

"And who, exactly, are you?" I ask, irritation growing as he offers me a palms-up expression of peace. His wicked smile and dark eyes betray him. A visual liar, and I hate him already.

"Aww, come now, why so hostile?" He pouts fakely, his palms still facing the sky.

"You killed a woman and her child. She has every right to be hostile," Sunny snaps hotly, drawing a small pistol I had no idea he had concealed and aiming straight at the man's chest. But this man continues walking towards us, slowly, menacingly.

He shrugs, still with that damn grin. "Okay. So you've got me there," he chuckles, his voice mocking. "But you... you, Sunny Smith, you've no right to point out my shortcomings."

His voice is stunned at the mention of his name. "How...?"

The man tosses his head back and laughs, a deep, throaty sound. "And why? Because you, you with your little pistol as you stand denying what you really are, you've done far worse things, haven't you? Haven't you?"

My eyes are trained on him, but I hesitate. "What does he mean, Sunny? What is he talking about?"

"Honest to god, I don't know," he breathes, weapon still aimed. His voice has the ring of truth to it. I believe him.

Small clouds escape the man's mouth as he laughs into the chilly air. "Oh, you little liar!" he teases. "You haven't forgotten have you? ...No, I can see it. You remember. Why don't you tell her about Los Angeles, hmm? Afraid to tell her? Or are you too afraid to even admit it to yourself?" His expression is hardening rapidly.

"Sunny...." I'm afraid now. "Who the hell is he?"

The man's face is an ugly mask of hatred, contorted by anger. "Weak," he hisses. "You were always so weak! It's pathetic. Now tell me something, you coward," he spits. "Tell me how it is that someone like me could ever have sprung from someone like you? Tell me! From a pathetic little puppy like you!" he howls, frustration cracking his voice.

"Okay!" I scream. "Tell me what the BLOODY HELL IS GOING ON!!" The heat and pressure are building up, daring me to attack him, and urging me to fight. I resist my instincts for Sunny's sake. I can't kill this thing until I know.

The man turns back to me. "Oh, but hasn't he told you about me? No...? How disappointing." His face has resumed its air of playfulness. This bastard enjoys toying with me. "My name is Adin. And I, much like your little friend there, am a lycanthrope. But you, you clever girl, I bet you knew that already, didn't you?" That mocking grin.

"I had my... suspicions, yes."

"Suspicions!" he hoots delightedly, his wolfish smile glinting in the dark. "Yes, I thought you might. You are the smart one, after all, aren't you? But here's the part I'll bet you didn't know. Me? I'm all his fault." He points at Sunny, though he is still looking at me.

Sunny steadies his gun again. "What the hell do you mean?"

Adin spits at him, purposefully missing. "Weak. I am your fault. Everything I am today, everything I do, is because this is what you made me. You made me like you. I am your fault."

The gun drops. His mouth hangs open. "I...I made you? I... I bit..."

That mocking grin again. "Yes. Now, isn't that better?" A laugh. "What a nice night for a family reunion, no?"

Dumbstruck for several moments, all I can do is watch as Sunny drops his gun to the ground, turns on his heel, and runs.

Adin laughs once more. "You should follow him."

I do.