This is edit #3...or 4. I lost count.
I rewrote this again based upon:
1) My recent Poll 2) My own unhappiness 3) My lovely creative team, and 4) Some WONDERFUL reviewers and their critiques.
Thanks for the input guys!
(And all my EXTRAORDINARY reviewers that berated me for wanting to edit again. I'm sorry, PLEASE DON'T KILL ME!)
Hopefully this one is a lot less cluttered.
Moving was the devil.
No, wait, I take that back.
Moving was the dirty, pimply underside of the devil's ass. It wouldn't have been that bad if packing weren't necessary. Annoying and necessary were evil when joined together because there was no getting around it.
Ever worse was the fact that my entire apartment and everything I owned fit into only ten boxes. It was a sad, depressing little fact that shouldn't have surprised me, but I had actually started to believe that I was doing decently. Apparently not. My measly ten boxes were all filled with the necessary crap that goes into an apartment and photo albums, not the usual knickknacks you'd see in a twenty-two year old woman's place.
But, as always, I had to be the exception.
Sighing, I pushed aside my lavender bangs and groaned as I tried to stand up, almost stepping on my own braided black hair. I'd have to get it cut soon or it'd end up being a safety risk. In a fight my long hair would be like a giant handle for someone else to use. My mentor use to get onto me all the time about it, but I was attached to my hair and didn't want to lose it. It was the single most girly thing about me.
Popping the kinks out of my back, I grabbed my last empty cardboard box, Box Number Ten, and started to pack away my pictures on the wall. The painting my little sister, Maiya, did for me went first, face down to keep it from being stabbed by the other frames. My high school diploma went next, the lone official document I could be proud of seeing how I never got certified for the work I did at the Auto-Shop I used to work at when I was nineteen and working towards my perfect little dream.
So much for that.
My family photo went in next, all of us smiling though I looked mildly bored and Dad was trying his best not to crack up, ice blue eyes sparkling. My bangs were red in the picture, my post victory reward for winning an argument with the Chief of the Police Department over the dress code. According to him, Preternatural Crime Investigators needed to be prim and proper. I had to remind him that I didn't voluntarily become a PCI, that I was arrested and contracted, and therefore did not have to follow their regulations. That shut him up. It usually did. They forget sometimes that I was only a PCI to keep me from going to jail for underground fighting with a Hidden.
Two more years and I'd be free. The three years I had already served felt like ten and I was more than eager to move on. Finally, I would get to leave town without approval and a babysitter. I could drive without a tracer on my car and not have to worry about being hunted down and arrested if I forgot to call in sick. Freedom.
Other pictures followed the family photo. Shots of me and The Brothers, the group of guys that ran the Auto-Shop, my sister and me, my mentor Jack and the other trainees. Memories. People I wouldn't be seeing for a long time.
I didn't want to move. This wasn't my choice. The Lubbock PD was deciding that they didn't need my help to handle the Hiddens in town and were shipping me off to Dallas to help there. I hated Dallas and all big cities. They were too congested, you could take pollution in the air, and the energy level everywhere made me anxious. Too many people to watch out for. And then there was the fact that Dallas had one of the largest Districts, areas where the Hiddens clustered together, in all of Texas.
When the monsters grouped together, it made things dangerous. A Therianthrope would easily be protected by their pack no matter what animal they were, Vampires would hide behind the authority of their Master, and there wasn't any way you could get a Witch to talk against a member of their Coven. Everyone protected their own.
And now I was going to be the one to have to deal with them.
Dallas was one of many cities struggling with the Hiddens. Ever since the Supernatural Crisis when evidence was found in North Carolina of a Vampire Seethe, the monsters were coming out from under the bed left and right. I was seventeen during that time, but had already been training to fight them for two years. None of it had been a surprise for me; nevertheless it had been a shock to the rest of the world. The cities didn't know how to handle them and because of their large population, it was practically a free for all. They hired Bounty Hunters to take care of what they could, however it was getting expensive, especially when most of the police force was defecting to the MiliCorps, private militaries that companies owned. Sadly, The Companies were starting to gain more and more backing from the public and were acting as a sort of government for many.
Lubbock managed to avoid going under Company-Rule, but that was because we could handle our Hidden problem.
Dallas, on the other hand, was inching closer and closer to chaos.
Closing the cardboard box, I grabbed the tape gun and closed the opening, scribbling out fragile on the side. That didn't ensure that the box would get safely to the new apartment without damage, but a girl could hope. Ten boxes, completely done if not packed a bit hazardously. My packing skills weren't the best and everything was pretty much labeled crap. A joy to unpack later. And it was my entire fault. The notification came a month before and I had waited until the day I had to leave to pack. Procrastination in its greatest form.
I rubbed my tired blue eyes, feeling exhausted and drained. My plane was leaving in a few hours and Trysta, my best friend, was coming to pick me up. The LPD was taking care of shipping my shit to my new crappy apartment in Dallas. Nothing to worry about there. All my goodbyes had been said the night before and loose ends tied up. Nothing left for me here besides nostalgia and lost dreams.
Dusting off my black jeans, I slipped on my comfy boots and started to go through my paperwork. Everything was set for transfer along with the details of my contract with the government. My weapons were packed away in a combination safe to be sent to the apartment as well. I was allowed one weapon to take with me on the plane and even then the gun had to be in my suitcase. Having a weapon not on my person made me anxious, but the airport wasn't going to allow me having it strapped on. I was going to have to deal.
The front door opened without a knock, Trysta walking in with sunglasses perched on her blonde head and holding two bags of Burger King in her hand. For that one second, she was a goddess.
Purely because she brought me food.
"One of those bags better be for me or else I'm killing you with my bare hands," I stated, eyes locked on the bag of food. Most women watched their weight obsessively and wouldn't allow themselves any more than a salad and a cracker. I, on the other hand, was a rare case and could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and didn't have to worry about gaining weight. I burned everything off too fast and had to eat on a regular basis or else I'd start to feel side-effects.
I munched every chance I got, though I couldn't cook at all. I burned water. I could probably burn cereal. My skills were that bad.
"Yes, this one is yours. No thanks needed," Trysta dropped the bag on the counter, pulling her shoulder length hair into a messy bun. She was wearing her "Hooker Boots" today, which put her almost a foot taller than my short midget self. There should be a law against woman who wear four inch heels when they are five foot eight. At that point, you're just rubbing it in.
"Good, because you owed me money anyways," I grumbled as I stuffed a fry into my mouth happily.
"Yeah yeah, I owe you millions upon millions. You'll get paid back when I die," the blonde grumbled, taking a chicken sandwich out of the bag.
"Don't tempt me." In five minutes flat, my burger was resting in my belly happily and half my fries were gone. I slurped away at my drink, trying not to think about the fact that this was out last meal together for a while. I was going to miss Trysta, she was my best friend, yet we weren't the overly sentimental type. We had promised that we wouldn't make this a big deal, that I'd be back soon and this was merely a delay, but with my job things were uncertain.
One day I could be healthy and the next I could be dead.
I looked up, jumping when a French fry smacked me in the face. Blinking, I rubbed salt off my nose and glared as Trysta blinked her honey eyes innocently, "What was that for?"
"You were doing it again," she replied easily, shrugging her shoulders.
"Doing what?" There was grease on my face now…
"Getting all gloomy and depressed. This isn't the end of the world, just a major bummer. Suck it up," Trysta smiled sadly, waving a long fry around.
I chuckled and nodded, half-smiling at her. She was right. There were always worse things in life. Moving sucked, but there wasn't much I could do about it. No point in complaining. There were better things I could do with my time.
"Alright, let's get everything ready for the movers and head out. I want to make sure I'm there early," wiping my fingers on a napkin, I got back to work. If I wasn't checked in by a certain time at the airport then LPD was going to come looking for me. No need for that today. This was enough of a headache as it is.
Trysta nodded and cleaned her hands off, stuffing all the trash into the take out bag. Despite the fact that she was dressed in a thigh length skirt, tight shirt, and heels, she managed to lift boxes and pile them by the door. I wasn't sure how, but that was how she was. Deceiving in appearance. Looking at her, you'd never know that she graduated college early with high grades, was a teacher's aide at the university, and worked at the LPD in the Preternatural Research Department. When there was a problem I needed solved, I went to her.
Brainstorming buddies for life.
She was the bombshell; I was the dark violent one. It worked.
Shouldering my carry-on bag, I wheeled my other suitcase to the door and looked over the apartment one last time. I had spent so long getting over everything that happened when I was nineteen. Dreams shattered, arrested, and contracted into slavery. This little place symbolized me getting back onto my feet. It wasn't a lot, but it was home. Lubbock was home.
"You ready?" Trysta asked, placing the key on top of the mailbox for the movers.
Taking a deep breath, I answered, "No," and closed the door.
About two hours later I was lugging my carry-on bag and replacing the various items the security guards had made me take off for the security check. Like I thought, they hassled me about everything, making me go over the paperwork three times before letting me go. I had paused and waited as they called into the LPD to confirm that I had arrived, making sure that I wouldn't get into trouble for their mistake.
Like most officials, they treated me like I was a criminal playing cop. It didn't surprise me. It was the general mindset. I was a bad guy who had lucked out. Didn't bother me.
Shoving my shoes back on, I couldn't shake off the feeling of being naked without my gun. Three years of constantly having a weapon on or nearby had made me practically dependent on it for comfort. Sad, but true.
Walking out towards the gate, I spotted Trysta waiting on a bench. She had no problem getting through security, even managing to get a pass to see me off from the gate. It helped that her breasts had been practically eating the desk clerks face. That kind of persuasion can get you almost everything.
"Wow, they finally let you go?" she asked as she popped up. How was she always overly energetic?
"Yeah, it only took me repeating all that crap five million times," I grumbled.
Trysta laughed and walked along side me as we headed to my gate. I had an hour to kill and in the car we had started Twenty Questions to pass the time. We were on number nineteen and had mostly managed to talk about nothing. It was a special skill.
"Your turn," I reminded her. We passed Gate Three. Mine was Gate Six.
Groaning, I tried to think. The problem with being a Hunter, PCI or Bounty wise, was that you tend to build a reputation. I wasn't known nationwide or anything, but my name was getting thrown around a bit in the state of Texas, mostly West Texas. And with a reputation came the horrible nicknames and I had heard just about everyone out there.
Ticking off my fingers, I started to list them out, "Let's see. There is Slayer, which is an obvious Buffy rip off," Trysta nodded in agreement, "Death Bringer and then Mistress Death, but I'd say the worst was Dark Angel."
She scrunched her nose up in disgust, nodding over at the Gate when it came into view, "I can see why people say originality is dead."
"No kidding." If someone ever called me Dark Angel to my face, I'd deck them even if they were innocent. There is no excuse for that nickname.
Trysta snapped her fingers as she remembered something, "Oh, how did your parents take it when you said goodbye?" she asked, looking at the advertisements as we walked past them. A smiling family of four posed in front of a fake Hawaii background, clothes the stereotypical flowered patterns and looking far too pale to actually be there. I shouldn't be complaining seeing as I was half-Mexican and almost looked white. The picture dissolved into a cosmetic ad and I turned away.
"Mom cried over every little thing I said, repeating how her darling was leaving her. Maiya didn't say anything…that's how she is. Crying on the inside, but refuses to show it on the outside. And I almost had to pry Dad off with a crowbar." My father was protective. Not in a be-careful-when-you-go-out-at-night protective, more in a don't-walk-down-the-street-or-you'll-get-kidnapped protective. He'd have a heart attack if I didn't call him the second I landed.
Trysta winced, knowing how extreme the man could get at times, "Oi."
"Yeah, and by the way, I would avoid the Brothers tonight. They are going to be very drunk for the next few days," I added, remembering how bad that goodbye went as well. For manly-men, they sure were a bunch of babies. She glared at me, knowing what I meant and knowing full well that she would be babysitting them after I leave.
"Love ya too," I grinned, "Last question…What are you going to do while I'm gone?" I dropped my bag into one of those stupid hammock type chairs they group together. The damn seats were impossible to get comfortable in and always stuck to my skin.
Her smile kind of dimmed and she fell gracefully into the nefarious chair, looking like a ballerina despite her height. If I tried that then it'd look like a deer had tripped over itself.
"Not sure. Throw myself into work probably. Keep the Brothers busy. There won't be much to do with you gone, but I'll survive," Trysta winked playfully, except I could feel how depressed she was over this. Best friends since Junior High and now we were splitting ways.
"You'll be fine," I reassured her, sitting carefully into my own chair, "Your turn. Last question." My assumption was correct. The chairs were horrible.
She pondered for a second, leaning back into the seat and resting her head back, "If you had the chance, would you change your path. Would you go to college or quit hunting? Anything?"
This one didn't take me long.
"Not a single thing." College wouldn't have changed anything. Hunting was who I was. It ran through every inch of me and when I was out fighting, I knew it was what I was meant to do. My pursuit of the "career" had cost me a lot, but I wouldn't change my choice. I'd continue to fight until I couldn't any more.
Trysta was quiet after a while, yet it wasn't the depressed type. It was the bad type. The type that said I was going to hate what was going to come out of her mouth. I braced myself, looking at her suspiciously out of the corner of my eyes.
She blinked up innocently at the ceiling, another signal this was going to be annoying to me, before opening her mouth, "I haven't heard from the Mitchells in a while."
I full on glared, putting everything I had into. The little minx had to bring it up right before I was leaving. The Mitchells were a sore subject for me. I didn't like talking about the family and I did not want to be having this conversation less than an hour before I left.
Closing my eyes and leaning my head back like she was doing, I replied dryly, "Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell went on vacation for a few months to get away from…how did they put it…'the flat brownness of Lubbock' and Jack is off doing whatever the hell Jack does on his own. He hasn't called in a while so I assume he's fine."
Trysta continued on though, unfazed by the death rays I was sending mentally into her pretty little head, "I heard Leon moved."
"I don't care." I hummed in my head, focusing on my breathing to waste time and ignore the headache that was beginning to form. End of discussion.
Or it should have been, but Trysta was one of those types of people that didn't notice and/or didn't care when someone was uncomfortable with the conversation. I don't know how I survived all the years with her.
She barreled on, forcing me to groan, "We all knew how pissed his dad was when he didn't enroll in that military academy right after graduation. Apparently when Jack moved out, his dad started pressuring him more and more. The Brothers said that they heard that's why he moved, but weren't sure. Everyone assumed he cracked finally and moved out. No one's heard from him in a few years-"
"Trysta. I. Don't. Care," I ground out, teeth clenched.
An unladylike snort came out her nose and she rolled her eyes. Her signal that the conversation was finally over. I let out a sigh of relief and tried to calm my nerves. We wouldn't leave on annoyed terms, that wasn't our style, but with my irritation level high, it added to my anxiety. I was finally leaving Lubbock. My home. I was going to be all alone in big ol' Dallas.
A speaker cracked nearby before a voice announced that my flight was boarding.
Here we go, "How far do you think I'll make it if I run out the doors right now?"
She laughed and looked over at me, "I'll drive the getaway car. That'll add at least fifty miles."
We both kind of chuckled, the laughter turning sad before drifting off. Pulling myself out of the chair, I grabbed my bag and held my boarding pass with DFW written in big black letters. Trysta hugged me without a word, her tall form practically hunched over me. Neither of us cared. This was as sentimental as we were going to get.
"Take care of yourself, girly. I don't want to be attending a funeral any time soon," she whispered it fiercely, tightening her grip on me. I nodded the best I could, the only answer I could give. I couldn't promise her anything without it being a lie. All I could do was try.
Letting me go, she turned and walked away before I could, going to stand by the windows to see the plane leave. To any other person, it would look like the cold shoulder or like she didn't care about me. But I knew better. It was her way of giving me courage to get on the plane by taking away comfort. There was no excuse why I couldn't get on that airplane.
Straightening my shoulders, I turned and left as well.
As much as I wanted to deny it, there were a lot of good reasons why the police departments hated me. In my first evaluation, after my arrest, I was checked off as having anger management issues and an authority complex. They said I was violent, uncontrollable, and a rebellious.
All of which I couldn't deny.
Following regulations and rules would get me killed. If you go up against a Therianthrope, let's say a Werewolf, you don't tell them to freeze before you shoot them. They'll kill you before you even have a chance to get a syllable out. If you see them charge then you better get that shot off or you're dead meat. Literally.
Bad guys don't care about rules. They want you dead. Simple as that.
I knew how to do my job though, despite how passionately I hated it. Being a PCI might be the very thing I hate most, but I was good at it. It was similar to being a Hunter in the aspect that I was saving people, nevertheless the law hindered more than it helped. I could see the appeal of defecting to a MiliCorp. Not that I ever would, seeing how I despised the Companies.
I clucked my tongue against my teeth with impatience and shifted in my chair, already feeling uneasy. Even after three years of following orders and dealing with authority figures, I still didn't like the people in charge any more than I had when I was nineteen. They thought of me as a criminal masquerading as police officer and treated me that way. Maybe I was, but I was the one saving their asses. A little respect would be nice.
At least it wasn't because I was a woman.
The small office wasn't completely soundproof and I could hear some of the chattering going on behind me as the officers tried to get a sneak peak at me. The occasional wolf whistle had been cut off as soon as I glared and mostly now they were muttering about what a bitch I was going to be. The desk clerk in the front lobby had already pissed me off, going through every possible security check she could before sending me on through to the Head Chief's office with an escort. My lovely gun was safe in its holster underneath my leather jacket, away from view but perfectly legal. Even if I had kept it at home then they would have treated me like I was going to shoot up the place.
To my surprise, the Chief had his own secretary outside of his office, her brown eyes flickering over to me as she anxiously typed away at her computer. Her dyed blonde hair was pulled into a tight bun, the dark roots hidden under gelled strands, and nice olive green suit stiff with starch from that evening. She had arrived at the office when I had, body instantly tense the moment I walked in. She had known I was bad news. Good survival instincts.
That had been an hour ago; an hour of boredom and utter silence except for the constant typing of the keyboard. If I had thought waiting at the airport was nerve wracking, this was painful.
It had been two days since I'd arrived in Dallas. My plane had taken forever to unload and the taxi ride from there to my new apartment had added to the delay, my belongings ending up being stacked up outside my "new" apartment door, and not only that, I had found a rat in the oven. I hadn't been in the best of moods since then. The loneliness reminded me that I was here on my own with no support. Add to the fact that I was meeting my new boss today and I was not a happy camper.
I reined in that anger, putting it into glaring at the pretty little receptionist that kept looking over at me like I was going to shank her. A buzz sounded off and she stood, walking stiffly into the office before coming back out, "Viola Huntington, Chief Velkinski would like to see you." Standing, I made sure to let my irritation roll off me in heated waves. She jumped as if someone zapped her as I walked passed, teetering on her giant heels. I smirked and closed the door behind me loudly, proud of my little retaliation.
Run, bitch, run.
No matter what they thought, I wasn't their whipping girl. They may have my contract; however there wasn't any way I was going to take crap from any of them. I was still a person, dammit, and they needed me. I worked for them, but I refused to be their slave.
Despite the door slam, the large gorilla behind the desk didn't even lift his head, continuing to scribble away on his paperwork. His hair was shaved close to his head on the side; the top pulled into a tightly slicked ponytail that went just passed his ears. Small, black eyes under heavy brows looked up and glared angrily at me as he took in my non-regulation lavender bands, thick lips pressed in a narrow scowl. The bushy mustache lining his upper lip looked like a large overgrown caterpillar, causing me to snicker on the inside. He seemed to be about as ecstatic as an irate wasp. Wonderful.
"Miss Huntington, take a seat," he ground out, trying to turn it into a pleasing request and failing miserably. In that second, I knew his type. They were the same no matter where you went and easy to spot. Those no non-sense, everything is my way type of men that dominate whatever job they have. The types that lived and breathed their jobs. I hated those types. They hated my type. Love all around.
I parked myself into the grimy maroon office chair across from him, my leather jacket bunching around my shoulders and black jean clad legs crossed. My gun, the Bobtail, was flashing him from the shoulder holster under my jacket, but he didn't even glance at it. That was good. If he had tried to comment or take it away from me then I would have been pissed off enough to argue with him. I wasn't in the brightest of moods and this guy wasn't exactly projecting happiness and rainbows. The glare wasn't helping his case either.
He glared at the stained desk where a permanent coffee stain had settled, the only spot of imperfection on his desk. I tapped my fingers against my knee, waiting impatiently for him to say something. Hell, I wasn't going to be the first one to talk. He'd paint a target on my ass faster than I could blink.
The ogre rubbed his temple, took a deep breath as if counting to ten, and then looked up at me, "My name is Chief Velkinski; I'm the one that requested your assistance here from your precinct. I've heard a lot about you, Miss Huntington." Oh boy, that wasn't a good thing. Usually, my name was dropped amongst precincts if I screwed up or they were talking shit about me. I inwardly grimaced, adjusting my black muscle shirt to keep it from riding further up my mid-drift.
"I don't…think I'm gonna be able to pronounce that," I pointed out, chewing on the inside of my cheek. Velkinski had to be foreign. Not sure what country because this guy looked like a mix of every country out there and there was no way I was going to remember how to say his last name. My memory was horrible, but I was being honest.
"That's fine," he didn't say it like it was fine, "Miss Huntington, I'm going to make this perfectly clear. This will not be like it was back in your town. These cases are not small incidences of robbery or sexual harassment. We have a lot of problems and because of the large amount of cases you will have, you will follow the rules I lay down. There will be no bending of regulations or doing whatever you want. If I tell you to jump, you will jump without question. I will not take disobedience within my precinct. You disobey and I will discontinue your contract and escort you to jail myself. Do you understand me?"
Clenching my fist against the arm of my chair, I could feel my blood boiling. He was like all the rest. Prejudice assholes who think every new officer under him has to be saddled and broken, especially if the newbie had a background. I glared, meeting his obsidian eyes without bothering to hide how much I loathed him in that second.
Chief closed his eyes and took another calming breathe before shoving a file in my direction. His patience was dwindling and fast, another one of my skills. I used it in interrogations countless times; it was good against any one. Get them to lose their patience and they crack eventually, rage taking over, giving me the perfect opportunity to strike. Emotion can blind.
I would know.
"We need you working right away. This is the case you'll be on tonight. It's fresh; came in a few hours ago. The others in the division are there right now investigating the scene. We're making an effort to get you a partner, but we're not exactly up to date with all this monster crap." That was a nice way of putting it. "Don't expect a lot. You'll mostly be working on your own until we figure out how to properly set up the Preternatural Division. We're not positive how things were set up in Lubbock," Chief grumbled, digging around in his desk for something. I shrugged. Things weren't that different in the Texas suburb; I was on my own in Lubbock and liked it that way. I was happier when I was busy.
I pushed my chair backwards to stand up, the legs grinding against the tile floor. I had to resist the urge to wince as it screeched sharply, the sound grating on my ear drums painfully. I couldn't show the boss man that it hurt my ears too, maybe even more than his. Men tended to pick on small details like that, turning it into a challenge of whose better. I wasn't in the mood to fight with dumbasses.
Snatching up the folder, I gave a nod and waltzed towards the door, hoping to get away clean.
Turning around, eyebrow raised, I looked at him expectantly, hoping he wouldn't say exactly what was on my mind. I needed my loopholes or else the next two years were going to be hell.
Chief grinned, a smug turn of the lips that made his caterpillar mustache look like it was standing up, and I felt my last little hope drop to the base of my stomach.
"I suggest you don't leave town and make sure you always give us notice when you're not coming in. If you don't, I'm sending the FBI after your ass," he said, grin perfectly in place as if he was saying, "Would you like some candy, little girl?"
The glare on my face could have sent in-mates running. I nodded my head angrily and fought not to stomp out of there like an angry child, grinding my teeth the entire time. It was going to be a long night and already I felt like punching anything remotely cheerful in the face.
I wrestled my impulse to flip him off on the way out.
You couldn't say I didn't make an effort.
Please Review! (I'd also love it if you kept reading, but that's just me. Keep in mind, I'M WATCHING YOU)