AN: Co-authored by the wonderful Fadded! Check his site (http: / / www . fictionpress . com / u / 728778 / Fadded ) out and show him the love too! Guess who wrote what if you can!


drip…

drip…

drip…

The shuffle of the fine leather shoes contrasted against the heavy odor that clung to the narrow walls and weighted the air with the stench of misery and fear. A match flickered to illuminate a cold smile that balanced a cigarette; the sharp sent of sulfur bore through the curtain of filth that already existed.

"How much is the offer?"

In response to the voice, the caged creature curled tighter in the corner, hissing to display sharp canines, though the rest of her appeared mostly-human. Only the grey-green hints of strips on her upper arms and outer thighs, however, marked her as non-human.

A distant hallway rang with an echoing cry of "I want to go home!"

Only the new or insane cried out that way. That voice would soon find that vocalization only summoned punishment, and like the others, he would realize he was home now—home with whoever held his collar and his keys in this sunless world. Any actions or fighting to the contrary would be met with the dominance befitting something owned, a controlled object, a commodity.

"Shifters aren't in much demand right now, boss," a squat, swarthy man replied. "He only offered twelve grand."

A pause.

A moment to decide life and death.

"Do it."

}.{

"Siofra!"

The young man trembled as that simple name vibrated through his very core. He stopped dead in his tracks as if something had stuck him to the spot. That one word held so much power over him. It was unnerving; knowing someone could control him with a word. That name in the wrong hands was almost unthinkable. It could spell disaster to the bearer of that name. The young man turned around to face the older male as obediently as a child and clasped his hands behind his back. He could have never dreamed of leaving. The man before him demanded respect.

"What is it, Master? They found something again. I have to go."

"I know. That is the reason I called you back. I don't want to lose you to silly humans. Keep your wits about you, Son. Remember what I taught you. Always be careful in how you use your powers. You do have limitations."

"I know this. I am not a novice at the Arts."

"No, no you're not. That's why I remind you. Don't get cocky."

"I won't." The older man came over to Siofra and hugged him like a father would hug his son before sending him out to war. In a way, this was a war ground. He kissed the top of Siofra's head and sighed.

"Well, go then."

"Yes, Master." Siofra gave a bow to the elder and hurried away. He had a duty, and he wouldn't let anything get in his way.

}.{

Faolán muttered under his breath the whole time he drove to the scene of a recent kidnapping. How could people be so careless? Didn't anyone know how to defend themselves anymore? He parked his pleasantly-growling charger next to the sidewalk and looked at the middle-class house before him. Cops were already on the scene. He really hated human cops; they soiled a scene with their grubby paw prints and covered any glamor that existed. This was why he was here after all. A special agent to prove that reality was still reality and fantasy hadn't somehow wandered into human lives. Of course, the latter would always be a secret on his watch.

Faolán took in a breath and pushed his strawberry blond hair out of his face. He got out of his car and shut the door. He walked under the yellow tape that crisscrossed the area. A young cop came up to him and started to push him away from the house

"I am sorry, Sir. You can't-"

Faolán pulled out his Special Investigators of Fictional Intelligence Badge from and practically shoved it in the cop's face. The cop's dark eyes scanned the badge and, grudgingly, he let Faolán pass. That was another thing that annoyed him. Cops didn't like others showing up to 'steal their case', but it wasn't their case to begin with. He looked over the scene with startling emerald eyes. At first glance, he looked as interested as a vampire presented with garlic. He smirked. Really, one vampire with an allergy to garlic and now the whole human race thought of the little root as vampires-bane. Oh well, back to work… There really wasn't anything out of the ordinary about the place. It was just an ordinary house that used to be home to a very extraordinary person.

Faolán walked into the house and sniffed the air like a dog. He almost reeled back. The place had the horrible stench of a demon. It was like burnt hair met rotten flesh. It almost made him nauseous. He cleared his throat and walked further into the house and tried to stop the habit of reaching up to his nose. Humans couldn't smell that, so he'd probably call up some unwanted questions. He kept his eyes open for any sight of glamor. If the demon had been kidnapped by someone who could control glamor then a slight residue would have been left behind on anything the kidnapper touched. That included the floor. He walked through the entire house but found nothing. That ruled out quite a few things. It couldn't have been a vampire, a wizard, warlock, enchanter, witch, mage, or fey. In fact, he didn't smell anything else besides the demon. Could a summoning spell have taken the poor demon away?

No, that wasn't possible. He would have seen a marking on the floor where the demon was snatched away, since summonings always left large marks behind. Faolán took extra precaution then to check the ground again just in case he missed anything. He was so preoccupied with his search, he hadn't heard the human cop walk into the room behind him.

"Er- Excuse me, Special Agent Ta-Tanknee… Tani?" the man began.

Faolán jumped, a little surprised, and turned on his glamor and was quick to get to his feet. When he realized who it was, he rolled his eyes. Why was it so hard for them to pronounce his name? It wasn't hard at all!

"Tanai. Tahn ee," he spelled out.

"Tanknee."

"Forget it. What is it?" he asked and straightened himself out.

"Um..." the poor kid blushed. He probably felt a little more than embarrassed. When the cop's attention started to drift in places Faolán didn't really appreciate, Faolán realized his glamor was still up. He dimmed it before the young lad started to lose his mind to the gutter. "Your... Your partner is here... Detective Mercy." Mercy? That was an interesting last name. It was so straightforward. He shrugged it off and started to walk out of the room. He hated working with other people; especially when it was humans. It was never on his own terms. Of course, he could charm the detective, but he didn't want things to get out of hand. Might as well check the partner out before he did anything to muddle his mind. He had learned over the years that some humans, if trained properly, could be useful. It always helped to have a trained fighter at your back in a scruff.

}.{

"Merc, phone's for ya. Line three. Says it's urgent."

He sighed and shuffled his papers as he reached for the boring, black phone that perched beside its twin over the conjuncture between the four old metal desks. "Mercy speaking."

A slight giggle reached his ear first, followed by a sweet Carolina accent: "Ah, the sound a'that never gets old, Rio. It's Kayla."

"What's urgent?" he asked, his no-nonsense voice speaking more of his exasperation than he could have hoped to convey with words. After all, normally he'd oblige her humor with his last name with at least an acknowledgment. Not today.

For a moment, the petite blonde on the other end of the line remained silent. "Y'okay, Ri?"

"Fine." She knew him too well, and she used that nickname entirely too often. It sounded so dumb with her accent: just a little too much 'ey' in something that should sound like 'ree'.

He frowned. "…you called me at work?"

As always, she didn't seem to need his complete thought to know what he was actually talking about so she answered: "Oh, sorry. I know I'm not supposed ta. Ya comin' t'night?"

"That was urgent?"

"M'sorry, Ri," she bubbled, sounding entirely un-sorry. "Ya've been ignorin' m'text messages."

"Maybe because I'm busy?"

"Rio…"

He sighed. "I have to go, Kayla. I'll try."

"I'll take that. Jackson wants t'see ya, too!"

"Bye."

"Bye!"

Rio shook his head and hung up the phone, his thoughts already turning back to the case-files spread over his desk. He chewed on the inside of his lip and closed his eyes, silently going over each one in his head.

"…Mer… …rc… …Mercy!"

He lifted his head and blinked at the young officer leaning against his desk with a smirk on her face. Apparently, Smith didn't speak Rio-body-language yet, since she didn't realize he was waiting for her to tell him what she wanted. She'd learn, until then: "Yes?"

"Captain wants to see you… something about the Benjamin Murphy case."

He nodded and stood, curious as to what the captain could want now; they'd spoken only minutes ago when the captain gave him the assignment to go along with the other four similar disappearances he was working on, and making little headway.

When the captain called someone to his office, that someone went to his office. Rio got up and headed back to meet up with the captain. After knocking on the door jam to announce his presence, he waited.

"Come in, Mercy; shut the door."

Rio did so, noticing how tense and agitated the captain seemed, despite the neutral expression on his weathered face. He wondered it something was wrong.

DeAngelo shook his head. It really was great that he spoke fluent Rio-body-language, because he answered the question without Rio even having to ask it. "I just got off the phone with the brass. The feds have some fairy-chaser they insist on pushing into the Murphy disappearance."

Rio arched an eyebrow over one of his deep-set eyes, which could never quite decide if they wanted to be honey-brown or hazel-green. "Fairy-chaser, sir?"

DeAngelo snorted. "All that urban nonsense going around about weird creatures and occurrences; you must have heard they set up specialized units to disprove the existence of all that bull."

Indeed, Rio had heard just such things, but dismissed it as completely unnecessary. After all, why did they need teams to disprove things as hair-brained as the kind of stories going around? Anyone should be able to see they couldn't be real. "But why with the Murphy case?"

"Who knows?" The captain's scowl could have peeled paint for the pure acid contained within. "Someone probably shot their mouth off with their over-active imagination, saying that these missing persons reports have something to do with these creatures that have supposedly been running around lately." He wiggled his fingers in the air on the word 'creatures'. "Really, one would think there are better uses for our tax dollars than gumming up real police work."

Rio stood and nodded. "When do I meet him?"

"He's already on his way there. His name's Fay-land Tawny or something like that."

Rio almost smiled. Man, he hoped for that guy's sake that the captain had just butchered his name; otherwise, he probably had been worse off in high-school than Rio was. After all, not much was stranger than a light-eyed, pale-ish guy with eye-structuring that suggested at least some Asian heritage but bore the name 'Rio Mercy'. Luckily, most of the time, people were pretty good at ignoring him altogether—it made things so much easier to deal with when people weren't popping in and out of his life; it was great for police work, too.

"Is that all, sir?"

"Yeah. Hey, Mercy?"

"Hn?"

The captain frowned and looked to the one picture frame sitting on his desk. He lifted his dark eyes again and shook his head. "Just be careful."

A little unnerved by the worried intensity the captain exuded, he just nodded. "Yes, sir."

A short time later, Rio had his unmarked squad weaving in and out of the slowly dispersing traffic as he made his way out to one of the ritzier suburbs. He sighed. First, there was the new disappearance to worry about along with the others. Then Kayla's 'urgent' phone call—which meant he'd receive twenty more if he ditched tonight, and now this? Man, this was not shaping up to be his day. He'd met some of these Sifers—at least that's what he thought their title was: government agents with attitude to spare, like all agents, but who, unlike most other agents possessed these strange, wide-eyed ideals that perhaps certain fiction writers hadn't been quite so 'imaginative' after all. Yeah, the 'Special Investigators of Fictional Intelligence', the SIFI, really, the captain wasn't too far off when he called them fairy-hunters…

Oh well.

Maybe this 'Fay-land' guy wouldn't be so bad. Rio smiled a little. He'd always worked well under pressure, so now, perhaps an extra pair of eyes would help him puzzle things a little faster. Yeah. Maybe a partner who believed in the impossible wouldn't be so bad. If nothing else, listening to wild thinking and outlandish theories would keep his own mind light. After all, Kayla often believed in the impractical, and he knew better than anyone how his best friend was good for him.

He pulled up to the curb and closed his eyes for a moment to center himself. Here goes nothing. He crossed the police tape and approached the front door; it wasn't log before he was greeted by an attractive young-looking agent. A small smile spread on the blond's face, and he extended his hand.

"Hello. I am Special Agent Faolán Tanai. I assume you are Detective Mercy. It will be a pleasure to work with you."

Rio accepted the hand offered to him, though his facial expression didn't really change. Damn! Those are some green eyes, he thought as he starred at the agent in front of him.

"Yeah, the name's Rio." At least the captain was wrong about the agent's name. Rio smiled inwardly but kept it off his lips.

Faolán smile brightened a little, and he added a small bit of charm into it, but it didn't really seem to affect Rio. His eyes narrowed slightly in surprise. Why hadn't it worked? The only time he had to apply full glamor was against others like him. Maybe the human had gone under some sort of training. "Rio," he said with an Irish accent attached to it. "Nice name. What do you know about the case so far? I figure we should be on the same page if we are working together."

Rio blinked, feeling a little lightheaded all of the sudden but shook the feeling off. He noticed how the agent narrowed his eyes, and set his to match. Was he making fun of his name? Didn't matter. So instead, he detailed what the Captain had told him about Ben Murphy case. "Spoiled rich kid with too much time, money, and love for fast cars, quick women, and easy drugs. Still, he was smart enough to keep his nose clean, and usually avoided the really dangerous crowd."

Faolán nodded at the information. That sounded pretty typical of a demon. From the sound of it, it was probably a speed demon or a just the average little trouble maker. He quickly examined his partner and gave a tiny nod. He looked stable enough and solid enough for a fight. He hadn't said anything about his name either. That was a plus. Maybe he would like this detective.

Despite himself, Rio couldn't help but ask: "So, uhm, you from England or something? How'd you end up here?"

Instantly Faolán's eyes narrowed and a flash of anger entered his green hues. "I am not English! I am Irish. I take that as an insult," he glared. So much for liking his partner. That was the first strike. He had two more to go before he was out.

Rio swallowed a groan and kept his face a schooled mask of emptiness. So much for 'maybe not being so bad'. Still, he couldn't really fault the guy, even if he was taller than Rio. There were definitely subjects that Rio would respond in a similar fashion, even if he did so in a quieter manner. "My apologies," he offered with a shake of his head. So this Agent Tanai was going to be a strictly business partner. Fine. "Didn't mean to insult." Just happened to blunder into it, he finished in his head. Definitely need to avoid calling him a Sifer… just in case.

Faolán had the mind to just walk away from him and go back to what he was doing but the man apologized. He looked back at him and sized him up. He still couldn't believe he was compared to the small percent of English on his mother's side. He was practically ninety percent Irish and Rio picked up on the ten percent English? He huffed a little but swallowed his annoyance. Starting a partnership off this way wasn't exactly the best option. It was obvious glamoring him was going to be harder than most other humans, so he needed to keep cool. "Apology accepted. Now go about your side of the investigation and I'll go about mine."

Rio held his breath for half a heartbeat. Part of him wanted to bristle at the comment, feeling distinctly insulted; however, he'd been the one to stick his foot in his mouth, and he could tell that he'd really stepped in it with his new 'partner'. The guy had been practically seething, though his face appeared as calm as Rio's. At least he'd smoothed out a little with the apology. Oh well. It wasn't like Rio needed an agent to help him do his job anyway. He forced a small, professional smile to his lips. "Sure." With that, he turned away to find the perpetually blushing Officer Coen, who he'd sent ahead for initial evidence gathering.

Faolán nodded to him and headed back to the house. It was time to figure out who took the demon, because so far, he hadn't found anything that involved 'mythical creatures' beside the kidnapped. Who was the kidnapper? More importantly, what was he?

}.{

"Father, Father! Why do they court and kiss me so? I am mean to them, but they won't let me go."

"Dear child, embrace the gift you've been given. You've been blessed."

"Father, Father, why do they hate me now? They've burned and razed our home and laid you out to rest."

Only silence answered the boy. Maybe it's better for everyone if prejudice between 'normal' and 'fantasy' was law.


Wanted: Constructive Criticisms ^_^ Whadya think? eh? eh?