"Dolph, stop this," I said, and my voice didn't sound like me.
"Lieutenant," a voice came from the open door.
Dolph turned with me still gripped between his hands. Detective Clive Perry stood in the doorway. He was a slender African American man, dressed conservatively, neatly, but well dressed. He was one of the most soft-spoken men I'd ever met, and themost soft-spoken policeman.
"What is it, Perry?"
Perry took a deep breath, that moved his shoulders and chest up and down. "Lieutenant, I think Ms. Blake has seen enough of the crime scene for now."
Dolph gave me a little shake that sent my head rattling and my stomach churning. "Not yet, she hasn't." He jerked me around to face back into the room. He dragged me towards the headboard, which was painted a lavender so close to the wall's color I hadn't seen it. He pushed me forward until my face was inches from it. There was a fresh claw mark like a pale scar in the wood and paint.
"What do you think did that, Anita?" He jerked me around until he was holding me facing him, his big hands still wrapped around my upper arms.
"Let go, Dolph." My voice still didn't sound like me. No one else could have done this to me. I'd have fought back by now, or been scared, or pissed. I still wasn't any of those things.
"What do you think did that?" And he gave me a little shake. It made my head rattle, my vision stream.
"Lieutenant Storr, I must insist that you let Ms. Blake go." Detective Perry was behind him, to one side, so I could see his face.
Dolph turned on him, and I think only the fact that his hands were already full kept him from grabbing Perry. "She knows. She knows what did this, because she knows every f**king monster in town."
"Let her go, Lieutenant, please."
I closed my eyes, which helped the dizziness. His hands on my arms let me know where his body was. I rammed the pointed heel of my shoe into his instep. He flinched, his hands loosened. I opened my eyes and did what I'd been trained to do. I brought my arms up between his and swept outward, downward. It broke his hold on me, and I drew my right arm back, and hit him a short uppercut into his gut. If he'd been shorter I'd have tried for the solar plexus, but the angle was bad, so I hit what I could get.
The air went out of him in a grunt, and he bent double, hands over his stomach. I still haven't quite come to terms with being more than human strong. I had a second where I hoped I hadn't hurt him more than I meant to, then I stepped back, away from him. The world was trembling, like I was looking at everything through wavy glass.
I kept backing up, and my heels hit something slick and thicker than just blood, and down I went. I landed hard on my ass, and blood spattered upwards. It soaked through my skirt and I struggled to my knees to keep it from soaking into my panties. The blood was cool to the touch, and then my knee smeared in something that wasn't blood.
I screamed and scrambled to my feet. If Perry hadn't caught me I'd have fallen again. But he was moving too slow for the door. I didn't want to throw up in here. I pushed away from him and half-staggered, half-ran through the doorway. When I hit the hallway I fell to all fours and threw up on the pale carpet. My head roared with pain, and my vision exploded with starbursts of white, white light.
I crawled towards the head of the stairs, not sure what I planned to do. The floor came up to smack into my body, and there was nothing but a soft, gray nothingness, then the world was black, and my head didn't hurt at all.
The tile felt so good against my cheek, so cool. Someone was moving around. I thought about opening my eyes, but it seemed like too much effort. Someone put a cool cloth against my neck. It made me shiver, and I opened my eyes. My vision took a second to focus, then I saw the knee beside my face was wearing hose, and a skirt.
I knew it wasn't one of the men, unless they had hobbies I didn't know about. "Anita, it's me, Tammy, how you feeling?"
I rolled my eyes, but some of my own hair was in the way, and I couldn't see up that far. I tried to say, help me sit up,but it didn't come out. I tried again, and she had to lean close to hear me. She pushed a piece of her straight brown hair behind her ear, as if that would help her hear better.
"Help me," I swallowed, "sit up."
She got an arm under my shoulders and lifted. Detective Tammy Reynolds was five ten, and she worked out at least enough to keep the other--read male--cops from giving her grief. She didn't have much trouble getting me up, my back against the bathtub.
Staying there was my job, and that was a little more trouble. I propped myself on one arm and leaned against the tub.
She picked the rag up from the edge of the sink where she'd laid it, and put it against my forehead. The rag was cold, and I jerked away from her. I felt cold, that was a new symptom. I thought of something.
"Have you been," I coughed to clear my throat, "putting cool rags on me?"
"Yes, it helps me when I'm sick."
"Cold rags don't seem to be helping me." I didn't tell her that it was probably one of the worst things she could have done for me. Ever since I had inherited Richard's beast, or whoever's beast, cold didn't seem to help me when I was sick. I healed like a lycanthrope now, and that meant that my temperature ran hot when I was sick, like my body was cooking itself. A well-meaning doctor had almost killed me with ice baths for what they thought was a dangerously high fever.
I started to shiver.
She got up, rinsing the washrag out, and spreading it out to dry on the edge of the sink. "I threw up in the yard," she said. She put her hands on the sink, head bowed.
I hugged myself, trying to stop the shivering, but it didn't really help. I was cold. I hadn't been cold earlier today. Was a new symptom good or bad?
"It's a bad scene," I said, "I'm sure you weren't the only cop who lost their breakfast."
Tammy looked at me through a trailing edge of her hair. She had to keep her hair above her collar, just like the male policemen, but she kept it as long as she could. "Maybe, but I'm the only one who passed out."
"Except for me," I said.
"Yeah, you and me, the only women at the scene." She sounded so tired.
Tammy and I weren't actually friends. She was a Follower of the Way, Christianity's version of witches. Most of the Followers of the Way were zealots, more Christian than the right-wingers, as if they had to prove they really were worthy of salvation. Tammy had mellowed since she'd been dating Larry Kirkland, my fellow animator. But this was the first time I'd realized how much of that bright and shiny exterior had been worn away. Police work will eat you up and spit you out.
As women we needed to be tougher just to be accepted. Today hadn't helped either of us.
"It's not your fault," I said. The shivering was beginning to get a little worse.
"No, it's my damn doctor's fault."
I looked up at her. "Excuse me?"
"He gives me a prescription for birth control pills then prescribes antibiotics, and doesn't warn me that while I'm taking the antibiotic, the pill won't work."
My eyes went wide. "I'm sorry, are you saying . . ."
"That I'm pregnant, yes."
I know the surprise showed on my face, I couldn't help it. "Does Larry know?"
She nodded. "Yes."
"What . . ." I tried to think of something good to say, and gave up. "What are you going to do?"
"Get married, damn it."
Something must have showed on my face, because she knelt by me. "I love Larry, but I didn't plan on marrying now, and I certainly didn't plan on having a baby. Do you know how hard it is to get ahead in this job as a woman? Of course, you do. Sorry."
"No," I said, "it's not the same for me. Police work isn't my entire career." The shivering had started up again; no amount of astonishment could keep me warm.
She took her own jacket off, showing her gun in its front holster. She wrapped the jacket around me. I didn't argue, but clutched it closed with my hands.
"Is the shivering from the pregnancy?" she asked. "Someone said you said you were sick, are you?"
It took me a second or two, blinking at her sort of stupidly to understand what she'd said. "Did you just say 'pregnancy'?"
She made a face at me. "Anita, please, I haven't told anyone either, but they're going to guess. I threw up at the murder scene, I've never done that. I didn't pass out cold like you did, but I came close. Perry had to help me out into the yard so I could be sick. It won't take them long to figure it out."