I yelled, "He's got a knife!"
I saw one of the men's eyes flick to me, but only for a second. "We'll cover him, you pat him down."
"Don't be a wussy, Roarke," Smith said, from behind me.
"Call me a wussy when you're standing this close to him."
I kept my gun on the vampire and walked slowly toward him. I talked while I moved, "Slowly, drop the knife."
The vampire didn't move, except to cower behind his jacket.
I stopped moving and looked down the barrel of my gun at him. I felt myself going quiet inside, slipping away inside my head to that distant strangely peaceful place I went when I killed, and had time to rev up for it. "I'll ask one more time, Jonah. Drop the knife, or I put a bullet in you. I won't... ask... again." All the air slid out of me, and my body went as still and peaceful as my head. I didn't hear that white noise tonight, that static, it was just quiet. The world had narrowed down to the crouching figure and nothing else. I wasn't really aware of the police, Zerbrowski behind me, even the glow of the crosses had pulled back, so that my vision was sharpened down to the man I was about to shoot.
Something dropped from that dark figure, something silver that glinted in the white glow, but it didn't really register. I didn't think knife. I had passed the point of no return. I was committed.
Zerbrowski's voice brought me back. "Knife, Anita, he dropped the knife." His voice was gentle, as if he understood that I was on the edge. The edge where a sharp voice might have pressed that trigger for me.
My breath came back in a sharp hiss of air. I pointed the gun at the ceiling, because I had to stop pointing it at the man. I had to point it elsewhere, or I was going to shoot him. Legally, I could have done it, but we needed him to talk to us. The dead, the true dead, aren't a chatty bunch.
"I've got him," Zerbrowski said. He had his gun nice and steady on the vampire.
I nodded and pressed the back of my gun to my forehead. It didn't feel cool, it was warm. Warm from being tucked up under my arm, wedged next to my breast. If I wore the wrong bra I scraped the edge of my breast as I drew, so I'd learned that all those minimizer bras that spread the breast to the side are not my friend wearing a shoulder holster. Push-up bras actually keep your br**sts up and out of the way. You just had to make sure that the bra actually covered the front of you, so you could run without falling out of it. Why was I thinking about bras when we had a double murdering vampire still to be subdued? Because I'd almost killed him. I'd almost shot into the mass of his body, not because it was time, but because that's what I did. I rarely looked down the barrel of a gun without being able to pull the trigger.
I'd almost killed him before we tried to question him. I'd almost killed him, because my body and mind fell into it. Fall into this is what we do. We look down the barrel of a gun, and we pull the trigger, and we shoot to stop. Dead is stop.
"Anita, how you doing?" Zerbrowski asked.
I nodded and lowered the gun to point at the floor. I trusted Zerbrowski to get a shot off and slow the vamp down. I trusted me to get my gun up in time to finish it. I wasn't sure in that moment that I trusted me to stand there with a bead on the vampire. Funny, but I didn't.
"I'm fine, Zerbrowski."
He kept his eyes on the vampire along with his gun. "Okay. It's your warrant."
"Yeah," I said, "my dime." I looked at the vampire, still hiding behind his leather jacket, and felt nothing. He was just something that I wanted information from. I couldn't offer him a deal for it. The law didn't allow deals with vampires who had murdered. But that was a problem for another hour.
"Slowly, put your hands on your head and lace your fingers. Now!"
His voice came strangely muffled. "Have them put the crosses up."
"Do you want to die right this second?"
He was quiet for a moment, then his voice again, "No."
"Then do what you're told. Hands on head, fingers laced, right f**king now. Now!"
He tried to keep his face hidden in the jacket, eyes squeezed tight shut as his arms came up and he put his hands on top of his head.
"Lace the fingers."
"Now, on your knees."
"Can I use my hands?"
I had my gun back up and pointed. "You are beginning to get on my nerves. Drop to your f**king knees."
He did it. Goodie.
"Cross your ankles."
"One ankle over the other, cross your ankles."
He did it. Which meant it was time to actually pat him down. I hate patting down someone who's alive, so much easier to search the dead for weapons. How can you tell when you've been killing maybe a little too much? When you think it's a pain in the ass having to pat down someone who can still move.
I put the barrel of my gun against his head. "If you move, I shoot. Is that clear?"
"Yes," he said in a strained voice.
The other nice thing about only touching them after they're dead is that you don't hear the fear in their voices, or feel that fine tremble in their hands and arms. You don't have to know that what they're afraid of is you. You don't have to think about the fact that the person you're touching is going to have to die, and that nothing they can do, or you can do will stop it. The law isn't about justice or mercy. The law is about the law, and law didn't give Jonah NoLastName, or me, options.
He had another knife, this one was at the small of his back in a sheath on the inside of his belt. He had a wrist sheath, empty, and a larger sheath at his neck, hidden by the jacket's collar. I'd never known a vampire to carry that many weapons. When he dropped the knife, I thought I'd been wrong about seeing the knife in the other vamp's chest, but no, the bastard had stabbed him and had plenty of knives left. I remembered the knife like an exclamation point in the vamp's chest.
It made me wonder. I looked at one of the knives, hefted it, touched the flat of it with my thumb. "Shit, it's silver." I didn't run back to the vampire. I waited and helped them get Jonah the vampire handcuffed, though I knew that they would only slow him down, if he really wanted free. We just hadn't come up with anything that could hold up against a vampire's strength. It was one of the reasons that they were killed instead of held over for trial. One state had tried cross-wrapped coffins, but it had been shot down as cruel and unusual. If I'd been asked, I would have asked the legislators that decided the coffins were too cruel, if they, themselves would rather be held in a small confined space until trial, or just killed. I'd have bet they'd have chosen the coffin, but then, no one asked me. I'd been invited to speak before a Senate subcommittee on undead rights, but the date kept being switched, or the committee chairperson kept changing, or... it was almost as if someone didn't want the committee to finish its report. Probably political, but whatever, I hadn't been called. I'd just been asked, a date to be specified later. Funny, but I think the committee would have liked my testimony better if they'd let me come talk when they first issued the invitation. Lately, I had nothing comforting to say.
"Sit him in a chair. If he tries anything funny, shoot him."
"Where are you going?" Zerbrowski asked.
"The knives are silver."
"So, our good Samaritan vampire may be dead, or dying." I was already moving for the door. "If he's going to survive, we've got minutes to save him."
"Save him how?" Zerbrowski asked.
I just shook my head and went for the door.
"Go with her, Smith."
Smith just changed his grip on his gun so it was pointed two-handed at the floor. "I got your back."
I didn't argue with Smith coming along. Zerbrowski and I were partnering tonight. We trusted each other to watch the bad vamp, but I had to check on the wounded vamp, so Zerbrowski stayed on the suspect and gave me backup. Because neither of us trusted anyone else to cover Jonah the vampire. Zerbrowski got the murderer, and I got the hero. Life had been so much simpler when vampires didn't come in hero-flavor.
I couldn't see our hero for the broad back of his friend. The blond was still kneeling there, holding his hand. The blond's shoulders were slumped, and he turned a tear-stained face up to me. Faint reddish-pink tracks down his face where the blood in his own tears had marked him. The tears made me fear the worst, until I moved around the feet of the other vamp. The hero lay on his back, but he blinked wide gray eyes up at me. The eyes were the only thing pale about him. Longish dark hair, and the beginnings of a beard around a wide mouth. I almost said out loud what I was thinking, Oh, good, you're not dead, but I managed not to. Point for me.