"Search for what?" the judge asked.
"Sometimes very old cemeteries, especially those that haven't been used in a while, like this one, can become unconsecrated. It's like they need to be re-blessed before they qualify as consecrated ground again."
"And that would affect the zombie how?"
Micah's arms relaxed minutely, so that we were still holding each other but not pressed so fiercely against each other. He was right--we were going to be here awhile. I relaxed into his arms.
"Well, it could mean there were ghouls in the cemetery, and they're attracted to the freshly dead. They would have burrowed into the new grave and eaten Mr. Rose by now. There might, or might not, have been left enough of him for him to be able talk to you."
"Ghouls, really?" He started to ask something else, but I think it was only curiosity and not the case, because he shook his head and frowned. "Did you sense any ghouls?"
"No, your honor." The fact that I'd actually dropped shields more by accident than design would be our little secret. I'd told the truth about the ghouls, but they hadn't been why my power danced out over the graves.
"All very interesting, Marshal," Salvia said, "but your shields being down doesn't change that you are trying to rush these proceedings."
I turned in Micah's arms enough to give Salvia the look he deserved. He must have had bad night vision, because he didn't flinch. Franklin did, and it wasn't even directed at him.
"And what do you hope to gain by delaying things, Salvia?" I asked. "What difference does it make to your clients whether Rose rises now or two hours from now? It's still going to happen tonight."
Micah leaned his face against my ear and spoke just barely above a breath. I don't think he wanted to risk anyone else hearing. "His fear spiked. He is delaying for a reason."
I turned and breathed against his ear, "What could he hope to gain by an hour delay?"
Micah nuzzled my ear and whispered, "I don't know."
"Are we interrupting the two of you?" Laban this time.
One of the agents muttered, "Get a room."
Great, we were going to piss everyone off. If I'd been working with police that I knew, I might have told them that the shapeshifter with me knew Salvia was lying and delaying with purpose, but over-sharing with the police--any flavor--isn't always wise. Besides, Fox had no reason to believe us, and even if he did, what good would it do us? Maybe Salvia didn't like cemeteries or zombies. A lot of people didn't. Maybe he was only delaying the moment when the walking dead rose from the grave. Maybe.
"Your honor," I said, turning only enough to give them my face but keeping most of me in Micah's arms. The warmth and pulse of him helped me think. The whispers of the dead couldn't push past the life of him. He had become my shield. "Your honor, I would love it if you would stop the arguing and let me raise Mr. Rose from the dead. But if that isn't possible, can I at least put up the circle of protection? Mr. Salvia will still be able to question me, but I will not have to cling to Mr. Callahan quite so tightly."
Micah whispered, "Aww."
It made me smile, which probably didn't help convince the judge I was serious, but it made me feel better.
"What does a protective circle have to do with why you are clinging to Mr. Callahan?" the judge asked.
"It's hard to explain."
"No one here is too terribly stupid, Marshal. Try us." Maybe the judge was also getting impatient with everybody.
"The dead are crowding me. Burying myself against my assistant helps remind me of the living."
"But you are alive, Marshal. Isn't that enough?"
"Apparently not, your honor."
"I have no objection to you putting up your circle of protection, Marshal."
"I object," Salvia said.
"On what grounds?" the judge asked.
"It is only another ploy to rush these proceedings."
The judge sighed loud enough for all of us to hear it. "Mr. Salvia, I think these proceedings have been delayed enough tonight. We are all past worrying about them being rushed." He looked at the watch on his wrist, one of those timepieces with glowing hands. "It is now after three in the morning. If we do not hurry this along, dawn will get here before the marshal gets to do her job. And we will have all wasted our night for nothing." The judge looked at me. "Raise your circle, Marshal."
The bag was on the ground where Micah had dropped it when he grabbed for me. I let loose of him enough to kneel by it. The moment I wasn't pressed against him, that breathing, whispering presence was stronger. I was gaining strength from the dead, but they were also gaining something from me. I didn't understand entirely what that something was, but we needed to stop it. The circle would do that.
The only thing we needed for the circle was the machete. I pulled it out, and the moment the blade bared in the moonlight, people gasped. I guess it was a big blade, but I liked big blades.
I laid the machete on top of the gym bag and shrugged out of the suit jacket. Micah took it from me without being asked. He'd never actually helped me at a zombie raising. I realized that when I'd told the lawyers and agents what was about to happen, I'd been telling him, too. Funny, he was such a big piece of my everyday life that I had forgotten that this other big piece was something he'd never seen. Did I take Micah for granted? I hoped not.
Removing the suit jacket had left my shoulder holster and gun very naked. With normal clients I might have kept the jacket on, because guns spooked people, but the clients were the FBI--they were okay around guns. Besides, the jacket was new and I didn't want to get blood on it. I should have been cold in the autumn night, but the air was too full of magic. Since I was dealing with the dead the magic should have been cool, but tonight it was warm. Warm the way almost all other magic is warm.
Salvia said, "Do you need a gun to raise the dead?" I guess even when working for the FBI there are still civilians to placate. I gave Salvia a look and couldn't quite make it friendly. "I'm a federal marshal and a vampire executioner, Mr. Salvia. I don't go anywhere unarmed."
I picked up the machete in my right hand and was holding out my other arm when Micah grabbed my right wrist.
I looked at him. "What are you doing?" I asked, and I couldn't keep the unhappy tone out of my voice. Keeping it from being hostile was hard enough.
He leaned in, speaking low. "Didn't we already discuss this, Anita? You're using my blood for the circle, right?"
I blinked at him. It actually took me a few seconds to understand what he meant. The fact that it took any time at all to see his logic meant that there was something going on with the dead in the ground that shouldn't have been happening. My power easing through the cemetery had done something to the graves. If I put my blood on the ground, what more would that do? But there was something in me, or at least in my magic, that wanted that deeper connection. My magic, for lack of a better word, wanted to pour my blood along the ground and bring the dead to some kind of half-life. Would it make them ghosts? Would they be zombies? Ghouls? What the hell was happening with my power lately? No answers, because there was no one living to ask. Vampires had made it standard policy to kill necromancers. Raise a zombie if you want to, talk to a few ghosts, but necromancers of legend could control all undead. Even the vamps. They feared us. But standing there with Micah's hand on my wrist, I felt the energy from the graves almost visible in the air. That energy was wanting the blood, wanting what would happen next.
Franklin's voice came strangled from the dark. "Don't do it, Blake."
I looked at him. He was rubbing his arms, as if he felt that press of power. Fox was looking at him, too. I hadn't outed Franklin, but if he wasn't careful tonight, he was going to do it himself.
"I won't do it," I said.
Franklin's eyes were too wide. The last time I'd seen him had been over the bloody remains of a serial killer's victim. Did the newly dead talk to him? Was he able to see souls, too? Maybe it wasn't me he hadn't liked in New Mexico. Maybe it was his own untrained gifts.
I turned back to Micah. "Your turn."
I saw the tension in Micah's shoulders ease. He released my wrist, and I let the machete point at the ground. He smiled. "Which arm do you want?"
I smiled and shook my head. "You're right-handed, so left. Always better to use the nondominant hand for it."