Not So Up and Coming

Manhattan - Theater District

The Theater District hosts over three dozen theaters and well over a hundred restaurants to cater to the theater-going crowd. One of the great centers of night life in New York, it attracts thousands of tourists and socialites.

While many of the theaters are quite sophisticated, the Theater District is also home to the sleaziest, most corrupt and dangerous streets in Manhattan. The main avenues are lined with cheap movie houses, souvenir shops, and burlesque joints; side streets offering beautiful Art Deco architecture from the days of Vaudeville.

It is a stark study in contrasts.


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Kevin Curtis Bryn Blackwell Serafine Roche Donald Ashcroft

There are so many things about this situation that are not good that Kevin can't fathom where to start counting. Maybe it's the public finding of the body? Or maybe it is the fact that the body was left to be found in public? Of course, there's also the sheer numbers of witnesses and passerbys who whispered to a friend or whipped out iPhones and Droids and Blackberrys before the police got here and set up a perimeter. Who the hell knows how many pictures of the poor dead woman's body are all over YouTube and Facebook and whatever else the kids are using these days.

This is a fucking disaster.

Kevin knows disasters. He saw plenty of them on the force, and they only get worse before they get better. At least this time there's no Captain breathing down the necks of every cop in a five mile radius. Well, no Captain breathing down my neck.

Taking a last drag off of his cigarette, Kevin tosses it to the ground. He uses his work boot to grind it out with his heel. Making a mental note to brush, floss, rinse and change clothes before seeing Doris, he ducks under the police tape cordoning off the area and makes his way back to Ashcroft.

"Blackwell not here yet?" Rhetorical question. He has two functioning eyes and can see that the sorcerer is nowhere in sight.

"Not yet. He'll be here." Ashcroft gives a glance to the younger man. "Thought you gave up smoking?"

"These sorts of fucking disasters make me need a smoke." Technically, he is off cigarettes. He never buys, and doesn't carry a pack. He bummed that one off a dye job blonde with serious root issues among the crowd of gawkers.


"This is a bloody disaster," Bryn mutters as he hops out of the vehicle, and beneath the tape. "I am here," he says with a frown. "Took a while. Coming across from Brooklyn took a bit longer than I estimated."

He glances at all the phones, and curses under his breath. He won't be able to do a thing with those that have left the area, but he looks skyward and mutters a few words of Latin as he flicks his fingers at the observers. A simple electrical pulse, working much like an EMP will leave most of the devices in the crowd dead.
"That will not take care of all of them," he explains, "But it should help with the damage."

It's only after he does that that he looks at the body. Frowning, he crouches down beside her. "Too well dressed to be a streetwalker, even in this city."


"My god, this is a gawker's paradise," are the first words that come to mind for Serafine to describe the scene. When Bryn told her it was public, her imagination didn't make this big of a leap toward how public.

There's a low murmuring in French Creole as she makes her way toward the yellow tape. More than one set of eyes follow the woman in the short, tight green cocktail dress, but Serafine pays them no heed. Her 'police credentials,' the ones issued by the Priory, but that seldom get a second look from the NYPD - or anyone else - hang on a lanyard around her neck.

A rookie at the yellow tape clears his throat and starts to stop her when she holds up the badge. Instead of ducking under the tape, she presses it down and manages to skillfully leap over it, skirt, heels and all.

"Fucking A, how the hell is anyone supposed to focus on a crime scene with a piece of ass like that around? It's a crime not to hit tap that ass." What is supposed to be a whisper follows Serafine as she makes her way toward the body.


There's a temporary dip in the din of conversation that makes Kevin look up and whip his head around. He suspects the source before his eyes land on the woman that has that power to make conversation stop when she enters a scene.

"Fucking Christ," Kevin blows out a breath of air and forces his attention up to his 'colleague's' face and away from the too much leg that the woman is showing.

Raking a hand through his hair, Kevin turns back to the deceased woman and wishes desperately for another cigarette.

"Evening, Sera, looks like we pulled you away from a hot date?" Ashcroft asks casually as the vampiress joins them. One of these days, I'm going to have to ask him how he does that. Usually, Kevin can hold his own around Serafine, but not when she shows up dressed to the nines and looking hotter than hell.

No cigarette magically appears, so Kevin forces his attention the dead body with the gaping throat wound. "She fits the vic profile, though. Body type, hair color. Age. Has to be our guy, but he's gone off the grid."


Bryn knows the moment Serafine arrives, because he can hear the murmurs from the crowd. He cannot see them, he can hear them though. He doesn't even bother to look up over his shoulder because he knows what she looks like in that dress.

"I did tell you that when you called, Detective." Bryn finally allows a glance to Serafine and offers a curt, "Miss Roche. I do apologize for interrupting your evening, but as you can see we have a bit of a problem here." This is a great deal more high profile than it would have been had the victim been another homeless, or streetwalker in the park. It will be difficult to pass this one off as a coyote.

"Or we were simply making the assumption that the other location was the only one. We need someone too run statistics and look for runaways, homeless, and streetwalkers that have gone missing in the city since the deaths started occurring. We could be missing something."

Drawing on a glove, he checks the wound at the girl's neck, looking to determine the bite and whether it was hastily done or not.


"Thought you gave up smoking, Kevin." Serafine flashes the detective a knowing look as Bryn examines the body.

"More than a bit of a problem, I think, Mr. Blackwell." Serafine gives her head a jerk towards the huge amassing crowd. It's a PR nightmare, and not just for the City. It's going to spread among the Vampire population, and that's what Kostas has been trying to avoid.

Her gaze focuses on Bryn, but not so much the sorcerer himself, but rather what he's doing. "Wait, I want to look at that bite." Serafine extends a hand toward Kevin, "Gloves."

When she has them, she slips them on and takes a breath, steadying herself. The blood is still fresh enough to be a distraction, though it's the sort of distraction of lukewarm food under a heat lamp. It'll do if you're hungry enough, and close enough, a burger still smells like a burger.

The vampiress kneels on the other side of the body, and leans over to inspect the wound. With her head down, no one can see her eyes flare to black and back to brown as she schools herself to control. "This is different."


"Sometimes you need a cigarette."

"I'll get Kayla checking the databases," Ashcroft nods and immediately has his cell phone to his ear, walking a few paces away from the body.

Kevin frowns and looks around, "Where's Espinoza when we need him?"

He's been with the Priory long enough that he's not squeamish around dead bodies, but he's more than willing to let Blackwell take the lead with the examination. He can achieve just as much hovering in the background and throwing out observations and suggestions where warranted.

His frown deepens at Sera's pronouncement. They do not need another variable in this fucked up equation. "How? What's different about it?"



Bryn cannot control what goes on in the vampire world, but he knows that there are going to be major issues. A mental note is made to contact Callum and get an updated list, or to see if there's a precedent for this sort of thing so that he can forward it through Serafine.

Moving his hands away when Serafine leans in to check the bite, he frowns. "What do you mean by 'different', Miss Roche?"


"We need a coroner out here once we are done with the body. There is no reason for the continued gawking of bystanders. This woman has suffered enough for one evening."


Serafine hesitates. The pause is barely noticeable, but since she's started 'working with' The Priory, it's the first time she's ever paused. Drawing a breath, she sighs. "It's two bites. The first one is here." Serafine turns the poor girl's head, and presses softly against the skin, enough to make the fang punctures and fading bite visible. Barely so, as the wound is nearly healed, and if the victim hadn't died, she would have healed up fully. "This one was received maybe ten, fifteen minutes before she died. Thirty minutes at the most."

Serafine gently turns the head again. "This one started gentle. You can see here the single fang mark, it went in smooth. The teeth pattern here show it was a normal feeding. Then something happened it became frenzied."

The vampiress can see it clearly in the dark, but doesn't know how well the others can, so she follows the edge of the bite with her finger. "She might have fought which meant the skin started to rip, the fang ripped into her cartoid."


"She was already healing though."


Serafine frowns and bites her lip, working out the scenario in her head. Two vampires, sharing a feed. The source is given just enough vampire blood to heal but then … what triggered the frenzy?


It's hard to reconcile the gorgeous woman kneeling to look at the body with the frenzied, blood lusting killer - Killers? - on the loose in the city, but Serafine's clinical analysis and description of the wounds tells the tale. She, too, may look human and act human, but she's a Vampire, too.

Is there something wrong with me that I still find her hot as hell? Kevin wonders.

"Are you saying that we have two vampires? Or did our perp get tired and move to a tastier side?"


"Two vampires?"

It supports Bryn's fledgling theory at the very least, but it doesn't explain why the second bite was frenzied unless there was enhanced bloodlust. "I do not suppose vampires have dental records," he says dryly, locking eyes with Serafine for a moment. "It would be exceedingly helpful if they did have different dentation. Then we could simply make a mould."


"Sharing a feed, yes." Serafine holds Bryn's gaze for a moment before looking away. Her gaze turns inward, reflective. "Maker and Child learning to hunt, possibly." That's one scenario. Serafine can think of a few more, but the lovers scenario doesn't fit and it's been a long time since vampires have 'broken bread' to seal a deal, and it wouldn't be done so messily or publicly.

Cocking her head, she blinks at the sorcerer. "We do."


"Our teeth … they're the same teeth that we've always had except that our canines are retractable fangs." There's a touch of excitement to her voice as she pauses and worries her teeth over her lower lip. "If this …if this is a new vampire, recently made -"


" - Then they have dental records!" Kevin finishes for the vampiress. "Blackwell, you son of a bitch, that's exactly what we need."

Kevin has his phone out, but doesn't dial it immediately, waving it at Serafine. "We would need to account for the fangs, how much would that change or shift the whole dental … thing?"


"I meant of the fangs. I did not see human bite marks on the skin, though they could have already healed by the time we arrived." Which means they could show up as bruising later. Harder to make a mould of and match, but not entirely impossible. Especially with the computers and forensics programs available these days.

Bryn blinks at Kevin's exclamation and then frowns. "It could potentially give us a lead but even if it does, may not necessarily lead us to the man." Grabbing the young woman's hand, he peers at the nails carefully. "Blood under the nails. Could be from the victim, could be from the perpetrator." Beat. "It could be from anyone she has been in contact with in the last day. We will need this checked in a laboratory."


"All right, all right, move out of the way. Ashcroft! Tell me your civvies are not messing with my body? If I've told you people to back off once, I've told you one hundred times. Get held up in Midtown and come here to find enough gawkers to fill the stadium and you vultures on my body." The words come from the man moving toward them, a scowl on his face.

Drawing to a halt, he looks at Bryn. "Who the hell are you? Curtis, who the hell is this?"

The man doesn't wait for an answer. Instead he drops down to a squat at the deceased's head, with far more agility than his frame and apparent age would belie. "Seeing how you already started, mind telling me what we got here? 'Nother dead hooker?"

Serafine gives the man room, rising smoothly to her feet, and as she does, he squat walks right into the position she vacated. "She's dressed too nicely to be a hooker, Denny."

That gives the vampiress pause. She's been so focused on the bites that she hasn't really looked at the girl. "The shoes are Jimmy Choos, the dress is David Meister. Real. Not knock offs."


Kevin stares at the vampire a moment, then shakes his head, "How do you women do that?"


"Blackwell, this is Denham. Most people just call him Denny. He's the ME." One of them, anyway. "Denny, Blackwell. He's with us."


Bryn does not allow the newcomer to ruffle him. Instead, once he's told the man is the medical examiner, he stands slowly. "Please get the dentation marks either photographed or moulded. Scrapings under her nails with DNA." He doesn't bother offering a gloved hand, the man is going to be busy enough.

Raising a brow at Seraphine, he considers, "High class call girl? Theater patron? Do we have a name yet?"


"Denham. I do apologize for going ahead with the body before you arrived."


Denham snorts, which Serafine knows is going to be as close to an acknowledgement as they'll get from the ME now that he's settling into work. Serafine looks over at the sorcerer, "It's entirely possible that she could even work at one of the shows here. Top of the line clothes like that are a dime a dozen in thrift and cosignment shops. Designer clothes without designer dollars."

The vampiress peels off her gloves, carefully folding one inside the other. "I'll tell you that this, was a waste. I don't believe it was intentional. This was bloodlust and a frenzy." And a vampire introduced blood into her body to help her heal, just not enough, or too little too late.

Giving a small shiver that has nothing to do with the temperature, Serafine looks off into the distance, playing around with it in her mind again.


"Don't mind Denny, he's a little possessive, but he knows that we don't do any damage," Kevin tells Bryn. "He's the best there is, and he's the best that we've got. Knows all the dirty secrets and keeps them."


For a moment, Bryn goes into full work mode. He's about to tell Curtis to get on the phone with Kayla and pull names from productions, but then he allows his eyes to glance around the alleyway. From what he could tell, there was nowhere in that outfit for the victim to be carrying identification, which means she likely had a purse.

"Curtis, take the right. I will go left. Let us see if we cannot find a purse, a wallet, a clutch, or some manner of way this young woman would carry identification. Regardless of how she died, her next of kin will need to be notified."


"This one is too public, and if she was involved in the show, or a patron of the theater, then chances are someone is going to miss her sooner or later." Likely sooner rather than later.


Serafine wraps her arms around herself, hugging her midsection. A faint tremor passes through her body again and she swallows hard. She's at her limits for dealing with the congealing blood, and now that Denny is on scene, there isn't a lot for her to do. "I'm going to … mingle into the crowd. There are plenty of onlookers still there. Maybe someone heard or saw something and is talking about it."

It's good cover story and excuse to get away from the blood.


"A full day's work is never complete without a little bit of good old fashioned dumpster diving." It's not really a complaint so much as it is commentary. Kevin does as directed, veering off to peer into piles of cardboard boxes and other things that he'd really rather not think too much about.


"Let us hope not," Bryn murmurs as he passes Serafine. It's bad enough he had to fry a bit of hardware to ensure that those still present didn't post things to the internet. Rumors and gossip will be bad enough as is, through the verbal grapevine.

"I am not precisely dressed for delving through rubbish bins in the alleyway." He should have had his kit with him in the car, but as he's not got his own vehicle yet, paying a towncar to stick around for an entire party would have been a foolish waste of resources.

Pulling on a second glove, he exhales a sigh and begins to move a few aluminum rubbish cans to the side, peering behind and in them. After about ten minutes of rummaging, he comes up with a small purse that's coordinated with the shoes.


Serafine takes a breath and walks toward the alley entrance as quickly as she can without it looking as though she's running there. She can hear the men rustling behind her, and she's more than happy to leave them to it.

She's almost to freedom when Ashcroft is in front of her, and she stops abruptly before colliding with him.

The Colonel takes a good long look at her and rests a hand on her shoulder, "You okay?"

Serafine forces a smile, "I'm fine, Ash. Just going to see what I can see or hear in the crowd out there."

"Keep me posted," Ashcroft says, giving her shoulder a squeeze, and letting her pass.

Serafine sees it in his eyes, that he knows exactly what the issue is, but he lets her go with no comment on it.


Kevin starts at one end of the alley and moves along, picking through piles and moving things aside. This is all part of the job. Reminds him of old times, back when he'd chase punks through alleys and retrieve stolen merch that they chucked in mid-flight. It takes him a little longer to find the wallet, and he immediately flips it open. "Mandy. Our vic is Mandy Lockhart."


"Forward what information you can, Curtis. Have Kayla copy it all, and then hand it over to your contact. Someone needs to tell her parents." Bryn frowns. His work usually isn't like this. Even in London, working with the Priory has never really been about death. It's been about cleanup. It's been about aiding new supernaturals, but death in this magnitude is not something that is usual.

"Miss Roche before you get on with the crowd, you may want to make the necessary calls and inform your… boss… that things have just reached a new level."


"Colonel? If the men in blue are done with the statements, perhaps we can begin dispersing the crowd?"

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