Author's Note: So I've barely written over the past few years, and I haven't posted anything in just as long, so if you take the time to read this, thank you, thank you, thank you, and please be gentle! I barely remember how this site works, but here's hoping I remember how to string a halfway decent sentence together. Enjoy!

Warnings: Femmeslash, gore, sex, violence, etc. Read at your own risk.

Sleep and blood were the only things on my mind, even amid the reek of ill intent and the stench of the long-but-not-long-enough dead. I stared at my own face in the bathroom mirror, my grayish pallor half-lit from the bedroom's one sad lamp just through the door, and I pouted my lips out as I dramatically flung one half of my waist-length hair across the middle part I'd had since my true inception back in the 1850's to give me a side part I never would have imagined. Goddamn, did that massive crack down the center of the glass bring out my natural grays, whites, and otherwise-dulls or what? And shit, man, what about those bright red blood spatters? My shit-brown eyes were just aglow with the reddish hues around them.

"Capaldi?" a voice called from the attached bedroom, drawing me unbidden and unwelcome from my personal fashion show. "Where'd you disappear to?" The hint of concern that gentled the deep male tone drew from me a beleaguered sigh of dead air that hadn't seen fellow carbon dioxide in years, and I fluffed my hair back into place as I pulled the bathroom door all the way open.

I squinted against the fresh light even in spite of its dimness, but I focused on Sparkman without trouble. "Yo," I said in lackluster re-greeting, as if we hadn't parted ways in the small living room a mere two minutes ago.

"You found anything yet?" he asked me. The way he studied me now made me uncomfortable, and I deflected in the best way I knew how.

"Dead body," I said, pointing to the doorway I'd just come through, and now it was his turn to offer me a stale sigh full of burden and dust bunnies.

"You mean the thing we came here to see? The thing we could both smell from about three blocks away?" He sounded tired. I just wondered if he was tired in general, tired of this case, or tired of me.

Well, fuck, I was tired of me, so why wouldn't he be?

I followed him as he brushed past me into the bathroom, cringing openly when he flipped on the light I hadn't bothered to. This one was way brighter than the one in the room next door, way more fluorescent, and illuminating a way more fun scene than the disheveled bedroom and all the signs of a struggle.

The bath tub was filled to the brim (and then some!) with what had once been clean bath water but was now more like people-putty, the half-melted, half-bloated, sickly dark remnants of a human - or, more specifically, since our cases didn't tend to revolve around humanity as a general rule unless somebody got too hungry: a very human-shaped werewolf. About all I could tell you about her at this point was that she had brown hair, longer than mine and redder in color, and that she had, once upon a time, many, many moons ago, been alive.

Flies swarmed the tub in a writhing mass that might have made me uncomfortable fifty years ago but now just struck me as par for the course. The smell probably would have gotten to me, too, and recently, but the weeks that had elapsed since the poor girl's demise had done a lot to dull the odor to a bearable level. I wouldn't be bottling it and selling it in stores any time soon, but I wasn't run out of the room by it, let alone the apartment.

I caught sight of myself in the mirror behind me, just out of the corner of my eye, but the way I looked in this lighting hit me harder than the corpse, and I turned back to her deathbed, mustering all the respect I could. I was a shitty person going through a shitty time, but I think it was safe to say that she'd gone through an even worse time.

Also, my "shitty time" had so far lasted for two decades, so I think I'd run out of time to use it as an excuse.

Vampirism, man. Shit.

"Jesus," Sparkman muttered to himself, unironically lifting a hand to cross himself, an old Catholic habit he hadn't managed to kill in all his years as a vampire. I was always surprised when it didn't burn him or turn him to ash or make him disappear or something.

"Not present, I'm sorry to say," I quipped, then covered the bad joke by pointing over my shoulder at the mirror I now refused to look into and saying in a serious drawl that I found quite boring, "Looks to me like whoever attacked her bounced her head off of the glass more than once, likely beat her into unconsciousness, then chucked her into the bathtub and finished the job." Staring at the woman - well, what remained of her - I now wondered if that was her reddish-brown hair I'd spied before or just a decomp- and old-blood-stained shower curtain that had been dragged beneath her during her fall.

Well, double fuck. Now the only thing I knew about her was that she had, theoretically, hypothetically, perhaps, been alive once upon a time.

Maybe that theory was wrong, too. Maybe she'd been dead her whole life and just hadn't known it until now.

"I'd say that's a solid theory," Sparkman said to me, his bright eyes moving ponderously between the near-shattered mirror and the well-shattered woman and the gears behind those eyes working tirelessly as he spun himself a jaunty tale. "Any guesses as to what finally killed her?"

"Draino." The answer was flat, boredom once again taking over. He turned to look at me, aghast, and I figured he had to be startled by the answer itself since he'd been getting accustomed to my lack of enthusiasm for months now, so I shrugged. "You don't smell it?"

"Yeah, I smell it, but I thought he - whoever'd done this, I mean - he, she, they, whoever - had just used it to -"

I cut him off. "Everyone knows you can't dissolve a body with Draino, Sparky."

"But she's half-gone and the bath is-"

"Listen, Sparks. I went through a phase in the early '20's that'd make you shit your pants if I described it in enough detail, and I assure you, what you see here is the effects of standard decomposition and the bath the killer probably ran to try to hide the evidence," I said with a grand sweeping gesture over the tub and its unfortunate contents. "If you lean in real close, you can smell the chemicals around her mouth and where it burned through her stomach lining a little but nowhere else." He cast a sideways glance at the tub, his expressive eyebrows knitting together in disgust and the beginnings of abject horror, and now I brought my sweeping gesture up to wave his judgment away. "Don't ask me why I did it, how I did it, or why I agreed to take this job as combination sniffer- and attack-dog. Just trust me when I say, in all sincerity: the nose knows, man."

He eyed me for a long moment, and I swore I watched all the stages of grief take place behind his blue eyes - until, finally, he settled on a suspicious acceptance. "Becoming a bloodsucking spawn of the Devil doesn't make me question God anywhere near as much as your existence does."

"I take that as a compliment," I said with a sharp nod, as if I, myself, had considered the very same moral quandary, and then I turned my attention back to our poor no-face tub victim. "We ever get a name for her, by the way? Feels weird poking around in her apartment and smelling her half-decomposed corpse without even knowing who she is."

Solemnly, he turned to stand shoulder to shoulder with me, pulling his old-fashioned bowler hat from his head and holding it to his chest as he undoubtedly offered up a heartfelt prayer for her. The man had more soul than most of the living beings I'd ever come across - and he gave me one reason to believe in a god, any god. "Eve Thompson. I only hope she didn't suffer too much in her final moments."

"She didn't." My face was straight, my words straighter, but it was all a lie.

She'd suffered. I could feel it, smell it, taste it. Whoever had done this had made sure that she was awake for those last minutes, had looked right into her eyes as they'd chemically burned her to death from the inside out.

And I wanted to meet the son of a bitch. They didn't call me Bruiser in the vamp police force for nothing - and my exes had plenty of reasons to call me Revenge. I just wondered what this fucker might call me when I found him.