Nicolao Daos's mouth dropped open as he attempt to digest what just happened.
She'd smacked him. In the chest. In her office. With a smug Dominador lounging in the doorway, arms folded across his chest.
"You died?" Chief Bibiana Solís hissed, working very hard to keep her voice down.
Daos turned to Dominador, who was already leaving the room. "Thanks, man," Daos called after him, before turning back to the fuming powder keg before him.
Like Dominador, Bibiana was in no mood to be pacified. "You disappeared in the middle of a work day - had all my detectives searching for your ass - and now you tell me you were missing because...you were dead?"
"Only for a minute," Daos assured her, also trying to keep his voice down in addition to doing damage control. What was with everybody just hitting him today? "I drowned, I got over it, and we have much bigger problems than the fact I survived, Chief Solís."
"This isn't about the fact you survived, Detective," Bibiana bit out. "This is about how you marched into the Domarad - after drugging your partner - and let yourself be killed! You didn't think about what that thing could do to rest of us after you left." She snapped suddenly, slamming her hand down on her desk. "I have no use for an officer with a death wish! If being assigned to me and my humble, dusty little town is far too much for you to bear--"
"Bibiana, stop." His voice came out low, and he looked somewhat startled..
As though struggling to reign in all her emotions, Bibiana closed her eyes, slowing her breathing as she switched to Spanish. "I need you. I need you, Daos. I have felt helpless for so long, but you've shown me that I can do this, that I can protect my town, that I can defend these people." Her body shook slightly. "I need the great and infamous Daos not to die on me."
Against his better judgment, he took her into his arms. She didn't cry or hug him back; she just breathed warmly against his neck, trembling as she fought to keep herself under control. As he held her in the silence, Daos realized just real things were getting.
Not everything is about you, Dominador had told him.
No, Daos blinked to himself. I suppose it's not. Not anymore.
"Could...people...please stop hitting me?!??" Daos roared.
Daos's head snapped towards Dominador. "Seriously, dude...if you tell one more person--"
"Excuse me!" Trish snapped her fingers in his face, regaining his attention. "Tell me something, Daos: if you die, how do I get the story? Hm? How do I get the story, Daos? I left civilization behind for this job and you are not making it easy!"
Daos was getting tired. "I am so, so, so, sorry, Trish," he apologized, touching his chest as he feigned. "I can only imagine how inconvenient my dying would be for--"
In a flash her arms were around his neck and she was hugging him. Again, he felt warmth breath and a trembling body against his but this time it was different. Trish was his friend. Like Dominador, she was his friend, and to her, the thought of his death was devastating.
"Can we at least not tell Dani?" he murmured finally, conceding defeat.
"My lips are sealed," Trish murmured back, still hugging him.
Dominador sighed loudly and irritably. "I suppose I could spare her the news."
Trish slowly pulled away, looking Daos meaningfully in the eyes. "It's bad, isn't it? You've finally come across something you can't take out."
That seemed to wake Dominador from his smoldering mood. The gravity of the situation quickly filled the room as Daos broke his main rule about telling a reporter the truth.
"Sobena Domarad died in that building," Daos began. "She died there about thirty years ago."
Trish finished for him. "Let me guess," she nodded grimly, "she never left."
"She's become a rusalka," Daos patiently explained. "It's a water spirit - demon, depending on your perspective - and she appears to be guarding the the Domarad against demolition. I think it's what's keeping her here, in our world. It's like she's waiting for her lover to come back or something."
"He can't come back!" Trish exclaimed. "Former Mayor Garza drank himself to death ten years ago - he's dead! You mean to tell me Sobena doesn't know that? Don't the dead, like...talk to each other?"
Dominador was confused. "I don't get it. Seems to me that contrary to popular belief, this particular rusalka does have a weakness - the building. Is there really no way to get around her and just tear that thing down?"
"Water is the greatest force on earth." Daos shrugged haplessly. "It's far worse in the hands of a demon who can also control space and time. Demolishing a building that large takes hours. Sobena can kill all the workers in seconds if they so much as come near it, and something tells me we don't have a lot of time before the city starts working on it again."
Trish sighed wearily. "If only there was a way take out the whole building at once."
"Um...guys?" Dominador raised his hand slightly. "I, uh...I have a really bad idea."
Next: Great Exaggerations