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Still playing catch-up...

Kate is a tough one. She's an uncomfortable character -- she's raw, she's angry, she gets humiliated (most frequently by her father), she's addicted to her own pain. This is all stuff that happens routinely with male characters and it tends not to bother us. We (the collective 'we') even celebrate it. It's angst! It's man-pain! Kate is, at the core, Angel's mirror -- at least through the end of Season 2. But for whatever reason it's a more difficult story prospect when the character is a woman, particularly someone a little bit grating like Kate. I love her for her gruffness, her awkwardness, but can see why it doesn't work for everyone.

In fairness, though, I do think some of the reason audiences didn't quite respond to her is because of the writing. When her original character arc was axed, I think the writers had to scramble to figure out exactly what they wanted to do with her -- and never quite got her story back to where it needed to be.

That said, there's an AU in my head where Corrupt happened as originally written and Kate gets her arc -- and it's pretty awesome.

There's also a AU in my head where she comes back to L.A. in Season 3, post-Sleep Tight, just in time to meet up with Wesley before he hits rock bottom. I've always wanted to finish it and writing about her this week made me open it up and give it a hard look for the first time in a long while. So here's a bit from the beginning of the fic. This scene is mostly set-up for the action to come, but I think it fits the female-focused theme of [profile] womenlovefest nicely.

From Dark Waters (Alternate Season 3) -- a scene in which Kate Lockley meets her LAPD 'replacement.'

“Detective Lockley?” She extended a hand. “I’m Nell Burbick. Nice to meet you.”

“Not ‘detective’ anymore,” the other woman said wearily, as though she had to explain that a lot these days. She accepted Nell’s hand, though.

The only word to describe Kate Lockley was tired, the only polite word at any rate. She looked gaunt, not even bothering with make-up to hide the slightly puffy circles beneath her eyes. Her red cashmere sweater and crisply pressed trousers looked expensive but ill-fitting, as though she'd recently and rapidly lost weight.

“Likewise,” she said, not totally sounding like she was sure she meant it. Her gaze flicked up and down, taking in Nell’s appearance and body language, probably making note of the little details, making an initial assessment. It was what Nell would do herself. “When did you make detective, anyway?”

“About a year ago,” Nell replied automatically, and then regretted it when Kate’s eyebrows went up.

“Right as I was on my way out,” she said. “Well, it’s nice to know they had a spare.”

“Thank you for meeting me, anyway,” Nell said, trying for safer territory. “My partner and I… My partner’s Marc Pistochini, by the way – I think the two of you worked Vice around the same time?”

“We did,” Kate said, nodding slowly. “We never worked together, but I remember his name and his rep…”

“Which was?”

She shrugged. “A straight-shooter, kind of green, but a decent cop.” Then, after a pause, “What did Pistochini tell you about my rep?”

“I didn’t ask him,” Nell said smoothly, and ordered a cappuccino when their waitress came by, effectively changing the subject.

Kate wasn’t quite so easily led, though. After their coffee arrived, she said, “You must know something about me, though, otherwise you wouldn’t have looked me up.”

It was Nell’s turn to shrug. “We caught one of your old cases.”

“Did you? I can only imagine…”

Nell put her cup down, pulling a file from her bag and setting it on the table between them. “It’s an unusual enough case that it seemed to warrant going straight to the source. Your reports leave a lot unsaid, and no one currently on the job seems to want to share…”

“I don’t doubt it.” Curiosity seemed to fight a battle with self-preservation on Kate’s face. “Okay, okay,” she said, after a moment. “Tell what you’ve got.”

“A month or so back, a couple of good Samaritans find this guy…” She flipped over a picture of Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. Kate twitched in recognition, almost imperceptibly, but a twitch nonetheless. “Our good Samaritans find this guy in a park in one of our less desirable neighborhoods. Severe trauma to the neck. By all rights the guy should have bled out right then and there.” She took another drink of her coffee, flipping the whole file open and watching Kate’s reaction. “I was ready to write it off as a mugging or a drug deal gone bad, especially in that particular park – but Marc thought the whole thing felt funny.”

“And the victim?” Kate asked, very carefully not saying his name, even though the picture was labeled with it.

“He lived, believe it or not. The docs said it was nothing short of a miracle. So Marc goes up there to talk to the guy – so to speak, anyway, Marc did most of the talking – and he’s still got this gut feeling that something doesn’t quite check out. So next time, Marc takes me with him to ask a few more questions – and before we know it there’s this big guy in Wyndham-Pryce’s room, just going absolutely apeshit – like PCP overdose apeshit – trying to kill him.” She shook her head. “We tased him four times and it just seemed to make him madder.” She paused, waiting for Kate to say something, but the other woman just shook her head. “I have a feeling you know where this is going…”

“I’m afraid I do, but let’s hope I’m wrong… So you pull the big guy off Wesley and try to get an ID on him?”

“That’s where it really gets interesting.” Nell smiled, a little wryly. “So we run both these guys through the system and guess whose name pops up, over and over again?”

“I don’t need to guess,” Kate said, rubbing absently at the side of her neck. “I know exactly what you found – including what happened to me. Severe neck trauma, massive blood loss… I had a front row seat for the action, so I don’t need a refresher.”

“It seemed,” Nell said evenly, “like more than a coincidence.”

“It’s definitely not a coincidence.” Despite the warm afternoon and her sweater, Kate shivered visibly. “And now you know that I know Wes, and Angel, personally… What did Wesley say afterward? Did he say anything to give the impression that there was anything… wrong… with Angel?”

Nell raised an eyebrow. There was definitely something important there, some key detail that Kate was holding back. “Apart from trying his damnedest to commit a very public murder? No. The other people who work for this Angel of yours seem to think he hung the moon, but he does have an unfortunate habit of trying to kill people.”

“The other people? Like Cordelia Chase?”

“That’s right.”

“And Cordelia said he was fine…” Kate said, mostly to herself. “So it’s just Wes he’s got the problem with. That’s something, anyway. At least it’s not the worst case scenario.”

“And what would the worst case look like?” Nell asked, bringing Kate’s attention back from wherever it had gone.

She raised an eyebrow. “You wouldn’t believe me, if I told you.”

Nell folded her hands on the table and leaned forward. “Try me.”

Kate studied her for a long moment, apparently trying to make a decision. “Well, ‘Detective Lockley’ wants to help you out…”

Nell looked at her shrewdly. “But what does ‘Kate’ want to do?”

Kate smiled grimly, shaking her head. “Run like hell, and tell you to do the same.”


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January 2012

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