Author: WaltD PM
Nick & Wade investigate a murder that's close to home to Nick - his garage! Plus conspiracies abound - Follows "Reconstruction"Rated: Fiction T - English - Mystery/Supernatural - Words: 19,058 - Published: 01-18-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5675961
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Forever Knight – the Continuing Story.
The characters in Forever Knight were created by James Parriott and Barney Cohen and are the property of Sony/Columbia/Tri-Star. The stories here are fan fiction, in which Nick and Natalie survive "Last Knight", the series finale. Also, Vachon survived Divia in "Ashes to Ashes". This story may be archived wherever by whomever.
Wade Everett is a good-looking, capable, smart-ass, and gay homicide detective who's sometimes full of himself. He's temporarily assigned to the 96th and Nick while Nick's partner, Tracy (who also survived LK) recuperates. He's found out what Nick is.
Danger (follows Reconstruction) W Doherty
Part 1 – Murder Hits Close to Home
(Music) Third Man Theme
A couple of men were talking in an out of the way corner of a charity soup kitchen. It was a large room with long tables and benches and broken up by a couple of large pillars.
"Why here?" said the first man.
"Who'd be looking for anybody here? Besides it's close enough to the office to be handy and far enough to be unlikely," said the second.
The first said, "It's under control, don't worry."
"Yeah, right," said the second, "Peretski 's still dead."
"Right, but I've talked with Wilkerson, and he's NOT investigating. If I can work it right, I ought to be able to get the case assigned to me."
"Yeah. That's what we've been working toward, isn't it? It's just maybe a little earlier than planned."
"I hope you know what you're doin'," the second one said.
"You and me both, brother!"
"You better be right. It's your head, you know. So, how about other plans?"
"On schedule, I can get into the file rooms just about any time I want to, and little Samantha is right around my finger," he smiled.
The second man shook his head, "Don't let that screw things up. There's too much riding on this. Here, take this." He tried to hand the first man an envelope.
"Hey, hey, hey! Just set it down on the table. Don't be so friggin' obvious."
"Geez, sorry, you want it or not?"
"I'll take it, but you don't hand it to me. Just set it down, then later, I pick it up. That way there's no obvious transfer."
The second man laughed, "Ha, ha. Which one of us is more paranoid? Sheesh!"
"Yeah, yeah. You worry so much."
They finished their coffees and went their separate ways.
A middle-aged, scruffy, and hardy-looking man was sitting at another table just the other side of a pillar so that the two men who had been talking couldn't see him directly. Because of a peculiarity of the acoustics, the man sitting there heard the conversation quite well. He could also follow the men's reflections in the windows behind the counters. He had a pretty good idea of what was going on, and who they were.
He kept his nose deep into his paper so that if anyone had noticed him, all they would have seen was a sad, dumpy, little man going through his paper thoroughly. They may even have thought he was asleep; they wouldn't have seen the hard-working cop doing his job.
A somewhat scruffy man entered the Raven and looked around nervously. He went straight to the bar and spoke with the bartender. The barkeep nodded and wrote a note for the man who took it and put it in his pocket; the man then turned and moved as quickly as he could without actually running towards the exit. He didn't know what it was but the place gave off bad vibes.
A Certain Loft's Garage
The scruffy man stood at the door to the loft's stairwell, pulling his long coat around him. Ringing the bell produced no results. The garage door seemed to be a bit off the ground, so he bent down to see if it were open. It was, so he lifted it enough to slip under it. He did not notice another man wrapped up against the cold had come forward and slipped under the partly opened door right behind him.
There was a quiet phhht! phhht!, the soft sound of a body slumping, the silence again. The second man bent over the first man and riffled through his pockets and took his wallet, i.d., and even his change. He didn't bother with the long winter coat's pockets. He left and he left the door at least a foot up from the ground.
In the Bull Pen:
Tracy came out of the Captain's office and went over to the devilish duo and said, "Reese will be out the rest of the week. He and his kids have the flu. Poor Denise [Reese's wife] has her hands full."
"I'll be filling in for him," she said. "And, here," she handed Nick a slip of paper, "We got a call about a corpse in a garage in the industrial area. Take a good look at the address before you take off."
Nick read the note: 101 Gateway Lane. Uh, oh, he thought as he showed it to Wade.
[After having been shot in LK, Tracy went into rehabilitation for almost a year. After finishing that, she was working as Assistant Captain, under Joe Reese's command.]
[This story picks up shortly after Nick and Wade left the loft for the 96 th Division. See "Reconstruction". Natalie had been visiting Nick when Detective Wade Everett stopped off to pick up Nick to take him to a meeting at the Division. She left shortly after the two detectives had. This set the time of the murder to sometime after that and before it was called in.]
The Cadillac took over a large part of Nick Knight's garage, but only because of its old, outrageously huge frame. A coat-covered figure leaned over a body stretched out on a garage floor.
Natalie looked up from the body and spoke to Detective Sergeant Peter Wilkerson of Internal Affairs, "Oh, three or four hours ago, say 11 p.m.? I can get more specific when these other tests can be run. We do have a terminus antequam, I left the loft about 9:45 and Detectives Knight and Everett left 15 minutes earlier, so it has to be after a quarter to ten. ["Reconstruction", WD] Body temp would seem to indicate between 11 p.m. and midnight, but with the garage door being unlocked – well, I'll run the other tests."
Wilkerson walked over to Nick and spoke, "We'll need to get into your apartment, detective."
"Uh, no, you won't. I'm sorry, Peter, but my loft is off limits. The crime took place down here. And, I was at the division all night, so my whereabouts are known and can be confirmed. Plus my alarm system indicates that no one entered or tried to enter my apartment. And in case you're wondering, I still have five bottles of blood in my fridge." Nick had a hard and stern look on his face.
Natalie said to him in a soft voice, "Nick! You don't have to aggravate him, you know."
"I know, but it's soooooo hard not to. Besides, he knows he doesn't need to get into my loft. It was locked, the locks weren't broken, and, well, . . . ."
"Speaking to the choir, Sweetie, speaking to the choir." She stood up and told him, "I'll get the reports to you ASAP. By the way, close the garage door, we've got all our pictures and all the other data we need and it's too cold out to leave it open any longer." She wrapped her coat all the more tightly around her.
"You're welcome. Nice to see you, Sergeant Wilkerson," she said on her way out.
"And you, doctor."
A cheerful new voice floated over the scene, "Sergeant, how goes it?".
"Detective Everett," he said coldly.
"Oooh, sergeant, you wound me," Wade said, wrapping his coat closer around himself while placing his hand over his heart and trying to look severely wounded.
"O.k.," he added, "the niceties are out of the way. Why are you here, sergeant? And let's keep this above board and friendly."
"Yes, sir – uh, detective –"
"Look, sergeant, I'm not a bad guy, and I know you aren't either. So, let's make life simpler and just call me 'Wade'. Now, why is I.A. interested in this, other than it's Knight's address?"
"That's just it, s-, uh, Wade, it has nothing to do with Knight," Wilkerson leaned over towards the detective and talked softly so just Wade could hear him, "although someone may be trying to make it look that way. But the reason I'm here is that this was found in his coat pocket". And he pulled out a small sheet of paper enclosed in plastic. It had Nick's name and address on it. "We sure would like to know if the detective had any knowledge or contact with this man."
"Someone called you?" Wade asked, clearly indicating he would like to know who.
Wilkerson just as clearly indicated that he wasn't telling.
"O.k.," said Wade. "Just ask Knight."
"Ah, si-, uh, detec-, Uh, Wade, yes, yes, I could, but . . . . Wade, can I ask you a favor?" he whispered to the si-, detec-, Wade.
Wade laughed, "Sure, Peter, and, trust me, I understand."
Wilkerson asked Knight, "Why is your automobile garaged here, detective?"
"I live here."
"Nick," Wade intercepted; he put his hand on Nick's shoulder, "be nice. He's just trying to do his job, and besides the quicker you answer his questions, the faster you'll be rid of him. Sheesh!"
"Um, sorry, Wilkerson. Detective Everett picked me up last evening and we drove his car, so mine remained here in the garage. The door was down, but I don't lock it."
"Well, not that it's any—" Nick started to say.
"Nick!" Wade said, digging his elbow deeply into Nick's ribs.
"Sorry. There are a few street people I let sleep in here on really cold nights."
"Could you give me their names—"
"And just why –" Nick felt another sharp jab in his ribs, "Uh, sorry. Um, well that probably won't be possible, Sergeant. It's not that I don't want to help out, but I only know their street monikers, and these kids are awfully skittish and avoid authority, but I'll find them and ask them.
"I also assume that they weren't here tonight, or we'd have some evidence of it, empty wrappers, soda cans. When they show, they'll tell me about anything unusual. That's how they 'earn' their keep; they look after the place for me."
"If you would check with them, we would appreciate it. I assume you checked to see if anyone had been in your apartment, and that those locks hadn't been tampered?"
"Right. No tampering, nothing missing. And I would assume – "
"Yes, thank you. That's all right, detective, it would seem that this man's presence here is just coincidence. If there's anything else, -"
"— you know where to find me. Yes."
Nick glowered at Wilkerson's back as he left. He then looked at Wade. "O.k., he never asked if I knew the guy, so, give."
"Do we have to stand here in the cold, drafty, cold, unheated, and may I say cold, garage?"
Nick laughed, said "O.k, c'mon", and they went up to the loft.
Wade started, "I trust you shall keep your mouth shut on this: it seems the man had your name and address in his pocket. It looks like he was coming to see you."
"Umm," Nick grunted. "And what's with you and Wilkerson?"
"Nick, you know I was in I.A. before partnering with you. Yeah, I know Peter. He's not really a bad guy. He just has no people skills, which makes him ideal for I.A. You might not believe it, but he's a family man. Five kids. Go figure. And the wife is the sweetest little blonde thing, but anyway, you don't care about that.
"First, he asked if I could interview you instead. I told him 'no', but that I would make sure you were civil." Wade snickered, "By the way, how are your ribs?"
He continued, "and I agreed to ask you about the guy. Do you know him, recognize him, know why he might be looking for you; all that crap?"
Nick regarded Wade carefully, "You're not still working for I.A. are you?"
Wade laughed, "Would I tell you if I were? C'mon, the poor guy just wants some quick answers without any grief. You tend to give him grief."
"Well, considering what—"
"Geez, just answer, and don't take forever, Knight! Now, do ya know anything about the guy?"
"Um, well, when you put it that way, ah, no."
Natalie looked up from speaking into her handheld tape recorder.
"Typical: shot, close range, immediately fatal, no i.d. But why would he have a note addressed to you?" Natalie asked.
"Not a clue, any ideas, Wade?" said Nick.
"How about someone else gave him the note?" Wade said, and continued with, "Are there are finger prints on the note? Oh, and do they match to dead man?"
"Hmmm. Not bad," said our favorite Coroner. "Yes, there are some partials; they don't seem to be the victim's, but there also aren't enough to be run through the databases."
"Is there anything else that might help identify our little friend?" added Nick.
"How about this?" Natalie said and she held up a pack of matches with the logo of and the word "Raven" on it.
"Oh," from Nick. Wade said, "Interesting. I guess I know where our next stop is."
Natalie said, "Go for it!", and gave them a wink and a smile.
Nick and Wade pulled up to the Raven's entrance. As they got out of the car, Nick said to Wade, "Let me do the talking." Wade stopped, turned, looked at Nick, "Uh, o.k."
They went in. It took Wade a minute or two for his eyes to get used to the light, or lack thereof; Nick could, of course, see just fine – being a vampire will do that for someone.
Nick spoke briefly to Mikloš, then went towards the back to question a few of the other employees. Wade told Nick that he'd wait at the bar; Nick nodded and went off. Wade went over to Mikloš and just raised his eye-brows in question. He pulled one of the Morgue photos out for Mikloš to see, but the bartender interrupted him.
"No. Never saw him. No idea. What ist with Knight?"
Wade said, "No idea. He started acting weird when we got here. Here," he said, "Show this to other bartenders, Guy, and the Bobsey twins."
"I wish you wouldn't call them that. They actually pretty nice guys."
"Sorry, force of habit. Let me know, o.k.?"
"Yeah, let him know, too."
Natalie had come to the Division offices. She was in the Captain's office with Tracy. Tracy opened the door, spotted Knight and Everett, and called them in.
"Shut the door, please," she said to Wade as he was the last one in.
"What's up?" asked Nick.
Tracy said, "Natalie?"
Natalie opened a file before her and told them all, "Our victim was not some unknown vagrant. He was constable working undercover for I.A."
Nick's consciousness faded from the room. He was thinking back a number of years to when his previous Captain, Joe Stonetree, had been investigated in a fatal shooting. It was only Nick's and Schanke's efforts that proved Stonetree innocent because, superficially anyway, he looked guiltier than the devil himself. Stonetree turned out to be a cop trying to do his job, just like the victim here.
Nick recalled how he had reached Stonetree and the real killer just in the nick of time. Something no one had done for the undercover man. (Fatal Mistake FK1)
Natalie's thoughts glazed over for a bit as well. She hated to find out that a victim she was dealing with was a police officer. They put their lives in such danger. She recalled Nick's unceremoniously sitting up on one of the gurneys in her morgue – true, he wasn't a policemen at the time, but he was there because he saved a bunch of people from a devastating pipe bomb. He was not quite dead, or 'undead' anyway.
She was kind of glad the victim hadn't sat up, but she was sad that another of the 'good guys' had fallen. (Only the Lonely FK1)
Tracy flashed briefly on when she was shot. She could readily identify with the victim here since she had been in that very position. (Last Knight FK3).
But, thankfully for her, the circumstances were not identical: she had survived. (Morning After, WD)
Wade looked at the picture of the fallen officer in the file from Natalie's hand. He vividly recalled holding Nick's limp body when he had been shot. At the time Nick was just a wounded officer for whom he could do little (or so he thought). He had his suspicions that his partner was a vampire, but he was not certain. Nick was able to recover, unlike the officer here. (Pshrink, WD)
Natalie continued, "He was Constable Stanislaw Peretski."
Tracy added, "Losing an officer like this is a terrible thing. Wilkerson showed up because one of the investigating officers found the note and called him. Wilkerson was the I.A. man at hand, and they wanted to know if there were any connection between this officer and you, Nick."
Natalie asked, "Is that why Peter didn't identify him at the crime scene?"
Wade went over to one of the office chairs and sat down hard. They all looked at him.
"Possibly. I believe Peretski was working unofficially for I.A. and Wilkerson hadn't known the vic was Peretski. His being there really was due to Nick's intransigent attitude towards I.A." Wade added to Nick, "You really gotta try harder to win friends and influence people.
"Anyway when he saw me, Wilkerson asked me to speak with you, Nick, so as to smooth things over since you and he don't get along so well. He must have been trying to read me, too, to see if *I* had any connection to Peretski."
"Meanwhile," Tracy said, "The prints had come up flagged in the computer system which would indicate that this is more serious than we thought. I recognized the code, so I called and talked with I.A. Then I heard that Wilkerson had been on the scene. If nothing else, I was curious how he got there so soon. Somebody called him. Anyway, having 'captain' rank, I was able to pull a few strings. You two are actually in the clear as far as being involved with murder, since you were here at the time, but it seems there's some sort of plot going on and it involves some Division officers."
Tracy went on the explain that the dead officer was working on a sting trying to sell some explosives to some underground contacts, some of whom were suspected of being police officers.
"But why would he come to Raven, or Nick?"
"They think he went to the Raven looking for Nick. Nick's been known to hang out there," Tracy said. "Someone there must have given him the loft's address."
She turned to Nick and asked him, "How many people there know where you live?"
"Probably most of them. Bobby and James were guarding my place. Mikloš has to know 'cause technically, I'm in charge. Guy has been there."
"You checked to see if one of them sent him over? We need to trace his movements backwards if we can."
Wade looked at Tracy. "Sure thing, M'arm," he said with a broad grin on his face; he looked at Nick.
He said, "One of the staff gave him the address – no connection between them otherwise."
She smiled back at them, "It's taking some getting used to. I'd still like to get out into the field, but . . . . For the meantime," she said, "let's leave it that he's still a John Doe."
Natalie left to get back to the Morgue.
Nick and Wade sat down at their desks in the squad room.
Wade said to Nick, "Amazing what fingerprints can tell you. Seems our bum was not a bum. I wonder what else is going on. Why is Wilkerson investigating?"
Dead Men Don't Tell Tales
Nick was saying to Wade, "You said before that there was more to Wilkerson than it appeared. Well, he may look, and act, like a stupid jerk, but he's not stupid. That's an act to distract from his probing. It's one of the reasons I don't like him because he's used that on me one too many times.
"But the two things I do know about him: he's persistent and he's honest."
"And that may," Wade cut in, "get him in trouble. Sorry, but to play the corrupt, undercover role, you have to be a little corrupt in order to know what's going on."
"Wilkerson wasn't the undercover man, Wade," Nick said.
"I know, but he's going to have to ask questions about him and he won't be able to carry off that 'it's just the routine follow-up' crap."
"Point. Tell Tracy. They may need to pull him, or at least warn him."
Over at I.A.'s offices, officer Hennessy was talking to Wilkerson outside his office.
"Did you know this guy Peretski?"
"I know who he is. He's a constable from over at the Seventy-Fifth. Why do you want to know?" he asked Hennessy cautiously.
"He's been killed," Hennessy said.
"Well, yes, sorry to hear it, but unless he was killed by another constable, I have no interest in it. I've got enough on my plate as it is."
"Well, I thought you processed the crime scene."
"I was asked to stop by because the 'scene' belongs to a detective Knight who doesn't like us, I mean I.A., very much, and besides I was nearby. The coroner will forward any information to the Captain. If you have a need to know, I'm sure he will tell you."
"Sorry, just thought you'd be interested—"
"And I have no idea why you would think that. It's unfortunate that it was near Knight's place, but I determined that he was not involved at all. It's co-incidental . If it becomes an I.A. matter, and they want me to look into it, I'll get the dossier, or perhaps they'll assign it to you. Might help you to get to know the ropes in I.A. and not bug other hard-working officers. Otherwise I'm sorry he's dead, but there's nothing I can do about it and I have neither the time nor the interest to get involved in it. Now, if you don't mind . . . ." and he pushed past Hennessy to get into his office.
Hennessy shrugged his shoulders and said under his breath, "Geez, sensitive much?"
Wilkerson, . . .
earlier that evening, at his kitchen table, sat talking to his wife, Jane, who was standing at the stove. The kids were in their bedrooms studying or in the family room watching TV.
"It's getting serious. One constable has been killed, and his body found at Detective Knight's place. You know, he's the one with the blood in his fridge. The new guy, Hennessy, has been asking me questions about the dead man, and I don't know what I'm up against."
"Are you sure you want to talk about it, Pete?" Jane asked sympathetically.
He took her hand in his, "Yeah, talking with you helps me think things out, but you got to promise to act real dumb about it if anyone starts asking you questions. 'He never talked to me about cases', you know the drill." She nodded; she knew. She smiled, leaned over to him and gave him a kiss.
"What about Detective Knight? Could you talk to him?"
"No. I still don't trust him. He seems above board, but there's something hinky about 'im."
"What about that partner of his, Everard or something. You said you liked him when he was with I.A."
"Yeah, maybe. He's o.k. Lemme tell you, schweetie," he said in his best Sam Spade imitation, which always made her laugh, "he's more than a little weird himschelf."
"So, you'll talk to Everard"
"Everett, yes, I'll contact him somehow and get word to him."
"Sho, baby, how'zh about we fool aroun' a little before the kids –
"No," she giggled, "maybe later, now call the kids. It's Nancy's turn to set the table, so don't let her talk you into anything else.. Dinner's almost ready and I want to hear about everyone's day." She insisted that the family eat together, and Peter whole-heartedly agreed.
took himself into the Detective's lounge and made sure some of the other officers saw him go into the men's room. He locked himself into one of the cubicles, drew a silver-colored flask from his jacket and proceeded to drink his 'lunch'. It was not the sort of drinking that would have indicated an alcohol problem.
He sat and looked at the flask. He thought to himself that maybe he should bring in a thermos and just sit in the break room with Wade or some of the other guys. This was a heck of a way to have a meal.
opened her book. She was on chapter 15 of 17 and wanted to get it over; she'd lost interest in the romance novel and was just finishing it because she'd already invested so much time on it. As she opened her brown bag and took out a tuna sandwich, she thought about Nick. She wished he would 'eat' with her, but he felt he was just watching her eat and that that would bother her. He was wrong.
excused herself from the squadroom and the captain's office and found the stairwell to the roof. When she opened the door, a gruff voice sounded, "Halt! Who goes there?" She laughed as she turned to Vachon, put down her order of Chinese, and gave the young man (?) a quick hug.
"So, this is the lunch thing?" he asked her.
"Well, I hope you brought something," she said.
He held up a wine bottle and one goblet.
"What? No glass for me?"
"Trace, we both know you aren't going to drink this. Although, . . . ", he grinned devilishly at her and let his fangs drop.
She threw a paper towel at him. "It's just nice to get away from it for a few minutes."
"More tricky. Nothing is what it seems."
They continued to sit there and just enjoy to simple act of being near each other.
stood in the alley in back of some dive. He jabbed the remnant of a soft taco into his mouth. He burped. Oh, he thought, indigestion again. He felt into his pocket for that calcium tab. Hah! cherry the package said, still tasted like chalk to him. He brushed off his hands and went into the darkened building
was in the detective's lounge; he finished his hoagie, and was talking shop with the other detectives. Pirelli was telling this story about a perp he had arrested; it was really very funny.
Nick came out of the restroom, Wade spotted him and called him over. "Angelo, tell that story to Nick. Nick, you gotta hear this one!" He practically forced Knight to sit and listen, but after a couple of minutes, Nick began to get into it. He laughed genuinely when Pirelli finished, and said, "Angelo, that's insane. I glad I'm not the only one who's had to do that."
Wade sat back and watched the two detectives interact. He thought to himself, this is good for Nick. Hell, *I*'m gonna bring in a flask of lunch for him, then he won't have any excuses.
Grace came bustling into the Morgue and straight over to Natalie's desk. She swung one of the chairs around, pushed Natalie's book out of the way, spread her lunch (grilled chicken breast with light mayo and Dijon mustard – tasty, filling, and diet conscious), and plopped a large bunch of grapes and some small cheese cubes next to it.
"Oh, put that thing away, girl. You know how it ends anyway; they're all the same. Now, look," and she went on.
Natalie was glad to be distracted from the novel, and she liked Grace very much. She was such a mothering hen, Grace was.
"So, I got the shoes anyway! Now, I'm going to have to either buy a new dress or dye an old one." And she held up, for Natalie's inspection, the brightest ruby red shoes she had ever seen.
Natalie gaped at them and said, "Wow!"
"That's what I thought," said Grace. "So, what's new with that case the boys are working on?"
"A few surprises, for one thing, it wasn't a homeless man –"
Grace raised her eyebrows in question.
" - wait till I tell you!" Natalie said.
Tracy and Detective Wilkerson are in the Captain's office at the 96 th.
Tracy told Wilkerson that she was glad he could get over to the 96th so quickly. He replied that he had business over here anyway.
"Well, thank you for the heads up about the dead constable, but no one has officially asked me to look into anything. Peretski talked with me a little, but only to pass info back and forth.
"And I have some news to share with you. Could you ask Detective Everett to come in?"
"Yes, of course," Tracy said with some curiosity. She opened her office door and motioned Wade in.
"Hi, Tracy, hello, Peter, what's up?" he said.
"About your dead man. It's constable Peretski, He was working on something involving I.A. He had come to me with some suspicions," he said to her. "Now, officially Peretski and I had no connection, but constable Hennessy was asking me an unusual amount of questions about him and his death. I simply stated that unless I.A. were going to be involved, I had no interest in it whatsoever.
"I believe that this indicates an unusual interest on Hennessy's behalf. Why is he interested, and why is he asking me?"
Wade sat and thought for a minute. "The problem may be that there are more rotten fish here than we thought. It may also be that he was just fishing, trying to pump you subtly."
"Maybe," Wilkerson said.
Tracy asked him point-blank, "Was Peretski an undercover officer, Peter?"
Wilkerson looked rather embarrassed, "Sort of. He had been co-opted into an undercover detail. He might have moved into I.A. at the end of the investigation if he - well, he was mostly keeping his eyes and ears open for us."
Wilkerson looked a bit ill, "Uh, Captain Vetter?"
"Yes. I lied to Hennessy, told him I didn't know Peretski and I wasn't interested in the murder, that I was asked to stop off and view the scene 'cause I was nearby and it was Knight's place.
"Also, I didn't identify the officer to Dr. Lambert."
"Peter, we'd already uncovered a good deal about Peretski. And, I know you knew him, but we understand your position as an I.A. officer and why you couldn't tell us everything."
"Thank you, Captain Vetter. Would you be so kind as to extend my apologies to Dr. Lambert for not identifying him immediately. To be honest, I felt that if you could track down the information and then contact me that we would all have more confidence in the information and in each other. It's hard to know who to trust in I.A. these days."
"And you need to keep your eyes and ears open more than usual as well, Peter, especially if something is going on in I.A. Go about your duties as if you were being watched. After all, you may be. Be careful," said Tracy.
And Now for Your Investigating Pleasure . . . .
After Wilkerson left, Tracy turned to Wade and asked, "Do you think he's in danger?"
"Probably not, but you never know with these guys. Some of them are as apt to take you out as blow their noses. Who would know if there's anything suspicious about Hennessy? And can you find out without tipping anyone off?"
Tracy sat back and said, "This is getting really strange. Wilkerson is a pain in the butt, but he's a straight arrow. Hennessy, I know nothing about. Plus, anything I ask about over there will get scrutinized and probably by the wrong people. But," she said with an interesting twinkle in her eye, "who do we know who can talk to people and have them completely forget that they've even met him? Would you have any ideas? Hmmmm?"
"Ah, yes, that's a thought, isn't it?" Wade said. He continued in an irritating sing-dong matter, "Why, I can't imagine anyone like that. Oh, but look, Ms. Captain Vetter, Detective Sergeant Constable Wilkerson left his folder here. Why do you not ask De-tec-tive Knight to run it over to I.A.? If he does not know where the Sergeant's office is, he could ask for directions. I will bet that nobody would mind talking to him and helping him find his desk. Do you not think so?"
"Yes, Detective Everett. You son-of-a . . . ., I think we're thinking along the same lines," she smiled at him again.
She motioned to Wade, and Wade opened her office door, looked out, saw Detective Knight at his desk, and called over to him, "Oh, Ni-i-i-ick! Could you come talk with the Captain for a moment? Ah, yes, I thought you could, come in, come in." And he added in a conspiratorial whisper, "Said the spider to the fly."
And, in the meantime, Wade told Tracy that he knew a young constable 'on the way up' who worked in the Corporate Crimes unit. Could she and he put their heads together and hack into Hennessy's files, especially his financials, without leaving any traces? Just to see if there were anything 'unusual'?
"That would be great, and we can cover that we need him to fix a recurring glitch in our software," Tracy added. "Uh, wouldn't this be illegal though?" she asked.
Wade said, "Probably, what's your point?"
She gave him an exasperated look, "Wade!"
"Hey, if anything comes of it, we can get a court order. In the meantime, it's the god's honest truth about the computer system's glitches; there's always some darned glitch in the thing."
Meanwhile over at I.A.
Nick worried a little about whether he'd run into someone he couldn't whammy, but decided that he would just have to deal with that if it arose. He hadn't been in the I.A. offices more than a couple of times, but his vampire memory would serve him well here. The problem was that he hadn't seen all the offices; so, in a way, his story about finding Wilkerson's office to return a file was close to the truth. Well, he thought, stranger things have happened.
"Detective Knight! Can I help you?" Nick looked at the man's security tag. It was Hennessy.
"Uh, I'm looking-for-Sergeant-Wilkerson's-office. You-will-take-me-to-his-office-now-please," Nick said in his best vampiric, hypnotic voice.
Hennessy just looked at him and said, "Well, I can't right now, Detective. But it's easy to find, it's the next floor up and at the end of the hall."
"Uh, thanks, um," and he glanced down to give the impression of looking at the name tag again, " 'preciate it, ah, Hennessy."
"Sure," said the constable, who continued to look at Nick as if he were a little off his rocker.
Nick got up to the next floor and was approaching Wilkerson's office when one of the secretaries in the office pool stood up from her desk and approached him.
"May I help you, sir?" she asked pleasantly.
"I need to return this file to Sergeant Wilkerson."
"I'm sorry, sir, but he's not in right now, and we can't allow anyone into the office unaccompanied. May I place the folder on his desk for you?" She really seemed to be trying to be helpful, but Nick could feel Wilkerson's heartbeat in the background. He was either in his office or nearby.
She responded dully, "I-will-get-him-for-you-now,-sir." Then she brightened a bit, and said, "Yes, of course, let me go get him; I know he'll want to see you." And she turned and went off to the nearby conference room. Apparently she could be whammied while Hennessy could not.
Nick told Wade later that the whole experience was a little bit strange. Yes, he'd whammied people before, and sometimes a lot, but maneuvering through I.A. he found that half the people there were not 'whammiable' and the other half, it was like they were lining up for it. Hennessy, unfortunately, was not one of the susceptible. But Nick got enough from a few of the people here and there to know that something was a little off in I.A.
I.A. or not I.A. is that the Question?
Nick and Tracy sort some things out:
Nick asked Tracy, "With your family connections, you must be more aware of some of the goings on in I.A., or, I mean the way they operate. Is there and I.A. for I.A.?"
"I know what you mean," she said. "I got some strange feedback to a couple of questions, enough so that I knew to pull back, and 'No', there's no way to investigate I.A. other than calling in the Provincials, which I would dearly love to avoid. I.A. does investigate itself, which can be pretty self-serving, although they take a certain pride in treating themselves harder than they treat any of us.
"By the way, Wade got a computer whiz kid to come up and we got into Hennessy's financials," she handed Nick a set of computer print-outs. "According to Sully – oh, that's the kid, Tim Sullivan – sharp! He thought we got in too easy so he dug even deeper, and he's dirty. I'm going to have to call in Captain Forrest from Computer Crimes 'cause if we're going after anyone in I.A., we are going to have to be pure as the driven snow. So, Nick, how are your financials?"
"What? Are you – you're not kidding are you?" He was surprised and a little shocked.
"Only a little. You know if they can turn this back on us . . . ."
"Uh, yeah, well, my financials are pretty good, but I'll have them double-checked," he said.
"And, do me –uh, no, 'us' – a favor and check with Wade about his?"
Captain, My Captain
Nick looked at his former partner and a big grin settled onto his face.
"What?" she said.
He laughed, "Tracy, you're settling into this Captain thing like you were made for it. It suits you. Are you liking it at all?"
She smiled a small grin and said to him, "Yeah, it's not bad, especially having Joe Reese to back me up and to learn from. That man has so much patience . . . ! AND mostly from dealing with you, I think."
Nick sat on the edge of her desk, "Yes, sorry 'bout that. Your father must be proud. How's he settling in to retirement?"
"Yes, he is. And he's going to write a police procedures book, and he wants to turn some of his early experiences into a book . . . . It's o.k.
"Now, Detective Knight! It's inappropriate for a detective to sit on his captain's desk like that," she said in mock seriousness.
"Yes, M'am. In that case, I'll get right on it, M'am," Nick said. Tracy thought, good grief, if he salutes me on the way out . . . .
Nick reached the door to the captain's office when he turned, apparently on the spur of the moment, and saluted her. She opened her mouth to say something, but Nick slipped out of the office before she could. She just smiled and shook her head.
Nick was proud of her, too. She had come a long way from the 'little Miss Perky' she had been when she had started, although she still occasionally looked like one of the Division's secretaries rather than one of those on the way up in the power structure.
He glanced at Hennessy's financial print-out. He realized that going directly for the financial records would save a lot of time and stress. What was it Schanke used to say? Go for the money. Tracy knew this, too, and had acted decisively. They might get to the root of things quicker than he thought.
Hmmm, it occurred to him that the kid, Sully?, was Wade's suggestion. That man knew an awful lot and an awful lot of people. How did he get around so much and so far. He knew more about the Division and its operations than Nick did, but then that had been his job as a part of I.A. Good thing he's on our side, thought Nick. Come to think of it, wasn't it his suggestion for Nick to whammy what information he could from I.A.? That guy may just be another Machiavelli! So, be it, we're getting things done.
"Nick," Tracy said to Nick, breaking into his reverie, "I want you to tail Hennessy for a while, but you've got to keep hidden; he can't know he's being followed."
Nick smiled, "I can do that, Tracy. If I can't cloud his mind, I can hide in the dark shadows and corners of a room! Besides, I can probably hear him three rooms away anyhow."
"Yeah, there is that," she said.
* * * * *
Part 2 – The Plot Thickens
(Music) Rockford Files Theme
Another day, another dinner, another overheard conversation:
"What was Knight doing at I.A.?" number two man asked.
"You know about that? Just delivering some lost papers. He hasn't got a clue either."
"Then why was he there? I don't like it when he's snooping around."
"Hey, look," replied the first man, "he wasn't snooping. I talked to him and got some answers. He was just returning papers, I told you, don't get paranoid. Knight's good but not where he doesn't know to look in the first place."
"Yeah, well, o.k., I guess," and he took an envelope out of an inside pocket and placed it on the table between him and the first man.
"Jesus! Being subtle is not one of your gifts, is it?" The first guy opened the envelope and spread the contents with his fingers. The second guy shrugged. Guy number one didn't take anything out of the envelope, but he reclosed it and put it in one of his inside pockets.
A middle-aged, dumpy looking man followed the other man into the Soup Kitchen. This surprised the dumpy looking man because he had been volunteering here for a couple of weeks, but he hadn't seen either of the men who were talking in the corner. He was a bit worried because he was going to have to stay out of everyone's sight, not just these two.
He kept his head down and sat at another table just the other side of a pillar where the two men who were talking wouldn't see him directly. Because of his peculiar hearing abilities, the man sitting there heard the conversation quite well. He could also follow the men's reflections in the windows behind the counters. He had a pretty good idea of what was going on, and who they were who were doing it. His uber-keen eyes caught the first man's fanning of a number of currency bills in an envelope he had tried to oh-so-non-chalantly pick up.
He kept slouched low, apparently deep into reading (or snoring into) a paper so that if anyone did noticed him, all they would see was a sad, dumpy, little man going through his paper thoroughly. They wouldn't have seen the hard-working, disguised cop doing his job.
[In the previous story, Reconstruction, a certain police detective was volunteering in a local soup kitchen. If you need a hint, his initials are NK. :-) ]
Any Info? Any Info at All?
Wade came into the squad room and went to Tracy's office, knocked, and entered.
He looked over at the wayward bum sitting across the table from the Captain. "Well, Nick, how'd it go?"
"How'd you know it was me?"
"When was the last time Tracy," and he nodded at her, "had a homeless man in her office?"
Nick shrugged, "Anyway, it wasn't easy, I had to keep out of his sight and everyone else's. He met somebody at the charity soup kitchen where I volunteer!"
"Yes, but you could disappear into the back if you had to, couldn't you?"
"I could, but I had to keep out of the way of everyone else there. I couldn't exactly have anybody shout out 'Hi, Nick, how's it goin'?' you know."
"Well," Wade said, giving a slight grin, "yeah, there is that."
After a small pause, "Well!"
Nick laughed at Wade. "O.k., o.k. Yeah, something's going on. It sounds like I.A.'s been infiltrated. The other guy knew that I'd been over to I.A'.s offices. This seemed to surprise Hennessy, but he accepted an envelope. I didn't see the cash at first, but I could smell it."
Wade raised his eye-brows.
"Oh, c'mon, you know my sense of smell, I really could smell it."
Wade said, "Still, it'd be nice to know how much it was to see if we could match up his bank records."
"How do you know that?"
Nick looked a little sheepish. "He opened the envelope just a bit and fanned the bills out counting them. My eyes are as good as my sense of smell."
"O.k., that's great, Nick," Tracy said, "Let's see if the whiz kid can match up any deposits."
"Yes, but remember, the guy might just spend some of it."
Are We Getting Any Results?
Tracy and Sully were in the Captain's office. Nick and Wade joined them to see what they had found out.
Sully told them, "It's not all straight forward. There are offshore accounts, and secret numbered – ah, but you don't need to know all that crap. Here's the scoop, he's got a bunch of accounts. That $1500, one K went into his sister's account, and $500 into a numbered account."
"How do you get this information?"
"Trust me on this," Sully said, "you know that joke about I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you?"
"I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you." He stated that so flatly that it was hard to tell if he were telling the god's-honest truth or having a really good pull on their legs. Wade decided not to push it. Nick started to ask something, thought better of it, and shut up himself.
"Well," said Tracy, somewhat tartly, "I'm glad that's cleared up."
Sully continued, "It can get kind of complicated because there are several accounts, different types of accounts, and so on, but it's all there in the paperwork. We know how much he got and we know how it's being distributed. We've got him on bribery and fraud if nothing else."
"Yes, but there is that murder. And, it's a fellow officer," Wade said.
Sully added, "About him, I tracked his financials, too. He wasn't on the take although he could have certainly used the money. Handicapped sister, kid in college, wife's ill. He was getting a significant amount of overtime, so that helped."
Tracy said, " Peretski was also getting some assistance from the benevolent fund. For his wife, cancer. He was a good man."
"Is his family going to be alright?" Nick asked.
Tracy said, "Should be. Barely, but with what all they've been dealing with; this won't make anything any easier."
Lordy, thought Nick. He made a mental note to have the DeBrabant Foundation look into the man's family and finances.
Wade asked, "_Was_ he a part of I.A.?"
Tracy answered, "According to Wilkerson, not really. I checked with some of my contacts, and he seems to be just what he appears to be, a constable who had been asked to help out."
Nick asked, "What would Wilkerson know about this?"
Tracy picked up the phone, and before speaking into it, said, "We'll find out." She said into the phone, "Get me I.A., please, Francis,"
Wilkerson came into the Captain's office and joined the group.
"Yes, there's a bit more to it. Stan and I were in the Academy at the same time. While he was working on the bomb project, he overheard some talk about I.A. and some things going down there. He kept his ears opened, and when he had enough to go on, he gave me a call. He suspected Hennessy. He recognized him from some sting operations a few years ago.
"We talked a little. It sounded worth tracking.
"I told him to cool it and not get involved, to let me and I.A. handle it. But you know about his wife's cancer? Well, I put him on a discretionary payroll line so he could get a little extra cash for it. That's what triggered the I.A. connection.
He said he'd be really careful, but I thought he might be a bit too enthusiastic."
"Seems as he was," Nick said softly. Wade punched him with his elbow.
Wilkerson had heard Nick, and responded, "Oh, he was o.k. Not the brightest man in his class, but he knew how to listen.
Nick and the rest of the crew looked at Wilkerson waiting for more of an explanation.
"Why did he come to me?" Nick asked.
Wilkerson looked embarrassed, "That's my fault. When he came to me to give me his suspicions and to ask what to do. I wanted someone _not_ in I.A. for him to talk to, to be a go-between, and he agreed; it's not suitable for a constable to be keeping company with I.A., even if we did go to school together. _I_ told him to contact you, Knight."
Nick looked surprised.
"I would've suggested Everett here because he and I worked together -", Wilkerson paused here and looked at Wade.
Wade said, "It's o.k., Peter, they know I used to work with I.A."
Wilkerson continued, "Yeah, I can see you're surprised, Knight, considering how much we like each other. I figured that if he talked to you, then you could talk to me, and people would think we were arguing over I.A. sticking its nose into your business.
"O.k., let me be clear. I've investigated you twice now. I don't like you. You cut corners; you bend rules; heck, you break them. You get yourself and your friends into trouble." He shook his head, "but, for all that, you're honest. Not too bright yourself sometimes, you pretty much painted yourself into a corner with your watch in those druggie murders a few years back."
Nick quietly flashed back to the incident a few years back where his master, LaCroix, had tried to blackmail him into moving on by pinning a murder rap on him. Wilkerson had actually arrested Nick! (Killer Instinct, FK2)
"But, no, you're honest, your work is good, and you can be trusted.
"I regret that I told him to check with you if he couldn't get to me. I mean, I don't regret that I told him that, I mean it's—"
Tracy interrupted, "We know what you mean, Peter. Your instincts are good."
Peretski left the Raven, he checked the address on the slip of paper he had in his hand, and took off towards the industrial area. He didn't notice he was being followed.
When he got to 101 Gateway Lane, he tested the garage door, found it unlocked, and pulled it open enough to slip through. Again, he didn't see the man following him who also slipped under the door before it closed down.
Peretski was walking along side of Nick's Caddy when: Phfftt! Phfftt! He said, "Umph!" and collapsed on the floor next to the car.
The man who had been following put his gun away, took his identification, and slipped out under the door again.
A little later, one of Nick's homeless friends who was looking for a place to crash for the night came into the garage. As soon as he saw the body, he took off, but he stopped at a nearby phone and called in an 'anonymous' tip.
Nick turned to Tracy and said, "I think Hennessy spotted Peretski eavesdropping and sometime later decided to follow him. When he saw that he went into the Raven and heard that he was asking for me, he assumed that Peretski was going to spill the beans to me, but also that I didn't know anything about it"
" 'Cause if he had already talked to Nick," Wade said, "he wouldn't have run around looking for him."
"Hennessy figured that if he took Peretski out first – well, he shot Peretski in the garage 'cause it was off the streets – out of sight - and he knew I was at work. Of course, he didn't use his service gun, but I'll bet he did use his backup. If we could get that and match the bullets . . . ."
"Yeah, but how do we legally get our hands on the gun?" asked Tracy. "And, by the way, a number of people do not want him brought in, apprehended, or tipped off in any way 'cause they want to go after the bigger fish."
"Yeah," said Wade, "but to let a murderer off?"
Nick nodded in agreement.
"I hate to do this fellahs, but it's got to be kicked upstairs," Tracy told them.
"Does Wilkerson know?" asked Wade.
"Let me talk to him."
Nick's eyes lost focus as he thought back to 1942 when he was in the French Resistance. A member of the group had betrayed them to the Nazi's and Nick thought he knew who it was.
LaCroix had reminded him and indeed encourage him that betrayal must be punished. Nick also listened to his master when the vampire pointed out another of his troop seemed to be conspiring with the enemy when he saw her leaving the local Nazi headquarters. Nick knew how to stop the betrayals, the information leaks, how to take vengeance, but he only realized that his compatriot 'seemed' to be consorting, he didn't know what her status was till after he had "taken care of the problem". LaCroix again had reminded him of the alternate possibilities. But only afterwards.
Nick thought, you nasty old man. You didn't care about those people, you only cared as to how you could twist my emotions. (Outside the lines, FK3)
Nick spoke up, "I doubt Hennessy's innocent, but he might have some information to contribute so we can catch the rest of the bad guys. Maybe something good can come out of this."
Wade looked at Nick and said, "Noble, but is it practical? About 75 officers at the 75 th would like to have two minutes with the creep." He took a deep breath, "But I know what you mean. But you know what Tracy said about the Powers-That-Be. Can we talk to him?"
Wilkerson was angry about a good officer's murder being swept under the proverbial rug, but he was also a good soldier and team player. He, too, understood what the stakes were. It wasn't just a cop gone bad, but an active enterprise to infiltrate and subvert I.A.
Hennessy didn't give a second thought to any of these things as he walked down the long, narrow alley and spotted his contact at the far end.
"What the heck are we meeting here for? Look, I've got a membership to the Cadillac Men's Club over on Fremont; I can take you as a guest, nobody ever asks about anything there. It's one of those old fashioned places: no talking, discreet staff, and quiet out-of-the-way—"
Flash! Phutt! Hennessy dropped like a stone. His 'friend' never would find out what was 'quiet and out of the way', as if he cared. He bent over the body and pulled a weapon from Hennessy's ankle and replaced it with one he had with him. He closed Hennessy's hand over the handle. Then he brushed his hands and started to walked away. He turned back, picked out Hennessy's wallet with a handkerchief, took the money in it, tossed the wallet aside, and strolled back out the alley.
Blue lights were flashing in the alley. Coroner Lambert was standing over the body.
Tracy was there in her capacity as acting Captain, "Another officer down. This is getting way beyond serious. Who is it?"
Natalie told her.
"Oh, no!" Tracy said.
Later, just outside the Forensics Unit:
Natalie was holding a set of folders and speaking to Nick and Wade, "Yes, the backup gun was found on Hennessy. The bullets from the gun match the one that killed Peretski. The fingerprints on the gun were Hennessy's. There's just one problem."
They both looked at her in anticipation.
"That neither the bullets nor the cartridge that remained in the gun had prints on them."
"Good trick, he use gloves when loading?" said Wade.
Natalie continued, "Possibly, but I seriously doubt it. The bullets that killed Peretski and Hennessy aren't in any of the databases; so, no help there."
Wade and Nick were at their desks:
Nick said to Wade, "Well, we've got Peretski's murder 'solved' – Hennessy did it. But it doesn't go on our record 'cause the perp's already dead. And, the brass want to keep it quiet, anyway."
"Which means," Wade laughed, "that even though we 'know' who did it, we've got another 'unsolved' on our hands."
"If we keep going like this," Nick added, "we'll solve more cases and have the worst solve rate in the Department. There's some sort of irony there."
Tracy joined them.
"We're not going to get this one, are we?" Wade asked.
She looked around the squad room, noting that it was practically empty. "I think we can talk here," she said, "No, you're not, I'm sorry, it'll be officially on your records as 'unsolved'. The brass want it kept quiet 'cause of the sensitive nature of it being I.A. that's involved.
"What's the damn 'official' story?" Asked Nick.
"Hennessy shot Peretski because Peretski found out about some of Hennessy's illegal dealings."
Wade interrupted with a disgusted, "Well, we knew that."
"—And," Tracy continued, giving him a pained look, "that Peretski's buddy's are suspected of going after Hennessy for vengeance."
"Ha!," Wade said, "do they know this?"
"They know there was something about Hennessy and that Peretski was doing some sort of secret work – it'll blow over and they'll be o.k. It's just more smoke screen."
Tracy sighed. Nick and Wade both looked at her.
She said, "The press will not be kind to us. Two cop killings within a couple of days, it turns out one cop killed the other, other cops may have killed the second, and one was found inside –inside!—your garage, Nick. I wish Reese would get back; he handles this sort of thing so much better that I can."
"You're doing just fine, Trace," said Nick.
"You're doing terrific, Tracy," said Wade, simultaneously.
"How'd Wilkerson take it by the way?" Nick asked.
"Oh," Wade answered, "not happy, but like I said, he understands. He seems like a real pain in the – well, but he's a good officer. He knows the scoop."
"I never figured Hennessy for being on the take", Nick said.
"We never really know, do we?" She got a philosophical look on her face. "I never really thought I'd be a captain."
Nick said, "I never really thought I'd be a homicide detective."
Wade added, "as opposed to wantonly committing homicides? I never thought *I*'d be just a homicide detective – I was having so much fun being I.A.'s secret shrink. At least, till I met all you people."
Nick and Tracy both said, "Ha!" simultaneously. Tracy said, "You like the thrill of working with dangerous, uh, people."
"What she said," said Nick.
"So, Hennessy is 'unofficially' the one who shot Peretski," Tracy continued, "even though it looks like he might not be the actual perp. The brass figure it's a wash 'cause he was dirty anyway.
"In the long term," she said, "I.A. is going to be a bit more watched that usual. Lordy, nothing is what it seems, not even I.A. Do you realize that whoever is ultimately behind this has gotten us to be sympathetic to I.A.? Now there's a turn of events. The whole world is topsy-turvy"
Wade raised his eyebrows.
"I.A. has our sympathy;
"A murder is committed in Nick's garage, and he's not even a suspect;
"The curmudgeon of I.A. turns out to be a family man."
"One of my homicide squad is a creature of the night," added Tracy.
"Another is a secret shrink," said Nick.
"The murdered bum was a cop in disguise", said Wade.
"And Javier got me a cat."
"What?" said Nick. "What? Our people don't do cats."
"Well, some of you do, and it's even cuter than you, too."
"Gawd," said Wade, "talk about non-sequitors. Our captain is a cat person. You and Natalie will have to get together. Oh, oh! I've got it."
"What?" They both jumped a bit at his sudden enthusiasm.
"Your cat's name. Nothing else would be appropriate; you've got to call him 'Fang'."
Tracy sighed, "Look, before we get too off-track, the upshot of all this is, like I said, Hennessey is going down for shooting Peretski – which it looks like he might actually have done – but we need to remember someone killed Hennessy. And, we don't know who. And, someone is still working on infiltrating I.A.
"Oh, by the way," she asked, "I have to ask you: would you two be interested in being temporarily assigned to I.—"
"NO!" "Not on your life!" "You can't be serious!" "Fuhgeddabowdit!"
She smiled ruefully, "O.k, o.k. I told 'em I'd ask. I also told them what you would say. I'm glad you didn't disappoint me."
A really young-looking officer walked into the squad room and said, "Hi, Captain Vetter."
"Oh, Sully, hi, how are you? You know detectives Knight and Everett?"
"Oh, yeah, Hi, Wade. You introduced me to Detective Knight earlier."
"So, what's up?"
"I'm transferring to I.A. Wilkerson and I are going to pursue the financial records together. I'm going to liaise between I.A. and Computer Crimes. Don't you just love it? 'Liaise!' What kinda word is 'liaise'.
"Anyway, I just wanted to drop off this report and thank you for putting in a good word for me. You, too, Wade"
"Your welcome, Tim," Wade said. He added, "Can I give him a 'heads-up', Tracy?"
Tracy gave a small little smile to herself, whether it was conscious or not, Wade was deferring to her judgement as Captain. "Yes," she said, "it's probably a good idea."
Wade took Sullivan aside; and Sully nodded to the others and he and Wade went to a far corner of the room. Wade filled Sully in on their suspicions about Hennessy, I.A., and what was _really_ going on.
Sully told Wade that he and Wilkerson had already come to that conclusion, but he was glad to get confirmation.
Tracy sighed, "This whole thing is, by no means, over. Anyway, get your reports in, please? I want to hand them over to Joe Reese when he gets back next week. He's not going to believe this whole thing." And with that she went back to her office.
Wade looked at Nick and said, "She's got that right. Hand me those forms, would you? Thanks."
Nick leaned back in his chair and thought that for all the hassles he'd had in the last year that all in all things weren't bad.
He asked Wade, "Wade, can you handle this? I'd really like to get over to see Nat." He gave Wade his best little puppy dog look.
"I can see that look and raise you a sad face if I wanted to, but go ahead, say 'hi' to Natalie for me."
Nick smiled, got up, and left while Wade buried his face in the paperwork.
* * * * *
Part 3 - More Danger
(Music) Death March for a Marionette
(Theme to the Alfred Hitchcock TV show)
Bam! Bam! Bam! There was a loud pounding on the elevator door of Nick's loft.
A Dark and Stormy Night
It was a dark and stormy night – no, it wasn't. It was early morning and overcast, as well as bright but cool.
Nick walked groggily over to the door. He looked at his watch which he had left on his wrist when he fell asleep on the couch. Nine a.m.? he thought, It's light out.
"I'm coming, I'm coming. Sheesh"
He pulled the loft door opened. A young, uniformed constable stumbled in.
He looked at the young man's name tag: P. DeLaBarre. Nick thought, I seem to be haunted by that name!
The young man fell to the floor, crying, "Please, please, you've got to help me; hide me!" He cried desperately; he actually sobbed. Nick lifted him and helped him over to the couch.
"What's the matter man, are you shot?" Nick set Officer DeLaBarre down on his couch and then went to his security system to see what or who might be around. The TV screens showed all was quiet out, but the freight elevator to Nick's loft started to shake and groan.
"NO!" the officer screamed.
Nick turned, ready to do battle, but stopped short. As the elevator door opened, there were two enforcers standing there, looking grim and eyeing the young policeman.
In his most authoritative and commanding voice, Nick intoned: "Stop! Thou shalt make no unwarranted nor unknown approach to my demesnes . This building is the property of the duchy of Brabant and I am its duke."
"State thy warrant and thy business. If I consent, thou might continue, if I demure, thou wilt absent thyselfes until further adnotice or adjudication".
The two behemoths backed up. The taller of the two said, "This vampire was pronounced a danger. He is to be eliminated. Step aside and allow us to do our duty."
"Your duty," continued Nick, "is to carry out the decisions of the council. Let me see your warrant."
The tall vampire said, "We do not have the papers."
"Then thou hast not the warrant nor the withal to take, remove, or abduct the man. This matter be serious. Kindly inform thy station chief that I shall personally investigate this matter. Should I be shown the vampire's guilt, I myself shall remove the stain at my escutcheon. Or, should I deem it otherwise, the man will be released unharmed. GO!"
The two vampires looked dumbfounded at Nick. The tall one shook his head in wonderment. This Knight was supposed to be intimidated by enforcers but he talked as if he were the one in charge, and by invoking his authority as a lord of the manor, he might be right. The taller enforcer looked at Nick and then to the open upper story windows and back to Nick. Nick nodded and the two enforcers disappeared vertically.
Nick walked over to the chair next to the couch and sat down hard. He looked at DeLaBarre, and said innocently, "Your people aren't from Brabant, are they?"
The young cop looked astounded at Nick and appeared to be unable to speak.
He managed to mumble, "M-, my father was from Westminster." [a north Toronto neighborhood.]
Nick continued, "Well, how about something to drink. I think it's safe to say you don't want or can't drink coffee or tea?" The man shook his head. Nick got up, "Stay there", he added in his best command voice. Officer DeLaBarre wouldn't have dreamt of moving.
After getting two glasses of "wine", he handed one to the young officer who drank it down immediately. Nick offered him the bottle which he took.
"So, *you* are a vampire."
The man gulped, "Yes, sir. Thank you for the wi-, bloo-, uh, drink."
Nick shook his head and kept a smile to himself.
"So, o.k. what the hell is going on, who the hell are you, and what the hell are you doing here?"
"Oh, please man. Call me 'Nick'. You got a name?"
"Perce DeLaBarre, constable out of the 24 th. And, yeah, I'm a vampire. Usually night shift, naturally. I came to you 'cause I need help and, well, *you* know what it's like."
He went on to explain to Nick how he had been brought over only a few years ago – he was almost as young as he looked. He had heard about Nick and investigated him, found out he was on the level, and he determined to make something useful of himself. He had no idea of how hard it would be. He was already getting remarks about his young looks, but he felt he would deal with that when he could. Right now, he had the enforcers on his back. Someone had figured out who and what he was, and the enforcers had come along to remove him, wipe out his existence. Perce had run to Nick 'cause he thought – he hoped – Nick would help him, and in any case, who else would, where else could he turn?
Nick went over to the elevator and opened the door for Wade Everett, his partner.
Wade nodded hello and walked in. He stopped short when he saw officer DeLaBarre sitting at the couch. He cocked an eyebrow at Nick.
Nick said, "You tell me. It'll be good practice for you."
Wade walked over to the young officer, held out his hand, and said, "Hello, Constable DeLaBarre. How are you?"
Perce looked up at Wade, stood, accepted his handshake and said, "How do you do, sir." He gave Nick a worried glance.
Nick looked over the two of them, sighed, and said, "I guess you two know each other?"
Wade replied, "Of each other. I was over at the 24 th for a while before I came over to the 96 th. I met officer DeLaBarre informally there. I doubt he knew I was with I.A."
Perce's eyes opened wide at that which indicated that he hadn't. Nick said, "Hey, do you want him to know about that?"
Wade chuckled, "Doesn't matter. Either he'll keep his mouth shut –" Wade looked directly at the young man who nodded his head vigorously up and down – "or he'll disappear into, oh, wherever it is the enforcers disappear their charges. Have you contacted Isidris?" [Isidris, who looks like Dr. Ruth, is the chief of the enforcers for North America.] Nick nodded no.
"O.k. Look kid," Wade said to the nervous young vampire, " – oh, sit down before you pass out." Wade picked up the wine glass from the coffee table and sniffed the dregs in the glass. He glanced at Nick, and asked, "How much do want me to tell you?" He had an amused look on his face, Nick had a questioning one, and Officer DeLaBarre looked worried as all get-out.
"O.k.," Wade continued, "At ease, officer, this will go well for you. And, no, I'm not a vampire, and, yes, I can sense that you are, and I know that Nick is as well. I didn't know when we were over at the 24 th, You did a nice job of covering it up there.
"But things a little different now. We're all going to find out what's up, and we'll save your life if we can, if you deserve it. Now let me check something."
Wade pulled out his Blackberry, iPhone, whatever it was, punched a couple of buttons; nodded, harrumphed a couple of times, and finally shut it loudly.
"So, you were on assignment to HQ. as well. You used me as a reference? You got balls if nothin' else boy."
"I can explain, sir—"
"I have no doubt that you can, so start."
Not Let's Make a Deal
A dark alley somewhere in the middle of a major metropolis but which might as well be in the middle of nowhere. A street light illuminated the far end of an alley. Two people, rather disreputable looking, were talking in the shadows. An argument broke out, the one smashed his arm down in a circular motion which knocked the package the other had been holding thus spilling the contents which spread like powdery smoke in the air.
"What the hell!" shouted the first.
"We ain't payin' for this crap!," the second shouted back and then grabbed at a handful of money in the first man's hand.
"Forget you!" said the first as he pulled a gun from his pocket and fired, hitting the other guy in the gut who sat suddenly on the ground, holding his middle, with a look of shock on his face.
The first guy turned around to run, but as he did he found himself face to face with a young cop. He opened his mouth in surprise 'cause he had heard nothing to indicate the man's approach, but before he could do anything the policeman backhanded him and he flew across the alleyway hitting the building wall with enough force to knock him out.
The Policeman, as he was talking on his cell phone calling for back-up and an ambulance, walked over to the man who had been shot. It was bad. He had had enough medical training to know the guy wasn't going to make it.
He said to the young man, "LOOK AT ME. YOU HEAR ONLY MY VOICE. THE PAIN IS GONE; YOU CAN RELAX AND GO TO SLEEP." The man's face visibly relaxed and he closed his eyes while the cop held his hand over the wound which pulsed blood, red and hot.
With the man quiet and in repose, the cop looked closer at the wound. The man's guts were falling out; it was very, very, bad. The cop put his hand behind the man's head, made the sign of the cross with his other hand on the guy's forehead which, oddly, left smoky marks where his finger had touched the skin.
He said, "PAX VOBISCUM"; then dropped his head and lowered it over the poor man's neck.
The drug dealer had managed to sit up and saw what was happening and tried to speak, "Wha', what are you doing?" He raised his arm and pointed at the two other men. "No. You, you can't. You can't be. It can't be!" He fell back against the wall and descended into hysterics as the cop turned and faced him. He got a full view of the cop's fangs with blood dripping from his mouth onto his chin.
"LOOK AT ME. YOU HEAR ONLY MY VOICE. RELAX AND GO TO SLEEP . . . ."
Victims and Advocates?
Natalie was talking with Nick and his partner, Wade, at her desk in her lab.
Nick said hello and asked, "This is the drug dealer's victim?"
She smiled at Nick, "Yes, I've got some results and they are a little odd.
"The man," and she gestured towards the corpse on the nearby gurney, "was dying of severe trauma to his central organs. He had been shot and was bleeding to death. Poor guy, frankly, he didn't have a chance." She sighed.
"What was the odd thing?" Wade asked.
"There was more blood missing than there should have been."
"Outside the bounds of normalness?" Nick said.
"No, no. It was enough to kill him. It's just that there should have been more blood around. That's what's odd. You bleed out to a point, but then your heart stops and you don't bleed anymore. It's like he kept bleeding after his heart stopped, but it's just enough more that it's curious. It's not outside probability, but it's close." She shrugged. Nick noticed two little smudges on the corpse's neck that seemed to be more dirt than anything else. They were interestingly placed, he thought.
"Yes, I noticed them. Again, one's a smudge, the other may be a puncture. You tell me, are they significant?"
"Doubtful," Nick said quietly, but inside he wasn't all that sure.
Once Upon a Time
Blackmail is such an ugly term:
"I was being blackmailed. A guy found out what I was, what my weaknesses are and, well, I got co-opted. Turns out he was a cop, and I couldn't whammy him. I thought he was at HQ downtown, but it seems like he was in I.A. He got me transferred downtown part-time. I didn't think that was so bad. I mean, I might be becoming an I.A. snitch and all, but I wasn't a bad guy. But I had to keep digging out more and more information. I thought I was getting in too deep. And then the guy turns up dead. Now what do I do?"
"Was it Hennessy who caught on to you?"
Perce's mouth dropped open, Nick looked surprised, and Wade just nodded, "Thought so."
"How, how did you know?"
"Long story, kid."
"In the meantime, how did you get here at this time of day?"
Perce pointed out his gloves, that his clothing was light-tight, and that his cap had pull-out, dropdown, and wrap-around protective cloth.
" 's not much, but it helps out in a pinch. I was in a pinch."
"How did you become a policeman? Or why?" Wade asked.
If DeLaBarre could have blushed, he would have. "I mentioned it to Detec, uh, Nick. I'd read about him, and I knew he was a vampire. I figured I could do the same sort of thing. I was just bumming around, looking to 'find myself'. Picking off the occasional bum or homeless guy. Don't look at me like that. I didn't have the resources to go to someplace like the Raven. You still have to _pay for_ the stuff there."
Flashes of Perce's former life flash before us: A montage of his biting the dying junkie in a dark alley, sitting in a night class classroom taking a test, getting his diploma from the Academy.
A Policeman's Lot
Did you ever know that you're my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
-Wind Beneath My Wings, Bette Midler
"Anyway, I saw what Nick had done, I thought maybe I could do the same thing. I got some criminology courses at the U, took the application test for the police and passed. I'll admit I've still helped clean up the city a little by removing a next-thing-to-dead homeless person, the odd crook or two. Hey, it's a great cover. Plus, you wanna to get all bleeding heart over some drug dealer, go ahead. I don't take out old ladies, or hang around hospitals. And, as soon as I could, I got my 'supplies' at the far north side distribution center – that's why you never saw me at the Raven. I never went there. That LaCroix guy saw me and I think he wanted something from me, so I steered clear of the place." He shuddered when he mention LaCroix's name.
"Look, I walk a beat, I know my people, I like them, I think they like me. I kept the place as safe as I could, and I want to get back to them. Hennessy tipped on to something I must have done. He had me. I couldn't take him out – like I said he wouldn't whammy, not that I'm that good at it anyway, and he's a little – was a little – too well placed to make disappear. I just didn't know what to do. Getting him copies of reports didn't seem so terrible."
"Hmmm, tell me, about a year and a half ago, Knight here was called down to HQ for some 'meeting', trial, or something. Former Commissioner Vetter –"
"Uh, yeah, I was the one who tipped you off. I knew you were working with Detective Knight here and I figured . . . ."
[Conversations II – Traced, by WD]
We see Perce on the phone with a cloth over the mouthpiece to disguise his voice with Wade on the other end.
Nick added in, "Thanks, Perce. 'ppreciate the help."
"I'm sorry, Nick, but – oh, hell, man – you're a hero, don't you know?
"My master was an o.k. guy. I hear some masters treat their changelings like virtual slaves. But he hadn't been a vampire all that long himself. He taught me as much as he could, but then the plague got 'im. Not all of us new vampires want to go on a sucking spree and kill a thousand people a night. Some of us have tried to keep our kills to a minimum. I've met a lot of young vamps who never knew about enforcers, or bottled blood from the Raven. We've had a hard time, and a lot of us didn't make it. You know that meteor scare a couple years ago? Well, that's when a lot of the new ones showed up. I'd been around a little longer so they looked to me for, uh, leadership, I guess. I've taught 'em what I could, but I don't know that much myself.
"That's about when I decided to be a cop. You gave me the idea, Nick, and it helped me help out the newer ones."
We see Perce talking to a roomful of young people who, while not obvious about it, are all vampires.
"And nobody, LaCroix, Janette, the elders knew about you?"
" 'pparently not, 'cause here we are. Nobody ever came lookin'."
Sharing more information:
"So, what happened?"
"Hennessy had a time bomb. His 'insurance policy' he called it. I find out he's dead in some alley. My, *my* drop piece is on him, and all of a sudden, enforcers are knocking down my door."
Hennessy was stuffing an envelope with pictures of DeLaBarre vamped out, some reports, etc., one of which seemed to concern a blood type that indicated that there was no blood type. He smiled wickedly.
DeLaBarre was walking in a seedy part of town. He started walking down a long and dark alley and suddenly there were two large men with glowing red eyes at the end. DeLaBarre turned and ran from the alley like a bat out of hell.
"So, you ran to me."
" I didn't know what else to do. I was desperate. There are too many humans to go to that Raven place. Besides I thought you might have some sway with the bastards."
Nick nodded, Wade choked and said, "Humph. Ironically, he has some, and so do I. Tell you about it later."
Nick said, "Well, we can probably take care of the enforcers without much problem. That is, we call them and let them know that we have the situation under control and they needn't worry about it any further."
Perce said with some awe, "You can really do that?"
Nick started to say that there were extenuating circumstances, but Wade cut him off and simply said, "Yes."
He continued, "Stay here. Call in sick to your station."
"Do you have any idea how he caught on that you're a vampire?"
Nick said to Wade later, "I can't believe the guy was on the force for years, taking a body here and there and I never caught on or even knew about it."
"Hey, don't worry about it," Wade said, "I met him and didn't catch on, and I was looking for things; you had other problems to deal with at the time. Anyway, isn't it nice to know that there are other vampires out there who aren't bloodthirsty villains?"
"Yeah, there is that."
"Lordy, you people really are going to have to start a club." Wade shook his head in seeming disbelief.
You, Me, and the Lamppost
There's a hero,
If you look inside your heart,
You don't have to be afraid of what you are,
-Hero, Mariah Carey
Nick and Wade are sitting in the Cadillac having a conversation:
"Nick," said Wade, "Do you realize that you're a hero to this guy?
"It would seem so," Nick replied.
"Well, think about it for a bit. Here's a guy who, till a few hours ago, you didn't even know existed and he's got you up on a pedestal."
"No accounting for tastes, Wade."
"Come off it, Nick. You need to accept the fact that you are a hero to some people. Being a blood-thirsty monster is only a part of your charm.
"Get used to being something else to other people. Learn to accept yourself as a good guy, and that there's more to you than your fangs. For example, you can be 'the guy who saved my life' anytime, o.k.? I'm serious about this, Nick. It's a matter of self-esteem."
"Yeah, I know. MY self-esteem."
"And, now that you know, you owe the man."
"Why?" Nick said with surprise.
" 'Cause he's let you know that you're a hero to somebody. Somebody with no vested interest, unlike your friends who might be biased."
Nick mumbled something like, "Oh, yeah, o.k., sure"
Wade said to him, "Don't mumble and avoid the issue. Deal with it."
Wade added, "By the way, I'm impressed with how you handled the enforcers. Why haven't you commanded them before like that?"
"Different circumstances. I do actually own the building – don't tell anyone that – which means I'm the 'lord of the manor', so to speak. I'm not the Duke of Brabant, nor was I ever in line for that either, but close enough. The crossing the threshold thing from the movies doesn't mean much, but it does have some significance as the head of the manor, or duchy, or whatever. It's a sort of like the effect religious symbols have on us. They do affect us, some of us more than others, and we don't really know why, but there you have it. Anyway, it was probably as much the way I spoke to 'em. And, none of the other times I've had to deal with enforcers was in my own place."
Problems? We ain't got no stinkin' problems.
There were still any number of unanswered questions.
"Look, we've got a much bigger problem. Someone tipped the enforcers off about the officer, AND they were hoping to be rid of him before he could talk to us and tell us about anything.
"Call Isidris," Wade asked Nick, "see if she can give you any information. Somebody there has to know something. Enforcers just don't go out on their own. This could be as serious for your community as it is for people in general."
"It's stranger than that. Anyone who knows about their being vampires would be taken out. You, Tracy, and Natalie are exceptions. I don't think they know about Reese or Grace. But the exceptions are rare, plus you actually have protectors in me and Isidris.
"Anyway, if someone were blackmailing DeLaBarre because he was a vampire, it would have to be another vampire 'cause the enforcers would have eliminated any human who knew about us.
Wade said, "So our I.A. infiltrator is a vampire?"
"A vampire, but not necessarily in I.A. In fact, probably not in I.A. because if he were, I would've seen a lot more evidence of hypnotism there. Besides he, or to be honest, she would have to be on the night shift which would be awkward."
"Could it be LaCroix?"
"Well, *I* can't tell you, remember, because you broke the connection between him and me." [_Complaint_, by WD]
"Oh, c'mon, you're not sorry about that and you know it. I take you point though. Well," Wade said after a bit of thought, "ask Isidris about that as well. We may as well rule him out if we can. And she may want to help. After all, we don't need somebody trying to jerk our chains, now do we?"
The Powers That Be
At a very classy table, in a very private room, in a very upscale restaurant, the chief North American Vampire Enforcer Officer said:
"You know, my young friends, there is a whole class of people you have left out."
"Oh?" Wade said.
"Yes, young man. Thralls."
Nick responded with, "Surely, Isidris, that's just legend."
"No, no," she replied, "It's rare today, but you must have seen it in your time, Nicholas."
Nick's Flashback to the Middle Ages
An adoring young woman throws herself at Nick. She loves him totally and without reservation. We see her practically worshipping him, even to the point of baring her neck for his use.
Isidris continued, "Do you think all of those sweet, young things threw themselves at you because of your charm, chivalry, good looks, and breeding? You think a lot of yourself then, don't you?
"It takes some work and effort though. It's much easier to put one into a semi-coma, feed, kill, and move on to the next town. To enthrall someone, you must build a trust over a period of time so that they trust you, give themselves to you willingly, and will keep you secrets if and when necessary.
"But, and I think you know this, Nicholas, that sort of thing is not your master's way. He can be sneaky and underhanded, but he does his own dirty work for the most part."
"Then you have no idea as to who it might be?" Nick asked.
"No, I'm afraid not. Only that it could be someone who became enthralled to him, and when he left – well, it's rather like unrequited love. The person would attempt to do for him what he cannot do for himself.
"Furthermore, while I do agree with you that it is probably another vampire, it's still possible that it may not be."
"Um. Well, thank you, m'am. We appreciate your input," Nick said.
"May I make another point, Nicholas, and you, too, Wade?"
"Of course, m'am."
"Neither of you are the center of the universe. You do understand me."
The two detectives nodded in agreement.
The very distinguished lady continued, "This may have nothing to do with either of you or with Lukius. It could even be that whoever is behind this found out about our young, somewhat indiscreet constable and knows nothing about you, Detective Knight.
"Or, indeed," she chuckled – Nick grimaced at that and Wade gulped and blanched – "it could even be an Enforcer Plot to bring you both under control. Why on earth, Nicholas de Brabant are you a homicide detective of all things? And you, sir," and she winked at Wade, "are much too curious as far as we vampires are concerned
Later, when Nick and Wade had returned to the Station House, they ran up the front steps into the building, and then went to their desks in the bullpen.
"So, where does that leave us?" Nick asked Wade.
"Apart from the ten pounds of sweat I just lost in there talking with her majesty?" Wade said.
Nick laughed a little, "Yeah, for a sweet, little, old lady, she can intimidate the bejezzus out of you."
Wade said, "It could be anybody, but it's either a vampire or someone closely associated with, and I would say mostly likely in love with, a vampire. I think that leaves LaCroix out."
Nick raised his eyebrows in question.
Wade continued, "I'm the closest thing he's had to a fling since forever, Knight. Besides, he wouldn't be this indirect." Wade had to good graces to blush slightly.
"It's not you, is it?" Nick asked but it wasn't really a question.
"Uh, no," Wade replied.
In Captain Reese's office with Tracy, who's acting captain:
Nick was explaining,
"We don't think it's anyone connected to the 96th in any way. Even with me having been over to I.A. and spoken to Hennessy, there's been no indication that anyone has a clue that I'm anything other than I appear to be.
"A good, hard-working homicide cop," Wade added.
"Would it help to do financials on everyone in I.A.?" he added.
Tracy said, "That would one/ tip our hand, b/ be difficult and time consuming to carry out, and third/ be political suicide. I thought you would have more 'smarts' on something like this, Wade?"
"Oh, I was just thinking out loud. But seriously, with Sully and Wilkerson working on it, wouldn't that keep it quiet?" he said.
Tracy continued, "It's probably not someone directly involved with I.A. There would have been some traces. Hennessy was working for someone. But maybe we can ask Sully if he can discreetly find out where Hennessy's money was coming from in addition to where it was going?"
Nick interjected, "If we could find out who was paying him, it might lead to who's behind all this."
"I'll give him and Wilkerson a call," Tracy said.
"Uh, Trace. Could you ask them to come over and then talk to them in person? This is making me really paranoid and I'd just as soon not trust the phones," Wade said.
"You're probably right, but let me call them to ask them to come over. That should be alright."
More Group Therapy?
Nick and Wade met with Constable DeLaBarre and asked him to let them know the minute anyone else tried to persuade him to help with some internal investigations by means of some shady coercion.
DeLaBarre also indicated that he would be happy to work under cover to help out as best as he could. After all he had his vampire powers and even with his limitations that had to be good.
But to be practical, he hadn't heard anything from anybody.
"You know, here's a thought. Perce, could you get your little band of guys and gals together?" Wade said.
"You make it sound like 'Young Vampires of Toronto show off Their Stuff' in the Sunday news magazine, but, yeah, why?"
"We've got some sort of conspiracy going on, so we're gonna counter it with one of our own."
Both Perce and Nick looked at Wade like he was out of his mind.
"Hey, I'm not crazy. But think about it, a couple dozen vampires with your eyes and hearing and speed . . . . If you spot someone, you can follow them, if they go into a building, you can fly up the outside and still listen. Ya know, we need to see if we can get some cameras and sound – Oh, yeah." Wade stopped talking 'cause both Perce and Nick held up their camera-cell phones. "Well, we'll see if we can get some extras," he added.
Nick, Wade, Tracy, Vachon, and Perce were sitting in the basement room of Vachon's abandoned church building. Nick was the only one who was slightly uncomfortable with the building.
Tracy said, "You can not be serious. Period."
Wade countered with, "Hey, why not? They've got the counter-espionage tools build in. And who on earth would suspect it? And, you know," and he looked directly at Nick for this, "they can disappear on a dime."
"But this really IS a conspiracy; we're only hunting a suspected one."
"Do you really think it's just suspected?"
"Well, no. But this has got to be illegal.
"What's your point?"
Vachon laughed out loud at this. "Man, you are more of a corruptor of youth than that Sesame Street thing was. Look, Trace, this could work. A bunch of people who can't be traced being traced by a bunch of people who can't be traced. This is irony worthy of Cervantes."
Wade said, "Thank you. I think."
Wade passed out some booklets and everyone joined in talking about scheduling and people and places to watch
So, what do we know? Wade looked at his lists:
. Not a cop?; worked with Hennessy
. familiar with I.A. and its procedures
. wants to influence I.A.
. Knows DeLaBarre is a vamp, but
. Does NOT know that Nick is
. If not a vamp, a thrall?
. Put DeLaBarre under heavy surveillance.
. Use the "Vamp Choir"
. Trace whose operating
. hope that he's a loner
. Get DeLaBarre's photos and doc's
. get hold of Aris and Merlin
. make docs look faked
. something to do with the force as a whole?
. just using DeLaBarre
. doesn't know about Nick
. What do they want?
"Doesn't tell us much," Wade said to Nick.
"Um. You know, another possible procedure is to watch I.A. Find out who's going in and out of the place. Think about it: it looks like Hennessy was his main, possibly only, contact.
"Yeah," Wade added, "and that would mean that he was working alone –"
"How do you figure that?" Nick asked.
"Oh, he shot Hennessy. To keep him quiet. Possibly hoped to frame you. Anyway, if he had others to report to, he wouldn't have taken out Hennessy."
"Maybe under order to do it?"
"Possibly, but it's more likely that this was a simpler thing. Remember, too, that while the person knows about DeLaBarre, he doesn't know about you. That means that he doesn't know about vampires in general."
Nick interrupted with, "Ah, that's why you want to get Aristotle and Merlin involved. They can make any real evidence look forged. And Perce can say that his actions in relation to requests from Hennessy were that he thought he was helping I.A."
Wade smiled, "Sounds simple and easy put like that, doesn't it?"
Sitting in a back booth on a quiet night at the Raven, Larry Merlin, computer expert extraordinaire, was talking explaining things to Wade:
"Nick can't get here, but he told me who you are detective, and that I can tell you. You're going to love this. O.k. from the materials DeLaBarre gave you, the letter can be traced to a specific type of printer, very cheap rip-off model."
"But wouldn't that just give us thousands to look at?"
"If," the vampire continued somewhat imperiously, "you let me continue. Yes, it's cheap, but it also doesn't work well, so its sales have been minimal. Additionally, we can limit its sales region to a couple of stores in west Toronto. Few enough, so that of all the people who got one, we've narrowed it to one. Here, look," and he showed Wade a picture.
"Damn. I don't believe it. No wonder Hennessy went along. Then the whole vampire thing is incidental."
"Yeah. I doubt the guy really believes that DeLaBarre is a vampire, just that the pictures could be embarrassing."
"Great work, man," Wade said.
"My pleasure, sir. And, tell Nick I'll bill him at the usual rates and place," Merlin said with a grin. "I take it I've saved you a lot of trouble?"
"No kidding. Who'd'a thought you could get so much from one little piece of paper."
"Haha. You lucked out, detective. Anyway, a pleasure, sir," Merlin said, and as he got up to leave, he offered a hand to Wade.
Wade took it, shook it, and said, "Thank you."
The Yonge Hooligans
Constable Perce DeLaBarre reported to Nick and Wade:
"When you tipped us off who to watch out for, it was easy to follow him once we spotted him. After that it was just a matter of watch and wait. Plus, I think you're right that he doesn't really know that I'm a vampire or not. Just a lot of wild assumptions, and he depended on me being afraid of being found out. Can't you whammy him?'
Nick told him, "We're bringing in an expert to handle that. It can be really tricky, but it might be possible."
"Anyway, that's how he did it all. He had been in I.A., he was a cop, he knew where to find someone like Hennessy, he met all the requirements," Wade said.
"You know, once we got started, it was pretty easy following him. But it was fun, too," Office Perce DeLaBarre said, "Or, at least, it gave us a purpose, something to do that could really help out. Tell you what, we're going to organize a little bit better, and we'll become your 'Baker Street Irregulars'. Call on us when you need some quick tracking, or something. We can be like your own personal enforcers, 'cept that we won't eliminate anyone. We can leave that to the real things." He shuddered a little thinking about the 'real things'.
"Uh, yeah, let us think that over a little while first. But, not the 'Baker Street Irregulars'. How about the 'Yonge Hooligans' instead?"
"Yeah, that would work," Perce grinned widely.
"So, now what? It's just a matter of digging for evidence, which we will find now that we know where to look," Wade asked Nick.
"Yeah, plus another scandal for the department, not to mention personally for Tracy," Nick said to Wade.
He paused with a thoughtful look for quite a bit. "It would be best if the guy just disappeared."
"Now there's a thought," Wade said skeptically.
"Look we know he's guilty of two murders, and we can get the evidence, but look at all the other dirt that gets stirred up".
"So, what was the motive?"
"Excess loyalty and possibly some revenge."
"O.K., explain, please?"
"Sure: Detective Madison worked with Commissioner Vetter for years. He saw how much Vetter wanted to get Nick for what happened to Tracy, which is why – what? last year now? – he agreed to bring you, Nick, in for a so-called meeting, the very one DeLaBarre surreptitiously tipped me off to. I think that's how he got on to DeLaBarre.
And, since I.A. was the one who scratched you off the responsibility list, as far as Tracy was concerned, he wanted to get in to I.A. so he could change its opinions. He managed to get Hennessy in there, to get DeLaBarre getting reports and info. from downtown. He was on his way to accomplishing it.
"However, he didn't have a clue that Nick was a vampire. He borrowed the cash he was passing around from the Commissioner. It's unlikely that Commissioner Vetter had any idea of what Madison was really up to, but it's a lot less hassle in the long run if he doesn't have to defend himself."
"But two murders?"
"Yeah, so he's leaving a suicide note as to how he realized suddenly what he had done and he can't live with himself now, yadda, yadda, yadda."
"But you are actually going to kill him."
"NO! Good grief, we're the good guys, remember! No, the note will 'solve' a couple of murders, remove any suspicions from the guys at the 25 th, which was unjustified anyway. The Commission will issue a compassionate statement: while we don't know why Mr Madison did what he did, we sympathize with his family –"
"He doesn't have any family."
"I know, but the general public doesn't – his family. When I knew him years ago on the police force, he was a good, dependable, hard-working officer. I can't imagine where or why he went wrong." Yadda, yadda, yadda.
"What is going to happen to him," Nick asked.
"Well, since he was looking at vampires and trying to blackmail one, we thought it would be nice for him to find out just how close to the truth he was. We turned him over to the enforcers."
"Now, now. It's possible that they just erased his memories, and had Aristotle set up a new identity for him."
"It could happen. Well, it could! Maybe . . . kind o'," he laughed. "I suppose you're right. Let's just hope it was suitably horrific for someone who shot two men in cold blood."
"Does this clear up the infiltration of I.A.?"
"Presumably, Wade said. "If he and Hennessy were working alone and no one else was involved. We haven't come across anyone else, but you never know."
"Well, it explains why he wanted to influence I.A. and where he got the money to pay Hennessy, ha! how to find somebody like Hennessy."
Nick and Wade asked Tracy what would be happening in I.A.
"Nobody will talk about it officially, but the Provincials will do an investigation. There may be a shake-up, even it's on the Q.T. You may be called in, Wade; you know most of the people there, and you've been out of it long enough to be objective."
"Yeah, well, maybe," he replied cautiously.
Tracy looked right at the two and asked, "Are you guys sure you don't want to transfer to I.A.?"
Wade answered, "We've been through this already, Trace. And, remember, I've been there."
"What will happen with office DeLaBarre?" Nick asked.
"Nothing much really," Tracy replied. "A reprimand maybe for copying some documents. On the other hand, he was caught between a rock and a hard place, plus he's more than willing to testify about whatever he knows."
"Well, I'm glad about that. He seems to be a conscientious officer," Nick added.
Tracy said to the two, "Both murders will go down as unsolved. It's tricky, either Hennessy killed Peretski and Madison killed Hennessy or Madison killed them both. There's evidence either way.
"Either Hennessy or Madison could have gotten to DeLaBarre's locker and switched out his drop-piece. Either of them could have been the one that spotted Peretski and followed him to Nick's loft. In any case, Hennessy was taking bribes if nothing else, and Madison committed at least one murder."
"And there's still the I.A. angle," Nick said.
"Which nobody wants brought out," said Wade.
"The long and the short of it is," said Tracy, "that Hennessy killed Peretski to keep him quiet, but then Madison killed Hennessy to shut him up, and finally he killed himself out of the guilt he felt."
Nick and Wade both mumbled and grumbled, "Sure, that's right, of course, ummm hmmm."
Questions or Are They Answers
A few more details get discussed:
"One last question –," Wade asked.
"Just one?" Nick replied.
"Be quiet – well, two. First, how did Madison know how to get hold of the enforcers?"
"He didn't really. He had a phone number, called it, left a message. We think he found the number accidentally and didn't know what it was really for. He knew it had something to do with DeLaBarre, so he simply called and said, 'You better take care of him, he's getting too close'."
"Well, it has the advantage of fitting. Who knows though. What's your second question?"
"Why didn't you recognize him when he was talking with Hennessy in that soup kitchen?"
"I never actually met him. He never got to that meeting downtown where the Commissioner was going to try to have me thrown off the force. He and one of his pals tried to kidnap Tracy to keep her from showing up, but she put them - both of them, I believe - into hospital." [Conversations II, Traced, W Doherty]
"Good for her! She's a contender, isn't she?"
"Sure is. Has anyone talked with her yet? She's going to have to know, especially about her father's possible connection," Said Nick.
"Not yet, but I will," Wade said, "Off the record, naturally."
"How's your father taking all this?" Wade asked her.
"It's another blow to him. It seems everything he worked for is getting twisted. I still think he blames Nick, though how he can rationally – well, he can't rationally."
"Do you think he had anything to do with this and Madison?" said Wade.
Tracy thought for a minute, "I doubt it, but I really don't know. Daddy could always keep quiet about things at work – it's one of the things that drove Mom nuts. I'm certain he wouldn't condone murder. And, then, if he had any hints about Nick being anything other than a cop, he'd have grabbed onto that like a pitbull.
"Frankly, I'm getting a little worried about him," She sighed. "He's not as sharp, he's depressed. I'm trying to get him to start on that book about early Toronto policework."
"Hey," said Wade, "hire him a ghostwriter, or at least some to 'help him organize his notes'. That should keep him out of trouble, plus give him someone to talk to."
Tracy looked at Wade. "Would you do it? He's always liked you apparently, and being a 'cop' would help."
"I'm not really a writer, Tracy, but I could help out some while you were getting an experienced ghost – writer I mean," he said smiling.
Fangs for the Memory
He looked up. He didn't know whether to be afraid or not. This sweet, little old lady type was walking up to him. He wondered how she could be any threat to him – especially after the horrors of the last few days – but then when she got closer, she opened her mouth slightly and he saw the really loooooong incisors, and then the gold flecks in her eyes. . Ooooooh, nooooo, he thought, but only for a second or two, he passed out before she got any closer.