Nick picked up his cell phone, hitting the memory button and the number 1... Nat's phone number. He knew she had the night off tonight (so did he) and wanted to get together with her. They hadn't done anything together in quite awhile.
"Hello?" Nat asked as she answered the phone.
"Nat... hi! It's me, Nick..."
"Oh, hi, Nick!" Nat sounded cheerful. "What can I do for you?"
"I was wondering... would you like to do something with me tonight? We could rent a couple of movies... I could cook you dinner..." Nick suggested almost shyly.
On the other side of the line, Nat wrinkled her nose at the thought of Nick cooking for her. Then she said, "That's real sweet of you, Nick, but I already have other plans made."
"You do?" Nick asked.
"Yes, Nick... I'm sorry. Maybe we can do something some other time," she suggested.
"Sure... some other time," Nick echoed flatly. He hung up the phone before Nat had a chance to tell him she was just meeting Tracy Vetter for a girls' night.
Later on that night (just after sundown), Vachon arrives at Tracy's apartment. he is hoping (just as Nick had hoped with Natalie) to spend the evening with the lovely Miss Vetter.
He finds her readying herself for an evening out. For a moment, jealousy rages through him. Then he subdues it a little.
"Where are you going, Trace?" he asks, coming up behind her. She jumps, whirling around in surprise. She hadn't realized he was there.
"Out," she says and turns back to the mirror where she was putting on a pair of gold earrings.
"Where?" he repeats, jealousy rising again. This time, it sounded in his voice.
"Vachon, I don't think it's really any of your--" business, she'd been about to say. Vachon cut her off when he grabbed hold of her shoulders.
"Where, Tracy... and with whom?" he asked harshly. "I want to know."
"I...I... look, Vachon, you're scaring me," Tracy said. "And if you're gonna act that way, I won't tell you."
Vachon sighed reluctantly and let her go. "I'm sorry, Trace," he apologized, and he truly did sound it. "It's just that I was hoping we could go out or something, but instead I find you already have a date. I guess I was jealous."
His apology softened her heart. She'd meant to make him squirm a little longer, but the miserable look on his face told her not to.
She reached out and touched his cheek gently.
"You've nothing to be jealous of. I'm just meeting someone I work with for dinner."
"Who?" Vachon asked curiously.
Tracy replied, "Natalie Lambert."
Vachon let out a huge sigh of relief. "Oh, thank God," he said. "So... where ya goin'?" he asked mischievously, the gleam in his eye telling her he meant to "pop in" unannounced.
"I don't know. We haven't decided yet," Tracy said, mirroring his smile with one equally as wicked. "Now... I really have to be going," she said as she shooed him out the door.
Vachon left Tracy reluctantly. Then, after wandering the streets for awhile trying to decide what to do, he decided to go find Urs and see what she was up to.
He suspected she'd be at the Raven. Unfortunately for him, when he got there and asked for her, LaCroix informed him that Urs was not there. It was her night off.
"I suggest you try her apartment," LaCroix said curtly and not too politely.
But Vachon was destined to spend the night without either of his two ladies, as Urs was not in her apartment and there was no indication as to where she had gone.
Nick entered the Raven shortly after Vachon had returned from Urs' apartment. He joined Vachon at the bar, sitting down (or plopping down rather) on the stool next to the Spaniard, a vacant expression on his face. He obviously still believed that Nat's "plans" were with another man and the pain of it showed on his face all too clearly.
"Jeez, Knight," Vachon said when he saw him, "you gotta quit coming in here when you're depressed. It makes the rest of us wanna commit suicide." He was smiling jokingly at Nick, but Nick didn't respond. "Come on, Knight, lighten up. You act like you just lost your best friend."
"She had other plans," he said, the simple statement carrying all the pain he was feeling.
"Who? Nat?' Vachon asked.
"Yeah. I asked her out, but she said she had plans."
"Yeah, I know. She and Tracy are spending the evening together," Vachon said. "You didn't know?" he asked incredulously.
"No, I didn't," Nick replied. In his mind, he saw himself hanging up the phone before Nat could say anything else, not even a good-bye. He wondered if she'd meant to tell him. "How'd you find out?" he asked Vachon.
Vachon smiled a little, remembering how jealous he'd gotten when Tracy hadn't told him where or with whom. Nick had obviously gotten jealous, too, but he'd most likely hung up the phone or stormed out of the room like a child.
"Tracy told me," he told Nick. "Of course, it leaves me with nothing to do tonight exceptsit here in this dive."
"What about Urs?" Nick asked. "I don't see her here," he said, looking around for the blonde dancer.
"The funny thing is..." Vachon commented, " I don't even know where Urs is tonight. It seems like I've just been abandoned."
"Me, too, I guess," Nick said to the Spaniard.
(Valentino's Italian Restaurant, sometime
after Tracy evicted Vachon from her apartment.)
The waiter showed Tracy to the table where Natalie Lambert sat waiting for her. The two women greeted each other warmly as the waiter then proceeded to hand them menus.
They both looked at their menus for the longest time, each commenting on how good everything sounded.
"And fattening..." Tracy commented as well. She and Nat grinned at each other.
"Tonight it doesn't matter how fattening it is, Tracy. The point is to have a good time," Nat told her. "And I know we both need to have a good time every once in a while."
"I know, I know," Tracy said. They signaled to the waiter that they were ready to order now.
He appeared beside their table, took the order, and disappeared as quickly as he'd come.
"Nick called me tonight," Nat said suddenly.
"He did? What did he want?" Tracy asked. She, like everyone else at the precinct, thought her partner and the ME would make a good couple. Actually, she thought they were secretly involved, but she never had the nerve to come out and ask either one of them.
"Believe it or not, he wanted to cook me dinner," Nat said, smiling knowingly at Tracy. She could tell what Tracy was thinking.
"And you didn't say yes? Nat, why not? You two are perfect for each other," Tracy protested.
"Well, first of all, Trace, you and I had plans already.
Secondly... Nick and I... well," Nat stammered slightly. "Well?" Tracy asked.
"Well... it's hard to explain things between us. that's all," Nat said. "But anyway, I mentioned it because he hung up before I could tell him the plans I had were with you. I'm willing to bet he'll be miserably jealous by tomorrow night." The gleam in her eye told Tracy she wanted Nick to be jealous.
Tracy laughed. "I wish I'd thought of that. I just told Vachon where I was going."
Nat smiled. "You know, I never thought I'd ever see the day a cop got involved with an informant the way you did with Vachon.," she commented.
"Oh, well... I... " Tracy began to stammer. Nat placed her hand over Tracy's in reassurance.
"There's no need to make excuses. You forget I've met the man. He's a nice guy form what I've seen. A little wild, perhaps, but nice."
"Yes, I'll give him that," Tracy said, a smile playing across her lips. "He is wild. I really don't know whether to keep him at a distance or not."
They talked a bit longer about work, their lives outside work and other things. then, after a luscious, chocolatey dessert, they left the restaurant.
Outside the restaurant, Nat paused before heading to her car.
"I hope you don't mind, Tracy, but I invited a friend to join us tonight," she said nervously.
"Sure, I don't mind. The more the merrier, right?" Tracy repied, but to Nat it sounded as if she was a little nervous about theidea. "Do I know her?" Tracy asked.
As Urs walked up to them (having been waiting in the shadows until Natalie had introduced the idea of a third wheel), Nat smiled a little wickedly and said, "I think you've met Urs before, Tracy."
Urs smiled shyly at Tracy, who seemed more than a little shocked. "I hope you don't mind," she told Tracy in a quiet voice. "Dr. Lambert and I were talking earlier this evening, and she asked me to come along with you. I told her I would, if you didn't object."
Urs seemed to be apologizing as if it was some great sin-- her joining them. This really annoyed Tracy to no end.
"It's okay, Urs. i really don't mind if you join us," she snapped harshly. tehn she softened a little.. aftre all, what could it hurt to spend an evening with Vachon's... What *is* Urs to Vachon anyway? "So," Tracy asked, changing the subject uncomfortably, "where to now?"
Nat and Urs exchanged glances and a look passed between them that told Tracy they'd had something planned out in advance.
"Urs got us tickets to the show at the Black Ligt tonight," Nat replied.
Tracy looked from Nat to Urs and back again in complete amazement. "That horrible place with the male strippers!?!?"
This was just the reaction that Nat and Urs had been expecting from Tracy, and they had to laugh a little.
Still smiling, Urs placed a hand on Tracy's shoulder.
"Correction, my dear girl..." she said, "they're exotic dancers, not strippers."
(All three women in Nat's car as they drive to the Black Light... Figure it a long drive.)
"So," Urs asked nervously, "have either of you ever been to the Black Light before?"
"No," Tracy said, almost too quickly. She was still quite nervous about being with Urs in the first place.
"Me, neither," Nat said. "But I have to admit the thought has crossed my mind a few times."
Tracy's eyes widened. "It did?" she wondered aloud.
"Sure, Trace. A girl's gotta have a little fun every now and again," Nat replied.
Urs giggled. "Yeah, like that Cyndi Lauper song says, 'Girls just wanna have fun.'" She giggled again. "I've only been there a couple of times. I usually have to work nights."
Tracy turned to Urs suddenly, a question blazing across her face. 'What's that like-- working at the Raven?" she asked.
Even Nat was all ears when Urs answered.
"It's... I don't know. It's just a job. I've had plenty just like it before..." she shrugged. "Still... Mr. LaCroix is a lot better to work for than some. I guess I like it."
Both Nat and Tracy were thinking the same thing, had they known it. LaCroix *nice* to work for? Neither could understand why anyone would want to work for him.
Another question nagged at Tracy. She asked, "How did you two meet, anyway?" It seemed to her that Natalie Lambert's path would not have crossed with that of a floozy like Urs.
"I do have a life outside work, Trace. Granted, it's a pretty pathetic one... and it revolves mostly around Nick... I do have one," Nat answered quickly, seeing the line of Tracy's thought.
Urs just shrugged. "We've run into each other a few times. mostly because Nick spends a lot of time at the Raven, I guess." Urs turned a sly glance to Natalie. "How is Nick, anyway? I haven't seen much of him lately."
Nat laughed. "He's as frustrated as ever, I guess." She began to fill Urs in on the results of her earlier phone conversation with Nick.
After a while of listening to Nat's monologue, Urs asked her, "Do you love him?"
"It was a simple enough question... had Nick been mortal.
With some hesitation, Nat answered. "Sometimes I think I do... but..."
"But?" Tracy asked, getting into the conversation.
"He's so difficult to deal with sometimes. Jealous and stubborn," was Nat's defense. She glanced at Tracy. "I could ask you the same think about Vachon, couldn't I?"
Tracy began to stammer a bit, but finally said, " I don't know how to define what is between Vachon and I. He's not..." She was again at a loss for words. But that was OK since Urs filled in the words she couldn't say. "Not what you would consider your 'type' of guy. Right?"
"Yeah... I guess,' Tracy said. "I like him a lot, but we're as different as day and night."
An awkward silence fell between the three women in which Urs toyed with the idea of saying something about her personal life... since they were all kind of bearing their souls to each other.
It was Nat who broke the silence by asking Urs, quite gently, "Is there no one in your life, Urs? No one even remotely special to you?" Urs began to shake her head no, but stopped.
"I guess you might think I've had lots of men. That I sleep around or something?"
"No... we don't think that," Nat said, Tracy agreeing kindly enough. "What gave you that idea?"
"It's just that lots of people do. But I haven't, not really," Urs said, as if she needed to justify herself to them. "I flirt a little but that's all."
"So, you don't have someone special in your life?" Tracy asked, reiterating Nat's question.
"well... there is something happening... between me and someone I work with," Urs began, a slight blush in her cheeks.
Vachon? Tracy thought. Out loud, she asked, "Who? You can tell us."
"I'm not supposed to tell... he doesn't want it known by too many people," Urs said, blushing more and sounding Nervous.
"Urs..." Nat said, "you *can* trust us. We're your friends. Come on, who is it?" One of the guys in the band?"
Vachon? Tracy thought again.
"You'd laugh," Urs insisted. The other two women asserted that they wouldn't. "Promise?" Urs asked doubtfully.
"Cross my heart," Nat replied, Tracy echoing her.
"Well... I guess it couldn't hurt... as long as you don't tell anyone." Nat told her that what was said between the three of them would go no further than the car, then Urs sighed a relieved sigh and said, "It's Mr. LaCroix... Lucien... It's not much really. He just doesn't want people to know because he's my boss... He's really very nice to me."
Neither Nat nor Tracy had much of a comment for that revelation, although Tracy was quite relieved it wasn't Vachon...
(The Raven-- Nick and Vachon are still seated where we left them at the bar. They have spent the better part of the night trying to figure out what Nat and Tracy could possibly have in common outside of work-- besides the vampire thing.)
"I guess it doesn't matter anyway," Vachon told Nick. "They couldn't have had *too* much fun without us. Or at least, Tracy couldn't have anyway."
Nick thought on it a moment and then agreed.
(Meanwhile, as the boy are having *that* conversation...)
(The Black Light, a crowded club packed with wildly screaming women... loud music and flashing lights.)
Nat, Urs and Tracy sat at a table close to the front of the stage. The man on stage was a Latino dancer who went by the pseudonym "Zorro."
Urs leaned over to Tracy and said, "I dare you to go up there with him."
"What!?" Tracy exclaimed.
"Sure, just hop up on stage with him and start dancing," Urs insisted. Tracy's surprise turned to a look of horror. "She won't do it," Urs told Nat.
"She might... give Tracy a chance to lighten up a little," Nat defended Tracy.
"We've been here an hour... she doesn't have the nerve to do it,' Urs said.
Well, they *had* been there an hour, like Urs had said. Tracy, who wasn't much of a drinker, had been drinking the stuff Urs had expertly ordered, mostly to be polite. After a few of them... whatever they were, Tracy didn't know... she was already well past tipsy.
At this point, after hearing Urs and Nat talk about her as if she was a child, Tracy decided she'd show them both who had nerve.
So, she did "hop up on stage," as Urs had put it so mildly. She grabbed hold of "Zorro" and said, "I wanna dance with you."
"Great!" Zorro replied. "Can you salsa?"
"No..." Tracy said, smothering a drunken giggle. "But I bet you can teach me."
(Back to the boys.)
"You're right, Vachon. I don't know why I was ever worried about Nat. They probably stayed home and watched movies or did each other's hair,' Nick said as the two men parted company outside the Raven.
Nat and Urs dropped Tracy off at her apartment a little after 2:30 that morning... after having to pry her off the stage so Zorro could leave and another dancer could take his place.
As they helped her to her door, she mumbled drunkenly, "You two won't tell anyone about this, will you?" They assured her they wouldn't.
After Tracy was safe in her own bed, Urs took leave of Natalie and Nat, too, headed for home.
The next night at the precinct, Nick cornered Tracy and Nat as they discussed the most recent case.
"So,' he asked, "what did you girls do all night last night?" Tracy glanced at Nat. She only remembered glimmers of things after her third "whatever-it-was" Urs had ordered her.
Nat must have realized that... "Oh, nothing.
Just girl stuff, Nick. You wouldn't be interested," she replied with a