SLAVERY pts 1, 2, & 3 Page 21 of 21

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.

This story generally occurs after Conversations.

SLAVERY

New Blood part one of three of Slavery

But Im just a poor boy and nobody loves me-

Hes just a poor boy from a poor family-

Spare him his life from this monstrosity-

--Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen

At the Stationhouse:

"NO! Nick! Wait!"

Wade (Everett, Nick's partner) ran up to Nick who was standing at the door of the interrogation room.

Nick was reaching for the door when Wade reached him and grabbed his shoulder spinning Nick around and away from the door. As he did this, Wade whispered quickly into Nick's ear, "Trust me, you can't go in there. I'll explain in a minute. Please!"

"O.k, Wade, o.k. What is it?"

Very quietly Wade said, "the perp's a vampire, Nick."

Nick looked surprised. "Really? How –"

"Not here, let's get someplace a little more private."

"O.k, explain. I would have sensed he was a vampire the minute I got into the room. It's unusual for a vampire to get arrested, but why should it matter that much to me personally, the community, sure, but . . . "

"Listen: you would have sensed *he* was a vampire, but he would have also sensed that *you* were a vampire."

"Yeah, but the vampire community knows I'm a homicide detective."

"But, Nick, *he* doesn't. He's not a regular member of the community. Furthermore, he got arrested. Think about it. How? He could've just flown straight up and away, couldn't he?"

"I suppose . . . "

"Then why didn't he? He could've whammied the arresting officer, but apparently he must be a resister. And why does the constable have titanium-steel handcuffs? The only things that could hold a vampire? Too many questions, Knight.

"The first problem, though, is that he would have sensed that *you* were a vampire. I don't know what he'd have done then, but he may have exposed you right on the spot, or expected you to get him out of this predicament at the least."

"Wade, if you're thinking that way, he'll sense you as a hunter."

"I can handle that, Nick. It's better than him outing you to the world."

"I'm detective Wade Everett and I'll be conducting this interview, Mr," and he looked down at the papers, "Williams."

"So, the arresting officer's report indicates he found you leaning over the body," Wade said to the man.

"Are you going to kill me?" he asked Wade.

Wade got up, walked over to the electronic equipment, took a device out of his pocket, clicked it twice at the equipment, then turned to Williams.

"No," he said sotto voce, "I'm not a hunter. I do know what you are and we're going to try to get you out of this. We can talk; I've disabled the electronics."

"With that little thing? How? And, and how can I believe you?" Williams said.

Wade shrugged, "You don't need to know, and I don't care if you believe me or not, but there's too much unexplained going on here. Look, just a couple of quick questions, then I'll tell you how we'll do this.

"First, did you kill the man?"

"No. Really, believe me, no."

"I do. O.k. Now, listen."

LaCroix came raining into the stationhouse. He didn't quite come storming into the place, but he didn't sunshine into it either. "Rain" seems a good compromise to describe his somber demeanor: gloomy with storms on the horizon.

Williams was sitting on a chair in front of the interrogation room, and when LaCroix appeared, Wade went over an unlocked the cuffs. Williams stood up and massaged his wrists. LaCroix glared at him and at Detective Everett in turn.

Wade said to Williams, "You're going with him. Hey! Don't faint! Sheesh!" Williams was green.

LaCroix said to Wade, "You – owe – me," turned, and left with the youngish vampire dragging behind him.

"Well?" Reese (Nick and Wade's Captain at the 96 th Division) said simply and directly at Wade.

"Uh, jus' a minute, Captain," he said as he pushed a few papers around. "Uh, o.k., um, what happened was he – this guy Williams was new working at the Raven, he's new in town which is why M. LaCroix came down to bail him out, and he – Williams, not LaCroix – just found the body in the alley and was checking to see if he were dead or alive when the cop, uh, constable, came upon 'em –"

"Stop!" Reese said. "Look, son, I'm not new on the job; get your story straight, then come to me with the paper work." Then in an aside to the detective, "Wade, what's going on, I've never seen you at a loss for words. That sounded like you were making it up as you were telling it to me. You're better than that; now get it together."

Wade looked at the Captain and shook his head; he should have known that the Captain would see right through him.

Nick and Wade are sitting on Natalie's desk in her office at the morgue; Nick had to move her name plate (Dr. N. Lambert, Coroner) for both of them to fit:

"Well, you luck-bag," Natalie said, "you actually guessed it close to being right. The guy wasn't bitten and drained. He was shot, in the back as it happens. What will this mean for your 'suspect'?"

Nick said, "Well, it means that Williams is in the clear as far as the Enforcers are concerned."

"Didn't we test him for GSR?" asked Wade.

"Someone did," Nick replied, "No recent gun activity. Now all we have to do is figure out what the heck he was doing there."

"Thanks, Nat. Wade, we might as well go over to the Raven and talk with him," Nick said, and with that he and Wade got up, made their good-byes to Natalie, and left.

At the Raven:

Nick's sire, Lucien LaCroix stared sternly at the two detectives and their charge as they walked into the Raven. Williams, looking like hell, sat at one of the tables and looked dejectedly between them and LaCroix. Nick nodded to LaCroix, Wade went up to him and said, "Thank you." LaCroix then went into the back, and the two detectives sat with Williams.

Nick said, "Do you have a first name?"

Williams said, "Guy." He pronounced it 'Ghee'.

"Well, Ghee, you want to tell us what happened?"

"Yeah, but could I please have some blood? I haven't eaten in days." Wade looked up and nodded at Mikloš who brought over a bottle. Williams looked a little better when he had drunk half the bottle.

"I found the guy in the alley. He was fresh, I was starving. I was going to bite and drink what I could, but the cop showed up first. And, look, I don't know squat about hypnotizism, and little about anything else. You, yer a hunter, but you're not hunting, and you (nodding at Nick) you're a homicide cop? How?"

"Guy," Nick said, "There's obviously more to your story than that, but for the moment, did you see or hear anything?"

"Just the cop – Don't know how he snuck up on me either; I'm usually pretty good at sensing people."

Wade said, "You didn't sense him, huh?" He turned toward Nick and said, "That's interesting."

Guy's Story:

Guy Williams's story came out in bits and pieces: he was brought over, probably accidentally during the Meteor Scare (FK - A More Permanent Hell) and before he could learn anything about being a vampire, his sire was killed, leaving Williams confused and alone. He figured out how to bite and drink blood, and avoid that sun, but any other subtleties about being a vampire eluded him, thus explaining how the constable was able to arrest him: he had no idea that he could even try to whammy the man, and as to flying up, up, and away. "I can fly? You're kidding!" was his immediate reaction.

He had been out partying with his friends. Some of these "The World Is Coming to an End" parties were pretty decent, and if he played his cards right, he could get laid as well. He and the gang were cutting through an alleyway from the bright lights of one bar to those of another on the street up ahead. Guy lingered back a little – nothing special, but just walking a little slow. He thought he better stay away from any additional alcohol if he had any hope of carrying on with some lovely – when suddenly, he felt sharp pangs in his neck. He reached his hand up to his throat, but before it got there he felt a flood of warmth with an undertone of desire which increased second by second. A few moments ago, he was just thinking about getting laid, and now he was ready to explode right there on the spot, and the tingle in his neck just added to the feelings he had as he became a bit dizzy, less focused, and finally passed into darkness. He sensed more than felt the man at his neck slowly draining him. He wanted to thank him for making him feel soooo good, but he lost consciousness before he could catch anything about his 'benefactor'.

"But how can you know about hunters?" Wade asked.

"I learned to sense vampires, and there are humans that I can feel, too, and they're always mean sons-of-bitches who want to take me out the minute they feel my presence. I overheard some other vampire call them 'hunters'. That's why you scared the hell out of me," he said to Wade. "I've never come across a human that I could sense who wasn't a hunter."

"Well," said Wade, "I'm not, but that's another story."

Nick asked him, "You've been a vampire for, what a little over two years. Haven't you ever wanted to find out more about yourself?

"Yeah, well, maybe, but I didn't have much luck on that, then I thought I was probably on the most wanted list. After the jerk that brought me over disappeared, I was still hungering for, for, for everything bloody and I think I killed my roommate and landlady".

He woke groggily in the alley. He was hungry like he had never in his life been before. He noticed a young woman – not a homeless person, but a college girl who had been out partying like him. She had a pulse, he felt it from 20 feet away. She had lost some blood, but not much, and, mainly, her heart was still beating. He didn't know exactly what he was doing, but he went over to her, helped her sit up, caressed her neck, brought his lips to it and . . . involuntarily his mouth opened and his new fangs sunk into her flesh. She gasped, but then shivered which could have been anything from the cold, his touch, to an orgasm. He didn't quite understand what was happening, but his teeth in her was just right somehow – she owed him, and she gave herself to him. He took her in.

He got up as staggered away. On the one hand, he had just drunk blood straight from a person's artery – that couldn't be good for them – but on the other hand, it seemed so right. It tasted amazing, it felt nice, it was erotic and sensual. But now in the aftermath, he felt unclean, satiated, satisfied even, but somehow he needed to be cleansed. The thought of absolution made him even sicker though. He staggered towards his apartment; he figured he'd simply had too much Jaggermeister.

Talking to Guy, they found out that the two years or so that he had been a vampire was mostly an undefined blur of sinking deeper and deeper into depravity, at least in his memory.

Nick got a far away look in his eyes. He was thinking about when LaCroix brought him over. LaCroix withheld a lot of information from Nick, but he doled it out to him in small bites so that he could acclimatize to it.

Nick saw himself running through catacombs listening for LaCroix's voice, trying to find where it was coming from. He realized as he was doing this that this was LaCroix's way of teaching him to identify his own kind.

Nick had known that he was inexorably linked to LaCroix for the rest of their existence, but he thought this was because LaCroix desired him almost as much as Janette did. He hadn't really thought about all the training he went through under LaCroix's tutelage, but he recognized that it was significant. And, that it was significant even if it only kept him from wandering about the countryside in ignorance, a ready target for any superstitious peasantry willing to string up a stranger at a moments notice.

Guy walked up a dark set of stairs into a dark hallway. Halfway down the hallway, he stopped at a plain door, took out a key, put it into the lock and turned it. He crossed the threshold – he didn't wonder about that 'cause it was his own threshold, wasn't it? Even if he shared it with someone – His roommate was sitting across the room with his back to the door, the sole light that was on was the reading lamp next to the chair. He had a book open on his lap, but he had fallen asleep reading it.

Guy walked quietly up to the man and looked down at his exposed neck. He could see the blood running through the veins. He couldn't literally see through the skin to the arteries, but he knew where they were located as sure as he knew where his own teeth ended and his new-found fangs began. He bent over closer to his friend who momentarily stirred – this just made Guy want to move faster, so he did. The blood called to him. His hunger drove him. He sank his fangs deeply into this available neck. He saw that his dinner had appreciated what Guy was doing, at least Guy thought he did because the man moaned in pleasure as he passed out.

Suddenly a sharp intake of breath, his landlady was at the apartment door with her hand over her mouth; just as suddenly, Guy moved to her side, brushed her hair aside, and sank his fangs into her, draining her feelings, her blood, and her life away. He did see in retrospect that she had liked and cared about him, but it was too late for that.

Guy looked around his room. He grabbed all the cash he could see, figuring that he could probably use that, but everything else seemed pointless. He had loved his collection of Dickens first editions even though he only had three and they weren't the best. But on the other hand, what was he going to do with them on the run for murdering his friend and landlady. The authorities would know it had to be him, although maybe, he thought, they might think he had been taken away and then killed. If he left everything – Oh, he was too confused, as well as satiated. Draining two bodies to the point of no return was a lot of blood. He was tempted to hide in the dark closet, but he knew he had to get out of there. He ran through the dark hallway, into an equally dark street, it seemed for miles, and indeed, it might have been. He stopped when he found himself in what appeared to be an underground garage somewhere in the heart of the city.

He sobbed to himself at the murders, but his gut was full and warm. He crawled behind a pile of oil drums, and covered himself with a tarp and closed his eyes, waiting for the night and the next cycle of feeding frenzy.

The next day, at the apartment house, a lone detective, one who hadn't been seconded to the military under the meteor crisis and whose route into work took him right past the crime scene, looked around the apartment at the dead young man and middle-aged woman, and noted that a roommate seemed to be missing.

"Hi, Joey," he said to the single constable on duty,"Anything peculiar?"

"Hah! Don, everything is peculiar. How come you're here?"

"They caught me on the way in. The way things are falling apart, you and I are probably it. Who called it in?"

"Landlady's daughter, you must have passed her on the way in. She's the one sobbing on the stoop."

"Oh, yeah, well, without forensics there's no way of telling what did these people in."

"There's a roommate missing, too."

"Probably took one look at these guys and ran the other way."

With nothing but some minor neck wounds, and no other bodies around, the detective figured that the roommate had flipped out, like a lot of people were doing these days, and had just taken off or that he had been taken and killed somewhere else. He fully expected to find the body in another part of the house, but he got another call before he could check any further. Later, he just listed the roommate as a missing person and the deaths as murders caused by persons unknown.

"I know I just drank lots and lots of blood, and, well, I stayed pretty much out of everybody's way. Got no family, and no vampires seemed to be interested in explaining anything anyway.

"Besides," he laughed, "What am I supposed to do, walk into a place like this and ask the bartender for a bottle of A-positive, the latest edition of 'How to be a Vampire, in Ten Easy Lessons', or 'Pardon me, sire, but what do you do with the body after you've drained all the blood?' Not what casual conversation is made up of, even – or maybe especially – among vampires. I've been trying to figure out what this Raven place is. I've felt lots of vampires there, but hunters, too, or half-vampire, or whatever. What I was doing in that back alley was trying to psych it out. Then there's this dead guy, then the cops, now you. Oh, god-in-heaven, can YOU help me?" he pleaded at Nick.

Nick thought that neither God nor heaven was going to be of much help to Guy.

It was like Guy's subconscious was aware of what was going on and he was just along for the ride. He would pass out before dawn and not wake till after dark. He couldn't go anywhere for help 'cause any offices he could think of were only open during the day. He would see dinner, a victim, a blood donor – the term seemed to depend on how hungry he was – and his subconscious would take over. He thought about trying to stop, but then he'd get the first taste of the blood and lose himself in it.

As it turned out, it was two solid weeks he had been on this blood binge – he figured something had happened to him but he wasn't sure just what. When his mind finally cleared one late afternoon, he stepped out of his hiding place and into the late afternoon sun and immediately regretted it. Like the worst sunburn of his life, immediately and intensely. He staggered back into the shadows. He heard a laugh and turned in its direction. He saw her leer at him, bare her fangs, and stagger off on her own way. He thought to himself, oh my god. He knew what he had become. He knew because he saw what she was, and she had no heart beat, no blood to tempt him, and her fangs caused in him no fear. He sat on a nearby curb and cried, when he wiped his face with his sleeve, it was covered with blood. It came to him, that the one person he felt he could have talked to about all this, his roommate and best friend, was already dead, and at his own hand.

At this point, Guy flipped completely out and did not come to himself for six months. He wondered where the hell he had been and what he was doing. He continued in a lonely desperate existence trying to figure out what had happened to him, how could it be changed, anything but accepting it and dealing with it. Usually though, before he could do anything, he'd black out, fall to sleep or into a stupor, or have to hide from the sun. He basically lost all track of time until he felt hand-cuffs on his wrists and he was at the 96 th division listening to a human who knew all about what he was and well as another vampire who seemed to be able to deal with it.

"So, basically, you've been living day-to-day just trying to get by," Nick said.

"Yeah, and afraid to death I'd be arrested for killing my roommate and landlady."

Wade said, "Got the reports – they finally got all that stuff online – you lived at," and he gave the address and names.

Guy, looking dejected as hell, said, "Yeah."

"Well, you're in the clear there. Officially those two deaths are down as 'murderer unknown', and you're listed as missing. Hmmm, you're not even wanted for questioning. Guess you're off the hook for those."

Guy looked bewildered. "I . . . I'm not a murderer?"

"Oh, sure, you're a murderer all right; you're just not wanted as one."

A chilly voice came over their shoulders adding, "Detective. Since he was operating purely under instinctual drives, I think it unfair to characterize his actions as 'murder'. Especially seeing that the murderers are unknown, and we certainly know who this young man is."

Wade thought, What?

LaCroix continued, "You've brought him here, now let me deal with him."

And this old guy they left him with. He had come at him and Guy had got lost in his eyes. The man bit him and started draining him and Guy loved it! Then he made Guy bite his neck – or more accurately, he offered it to Guy and Guy found he couldn't resist – and drinking him in was like, well, indescribable, very similar to drinking in blood, and much like when he was brought over, but clearer, brighter, raw-er, better. He slept immediately afterwards, and when he woke, he was aware of much knowledge that had been forced into him. It was as if those old listen-while-you-sleep tapes had been used and had actually worked. He felt both nauseated and relieved – he was sick about several things, but it seemed he had some sort of intimate knowledge now that would help him to deal with his condition. He went over to the nearest sink and tried to throw up, but merely had the dry heaves. The older gentleman who had bailed him from the police handed him a glass of blood mixed with brandy. "It will help," he said and then disappeared.

"You really did luck out. Out of all the people to stumble into in your condition, you happen upon the two people who can completely understand what's happened to you," Wade said to him, "and arrange for some help."

Guy sat there and nodded. "My first piece of luck, I guess."

"Here's your cover story, kid," said Nick, "M. LaCroix hired you at the request of an old friend, this was your first night on the job, you were getting some cases of wine from the back, you heard a noise outside, went to investigate, and you found this homeless person on the ground, you bent over to check on him, and that's when the officer found you. This was the first dead body you've ever come across and you were freaked out which is why you acted the way you did. You think you saw somebody run off around the far end of the alley just as you got there, but you didn't see enough to identify anyone. Got it?

Nick handed the kid his wallet with his new papers, "Is your real name really 'de Maupassant'?"

"Uh, yeah, my mother had delusions of grandeur. I think we may actually be related, but it's a stretch. I changed it to Williams to make life a little simpler."

"Well, that's worked out to your advantage. Williams will work. You were born in . . . " and Nick droned on in details that Guy never thought he'd remember, but as it turned out, he could never forget.

"Hey, how come I know things now? This is scary!"

"Not as scary as the last two years, is it?," Nick said. "People's life stories are in their blood, you have the life of every person you've killed, you just never realized it. When M. LaCroix offered you some of his blood, he gave you training in identifying some of the vampire characteristics you have. Your own smarts will tell you what they are when you use them as well as when to use them. Think about it, you now know something about flying, don't you?"

Guy stopped to think a minute and realized that he did indeed know something. "Wow," was his only comment.

He asked, "What happens to me now though, detective Knight?"

Nick told him, "I think your best bet would be to stay here. You've got a workable identity, you can get to know a few people, and you can learn about your capabilities as a vampire. You know you're going to live forever, right?"

"Forever, Knight?"

"Well, a really long time, o.k.? M. LaCroix will take care of you for a while. He likes projects like this. Are you gay at all?"

"Uh, no. Does that matter?"

"Ha! No, it doesn't, and I think if you think about it, it matters even less than you ever thought it would. Sex is nothing next to drinking a life's blood."

"Oh!" Guy said in surprise. "Hey, I know the name of the identity guy. Ari-, Aris-, Aristotle, that's it!" He looked down at his wallet and some of the papers, "This guy's good. He even got my college major right. Will you thank him for me, please?"

Help Me?

"Why are you helping me?" Guy asked out of the blue.

"You need it?" Nick said.

"Yeah, I kinda figured that. Running around loose for two years with barely a coherent thought . . . ."

"You never stopped to take stock of yourself? You said you talked with some other vampires," Wade said.

"No, I didn't. I said that I overheard some vampires talking. I figured that's what I had become, but I was in denial, I fought it as much as I could. I could go for about two weeks, then I'd have to kill someone. Or, rather, I'd have to drink some blood and once I got started, well . . . . I was sick about it though. And, like I said before, it's not like there's a hot line I could call. You still haven't told me why you're helpin' me."
Nick said to him, "I've been in a similar situation. Plus you didn't commit this murder. And, you seem like you've got at least half a brain in your head. It's a pretty good trick to spend two years roaming around and not getting caught. You didn't even raise waves on the radar.

"I expect you'd like some help in dealing with being what you are, and I see something of myself in you. I don't want to be a vampire and I think you don't either."

"Yeah, well, I didn't have a choice."

"I did," long pause, "but here you are and now what do you do, right?"

"Yeah, I guess." Guy turned to Wade and asked, "What's your story?"

"Among other things, I was almost brought across. Didn't happen, don't quite know how. The other thing is I'm supposed to be helping this one," and he jerked his thumb at Nick, "cope. So, if I can help him, maybe I can help you, too, seeing as how being a vampire is not the thrill of a lifetime you thought it'd be."

"Wasn't anything I thought it'd be, man. I just woke up and there it was. I also gather that this old guy," at this, Nick turned and glared with golden eyes at Guy," – hey, hey, hey! Lighten up! This 'mature gentlemen', is that o.k.? – anyway, he can help me but you don't like it or him, or both."

Nick had turned away and walked to a nearby corner.

Wade interpreted, "This 'old guy' was Nick's master. Since your master died before instructing you in anything, you've got a lot to learn. M. LaCroix will undertake to instruct you, but you aren't going to like it. Well, unless you have a masochistic streak, do you?"

Guy's eyes opened wide, "Ah, not particularly."

"Well, that's why Nick is concerned," Wade continued, "he's afraid that M. LaCroix may be too hard on or demanding of you. On the other hand, you will learn a lot. We just hope you don't learn to enjoy it."

"Can I?"

" 'S been known to happen."

"What would happen then?"

"Nothing, unless you were to start killing indiscriminately."

""Then what?"

"Then, it would be likely that M. himself would eliminate you."

Guy looked at the straight-forward, sincerely honest look on Wade's face, and he shuddered.
Wade looked at him and said, "Exactly."

"Then, why," Guy asked, "turn me over to M. LaCroix? Am I just going to be a slave to him?"

"He's the best one to teach you. But, he's demanding," said Wade.

"Don't worry; he will treat you well," Nick said. "If anything, as long as I'm around, he'll treat you like the son he never had. Maybe even as a protégé." Nick added with a little bitterness.

Nick's flashback to a medieval setting:

-- LaCroix: mon protégé. (my protégé)

-- Nick: votre esclave (your slave)

Guy looked confused.

Wade told him, "Nick and M. LaCroix have known each other for a long time and have a father-son, love-hate relationship going. He'll treat you well to show Nick what Nick is missing if he'd only obey his master and submit to his 'nature'. You'll get the lecture. And actually, If you do end up going over to the 'Dark Side', I think Monsieur would really be disappointed.

"The short version is that even though you will learn a lot, you will be a pawn being used by Monsieur. If you can learn to live with and deal with that, you should do o.k. If you buy into it, you'll likely die miserably somehow."

"Great," Guy sighed, "Oh, well, I guess I'd better order some shirts with four arms."

This oddity perked Nick's ears up, "Four arms?" he said, puzzled.

"Yeah," Guy answered, " Forewarned is four armed."

Nick gaped. Wade smiled and said, "Guy, I think you and I just might get along. You sure you aren't gay? And, close your mouth, Nick."

"In the meantime," Wade said, "I need the clothes you were wearing; you'll find some replacements in the back of the Raven. These may have some forensic info on them. You can never tell."

Guy went into the back to change and brought out the clothes and handed them to Wade.

"I'll get these over to the lab," he said, and left.

Later:

Nick said, "Hello, Guy. How are you holding up?"

Guy looked straight at Nick and said, "You put up with him for how long? You're either a masochist or insane."

"That well, huh?" Nick said with a chuckle. "I know what it's like, but you will learn a great deal from him."

"Teaching him, Nicholas," LaCroix intoned, "is rather like learning to ride a bicycle by reading about it. You can talk about enforcers, but how much more elucidating it may be to deal with the reality of them."

Guy shuddered at the mention of the enforcers.

At the Division:

Wade told the Captain, "Sorry about that earlier, Cap. I had a couple of things on my mind and let it get to me. Won't happen again."

Reese thought to himself, right!, but he just nodded and kept that to himself. What he said was, "And . . . ."

"Oh, uh, the guy who was brought it was just a witness, although he didn't see enough to actually be a witness. He didn't see or hear anything, he got there too late. He did say that he thought he saw someone rounding the corner at the end of the alley, but not well enough to identify anyone."

"Ah, typical. Too bad. Well, keep on it; see what you can track down and let me know" the Captain said.

"Wade! Pick up on line 2! Now!" the desk sergeant shouted out to him.

Wade picked up the phone, listened for a minute, then turned to Nick and said, "Damn! C'mon. Guy's at the Raven and he's been shot." The two detectives grabbed their gear and got going.

Back at the Raven:

"No idea, detective! I was taking the garbage out back and 'Bang!'. I turned to look and saw a guy at the end of the alley with a gun. I looked down and saw the bullet hole. I sat down hard and clasped my side where the bullet hit me. The man started to come down the alley, but the back door opened and one of the waiters stuck his head out, so the guy turned and ran. No, don't know if it's the same guy who shot the homeless man, but I would recognize this one again if I saw him," and he gave Wade and Nick a quick rundown on the man, but it was all rather generic.

"It would seem to me that whoever shot the first guy saw Guy coming upon them and thinks he's a witness," Wade said.

"We could exploit that, use Guy as bait," said Nick.

"Yeah, but it'd be nice to ask Guy, wouldn't it? Besides this means something else is up. Some perp who shoots a homeless man would usually want just to get out of town. Why hang around and try to eliminate potential witnesses?" Wade continued.

"That's a point," added Nick.

"Hey! I'm still here!" Guy complained. "Look, the bullet went through me, didn't it? Cool! That always happen? Well, if that's the case, yeah, I can be a decoy."

"Thanks, Guy," Wade said, "but let's see if we can figure out what's up first. Like I said, it would make more sense for the shooter to just take off'; why come back and looking for trouble?"

Conventional Wisdom part two of three of Slavery

And one thing I know is true
You'll be dead before your time is due, I know . . . .

We gotta get out of this place

If it's the last thing we ever do

--We Gotta Get Out Of This Place - The Animals

At the morgue:

"Yes, guys, some rather interesting information. This wasn't some homeless vagrant; it was a Canadian actor from a syndicated show. He played the lead in this vampire epic, I've got his name down here someplace. I'm surprised neither of you recognized him. Anyway, 'e was pretty good, but according to his assistant, he was leaving to do a series in the States. He was here for a convention for 'Endless Knights', that's the TV show. Anyway, can't tell you why someone shot him, but there he is."

Natalie looked at the corpse, it reminded here of another corpse she had seen in the morgue a few years ago. She looked at the actor and thought, Not bad, not bad at all, then back at Nick who maintained a steadfastly blank look on his face.

Wade said, "Humph, sorta looks a little like you, Nick. Do you suppose someone was after you like they were Schanke a few years back?"

"I think that's unlikely, Wade, but I do have a few enemies, I guess, but it's just as likely this guy has, or had, a few people around who don't like him. We're going to have to check that out."

"Who is he, anyway," Wade asked Natalie.

"Didn't I say? Uh, Garry Winston Davis, according to his i.d."

"Won't we need to turn this over to the day staff?" Wade said to Nick.

"No, these conventioneers start early evening and go all night. Remember, the show was 'Endless Knights'."

At the convention hall:

The blond detective duo had interviewed the principle convention guests, some of the lead characters from the series: Cathleen Dish, Bennet A. Nigel, Jon Galopagos. They all had solid alibis.

Nick was saying, "It could have been a disgruntled fan, someone angry at him for leaving the show for a state-side series."

"Do we know that, or could it just have been somebody who robbed the jewelry store down the street and wanted to make sure there were no witnesses?"

"Yeah, well that's what we need to pin down, don't we?"

"Look, why don't you check out the jewelry store angle –"

Wade laughed, "Yeah, you just want to interview the sweet, young, and need-I-say pretty, fan club president. Right, o.k., you do that. I'll meet you back at the station."

Nick smiled; he hadn't realized that Wade had seen so thoroughly through him. He went to the back of the convention hall where the fan club president awaited.

"Hi, I'm Christie Agathon, they told me you were looking into Gar's murder, but I don't know what I can tell you. He was here last night talking with people, but he left about 10. I stayed till about 11 and then went back to my room."

"I thought these sessions went on all night?"

"Well, not all night. They usually went on a little longer, but Gar wasn't feeling well and had to leave. I didn't feel all that good either, so I tidied up and left as well. But other than that he seemed o.k."

Nick thought to himself that first, he left because he wasn't "o.k." and second, Ms. Agathon really didn't need to tell me otherwise that he seemed o.k. Why would she mention it?

Nick checked with the convention and the hotel connected, but the keying system wasn't sophisticated enough to have kept a computerized record of comings and goings. All the keys did was lock or unlock the doors.

As he left the convention lounge, another young woman approached him, "Detective," she asked in a stage whisper. "Can I talk to you a minute?"

Nick raised his eyebrows and said softly, "Yes."

She pulled him over to side of the hallway and talked animatedly and quietly. "She's not telling you the whole story. They had a big argument. She's really upset with him for going off to NYC or Hollywood or wherever. She was going to quit as the club president if he left. He said fine, and that just made her livid!"

"When was this, Miss . . . ."

"10. He left that way; she stuck around for about 15 minutes and took off the other way. Oh, it's DuMorier, Daphne, but just call me Daffy." She smiled her winningest professional greeter smile at him. "I'll be taking over if she does quit," she added.

Another "sweet, young thing" approached Nick and whispered so that "Daffy" wouldn't hear them. "Hi," she said breathlessly, "Daffy's just angry that Gar liked Christie better than he liked her. Personally, there were a lot of people who Gar had p.o.'d. You should talk with his co-star over there, he doesn't have an alibi!"

"Uh, I'll do that Miss . . . ."

"Oh," she giggled, "It's Allie. Allie Hitchcock."

Nick nodded at her, grimaced, then walked over to the young actor the woman had indicated. He took out his notebook and walked over to the young actor.

"Good evening, sir. I'm Detective Knight. May I ask you a few questions about . . . ."

"Sure, sure," the young man interrupted, "Shoot!". He shook his long, black, shoulder length hair and gave Nick a crooked smile.

"You are?"

"Oh, Trout, Trent Trout, just call me Trent."

"Uh, yes, um, Trent, where were you yesterday evening between 10 and 12.

"Part of it here, then I went back to my room around 11:30. Had something to eat and sat for a while, then I returned to the convention about 1:30. There were still a lot of fans around."

"What was your relation to Mr. Davis?"

"Oh, we we're the best of friends." He looked around them surreptitiously and told the detective, "the scuttlebutt was that he was leaving for the States for a big-time network series. This was fine by me 'cause I was due to replace him as the lead. You see, my character's a vampire too, but a lot more hip and –"

"Ah, thank you Mr. Trout, we appreciate you co-operation," Nick said, and pulled himself away.

Nick thought that being on the convention floor would constitute some sort of alibi, so why would Miss Hitchcock say he didn't have one?

On the way out of the convention hall, Nick stopped at the sign-in desk to check where the production offices were or where he could reach people there to arrange for questioning.

"You won't have to go into the offices, Detective, I handle all that business," said the sweet, young, thing behind the sign-up table. "I'm Patty DiJames, Associate Production Assistant, and don't you believe a word Trout tells you. Those two hated each other. The TV deal Davis had fell through and he was going to stay with the show. Trout was p.o.'d as hell; he'd already made plans to move into Davis's dressing room."

"Is there anybody on the show who doesn't have a separate agenda?" Nick asked, more of himself than anyone around him.

Nick flashed back several centuries to when he was a very young man in Brabant. The local bishop and the Monsignor were having a theological argument over the nature . . . of something, Nick didn't really care. The Priest said A, the Bishop said B, the Monsignor Said A, the Archbishop said B. Nick just wanted to know one way or the other, but it looked like he wasn't going to get any firm answer. He, like everybody else in the province, would have to guess which way the wind was blowing or whether the Bishop or the Monsignor were the one in town that day.

It occurred to him a little bit later that the issue never was resolved and, in fact, got worse when the Popes got involved. About 150 years later the Papacy moved back to Rome From Avignon and besides the Priest, the Bishop, the Monsignor, and the Archbishop, now into the mix was added a few cardinals and two (count 'em, 2) Popes – one in Avignon and the other in Rome. What was a simple country boy to do, the cows still needed to be milked every morning no matter how many angels were parked on the head of any nearby pin. And every one of these saintly officials was perfectly willing to implicate the others in one sort of plot or another.

Since he was a vampire by then, he could ignore most of it except for avoiding other crusaders, the inquisition, and peasants with burning stakes.

Nick made a list of what he'd found out:

Christie, Club Pres. – did or didn't know Davis was leaving

Daffy – V Pres – Davis & Christie argued, didn't know Davis was staying

Allie – fan?, Daffy was jealous of Christie, implicated Trout

Trout – was due to replace Davis when (if) he left.

Patty – volunteered that Trout and Davis didn't like each other and that Davis was staying.

Back at the Division:

Wade asked Nick, "What did you find out at the convention?"

"It makes Hollywood Outsider and Gossip Weekly seem tame by comparison. How about the jewelry store angle?"

"Nothing there. It was an inside job, the clerk who tried to pull it off missed a couple of the surveillance cameras and they got her on tape."

Nick said, "Oh, yeah, surveillance cameras, right", and got this far-away look on his face.

Wade looked at him, realized what the glaze on his face meant, and with a little bit of a worried tone said to him, "Hey, wait a minute, Nick. Nick!" But it was too late. He was gone.

Nick found out that the hotel did, indeed, have surveillance cameras on its floors. The keys may have been old fashioned, but the time-stamps on the camera images told a current tech story.

The tapes showed that Christie was in Davis's room from 10:30 to 10:45 and Daffy from 10:50 to 11:00. Trout had visited shortly after 11:00 and they both went out. Neither returned. Allie and Patty both stopped by Davis's room after midnight but neither seemed to have gotten in.

It was obvious that they were going to have to speak to Trout again.

Trout was speaking:

"Mr Trout –"

"Trent!,please."

"Mr Trout, if I may continue. You lied earlier. You were seen heading towards Mr Davis's room at 11 pm."

"Ahhh. Crap. Damn. Look, we went to this kooky little club he knew, some bird name, the Owl, the Black Bird, something. And we just talked. He told me he was going to stay on on Endless Knight, I begged him to go to Hollywood so I could take over. As an alternative I asked him if he'd recommend me for the Hollywood role, and he just laughed. I got so mad I couldn't see straight, so I got up and stomped out of the place. Bastard'd given up on his own career and was killing mine at the same time.

"I was walking up and down the alley behind the club getting madder and madder when he came out the back. He was talking with an older gentleman, tall, white hair, dressed in black. They were having an animated conversation, and I only heard a part of it. They shook hands to seal some sort of deal. The old guy went back into the club, and Davis smiled that nasty, puppie-dog grin of his. I just had to shoot him. I pulled my gun and fired at him. Then I ran out of the alley and straight into this bum and nearly knocked him over. I figured I must have killed Davis 'cause I looked back and the bum was leaning over him checking to see if he was still alive I guess. I just wanted to get out of there, so I went back to the convention and hung around for a while."

"Well, you do realise that anything you said can be taken down and used as evidence, don't you?" Nick said.

"No! Really, you're kidding! S**t, I wanna lawyer," and with that he shut up and folded him arms across his chest.

Reese asked, "You didn't have any trouble figuring it out?"

"No, the way he readily confessed when confronted. We may have a bit of trouble on the confession – we didn't read him his rights first but other than that it was simple, just a conventional murder," Nick said.

A 'conventional' murder! Wade winced at that line; he thought he should have said that one.

Now You're Gone

Natalie came into the squad room, "You're not going to like this. Davis's body is gone."

"Gone! Whaddayou mean 'gone'? How can it be gone?" Nick nearly shouted; "We can't hold Trout without a body!"

Natalie thought there was something fishy about that statement, but she continued, "If I knew that, I'd be the new Dr. Phil, or somebody with a TV talk show. I don't know; the power went out, the backups weren't working, there're no surveillance tapes, and the body is simply not there."

Reese looked at them closely, and said, "Well, it couldn't have just walked out. Check for Taxis, anyone coming into the building for anything. See if they saw anything strange if nothing else."

Wade looked thoughtful and turned to Nick and asked. "Didn't Trout say that Davis had sealed some deal with an 'old, white haired guy'? You don't suppose that your step-father and he had some . . . ." His voice trailed off.

Nick sighed, "Well, we're going to have to check that out, aren't we?"

Just then an additional character walked into the room.

"Detectives, hello. My name is Gary Winston Davis, and I understand that you are looking for me."

Natalie, dropped whatever it was she had in her hand. Reese lifted his eyebrows and looked questioningly at Nick and Wade.

Nick asked Davis, "Are you all right, sir. We'd heard that you had suffered an accident?" He stared straight into Davis's eyes.

Davis replied, "Oh, call me Gar, everybody does. Nope, I'm fine, although I am a bit hungry – it's been a while since I've been able to eat anything and I'm . . . starving.

"Do you need a statement or anything fellas, 'cause if not, I'd like to be on my way. I just now landed a new role on Broadway doing King Lear, and I'd like to get back to my hotel and start packing."

Nick said shaking his head, "You can be on your way, sir, uh, Gar. If we need anything, we can contact your agent."

"Splendid," he said, but then he looked curiously at both detectives and asked, "Sure you wouldn't want to go get a bite with me? I know this charming little bistro called the Raven – I know the owner."

As Davis was walking out, Wade turned to Natalie and asked her, "Doesn't he look familiar somehow?"

"Yeah," she replied, "he reminds me of someone, but I can't think who".

The detectives overheard a couple of the female constables talking:

"Oh, he's so handsome in real life, isn't he?"

"I know. Do you think it'd be o.k. to ask for his autograph?"

"Oh, let's, it's our only chance. But look at him, don't you think he's kind of pale?"

"That's how he's supposed to look, silly, 'cause of that TV show. It's make-up, nobody's that pale in real life. C'mon, let's go introduce ourselves.

A little later:

Nick and Wade were sitting at their desks in the squad room.

"Did you sense what I sensed?" Nick asked Wade.

Wade answered, "Uh, yeah. He is, isn't he? At least now, I mean."

"Looks like it, wonder how that happened?" Nick said. Wade just looked at Nick, then added, "So how's he going to go on stage in New York?"

"Oh, heck," said Nick, "he can do anything there except maybe a matinee".

Wade replied, "Sure, but you are going to have to have a talk with LaCroix! Right?"

Nick replied, "Yeah, but it'll probably be moot – Remember when he said that you 'owed' him one? I think this is what he'll collect on."

Back at the morgue:

Natalie said, "Well. I never got to do an autopsy. A few accident victims came in, plus the power problem, by the time I got back to him, he was gone and there was a sheet scrunched up in the corner; so, yeah, he could have been there, not really hurt, and just walked out."

Wade added, "Anything's possible. Did you let Trout go?"

Nick said, "Nothing to hold him on, especially when the victim comes walking into the squad room under his own power.

"We could probably hold him on gun charges. Williams identified him as the one who shot at him, but seeing that Williams can't really testify during the day, Trout's more than likely got rid of the gun by now, and since Davis *is* going to go to New York, that eliminates motive, but really with the victim up and walking about . . . ."

Natalie asked, "There was something fishy about all this. Especially when they mentioned that 'old, white haired guy'. Nick, is there something we should know about here?"

Nick looked up at her, gave her his best grin and said, "Nope. No body, no victim, no murder! Let's count our blessings and call it a night."

" 'A Night'!" Wade said, "and I'm going straight home and sleep on this one."

Masterspiece part three of three of Slavery

dj pump the low end frequency

cant hide it i wont deny it

cause im addicted to drums

and i´m a slave to the dark beats

--Dark Beat, Oscar G

At the Division, or Haven't we been here before?

"NO! Captain! Wait!"

Wade ran up to Reese who was standing at the door of the interrogation room.

Reese was reaching for the door when Wade reached him and grabbed his shoulder spinning him around and away from the door. As he did this, Wade whispered quickly into the Captain's ear, "Trust me, you can't go in there. I'll explain in a minute. Please!"

"O.k, Wade, o.k. What is it?"

Very quietly Wade said, "the perp's a vampire."

Reese looked surprised. "What!? How –"

"Later, please!"

"O.k, explain. A vampire?"

"Yeah, crazy, huh? But really, please let me handle it; you just know it's got to be pretty complicated."

"I'll buy that. Does Knight have anything to do with this?"

"No," Wade said simply.

"Thank goodness," Reese said with a heavy sigh. "Be careful. Don't pull any of that supernatural stuff. Look, just keep me informed."

"O.k., Cap. Let me see what I can find out."

"I'm detective Wade Everett and I'll be conducting this interview, Mr," and he looked down at the papers, "Vachon."

Wade looked up at the accused, and then whispered loudly, "So, what the frickin' hell are you doing here!?," to the vampire.

"They were going to kill me," he told Wade.

"Wait a minute," Wade got up, walked over to the electronic equipment, took his little pocket device, clicked it twice, then turned to Javier Vachon. "I've got to stop using this; it's getting obvious. We can talk; I've disabled the electronics. So, out with it, what's going on?"

"Enforcers, they were coming at me – NO! I don't know why, you know I steer as clear from them as I can – anyway, I was in this alley, and these police cars come tearing in. I figured letting them arrest me was better than going with the enforcers."

"Yeah, well, that's true enough."

"Then they found a dead body in the alley and I guess I'm under arrest for 'suspicion of murder'."

"Well, for being there and having the knife in your hand. How could you be so stupid as to pick up the murder weapon?"

"I think it's from reading all those mystery stories years ago, the suspect always picks up the murder weapon, but it also guarantees that he's not the murderer." He tried giving Wade a lop-sided grin.

"Damn," Wade continued. "You couldn't have whammied them and disappeared?"

"No time. We were covered by dozens of officers and then there's all the readi-cams and all that crap."

"And, if you disappear from jail now, a couple of innocent guards get reamed out, if not worse."

"It is worse. They know who I am."

"Yeah, but . . . ."

"I'm Tracy's snitch."

"Oh. Right. And now you've been caught red-handed at a crime scene. Does she know yet?"

"Doubt it. She will though."

"Ummmm. Yes, I think I hear the tornado coming now."

Tracy Reacts

Wade went out into the squad room and cornered Tracy just as she was storming in.

"Stop!" he said in his most commanding voice, and diverted her into one of the smaller interrogation rooms. He continued quietly, "You know you can't be directly involved here. Let me find out what kind of trouble he's in and what we have to do to get him out of it."

"But . . . "

"No 'buts'. What can you do? Are there any of your cases that he could have been your snitch for?"

"All right. Let me check, but tell him I'll talk to him later when he gets out."

Wade asked himself, "Javier, what the hell were you doing there?"

Vachon told them he was taking a short cut through the alley to a meeting a couple of blocks away.

The alley was dark, but typical. Brighter light at the ends, but no light shining into it. When he was about halfway through, the two enforcers approached him, menacingly. Before he could do anything, however, he fell backwards over an apparent corpse.

"Damn," he said as he put his hands down to keep from falling further back, and placed his palm over a bloody knife. With his shout, bright car lights flashed on. Police started to appear from everywhere.

The enforcers, still in the shadows, flew straight up and out of sight. Vachon knew he couldn't do the same because he'd be flying right into their hands. On the other hand, now he had to deal with dozens of police. Maybe he could disappear from gaol later. What was going on here?

Masters Plan?

Tracy, Wade, and Nick held a 'war council' to determine what had happened and what to do.

Tracy would check the police reports to see why everyone was in such a snit.

Nick's job was to find out just what sort of trouble the young Spaniard was in with the enforcers.

Wade would be checking see what sort of trouble Vachon was actually in as far as the police were concerned.

Tracy went though the police reports, and she tied the tip about the body in the alley to Vachon's being in the wrong place. Some anonymous citizen had called in about a dead man in an alley.

Nick's investigation took him to the Raven where he talked to the person most likely to know everything that was going on there, Mikloš. He also pulled in a few favors and talked to a few others of his community's sources. He found out that the enforcers had apparently been tipped off about a new vampire blabbing all about town and indiscriminately draining homeless bums. They were about to approach this young vampire in a back alley. It seemed that they were expecting to find Guy Williams, but Vachon walked into the alley first.

Wade went over Guy Williams's arrest report since this crime was so similar. He talked to Vachon again. Apparently Vachon had been called in for a meeting of some sort.

He then went to the Raven to interview the young vampire, Williams, again.

When he got there, Nick had Williams up against the wall with his arm over William's throat. "Tell me! What were you doing?"

"Nothing! Please, nothing, I don't know what you're talking about?"

"Vachon, what did you do to Vachon?"

Wade came up to the two of them, "Easy, Nick, easy!"

They found out that Williams was supposed to have taken some papers over to one of LaCroix's storage buildings a few block over from the Raven. He got delayed because on his way out he decided to take out the Raven's trash, but it took him much longer than he thought and one thing led to another, so that he ran over an hour late.

Wade told Nick that he had found out that Vachon was on his way to meet some people and that the circumstances were just coincidental.

"Yeah," said Nick, "like you know how much I really believe in coincidence."

"Nick," Wade said, "Someone may be guilty but it doesn't seem to be Guy."

Later, Tracy in Reese's office reciting the 'facts' to the Captain, Nick, and Wade.

"No, his prints aren't on file. There're no warrants out against him. He owns that church over on the east side," she was saying.
Reese interrupted, "He owns a church?"

"Ah, yeah, uh, the building. It's been deconsecrated; he's remodeling it. He's got a contractor's licence. He was on his way to meet with a couple of applicants for construction jobs."

Nick whispered to Wade, "When did he get a contractor's licence?" Wade replied, "When he learned he was going to have to settle down for a while if he was going to look after Trace. He needed more of a cover than a hip-hop vagrant."

"Anyway, it looks like all he did was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and to pick up the knife, which was not the murder weapon, by the way," she continued.

"Owning that building and having contracting connections gives him ties to the community, so they're going to have to let him out on bail."

"That's the official version. The unofficial official version is that he's my snitch and was tracking down something for me," she added.

Neither Nick nor Wade mentioned their trips to the Raven and what they'd found there other than to corroborate Tracy's findings.

They asked Williams about enforcers but he trembled so much at that that they believed him when he said he wanted to live at least a hundred years before he even looked on some of them. He apparently had no knowledge of the strong vamps.

He also knew Vachon slightly. He had seen him (he thought) at the Raven, and had talked to him a bit about the care and feeding of vampires. Vachon had given him a few tips.

Constable Miller knocked on the door interrupting and stuck her head in, "Captain, the murder weapon was a knife and they found it further down the alley. The snitch's knife was just one that had been tossed in the area. Besides it was do dull it wouldn't have cut butter."

"Thank you, Miller, that'll be all," said Reese.

"That's a break," Wade said to Nick back at their desks.

"You don't the half of it," Tracy said. "A couple of switcheroos, a whammy here and there, any number of favors called in, and carefully so no one knew what was going on. The knife Vachon had was the murder weapon. We got them switched around. Fortunately, for him, there weren't any prints on it.

Eye Witness?

Vachon should have been in the alley and run into Guy there, whereupon the enforcers would run into the two of them. They would assume, having been prepped beforehand by someone, that they had done in the homeless man in the alley and were expanding their crime spree. After all, since Guy had already been arrested in an alley a couple of nights before, he must be guilty of something, and they would've dragged both vampires off.

But since Guy had been delayed (for being conscientious in taking the garbage out), he never showed and it was Vachon who was being approached by the enforcers. They didn't get a chance to act since the local constables who had received a tip about the 'serial' homeless killer, the one who was killing bums and leaving them for dead in back alleys all over downtown, were there waiting for someone to show up. Vachon tripped over the body and was consequently brought in to the station.

Guy saw some commotion with police lights flashing and what appeared to be a man being arrested for killing someone, so he avoided that route and continued by another to LaCroix's warehouse.

LaCroix was furious for his being late. Guy apologized and ducked out of the way when LaCroix struck out at him. Guy had quickly learned of his 'master's' temper and how to stay out of range. He offered no excuses either since he knew none would be tolerated. He simply retreated into a dark corner while LaCroix fumed, and then slipped out of the building to head back to the Raven.

He saw LaCroix leave via flying up and out, and heard him say to himself, "Why didn't the idiot walk through the alley like I told him."

This peaked Guy's interest, so he followed the flying vampire along the ground tracing the route back to the ally where the murder had taken place. He wondered how LaCroix had known about it. He watched LaCroix as he cursorily reviewed the 'crime' scene.

To the Station

Guy came to the station to find Nick and when he did, he asked Nick, "How much does that guy hate you?" He then gave the story to Nick how LaCroix had arranged to have him (Guy) walk into the alley and either be taken off by the enforcers or picked up by the police again.

Because he had been delayed, Guy never got there and Vachon had, so it was he who had been taken to the station.

Nick called Wade over and told him the details.

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave," Wade said.

"That's original," said Nick.

"I wasn't trying to be original," Wade snapped back. "You know what this means, don't you?"

"I'm afraid I do."

"Well, the advantage to us is that he can no longer sense us. I suggest we go have a talk with a certain head vampiress and let her know what's going on.

Endgame at the Raven

Tracy took Mr Williams back to the Raven, Nick finished processing the paperwork and went to visit the 'vampiress', and Wade attended to Vachon's release, after which he and Vachon went back to the Raven so that Wade, Nick, and Tracy could confront LaCroix but when they entered, they found a small party going on. Tracy and Guy were already there, and Nick had arrived as well.

"Javier!" cried Tracy, and she ran over and hugged him. Nick raised his hand and indicated that they should join them at a table at the back.

Mikloš brought over a bottle of the best champagne and another bottle of the best 'cold duck', and poured glasses all around, then discretely backed off.

Wade said, "O.k. kiddo, give."

Nick filled them all in on the story. For whatever reasons, LaCroix had arranged for the enforcers to take Williams off to wherever they take other vampires off to, and if that didn't work, to at least get him into more trouble with the police – having been found leaning over a dead body twice within a week would have necessitated Williams's "moving on", plus it would have put the young vampire in bad standing with Aristotle for blowing his new identity within the week. Unless he were very, very lucky again, young Williams would have trouble surviving, especially since he would not be able to get anymore help from him, Nick, and Wade or anyone else.

And, if he had any luck at all, the young (?) Spaniard, Vachon, would be caught up in the machinations.

With Williams out of the picture, and with Vachon waylaid for a while at least, Wade's precious programs for helping Nick would be slowed if not altogether stopped.

It was LaCroix who had tipped off the police as to the body in the alley – Nick found the call on LaCroix's cell phone. As good as the general was, he apparently hadn't heard about untraceable cell phones yet. LaCroix had also arranged for the construction consultation for Vachon to occur at the appropriate time, thus drawing the Spaniard into the mess. And it was also LaCroix who had killed the tramp.

Flashback to the alley with LaCroix in it, doing his dirty work.

Who? What? Where?

LaCroix had no scruples about draining a victim and killing him. He had no scruples about killing, period. He used a knife and consciously did not bite the man, so that no one in the know about vampires would suspect that a vampire had been involved.

"Plus, it would have made the two of us," Nick said to Wade and the other, "look really bad, bringing in the same guy twice for being found over a body. People would ask why had we released him in the first place?"

"Oh, he would've got at least three strikes against us, Wade, you and me both, if not the death of young Williams here.

"So, let me ask the $64 question – where is he?"

The "he" being referred to was obviously LaCroix.

Mikloš came over and spoke before Nick could answer, "Rome. He got message from someone named Isidris. Told to me he had to heigh himself to eternal city. He got gold envelope message." Mikloš smiled and went back to the bar.

Nick continued, "Apparently he's been called to Rome for 'consultations', and it's expected to take some time. He's left Mikloš in charge of the bar, with me as backup. I have no idea how long the 'consultations' will be, but I expect a couple of months at least.

"What did he have against Javier, though?" Tracy asked.

"No one really knows, other than that you're a friend, Javier. I've always felt that I was a danger to my friends," Nick said.

"No!" Wade said forcefully, "You are a loyal, true friend, and that old reprobate is a danger to anyone who gets in his way. You, Nick, get in his way, a lot – and, often on purpose. Admit it!"

Nick chuckled, "Yeah, I guess I can be kinda aggravating at times.
Everyone, Wade, Natalie, Tracy, gave Nick a glare. Quickly, he added, "So, a toast: to missing, uh, 'friends', yes, that's it, 'friends'.

"Skoal!"

They all cried, "Skoal!" and drank to missing 'friends'.

Later Conversations:

"So, what happened?"

"Thank you for that open ended question," Nick grinned at Natalie.

"Apparently Lucien bit off more than he could chew: he tried to get rid of Williams, implicate Vachon, and embarrass both Wade and me all in one stroke. Would have worked, too, if Guy hadn't been so conscientious about the garbage.

"Well then, it would seem that a little garbage saved your can!"

"Ouch! You, too! You've been hanging around Everett too much."

"So, is he ever going to come back?"

"Oh, sure, eventually. Wade only went back to the Division –" Natalie hit him on the arm, hard, "Oh, you!" she said.

Nick laughed again, "Come back? yeah, and probably pissed as hell, but what else is new? I figure we should have a good year without him around. So, count our blessings?"

"Sounds good to me, but I'm still gonna keep a stake handy."

"Yeah, probably not a bad idea," Nick agreed.

"So," the Captain said, "the upshot is that we've got a dead body in an alley and again, no suspect?"

"Uh, yeah," Wade admitted.

Nick added, "Actually, we've got a pretty good idea of who did it, but there's absolutely no evidence."

"Well, gentlemen, I hate to admit it, but this is another one you're going to have to put in the 'loss' column," he said to them as he tried to fill a paper cup with water from the cooler. He failed. To get any water, that is. "You've got to work harder on this, people. This is the third body-in-an-alley. It doesn't look good."

"Yeah, Cap, but remember the second body walked in here on his own," Nick offered.

Wade smiled and added, "Yeah, what he said."
Reese looked at them, shook his head and retreated into his office.

"Is Mr Williams going to be in any trouble with LaCroix?" Wade asked Nick.

"Probably not. He's really too new to everything to be of any serious interest to LaCroix. The man – I mean vampire – is such small potatoes that LaCroix won't even notice him," Nick said.

"Hmmmm. That gives me an idea, Wade said slowly. "We may be able to make use of that. Remember the General underestimated me at our first meeting; I wonder how much he's underestimated Guy?"

- - - - -

Cinzano, Anyone?!


An older, distinguished looking gentleman was sitting in a quiet, street-side trattoria off a small piaza in Rome. He was thinking, it occurred to him that by the time he thought up a sufficiently exquisite revenge that the principals would most likely all be dead or, at the very least, moved on. Revenge may be satisfying, but it needs to be quick as well. Forty years later and not only is the revenge cold, but with Alzheimerz setting in with humans, it also becomes rather pointless.

He sipped his pony of A+ and Chianti classico. He noted that the A+ was rather interesting, but the Chianti was mildly non-committal.

Hmmm, well, why not, his business matters in Canada could be easily tended to in this day of texting, transcribing, and twittering. Why not relax in the 'old country', maybe check out the ruins of some of his favorite places and relax there for a decade or two. There really was nothing pressing in Canada and nothing which couldn't be handled remotely.

In addition, it would grieve Nicholas seriously to have any sort of incidents happen and not have him around to blame. Why, how could he have had anything to do with that little problem, Nicholas, he was not even in the country when it happened. My dear boy, you are becoming seriously paranoid.

"Haha ha!" he laughed out loud. The more he thought about it, the better he felt about being back under the Neapolitan moon. He could sit back and discomfit his "protégé" from an entirely different continent. He'd never catch on, although that busybody partner of his might. He never though he'd miss Schanke, but that perky, blonde had been too clever by far, and this new person was far too annoying to be thought of as cute anymore. The man had seriously discomfited him; he rubbed his temples as he thought of Detective Everett. Nevertheless, the thought of stirring up Nicholas's life from this distance was almost as exquisite as the delectable little blood wine of which he was partaking. He held it up to the light and noted its fine shimmer, he was going to have to try the other varieties, the A-, B+ and B-. Who would have thought that there would be such a delightful taste difference. Besides, he wanted to get to his communications room to see if he could cancel Nick's driver's license overnight. He had no real interest in that sort of silly, little prank, but if it could be done, it could open up millions of possibilities for affronting his son. Perhaps dealing with him with a thousand little deaths rather than one big one would be the key. He should have listened more carefully to Won Tang years ago as he was drinking him. Oh, well, he thought, it'll come back. He stood and, smiling, slowly walked back to his temporary villa.

Nick and Wade were sitting at their desks at the 96th. They each shuddered as if a cold wind had just passed through them. They looked at each other.

Nick said, "No."

Wade said, "Yeah, right."

Nick continued, "Oh god. You don't think . . . ."

"I *do* think, that's just the problem."

Nick said, "Well, if I've learned anything, it's that we've got a little time. We need to plan. First, let's call Merlin. I suspect that I, and possibly you, are going to have some sort of computer problems. We ought to see if we can nip them in the bud . . . ."

Fade to black with LaCroix's laugh in the background. ;-

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