Just a little one-shot to give me something simpler to write after the stress that The Recruit caused me - just enough to tide me over till I can get my teeth into a longer fic that I'm planning.
BTW, I'm not sure if they had the vehicle defect forms in the 70s and Google hasn't helped me on that, but I guess they must have had some similar procedure.
As always, this fabulous world is not my creation. It belongs to Toby Whithouse and the BBC - I am just playing a while in it.
If you like, please leave a review so I know, although I still can't reply to reviews as the stupid site tells me I don't exist or am no longer active when I try *le sigh* so you'll have to accept my thanks in advance!
Mitchell rolled his head from one shoulder to the other, trying to ease the crick in his neck. It felt like he had been driving for hours; the light had gone and to make matters worse, he had hit torrential rain heavy enough to pass for monsoon season in the tropics. The windscreen wipers on the Volvo were doing their best, but were struggling to keep the screen clear and Mitchell blinked rapidly, straining to see past the river of water on the glass.
God, he just wanted to be home. He should have been back nearly an hour since, but an accident on the way there and the foul weather on the way back had knocked him right off schedule. Damn Herrick, why couldn't someone else have done the cleanup job? There were other vampires than him with cars, although granted his did have a nice big boot.
He yawned and stretched, fighting the sleep off and tried to stretch out his accelerator foot. Even in the Volvo, Mitchell's long legs warred for space in the footwell, but it wasn't the weather to stop for a leg stretch and a cigarette – not if he didn't want to be soaked to the skin in seconds.
Mile followed weary mile as the lights in front of him flickered hypnotically in the distance. Something in the rear view caught his eye and instantly he was wide awake - blue lights flashing insistently where before there had only been red and white. Surely not flagging him down? Please no, not tonight of all nights!
A siren's caterwaul behind him left no doubt it was him they were interested in and he muttered curses under his breath as he pulled over. What the hell had he done? Had he fallen asleep and wandered across the road? Surely he hadn't been speeding? He wondered vaguely what the limit was on this stretch and thought it altogether likely that he had been speeding. Shit! First rule of vampirism: don't call attention to yourself. A lot of the police in Bristol were in Herrick's pocket, of course, but he was still well outside Bristol – no way of knowing who was safe and who wasn't.
In his wing mirror he could see the policeman shrugging on his waterproof and trudging over to him, torch in hand. He didn't want to be here any more than Mitchell did, the poor sod, but Mitchell's pity for him was outweighed by his need to be elsewhere. Somewhere, anywhere other than by the side of the road with a copper advancing on him - especially in the circumstances. Mitchell wound down the window, thanking his stars that the deluge had abated at least a little, but the cold rain still swept through the window as the officer leaned on the roof of the car and bent to speak to him.
The smile he attempted felt fake even to him. "Is there a problem, officer?" Mitchell tried to keep his tone level, but could hear the tautness in his voice. Not for the first time he regretted his accent. It didn't pay to be under suspicion from the police and in England in 1975 an Irish accent automatically caused distrust. He saw the policeman's eyes narrow – yeah, he'd clocked the accent straight off - and glance into the back of the car.
"Did you know you have a defective brake light, sir?" asked the police officer, still scanning the interior. He seemed particularly interested in the travel rug on the back seat.
God, don't let things kick off because of a bloody brake light. "No, I can't say as I did. I'll head straight for the garage and get it sorted. Thanks for that." Mitchell's hand went to the handle of the window wind mechanism, but the policeman's gloved hand moved to rest on the top edge of the window. He wasn't giving up that easily.
"I'll be needing to see your driving licence, if you don't mind."
Mitchell felt in his jacket pocket and drew out a battered red licence. That was one thing that the vampire network was useful for: keeping him up to date with licences that were appropriate to his apparent age. He'd been through three different styles already. The officer checked it over. "Does this vehicle belong to you?"
"Yes. Yes it does." Mitchell's mouth was suddenly dry and he ran his tongue across his lips to moisten them. Jesus, he needed a cigarette.
"I'll need to check the vehicle over, sir, if you wouldn't mind turning off the engine. It's routine, I'm afraid; if I stop anyone for a vehicle defect I have to complete a form." Mitchell watched in the rear view and the wing mirrors as the policeman prowled round the car, rain teeming off his waterproofs. He checked the tyres and got Mitchell to demonstrate the lights and indicators; all worked except that blasted brake light!
Mitchell's foot kept up a rapid rhythm on the floor of the car and the fingers of his right hand tapped a counter rhythm on the steering wheel. The officer returned to the driver's side window and took in Mitchell's agitation at a glance. "That all seems to be in order, sir. You'd need to get the vehicle repaired within fourteen days and present it at a police station." He watched the restless drumming of Mitchell's leg and seemed to come to a decision.
"I'd like to check your back seat, sir. Is the door unlocked?"
"Can you do that? I thought this was a defect inspection?" He tried to keep the hostility out of his voice as his fist clenched and unclenched on the hand brake.
"If I have reasonable grounds for suspicion, yes. The door, please."
Mitchell reached behind him and popped the lock. The policeman opened the door, leaned in and lifted the travel rug. Was he disappointed to find only roadmaps and chocolate bar wrappers instead of armalites, Mitchell wondered. But then the vampire's face paled when the officer said "And now if you could open the boot, please, sir."
"I'd like to check your spare tyre. I believe that's in the boot?"
Jesus. Did the dismay show in Mitchell's face for that split second?
Thought processes flickered through his head, one after the other. Would it be worth claiming to have no spare and taking a rap? Herrick would go mental if he got done for it, but it might just be worth it. He didn't think this Plod was going to let him get off that simply though; he was sure he'd insist on checking the boot whatever Mitchell said.
He eyed up the officer – only armed with a truncheon, by the looks of him; a little heavier than he might be, probably slower than Mitchell, but a truncheon to the head would knock out a vampire for a while just as efficiently as it would a human. The patrol car, maybe ten yards away – he'd need to take out the guy in the car before he got the chance to radio through details of the Volvo and its driver. Or would they already have done that? He wondered what the procedure was. Shit, what a mess! Never get arrested – that was the rule - that would blow the whole vampire thing wide open. Two policemen found in pools of their own blood by the roadside...holy crap that would take some covering up. The powers that be wouldn't be happy with this one.
The thoughts were abruptly interrupted. "Hey, Ted!" The other copper leaned out of the car window, wincing as cold rain hit his face. "Got a call through. We need to go – wrap this up and let's get out of here."
Ted strode across and Mitchell could hear urgent voices – no doubt Ted trying to tell his colleague that they had a possible Provo on their hands. He caught a snatch of what the other policeman said "...bloody great pile-up on the M4 - tossers driving too close in this." He indicated the rain and continued in a more insistent voice. "There's another one further up and we're already at full stretch. They need us there like ten minutes ago. There are likely fatalities and the idiots are still going too fast; this one is people piling into the back of the queue from the other one. Come on – he's just some Mick with a dodgy Volvo, give it up. They aren't all fucking terrorists you know, whatever the papers might have us believe."
Yeah, Ted. He was just some Mick. Give it up, won't you?
The copper returned, tearing a sheet from a pad and handing the damp paper to Mitchell. The ink was already starting to run, but his name and address and car registration were still clearly legible. "You need to report to your local station within fourteen days with this form and evidence of repair, or you will be liable for prosecution." The officer was pissed off. Mitchell figured he'd wanted to watch the Paddy squirm some more.
Mitchell crumpled the sheet in his fingers and watched the patrol car pull away, lights flashing and sirens wailing, then took the steering wheel with shaking hands and laid his head on his forearms. He took several deep breaths, then pulled his cigarettes from his pocket, lit one and took a deep drag from it. He sat back in his seat and closed his eyes. Man, that had been close. He checked his watch; it had only taken a few minutes, but it felt as if hours had passed by.
He finished that cigarette and lit another to settle his nerves before pulling away from the roadside. He could hear the howl of sirens in the distance - ambulances and fire engines all heading for the accident that had saved his neck but cost some other people theirs.
The rain had settled to a light sprinkle by the time he hit the outskirts of Bristol and the wet streets glistened under the street lights. Mitchell took his cargo from the boot and barged his way into Herrick's office, unceremoniously dumping the load that he carried onto the floor in front of his mentor.
"You're late. You should have been back over an hour ago." Herrick didn't even look up, the annoyance clear in his voice and posture. Mitchell drew his fingers through wet hair and adjusted his jacket.
"I was detained. Small matter of a run-in with the Avon and Somerset." There, that had got Herrick's attention. Herrick looked up sharply.
"Nothing I couldn't handle." He wouldn't mention that he'd been bloody terrified by the end. "I got what you wanted." Mitchell prodded the package on the floor with a booted toe. It was wrapped in a white tablecloth – the first thing Mitchell had found to hand when he arrived at the scene. The cloth was stained and crusty with blood and a pale foot, bare and slender, protruded from it at the bottom. Mitchell tugged one edge back to reveal the face of a young girl. It was frozen in shock and terror, white and still, but the base of her neck was a bloody mess, two distinctive holes showing the cause of her death. He glared across the table at Herrick. "But next time Seth kills out of our patch and the natives get restless and make us tidy up after ourselves, he can fetch the evidence home himself. And if there's blood in the boot of my car he can fucking lick it clean tomorrow."
Mitchell turned on his heels and left. He needed beer, food and sleep, in that order.
There were some things that the police could find in your boot that were worse than armalites. Much, much worse.