They’d been heading towards a very familiar part of town when Tracy insisted on stopping. She was pretty sure she knew where they were headed anyway, and she wasn’t having this out in front of Vachon if she could help it. “I mean, how many stupid conversations have we had where you pretended not to know that I knew so I wouldn’t find out what you were?”
Nick smiled sheepishly. “I’m sorry, run that by me again?”
He knew by Tracy’s narrowed eyes that he’d made a mistake. “Don’t pull that shit with me, Knight, you know perfectly well what I mean. I mean, what about Ellen? How much quicker could we have solved that if we hadn’t both been distracting each other to conceal what was going on? And how many other cases like that have there been?”
Nick sighed. “Not as many as you might think, more than there ought to have been. I don’t know, Tracy, things have been ..strange since Schanke died. Everything used to feel more... normal?”
“Okay, but what’s normal? For a vampire cop.”
“Well, not tripping over being a vampire nearly every time I have a case? Except for the daylight, it’s been pretty much like being a human cop. Believe it or not, I used to go months without anything particularly strange happening, and then Voodoo...” he grimaced, shaking his head. “And now your friend Vachon is here, Jeanette has left town, we’ve got more carouche than I normally see in a century and I’m pretty sure one of them is leaving pets half-dead on purpose, and you’re asking me where the current situation rates on strange.”
“Wait, go back to that bit about the half-dead pets. I know what a carouche is, they’re vampires who only eat animals - I would’ve thought you’d like the idea.”
Nick grimaced, and Tracy thought there was something a little offended in his expression. “They’re carouche, they’re not like us.”
“Are you serious? What, you can choose not to eat people and that’s fine, but when a vampire just doesn’t there’s something wrong with them? You are such a hypocrite!”
Nick glared, actually turning in his seat to face her. “Okay, but how well do you get along with Screed?”
Tracy’s smile had a little bit of a frown in. “Knight. Half-dead pets?”
“So I’m not going to distract you. Okay, the missing pets lately? We’ve found most of them. And by we, I mean the vampire community in Toronto.” Nick started the car again, and Tracy sighed before asking the question she was pretty sure she didn’t want an answer to.
“And by found you mean?”
“We’ve been killing them to preserve our secret, because vampire dogs don’t exactly do subtle.” Nick answered, and he was watching the sidewalks again like he'd been doing for a couple of weeks now that she thought about it.
“Oh my god. You’ve been killing dogs?!”
“And cats, and on one really awful occasion a swan. You know, I never really thought about how big those things are until it was trying to peck my throat out?”
* * *
By the time they made it down to Screed’s place, they’d moved on to a subject a little closer to home. “Look, if it hadn’t been for Perry we might not have stopped the guy before he hurt someone else, right?” Nick pleaded.
Tracy was still looking a little horror-struck. “Okay, but now Perry might be out there hurting other people, or. Other people’s pets, oh my god.”
Which was the first thing Vachon heard as they came into the room. “Well. Tracy I can see as an animal lover, but you, Detective Knight?”
Tracy glared. “It was totally fake when you hypnotized Nick back on that first case, wasn’t it?”
Vachon laughed, and Nick earned himself a light punch in the arm for his chuckle. “Well, what was I going to do Tracy? He’s older than me, he’s established here. You just don’t go blowing another vampire’s secret, especially for no reason and in the modern world.”
“Okay. Okay, that’s.. fair. Annoying but fair. But now we have another problem, which is apparently that my friend Jodi’s dog got vampired and is now out there raising some unholy army of the furry damned.”
Screed’s sharp bark of laughter sounded out over Vachon’s, while Nick just stared and mouthed her last words back at her.
“Seriously?” Vachon asked as they calmed down.
“I don’t know for certain, but I doubt it. Jodi’s with him, and I did my best to teach her our rules while she was still here. She just didn’t seem like the sort of person who would do this, anyway.”
“What do you mean, Jodi’s with Perry... oh no. Oh no, are you telling me my friend’s dog turned her into a vampire? No, sorry, that I’m not buying.”
“Don’t see he couldn't.” Screed piped up from his couch. “Yer average human vampire, right, is gonna mess it by not knowing when to stop. All that worryin’, all that thinkin’. Doggie-woggie doesn’t have that kind of noggin, he’s just gonna do what comes natural to the vampire. Stands to reason he’d get it right, and that he’d go for his human palsi, only pack the poor sod’s got.”
He paused at the sight of Nick and Tracy staring before shrugging. Sharing a smirk with Vachon, he started again. “What? Just because a bloke prefers rat, he can’t have a brain? That is the kind of ridiculous prejudice we ought’to’ve left behind in the dark ages, mate. If a bloke were what he ate, right, Dicky Nick here wouldn’t be able to talk on account of all the mooin’.”
Tracy looked between them, amused at Nick’s scowl. “Okay, he’s got a point Nick. What is the difference between your kind of vampire and carouche?”
Vachon sighed. “Now that is the expression of a man who doesn’t want to answer the question, so allow me.” He turned to Tracy in a way that conveyed shutting Nick out of the conversation. “The difference is that a lot of vampires believe you are what you eat, and eating anything but humans somehow makes you less than those of us that do. Personally, I’ve never noticed that much of a difference, but what do I know, being one of Nick’s ‘kind’ of vampire. Hey Screed, do you feel any different?”
“Well how would I know either, mate? Feel a damn sight smarter than half your lot, present company excepted, o’course. Seems to me most of the time it’s just yer old class system, actin’ like it takes a better sort of person to kill someone. Never stopped me when I’ve had a mind to, I can tell ya that.” He paused for a moment, then shrugged. “I think our senses is a bit different from your lot’s, has to more draw on from the animal memories in their blood. Other than that, who could really say? It’s not like his doctor friend,” he nodded to Nick “is climbing down here to figure out helpin’ a carouche. If one of us had gone mad enough to want to stop bein’ a vampire.”
“What I can tell you is it isn’t your friend’s friend’s doggie. That one and his lady pal left months ago, makin’ everyone uncomfortable they were. An actual animal doesn’t go over well as a member of the vampire community, right? Not as much of a snob lot as we get. But I do have some thoughts about who might be causin’ this mess, if you care to stick around and listen.”
Nick looked like he wanted to argue, but he ended up shaking his head instead. "Why not. We can't keep going until they've killed every pet in town, whoever they are. They might start on wild animals next."
As Tracy settled down next to Vachon, and Nick tried to subtly give him a warning glare, Screed laughed. "You don't know the half of it, Detective Night. See, I told you the last time we talked about carouche and doggie-woggies there was a vicious sort hereabouts?"