Something is amiss at the local Second Cup, William thought as he walked in the door. He then thought to curse Carl for having been too young to see a movie that William had once thought funny. The worst part was that Carl had laughed at the movie and laughed again at the idea of William liking it.
“You should possibly remember that I was soulless at the time,” he’d said, but it cut no ice with the man.
(And really, if William were to be entirely honest, he did like the movie. Say what you will, Bill and Ted had dialogue that showed a far wider vocabulary than was used on Hockey Night in Canada.)
Nevertheless, there were two young men who did not appear to have the best interests of their fellow man at heart standing in the back, obviously waiting for a cue. The mild summer morning was expected to turn beastly in heat and humidity, yet the two wore black coats over black sweatshirts.
Both were pale, quite pale.
William, by force of habit, looked for a mirror, one of those round curved ones that lets shopkeepers see into corners. The problem with them, however, was that the curvature made it difficult to quickly pinpoint a reflection, and William had to trace his reflection to the aisle to the one over to the back of the store to where the young men -
And yet, as he looked over the low shelves - there they were.
In a few hours vampires would be confined to quarters as the blue sky would provide no quarter, but the morning fog had permitted these two decide on a late-night snack before turning in.
But at a Second Cup?
And why, oh why had they not decamped with the rest of the undead once the days turned shorter?
Well, that’s fledglings for you, he thought, never any sense, always some testosterone.
William did not have his Bluetooth in, as Aurelia had told him it was antisocial to wear it in public if he was not actually talking with anyone, and antisocial wasn’t Christian.
Still, he put it in and called Lottie after picking up a bag of beans.
“Bon jour, Sally,” he said in his best Montreal. “Did you want me to bring you coffee, or would you care to join me here?”
Lottie might not have been altogether fond of William but she still understood a coded phone call.
“You only call when you want something,” she said, and he could hear her picking up her keys. Thank God, he thought, and told her he had a novel way of paying back the two hundred dollars he owed her, and if she were to reflect on it she would see he wasn’t lying.
After ascertaining he was at the Second Cup on College, “not that far from your place - you’re still off Dundas, aren’t you?” she agreed to come down.
“But first I gotta get a shower and get dressed,” she said, and William sighed, because hell and damnation, that meant she was at least ten minutes away at her fastest, and who knew how long the vampires would wait before acting?
“I’ll throw in a bag of Kona if you skip the shower,” he said, and felt icy fingers on his neck before dropping the phone.
“So it’s true,” the young man behind him said. “Spike’s a human now.”
“Pardonnez-moi, monsieur?” William said, and the fingers tightened. Another hand plucked out the Bluetooth, breaking it with an audible crunch.
“And calling a slayer? No, I don’t think so,” he said.
William sighed. “This never would have happened if Plimsoll’s was open,” he said.
“Is that a fact?” the vampire asked, pulling William backwards to stand with the other. “We didn’t expect to see you, I know that.”
“Heard you were dead long before we left our coffins,” the other one said. He was chewing on a toothpick, which was actually rather bad ass, when you consider it.
“I wouldn’t have expected anyone in town this time of year,” William said. “Is the ‘extreme vampiring’ fad back?”
The one with the toothpick pulled a lip back in what was probably supposed to be a grin.
“Skateboards don’t interest me anymore.”
“So here’s how I see this going down,” the first one said. “Before you came in, we were just going to see how many people we could take on. But now? Now, we’re either going to eat you or turn you.”
“Haven’t made up your mind?”
“Again, it’s extreme, like you say,” the one with a toothpick said. “See how close we get to the line with you, while all these people watch.”
“I’ll be watching the mirror, see if we can see just when you go invisible, or if you just die,” the first one said.
“And then we’ll either all of us feast or just the two of us,” finished the one with the toothpick.
“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that,” said another voice, and even William turned with an air of who do you think you are?
Old habits, he realized. That was chilling, and he might never buy another Bluetooth as long as he lived.
The man had not been in the shop when William got there, although, had he been looking for a replacement for Carl, one who would have been old enough to have seen Bill and Ted in its original run, this would have been quite the candidate, wedding ring aside. Toothsome, that was the word.
The man was graying and his face had the signs of wear that came from hard work, but was still well designed, and with an earnestness in his expression that William was sure he’d never seen before on an adult.
The red-checked light flannel and Stetson did not hurt. No, not in the slightest.
“And you are?” the one with the toothpick asked.
The man in the Stetson cracked his neck. “RCMP, son. You are threatening the populace, and I cannot allow you to continue.”
“Royal Canadian Mounted Police,” William said. “Honestly, if you are going to be evil you are at least going to have to learn the cast of characters. The RCMP is classified as the white hats - as a metaphor, not a reality, as you can see - and you would be considered the black hats.”
He looked at their sweatshirt hoods over their coats.
“Also a metaphor,” he added.
The Mountie looked at him.
“And you, sir? I was a little confused,” he said, shaking his fingers by his head in a fashion that William thought perhaps connoted confusion, “by your conversation. These young men appear to know you, so I assume you have a reputation.”
“Long ago,” William said. “I try to keep out of the game, these days.”
The Mountie nodded. William considered that there might be more to the man than just classic good looks and above-average hearing. There was a moment of consideration, and the man looked at the vampires flanking William again.
“In any case, I must ask you to put your hands upon your heads while I call for backup.”
“Oh, by all means, officer,” the first vampire said, and the two of them raised their arms. “We sure wouldn’t want you to shoot us or anything.”
“As it happens, I’m not carrying a gun,” the Mountie said, and William realized that there was only classic beauty and no critical thinking inside him. “This is not my jurisdiction -”
The Mountie’s phone chirped but he barely glanced at the pocket it was in. William saw movement in the corner of his eye, and looked out the window to a man outside with a phone and a young child on a leash. William assumed female based on the pink dress, but so much could not be assumed these days.
One thing that could be assumed was that the man outside with the phone and the child was associated with the Mountie, from the slack-jawed stare of the man on the phone, and William made the further assumption that the Mountie was perhaps known for leaping in without due consideration.
“You don’t have a gun?” both vampires asked. William could sympathize.
Thank God Lottie's arrived, William thought, hearing the door open and her scratchy voice on the phone talking to someone, most likely Jack, and the vampires didn’t seem bothered. She’d used a different tone when William had called, so perhaps they were fooled. Also, she was fifteen minutes earlier than expected. Well done, there’s a girl, he thought, hoping to commend her out loud shortly.
“If you’re not armed, then I think I’m going to go back to my original plan,” the one with the toothpick said, and William turned back to him to watch his face change, and he quickly stepped forward, arms out and head tilted - and there was dust.
“I said I wasn’t carrying a gun,” the Mountie said to the first vampire, who out-and-out did not see that one coming, much like William. Nor did Lottie, from her open-mouthed look. But there was the Mountie with a tent peg, the old fashioned wooden kind, even had a leather strap on it. “I did not say I was unarmed.”
“You son of a -”
“There’s no call for strong language, son,” the Mountie said but Lottie wasn’t a talker and came in quickly and to the point, literally.
“Oh my God!”
William, Lottie and the Mountie turned to the teenaged girl screaming. Lottie pointed to the security cameras.
“It’s okay,” she said. “We’re filming a movie.”
The girl’s emotions turned on a dime. “Really?”
Lottie beamed. “It’s a DIY. You want to be in it?”
“Okay, when I say go, scream again, then run outside and down the block. The security cameras will pick it up, and we’ll edit it in.”
“Cool,” the girl said, and Lottie said, “Five, four, three,” and she broke off and went to the hand signals, just as everyone knew from the movies.
On cue, the girl screamed, ran outside and down the block, and Lottie shrugged.
“That’s one crazy chick,” she said, and the coffee lovers in Toronto went back to minding their own business.
“Benton Fraser, RCMP,” the Mountie said, nodding to William before turning to Lottie. “May I assume you’re a slay -”
“Slave to fashion? Yeah, that’s me,” Lottie said, staring at the man with about a plus-three glare. Quite mild, considering the early morning hour and the man about to out her.
“Ah. I see,” the Mountie said, and he probably would have said more if he wasn’t interrupted.
“You are not leaving me a widow now that we have a kid, Benton,” the man from outside with the phone and the girl on the leash. She was now up a-pigga-back on the man, and looking about the store with great interest. This could hardly be her first time in a coffee shop, not with the energy flinging off the man.
“I’m sorry, Ray, but there were -”
“And where are they? After all that, you let them go - ah, jeez. In broad daylight?” the man said, suddenly seeing the tent peg and coming to the right conclusion. “They can do that?”
“I found it strange as well,” the Mountie said. He turned to Lottie. “Can you elucidate?”
So much for the rigorous academic standards at the Sunnydale Academy, William thought as Lottie’s eyes widened at the question.
“He’s asking if you can explain,” William said, and took over. “Daylight’s not the killer, direct sunlight is. It’s a myth they sleep in coffins, by the way.”
“Yeah, we didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, buddy,” the man said, and William, for one, was saddened by the bravado as he found the man quite appealing, almost as much so as the Mountie.
Oh, good lord.
“I’m late to work,” he said to Lottie, stooping to pick up his thankfully unharmed phone. “Do you need anything else?”
She looked around. “Might need you to back me up on erasing the security tapes.”
William doubted that, considering questionable authority of the manager on duty, who in another month would most likely be starting Grade 11 at Saint Mary’s School for Slow Boys.
“I shouldn’t think so -”
“Are you thinking about destroying evidence?”
“Benton, they got this,” Ray said, pulling on his shoulder and giving Lottie and William a look of I’ll handle this that he no doubt had said several times before. He shifted the little pink-dressed child to his partner’s care and removed the two of them from the premises.
“Of course they’re destroying evidence,” he was saying as they walked away.
William and Lottie shared a look.
“There’s a story there,” William said. “I’m quite certain I don't want to know it.”
“I’m good forgetting it,” Lottie said. “Are you gonna tell Spammer what happened?”
“No, thank you. What is it with you pack of nursemaids?”
“Back off,” Lottie said. “I just want to know if I should be prepared for questions.”
William was fairly certain Lottie did not give Jack an accurate accounting of her nightly rounds. Whereas Carl, he realized almost immediately, never held back from the truth of a situation.
“You’re caving, aren’t you,” Lottie said. “You’re going to tell him.”
“Dunno. Probably. I’m not entirely in favor of total and complete honesty but it seems to have netted Carl a rather handsome man to call his own,” William said, and his phone chirped, reminding him of the time.
“I only stopped in for a coffee,” he said. “I shall be glad when Plimsoll’s is back open.”
“No argument there,” Lottie said, and he held the door open for her as they parted ways.