The soft startled, "Oh!" caught her attention even before Coreen called, "Vicki, Mike's here." Curious, she walked through to the outer office to find Mike in a dinner jacket, long black coat over his arm. He was clean-shaven, hair neatly brushed instead of its usual dishevelled state, and he even managed to look less tired than normal. He was probably wearing the cologne he saved for special occasions, that fresh, crisp scent that always reminded her of spring woods.
"Looking sharp there, Celluci. Who'd you get to help with the bow tie?" That used to be her job. For a man who was so competent in other areas, the simple task of tying a bow tie could reduce him to a mass of thumbs.
He smiled for a moment, perhaps in shared memory, before it turned into a wry grimace. "Dave. It was acutely embarrassing, and we swore never to speak of it again. He gave me a hand when I dropped in to pick up the case notes." He held up the folder he was carrying, and waggled it.
She was just moving forward to take it, when Henry glided through the doorway, and she had the pleasure of seeing him doing a double-take at Mike's back. Of course, he'd never seen Mike out of his work clothes, and the smooth black suited him, making his shoulders even wider. Henry stepped forward silently and started speaking about a foot away from Mike's ear, causing him to swear, jump and spin round.
"I almost didn't recognise you, Detective. You're looking very elegant, definitely better than that whole Columbo thing you have going usually."
Mike ground his teeth, and was obviously struggling to find some response that didn't sound too churlish, when Henry looked him up and down slowly, and lowered his voice to add, "Quite attractive in fact."
Mike bristled and snapped, "And you were doing so well up to that point, Fitzroy. To think I was wasting my time trying to be polite."
Vicki sighed audibly. Now she had Mike all ruffled and Henry doing his vampiric Mae West act. Couldn't the two of them inhabit the same room for ten seconds without being at each other's throats?
Coreen, displaying more tact than usual, came to the rescue. "Who's the lucky woman, Mike?"
Vicki glanced towards the calendar, but even before she'd focused she thwapped her forehead and said, "Damnit! Sorry, Mike, I forgot. Give her my best wishes."
He relaxed and smiled, "I will, she'll be glad to hear them, and I won't mention the whole forgetting her birthday thing. Anyway, I have to be going; can't be late tonight." He held out the file, but hung onto it as she grabbed it. "I need this back by morning. Taking a case file home to work on overnight will get me a slapped wrist - if anybody finds out. Giving it to someone outside the police department is my head on the chopping block."
"No problem, it will be back before you leave for work in the morning."
"Yeah, well that doesn't mean you have to stay up all night looking at it. You can send Insomnia Boy here to drop it off, if it's late. You don't get enough sleep nowadays."
He let go of the folder, and she used it to swat his arm. "You should talk! Have a good evening, Mike."
"Thanks. Ciao, Vicki. Bye, Coreen. Goodbye, Vampire."
"Good night, Detective." Henry gave a small bow of his head which managed to convey more amusement than respect, and Mike stalked out of the room.
"Do you always have to goad him, Henry?"
"Goad? I was merely stating a fact. Detective Celluci is a very attractive man. A fact of which I was aware from the first moment I laid eyes on him. Coreen, you think he's good-looking don't you?"
Henry came to perch on the edge of Coreen's desk, smiling at her warmly as she nodded. Vicki looked at him suspiciously, but he seemed sincere. "Yeah, well he won't appreciate the sentiment from you. Firstly, because you're you, and secondly because you're male. Mike is straight as a ..." she paused, trying to find a good comparison.
"Roman road?" suggested Henry.
Vicki blinked at the unexpected simile, but agreed. "Well, yeah."
Henry grinned in triumph. "Haven't you ever heard of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire""
Vicki groaned, and then pointed sternly at Henry. "No flirting with Mike. Nullus flirtus. Get it?"
"So you would have no interest in seeing the two of us becoming better acquainted?" His voice fell to the same tone as that he'd used with Mike earlier. "Watching, perhaps?"
Coreen made a sound half-way between a giggle and a whimper, and Vicki felt a wave of heat rise up inside her, which was probably obvious to a certain sneaky vampire. And indeed, Henry's smile would have not looked amiss on a Cheshire Cat that had just found a bowl of cream.
She strode up to the desk and slammed the folder down. "We are looking at this case file. Now."
Henry stood outside the house in Downsview, listening to the slow heartbeat inside which indicated Celluci was still sleeping. He had at least an hour and a half before dawn, plenty of time to get back to his apartment, with time to spare for a brief diversion in whatever form it might take. He leaned on the doorbell for a few seconds, before concentrating on the heartbeat which had sped up to a rapid pounding, and smiled in anticipation at the detective's irritation.
Steps coming down stairs, and a voice from the left of the door, the body kept out of harm's way in sensible wariness at a night-time visitor.
"Who is it?"
"It is I, Insomnia Boy!" He regretted the lack of a cape to fling over his shoulder, but his audience wouldn't have seen it anyway.
There was the sound of the dead-bolt being drawn back, accompanied by cursing. He found the detective's habit of swearing in Italian quite charming, and his vocabulary impressive. The door was flung wide open, and Celluci was standing there with his gun held down by his side. His forbearance was noted but was of less significance than the rest of his appearance, which consisted of a bare chest and a pair of cotton pyjama bottoms.
Henry pointed at the gun, and said, "For me? You shouldn't have."
Celluci dropped the gun on a table in the hallway and held out his hand. "Don't tempt me, Fitzroy. Just give me the case notes, and flit back to your roost."
Henry ignored the hand and took advantage of the open door to whisk past and into the room beyond. He called over his shoulder, "Close the door, detective, you don't want to let the cold air in, particularly with so much skin exposed."
The silence that greeted this remark was almost deafening enough to match the slam of the door as it was closed. It was followed by a muttered, "Why couldn't he have been one of these vampires that needs an invitation?"
And a louder, "What do you want, Fitzroy?"
"I dropped by to return your case file, of course." He turned around and flourished the folder. Mike was standing at the doorway with his legs slightly apart, and arms crossed, looking like an infuriated genie.
"You could have done that at the door, or even better, left it in my mailbox without even disturbing me."
"Where would be the fun in that? And I have to admit to being curious. You've visited my home several times, but I've never had the chance to see yours. It's only fair that I should see your natural habitat. Bookshelves, for example," he said, heading towards them, "Books can tell you a lot about a person." These told him that the detective took his job very seriously. Few novels, but a wide range of reference material. There were even a few newer looking volumes on magic and the supernatural. How satisfying that he was stretching the detective's boundaries.
And a couple of shelves filled with photographs. Shots of Michael and assorted family members, with hardly another male to be seen among them. Instead there were nieces, sisters, a proud mother, and an older, smaller generation of women, all guarded by their one knight. Seeing these, it made perfect sense that he would seek out a strong, independent partner, and then do his utmost to protect her. The fights between him and Vicki must have been spectacular.
And Vicki was there too; that same photo that she had on her desk, of the two of them in uniform fooling around together. He remembered what it was like to be that young, when all that seemed important were friends and the future.
He shook off the sudden touch of melancholy, and drifted around the room as he considered the rest of the house. Bigger than he'd surmised, the floor above must hold at least three bedrooms, and in one of those rooms was a bed which still held Celluci's heat. He smiled and looked at the detective whose eyes narrowed, his arms falling to his sides in wary readiness. It would be so easy. Just one command and they would be walking up the stairs together, he would strip those ridiculous pants from him, and lay him down naked on the warm sheets. One kiss would let him know how sweet those generous lips tasted, one touch how sensitive the skin. Would he curse in Italian, the soft consonants sounding like endearments.
"Stop looking at me like I'm a supper snack"
"I ate before I came, and it wasn't supper I was thinking of." But he let his teeth show as he stepped forward. Celluci took a step back instinctively, and then realising what he'd done, stepped forward, relying on his height to ward Henry off. But even when mortal, Henry had never been intimidated because of his lack of inches, and personal space was suddenly at a premium. He could see the pulse of blood throbbing, feel the heat so close, and it would be so easy. But where then would be the challenge? His smile turned into a grin, and using vampire speed he ran a finger down the detective's bare chest, leaving a whisper of sensation around each nipple.
"Was that ... ? Did you ... ? Out, Fitzroy! Now!"
"Not going to offer me a nightcap?"
"Out, before I throw ...." He bit off the sentence in chagrin.
Henry stood for a few moments longer to make the point that he could stay or go as he wished, then sauntered towards the door, with a wave of his fingers, and a, "Ciao, Celluci."
He hummed cheerfully to himself as he slid into his car. He had hoped for a mere divertissement, but it appeared he had acquired a whole new pastime.