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Pookah One; Vamps Zero

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While Drusilla was distracted by the dolls in the store window, Spike kept an eye out for likely prospects, hoping she'd decide to move on soon. The rain had pretty much stopped but it was still terribly wet and chilly out. Most of the businesses had closed for the night, although there was a bar across the way, a lit sign across the window pegged it as Charlie's, that might do. People tended to be a less wary in a bar. “Come to Mummy,” Dru whispered as two men stepped out of the bar. Well, to be honest, one of them staggered out. The taller man, very mild mannered from what Spike could see, hailed a taxi. He tried to get his friend, who was one hell of a belligerent drunk, into the cab but the man went in one side and then out the other, right into the street. A horn blared as a car swerved to miss him. The taller man ran round the cab and called to somebody, perhaps the driver, to hold the other door closed, except the driver didn't get out of the cab. The short guy didn't either though and, after the taller man had handed over some dosh, the cab rolled off into the night.

Spike nudged Dru and nodded towards the man as he walked back to the sidewalk in the cab's wake. Didn't look like the type to put up much in the way of a fight but sometimes that naiveté made for a more interesting kill. “What do you think, pet?”

She held up her hands as if warding off a blow. “No,” she said, taking a step back. “No no no no no.” She scurried backwards, keeping her eye on the man as she fled.

Spike looked back and forth between the two of them until she was out of sight. Sometimes Dru could sense dangers he couldn't but, more often, she'd just get scared by phantasms. Crossing the street, Spike sniffed as he got close to the man. Smelled human. With a shrug he called out, “You're friend seemed a bit under the weather.”

“Why, hello there,” the man said, holding out his hand. Taking his hand, Spike rubbed a thumb against his skin. Felt human too. “Doud's the name, Elwood P. Here, let me give you one of my cards.” Taking his hand back, Mr. Doud rummaged through his jacket pocket and brought out a business card. As Spike took it he pointed to a phone number and said, “If you ever want to call me, use that one. The other is the old number.”

Spike blinked a couple of times at that but then decided it didn't really matter much if his dinner was a bit eccentric. “Spike,” he said in lieu of an introduction.

“I'm very pleased to meet you, Mr. Spike. Now, what were you saying? Oh, under the weather. Yes. I think the world of Kenny Froehlich but he has had a bit too much,” Mr. Doud mimicked drinking by holding out his hand, as if it held a cup, and tipping it towards his mouth.

“Could do with one of those myself.”

“Isn't that a coincidence,” Mr. Doud said. “I was just about to say to Harvey,” he looked around as if he couldn't find someone. Spike didn't know who that could be. There hadn't been anyone with Mr. Doud that Spike had seen. “Well, where could Harvey have gotten to? Oh well, I'm sure he'll turn up sooner or later. Now, where was I? Oh yes, I was about to suggest a drink myself. If you'd care to join me, Mr. Spike? Charlie's is just down the way there.” He gestured towards the bar sign that Spike had noticed earlier.

“After you,” Spike said, figuring it'd be easier to jump the guy from behind.

“Oh no,” Mr. Doud replied. “You go first.” He wouldn't budge, although in a polite and friendly manner, until Spike had started moving towards the bar. Spike wondered, just for a moment, if Dru had really seen something but then shrugged it off. There was no way such a milquetoast of a man could be any threat to him.

Just as Spike was turning to grab Mr. Doud, his foot slipped out beneath him and he splashed down into a puddle. He looked up to see Mr. Doud leaning over him.

“Are you all right? Maybe I should run into Charlie's and get some help, in case you have a concussion or such not.”

With a smile, Spike raised his arms to drag Mr. Doud down to him. Or he tried to. A heavy weight settled on his chest and he looked around panicked. Didn't make any sense at all. Heart attacks happened to humans and besides he couldn't move his arms. Not an attack then. Something was sitting on him. Something large, much taller than he was from the weight of it. “Get off,” he shouted.

Mr. Doud looked confused. “Nobody's on you,” he replied as he stood back up muttering about concussions.

As Spike struggled, a huge grin appeared above him, followed by whiskers and floppy ears. A face filled in around the features until he saw the head of a rabbit. It was the size of a human's head, if not even slightly bigger. Staring up into that smile, Spike realized he'd never understood how threatening a rabbit could be.

“You just wait there and I'll go get help,” Mr. Doud said.

“No no, I don't have time,” Spike replied as the rabbit's body filled in beneath the head. It wore a vest and pants but no pocket watch. Spike thought that perhaps he did have a concussion. “I need to get going. Just recalled, no time for beer.” As the rabbit stood, it glanced at Mr. Doud and then glared at Spike. “Lovely to meet you though. Wish we could have had that beer.” Spike stood cautiously as the rabbit loomed, protectively, behind Mr. Doud.

“Are you sure? Charlie's is right here. We could make it a quick one,” Mr. Doud said.

“Yeah, gotta find my bird, don't I? She flitted off that way a bit earlier.”

“Well, if you do find her, perhaps you'll both do me the honor of joining me for a drink,” Mr. Doud said as the rabbit shook it's head from side to side.

“Doubt we'll have the chance,” Spike said as he calculated how much distance he and Dru could put between themselves and that rabbit before sunrise.

“I'm very pleased to have met you,” Mr. Doud said, offering his hand. Spike tentatively shook it, waiting for the rabbit to attack. “If you change your mind, you know where I'll be.”

“Sure,” Spike said. As Mr. Doud turned and walked towards the bar, Spike started walking backwards, never taking his gaze off of the rabbit.

“Harvey,” Mr. Doud exclaimed, addressing the rabbit. “There you are.”

After a pause, he added, “No, no, nothing untoward.” Spike blinked, he could see the traffic, behind the rabbit through it. He blinked again. The rabbit was definitely fading from his sight.

“Charlie's will be perfect.” Spike watched as Mr. Doud smiled and held open the door for his invisible companion. Once Mr. Doud was out of sight, which meant the rabbit was presumably in the bar with him, Spike raced off to find Drusilla and get the hell out of Dodge.