An episode in Nikki Wood’s life – response to DeepBlueJoy’s forum challenge. Disclaimer:
I don’t own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Hill Street Blues Notes:
I’ve disregarded anything we know about Nikki Wood that isn’t mentioned in the TV series, so my portrayal isn’t necessarily comic or novel compliant. Vampire Suck House, East Ferry Street, The Hill, New York
“He’s going after the DA first, then Counselor Davenport. Has something special planned for the Counselor, but the vamp didn’t know what,” Nikki confirmed grimly.
Given the Slayer’s dire threats, which she was quite prepared to carry out, the vampiress had opted to cooperate and thereby earn herself a quick dusting. Now it only remained for Nikki to burn the Suck House to the ground, preventing another group of vamps from moving in.
It was a simple job of arson, Crowley providing two Molotov Cocktails from the trunk of his car. The Suck House was full of flammable materials – old soft furnishings, curtains, bedding – and one petrol bomb upstairs and another downstairs more than sufficed to create an impressive blaze in next to no time.
“Can we be sure that the creature was telling the truth?” Crowley asked dubiously.
“Can’t never be one hundred percent sure, Bernard. But if you were a vamp, would you have the stones to lie to me?” Nikki replied.
“Point well taken,” the Watcher knew that his charge could be as ruthless as necessary when dealing with the supernatural – and potentially any of the criminal elements around The Hill.
Suddenly a pair of squad cars screeched around the corner in the distance, sirens wailing, and obviously investigating the conflagration.
Crowley quickly pulled off the road between two empty houses and turned off the car’s lights. While there was nothing to tie them to the fire, the Watcher still wanted to keep Nikki as far off the police radar as possible. He also had a sinking feeling that traditional Council secrecy was going to be increasingly difficult to preserve in the days ahead.
“So what do we do with this information?” the Watcher pondered, waiting until the squad cars had passed them by, before turning back onto the rutted street.
Nikki shook her head tiredly. “I just don’t know, Bernard... Bag of dust back there says it’ll be one or two night before Suarez makes his hit again. The DA and Davenport might be harder targets – I don’t see them wandering around The Hill after dark.”
“He must have some plan,” Crowley pointed out.
“I guess he does,” the Slayer agreed in tired tones. “What’ve we got? Two of the dead cops were killed on patrol. DiCarlo on stakeout and Tibbets when he was separated from his partner. The vamp must’ve been following them...”
Nikki frowned, her brow furrowing. “But the McMahon killing is bugging the Hell out of me. The only way he could’ve known that the officer would be ill and leaving work early...?”
The Englishman nodded enthusiastically, sensing that his Slayer was onto something. “Of course! Suarez, or someone he knows, must have slipped something into Officer McMahon’s food.”
Crowley considered the implications. “We need to find out what he was eatin’ that night – or earlier that day – and get a copy of the autopsy report, to give us some clues.”
“How we gonna do that, Bernard? Walk into the Coroner’s Office and ask for it? I’m betting these guys didn’t bother to check anything else, after they picked up on the blood-loss.”
There were, of course, good people working on autopsy. There were also a lot of burnouts, working towards their pensions. It was anyone’s guess which type had worked Officer McMahon’s case.”
“You do, of course, have a contact in the Hill Street Precinct...,” Crowley pointed out quietly, knowing that it was a sensitive topic.
“I’ll only ever go to him if we run out of options, Bernard. ‘Sides, at his level? Might not be able to pull a Coroner’s report so easily,” Nikki replied flatly, not caring to open that particular can of worms again, not unless she absolutely had no other option.
“But if...?” Crowley persisted.
Nikki cut him off in mid-flow. “We’ll talk about it tomorrow. Suarez ain’t gonna make his hit tonight. Or if he does, we can’t stop him. And right now? I’m pretty much past the deep-thinking stage. Might be a Slayer, but I do need some sleep from time to time...” Captain’s Office, Hill Street Precinct, The Hill, New York
Chief Fletcher Daniels clearly wasn’t in a good mood this morning. Sitting watching the barely controlled chaos that was his Precinct’s Squad Room, Furillo could tell just by the Chief’s movements and his failure to offer insincere platitudes to any of the officers he passed.
Daniels slammed two newspapers down on the Captain’s desk, jaw tightening. “Damnit Frank! Didn’t even have time for my morning sit-down and the TV news people were all over me this morning. I have to tell you, I can do without this right now...”
The Chief was currently running for Mayor, in a highly charged campaign, with his two main rivals desperate to uncover the slightest trace of incompetence or corruption within the Department. Three cops had been murdered under bizarre circumstances in one of his Precincts, and the investigation was apparently no closer to uncovering the killer. With his opponents circling like vultures, Daniels knew this was exactly the sort of thing that could spell the end of his political ambitions.
Furillo remained apparently unfazed. He was accustomed to the Chief’s tantrums and periodic attempts to interfere in ongoing investigations, and couldn’t care less about his political ambitions. Especially when they threatened to hurt his officers, for pure PR and political expediency.
“ “Vampire Cop-Killer Runs Amok on the Hill...”,” Furillo read one lurid headline.
“Or maybe you’d prefer this one, Frank? “Bloodsucker on the Hill”?” Daniels asked sardonically. “And wait until you hear what the TV news networks are making out of this.”
“What d’you expect me to do, Chief? You’ve seen the forensic evidence. We have nothing – and the same goes for witnesses,” Furillo replied.
There was more than one kind of bloodsucker on The Hill right now, the Captain reflected wryly. But stringing garlic around the Precinct unfortunately wouldn’t keep this one out of it.
“Maybe you’ve the wrong people on the job, Frank,” Daniels growled.
“Bring in anyone you like, Chief. They won’t have any more to work on than my people,” Furillo retorted tightly.
“Maybe you might like to light a fire under forensics. They still haven’t told us how it’s possible to drain someone’s blood, without moving the body any distance, and leaving no traces,” the Captain pointed out dryly.
Daniels simmered for a moment. “If the press have their way, you’ll have angry mobs waving pitchforks and burning torches on The Hill.”
He glared at Furillo. “There’s a perfectly logical explanation for all of this. And a killer still out there. I want him caught!”
With that, Daniels stormed out. The Captain, for his part, caught himself wishing that the Chief would be the next one for a whole-body blood donation.
On the other side of the Squad Room, Belker was dealing with his first “dirt-bag” of the day. This one was a regular visitor to the Precinct, a pickpocket who never had the same name twice. The Detective and his usual suspect had an almost daily routine worked out between them.
“Name,” Belker snarled, inserting a sheet of paper into his typewriter.
“Harley Davidson... Harley Davidson the Third... Junior,” the pickpocket replied with a perfectly straight face.
The Detective looked at him suspiciously, but continued to type. Then his phone rang.
“Hello, Ma...,” Belker began in cheerful, if resigned tones, wondering what his aged mother’s crisis of the day was this time.
He waited until his mother had finished her usual tale of woe, then replied patiently. “Ma, what have I told you? If you keep him upstairs in the morning, then he won’t get a chance to chase the postman...”
Belker wanted to tear his unkempt hair out by the handful. “And he’s ninety-two Ma. D’you really think it’s harming anyone if he has these magazines under the bed? It beats trying to bite the postman...”
A few more minutes of one-sides conversation and the Detective replaced the phone on its cradle, only to find his suspect clearly losing the battle not to laugh.
“Something funny, kidney breath? You wanna collapsed lung?” Belker invaded the prisoner’s body space, glaring balefully, removing the woollen cap from his head and squashing it into a ball.
The Captain opened his office door, raising his voice to be heard over the barely organised chaos that was the Hill Street Station.
“Mick? Can you come into my office for a moment, please?” Furillo gestured to Belker.
“Leo, you wanna put this dirt-bag into lock-up?” Belker turned to the Desk Sergeant and chewed on a ragged unlit cigar.
Bringing in inept if persistent pickpocket was one thing. Belker now wondered how he was going to explain the previous evening’s encounter to his Captain. He’d been made and then taken down by a girl, and was no closer to uncovering what she knew about the cop-killer. Or certainly, nothing he could put down in an official report. Nikki’s Apartment, Jefferson Heights, New York City
For once, the Slayer had the day off work. Her boss had phoned just moments before she was due to leave the apartment this morning, to tell her that the diner’s antiquated electrical system – which was probably in violation of just about every City building ordinance - had finally expired. The electrician reckoned it would be two days before the job was completed. Nikki was certainly glad of the respite, but also knew she’d miss the money.
On the upside, the Slayer at least had a chance to dress and feed young Robin this morning, and even spend some precious time playing with her son. Eventually, however, Nikki had to reluctantly turn to the latest vampire business.
“That boy’s building one heck of a right arm,” she remarked approvingly, as Robin beat the living daylights out of his teddy bear with a plastic hammer.
“You Slaying Quentin Travers again?” Nikki grinned at her son.
She’d never liked that particular bear. It seemed to have a smug, self-satisfied expression on its face, just like the Watcher who’d come to administer her Cruciamentum. Crowley had predicted that Travers would ultimately rise to the very top of the Council. In the meantime, he was busily improving his amoral streak at every opportunity, according to her Watcher – who also had no time for his fellow Englishman.
Robin just gurgled happily in reply and continued to pulverise the soft toy.
“He’s taking after his mother, if you want my opinion...,” Crowley smirked. “A violent streak a mile wide.”
“I do not have a violent streak. ‘Cept if it’s a vamp,” Nikki protested.
“If you didn’t know how to employ a touch of violence, we wouldn’t have the lowest crime levels for four blocks around,” her Watcher pointed out.
The Slayer had never violated the Thou Shalt Not Kill Humans rule, but she wasn’t averse to frightening and hurting the odd hoodlum.
“It was just the once...,” Nikki pointed out reasonably.
Crowley cleared his throat. “Make that four times. The would-be burglar with the broken nose and missing upper teeth and the attempted mugger you pinned to a door, by the ear, with a throwing knife... Then there was the would-be rapist you quite possibly gelded with a well-placed kick - and those two Shamrocks you beat unconscious, before they could rob the liquor store.”
His Slayer wasn’t a vigilante, not quite. Nikki didn’t exactly go out seeking criminals, but if she came across a crime – especially a violent attack - and the authorities were nowhere in sight, then she’d help out. Jefferson Heights had only a fraction of The Hill’s crime-rate, but occasionally some of the latter’s low-life decided on a change of venue. Nikki’s Calling might be to save people from vampires and demons, but if she could hep to protect them human depredations, at least a little, then she’d sleep easier at night. Of course, such actions always had the potential to attract the attention of the police, but so far she’d been suitably circumspect.
Part of Crowley disapproved heartily, but the other half of him was proud that his neighbourhood had become something of a no-go zone for the local street hoods, if not completely removing them from the equation. Unsurprisingly, none of the felons in question had gone running to the police to complain.
“So, now we know who Suarez has in his sights, what do we do?” Nikki was suddenly all business.
Crowley took a sip of his tea. “I’m not wholly sure there’s a great deal we can do, aside from Slaying the vampire before he can kill anyone else.”
“I just feel like we should be warning them. I mean, these are good people – both of them,” Nikki pointed out.
“Yes, I can just hear the conversation right now... “Captain Furillo, I’d advise you to make sure your wife doesn’t venture out of doors after dark, as there’s a vampire chasing her... And why might I ask are these gentlemen forcing me to wear this jacket?”” her Watcher retorted acerbically.
Nikki leaned over the table and punched him lightly on the arm. “No need to be sarcastic. Couldn’t we just send a note, warning the Counselor and DA Bernstein to be careful after dark?”
Crowley shook his head. “The DA, especially, probably receives a dozen crank notes a week, threatening his life. And I really can’t see how that’ll make much of a difference in any case, Nikki. What are they going to do, with such a vague warning? Probably vary their travel routes, maybe carry a firearm... In Counselor Davenport’s case, either Captain Furillo would accompany her to work each day and after work, or assign an officer. And with a vampire on her tail? We’d only have an extra body.
“These people up on The Hill - like every other police department, in every city, in every country of the world - are clueless about the supernatural. It’s for the best if they stay that way,” the Watcher continued.
There was also the unspoken Council position, which he’d never willingly ascribe to completely, that it was better to have a few dead civilians, than risk compromising the Slayer’s secret identity.
“Maybe not as clueless as you think. When I was – uh – talkin’ to Detective Belker last night? He works undercover in the worst parts of the city and he’s seen stuff... I can always tell – it’s the eyes,” Nikki persisted.
Crowley’s eyes narrowed. “Did you break security?”
“Not exactly...,” the Slayer offered evasively.
“Define “not exactly”, Nicola,” the Watcher told her firmly, reverting momentarily to her full given name, which the Slayer roundly hated and rarely used.
“When I was trying to persuade him to quite followin’ me? I might have suggested that it was a “something” not a “someone” out there. And maybe I said something about not gettin’ himself bitten,” Nikki replied apologetically.
Crowley sighed. “I suppose it could’ve been worse, but you really must maintain cover, Nikki.”
It didn’t wholly surprise him that some of The Hill’s police officers might be somewhat aware of things that went bump in the night. The human underclasses tended to provide rich pickings for the demonic nightlife, and an experienced detective might just realise that not all suspicious deaths could be attributed to normal causes. Which didn’t mean they knew much more, or were even vaguely prepared to deal with the threat.
“What I don’t get, Bernard, is the whole revenge gig. I know vamps are supposed to take on the memories of their victims – even part of the personality – but why should the resident demon give a shit about what happened to Suarez’s brothers?” the Slayer pointed out.
Her Watcher shrugged, hating not to have all the answers when she asked him a question. “I can’t really answer that one, Nikki. If I had to make a guess, I’d suggest that with such strong feelings of vengeance and a desire for bloodshed when Suarez was alive? They probably fit the vampire’s own needs and agenda very well indeed.”
“I’m gonna have to get back out on the streets, Bernard. Find out where the bastard’s hiding. Shouldn’t have burned the Suck House...,” Nikki admitted ruefully.
“I sincerely doubt if it would have made your job much easier. Both Seamus Doyle and your vampire – um – source suggested that Suarez only spent a limited amount of time there. And we didn’t exactly have sufficient personnel to mount a surveillance operation,” Crowley pointed out.
“So I’m just “personnel” now, am I?” the Slayer teased.
She turned serious again. “Sometimes, I think this neighbourhood could really do with a Council Special Operations team paying a visit...”
“There are quite enough armed psychopaths on The Hill already,” Crowley answered dryly.
Nikki sighed. “Okay... First I’ll try my sources on The Hill – maybe even see if i can wring anything else out of that little creep, Martinez – then if that doesn’t get me anywhere, suppose I could check with my ex- at Hill Street. Maybe there’s some pattern to these vampire kills in the ‘burbs that we’ve missed.”
A check of recent newspapers suggested that Suarez was, as his vampire lover had suggested, busily depleting the ranks of the middle-classes. Newspapers, however, only had half the story – if that much – and the police possibly knew a whole lot more. Unfortunately, she only had one – possible - source within the Police Department. And he was the last person she wanted to spend any time with. However, as her Watcher always reminded her, she’d just have to suck it up – it was only the mission that mattered.
“We’re only guessing they’re vampire kills, so far,” the Watcher reminded her.
Nikki bobbed her head. “Yeah... No bodies – but vamps usually ain’t big on hiding them. Unless he’s up to something else?”
“Turning them – building an army,” Crowley suggested gloomily.
A flashbulb went off in the Slayer’s head. “Not an army, Bernard. What does this vamp know best? Or what did Suarez know when he was alive? Pretty much nothing but gang life. Vamps are every bit as pack-minded – and hierarchical – too...”
The Englishman grimaced. “The possibilities are very unpleasant. Suarez must have made countless enemies in his short lifetime – he and his brothers were even thrown out of Los Diablos, when their activities became too much even for him. His current revenge spree may only be the start!”
“If I could be sure he was only gonna suck on gang members, Bernard? I’d stand back and hang up my stake, ‘til he was finished. But it won’t just be Suarez against the rest. You know how it works... Pretty soon every gang will be at the throats of every other gang. And the locals get caught in the fucking crossfire...,” Nikki groaned.
“Fu... Fu... Fuckin! Fuckin! Fuckin!” Robin suddenly gleefully babbled, pounding his hammer on the floor, having ceased belabouring Quentin Travers.
Nikki looked at him in mortified horror. Kids must have a sixth sense about these things, she decided in embarrassment. Of all the words he could have chosen, the little brat had to pick that one. She just hoped he wouldn’t blurt it out in front of the neighbours. The elderly bigots on each side already had enough snide asides and knowing looks, for a young black woman – the only one in the building and with a child - who was seemingly in a relationship with a white man double her age. A gutter-mouthed toddler would simply add to their impressions of her as an unfit mother.
And next time, Nikki decided, she’d just let some criminal burglarise the old racists.
“Robin, honey... Not nice!” she shook her head disapprovingly, as her offspring simply sat and giggled.
“His first word. You must be so proud,” Crowley told the mortified Slayer in sardonic tones. Captain’s Office, Hill Street Precinct, The Hill, New York
Furillo closed his office door, then sat down behind his desk once more.
“Find out anything about the Wood girl last night?” the Captain didn’t waste any time.
“I followed her as far as the Los Diablos place,” Belker began uncomfortably. “She had some sort of meet arranged with Martinez himself, Captain.”
Furillo’s eyes almost climbed off his forehead. He certainly hadn’t expected that development. Blacks, even the non-gang-affiliated type, didn’t tend to receive a warm welcome on Los Diablos turf. So a young black woman, meeting with the Hispanic gang leader, was definitely far out of the ordinary.
“Was she alone, Mick?” the Captain wondered.
“Far as I could see...” the Detective replied cautiously.
The Captain was certain he was holding something back. “And...?”
Belker shook his head, as though she still couldn’t believe it. “She took down the heavies he keeps on the door. Probably double her weight and then some – but she had these guys on the ground in two seconds. Then busted her way in – I’m guessin’ she took down at least another one inside, ‘cause Jesus Martinez keeps his place well-guarded. Then, ten minutes later, Martinez escorts her to the door personally. All smiles, but something else, too...”
Furillo was definitely intrigued now. “What else?”
“I reckon he was scared of her, Captain. But also respect – and these guys and their women? You don’t see a lot of that,” Belker replied.
“So where did Miss Wood go after dropping in on Martinez?” the Captain pressed.
The Detective shuffled from one foot to the other. “That’s when she jumped me, Captain. One minute I had her in sight, the next? She was behind me. Never seen anyone move so fast – and she’s really, really strong!”
“Are you okay, Mick?” Furillo told himself it was a stupid question, but no one in their right mind took on Belker and escaped without at least a few bite-marks.
“She didn’t harm me, Captain. Not a scratch or a bruise. Coulda easily twisted my head clean off, though... Just dropped my piece in a dumpster, took my shoe, and warned me off following her,” Belker still squirmed at how easily he’d been incapacitated, even if this was clearly no ordinary opponent.
“Assault on a police officer, Mick,” Furillo pointed out. “We could bring her in, hold that over her head, ask a few more questions. Did you identify yourself as a cop?”
Belker looked chagrined. “Only after she let me go. The assault charge ain’t gonna fly, Captain. Probably had me pegged as a cop the moment I started tailing her, but how’s that gonna look to an attorney? Guy dressed as a wino, following a woman through a bad neighbourhood. Woman’s already been questioned, with no charges and not the slightest bit of evidence against her. If she starts screaming harassment...”
The Captain exhaled. “So we don’t have a clue why Miss Wood wanted Martinez. Doesn’t sound like a hooker and she’s a bit on the young side to be an enforcer for someone bigger. Courier?”
“Wasn’t carrying anything I could see, Captain. And she didn’t pick up anything between the station and Los Diablos’ place,” the Detective replied.
“So all we have is a witness statement that places her near the scene of the Tibbets killing, plus La Rue and Washington catching her with Rae DiCarlo’s body. No murder weapon – or method – identified,” Belker pointed out.
“I don’t believe in coincidences, Mick,” Furillo responded firmly.
The Detective laughed shortly. “With all respect, Captain. That’s a crock... If I had a free dinner the number of times I’ve been on stakeout on The Hill, when a totally different crime gets committed right in front of my eyes, I’d be the same size as Renko.”
“La Rue and Washington haven’t been able to establish any definitive links between the killings, other than the fact that they were all cops, all taken alone, and all killed at night. If it’s a revenge case, there must be some sort of commonality, but the computer at Midtown isn’t up to cross-checking thousands of cases and finding a link,” the Captain admitted.
Exactly coinciding with the rash of cop-killings, there had also been a series of disappearances in the suburbs. No bodies had, however, been discovered and those cases were being dealt with elsewhere. Furillo nevertheless wondered if there was some sort of link.
Belker paused. “I think she’s on the trail of the cop-killer, Captain.”
“I don’t need a vigilante on The Hill,” Furillo growled.
The Detective wriggled uncomfortably. “Not so sure it’s a person we’re talking about, Captain. Pretty sure she doesn’t think so, and I’m not so sure, either...”
Furillo did a double-take and pointed to one of Daniels’ discarded newspapers. “You’re buying into this stuff, Mick? And you say this woman reckons she’s chasing monsters?”
“She didn’t say that, exactly... Just hinted. But I’ve seen a lotta things over the years, Captain. They don’t always make sense, but the forensic people don’t tend to dig too deeply up here. I gotta keep an open mind on this one,” Belker admitted.
The Captain rubbed his chin, deciding that he needed a new razor – there was still a little more residual stubble than he liked. “If it was anyone else, Mick, I’d say you were nuts. So write up that report – but leave out the part about vampires, or whatever we’re supposed to be facing – and we’ll talk again later.”
“Yes, Captain,” Belker retreated to his desk, wishing he had a nice predictable armed robbery to deal with.
Furillo settled down behind his desk and recalled the stories of his childhood. His Italian grandmother had delighted in scaring her grandkids with hair-raising tales of the supernatural from the old country, often telling them about the Strega. In parts of Italy, the Strega was a witch, in other areas it referred to a vampire. His grandmother always used the latter and on some level, the old woman had actually seemed to believe the tales.
Now, much as he hated to admit it, Captain Francis Furillo – hard-bitten cop who liked to think he’d seen it all in his career – was beginning to wonder if she had a point.