(Standard, all-purpose disclaimer) All pre-existing characters are the property of the creators and producers of "Due South." No copyright infringement is intended. All new characters and situations are the sole property and responsibility of the author.
Warnings: No sex in this one. Sorry. A little swearing, but nothing too bad.
**MEMO FROM BUFFY**
Wheee! I just ate my way through all of Katrina's Christmas candy -- you would not *believe* the sugar rush you can get from a pound of melty mints! She's still fretting about Turnbull's first name officially being Renfield, like the character in "Dracula." Hey, it may bother her, but it's something I can work with. And I think everyone should do at least one vampire story in their life. Therefore, I bring you ...
Night fell over Chicago like a silken cape. Once again, ungodly shrieks, howls, and a sound that might have been the flapping of a bat's wings -- provided it was a bat with a wingspan of twelve feet -- came from the Canadian consulate. Passersby paused, shrugged, and continued on their way as they did every night. Oh, it was a bit unusual, but what else could you expect from Canadians?
"Constable Turnbull, I was wondering if you have those requistion forms completed ..." Ben raised his eyebrows as Turnbull slammed the lid of the small box sitting in front of him. "Am I disturbing you, Constable?"
Turnbull folded his hands neatly in front of him. "No, not at all, sir." He looked up at Fraser, eyes wide and innocent, with the guiless expression that all Mounties tried to cultivate.
"Ah. I see. Good. I'm glad." Ben hesitated, looking at the younger man with concern. "Then would you please tell me what's in the box?"
Ben hesitated again. "The one in front of you, Constable."
"Oh!" Turnbull looked down. "This box. Well, sir, you see ..." he leaned forward confidingly, and Ben took a step forward. "This is where I keep my flies."
"Your flies. You mean ... 'flies' in the sense of fishing lures, of course," Ben said, trying to remain hopeful. Things had been getting stranger and stranger ever since the inspector had issued an order that from now on, the consulate would only be open at night. This, however, was going a little bit too far.
"No, sir. I mean 'flies' in the sense of flying insects."
Unwillingly, and knowing he would regret it, Ben asked the only logical follow-up question. "All right, Turnbull, why do you have a box full of flies on your desk?"
"Because it's too cold in the staff room, sir."
Ben closed his eyes. "Let me rephrase that. Why do you have a box of flies in the first place?"
"Oh!" Turnbull smiled as comprehension finally filtered through. "I keep the flies to feed the spiders, naturally."
"The spiders that I'll be feeding to the birds."
Ben took a deep breath and wondered how much vacation time he had stored up. "The birds?"
"Yes, sir. Sparrows, in fact. Starlings if I can find them," Turnbull said helpfully.
Ben sighed and leaned against Turnbull's desk. "Let me see if I understand this. You're catching flies to feed to spiders. You're going to feed the spiders to birds, preferably starlings. And you're doing this because ...?"
"Because the blood is the life, sir," Turnbull said. The intercom on his desk buzzed, and he picked up the phone. "Yes, Mistress?"
Oh, dear. Ben shook his head in despair. Renfield Turnbull had apparently joined another cult. Before he could think of anything to say -- or the name of the deprogrammer he'd used last time -- Turnbull put down the phone and turned to him with a smile. "Inspector Thatcher would like to see you in her office right away."
Ben walked away reluctantly as Turnbull peered inside his box with a beatific smile. Knocking lightly on the inspector's door, he waited for an answer.
"Enter freely, and of your own will." The door swung open apparently of its own accord, and Ben went in. He looked around in bemusement. Inspector Thatcher had redecorated her office again. Granted, ever since her subscription to "Architectural Digest" had started coming, she'd changed the decor at least every other month, according to whatever was fashionable at the time. But this ... had the last issue featured a Gothic revival? Gargoyles and wall sconces and tapestries that clashed horribly with the carpet were strewn hither and yon.
"Gooood eeeevening, Ben." Ben turned into the direction of the throaty purr that seemed to be aimed at him. There, in the corner, dressed in a flowing black gown that plunged to a most indecorous point -- and that indicated some sort of augmentation surgery to the inspector's womanly parts -- Thatcher was draped wantonly over a casket. Neither the casket nor the dress were
standard RCMP issue, Ben noted with disapproval.
Ben stood at attention. "You wanted to see me, sir?" he asked politely, trying not to react in a non-professional manner. The inspector had probably been reading "Cosmopolitan" again, and the best course of action was to simply wait until she got it out of her system.
Thatcher prowled over to him. "Yes, Ben. I want to ... see you." She let one long red fingernail -- the same shade as a Mountie uniform -- trail down the leather strap traversing Ben's chest. "Ben, I want you to join us."
Blinking in confusion, Ben said, " 'Join us'? But sir, I'm already a Mountie."
"Oh, I know you are." Thatcher walked over to the coat rack and started fussing with the pleats of her red satin cape. "Ben, I want you to be my consort. Together, we shall rule the night, and these puny Americans shall tremble before us!"
"Actually, sir, I believe that would violate the RCMP's rule forbidding fraternization between ranks. As much fun as ruling the night sounds, I'm afraid it's out of the question. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to check on Turnbull and his flies ..." Ben tried to ease himself out the door, but the knob wouldn't turn.
"Oh, poo. Why does satin wrinkle so easily?" Thatcher pouted at her cape, then glanced at Ben. "Don't worry about Renfield, he's one of my minions. That's one of the best things about being a vampire queen, you're automatically issued a minion. I would have preferred someone a little brighter, but what with the budget cutbacks and all ..."
Ben interrupted her. "Excuse me, sir -- could you please repeat that? Did you say you're a vampire?"
Thatcher plugged in a small iron and carried her cape over to the coffin. Spreading the flowing satin carefully over the polished surface, she began pressing out the wrinkles. "Well, surely you're not surprised, Ben. How else do you think I managed to attain my present rank? It's the quickest way to advance, you know. I'm surprised no one has mentioned it to you before now. Of course, we have to make sure the general public doesn't know about it -- public relations and all that."
"Obviously." Ben jiggled the doorknob a little harder, and it finally opened. "Well, that's a ... very interesting offer, sir. I'll be sure to take it under consideration."
"Please do. I think you'd be a natural. After all, you already have your own wolf. That's definitely a point in your favor. Most vampires have to wait several years before they're assigned a wolf." Thatcher shook out her cape and carried it back to the coat rack. "I'll give you a few days to make up your mind."
"Thank you kindly, sir." Ben backed out of the office and closed the door firmly behind him. Deep in thought, he didn't pay any attention to Turnbull as he went back to his office.
Folding back the newspaper, Turnbull carefully punched in the phone number from the advertisement he was looking at. "Hello, is this 555-2759? I saw a want ad that said you were giving away kittens ... yes. I'll take three."
Ben got into the Riv and leaned back against the headrest. "Oh, Ray, I've had a terrible day."
"You've had a bad day?" Ray groused as he pulled away from the curb. "All the computers at the precinct went down, Welsh got hold of some bad pastrami, the Bulls have lost four games in a row, a drunk threw up all over Huey ... well, okay, so that part wasn't too bad. Tell me how your day was any worse than that."
"I just found out that Inspector Thatcher is a vampire."
Ray was silent for a full minute. "Okay, you win. So I guess that's why Dief hasn't wanted to go to work with you lately."
"Yes, and I accused him of simply being lazy." Ben shook his head in self-recrimination. "Oh, he's going to be insufferable about this, I know he is."
"Yeah, yeah." Ray looked over at him impatiently. "So what are we supposed to do about this?"
"Well, from my readings on the subject, I believe the traditional course of action is to cut the vampire's head off and drive a stake through its heart. I suppose it would constitute insubordination on my part, but I don't think we have any other choice."
"Sounds great. I can probably think of a dozen people who wouldn't mind chopping off the Dragon Lady's head. Maybe I should call Frannie. She'd love to off the bitch ..."
"Ray!" Shocked, Ben looked at his friend. "I wish you wouldn't refer to the inspector in that kind of language."
"Benny -- the woman's a goddamn vampire! She wants to corrupt your immortal soul. It's probably just a Catholic thing, but that kind of behavior makes me nervous."
"I'm well aware of that, Ray, but she *is* my superior officer, vampire or not. I'll thank you to treat her with the appropriate respect," Ben said stiffly.
"Fine." Ray took a left turn. "I'll be sure to say please and excuse
me when we pound the stake through her heart."
"Thank you, Ray. That would mean a lot to me. Even if I *do* have to kill my commanding officer, I don't think we need to be rude about it."
As the sun came up, Ben and Ray were seated in the Riv in front of the consulate. "Okay ..." Ray began sorting through the black bag at his side. "We got holy water, we got communion wafers, we got crucifixes ... are you almost done with that stake?"
"Almost, Ray." Ben peeked into the bag as he continued sanding. "I'm just making sure all the surfaces are smooth."
Ray looked at the Mountie in elaborate disbelief. "We're going to drive that into Thatcher's heart, and you're worried about giving her splinters?"
"As I've mentioned before, a little consideration and attention to details can ease over the most awkward situations." To change the subject, he said, "I thought it would take Father Behan longer to get those things together."
Shrugging, Ray said, "Emergency supplies. He says there've been a lot of vampires around lately -- mainly Canadians, it turns out -- so he just put together a bunch of vampire-killing equipment to save time. It's a lot more efficient this way."
"Mainly Canadians?" Ben frowned unhappily. "Oh, dear."
"Don't worry about it, Fraser, he doesn't hold it against you. He's pretty open-minded about things like that." Ray got out of the car, and Ben followed. As they entered the building, Ray said, "So you're sure she's in her office?"
"Most likely, Ray. Caskets are quite expensive, and I don't think she would have bought more than one. Besides, this building is officially considered Canadian property, so, in a manner of speaking, this *is* her native soil. It would be much more efficient for her to spend her days here."
"Yeesh." Ray grimaced as they entered Thatcher's office. "Geez, what a cliche. What, you become a vampire, you automatically have to start living in an Anne Rice novel?"
"I wouldn't know about that, Ray. I don't get many chances to read contemporary fiction." Ben hoisted up the lid of the casket, and stood looking at his commanding officer.
Joining him, Ray said, "Hmmm. Guess vampire queens aren't allowed to be flat-chested, either."
"No, and it's a sad commentary that even the evil undead are expected to conform to society's unreasonable standards of what constitutes feminine beauty."
"Maybe. But at least it gives us a good place to put the stake, right?"
"I suppose so." Ben placed the tip of the stake between Thatcher's breasts and held out his hand. "I need a mallet or a hammer, Ray."
Rummaging through the bag, Ray swore. "Damn, not in here. We're gonna have to improvise."
"Well, would you please hurry and find something? This is a very uncomfortable situation for me."
"I know, I know ... okay, try this." Ray grabbed something off Thatcher's desk and handed it to Ben.
Ben looked at the object in disapproval. "Ray, this is the award the inspector received for most innovative cost-cutting measures in a consular position. She was very proud of it. It's hardly proper to use this, I might damage it."
"Benny, if it works, she won't be around to care, will she? And if it doesn't work, *we* won't be around to care."
"Oh. Well, I suppose you're right ..." Drawing back his arm, Ben hit the stake as hard as he could.
Eyes opening wide, Thatcher looked up at him, enraged. "You can just *forget* that consort offer, buster," she hissed.
"I do apologize, sir ..." Ben continued to drive the stake into the inspector's chest. Writhing in the casket, Thatcher's body suddenly turned to ash and collapsed into a gray, dusty heap.
"Wow." Ray nodded slowly, impressed. "I thought they only did that in the movies." He poured the holy water over the ashes, which sizzled as they dissolved. Putting the wafers and the crucifixes into the casket, he slammed the lid shut.
Ben nodded in agreement as he stepped away from the casket. "It is fascinating, isn't it? Instantaneous decomposition --" He whirled around as the door opened.
Turnbull looked at Ben; he looked at Ray; he looked at the empty casket. "Oh, dear," he sighed. "This is going to completely destroy the promotion schedule, do you realize that?"
"Look at it this way, Renfield." Ray took the award from Ben and tossed it to Turnbull, who looked at the dents in disapproval. "It should move you up a few notches, right?"
Turnbull cheered up a little at that. "It would, wouldn't it?" His face fell again. "Oh, but Constable Fraser is still ahead of me."
"I wouldn't worry about that, Constable. After all, I've just dispatched an RCMP officer of a higher rank than myself. The promotion board doesn't approve of that sort of behavior." He shrugged and looked at Ray. "I've been thinking of resigning anyway ... frankly, if I'm completely honest, I'm getting tired of
standing guard duty all the time."
"Thank you, sir!" Turnbull watched the two men walk down the hall. Pausing just long enough to lift the lid of the casket and peek inside, he went back to his desk. Reaching beneath it, he opened a pet carrier and took out a plump, sleepy black cat. "Well, Muffin, it looks like I might make sergeant sooner than I thought I would."
Licking his chops and spitting out a feather, Muffin purred in agreement.