Trumpet St Peter's Angels: a Forever Knight fanfic





Trumpet St Peter’s Angels


trumpet


“Soooo, what brings you to these parts?”  Natalie looked up with a twinkle as Nick approached her desk.  “So close to dawn, too.  Come for a chat?”

“Ah, do you have the autopsy results yet?”  There was apology in his eyes:  he was busy—she was busy—somehow they never seemed quite to have time.

“The backlog grows,” she said, her dry tone belied by her smile.  “That is news, I am sure.”

“Not really,” he said ruefully, and perched on the corner of the autopsy table.  It was unoccupied; but she clearly was not, swivelled round to a stack of file folders on the desk, one of which was open.  Behind her, the computer screen was turned on,

“Test results?” he asked hopefully.  “Even knowing his blood alcohol level would be something.”

“Tox is backed up too,” she said.  “And there are two bodies ahead of yours—and no,” she added, seeing him about to speak, “a murder-suicide in Scarborough has exactly the same level of priority.  I don’t play favourites.”

He nodded.  “I heard about it.”  After a pause, he added, “How long before you get round to our case?”

“I can’t say.  Sorry, but I really don’t plan to come in tomorrow.”  She glanced down at the open file, and then shoved her chair back a little.  “We’re short handed, you know.  Two down with the flu.”  She rubbed her forehead, and essayed a smile.  “I dare say it’s no different at the precinct.  Oh, you’re well off out of mortality right now, my friend.”

“We still on for tomorrow?”

“Corpses permitting.”  She waved a hand at the door to the cold storage room.

“I’ll let you get on with it.”  He slid off the table and took the couple of steps to the desk, reaching out to touch her arm.  “Don’t overdo things, okay?” he said gently.  “You’re not immune and immortal:  that’s my territory.  And most days I’d rather be in your shoes, anyway.”

“I’ll believe that when we find a cure and you get flu,” said Natalie.  Then she added, “Yes.  We’re on for tomorrow, come poison, plague, or a pile-up on the 401.  I’ll bring the popcorn; you pick the film.”



“Hi, this is Dr. Lambert.  If this is an emergency, you can call me at 555-2269.  If not, please leave a message after the beep.”



Click.

Natalie sighed.  “So, why is it, Sydney,” she asked rhetorically, “that I check my voice mail faithfully and there’s never anything on it?  And I don’t count a hang-up with no message.”

The cat’s back remained turned.

“Yes, yes, all right,” she said soothingly.  “I’m here all day to catch the telephone touts, and who do I know who’s going to call when I’m at work?  Given that they’re all at work, too.”

Despite her purring tone, Sydney continued to ignore her.  She sighed.  “Drat cat.  So I was out tonight—at Nick’s instead of back here petting you.  I get it.”

She walked past him into the kitchen and opened the fridge, not at all surprised to hear a faint patter behind her and feel a brush against her ankle.

“Cupboard love, that’s all it is,” she said, reaching down to stroke Sydney’s head.  He leant into her hand, even as he moved forward to poke his nose at the bottom shelf.

“Uh-uh,” she said, pushing him back.  “Fridged cat not on the menu.”  She fetched out the half-empty can of the gourmet food and scooped a peace offering into his bowl.

“And,” she observed as he passed her to sniff, “that’s the last I’ll see of you for at least five minutes, isn’t it?”

She headed into the bathroom to fill the tub, reaching for an almost unused bottle of bubble bath.  As foam rose, she thought, with a tired sigh:  I need a treat.  Then, in shocked doubletake:  but movie night!  Treat enough in itself, once; and not so long ago, either.  Simply being all evening with Nick, laughing and teasing, curled up with a bowl of popcorn….

Somehow, nowadays, it just was not quite as satisfying as once it had been.

Through the closed bathroom door she faintly heard the sound of the phone; but she disregarded it, shucking off her skirt and blouse, and reaching round to unhook her bra.  The answering machine would pick it up.



“Hi, this is Dr. Lambert.  If this is an emergency, you can call me at 555-2269.  If not, please leave a message after the beep.”



As Natalie came into the 96th Precinct Detectives’ Squad Room and headed up the side passage, she saw Tracy at her desk, phone to ear.  Nick she spotted across by the water fountain—not getting a drink (of course) but looking at a newly posted notice on the board.

“Hey, Trace!” she said, coming round past the door to Capt. Reese’s office.  “I have the reports you guys wanted.”

Tracy looked round.  “We get personal service?” she asked, with surprise.  “I thought you were snowed under?”

Their voices were not loud; but Nick turned round.

“Yeah, well.  I figured you’d want it pronto.”  This was said meaningfully; and Tracy promptly hung up the phone.  To Natalie’s quizzical brow, she said, “I’ll call back when they don’t put me on hold.”

Nick came over to join them.

“What was so fascinating over there?” Natalie asked, with a nod to the notice board.

“Oh, an escaper from Millhaven.  Lipinski just posted the bulletin.”

“I don’t know why anyone bothers to try to escape from prison,” said Tracy briskly, kicking her chair away from the desk, leaning back, and putting her feet up.  “I mean, even if they get out—which Dawkins did—they always get picked up pretty fast.  What’s the point?  Just to get a few extra years tacked on the sentence?”

Nick shrugged.  “I’ve no idea why he did it; but I do remember him.  Before your time:  Schank and I followed some leads and picked him up.  Not our case:  it was a warrant from the OPP.”

Natalie glanced quickly towards the Captain’s office.  “Yours now?” she asked.

“No,” said Tracy briskly, dropping her feet to the floor and pulling her chair back to attention.  “Not with this on our plate.”  She pointed over at Natalie’s briefcase.  “At least, I gather there is a ‘this’ on our plate.  What’s so pronto that you make the special trip?”

“Ah,” said Natalie, recalled to her errand.  She quickly opened the case and removed a small sheaf of folders.  “Well, it’s the autopsy report on Corey Lingard.  Not a heart attack or stroke.”

“Damn,” said Nick quietly.

“And the tox report shows he wasn’t drunk either.  Or high.  So, as far as seems likely, he drove straight at those people on purpose.”  Natalie handed over two folders and added, “Also, the examination of the car shows no mechanical defect.”

“Right.”

“As for the autopsies of the three who died—”  She passed over the rest of the reports.  “—and I assume you’ve got medical reports on the survivors … well, there are no surprises.  The details may differ; but basically, it’s death by auto.”

“So we delve more deeply into backgrounds,” said Tracy, with a sigh.  “Because so far we’ve not found a connection between Lingard and anyone at the bus stop.”

“Well, unless he went stark raving mad, there’s got to be some reason,” declared Natalie.  “These things don’t come out of nowhere, after all,” she added, and snapped the flap of her briefcase sharply closed.



“Hi, this is Dr. Lambert.  If this is an emergency, you can call me at 555-2269.  If not, please leave a message after the beep.”



The body of the middle-aged woman lay half-naked on the autopsy table, slit ventrally by Y-section, ribs spread.  Grace Balthazar came in as Natalie extracted the heart delicately, lifted it on the scale and weighed it.

“Heart masses 530 grams.  Cursory exterior appearance consistent with left ventricular hypertrophy.  Check history of hyper­tension—”  She broke off.

“You have specimens for me?”

Natalie pointed wordlessly at a rack of vials on the lab desk, and then removed the heart from the pan and placed it at a more accessible level.  She reached for a scalpel.

“There was a call for you earlier,” Grace said tentatively.  “I picked up, thinking it might be important.”

Natalie looked up, scalpel poised.  “Who was it?” she asked.

“Not work-related, I don’t think,” said Grace.  “Does ‘Lorna’ ring a bell?  Or maybe Lora.”

Natalie’s eyes swivelled up.  “Laura Haynes?” she asked.

“Could be.”

“Oh, if it’s Laura, we go way back.  We were at med school together.  She went into psychiatry, though.”  The voice was only faintly muffled behind the mask, the tone clear and light.  “Haven’t seen her in … I don’t know … months?  You know how it is.”  Natalie looked back down at the heart, and lowered the point of the scalpel.  She reached up to flip the lens down over her eye to magnify the detail, and began to cut.  “Signs of aortic valve stenosis,” she said into the recorder.

Grace hesitated doubtfully.  “Dr. Lambert,” she began, and then stopped.  Focused on accuracy, Natalie had not looked up.

“I think C.o.D is going to be pretty straightforward.  If there are more specimens for analysis I’ll page you.”  She carefully began to excise the errant valve.

Grace shifted her weight, half turned to the door, but then stopped.  “Look, Natalie,” she said, “it’s maybe not my place, but—”

The changed mode of address, the personal tone, brought the pathologist’s eyes off the heart and back up to the lab tech.  “Yes?” she said.

The tone was too professional; and Grace shook her head.  “Never mind.”

Natalie frowned, laid the scalpel down, and straightened.  “No,” she said firmly, pulling down her mask and taking a few steps towards Grace.  For a moment, she hesitated, then pulled off her gloves.  “Go on.”



“Hi, this is Dr. Lambert.  If this is an emergency, you can call me at 555-2269.  If not, please leave a message after the beep.”



Having worked their way through Corey Lingard’s immediate family and work associates to no avail, Nick and Tracy split the list of shocked bereaved.  It would have been faster to phone; but common decency—and, for the most part, a common neighbourhood—meant that they had driven the Caddy, parked, and then gone round on foot, street by street, ringing bells.  There was no doubt:  victims and killer had no connection.

“I mean, it was a bus stop,” said Nick to the Captain when they had driven back to the 96th Precinct.  He ran his hand through his hair, and shook his head.  “Anyone could have been there.”

“‘Anyone’ was,” put in Tracy, and counted off on her fingers.  “We’re talking a college student heading for evening class, a secretary on her way home after putting in overtime, a guy with car trouble off to his poker night, an old lady with a load of groceries….”

“Yes, yes,” said Reese, waving his hand dismissively.  “The usual types who take transit.  I get it.”

“If it were the stop next to where he worked, then it might be co-workers—but it wasn’t.  If it were near where he lived, then it might be a neighbourhood dispute—but it wasn’t.”

“Well, get back out there and find something,” the Captain declared.  “I want this case closed.  And I mean soon.”  He smacked his fist into his hand.  “Speculation all over the local news, and their city councillor phoning!  What a waste of time and effort!  It’s not as though there’s ever going to be a prosecution.”  Seeing the glance between the two detectives, he darkened the moment dryly.  “Not unless you raise the dead, that is:  Lingard’s on the slab with the rest of them.”



“Hi, this is Dr. Lambert.  If this is an emergency, you can call me at 555-2269.  If not, please leave a message after the beep.”



Natalie kicked off her shoes.  She sat down with a sigh, stretched out her legs, and wriggled her toes.  Trapped inside her stockings, they yearned for release after the long night:  she had been on her feet, she thought, at crime scene or autopsy for far too many hours, with far too little down time.

Laura.

How long had it been?  (Damn Grace for bringing it up.)  Yes:  too long.

We’d talk for hours, Natalie thought.  When we left med school, we kept in touch:  when I was a resident, we kept in touch:  when she started her practice, when I got my job, we kept in touch.  We’d talk for hours.

There was a sudden pressure on her knee, and she reached automatically to stroke Sydney’s head.

“Yes, cat,” she said softly.  “Do you remember your Aunty Laura?  That was the old apartment, of course.”

Sydney settled with a purr as she ruffled gently round his ears.

Yes:  it had been that long, Natalie thought.  Not months, but … she counted back.  Years!  It was true:  she had no recollection of Laura ever coming here, to the apartment that she’d rented after Nana Tash died.

People drift apart.  (The excuse she’d given Grace.)

I mean, we had that connection—old college room­mates!—but our careers took different paths.  It’s not as though we ever really talked about ourselves.  “What did we have to talk about?” she asked conversationally.  Sydney’s eyes closed to slits of pleasure and his chin sank onto her chest.  Wryly, Natalie looked down at him.  “Well,” she said, “it’s not as though we had personal lives to share, was it?  I’d barely met Nick then—for whatever that’s worth, all things considered.”  The lack of progress in finding a cure was … frustrating in so many ways.

Sydney shifted on her lap, rolling over to show his tummy.  She obliged.

“Do you know that I almost went to a dating agency?”  He batted at her with a paw.  “Yes I did, you know:  and then I didn’t, because who wants to go out with someone on night shift, eh?  And I was busy, and she was busy; and then we were both too busy even to have coffee together.  Not that I’d know what to say to her about the research I’m doing nowadays!”

Sydney roused himself, gave a little shake, and jumped down to the floor.

“As you say,” Natalie agreed.  “She left, and I left; and that was that.  She may be one of my oldest friends, but … what do we have in common any more?”



“Hi, this is Dr. Lambert.  If this is an emergency, you can call me at 555-2269.  If not, please leave a message after the beep.”



“So then, you see, he swerved,” said the girl.  She was about ten, thought Nick.  Her mother, hovering anxiously, looked back and forth between the two detectives and her daughter, seemingly about to break in, though—in the event—managing to keep silent.

“And you saw this at the time?” asked Tracy.  “You didn’t just turn round when you heard the screech of brakes?  Or the sound of the crash … the screams?”

The child, who had been talking with polite cooperation, suddenly froze with a strained desperation.

Tracy scrabbled in her pocket for a Kleenex.

“Please!” said the mother.

“I was … w-w-w-walking along that way, facing that way,” the girl stammered.  “It was just the bus stop, you know—just the bus stop up ahead.  With people, the way it is … quite a lot of people, the way it is when the bus is about to come.  Only not yet:  it didn’t come along till later, after the accident.  And then it had to stop because the police were … the sirens were … and the ambulance.  And another amb—”  Her hand went to her mouth, and she stopped with a shiver.

“We’ll need to get a formal statement,” said Nick gently.  “But not right now:  I think we’ve got what we need for now.”

They left, with apologies.  For once, Nick’s remarkable facility with parking spots had failed:  by the time the phone call had come from the mother, permit holders had filled all the nearby spaces; and the Caddy was, therefore, on the wrong side of the next street over, mag-light on the roof in case a squad car came by.  There was still a slight chill in the air; and, as they walked, Tracy pulled her gloves from her jacket pocket.  The story they had just heard was utterly believable:  the case was simple, and closed.  The ride back to the station was therefore punctuated with her comments on parents who let their children go to the corner store after dark.  Nick, who had lived in other, less protective times, stayed mostly silent.  To him, that was not the greater astonishment.

When they reported to the Captain, his reaction was much the same.  “It’s the craziest damn thing I ever heard of.”

“I know,” said Nick ruefully.  “But she’s a fine little witness; and I believe it.”

“He swerved to miss a squirrel?!”

“A black squirrel,” confirmed Tracy.  “Dark on dark—how he saw it is beyond me.”

“Damned dangerous driving,” said Reese.  “If he were alive, I’d do him for manslaughter at least.”

“Well,” said Nick, “you can’t say he didn’t keep his eye on the road.”



“Hi, this is Dr. Lambert….”



As Grace hit playback on the voice mail, Natalie came up from the subway station into the concourse at the south end of the Eaton Centre and looked around for a map.  “You are here,” it said, a bold red arrow on the plan of the mall, shops on multiple floors indicated by number.  She looked at the legend below, hunting for “Restaurants”.



“Hi, this is Dr. Lambert….”



As they left Reese’s office, Tracy dug once again into her pocket.

“You okay?” asked Nick.

Instead of answering, she turned back.  “Captain?” she called.  “If we’re sure this is … well, accidental sort of, so to speak—”

“Not being passed to the Crown Prosecutor, anyway,” said Reese.

“Well, I was thinking of writing it up and then knocking off early for the night.  I don’t know—”  She looked apologetic, digging deeper into her pocket.  “—I feel something coming on.”

“You out of Kleenex?” asked Nick.

“And pick some up on the way home,” added Tracy ruefully.

“Ah, the flu is going round,” said Reese easily.  “Yeah, sure.  Go home, get some rest.”  He looked past her at Nick and added, “Knight can do the paperwork for once.”

Tracy grinned, and gave Nick a light punch on the arm.  Before he could protest, she was out of the office and seated at her desk.  “I’ll just copy my notes for you,” she said, “though I doubt you missed anything.”  As he moved round to his own desk, she looked past him, up to the rear of the squad room.

Something had caught her attention.  Nick turned to see a pair of uniformed officers coming out of the back corridor with a prisoner.  As the man looked round, Nick recognized him:  Dilbert Dawkins.  Who had picked the fugitive up, he didn’t know; but the face was unmistakable.  Whether the man was being taken to interrogation or downstairs to a paddy wagon for transfer … well, it was routine enough.  Nick did not bother to wait to see where they were going.

As he turned to pull out his chair, though, there was a sudden commotion.  Tracy half rose to her feet in alarm; and he swivelled fast to see Dawkins struggling.  The grip of his guards was firm; yet Nick tensed.  Subliminally, from her scent and heartbeat, he knew Tracy, behind him, also was ready to move if need be.  Even with the room on alert, Dawkins continued to try to pull free, all the while protesting vigorously that no one was going to get him to “go back there”.

The office door opened; and Reese strode up the squad room, moving surprisingly swiftly for a man of his bulk and rank.  “What the hell’s going on there?” he called loudly.  “What’s this man’s problem?”

“We’re holding him for pick-up,” one of the uniforms replied.

“Settle down,” Reese told Dawkins, in a hard firm voice, “or I’ll have you cuffed and shackled.  Do you understand me?”

For a moment, Dawkins quietened.  Reese nodded a strict approval.  The crisis under control, he headed back to his office, past Nick and Tracy, and shut the door.  There was a slight relaxation from high alert, as Dawkins remained quiet in custody.

“You might as well take off now,” Nick said.

Tracy hesitated uncertainly.

“No, no, go,” said Nick.  “Don’t worry about your notes.  I’ll do the write-up:  it’s pretty straightforward, after all.”

“Sure?”

“Oh, come on, Trace,” he said with a twinkle, “if you don’t, I’ll have you breathing those germs at me over the desk.”

“To add to those from the Caddy.”  She gave him a rueful nod.  “Oh, Lord!  I hope you haven’t caught it already.”  She rose decisively, shoved her chair in, and headed up the side corridor.  As she neared the side exit, she turned for a moment to call back, “See you tomorrow.”

“No!” responded Nick instantly.  “You take your flu home and put it to bed for a week.”  He spoke loud enough to draw the attention of those at the end of the room, and heads turned.

Whipping his hand down, Dawkins snatched at the nearest holstered weapon.

Instantly, Nick rose, reaching for his gun with vampire reflexes.  Yet Tracy and the other officers in the room were only a split second behind.

“Give yourself up,” said Nick, as Dawkins looked around wildly.  He was, he knew, too far away; still he vainly tried to infuse his tone with vampire persuasion.  It was no good.  Catching Dawkins’ eye was impossible at the distance.

Behind him, Reese came out of his office.  Nick could hear his footsteps stop as he took it all in.  Giving the Captain a quick sideways glance, he saw that he, too, was reaching inside his jacket.

In a carrying voice, Reese ordered, “Lower it and hand it over—or we will shoot.”

“I can’t go back,” cried Dawkins.  “I won’t go back.”

With sudden desperation, he turned the gun to his own head.  But, as soon as it was no longer directly pointing at anyone else, the officer nearest to him hauled his arm down and pried the weapon loose.

Holstering her own gun, Tracy gave Nick a quick nod.  Then—before she could be told to stay and fill out an incident report—she slipped out to the parking lot, and headed home.



“Hi, this is—”



“—a ‘long time no see’, isn’t it?” said Natalie brightly as she came up to the table.

“I was starting to wonder if you’d ever be in when I phoned.”

Natalie sat down.  “Well, you could have left a message, you know.  I do sometimes call back!”  She laughed.  “No, but seriously … I think you mostly tried to get hold of me days; and, let’s face it, I’m usually sound asleep with the phone on mute at that time.  Not that it’s a surprising time for you to call, of course, given that we’re not all of us perverse enough to keep weird hours on night shift.  Also, there’s a lot of flu going round, you know.  I’m covering for too many people.”

The server came up and offered a menu.  She gave him a politely sweet smile, and said she’d order in a minute.  “Though,” she added to Laura as soon as he’d gone, “I think I’ll skip a meal and go straight to dessert.  And coffee.”  Wryly, she added, “For me, it’s just after breakfast, God help it!”

“So apart from long hours and hard work, how’s life?” asked Laura.  She smiled faintly.  “If you have one, that is.  Or have things changed?  I seem to recall that, back in the day, we were all for work-and-no-play.  I’m not sure it was a matter of principle, exactly; but it was certainly all the focus of our lives, day and night.”

“A couple of raving workaholics,” Natalie agreed.  “Well, there’s a fine young fellow named Sydney living with me.  Mind you,” she added dryly, “he has grey fur and a long fluffy tail.”

“You’ve no one of the human persuasion, then?”

“Well,” said Natalie, thinking of Nick, “yes and no.  Depending on how you look at it.”  This, of course, would mean nothing to her old friend:  she didn’t think she’d ever even mentioned the detectives working the cases she autopsied, let alone the one who had become a case in his own right.  One does not, after all, tell a psychiatrist that one knows a vampire.

Laura looked at her, a long pensive sad look that made Natalie stiffen.  Deep inside, some alarm rang.  “If there’s a man in your life, don’t lose him,” said Laura quietly.  “Don’t make my mistake.   There’s been no one for me—not ever.  No time to look; and no one there to find if I did.”

Natalie didn’t rush to response.  She sought the slump in her friend’s shoulders and the lines by her eyes; and then she said slowly, “Laura, what’s wrong?  And can I help?  We have seen too little of one another down the years, but … once upon a time, after all, you were my closest friend.”



trumpet


“Trumpet St Peter’s Angels” was written for Chamilet in Yuletide 2015 to the prompt:

“Natalie Lambert and Nicholas Knight.  I’d love a resolution to the series ending!”
with the following additional information from Chamilet’s Dear Yuletide Letter:
“I really hated the way this ended, so maybe a fix it for that?  I’m fine with Nat being turned.  Something porny would be great!”

Some of the dialogue (particularly in the penultimate scene) is adapted from the series finale, “Last Knight”, which was written by Michael Sadowski.  The title comes from Lacroix’s opening (and closing) speech about death and faith, which includes the line, “Is that sound you are hearing the trumpeting of St Peter’s angels or the screams of Memnoch’s tortured souls?”

The story was posted to the main Yuletide Collection on 20 December 2015.



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This story was written for Yuletide 2015 and posted to the Yuletide collection on 20 December 2015.

Forever Knight and all characters and images from the original series are the property of Sony/Tristar.  This story has been written as a commentary on the original work.  No copyright infringement is intended.

The fancy background came originally from GRSites.com, and was modified there and with Microsoft Picture Manager.
The turquoise background graphic comes from BoogieJack.com.
The rippled copper background graphic comes from Infinite Fish.
The glittery gold background graphic came from Heather’s Animations, and had its colour altered with Microsoft Picture Manager.
The other background graphics came from 321Clipart.com, and had their colour altered at GRSites.com and/or with Microsoft Picture Manager.
The telephone icon comes from Wikimedia Commons, and is in the public domain.

All original material on this webpage copyright © Greer Watson 2015, 2016.