DISCLAIMER: Tracy and Screed aren't my characters. They belong to TPTB. However, the Ratsie Wot Kilt Screed *is* mine. Even if it doesn't appear in this story, I love to point the truth of ownership out. Special thanks to me droog McLisa McDavis for helping me with some of the historical comments made by Screed. Comments and constructive-like criticism are welcome at LibRatsie@aol.com.
Permission to archive at www.fkfanfic.com and Screed's webpage only. All others need to ask first since it is the polite thing to do.
The frigid wind cut through Tracy Vetter's coat and gloves as she lifted the hood of her car. "Start, damn it!" she said out loud though the fierce winter storm had cleared the streets of traffic and the sidewalks of pedestrians. "Start!" Using her useless cellular phone, she banged on the battery a few times.
Not honestly believing the tactic had worked but willing to trust in miracles, Tracy grabbed the car for support, making her way around to the open driver's side door. She turned the ignition key. Nothing happened. Drawing in a deep breath she muttered, "If there's a God in Heaven, this lousy piece of automotive crap will start...."
"Dew ya really think the Almight-a-mongo cares wot yar putt-putt duz?"
Instinctively, Tracy jumped out of the still-open door, fumbling with gloved hands through her coat for her gun. Her feet hit ice. She slid. The last thing she heard before her head hit the pavement was, "Wot? Did ol' Screed shake ya up a bit?"
Tracy recognized the musty, damp smell. Though not her first choice of shelter, at least the cellar protected her from the wind and snow. In fact, the temperature seemed quite tolerable no doubt due, in part, to her heavy coat. Silently, she slowly sat up, rubbing the sizeable knot on the back of her head. Hearing a suspicious rustling, Tracy slowly opened her eyes. Two Screeds appeared through the candlelight, then crept together into one.
"Hey! Get out of my suitcase!" Tracy ordered. A wave of dizziness swept through her as she started to rise. Deciding to play it safe, she immediately sat back down.
Screed chuckled, dramatically lowering a brassiere back into the luggage. "Aye pegged ya more az a B cup, meself. H'ain't this un a bit baggy on ya?"
"That sweater you're wearing ... it... it's my nephew's Christmas present!" Tracy protested. "Don't tell me you opened the packages."
"'Kay, I won't, Baby Cakes," Screed shrugged smugly. "'Sides, 'cordin' ta me way o' markin' time, Christmas iz over with. Done. Vamoosh. H'it's New Year's Eve-time now. Too late fer deckin' the 'alls an' gimme gimme gimme."
Ignoring the tilting room, Tracy rose to her feet, then lifted Screed to his by the sweater's collar. "I had to work Christmas so I'm spending New Year's with my uncle and his family! We're exchanging gifts then."
Screed's eyes narrowed dangerously as he placed a hand on each of her wrists. "Lewkie 'ere, don't squeeze the Prince Charmin'."
Realizing she was dealing with a vampire and not your average street urchin, Tracy let go and mouthed an sarcastic, "Sorry."
Screed stepped backwards, smoothing out the sweater. All hostility disappeared from his face as he titled his head slightly. "Ol' Screed wuz jest thinkin' ya might want to be rewardin' 'im fer draggin' yar sorry h'arse h'in 'ere 'stead o' leavin' ya out h'in the cold, eh? Not like Aye wuz ex-pectoratin' drop-in, how-do-ya-do com-pan-ionship this eve."
Sighing, Tracy nodded. The blue sweater would be slightly too big for her nephew, who'd be more interested in the action figures any way. A perfect fit on Screed, the sweater actually looked decent on him - certainly better than the oversized, stained, hole-filled tan-colored one he usually wore. "Okay, you can have it."
The carouche grinned. "'Sides, ya only 'ad a fiver an' a couple o' Loonies in yar bag. Plus tha' bottle o' the expensive-like bubbly booze. Not much use-fulness ta me, 'course the squeakers might like a nip n' sip o' h'it."
As the heat of anger rushed up her body, Tracy yanked off her knit hat and slammed it into the room's only chair, stifling a scream of aggravation. Reaching out, she grabbed the suitcase, sliding it next to the chair. "Listen, Screed, let's get one thing straight - stay OUT of my belongings! It's bad enough I have to spend New Year's Eve in this rat infested sewer...."
Screed interrupted her with an indignant snort. "Ain't no sewer. More like a cellar. Aye've got me stand-n-guards."
"...Rat infested SEWER!" Tracy countered. "No heater, no running water, no washroom...."
"'Ey, lookie 'ere, missy o' me matie," Screed sniffed. "Aye may be a carouche-type, but ol' Screed iz civilization-ized. Obtained me one o' them..." he paused as he wiggled the fingers on each hand "...port-o-do-yar-bizness jest last May."
Almost afraid to look, Tracy followed Screed's gaze to a dark corner of his home. "You stole a port-a-potty?!?"
"Wot?" Screed said, his eyes wide with shock. "Ol' Screed may be many o' mischief-maker, but 'e h'ain't no thief. The contra-trap-a-thingee wuz roight there linin' the street wit' a bunch o' others durin' some sort o' 'Pride Week' evenin'vent. Someone, h'in a state o' not bein' sober, might o' tripped over h'it o' sumpthin', so Aye took h'it upon meselfishness to remove this 'un. Good citizen Screed, tha's me ta the end. Which puts a 'minder h'in me noggin. Az long az we's exchangin' giftees, Aye got me Baby Jane sumpthin'" Screed started digging through a trunk, tossing aluminum cans, pieces of worn clothing, and even a dead-looking stuffed animal or two onto the floor. "Eur-EEP-ka-doodle!" he cried, standing triumphantly, dangling a sparsely black feathered boa from his right hand. "Found this in tha' wash-yar-room. Someone must've left h'it there."
Or at least Tracy hoped it was a boa and not the roadkill remains of a large raven.
"Go a'ead, take it," Screed urged with almost child-like pleasure. "Try h'it h'on fer size."
"Take it? You've GOT to be kidding!" Tracy protested. "I can't believe this is happening!" She sat down hard in the chair, then stood long enough to remove her hat from the seat. She started to toss it to the floor. Thinking about the rat-droppings, she settled for holding it in her lap.
"Wot?" Screed asked. "Don'tcha loik the giftee?"
"What's to like about it, huh?" Tracy snapped. "Some piece of discard you found in a portable john?!? Spending every Christmas with family hasn't exactly been an option as a cop, not that I mind at all. Shoot, there's so many officers in my family that being together is a novelty! But I finally get a chance to at least spend New Year's with a few relatives, celebrate a late Christmas, and looks what happens!"
"H'at least ya 'ave a family wot to fa-la-la-la-la wit!" Screed glared at her, wrapping the boa around his own neck.
Tracy glared back, looking the vampire straight in his pale green eyes. Despite the anger of his tone, she noticed a sadness there. Perhaps even loneliness. "What about Vachon. I thought...."
"Yeah, Vacho-netti, 'e's a mate o' the best kind," Screed admitted. "Still, h'it h'ain't the same, ya know. Bein' a carouche-type, ol' Screed h'ain't alwayz welcome ta play vampire games. The V- man, 'e don't care 'bout tha', but the others, they do."
"Is he ... with others tonight then?"
Screed remained silent as he lowered himself to a squatting position. He didn't bow his head, but Tracy noticed his eyes shifted to look at the floor.
"I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't have asked that," she said softly. Screed remained motionless. She recognized the look since Vachon often wore a similar expression when memories overtook his thoughts. Her own mind drifted back to childhood Christmases filled with dolls, toy police cars, caroling, trees, and harsh words exchanged when her father missed yet another Christmas morning. She wondered if her parents realized the tears she'd shed sitting beside a pile of gifts as they fought in the kitchen. Shaking her head, she tried to force away the bad turn her memories had taken. "Screed, if you don't mind me asking, what about when you were mortal? A kid? Didn't you have family then?"
"Don't remember me sire h'at h'all," he admitted matter-of-factly. "Lost at sea when Aye wuz but a wee babe h'in nappies." Screed laughed, looking again at Tracy. "Kind o' 'ard ta imagine tha', ain't h'it?"
"Yeah," Tracy said, smiling at the thought.
"Seems loik now h'all Aye kin remember o' me Mum h'iz 'er tears when Aye left. Wuz barely out o' nappies then, but Aye 'ad ta. Wuzn't enuff vic-tu-als fer me an' me lil' twin sissies." Screed reached out to grab a passing rat. Tracy feared he was going to have a snack. Instead, he merely scratched between the animal's ears.
"Did you celebrate Christmas back then?"
Screed grinned, chuckling. "Da ya really think Aye'm tha' h'ancient-old?"
Tracy shrugged. "You don't exactly look your age."
"H'ain't tha' a bit o' the truth!" Screed's entire body relaxed. His face softened. "Aye did a bit o' sailin' h'in me youth. A cabin boy, ta start h'out wit'. Not 'xactly the Love Boat, lux-ur-ree-us speakin'. But come Christmas-tide, we'd sing some carols, maybe play some games h'if we weren't on duty. We'd 'ave a bit o' preserves on real bread, maybe gingerbread h'if the fixin's were 'andy-like. Now me fav' thing ta sink me teeth h'in wuz fruit, h'if we'd been h'at a fruit-'avin' port. One year, me first on the seas, me thinks, Aye nibbled so much fruit tha' Aye spent the good part o' the next day h'on a bucket gettin' rid o' the evidence, ta put it delo-kite-speakin'. Even h'in these mod-ular times, Aye think h'it wuz worth h'it h'in the end."
"Sounds ... interesting," Tracy said. "Like a true old fashioned Christmas."
"H'it WUZ a h'old, fastened-h'in-me-mem-o-ries, Chrissy- mass-tide," Screed huffed. The rat squealed loudly. "Didja 'ear tha', Baby Jane? The lil' ratsie a-firm-a-tives me point."
Tracy joined Screed's hearty laughter as she pushed up her coat's sleeve to peek at her watch. "Hey, it's only a few minutes until the New Year!"
"Blimey! Got things to do, eh?!" Screed stood. "Where's yar bubbly bottle?"
Tracy dug the champagne out of her suitcase and unwrapped the seal. "Here, but my uncle was going to supply the cork screw."
Still holding the rat, Screed used his free hand to grab the bottle from her. Before she could protest, the carouche became fully fanged and used his canines to yank out the cork. As he thrust the still spewing bottle back into her grasp, he spat the cork and champagne from his mouth.
"Thanks," Tracy managed to force out. As soon as the liquid settled, she wiped the mouth on her coat sleeve. The last thing she wanted to taste was Screed spit.
"Nasty stuff, tha'!" Screed shuddered.
"Hush yar lips!" Screed interrupted. "Kin ya 'ear h'it through the wind? Kin ya 'ear h'it? Kin ya?"
"The sound o' a brand new year! H'it's midnight, Baby Jane!"
Tracy thrust out the bottle. "To the New Year."
When Screed met her toast with his rat, Tracy managed not to grimace. "Who'd have ever thought I'd be bringing in a new year with a vampire?" she asked.
"This world h'is full o' wonders an' may we both put h'our peepers on many more."
"Many more," Tracy echoed energetically. She took a deep drink of her champagne, partially to divert her attention from Screed noisily draining the rat. "Many, MANY more...."