Cards on the Table
By Marcus L. Rowland
Wolfram And Hart
April 11th 2004
Thanks for your note – might have guessed that little sod Andrew wouldn’t keep his mouth shut about me being alive. And thanks for keeping him from telling Buffy; I want her to get over me and find some nice bloke with a pulse, she deserves it. Glad you’re enjoying your stay in Italy. Met any nice boys yet?
You asked about Dracula – has the bugger popped up again? The previous time he was killed he took more than a hundred years to come back. I ought to know, I was about three feet from him when it happened.
Just took a look in the files here, and blow me if they don’t have copies of my diaries from 1895 through to the twenties. Thought I’d burned them, they must have copied them magically. And no, the Watchers can’t have them. Some things in there are private.
Anyway, I’ve copied the entries that describe what happened. Really not sure what I make of them now, you be the judge.
Tuesday November 14th 1899
Still in Romania, Angelus still moping about his bloody soul. Poor sod hasn’t eaten a human in months, he’s been living on cats and dogs. I’d bugger off, like Darla did last year, but Dru is really enjoying watching him suffer and I don’t want to spoil her fun.
Wednesday November 15th 1899
Dru was wittering on about doom, death and destruction, and everything being in the cards and the stars, when there was a knock at the door. Still daylight, which meant that I couldn’t look out, but I noticed a card on the doormat. Surprise, surprise, it’s a note from Count “I’m bored, so I’ll find an author and tell him exactly how to kill vampires” Dracula, suggesting we meet up for a drink and a game of cards tomorrow night. Bugger still owes me fourteen quid from last time.
Thursday November 16th 1899
Rained all day, cloudy enough that I nipped out in the afternoon and brought back a match-seller for lunch. It was worth taking the risk just to see Angelus’ face while Dru and I drained her. In the evening Angelus went to the opera, I got rid of the body then Dru and I had a nice evening at home.
Friday November 17th 1899
Dru and Angelus don’t want to come out – Angelus brooding about eating “poor kittens,” Dru caught a dozen last night and is having fun playing with them, and draining one every now and again when Angelus is watching. Nothing more said about doom and destruction, for a change. Decided to leave them to get on with it – just hope A. keeps his hands to himself, the randy git, I know what he can be like when he hasn’t had any for a while.
Later: Got to demon beer-cellar about eight, Drac was talking to a couple of humans – his minion Van Helsing, the ‘philosophy professor’ who used to find rich suckers to fleece in their little con game, and a stranger, young bloke who called himself Jack Harper. Drac took me off to one side and said that Harper was rich and played poker badly, suggested we take some money off him then share him once he was broke. Worked for me, I suppose, though I had a feeling that there was more to Harper than met the eye. There was something a little off about his smell, a bit like the Immortal but not the same. Decided to be v. careful.
Things went well for a couple of rounds, with me and Dracula winning, but when Harper dealt I thought I noticed something a little odd. I kept quiet about it and dropped out early, wanted to see what his game was, it turned out he was rigging the deal so that Dracula won! Very odd, I thought.
Dracula was supposed to deal next, and Harper shuffled the cards while Van Helsing was getting drinks – boar’s blood for mister “I never drink wine,” of course, the rest of us had lager. As Drac was dealing he offered a side bet – he’d let Drac drink from his wrist if he won the hand. He also hinted at other things, made me think he might be a bit of a shirt-lifter. If Dracula lost, he was to stay out of Britain for good.
Now this struck me as being a good idea, didn’t like that bugger playing his gypsy tricks in Britain, so I didn’t mention that I was sure that Harper had stacked the deck again and palmed a couple of cards as he was shuffling. He must have rigged the cut somehow too.
So everyone put up a quid for ante – Dracula paid mine from the money he owed me – and we started to play. Van Helsing bet a fiver, and I decided to fold, if the hand really was rigged I didn’t want to take any chances. Harper and Dracula both called. In the next round Van Helsing took three cards and Harper one, then Dracula took two and raised ten pounds. They both raised and Van Helsing called.
And surprise surprise – Harper had a royal high flush, and won the hand. Dracula cursed at him, of course, but Harper smiled and said “Your word as a gentleman and a nobleman.”
So naturally Drac, being the git he is, grabbed him and sank his fangs into his neck. Nobody batted an eye-lid, it was that sort of tavern. I saw Harper draw a pistol and guessed that the poor sod thought it would kill a vampire. The funny thing was that he was right. He jabbed it in Drac’s gut and fired it, and just like that Dracula was on fire and crumbling to dust. I’ve got a feeling that he won’t be coming from that in a hurry. That left Harper standing there, and the wounds in his neck closing and vanishing as I watched. I was right; he was another bloody immortal of some sort. He noticed me staring, and said “Magnesium powder. He shouldn’t have tried to take advantage.” I knew bloody well that he’d planned to kill Drac all along, but what the hell, it didn’t bother me. Except that my money was gone, of course, Drac still owed me eleven quid. Harper looked at me, and I guessed he was wondering if he should shoot me, so I said “No skin off my nose, never liked the bugger.”
We got to talking, and drinking, and it turned out that Drac had killed a couple of his friends, and he’d spent a few months tracking him down. That’s nothing to an immortal, of course. Always liked a bit of revenge, provided I’m not the target.
Meanwhile Van Helsing was blubbering, said that he’d given Drac the best years of his life and the bastard hadn’t even turned him. Now as it happened I was vaguely thinking that it was about time I had a minion, though I could live without that poxy foreign accent, so I asked a few questions and it turned out that his real name was Dalton and he was actually from Huddersfield. He really was a bit of a scholar, so I offered him a job as my human henchman, and promised to turn him eventually if he was good at it. And I realised that Harper was still watching us, and said “Don’t worry, not planning to go back to Britain any time soon.” He smiled, drank the rest of his glass, and walked out.
So with one thing and another it turned out a reasonably good evening. Drac’s gone, Angelus is all tears because he was “one of the greats,” the posh git, and I’ve got a minion. And Dru is finally willing to move somewhere warm, she doesn’t like the sound of Harper any more than I do. I’ve been thinking about China lately, they say that there’s a Slayer there and I’d really love to have a go. If we can just stop Angelus from coming along it ought to be fun.
Comments please before I post to archives.