Staring down into his almost empty pint, Detective Sergeant David Stafford tried to deaden the sound of the pub around him. His fellow Sergeant, St. Claire sat across from him, while Detective Chief Inspector Franko lingered at the bar, ordering the table another round.
The outing was supposed to be a celebration, Stafford having been promoted to Detective Sergeantearlier on in the week, but all he could think of was how he would rather be at home with his wife. He disliked having to socialise with the DCI, the penetrating stare of his superior leaving him feeling exposed even on his off-hours. If St. Claire hadn't been the one to offer, he likely would have stayed at home.
His fellow was far better suited to situations such as the one he presently found himself in. For one, he actually enjoyed the DCI's company. David couldn't remember at least one week going by without the two venturing down to the local pub together.
After several seconds of muted isolation, David realised that St. Claire was talking to him.
"Hm?" he hummed, cocking his head into a questioning position. "Sorry mate, I was miles away."
"I was asking if you'd seen the news about what's been going on across the pond?"
David simply shook his head. After the media debacle in the aftermath of his first big case, he had been actively avoiding the news for the better part of a year.
"The FBI just caught a double serial," St. Claire elaborated. "Prolific. Apparently they'd been killing for the past five years. Over thirty victims."
"Fucking hell..." David muttered, suddenly thankful that the Cat Hunter had only killed five people.
"Here," St. Claire said, motioning towards a newspaper set down in front of a large man, sat alone in the corner. "Excuse me, pal? Mine if I borrow that? Cheers. Cheers." Quickly grabbing the paper, he unfolded it and showed David the cover. "The Minnesota Vampires. Catchy name, huh?"
"Better than the Cat Hunter," David shrugged, as Franko came back to the table carrying three glasses of varying sizes.
"What is?" the older man asked, sitting down and coughing.
"The Minnesota Vampires," St. Claire repeated, passing the paper over to the DCI. "They killed more than thirty people, and drained their blood. One of them had been using it to paint. Made a fortune at art auctions, before it came out what was going , huh?"
"If I cared about weird, I would have stayed on the MET Murder Squad," Franko replied, apparently unamused.
Finishing his first pint, David let out a slight chuckle. Even given his persistent unease around his superior, he occasionally still managed to amuse him. Usually the humour came when someone other than David was on the receiving end of a particularly dissatisfied response.
He thought that, perhaps if more people showed up to their gathering, he'd manage to at least get a small amount of enjoyment out of the evening.
Across the bar, sipping at the remains of a pint of Guinness, the Grinner watched the trio with sharp eyes. Drumming his fingers against the table, where the paper DS St. Claire had borrowed previously sat, he silently appraised them.
His lips parting into a thin but amused smile, he made a show of checking his watch before rising and smoothing down his shirt.
Leaving the pub, into the warmth of the summer evening, he checked the street for the Detectives' cars and double-checked that he had memorised their number plates correctly.
Pausing as he unlocked his own vehicle, his chest swelled in self-congratulation as he thought of how long he had been following them, unnoticed. And they still had no idea.
His patience was outstanding, even if he did say so himself.
But he had to be sure. He needed to know everything about them.
Everything was falling into place.
Starting the car, he moved it down the street, into an open space beside a set of double-yellow lines. There, he killed the engine. Moving his attention up and down the road, he made sure that his visibility was good.
He could still see the three cars, and the door to the pub.
Picking up a paperback from the passenger seat, he thumbed through it until he found his page, and settled in to wait for the trio to leave.
Mentally ticking through his options, he considered which one he would tail back home that evening.
Making up his mind, he broke into a grin.