Back at home, Seeley read and re-read the file Fox Mulder and Dana Scully had compiled for him. No one could accuse them of not being thorough. He'd done some research himself online. Sunnydale was, in fact, a hot bed of death and destruction. He tried to picture a fifteen-year-old girl thrown into a life threatening situation. She'd said she was expected to keep her identity a secret. Tough stuff for a girl that age, they loved to talk about everything.
He stood from his desk and walked to the kitchen. He grabbed a beer from the fridge and walked to the window. He raked his fingers through his hair as he took a pull from the bottle. It'd been over a month. The case had been closed. He crossed paths with hundreds if not thousands of people. None had gotten under his skin like Buffy Anne Summers. It was baffling.
The dreams, especially, bothered him. He couldn't remember them, but occasionally he'd get a flash of an image while awake. They were distracting and a little arousing, which was not good when they happened on the job. He'd spent maybe thirty minutes of his life in her presence, but somehow she'd gotten under his skin.
Maybe it was her story. Maybe he wanted to be on the receiving end of the undying love and devotion he saw in her eyes when she spoke of her Angel. And maybe things weren't as black and white as they seemed. Was there a possibility that he and Angel were the same person?
It seemed unlikely. Impossible. She had mentioned, though, that memories had been altered three times that she knew of. He hadn't pressed the issue because he hadn't realized she would still be on his mind a month later.
He returned to his desk, opened the file folder, and studied her picture. It was a computer generated shot from one of Maggie Walsh's computers inside the Initiative compound. She was battered and bruised. The file says she'd come into contact with an escaped hostile. Seeley sensed looking at the picture that there was more to it than that. There was a look in her eyes that said "don't fuck with me" loud and clear. Maggie Walsh had died shortly after and the file indicated that while some suspected Buffy she was killed by her own experiment gone bad. An experiment Buffy had to take down herself in order to stop it from further destruction.
There were other photos in her file. They stopped sometime during 2001, which coincided with the government pulling out of Sunnydale completely. After shutting down the Initiative compound in 2000 they'd maintained surveillance to monitor the situation for a while.
He pulled out a series of black and white photographs of Buffy sleeping spanning a few months. Sleeping beside someone that wasn't Angel. For some reason that bothered him. She'd told him that Angel had left Sunnydale after she graduated high school. These pictures proved she'd tried to move on. The file indicated the man was Riley Finn, now married and actively involved in the takedown of demons worldwide.
So, what had happened? Why was she still single now years later? He had been left with the feeling that there was no man in her life. That just seemed wrong to him.
He focused his attention on the guy in the pictures. Riley Finn. He was similar in appearance to Angel. And to himself. There wasn't much on Finn in the file, which didn't surprise him. He could get the information if he needed it, but it wasn't really important.
He glanced at his clock and took another pull on his beer. He drummed his fingertips on the sheet he was currently reading. He wondered if Riley Finn had provided some of the information in the file. There were a few things that seemed more personal than an objective observer might know. How would she feel if that was true? An ex-boyfriend providing the government information on her. It could be construed as a betrayal of trust, though there wasn't anything earth shattering in the file. They knew who and what she was, that was damning enough.
There were other photographs. A copy of the framed one he'd seen in the front hall of her house. The subjects in the picture with her were Willow Rosenberg and Alexander Harris. Both seemed to not just know of Buffy's identity but had helped her. He wanted to learn more about vampire slayers, but everything he'd found on the Internet seemed mythical.
Without thinking too hard on it, he picked up his phone and dialed the number located on the page he was currently reading. It was the notes of his interview with her last month. Between 2001 and now there were no entries about her personally. Just the destruction of Sunnydale and a note that it was believed the slayer survived. They didn't even reference her by name. Cold.
"Hi. Buffy? This is Seeley Booth."
"Agent Booth. How are you?"
"I'm doing well. You?"
"I'm fine, thanks."
"I didn't interrupt your studying did I?"
"Well, truthfully, yeah, but I could use a break. Has something happened with the case? I noticed the house is for sale again."
"Yeah, the Patton's didn't want to stay there."
"My end of the case is done. There will be a trial coming up. I don't have my notes here."
She sounded confused by his phone call. He wasn't sure why he'd called.
"How's Washington, D.C.? That's where you live, isn't it?"
"Yeah, I do. And it's fine." He glanced to his window. "Have you ever been here?"
"No, can't say that I have. Columbus is the furthest east I've been in the States."
He smiled and leaned back in his chair. "We'll have to change that."
"It'd be nice to see the nation's capitol."
"How are classes?"
"Oh fine. I can't believe how much easier it is to study and stay focused when my life is calm. No sister to protect, no mother dying on me, no boyfriend to worry about, no slaying."
"No activity lately?"
"No, not much. Here and there, but nothing that keeps me out late or anything."
"Why do I get the feeling you really mean that?"
"Because I do."
"Oh. Well, thanks."
He could hear the flirtatious tone in her voice. It wasn't a great leap of imagination to see the smile he'd be on the receiving end of about now if he were there in person.
"Good. Nothing too exciting."
"No serial killers to catch?"
"No, they must all be taking a holiday."
"Yeah, a lull isn't so bad sometimes."
"I'll be honest, I'm not really sure why I called. Other than to say hello."
"I didn't handle things too well. I avoided you and I'm sure that made you pretty shitty."
"Yeah, pretty much."
"It was just too much. You know? The way you look at me, thinking I'm him. It could drive a man to his knees. That look. It's frightening."
"I didn't mean to scare you."
"You didn't really. That's kind of the frightening thing."
"Yeah. Anyway, I could have handled it better. I should have at least reassured you that I didn't think you were nuts."
"Well, you didn't send the men in the white coats for me so I assumed that much."
"I've read your file."
"Wait. I have a file?"
"Yes, you do. It's not very extensive, but it says enough. The Initiative, Maggie Walsh, Adam."
"Ah. I should have known someone somewhere was keeping track. I guess I should be flattered I have a file. Huh."
"It stops for the most part once the Initiative was closed up. There are some notes about Sunnydale in general, but nothing about you specifically after that."
"Not surprising. They had taps on my phones."
"Yeah. It turned out to be a good thing."
"Listen. I have a couple of days vacation coming to me. I was thinking of coming to Columbus for the weekend. There's a game on Saturday and with Veterans Day it's a long weekend."
"You want to come here for a game?"
"Have you seen the Buckeyes play?"
"No, I can't say that I have."
"I'll see if I can round up two tickets."
"Okay. Don't mind me asking. Why?"
"I'd like to see you without a crime scene being across from your house."
"You want to see me?"
"That's what I just said."
"I guess it's okay."
"I'll stay at a hotel and everything. You can see as little or as much of me as you'd like. It's up to you."
"Well, that seems kind of silly. I've got plenty of room. You're an FBI agent. I should be able to trust you in my home."
"You're inviting me to stay with you?"
"I guess it did sound that way. Didn't it? Sure, why not?"
"I could think of a few good reasons. Foremost being you don't know anything about me."
"You're not the only one who can do research."
He smiled then. Oh yeah, he was in. "I suppose I'm not. I'll call you back once I've made the flight arrangements but I'm looking at getting there Friday afternoon sometime."
"Okay. You remember how to get here?"
"It's ingrained in my mind."
"I kind of figured it would be."
"I'll see you Friday then."
"Okay. Good night then."
"Good night, Buffy."
"Oh wait. What do you like?"
"Excuse me?" That was a loaded question if he'd ever heard one.
"I mean like food and stuff."
"Anything really. You cook?"
"I do. I don't claim to be very good at it."
"I'm sure it's better than what I'm used to eating."
"Thanks. Good night."
He hung up, set the phone back in its cradle and pumped his fist in the air. That had gone better than well. The idea for the weekend trip had been spur of the moment, but she was game. So was he. Now all he had to do was line up tickets to the game and he'd be set. There was something about college football games that got his juices going.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com