Sunnydale, California - The Next Day
The next afternoon after spending the day chasing loose ends Mulder drove them to Sunnydale High School. The information the Gunmen had provided him on the actual event was vague at best. The complete file the boys had on the town was set to arrive sometime today. Until then he had to talk to someone who might know what was going on and the Gunmen had said the person to talk to was at the high school.
So far Scully seemed to believe this was another of his wild goose chases, and he was beginning to wonder if it was not himself. Only one parent of a child who had changed into their costume was home and willing to talk to them. The mother of one Bradley Johnson unfortunately had little information to offer them. She had told them something they had not known before, high school students had been responsible for taking the children around trick-or-treating.
"Please tell me we're not going to a high school, Mulder."
"I could tell you that, but it'd be a lie," he said, offering her a heart stopping smile. "Come on, you know you always wanted to go back."
"No, I can't say that I have."
"We need to talk to someone here."
"Talking to a high school principal, Mulder, is not the way to be discreet. You are supposed to be dead, remember?"
"Yeah, I remember, Scully," he said, opening the driver's door of the car and getting out. He buttoned the top button of his suit coat after smoothing down his tie. His eyes scanned the school's exterior. There were some students sitting on the grass outside of the school. He glanced at his watch, it was late enough in the day school should be about letting out. Perhaps it already had and the students visible were stragglers or waiting for rides home. "Is it just me or do some of these high school students look older than we did?"
"It's not just you, Mulder," she said and Mulder could tell he was pushing his luck.
"All right, let's go visit this librarian."
"A librarian? You brought me across the country on a moment's notice to have a conversation with a high school librarian?"
"Ah, Scully, but that's not all he is from what the Gunmen's research indicates."
"A school librarian. You can't possibly think he's behind any of this."
Mulder laughed, running his fingers through his hair, stopping to check in the reflection of the car's paint to make sure he had not mussed it up. "No, I don't think that, Scully. But I do believe he has some information."
"I can't wait to hear it."
Mulder dropped the car keys into his pocket and started walking in the direction of the school's main entrance. "You coming or not, Scully?"
"I guess. I've come this far I might as well. Did Frohike know you were bringing me to a high school?"
"He sure did," Mulder said with a wide smile as he held open a door letting Scully and a couple of students come out before he stepped inside. "He knew I'd get here eventually anyway."
"Excuse me," he asked two girls who were in the hallway. "Could you tell me which way the library is?"
The two girls glanced at each other and Mulder wondered what the look was for. The redhead shrugged and then the blonde spoke. "Sure, I'm headed there so you can just follow me. Is Giles in trouble or something," she asked.
"What would make you think he was in trouble?"
"I don't know, your suit, the way too serious look on her face," the blonde said, gesturing to Scully. "You're cops, right?"
"No, we're not cops," Mulder replied unable to hold back the look he gave Scully at the girl's assessment of her look.
"We don't get too many people coming in here wanting to talk to Giles," the redhead said.
"No big. It's none of my business anyway. But he's not in any trouble, right?"
"I assure you, Miss, he's in no trouble," Mulder said.
"You can just call me Buffy. And you are," she said with a flirtatious smile. She had a sucker in her hand and happened to place it in her mouth at the same time that she smiled.
"Mulder. And my partner here is Scully," he said, gesturing to Scully who was rolling her eyes at the high school girl's flirtations. In truth, Mulder thought it amazing not only was he going to meet Rupert Giles, but the very girl the Gunmen seemed to believe was some sort of demi-god. How many Buffy's could there be at the school?
"I thought you said you weren't the police."
"We're not police, Buffy," he said his smile widening in amusement at her flirtation. "We're FBI agents, but we're here off the record so to speak."
"Oh. And you want to talk to Giles? That's cool. I'm sure you'll make his day. He loves talking to anyone who will listen to what he has to say."
"Great," he said, following her to the library. He pushed the door open, letting her and Scully pass through. The redhead trailed behind. "What," he said to Scully in response to the look she gave him once the redhead had walked past them. "Just being nice, never know where we might get information from."
"Right, Mulder. Do the words jail bait mean anything to you?"
"She's not at all my type, even if she was over eighteen."
"She's so totally your type, Mulder. Petite, perky and blonde with a petite brain."
"Hey, I resent that."
"But you're not arguing with me, so you know I'm right."
"You know you're the only woman for me, Scully. The only reason I go after that type is to try and repress my desire for you," he said his face serious as he looked around the library. It was not difficult to figure out the man in the tweed jacket and glasses with the thinning, graying hair was the librarian. Mulder approached the counter just as the man spoke to the blonde who had identified herself as Buffy.
"Buffy, you're late."
"Sorry, Giles," she said simply. She did not seem too concerned to Mulder about being late. This led Mulder to believe that this girl was, in fact, the girl the file referenced.
"Yes, well, you are here now so we can begin shortly," Giles said and then finally seemed to notice there were others in the library.
Mulder cleared his throat and extended his hand across the counter. "Mr. Rupert Giles?"
"Yes, may I help you?"
"My name is Fox Mulder and this is my partner, Dana Scully. We're with the FBI, but I'm actually here for personal reasons not business. We're not here in any official capacity."
The librarian frowned as he removed his glasses, cleaning them with a handkerchief. "What is this in regards to, Agent Mulder is it?"
"Yes, Mulder. It's about the events on Halloween."
"I'm not sure what you mean."
"I think you do know, Mr. Giles. I have it on good authority that not much preternaturally goes on in this town without you knowing about it. My sources tell me that this town got turned into real ghosts and goblins. They also tell me that you always seem to be nearby when things go down. You and your student here, if I'm not mistaken"
A look passed between librarian and student and Mulder knew he was not off base. Just who and what exactly the girl was, Mulder was not sure. He would have to wait and see what the rest of the Gunmen's file said. But the boys had made it sound like they would want him to get her autograph. From the looks of her, they'd probably want a lipstick print from her rather than a handwritten autograph.
"I'm not sure who your sources are, Agent, but I assure you I had nothing to do with what happened."
"I did not suggest you did, I wanted to talk to you. Get some information. And Buffy if she's available, with you or her parents present of course. Though again, we're here unofficially." He panned to the blonde who was seated at one of the tables with no books in front of her. She was here for a reason, it sounded as though the two had an appointment of some kind yet she just sat there as if she was in no hurry. "As I said, there is no official FBI investigation, but I'm interested in them."
"Well, I suppose I could walk you through the places once I'm done here this afternoon."
"Was anyone hurt during the time that the people became their costumes?"
"Unfortunately, yes, there were a fair number hurt with a few not recovering from their injuries."
"I'll want to see where those life ending injuries occurred."
"And what, Agent, makes you think I know?"
"Call it a hunch, Mr. Giles. Just call it a hunch." He glanced again at the blonde. "Was Buffy one of the students taking children around? Maybe she could show us around as well."
"Buffy," Giles called out.
"Yeah, Giles," she said her eyes darting between the three adults.
"These agents would like to be shown some of the places where the events occurred on Halloween. Perhaps you and Angel could show them, since you were both there." He turned his attention back to Mulder. "I was here at the library, you see. I only heard about the events from Willow here," he said, gesturing to the redhead, "when she came to me for help."
"She did not change into her costume then?"
"Well, she did," Giles said, an amused grin coming to his face. "She was a ghost. Scared the daylights out of me walking through the wall as she did." He pointed to a wall. "That one there."
"And you, Buffy," Mulder asked his attention on the blonde. "What were you that night?"
"I was an eighteenth century lady of station. I've never felt so helpless in my life," she murmured. "It was terrible. I could have died," she added and Mulder saw her visibly shudder. He glanced at Scully who seemed to notice it too.
"Well, the women back then were generally helpless," Scully said, Mulder knew she was trying to comfort the girl.
"Yeah, I guess," she said her eyes not meeting theirs. "Anyway, sure, I can take you around this evening. If you find the Bronze, it's a club, and meet me there about seven o'clock, I'll have the group of us together that were there that night."
"Great Buffy, we appreciate it." Mulder turned to look at Scully. "Any questions, Scully?"
"No, Mulder," she said her arms folded over her chest. "I think you're managing quite well on your own."
"Great. So, seven o'clock at a club called the Bronze. You're not going to stand us up are you?"
Buffy's eyes widened. "No. Not unless I can help it. Giles," she said a note of panic in her voice.
"She works, Agent Mulder, sometimes she's asked last minute to put in extra time."
"I can make sure Xander, Willow and Cordelia are there, so even if I get," she paused and glanced at Giles again which did not escape Mulder's notice, "delayed they can show you. They were all there. Cordelia didn't change. Will," she said, turning her attentions to the redhead. "Can you have Angel meet you there, too? You and Angel are the only two who were yourselves the whole time."
"Well, besides Cordelia, but," Willow said glanced at Mulder and Scully. "You'll find Cordelia thinks only about herself and how traumatic the whole experience was to her."
"Interesting," Mulder said though Scully did not look as though she found any of it interesting.
"Yes," Giles interjected. "We came to the conclusion that those who rented or bought their costumes from a new place this year, Ethan's, were the only ones who changed."
"Is this Ethan still around?"
"No," Giles said and Mulder could not help but pick up on the note of concern and frustration in the man's voice. "No, I'm afraid he's no longer here."
"But the shop is, right? We can take a look at that?"
"Sure, I can take you there. I'll tell you about my end of it."
"Great," Mulder said, wondering why all of the sudden the man seemed more cooperative. "I'm looking forward to it. My friends, the sources I told you about, they've been following you and your town here for quite a while. Lots of unexplained phenomenon going on here, some preternatural in nature, lots of missing persons or deaths."
"Yes, Sunnydale is an interesting town, Agent Mulder. Life here is never dull."
"That's interesting you say that, Mr. Giles. I noticed that you've only recently come to America let alone Sunnydale."
"Yes, you are correct, Agent Mulder. It was time for me to get out of England."
Mulder pursed his lips together and nodded his head. He suspected there was far more to it than that, but it was better not to say anything and risk pissing off the informants. "I understand that. I'm doing a bit of that myself right now. A break from the Bureau I mean. My sources hold Buffy here in high regard. So I hope she's not delayed tonight."
"Um, Giles, if you're going to be a minute, can I go back to my locker?"
"What? Your locker? Oh yes, of course, go on ahead," he said and Buffy and Willow both left the library. Giles turned his attentions to Mulder and Scully. "Agents, you'll find Buffy is not your normal girl. I don't know what your sources have told you about her."
"Well, I don't know much, Mr. Giles, to be honest. The complete file should be waiting for us at the motel when we go back there tonight. But it was implied that your student is rather special."
"She is, very. She still has a lot to learn, but she's exceeded even my expectations so far."
"Mulder has implied that she's something like a superhero, Mr. Giles. Surely you don't expect us to believe that," Scully interjected.
"I suppose, Agent, it might be hard for you to believe. I take it you are the doubting Thomas of the duo?"
"Something like that, but it's more that she's just a girl. In high school no less."
"Well, yes," Giles said with a nod. "If it were up to me she would not be a student, but she can be rather tenacious when it comes to something she wants. Unfortunately, she wants to act like a normal girl her age."
"Yes, I could see where that would be unfortunate," Scully said skeptically. "How dare she want to act her age or want to fit in?"
"Yes, Agent, I suppose it might sound callous or unfeeling, but you're dealing with forces and traditions that are older than civilization as we know it. I grant her more leniency than I am supposed to."
"How nice of you," Scully replied dryly. Mulder placed a hand around her forearm.
"Mr. Giles. Perhaps you could show us that shop now? And tell us what you know about the evening. I'd appreciate it. My partner here is always the skeptic, but before we get her sidetracked on your treatment of the girl I'd like to get onto the facts of the case."
"I thought you said you were here off the record, unofficially, Agent Mulder? I won't help the FBI in an official capacity."
"It is unofficial, Mr. Giles. Nothing we see or hear will be reported to anyone. I'm here to settle my own curiosities, nothing more."
"And your partner? She doesn't seem as open to this type of thing as you are."
"No, she's not, but it's situations like this that I need her most, Mr. Giles. If it weren't for her the past five years I would have flown off half-cocked so many times only to get myself or others killed."
"Very well then," he said, looking at his watch. "I suppose we can go. I'll stop by Buffy's locker on the way and let her know she has the afternoon off."
"She works for you," Scully queried and Mulder was a little surprised at her skepticism toward the man. In fact, if Mulder knew anything about Scully this man was in-line with her type of man. Not that Mulder knew that much about what her type of man was exactly.
"Well, yes, we work together would be a more accurate assessment of our situation."
"At the library?"
"Among other places, yes, Agent. I suggest we go before someone ventures in looking for a book or wanting to study here and delays us further."
"By all means," Scully said uncrossing her arms, dropping them to her sides.
"Better yet," he suggested as he led Mulder and Scully out the doors. "Perhaps, Agent Mulder you would like to accompany Buffy and I can show Agent Scully the shop and answer her questions about my end of things."
"That sounds good," Mulder said and caught the look in Scully's eye that suggested he was playing with fire. He merely shrugged. "Thanks for the offer."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com