Buffy made her way through the twelfth and last cemetery of the night with Agent Mulder by her side. Two vamps had risen from fresh graves and she had dusted them with little effort on her part. She slid her stake into her coat pocket and gave the FBI agent a slight shrug.
Angel had not shown up tonight, so she hoped Willow had gotten word to him to meet her at the Bronze. Once she thought she had felt him nearby, but he had not shown himself. The feeling was gone almost so quickly she thought she might have imagined it.
"So you do this every night. It's amazing," Mulder said, offering her a smile. She noticed he had left his sport coat off and exchanged it for an overcoat. Buffy noticed because he looked equally good in both, he sure knew how to dress.
"I haven't thought of it as being very amazing, but yeah I do this every night. Twelve cemeteries. Sometimes I spend more time in some or don't get to any if there haven't been any new burials."
"I just can't believe it. You know I was in LA a few years ago to investigate some killings that appeared vampire related. Any evidence was destroyed in a fire, though, so any proof there was burned up with the fire."
"Really," Buffy said, genuinely curious. She wondered how long ago it had been. To think there had been another Slayer then, one who obviously had died.
"Yes, in fact it was three years ago, almost exactly."
"Three years ago," she repeated. She was thirteen, had no idea what a Slayer was or that she would receive the calling when the one at that time died.
"You were probably in middle school then," he said with a slight sigh.
Buffy turned her head and pushed some hair back behind her ear. She felt so young, strangely more than she did around Giles. Probably because Agent Mulder was a hottie where Giles was Giles. Not that Agent Mulder was as old as Angel was, but still it was different. And here he was bringing up her age and what grade she was in when he was here investigating vampires. She hated being made to feel so young. Especially since she had done and seen things that made her feel so much older than sixteen and a half. "Yeah, seventh grade. I don't suppose you have to talk to many high school students."
"No, not normally. You'd be surprised though, Agent Scully and I have talked to a few. Few could compare to you, though. My sources told me you were special, but I had no idea what they meant. I have a feeling they're going to be quite jealous that I not only met you but was able to come along with you tonight. See you in action."
"Well, I just slay vampires and demons. No big. It's what I do."
"But you save lives."
"Not that anyone notices, but yeah, I do. Sometimes I don't save any immediate lives, but every demon or vamp I slay means someone doesn't die at their hands."
"How long have you been doing this, Buffy?"
"About a year or so I guess."
"Well, speaking as a man who has been working on cases for the last five or so years that no one else wanted to touch, you're probably making more of a difference than you know. Obviously Mr. Giles notices that you're making a difference."
"Well, yeah, but Giles doesn't count. I mean, he's Giles. It's his job to notice."
Mulder laughed lightly. "So tell me about the term Hell Mouth. I saw the reference, but don't know exactly what it means."
"Well, basically, it's like this place for everything bad and evil and it's here in Sunnydale. The town was built on top of an Indian burial ground. I don't know if that has anything to do with it or not. But it's a portal to a warped dimension that all the baddies want to unlock. And if they do, they will unleash hell on Earth."
"Well, you can be sure even after Scully and I leave Sunnydale, Buffy, that you have at least one more person who will notice and be thankful."
"There are people who really know about me? Your sources?"
Mulder smiled. Buffy liked Agent Mulder's smile. She normally didn't flirt with old people, but he was cute and he knew who she was. It was kind of nice, she always had to pretend around adults. Even her mom.
"Yes, three of them. They're friends of mine more than they are sources. I go to them for help sometimes and they come to me for help, or pass along things that spur their interest. Like what happened here on Halloween."
"I can't say it's the craziest thing that's happened, but it was pretty crazy. I dressed up as a late seventeen hundreds lady of station and lost all of my ability to fight or god to even think when Ethan's spell took effect. I almost died, literally seconds away."
"Talking about me and your near death experience, Slayer," Spike said from behind them. Buffy spun around instinctively, drawing the stake from her pocket without thought. "Who's the new beau? Didn't realize you and the poof had a falling out."
"Spike, what are you doing here?"
"Just out for a walk, luv."
The two stared one another down until Mulder cleared his throat lightly, his hands in the pockets of his coat. Buffy glanced from Spike to Mulder, her stake still at the ready. He did not look frightened, but he did not look overly confident either. "This is Spike, the one who was seconds away from killing me that night."
"You're a vampire then," Mulder said obviously interested. Buffy had dusted the two they had seen earlier almost before they had made their way out of their graves.
"What are you giving tours now, Slayer? If you're that hard up for cash, I have a few ideas to pass by you."
"I'm just interested in Buffy's work is all. No reason to insult the girl."
Spike scoffed and Buffy cringed. "If you had any idea what this girl has put me through since I've come to town you'd tell me I was too kind."
"Spike," Buffy interjected, not wanting the two to converse. "What do you want?"
"Nothing. I told you, I was just out for a walk, saw you here walking with someone else and thought I'd best check it out. I know how you run sort of hot and cold with Angel at times, so I was curious who was the reason for the coldness today."
Buffy opened her mouth to argue with him and then shut it. What could she say? Spike had not been in town that long, but long enough to know that Buffy and Angel did tend to get close, pull away, get close and pull away again. It was usually Buffy who did the pulling away because she accepted a date from someone else. She could not help it that she got tempted to go out with a human every once in a while.
"You don't strike me as the jailbait type," Spike said, tilting his head as he looked Mulder over. Buffy assessed him as Spike did this. He was dressed nicely in a pair of khakis and a blue dress shirt with a burgundy tie under his navy dress coat. His dark hair was cut nicely, short but not too short. His blue eyes were nice, but Buffy had to admit they were not nearly as nice as Spike's. Where that thought came from she did not know, but she glanced at Spike briefly and had to admit his eyes were nice. Buffy had to agree with Spike's assessment. Mulder was a hottie, but he definitely did not seem the type that would go for a girl Buffy's age.
Mulder chuckled lightly. "Not at all. As I said, I'm just interested in Buffy's work."
"Well, then, I guess I'll leave you to your work, Slayer. Ta," he said, turning away from them, the hem of his leather duster moving with his body.
"You don't stake him?"
"I've tried. Apparently, he wasn't in the mood for a fight tonight, because normally we can't run into one another without exchanging some blows."
"So am I going to get you in trouble with your boyfriend? Angel is it," Mulder asked, regarding her. Buffy felt her face grow warm, a sign that she was blushing. His eyes were nice, even if they were not as blue as Spike's, and he was looking at her. Buffy for a moment could believe he actually saw her, as Buffy Summers the girl, not as the Slayer or anything else.
"No, you won't get me in trouble. Spike just likes to cause problems."
"So he tried to kill you on Halloween? Why?"
"Because I'm the Slayer."
"No other reason?"
"Nope. It's part of the job. But it's in the fine print. He's killed two in the last century, so he's looking to add me to the notch of dead slayer's on his belt."
Buffy wondered if she had said too much, pushed his acceptance of what he had seen that night with the century remark. It was one thing to say he believed in vampires and another to come face to face with facts such as long life. "How nice. Does it ever get to you?"
"Sure it does. Every day. I actually died this year," she admitted coquettishly.
Mulder said something under his breath that sounded to Buffy like, "me too."
"What was that?"
"Oh nothing," he said. "So you died? You look pretty good for a corpse, Buffy."
She smiled brightly at his compliment starting them walking in the direction of the Bronze. "Well, my friend Xander and Angel happened to get there in time and resuscitated me."
"You're not kidding?"
"No, why would I joke about that?"
"I don't know. I just assumed it was a near death experience or something."
"Nope, a vampire killed me. I knew it, too, knew that he was going to kill me, I mean. Giles has all of these books, they tell prophecies and stuff. I overheard Giles and Angel talking about it, that I was going to die. I quit, you know, I mean I'm sixteen and I just wasn't ready to die. What girl my age would be? You're way older than me, right? Would you walk into a situation knowing you were going to die?"
"Well, I take that risk every day as an agent, Buffy, but that's not the same I guess. So you went ahead and faced the vampire anyway then?"
"Yes," she said, retelling him the story of that night. "I couldn't do it, quit and walk away. Maybe no one notices what I do, but they would notice if I didn't do it."
"You're wise beyond your years, Buffy. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not."
Buffy regarded him with a sidelong glance through lowered lashes. "I wonder that every day. Sometimes I get kinda mad at Giles. It's like he forgets I'm a junior in high school. He expects me to be all adult-like. Like going to the Bronze, the place we're meeting your partner at, he just doesn't get that I need to go out and dance sometimes."
"Right, well, we old guys can forget what it's like to be young sometimes."
Buffy giggled. "You're not that old, Agent Mulder. Not as old as Giles is anyway."
"Well, that's good to know, that you don't see me as being that old. I guess that means there's hope for me yet."
"Hope for you yet for what?"
He smiled widely, charmingly and Buffy sensed that he knew exactly what he was doing. Her Slayer senses weren't on alert or anything, but he was definitely working her. "Oh, I don't know, lots of things, Buffy."
"I'll bet you don't even dance," she said now that they were in the alleyway outside the Bronze.
"You would not lose that bet, Buffy. My partner has tried to get me to dance once or twice when we were on assignment that actually called for dancing."
"She's pretty," Buffy said and thought she saw a flash of agreement in his eyes. "Most guys would have taken advantage."
"What can I say? I'm just a nice guy. No advantage taking. Besides, it's Scully, she's been my partner for years now. But you're right, she is pretty."
"Partners could turn into more," she said with a slight smile despite it being none of her business. She paused to reach for money to pay the cover charge. Mulder placed his hand on her forearm. "No, allow me," Mulder said, paying for both of them.
"Thanks," Buffy said smiling coyly, pushing some hair back behind her ear. She glanced at his hand on her forearm and then met his eyes. "That's nice of you."
"My pleasure, Buffy. Thanks for an interesting evening."
"And it's not even over yet."
"I can't wait. Just don't tell Scully or she'll expect me to pay for her cover, too," he said with a wink and Buffy laughed.
They entered the Bronze. Buffy was used to the layout of the club, but she waited for a minute by the door to let Agent Mulder's eyes adjust to the club's dark interior.
"I see your partner," Buffy said, pointing in the direction of Scully. "And Willow, Xander and Cordelia are with her," she said.
Mulder placed a hand at the small of Buffy's back and she jumped slightly at the contact. "Sorry," he whispered. "It's habit."
"No, it's fine. I'm all for a guy acting gentlemanly."
"It'll be our secret," he said, leaning towards her to be heard over the music. "It's not a bad band."
"No, they're usually pretty good here. It's close enough to LA that they can get them to come down here. Since it's the only club in town, the bands are assured some decent money. Some bands are local, too."
"Hey Scully," Mulder said as they got to the table.
"Hey, Wills, Xander," Buffy said smiling. "Hi Miss Scully," she said keeping with how Mulder had told her to address him as Mister instead of Agent. "Cordelia," she said, acknowledging the brunette last.
"Hi Buffy. Mulder," Scully said.
"Can I get you all something to drink," Mulder offered.
"You're buying, Mulder," his redheaded partner asked.
"I'm feeling generous tonight."
"Lucky us," Scully said.
Buffy listened to the partners banter but her eyes scanned the Bronze looking for Angel. Mulder went to the bar to get drinks for everyone.
"He'll be here, Buffy," Willow whispered.
"You got a hold of him?"
"Yes, he said he would be here."
"Was he mad I had you call him?"
"He was a little confused, but he wasn't mad."
"Okay, good. I'm going to help Mr. Mulder carry our drinks," Buffy said, in part hoping to catch sight of Angel before he joined them at the table.
"Need some help," Buffy asked Mulder as she approached the bar.
"Hey there," he said, offering her a genuine smile. "I suppose I could use an extra hand if you're sure you don't mind."
"Just call me extra hand girl. I don't think your partner likes me very much," Buffy said as she turned placing her back against the bar, looking out into the club.
"Scully? She doesn't know you to not like you, Buffy. She's just a skeptic. I'm sure she would come up with some scientific explanation for everything I saw you do tonight."
"So why is she your partner then? Doesn't she get in the way of your work?"
"Actually, just the opposite and it's why I asked her to meet me here. We work out of D.C. and I happened to be nearby when I checked in with my friends and they mentioned your Halloween incident. Sometimes she's frustrating," he said, pausing to order the six drinks. "But overall, she keeps me honest, keeps my out there opinions in check."
"Yeah, but if you say she'd explain away things like what you saw tonight, what's the use in that. I mean, whenever anything on campus happens, the school board always blames it on gangs or drugs or gangs on drugs. I get kind of tired of having my work being swept under a rug."
"Well, Buffy, I think some people just prefer to believe the type of thing you deal with, and what I saw tonight, is just a product of nightmares."
"So you think Scully's pretty, huh," Mulder asked.
"Yeah, I mean, for a girl her age, sure. I love her hair."
"I'll let her know you said that, then I'm sure whatever you're picking up on that tells you she might not like you too much will go away. Your hair is nice, too."
"Thanks." Buffy laughed and turned to face him. She felt her face get warm once again at his compliment. "You're funny. You're nice. You know how to talk to me like I'm a person and not a kid. Thanks."
"You don't act like a kid and I saw evidence tonight that you're not a kid."
Buffy's senses picked up on Angel's presence at the same time the bartender placed the six drinks in front of Mulder. Buffy took two while Mulder paid for the drinks. She turned around again and scanned the room for Angel but did not see him right away. He was there, though, she knew it.
And sure enough as soon as she stepped away from the bar there he was looming large before her. "Who's he," Angel asked, inclining his head in Mulder's direction.
"Mr. Mulder," Buffy said simply. "Here, take these," she said, handing him the two cups she was holding. "Willow, Xander and Cordelia are over there sitting with Miss Scully." She turned back to the bar and grabbed two more cups while Mulder took the last two.
"Angel I guess," Mulder said simply. Buffy could see that the FBI agent was scrutinizing Angel. Not that she blamed him exactly Angel was obviously older than Buffy.
"The jealous type I take it."
"Just a little," Buffy said sardonically. "Doesn't like to admit it though."
"Most of us don't," Mulder said, his eyes following Angel as he made his way to the table where the others were. "He's older than you?"
"Yeah," Buffy said simply, not sure how else to expound on that without telling too much. "But he's not a creepy weird guy or anything," she added as they approached the table.
"Angel," Buffy said to her now brooding and somewhat suspicious boyfriend. It was not her fault that Agent Mulder was cute. "This is Mr. Mulder and Miss Scully, they wanted to talk to us about Halloween."
"Yes," Mulder interjected. "I learned about what happened, people turning into their costumes and came to find out more. I understand you were with Buffy most of the night."
"Yeah, as soon as the craziness started I headed to her house."
"So you weren't dressed as anything?"
Buffy and her three friends snorted softly and Angel just scowled. "No, Mr. Mulder, I was not dressed as anything."
"And you, Cordelia is it," Mulder said, addressing the brunette. "I understand you did not change into your costume either."
"No, but my costume got ruined. I was a cat you see and someone slashed up the arm of my leotard. It was terrible. I mean, I spent a lot of money on that costume and now it's ruined."
"Yes, I can see where that would be traumatic," Mulder said, rolling his eyes and winking at Buffy. At least she thought he winked at her. Oh boy! Angel saw it, too. She was really going to be in for some insaneness now. And this was not even her fault.
"Cordelia got her costume from Party City, though, not Ethan's," Willow offered.
Mulder nodded his head slightly making note of the redhead's comments. "So, Angel, I can imagine it must have been pretty weird for you to have to defend Buffy, worry about her."
Angel arched a brow, stealing a glance at Buffy. The unasked question was obvious, he knows?
"I was with her tonight while she made her rounds and I have to say I was impressed." Mulder turned to Scully. "I have to tell you, Scully, Frohike loves you and your kung-fu, he would be drooling over Buffy and her moves." Scully laughed but Angel did not. In fact, Buffy noticed that he looked furious.
"Let's not tell him about her moves then, Mr. Mulder," Angel said quietly but nonetheless threateningly.
Mulder held up his hands in resignation. "Hey, buddy, it's just a little inside joke is all, Scully and I have accumulated a few of them over the years." He paused realizing his explanation was not calming Angel. "Anyway, it must have been hard."
Angel clasped his hands together, focusing on the tips of his fingers for a minute. Buffy recognized this pose, he was thinking, dwelling on what could have happened. "It was. She had no idea who or what she was, or even when she was. It was frustrating. I'm not used to having to worry about her."
"You helped look after me," Cordelia interjected. "I mean, I could have been killed or, worse, raped. Who knows what some of those people would have been capable of?"
"That's true, Cordelia," Buffy said in a mock soothing tone.
"So had you met this Ethan Rayne fellow before, Angel?"
"No, if I had I would have told him not to sell that dress to Buffy."
"You didn't like it," Mulder said turning an assessing and scrutinizing gaze to Buffy. She glanced between the two men knowing she was blushing deeply. "I think she'd look pretty hot dressed as an eighteenth century lady of station."
"Mulder," Scully said in a cautioning tone. Buffy was glad Scully said something, the last thing she needed was Angel getting any more jealous tonight.
"No, she looked great," Angel said and Buffy smiled happily at the compliment. "But I like the regular Buffy, no hoop skirts, no corsets, no more layers than necessary, and not helpless."
"Angel," Buffy said secretly pleased but embarrassed that he would say that in front of the two adults.
"What? It's true. I mean not that I've seen under the layers or anything," he added with a questioning gaze.
"Hey, I agree with you," Mulder said. "I mean, not about Buffy in particular, but I'm all for today's fashions."
"Exactly," Angel said. Buffy could not help but laugh lightly at that. Agent Mulder could not realize that Angel had first hand knowledge of his fashion preferences. At least those dating back to the mid eighteenth century.
"Now I know why you haven't paid any attention to me since we arrived in this damn town. I need to put on a miniskirt and show off my breasts."
"Scully," Mulder said with a frown. Buffy noticed that the corner of his lips moved as if he was amused. Buffy cocked her head slightly as she regarded Agent Scully. Buffy was not sure how old she was exactly but she was pretty and she was not fat or anything. She could certainly get away with wearing whatever she wanted to wear. She certainly was not as old as Buffy's mom was. "I haven't been ignoring you. We're here to investigate remember. You don't need a miniskirt for me to notice you, but far be it from me to stop you if you'd like to try a new style."
Buffy shot Mulder a warning look. Scully obviously liked him and he liked her, but they weren't admitting it to one another. Buffy knew the symptoms too well from her own experience with Angel. But saying those things was not the way to tell her he liked her. "I think you look real nice, Miss Scully. I mean you're an FBI agent," she said, stressing the job title for Angel's benefit. "You have to dress kind of conservatively."
"Your FBI agents," Angel and Cordelia both asked at the same time.
Oh no, Buffy thought to herself, I forgot about Cordelia. "Yes, they are, but you can't tell anyone they were here. You got that Cordelia?"
"Yes, I understand. Why are you just telling me?"
"Because everyone else knows not to say anything."
Buffy heard the beginning chords of a slow song she loved. She stood from the stool and walked to Angel taking hold of one of his hands. "Want to dance," she said looking up into his brown eyes. She smiled a bit nervous afraid that he might say no.
"Sure," he said his brow furrowed slightly. She glanced at Mulder, giving him an encouraging nod.
She and Angel got out to the dance floor and Buffy smiled when she saw the two agents on the floor as well. "He asked her," Buffy said victoriously.
"What," Angel murmured, brushing his lips against her hair. Angel was not much of a dancer. Really they just sort of stood on the dance floor, held one another and moved a little to the music. It was enough for Buffy though. She got to be in Angel's arms for a few minutes and it was a place she liked to be. The band was smart, playing the wordless intro for a couple of minutes to give any couples that wanted to a chance to get on the dance floor.
Girl, you're looking fine tonight,
and every guy has got you in his sights
What you're doing with a clown like me,
is surely one of life's little mysteries
"Mister Mulder. He asked Miss Scully to dance. We talked about this earlier, dancing, and he said he never danced even when they've been on assignments where it might have been a good idea for them to dance. I think she's pretty, don't you?"
So tonight I'll ask the stars above,
"How did I ever win your love?"
What did I do?
What did I say,
to turn your angel eyes my way?
Angel glanced at the FBI agent in question. "Buffy, I'm not going to answer that question. If I say no you're going to ask me why and if I say yes you're going to get jealous. But they do look good together," he added quietly.
"See, that's what I thought when I saw them today. I don't know what their deal is but they're just partners. Can you believe that? I mean it's so obvious they should be more than that."
"Obvious to you a seventeen year old girl."
Well, I'm the guy who never learned to dance,
never even got one second glance
Across a crowded room was close enough,
I could look but I could never touch
"A seventeen year old girl who happens to be the Slayer."
So tonight I'll ask the stars above,
"How did I ever win your love?"
What did I do?
What did I say,
to turn your angel eyes my way?
"Okay, but still. Things aren't always as easy as that when you're an adult, Buffy."
"It should be," she said pouting slightly.
"Hey, don't pout."
Don't anyone wake me,
if it's just a dream
'Cause she's the best thing,
that's ever happened to me
"Well, it should be. I mean they're both single and attractive. They spend all this time together and they're here in Sunnyhell. Why not?"
"You think he's attractive?"
"Well, sure, in a clean cut FBI agent way," she said softly.
All you fellows, you can look all you like,
but this girl, you see, she's leavin' here with me tonight
"He has sources," she continued due to the foreboding silence that followed her admitting she thought Mulder was cute. He was, Buffy was only seventeen. It was a duty to notice cute boys, no matter how old they were.
"I'll bet he does," Angel said dryly.
"No, I mean he has sources who know who I am. Can you believe that? He says they will be jealous when he tells them he not only met me but went patrolling with me."
"You took him patrolling?"
There's just one more thing that I have to know,
if this is love why does it scare me so?
It must be something only you can see,
'cause girl I feel it when you look at me
She raised her head from his chest to look at his face. She saw a hint of hurt in his eyes, hurt that someone else had patrolled with her. Someone who could have caused Buffy to get hurt. "Giles told me to."
"We ran into Spike. So, if you hear from Spike that I was out with another guy, it was just Agent Mulder."
"I feel better already," Angel said glancing at the pair of FBI agents who were dancing on the floor.
"Anyway, isn't that neat about his sources?"
"Angel, come on. You don't think that's neat? Someone knows about me, someone recognizes what I do. I mean, that's cool right?"
"Sure, I can see why you'd think it's cool."
"But you don't think it is?"
"I don't like people knowing about you. I don't like knowing some FBI agent or his source is going to come in here, human and know who and what you are."
"Angel," she said softly taking a deep breath. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him lightly. "No worries, all right. I thought we were past the whole Ford issue."
So tonight I'll ask the stars above,
"How did I ever win your love?"
What did I do?
What did I say,
to turn your angel eyes my way?
"I know it's just hard. I haven't felt things in so long and now I do I'm afraid I'm going to lose you."
"I'm not going anywhere," she said drawing closer to him as the song was coming to an end. "Maybe they'll play another slow one."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com