Word Count: 4,323
They never made it to his place. They did eventually order a second pizza, one that was hot. He'd even gotten out of bed to pay for it so she couldn't complain.
"That was so good," she said, wiping her hands off on a towel from the bathroom. She had nothing else to wipe them on except the sheet since she hadn't bothered to get dressed. She'd done a few things naked before, never eat pizza.
She gave a soft laugh. "The pizza. And the Coke. I haven't had either in ages."
"Sorry we couldn't get the hard stuff, but I don't drink."
"No problem, me neither. I learned a while ago alcohol and Buffy just add up to bad things."
He smiled at that. "Yeah, me, too."
She grazed a fingernail over one of the love bites she'd left on his chest. There were a couple. "You were good, too, by the way."
"I was, huh?"
"Yes, I was impressed."
"Well, yeah, guys your age aren't supposed to have such stamina."
He choked on his Coke. "What? I'm not that old."
She set the now empty pizza box on the floor and scooted next to him on the bed. She kissed his chin. "You're not? Hmm. It seems to me," she said, tracing her fingertip over the spot she'd just kissed. "You cried uncle a while ago. Demanded we get pizza."
"I warned you."
"I will never doubt you again."
"He says that now."
He chuckled and set his can of soda on the nightstand next to her double bed. "You said something about a shower."
"I did," she said, tousling her hair. "Is that a hint that I need one?"
He chuckled, brushing some of her hair that had fallen to her eyes aside. "No, I was going to suggest joining you. Prove that I still have that stamina you admired."
"Oh. Well, in that case…"
They took longer than necessary, but that was part of the fun of showering with someone. And on someone else's water heating dime.
He'd reclined on the bed and watched her dress when he was done. She could tell he was thinking something because while his eyes were watching her he wasn't all there.
"Are you going to stay here?"
"I was actually thinking I could take you out there and bring you home with me."
"I don't know if that's such a good idea."
"You could get lost out there, Buffy. A mile in the desert could go on forever and you might not realize it. Or is it the coming home with me part you're not sure about?"
She'd realized he'd had a point. "No, that's not it. Although, I need to say I don't do this type of thing. Not that you could tell or anything."
He'd smiled at that, looking quite proud of himself for a second there. "Me neither. I've been with a couple of women since Elena, but more to scratch the itch then anything."
She smiled, but was a little sad for him. "You do realize I'm leaving, right?"
"Yes, Buffy, I know. Seeing her made me realize my life's been pretty stagnant."
"So, you decided to use me to unstagnate it?"
"Seemed it was pretty mutual. If you think I'm using you…"
"That's not what I said." She slid her shoes on then her jacket. "I'd love to go home with you. I wish I didn't have to go out there at all, but I have to. It's part of who I am."
"So, I'll come with you."
"You have to let me do my job. The girl today was already dead, but if you're going to stop and question what I have to do when I'm about to stake something not already dead. Really, they are already dead, they're the undead. Well, I'll end up dead. And so will you."
"I get it."
As it turned out, she hadn't needed to lecture him. She ran across two vampires and dispensed with them both. She tried to question them to ascertain if someone was gathering forces or what was going on. Neither was chatty and she'd finally had to give up on the interrogation. She might have dialed it up a notch if Lee wasn't there, but she wasn't sure he could handle seeing her border on brutality to get answers.
She watched his face as they went all poofy and turned to dust. She'd seen that look a time or two before over the years. She knew he wouldn't be able to handle her dousing them in holy water or applying her cross to parts of their bodies until they answered her questions.
He surprised her by taking her back to his place like he'd suggested earlier. She thought for sure seeing her actually do the job would send him packing.
"Do they all do that?" He'd asked over pretty good - but best of all fresh - coffee.
"I've come across a few who haven't, but overall, yes."
"I don't know to be honest. Maybe the whole ashes to ashes thing. I've never asked Giles."
"And you've been doing this for ten years?"
"And it used to be just you?"
"Yes," she said simply. He really hadn't really been looking for answers to the questions. He was processing what he'd seen. She understood. She answered his questions as honestly as she could, though there were some she could not answer (not that she didn't know the answer) and he seemed to understand that. It was perhaps a nice thing about him being a cop, he understood that there were some things that just weren't open to public knowledge.
She woke the next morning to the bright Arizona sun peeking through his window. She groaned softly. They'd stayed up too late for her to wake up to bright and cheery sunlight. And the Arizona sun could be brutal, she'd learned that while driving through the desert on her way to Phoenix. She wanted to sleep longer. All day. That would certainly impress him.
"Yeah, right," she murmured.
She rolled onto her side, realizing then the other half of the bed was empty. Usually she was more aware of her surroundings than that. There was a note on his pillow. She grabbed it and sat up, clutching the sheet around her. She didn't mind being naked, but there was something about being in someone else's house that way.
Called out to a crime scene. Help yourself to the shower and coffee in the kitchen (not much in the way of food, sorry). Call me when you are ready. From the vague description over the phone I may want your expert opinion.
P.S. I've taken the liberty of checking you out of your room for the duration of your visit. Your things should be here by the time you wake up.
She slipped into the shirt he'd worn last night and wondered if she'd ever be with someone who didn't make her feel so small. She spotted her things immediately. She wasn't sure how she felt about him moving her in without asking her, but she had to admit the idea of a kitchen with real coffee and a bathroom that wasn't the size of a postage stamp stopped her from getting mad at him. Okay, and good sex was a factor in there somewhere, too.
Showered and dressed, the coffee brewing, she picked up his phone and called his cell. She'd even managed to find a bagel and while peanut butter or straight butter were her only options of what to top it with, it was better than nothing.
"Good morning, Detective Scanlon."
"How'd you sleep?"
"I didn't hear you leave so it must have been good."
"Good to know. I keep my phone on vibrate."
"You hear it that way?"
"I'm used to it now so yeah."
"We should be wrapping up here pretty quick."
He was quiet for a minute, but she heard movement over the phone so assumed he was walking somewhere. Or something.
"I'm kind of stuck. This looks exactly like the girl from the night we found you, but I can't bring you in without admitting you were there that night."
"I see," Buffy said, pouring a cup of her coffee. "Is it that important they not know I was there?"
"Buffy," he said then lowered his voice to a barely audible whisper. "I altered a crime scene. That's a pretty big deal to cops, especially state cops. They called me in only because I was first on the scene to that one."
Buffy sighed. She really hated being right. "What do you want me to do?"
"If I can get you into the morgue can you tell if she'll…"
"Yeah, I guess. You know, is she dead for good or whatever."
Buffy smiled. "Yeah, I should be able to tell. Seeing the crime scene and how much blood loss she experienced would help."
"I don't know how I can work that."
"Could Allison bring me? She's with the DA's office."
"That's an idea. We're close enough to Phoenix, and the girl from the other night was from here so they might be able to claim jurisdiction."
"Should I call her?"
"I'll call her. She'll do it, though, I'm sure. Whoever's doing this, she's not going to want them haunting her dreams."
"Is she going to wonder why I'm at your place?"
"I'll tell her to meet you at the precinct. Think you can find that?"
He chuckled into the phone. "I don't suppose your rental car has GPS?"
"Now that you mention it, yes."
"All right, here's the address you'll need."
"You're in my kitchen?"
"Yes, how did you know?"
"Just a guess. You sounded too awake to still be in my bed."
"It is a nice bed…"
He chuckled, but it sounded strained. The type of laugh she'd given a time or two over the years. Something was funny, but there was an edge of guilt for laughing when death and carnage was nearby. "There's a drawer right under the phone with paper and pen in it."
"All right," she said and took down the address.
"I'll meet her there then."
"Thanks. I hate asking, but if this needs to be dealt with I want it dealt with now instead of you having to put your life in danger in a few days."
"My life is always in danger."
"I want to be sure I'm not doing something to put it in danger right now. And the people at the morgue and other cops. Humor me."
"Gotta go," he said quickly without even giving her the chance to say goodbye.
"Well, that was abrupt." She found a cup designed for carrying in a car, poured some coffee into it, and collected her purse before making her way to her car. It was a good thing she'd gotten better with driving because since activating the slayers she'd been doing a lot of it.
With the help of GPS she found her way to the police station. Allison was waiting in the front lobby and smiled when she saw Buffy.
"I was hoping I'd see you again, just not like this."
"I know it follows me everywhere it seems."
Buffy wasn't used to having someone understand her, what she went through having death follow her around like she was the leader of a parade. She knew looking into Allison's face that the older woman did understand. She was haunted, probably by worse things than Buffy was. Buffy could turn it off. She didn't get the impression Allison could.
Allison led them to her car where she eyed Buffy's coffee cup briefly. Did she know it was Lee's? How well did those two know one another?
"I wish we could bring you in as a consultant."
"Would your boss believe you?
"I talked to him briefly this morning. I think he's of the mind that if I believe you and vouch for you he doesn't have much choice. He's still not entirely sure he trusts me. I mean, picking juries he seems to have no problem counting on the fact I'm right. I go to him with a vision, much like I did Lee the other night with you. There are times he doesn't want to follow through."
"Well, Lee said that your visions aren't always accurate just not completely wrong."
"I don't deal with visions or psychic phenomenon. I deal in cold hard facts."
"He's afraid there's a serial killer on the loose," she murmured. "And he's wondering why I'm not dreaming about him."
"There's something going on. I tried to question a couple I saw last night, but they wouldn't budge. I didn't think Lee would take kindly to my techniques designed to garner information from uncooperative vamps. He's having a hard time understanding they're really not people."
"He was with you?"
"Yeah, he took me back out there so I wouldn't get lost."
"That was nice of him."
"He seems like a nice guy."
"He is. Anyway, I think the DA will probably allow me some leeway, because of the serial killer angle. He won't want to be held accountable for having and using a possible resource to stop things sooner."
"Right," Buffy said, watching out the window as Allison headed out of town. They'd gotten rid of the hideout. Were there others? She wished she knew. She also had a slayer to find. She rested her head against the window. "I get the feeling I'm going to be here a while."
"Is that bad?"
"No. I just think this problem isn't going to go away tomorrow. Something's going on. Vamps aren't normally quite so careless as to leave victims out in the open where people find them right away. Especially if they're trying to make their victim into one of them. The one from the other night I happened to stumble upon them, but this girl." She shrugged. "And I'm really here to find a slayer, to train her here or take her back to London with me."
"Could she help?"
"No, she's not trained, doesn't know the first thing about it. I'll have to make time later today I guess."
"How do you do it?"
"Sleep? Not have nightmares?"
"While I do sleep, I never said I don't have nightmares. I've tried quitting, but I came back to it. Destiny or not, I couldn't stand back and let evil take over the world. And now that I've got hundreds to help me," she laughed softly. "I sometimes wonder if things weren't simpler when it was just me."
"I can imagine that's produced some problems."
"Yes, but the nice thing about it is we have teams available at the first sign of trouble. I never got out of Southern California much. I had enough to keep me busy there every day. And then some. Traveling and stopping evil elsewhere wasn't really an option."
"You're awful young to be in charge of so much."
"No different than the military I guess. Just I was born into the gig where the military is voluntary. At least these days."
Allison pulled her car off to the side of the road with the other vehicles that were there. There were so many of them. She'd never really been to a crime scene before, not when the authorities were in full-on investigative mode anyway.
She spotted Lee almost immediately. He was hard to miss. Or maybe that was just because she'd spent a good portion of the last day getting to know him pretty intimately. He spotted them and stopped talking to one of the uniformed detectives.
She wondered if he'd taken the time to shower after getting the call. Weird to think about, but she kind of liked the idea of him coming here right out of bed with her. She smiled when he approached. He gave her a barely noticeable nod.
"The body's over here, I asked them not to move it so you can look your fill just don't touch anything."
He said all this looking mostly at Allison. What was the deal with that anyway? He was the one who asked her to come out here. Realizing there was something more important at hand than worrying about men and what this one in particular might be thinking she walked in the direction he pointed.
This one was a little different. They were actually just on the outskirts of town, so it hadn't happened in the desert. There was so much blood on the ground. She found it hard to believe there was only one victim. Maybe there hadn't been. It'd been dark when she ran across the girl the other night so she hadn't paid much attention. Every time a slayer she'd activated died she prayed it'd be the last time she'd have to see a dead body. Her prayers never seemed to get answered.
She turned in the direction of hearing her name called, more than a little surprised. She squinted, placing her hand over her eyes to shade them from the sun. Even with sunglasses on the sun out here was glaring. Not so good a position if it was someone trying to kill her. She scanned the group of cops and almost turned back around, assuming she was hearing things when she heard her name again.
One of the cops stepped toward her then. The others were looking at her with interest now, and there were more than a few of them who weren't looking at her face. She hated when men did that. And they automatically lost points in her mind. Not that she minded getting checked out, but the ones who focused on her breasts instead of her face were just lame.
"Do I know you?" She racked her brain, trying to remember whom she might know that lived in Phoenix. No one came to mind.
"You don't remember me. It's been a few years, eight or so I guess. I'm Bill Palmer."
Her eyes widened. He was, she guessed, only a couple years younger than her. She'd been a sophomore when he'd drawn Sunnydale into his world of nightmares. He must have been in seventh or eighth grade at the time. It was a day she'd never forget. Her father had bailed on her (which ended up happening anyway), she set the Master free, and got turned into a vampire in the process.
Gone was that boy, though. He was a man now. And a nice looking one at that. This was a good byproduct of her slaying, a positive result that she could see and touch. She'd done her job and done it well, saving someone's life - a boy who was to become a cop.
"I don't believe it. How did you know it was me?"
"I recognized you. You haven't changed that much."
"I'm not sure that's a good thing."
"Well, I saw you a couple of times at Sunnydale High, the new one, when you worked in the office."
"Oh right," she said. "So you moved to Phoenix?"
"I went to college here, my parents moved down when things started going crazy in Sunnydale."
"I'm glad they made it out." She touched his forearm lightly, wanting him to know she was sincere. So many hadn't made it out, but it wasn't like she had a bat signal that she could flip on to warn people to evacuate.
"Me, too. And you did. How about your sister?"
"Yeah, she's in London."
"London. Wow. Is that where you are?"
"Yeah. I'm just here on a kind of job."
"Oh," he said, glancing behind him at the others. The others seemed to be watching them rather intently. Did they think Bill was hitting on her at a crime scene?
"Excuse me," Lee said from behind them. "Can you let Miss Summers view the body please, so the rest of us can get on with our work?"
"Oh, sure, sorry," Billy said, a blush creeping onto his face. "I'll take you to the body if you want."
"Sure," Buffy said, falling into step beside him. They didn't say anything else as she followed Billy who let the trail of blood lead them to the body. She felt the bile collect in her throat, remembered not to breathe in to make things worse. She reached for Billy's - though he went by Bill now - arm and clutched onto it for a different reason this time. She needed the support.
"Not used to dealing with the living," he whispered.
"No. How do you know that?"
He shrugged. "I remember enough about that day, what you looked like at the hospital. I saw things after that, others tried to explain them away but I knew the truth. I'm not sure I know how you fit into everything. Other than you saved my life and others, too, so I trust you're on the right side."
"Gloves," he said sharply as she moved to kneel on the ground.
"You need gloves if you're going to touch anything."
"Oh right, thanks," she said, holding out her hands for a pair. She slid them on with a little difficulty, stretching her fingers out and making fists to get the feel for them. She really wasn't planning on touching anything, but she had to look. There were multiple bite marks and not just at her neck. She was displayed rather perversely. Her shirt was torn open to expose her bare breasts (no bra apparently) and her skirt up had been pushed up haphazardly around her waist. And her panties were torn. Worse was the way her legs were spread just enough so that anyone passing by would have seen her totally exposed. So disrespectful, not that death this way was anything but that. Adding insult to injury there were bite marks at her inner thighs, too.
She closed her eyes, fighting memories of Spike biting her there. It had always heightened the pleasure, bringing her over the edge with a slam rather than subtly. Now wasn't the time to think about that. This woman wasn't bitten for pleasure, she was murdered and left here like garbage. Worse than garbage, you at least take the time to seal a trash bag before tossing it out.
She stood then, tears in her eyes. She took a deep breath. This wasn't the first young girl she'd seen taken by a vampire.
"Doesn't this look like a lot of blood for one person? Not that I'm an expert."
"You know a few of us have said that, but we can't find any evidence of a second victim."
Because the second victim is going to rise in three days as one of them. This one, she wasn't sure if she was just their appetizer or someone had gotten carried away and drained her dry accidentally.
"Thanks, Billy. Sorry, Bill," she said. He showed her how to remove her gloves and she tossed them in the bag with the other sets of gloves to be disposed of. "It was good to see you. I'm glad you're all right and made it out."
"Thanks, you too. Where are you staying?"
Well, there was a question she wasn't sure how to answer. Evasiveness seemed like the best course of action. "With a friend."
"Could we have dinner or something?"
"I'm not sure…"
"It's just I've never been able to talk about that stuff with anyone."
"No, I get you don't want to talk about it, it's just the fact that there's someone else who knows what happened."
"Okay," she said, not so much relenting as understanding. He gave her a card, writing his cell number on the back of it.
"Call and we'll set something up. Bring your friend if you want."
She walked to Allison and Lee, who still hadn't really looked at her. Though she noticed his eyes drop to her hand that held Bill's card.
"She's dead," she said simply.
"I already knew that," he said dryly.
"All right. She won't become the undead. But I think there's a lot of blood here for one victim, there might be another one they took with them."
"There were at least two, but I think three. The size of the bite marks on her neck don't match the size of the bite marks on her," she stammered, glancing away.
"Yeah, I know what you mean."
"Thank you. And I think there are at least two sets at her neck. So that would mean three, though it could be one did her neck and between her legs." She had pulled her hair back after blowing it dry that morning and she saw Lee's focus shift from her face to the scars on her neck.
"I'll have Allison take you back to your car."
Her eyes widened. That was it? She was being dismissed? She opened her mouth to say something about the way he was treating her but he looked at her with a warning. She bit her tongue. This wasn't the time or place anyway. She and Allison started walking away then, there didn’t seem to be anything left for them to do.
"Yeah," she said, turning to face him. She walked toward him when he indicated she should. "Yes?"
His eyes softened then. He was still in cop mode, but he was letting his guard down a little. "There's a planter with a fake bottom outside the public window on my floor with a spare key in it."
"Oh," she said, not having even thought of that. That would have sucked. "Thanks."
"I'll see you after I've finished up here."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com