Word Count: 2,049
Nettles recognized Buffy, that much was clear. Lee wasn't sure he liked that. He liked it even less when he was told to wait at his desk. It wasn't jealousy, though that might have played a part in it. Until that happened, he just assumed Nettles had found out he'd gotten Buffy onto the crime scene.
Sitting there gave him time to think. He should never have mentioned her staying. It was a stupid thing to do. He wouldn't blame her for doing just the opposite and head to London as soon as she could.
The door opened a while later and she came out, closing it behind her. She smiled and offered him her hand. He took it and she helped him stand, leading him in the direction of the exit.
"You going to tell me what that was about?" he asked.
"You didn't tell me he was ex-military."
"What difference does that make?"
"None I guess, except he knows one of my ex's, worked with him some while still in the Reserves."
"He knows who I am and wants me to stay and help. Discreetly, of course."
"Well, I won't have to get Allison to come and bring you out to crime scenes then."
"Is he going to pay you?"
She laughed. "Yes. I'll be honest, I'm surprised they let someone part-time know about Riley's unit. In Sunnydale, the whole thing was very hush-hush, underground. But, what do I know about the military? Next to nothing, other than I wasn't too impressed with them. And maybe he doesn't know the extent. I'm curious how my name came up. Although, Riley did come to Sunnydale once after he'd left, maybe that's how he knows about me."
"So, he doesn't need to see me?"
"No, he'd just been told I'd come to see you."
"All right then. I'll let you go on your way. You mentioned wanting to do some research."
He led her to the front and shoved his hands in his pockets. Now that he'd walked her here, he wasn't quite sure what to do with her. He wasn't big on public displays of affection and he really wasn't in the mood to have a few dozen on-duty officers give him shit for the rest of his shift.
"Thanks for having lunch with me."
"Thanks for buying lunch."
"I'll see you later then?"
"Yup. And don't forget I'm cooking you dinner."
"A home cooked meal. How could I possibly forget?"
"I hope it lives up to your expectations."
"I'm sure it will be fine."
He leaned in then and gave her a brief kiss. She looked surprised when he pulled away. She was worth some ribbing.
"You were just the other day…"
"And I've taken you out a couple of times since then. Besides, I never properly thanked you for my wake-up call this morning."
She blushed then, deeply and it was flattering he could make her do that. She'd seen and been through so much, the fact that a simple cop like himself could make her blush humbled him a bit. There were times he forgot she was quite a bit younger than he was. This was not one of them.
"See you later."
"K," she said.
He watched as she walked across the street to the public parking garage. He was curious just what Nettles wanted her to do. Was she merely to accompany them to any new scenes? Or was there more he didn't know about? He didn't like that thought. Not that he needed to know everything she was doing, but that higher-ups were hiding things from the cops that put their lives on the line day in and day out.
The sun was due to set soon, which meant she'd be leaving soon. He'd had a rather slow day, following up leads that netted nothing on the case that was in their jurisdiction. No one seemed to want to claim these killings as exclusively theirs, but information sharing was being done now that it was known that there might be a connection between the deaths.
He dialed his home number, for once not to check for messages but to talk to a living, breathing person.
"Hello?" Her voice sounded uncertain; as if she really wasn't sure he'd want her to answer despite him telling her she could.
"Hi. I just thought I'd try and catch you before you leave."
"Yeah, I was just getting dressed and making sure I have everything I need."
"Are there stores you can go buy stuff?"
"I don't know of one in Phoenix, but yes magic shops usually have some things to help. Like holy water, communion wafers, things like that. Of course, you could go to a church and get that, too."
"They hand out communion wafers?"
She paused and he wasn't sure why.
"Uh, no. Are you going to arrest me?"
He chuckled. "I don't see any reports about churches being cleaned out of their communion wafer supply so I think you're safe."
"You want company?"
"If it was just me I would say yes, but it's not. It'd be like you bringing me along when you're training in a new cop."
"Gotcha. Just thought I'd offer. I don't know if I'll be up when you get back then."
"I doubt we'll be real late. My first few times were pretty brief and I tend to stick with that. I searched the obits and the police reports and there are a couple of good possibilities for risings. I just need to get addresses for the cemeteries, which is what I was doing when you called."
"All right. I'll let you go then."
"I'm fine. I did make dinner, by the way. It's nothing exciting, stew with biscuits, but I wasn't sure what would heat well since we weren't eating together."
"You could have done it another time."
"I know, but I told you I would."
"See you later then," he said, realizing he should get back to work.
"Good night, Lee."
"Good night, Buffy."
He disconnected and returned to the police report he'd been reading about one of the other crime scenes. Gory stuff. There was no mention of the measurements of the various bite marks so he had no way of knowing if, like their victim, there were multiple perps.
Buffy drove to Lexie's, wishing Willow was there. She could really use some one-on-one girl talk. If she got done at a decent hour maybe she could call her and talk. Phone time was better than none.
Lexie was waiting so Buffy didn't even have to get out of the car.
"Hi," she said simply once she was comfortably seated in the passenger seat, seatbelt fastened.
"Hi, I was surprised you called."
"Well, I got to thinking, and if this is who I am. You say I can stay in Phoenix, right? Because my mom…"
"I know your situation, and yes you could stay here."
She let out a deep breath. "I'm making no promises, but those dreams." She turned to face her, Buffy stayed focused on the street. "How did you do it?"
"It used to be just you, right?"
"Yes, and the life expectancy wasn't too long for slayers. Called when they're fourteen or fifteen, if they saw twenty that was a good life. I'm different I guess in that I had friends and family, people to help me. You'll meet a few of them. I like to think they helped me live longer. In fact, they did, because I died. Twice. And both times it was one of my friends who brought me back."
She smiled, glancing at Lexie. "Yeah. We're just going to do some basics tonight. I can stay as long as you think you need help. In fact, there are some police investigations going on right now that I'm going to help them with so I may be here for a while anyway."
"I've read about them, there were two or three so far. Everyone's been talking serial killer."
"It's vampires. I don't know how many or what they're doing. They're bringing some over, but they're also just casually dumping victims. I'm not sure why."
With the help of the GPS system, Buffy made it to the first cemetery. She shut the engine off and realized it was awfully quiet without the noise from the car.
"You work out, so that's good. One great way to find new risings is the obits and police reports. My friend Willow is a computer wizard and she's taught me some tricks to find things in the newspaper police reports and stuff easily. I'll show you. Believe me, I'm not good with computers so if I can do it anyone can."
Buffy got out, Lexie did the same and followed Buffy to the trunk.
"These are my basic vampire supplies. Like I said, once you start making your presence known as a slayer, vamps and other baddies will take an interest in you. It's helpful to carry a stake and some holy water with you. And a cross. If you don't have one, buy one. This one saved my life."
She pointed out the various weapons and what they were for from her weapons chest.
"Most of these we won't have to worry about tonight. We're going to focus on vamps for the time being."
"There's more than vampires?"
"There are demons. And your occasional evil person, but we don't slay those. We leave them to the authorities."
Buffy grabbed a few stakes and some holy water, taking a spare cross on a necklace she kept in her weapons chest at all times.
"I don't know how many fresh graves there are here, and this part is kind of boring. You just sit and wait until they rise. It takes them a while sometimes. They wake up and they're a little disoriented. Sometimes they don't make it all the way out of the ground right away. I feel bad staking them like that, but I've come to learn there's nothing wrong with an easy kill from time to time."
"So, this is the one we're looking for," Buffy said, pointing out the obituary that had gotten her attention.
They made it through three cemeteries, which were all the obit listings Buffy could find. One turned out to be a false alarm. They hadn't run into any vamps out for strolls, so Buffy took Lexie back to her place a little before midnight.
"So, you want to come with me again?"
"Yeah, I think I do."
"You don't have to, Lexie. I made a decision that affected more than a thousand of you. I take responsibility for that and understand that this may not be the life for you. You've got your mom to worry about."
"My dad wouldn't want me to turn my back on something like this. He spent his life in the military, duty wasn't something he shirked."
"I get that. I'll peruse more papers tomorrow and see what we can come up with for tomorrow night. You've got my number, if you need me call me. Even if you just want to talk. This is a lot to lay on you and for you to process. Use me as a sounding board. I wish I had that luxury when I got the call."
"Are you staying at a hotel? We've got a spare bedroom…"
"No, I'm staying with a friend."
"Thanks for the offer."
"You're welcome. I'll talk to you tomorrow."
"I'll call you."
"Good night, Buffy."
"Good night, Lexie."
Buffy waited until Lexie had entered her house before driving off. She got back to Lee's apartment and sure enough he was sound asleep when she got in. She expected as much. She got ready for bed and slid into the bed next to him as carefully as possible.
He turned onto his side, reaching for her almost immediately. What was she going to do? She had no idea. She realized, though, as she nestled herself into the comfort his arms offered she was enjoying this. A lot. It would be hard to leave it behind and go back to nothing, nobody.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com