Word Count: 3,166
Allison woke with a start, clutching the blanket with one fist, sure the danger was still there. The adrenaline of taking on so many at one time still with her. She could feel the affects of a night's patrol. The sadness of having not saved someone's life. Of being just a minute too late. Her hand was still shaped in the grip she'd use to wield the stake the woman in her dream held.
She glanced at the bedside clock, noticing that it was before sunrise. This wasn't the first time she'd dreamt of this young woman. The woman in her dreams could have been one of her daughters the resemblance was there. She knew, though, she was dreaming about someone here and now, not the future of one of her girls.
"Who's Buffy? And what's behind her?" Joe asked from beside her. It always amazed her how calm he was when these things happened.
"What?" Allison asked, the fog clearing from her head. "I don't know, just someone I've been dreaming about. She was in trouble."
"I sensed that."
"I need to call Lee."
"Yeah, I get the sense that it was pretty urgent. I need to find her. I think she's hurt."
Joe handed her the phone while she sat up in bed. She dialed Detective Scanlon's number from memory. He sounded sleepy. Of course he was, the sun wasn't even up.
"Hi, Detective Scanlon it's Allison."
"Uh, yeah, Allison. What's up?"
"Care to take a drive with me?"
"Yeah, I had a dream, and I think it's pretty important."
"Where we headed?"
"That's the thing, I'm not exactly sure, out west along 10. I'll recognize it when we get there."
"Sounds like it might be out of our jurisdiction."
"If I knew where she was exactly I'd call an ambulance, but I don't. I can't very well send them to cruise the whole highway."
"Good point. Let me throw on some clothes and I'll be there to pick you up in a few minutes."
"No, she's alive but maybe not for long." Allison wasn't sure that was true. She'd dreamt of the woman before, in similar circumstances and what would kill most people she walked away from relatively unharmed. So, why had tonight been different.
"All right. I'll step on it."
"So, tell me about this dream," Lee Scanlon said, taking a sip of his coffee. He understood a woman's life might be on the line, but he could have a cup of coffee.
"Well, I don't know what to say exactly. She's fighting. Always fighting."
"Always? You've dreamed of her before?"
"Yeah. I've never felt she was in danger before though, not like this. I sense that she has some powers, too."
"No, I didn't say that."
"All right," he said with a shrug, not understanding how it worked. "So, she's fighting. A boxer?"
"No, that's the strange thing. It's nothing organized and she's always alone." He noticed she glanced at her hand as if she expected to see something there. "I think she fights vampires."
"Come on, Allison."
"No, Lee, I'm serious."
"There is no such thing."
"You would have said there was no such thing as a psychic a couple of years ago. And yet, here you are, taking a ride out to the desert because I called you after a dream."
"Okay, we'll suspend reality for a minute and pretend I believe you. What does this have to do with your dream?"
"There were too many this time. They sensed the sun was close to coming up and needed to get underground. She was surrounded by them, they were coming too fast and she was alone."
"So, a gang of vampires did what?"
"I don't know. I woke up before seeing what happened to her."
"So, she might not even be out here?" he asked, incredulous now. She'd woken him to go on some wild goose chase?
"You've come with me on less."
"Not this early in the morning."
"There," she said, pointing to the mile marker. There was an abandoned car there, too, driver's door still ajar. "Stop the car."
He watched, horrified, as she jerked open the car door before he'd even come to a complete stop.
"Buffy," she called frantically. Lee cut the engine and got out to follow.
He stopped to check the car, shone the flashlight inside. Nothing there. He thought of popping the trunk, but heard Allison.
"Over here," she called out from a bit of a distance.
Lee pocketed the flashlight in exchange for his weapon, following Allison's voice. The sun wasn't quite up yet, leaving lots of shadows out here in the desert. He saw her then, the blonde laying in the desert sand.
"I dreamt of you, too. It's how I knew to come here and find you."
Lee hadn't heard the woman on the ground respond, so assumed Allison was just trying to talk her into responding. He took a second to look at the surrounding area so he could accurately give a report. Whatever happened here, Allison had been right about something. Whoever it was that had messed with this woman, there'd been a lot of them. He could tell by the number of footprints in the sand. And she wasn't the only victim he noticed. There was another woman, barely sixteen. This one wasn't as lucky as the older one.
"Christ," he muttered, when he got up, counting at least ten different shoe prints as he carefully made his way to Allison and the survivor. "Is she all right?"
He crouched down then and saw for himself she was far from all right. She was still breathing and conscious. Though, that might not be a good thing going by how beat up she was.
"I guess I answered my own question."
"Girl," she said through chattering teeth. Shock and the fact that the desert can get cool at night, he wagered. He slid out of the sports coat he'd put on and draped it over her. "Thanks."
"They were," her eyes darted from Lee to Allison, "hurting her. Too many. So many," she murmured.
"What about the girl?"
"I told her to take my car and drive to the nearest town."
Lee looked back to where the body was, realizing she probably had been running in the direction of the car until someone caught up to her.
"I'm sorry, Miss," he said softly, stopping at saying the whole truth. He saw by the slight nod she understood.
"I'm not getting any reception out here on my cell, so I'm going to head back to the car and call for help on the radio."
"No, no hospitals. Please."
"I have to. If there was a crime committed here."
"Oh," she said with a deep sigh.
"Buffy, you need a hospital."
"No, just get me to my car and I'll be fine. I've got a first aid kit with everything I need in there."
"You need more than what a little first aid kit has. You should see yourself."
"Where is it?" Allison asked.
"I'll get it for you."
"Detective Scanlon," Allison said, saying something for the first time. She'd been holding Buffy's hand until now and awful quiet in the process.
"Can I talk to you a minute?"
They walked off a bit, not that there was anywhere to go that wasn't desert.
"She's telling the truth."
"She'll be fine. Whatever's in her car will help her better than any hospital can. You know I don't normally keep contact with someone for very long. I usually can't stand what I see."
"Yeah," he said. Now that she mentioned it he had noticed that. He'd never really stopped to consider it was because she didn't like what she'd get off the people she was touching. He just assumed it was in part not to invade their privacy.
"Well, I couldn't stop touching her. What she's been through, what I saw. It's amazing."
"You still saying she was in a fight with vampires?"
"Yes, and this wasn't the first."
"I know. I know it sounds crazy. I feel crazy for saying it, but I know what I saw when I touched her. And it's real."
"Maybe she's crazy."
"No, she's not, Detective Scanlon. She's a young woman who has been keeping the world safe for almost a decade now."
His eyes drifted behind Allison to the young woman in question. And then to the girl who she wasn't fortunate enough to save. Someone's parents would get a visit this morning that would change their lives forever. Lee was glad it wasn't his place to bring such news this time as much as he hated thinking that way. He hated those visits with a passion.
"I should bring her to a hospital. I have to call this in, Allison. If you didn't want by the book on this, you shouldn't have called me in."
"I know. It's just I feel so bad for her. She's here alone. She didn't mean for this to happen. She stopped to help someone, putting her own life at risk."
"So you feel like you should help her?"
He exhaled sharply. "All right, go get whatever it is from her trunk. A few more minutes delay calling this in isn't going to change the other girl's status. I can always say we were checking for other survivors."
Lee returned to the woman's side.
"Mrs. DuBois, Allison, has gone to get your kit."
"Thank you," she said, teeth still chattering. He leaned forward, tucking the sports coat around her as best as he could. She wasn't dressed for a night in the desert. The top she had on wasn't much of a top to begin with. It was torn to shreds now.
"You're welcome. You'll be all right, Miss."
She gave a partial smile. He could tell even that much effort hurt right now. "Name."
"Your name is Buffy. I'm Detective Scanlon. You shouldn't be talking. Just rest until Mrs. DuBois gets back."
He was tempted to look at the body of the dead girl, but he didn't want to contaminate any evidence that might be there. The desert was a hard enough place to get trace evidence from, no sense clouding the pool with his own shoeprints.
Allison returned with a pretty large kit. He'd expected one of those small travel sized kits you could buy at the local drug store. It made him wonder how often this sort of thing happened to her. She was pretty, even through the bruises and cuts.
Buffy tried to sit up then, which Lee put a stop to. "Hey now, we've got you, Buffy."
"No, no, I need," she gestured to the kit.
"You need something specific in here?"
"Water," she whispered.
There were a few smaller bottles, he held one up and she nodded.
"On my neck," she whispered again.
"You want this on your neck?" Now that was the oddest request he'd ever heard. Well, maybe not ever, but it was pretty strange.
She pushed her hair out of the way and he saw them then. Bite marks. Lots of them. All around her jugular, piercing but not quite deep enough to make the kill.
"Allison," he said simply, wondering if this was some sort of joke.
"I told you she was fighting vampires."
"I do this, doesn't mean I believe you."
"I won't tell anyone, Detective."
He noticed Buffy's eyes were darting between them, trying to figure out what was going on maybe. He did as she asked, pouring the water over the bite marks. His hand jerked away and he stopped pouring after the first drop hit, causing her to scream in pain. He'd heard that scream before, knew it well.
"Don't stop," she hissed.
He wasn't a sadist, didn't enjoy inflicting pain on people. Not as a cop and certainly not as a man to a pretty woman who was already battered and bruised. She took it, though, other than grabbing onto his forearm with a grip that was strong she rode through the obviously painful experience.
"Thank you," she whispered.
"Not sure you should be thanking me for that, but you're welcome."
She started to sit up now, and he placed a hand at her shoulder. "Buffy, you're hurt. You need to stay down."
"I need to get up. I'm fine. I'll be fine. You did what needed to be done. The rest I can get on my own later."
"You going to tell me what I just poured all over your neck? Because that wasn't a bottle of Avian."
She laughed softly. "No, it wasn't. It's holy water. I needed to clean the wounds so I didn't scar."
"Detective Scanlon," Allison interrupted.
"Right. Vampires again." He tossed the empty bottle back into Buffy's kit and threw his hands up, standing. "I give up."
"You saw her neck with your own eyes. What else could have done that?"
"Humans. An animal of some sort. This is the desert."
"Piercing marks so accurate? Come on, Detective. An animal wouldn't have just gone for her throat."
"I'm sorry. It's enough I believe in you. Now you're expecting me to believe in things that go bump in the night. And why does she know about them?"
"I'm the Slayer," she whispered. He watched as she really took Allison in for the first time. "I know you."
"You do? I don't think so."
"I know I've seen you somewhere."
She was sounding stronger and stronger by the minute. That was a good sign.
"I've dreamt of you," Allison offered and Buffy's eyes widened.
"So have I. I don't think I ever saw your face, though, but I know it's you."
"Are you psychic?" Allison asked, sounding somewhat hopeful Lee thought.
"No, prophetic dreams come with being the Slayer. I don't know how I tapped into yours. I've only done that once or twice before and it was someone I knew."
"So, what's this slayer business?" Lee asked.
"That's what, who, I am. A slayer. The slayer, even though I'm not the only one anymore. I am susceptible to dreams, prophetic ones usually."
"Maybe you were seeing this night, me saving your life."
"Could be. I've learned to stop questioning things because there aren't usually many answers."
"Wait a minute," Lee said.
"I know it's hard to believe. There are no vampires. They're the stuff writers created to scare you. I hate to tell you, they're very real."
"So, why don't I have a cell full of them back at the precinct?"
"Because there's someone on your precinct who knows, a higher up and they're covering up facts. Gang activity, drug deals gone bad. I suppose out here in the desert you could have wild animal attacks."
"And you do this for a living?"
"No, I mean, yes, but it's who I am. You chose to be a cop, at least I assume so. I didn't choose this. It chose me. Somewhere hundreds of years ago my name was dropped into the hat. Do I make a living off it? I do now."
"Didn't used to. It was a pretty thankless job. Night after night of putting your life in danger, no pay, no glory because no one can know. It's supposed to be a secret. I changed things, though, a couple of years ago. And that's not the case so much anymore. Except with the secret stuff. Not sure how my dreams flooded into Allison's here."
"I'm a psychic," Allison offered and Lee grimaced. "What? She's talking about vampires I can't admit to being psychic?"
"Where'd they go?"
"I don't know," Buffy said and sounded a little defeated. It was an amazing thing to see, but as she sat there he couldn't help but notice that her bruises and cuts were fading. It was slight, but he noticed the gash on her cheek grow shorter. "They've got to have some place, a nest, around here somewhere. Because it was pretty close to sunrise for them to be out in the middle of nowhere like this."
"There's nothing out here for miles."
"So you think. They're here somewhere, underground most likely. A tunnel or sewer access, an old fallout shelter. Something. Do you think I can get out of here now?"
"Uh, yeah, sure," he said, going against everything he believed in letting her walk away from this scene. Except there was no evidence. The blood on the ground he was quite sure would belong to Buffy and the dead woman. "You can sit in my car until the locals get here."
He helped her into the back of his car. It wasn't a squad car, so it didn't lock her in but she still seemed a little confused.
"Allison," he said over the top of the car. "What are you going to do with her?"
"Yeah, you. This is your thing. I'm just along for the ride. I've broken so many procedural policies as it is. This isn't even my jurisdiction. I'm pissing in someone else's pool here and messing up evidence."
Obviously, Allison had no answer, which made Lee sigh heavily. He glanced into the backseat at the woman they'd come out here to find. Allison had been right, she was bad off but near death obviously not.
"Why don't you go back with her in her car. Take her to your house until I get back," he said finally, rebelling at the fact he was betraying every lesson taught him over the years.
"I'll stop by on my way home to let you both know how it went. I don't want her to just walk away, though, in case I have questions for her."
Allison nodded then as Lee opened the back door once again.
"Buffy, Allison's going to take you back to her house where you'll have to stay until I'm finished with the authorities here. In case I have more questions."
"You're not going to tell them…?"
"About vampires and slayers? No, I'll come up with something that won't make them want to lock me into a padded cell for the day."
"I stopped them in time," she said softly.
"Stopped them in time for what? She's dead, Buffy."
"But she won't turn. They weren't able to finish the conversion."
"You know that for a fact?"
"Yes, she was still alive, barely, but alive and fighting when I came onto the scene. They didn't finish."
"All right," he said, not sure what exactly that meant. She wouldn't rise as a vampire then? The very fact that he was buying the story, believing it and her was giving him a headache. He'd kill for a beer about now. Instead, he helped Buffy into the passenger seat of her car and watched as Allison drove a material witness toward Phoenix.
Word Count: 2,863
Buffy sat at the DuBois' kitchen table. It was eerie really, knowing this woman had been in her mind. Had seen the things she'd done. There were things she wasn't so proud of. On the other hand, there were things she was very proud of. Getting Dawn out of Sunnydale alive was one of them.
The cup of hot chocolate reminded Buffy of her mom. This house seemed homey. She liked that. She just wished she didn't feel like a prisoner. Or like some sort of specimen under a microscope.
"My mom used to give me hot chocolate when I had a bad night."
"She doesn't anymore?"
"No, she's gone."
"Oh, I'm sorry," Allison said and sounded so sincere.
"It's okay, but thanks." Buffy grew quiet, taking in the room. It was clear a family lived here. It wasn't messy, just lived in. Pictures on the refrigerator, toys in the living room. "So, you're married?"
"Yes, with three kids. You?"
"No, I'm not married. Until recently I didn't come with a very long life expectancy. Even now that could still be the case. If you hadn't found me tonight I'm not sure I would have made it. If the vampires didn't finish me off, I'm sure an animal would have come along. Anyway, three kids, I'll bet that's fun."
"They're great kids. They're all girls, so my husband will be in for some fun when they get older."
"There were two of us, girls I mean. It wasn't too bad, but I was always getting in trouble because of having to keep so many secrets. So, Dawn was the good one."
"It sounds like you both turned out all right, though."
"Yeah, we did. After our mom died, we were all each other had. Our dad is around somewhere, but he may as well not be in the picture for all he's done for us."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
Buffy grew quiet then, not liking to think of Hank Summers. It just made her mad. It was a situation she had no control over and she'd learned to accept that recently. She'd tried, but it was just no use.
"Do they know what you do?"
"My husband does. The girls, not really. Ariel, my oldest, suspects some things."
"Are they like you?"
"A little. Some."
"He knows. It's why he went out there with me this morning. He'll come around, he always does. We haven't been working together too long, so he's still trying to figure out if I'm legit."
"And then I come along with stories of vampires and slayers."
"Yeah, he probably thinks I'm pulling a joke on him or something."
"Except jokes don't involve dead girls," Buffy said somberly. The girl in question was probably sixteen or so. She tried to remember what she'd been like at sixteen, beyond hopelessly in love with Angel. That had led to the badness that had been her seventeenth birthday and the five months of emotional hell that had followed it.
"Do you think he'll let me go?"
"I don't know. You were a witness to a crime. Where were you going when you stopped?"
"I was on my way here to Phoenix actually."
"Oh, do you have friends or family here?"
"No, I was looking for a girl, another slayer. Too bad I hadn't found her. Two of us together probably would have made child's play out of the group."
"Around here? Really?"
"Yeah. It's a long story."
"I saw it. Not all of it, I mean I don't claim to understand it all, but I saw what you did. Saved the world."
"Comes with the gig."
"It looked like a pretty thankless one."
"It has its moments."
"Anyway, I just meant it's funny I never picked up on it before now."
"Yeah, I'm not sure what the deal is with you seeing me in your dreams."
"That happens to me all of the time. Believe me, if I get a full night's sleep I'm lucky."
"Does it bother you?" There were times, not so much recently, that Buffy felt her calling was a burden. She wondered if this woman might feel the same way.
"Sometimes. The most frustrating part is when I get dreams or visions and I don't know what they mean, or which piece of the puzzle it is I'm seeing."
"And you work for the DA's office?"
"Yes, but you can't tell anyone. I'm a consultant, no one knows."
"No worries. I'm pretty good with secrets."
"Yes, I get that you are," Allison said, getting up at the sound of knocking at the front door. Buffy wasn't surprised when Allison went outside to talk to, presumably, the detective. She got up and rinsed her mug out in the sink, wondering if she'd be able to go on her way.
She's have to put a call into Giles, too, report what she'd come across. Maybe Willow or someone on their research team could find out if there was something out where she'd been. Tunnels, a house or something. Those vamps had to be living somewhere! She closed her eyes, resting her head against the refrigerator, knowing there'd be no sleep for her today. Or the next day.
She'd never get over the feelings that came over her when she lost someone, didn't get there in time. Like today. A few minutes earlier and the girl could have gotten away in time. Maybe, big maybe. They'd already made quite a meal out of her by the time Buffy had gotten there, so she was weak from the loss of so much of her blood.
It never ceased to amaze her that she couldn't escape her slayer duties. On the road in an attempt to find a slayer and here she was, sitting in the kitchen of someone who worked for the District Attorney's office. Buffy was lucky Mrs. DuBois was psychic, no one else would have bought her story and she would have had a lot more explaining to do. For that matter, Buffy probably wouldn't have been found alive to tell a story.
They came in together, Allison avoided looking directly at Buffy and she knew then she wasn't going to be able to go on her merry way.
"Hi Buffy. How are you feeling?"
She pushed herself off from the fridge, walking toward the policeman. She saw briefly that his eyes widened and wondered what that was about. "I'm all right considering. Better than the girl anyway."
"Right. Well, I think I managed to avoid drawing you into anything, but there are some questions about the state of her body."
"I already told you she won't rise."
"I know what you told me," he said, and she knew the tone. He didn't believe her. She wondered how he'd gotten stuck working with a psychic. It seemed kind of Scully and Mulderish. "I wasn't talking about that. I'm afraid I can't let you leave town until I know that everything is cut and dried."
"Understand you're not on record as a witness, and it's not even my case. I was just an off-duty police officer who passed by, saw a struggle and stopped. As I'm supposed to do."
She frowned at that. "All right."
"That means I can't put you up anywhere. Allison's worried her children might pick up on things they shouldn't."
"Right. If they're susceptible, they could. My life's dark enough to make horror novel fans cringe, because you can put the book down when it gets too much. My life never stops. I understand."
"So, that means it's going to have to be at your expense."
Buffy shrugged. "I was coming to Phoenix anyway. I have an expense account, limited as it is, but I should be okay for a few days. Will that be enough time?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"All right. I can go then?"
"Were you driving through the night or did you have somewhere to be this morning?"
"The time you came upon the scene, you were headed here you just said. Were you driving through the night? Do you need a hotel now?"
"Oh, yeah, a hotel room would be of the good."
"You can follow me then, I'll get you settled. There's a place I've put up witnesses in the past, maybe they'll do an off the books discount for me."
"You don't have to."
"It's the least I can do. I'm still not sure I buy the vampire thing, but you risked your life to save someone else's. The least I can do is try and get you a deal on a hotel room while the situation is taken care of."
"Thank you for bringing me out there, Detective Scanlon."
"No, problem, Allison. Thanks for calling."
"I just wish we'd gotten there earlier."
"Well, at least there weren't two bodies out there to be investigated. One was gruesome enough."
"Thank you, Mrs. DuBois, for the hot chocolate and letting me sit here."
"Allison, please, and you're welcome. If I didn't have the girls I'd let you stay."
"I understand. My life tends to be kind of destructive, I wouldn't want to endanger you or your family anyway."
"Wait," Allison said, stopping Buffy and the detective just before they walked through the doorway. "My phone number. In case you end up staying longer than you think. We could have lunch or something. Or if you need anything."
"Oh, sure," Buffy said, taking the piece of paper Allison offered her. "Thanks. I have a cell phone, but I can never remember the number."
"Don't worry about it. Call if you want."
He was watching her. She didn't need to be psychic to know this. He stood, rocking on his heels as she checked out her trunk, making sure everything was intact and accounted for.
"You know, they're going to blame it on animals," he said finally.
"The body, the bite marks."
"Yeah, I know. I told you they'll come up with some story that jives enough not to make anyone think to question. They always do. Believe me. Do you have a computer?" She slammed her trunk closed and looked at him.
"Better yet," Buffy said, rethinking. "You're a cop. Do some research on Sunnydale, California, and then come talk to me."
"Just do it. Or not, makes no difference to me, really. You might find it enlightening, and it'd be all there for you in black and white. Anyway, I'm beat, can we motor?"
"Sure, sorry," he said, taking his keys out of his front pocket. "It's a couple of miles, but it's early enough yet you shouldn't have a problem keeping up."
"All right," she said, getting into her car. She waited for him to get in and start his, following as he left the DuBois house. It was a nice house. She missed that. She was living in a monstrosity of a place now with hundreds of slayers she'd activated. Willow, Xander, and Dawn were there, so sort of family, but it wasn't the same as a house like the DuBois' had.
She found a rock station and left the radio there while she followed him through the streets of Phoenix. If he did in fact do the research she'd suggested, he might just be able to help her find the slayer in question she was here for. She wouldn't let their paths cross though, unless he believed her.
She pulled into the driveway of the motel. It wasn't a dive, but it wasn't a Hilton either. She didn't care, as long as it had a bed, a TV, and a bathroom with indoor plumbing.
He got out with her and walked with her into the lobby area.
"Hey, Dan-o," he said to the front desk person.
"Lee," was the response. "What are you doing here?"
"I've got a delicate situation and need to put someone up for a couple of nights. Just until some things clear up. It's not official police business, but I was hoping you might be able to help her out."
"Sure," Dan (presumably Dan) went to work on the computer. "There's a room on the south side, second floor. In the area you like."
"Rooms on either side?"
"Great. We'll take it. You're the best, Dan."
"My pleasure. The business is welcome."
"Doing my best," Lee said, taking the offered room key. "Can she wait until it's check-out time to fill out the paperwork?"
"Yeah, I'll block it out like I normally do for you, Lee."
"All right," Lee said, leading Buffy back outside. "I'll get you settled. You hungry or anything?"
"No, not really."
"Good, I mean, there's a diner across the road there if you decide you are."
"Thanks," she said, opening her trunk. She gathered up her bags while he took her weapons chest. She had to chuckle at that, realizing he had no idea what he held.
"Here's my card, I'm writing my cell number on the back. If you need anything, just holler. I'm a little easier to track down than Allison. Well, correct that, it's a little easier for me to break away, I don't have a family."
"I work the afternoon shift most of the time, but if I'm not in the middle of something breaking away for a bit usually isn't a problem."
"I don't want you to feel like a prisoner or anything. If you need to go somewhere to eat or something, fine, but I'd really prefer it if you stuck here."
"Well, I'm going to try and get some sleep. Not that it will happen, but I have to try. Otherwise, I have no plans."
"Yeah, you saw a pretty brutal thing out there tonight."
She sat on the edge of her bed. "No, that's not it. I mean, it is. I'll never get used to seeing the death of a human."
He smiled at that."
"What?" she asked.
"Nothing, you just say that as if it's normal to have to specify someone's human."
"In my world it is. Anyway, it's not that. It's that I wasn't in time. If I hadn't made that last stop for a Diet Coke. Or did I take too long when I stopped for dinner last night."
"Listen, I don't know you and I certainly don't claim to believe all of this. I'll admit, I sit here and watch you carry yourself like someone who believes she's telling the truth. And when I saw you at Allison's tonight, I couldn't help but notice those cuts and bruises I saw on you at the scene are almost gone."
"I heal quickly."
"Yeah, I see that. I mean, vampires. It's the stuff that will make someone sound crazy if they walk around talking about it."
"That would probably be why it's a secret."
"Yeah, probably." He chuckled at that. "But Allison believes you, and as crazy as it sounds given what she is I tend to trust her judgment. These visions she gets aren't always accurate, but they're very rarely absolutely wrong. If that makes sense. All that aside, though. You can't blame yourself, Buffy. You really can't. I've been there, I know how tempting that is, but you just can't. I hate to sound like a cliché, but it was her time."
"I know, I really do. It's just. It's a terrible way to die. Because they don't kill you, they bleed you out, wanting to get every last drop they can. And you're alive and awake and coherent through most of it."
"You really do know a lot about this."
"It's been my life going on ten years now."
"You were just a kid."
"Fifteen when I got called, yeah."
"Huh," he said simply. "Listen, I've got to get going get ready for my shift. Are you going to be all right?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine. I'll turn on the TV, doze in and out."
"I'll call to check on you."
"Thanks, I'd appreciate that."
"No problem. First time for seeing death like that or not, it takes a lot out of you. And you were pretty beat up in the process."
"I'll be fine this afternoon."
"You should find the secret ingredient and market it, people would pay for that."
She smiled, walking him to the door. "Good night, Detective Scanlon. Well, I guess in your case it's not good night."
"Good night, Buffy." He walked out into the hallway and turned to face her. "What's your last name?"
"Summers. Buffy Summers. When you're pulling up the information on Sunnydale, you'll probably see my name in there a few times."
"Somehow I imagined that to be the case. Were you a trouble maker?"
"Some saw me that way."
He smiled at that and turned then, walking away. She ducked her head out a little to watch him leave before closing and securing the door. Hotels and motels were like a second home to her these days, so locking herself in was second nature. She wasn't worried about anyone hurting her, but her weapons chest was not something she wanted to risk.
Word Count: 3,223
"You going to get that?"
"Huh? Oh," he said, realizing only now the phone on his desk was ringing. "Detective Scanlon."
"Have you heard from her?"
"Yes, sorry. Have you heard from her?"
"I don't know. I've just been getting a weird feeling all day."
"Oh, I can tell you about weird," he said, glancing at his computer. He felt kind of strange doing as she'd asked. He was invading her privacy in a way, but she'd made it sound as if her life was an open book.
"Nothing, just some things I've been researching. I can go by and check on her."
"Yeah, I'd like that. I just don't like the feeling."
"No problem," he glanced at his watch, certain it was wrong. He looked at the clock on the precinct wall. No, he'd really been sitting there staring at a computer for hours. "I'm due some lunch anyway. I'll swing by and see if she wants to join me. She's got to be going a little stir crazy in there by now."
"Thank you, Lee."
"No need to thank me. I got involved in something, otherwise I would have thought to check on her sooner."
He hung up, slipped his sports coat on, checked himself out to lunch, and headed out to his car. He went over the things he'd read in his head while he drove. Police reports that read like a fantasy or horror novel. A chief of police that overrode detective and beat cop reports a good amount of time so that what was printed in the newspaper police blotter sounded believable. The chief of police hadn't covered his tracks that well, evidently assuming no one would look twice at the reports.
It went back years, before Buffy Summers ever arrived on the scene. She was mentioned a few dozen times, always footnotes as if noted for someone else's benefit. There were incidents at her high school. Too many to count.
And then last spring, Sunnydale fell off the map. Literally. He recalled when it happened. Everyone assumed the big one was coming, but it had started and stopped in Sunnydale. His research had taken him away from police reports and into some pretty out there territory. Conspiracies and cover-ups. And of course there were the religious nuts who had a view, too. He'd have to ask her if she knew what happened to Sunnydale.
Thing was, what he'd read. It all pointed to her telling the truth. He rubbed his forehead, not liking the direction his thoughts were taking him at all. He'd tried to get a nap in after dropping her at the motel, but images of the girl in the desert were lodged in his brain. So much blood loss. She'd been a pretty girl, but her killers had not been kind to her.
There was probably some logical explanation behind all of the bite marks. He couldn't think of one, though. He didn't need to stand in at the autopsy to know he'd never seen wolves or coyotes leave marks like those. And if it was a wild animal, it would have attacked Buffy, too. Buffy only had similar looking marks on her neck.
He winced, recalling her scream when he poured the water on them. He'd seen it fizz, heard it sizzle. She claimed it was holy water. Why would it do that? He'd touched holy water before, dipped his fingers in and crossed himself with it several times. Never once had he seen it do that.
As crazy as he told himself he was, he believed in facts. And so far he'd found nothing to debunk her claim. She'd be out of his hair in a few days, once he was sure there was nothing more he was needed for with the body found.
He knocked lightly on her door. It took her a minute, but she answered toweling off her hair.
"Detective Scanlon. Hi."
"Um, hi. I took my lunch and decided to come and see if you wanted to join me."
"That'd be nice, it's always better than eating alone and I don't know where anything is." She stepped back from the door, opening it wider. "Come in. I was just drying my hair."
"If I'm interrupting, I can just wait in my car."
"Not at all. I'm dressed. I was just being a bum, watching some soap opera I never watch so I have no clue who's who or what's what. But I'm pretty sure someone's cheating on someone or someone's pregnant and not sure who the baby's father is."
He chuckled lightly. "Better watch out for those things, they'll suck you in if you're not careful," he said, stepping in.
"See, you've saved me from a soap opera addiction."
He chuckled at that, eyes taking in the room while she walked to the bathroom.
"I'll be right out. Have a seat."
He was eyeing the chest he'd carried in for her earlier that morning when she came out of the bathroom. He glanced at her over his shoulder.
"What's in here?"
"Mm, what makes you think it's not clothes?"
"Because you have a bag," he said, gesturing with his shoulder to where her bag was.
"Ah. I guess I should know cops are observant."
"That's what we're paid the big bucks for."
"Yeah, I've heard that." She sat on the bed and slipped on some shoes. "Do you have anything to do the rest of the day?"
"No, not really. Lunch and then back to the precinct."
"Care to take me back out there?"
"Because I'm telling you they had to be somewhere nearby. It was too close to sunrise for them to be far from wherever they're holing up."
"And I told you there's nothing out there."
"Yeah, well, you'd be surprised what's right under your nose. I have some people researching the area, but I'd like to do a sweep on foot myself."
"You need me along?"
"I'm not sure where I was exactly. I was kind of out of it when Allison drove me here."
"And if I find someone, I'd feel better knowing the person with me can handle a weapon of some kind and Allison doesn't strike me as the type."
Lee chuckled lightly. "You're right there." He nodded then. "Yeah, I suppose I can do that."
"We can take your car, but I'll need this just in case we're out there and find something," she said, lifting the chest.
"You never told me what was in it."
She set it on the bed again and worked the lock. "I'm not sure you're ready to see what's in here."
His eyes met hers and he saw when she realized he'd done as she asked and researched not just Sunnydale but her.
"So," she said, opening the chest. "What you have here is my basic supplies. I have a bigger one at home, but this will get me through pretty much any encounter."
He watched her methodically explain each item. Some were familiar to him, others not. He watched her as she spoke. She knew what she was talking about, thorough in her explanation so he would know she was capable yet not too thorough as to make him think she was shitting him.
The thing of it was, she was so small. When he pictured some sort of superhero, it was more along the lines of Rambo. Not that she was scrawny or anything. She was buff, close to her like this he could see that. She wasn't all muscles or anything, but there was definite working out on display with her.
He placed a hand at her neck then, staring a little too closely but he couldn't believe what he was seeing.
"What?" She looked genuinely distressed.
"I can't even tell you were near death."
"Yeah," she said with a wry smile. "It's part of the slayer gig. Fast healing. Got to get right back out there and fight another day."
He grazed over the spot he knew the bite marks had been earlier that morning. "You said that, but I didn't think. I mean, Buffy, I can't even tell where I had to pour the holy water." He realized he really had no business touching her. "Sorry. Am I not supposed to bring that up?"
"No, it's okay. I'm just so used to it by now, it always weirds me out when someone makes a big deal out of it. I heal," she shrugged. "It's part of who I am."
"So, is there a Mr. Summers?"
Buffy frowned, looking a little puzzled. "Well, sure, my dad."
"That's not what I meant." He smiled and chuckled softly, dropping his hand. "I shouldn't have asked that," he said. "Let's get lunch and then I'll take you back out there."
"Thanks," she said, still looking puzzled.
He mentally chastised himself. It'd been far too long if he was considering hitting on someone probably fifteen years younger than him. And she was involved in a case, though he didn't believe she was responsible for what happened to the girl. It could still get murky.
He watched as Buffy closed and locked the trunk. "You were asking me if I was married, weren't you?"
"Yeah, that was the gist of it."
"Huh. No, I'm not. Never have been." She lifted the trunk easily, easier than he had earlier that morning he realized. "And no boyfriend either. Or was it only a husband you'd worry about?"
"Why not what?"
"Why no boyfriend?"
"I don't know. Relationships and I haven't gotten along too well before now. They always end badly. Not to mention, my life the past two years, scratch that three years, has been all about the mission. Slaying. Saving the world. I did something pretty amazing. Used to be just one of me, now there are hundreds, thousands, and I have to track them down so they at least understand what they are now."
"I don’t understand."
"I'll tell you at lunch. Okay? I'm a little hungry now that you've mentioned food."
"All right," he said, smiling as he walked to the door. He opened it, letting her pass through. He had to admit she was nice to look at and he was sure her story would be an interesting one.
And he was right as it turned out. Listening to her, even if he'd yet to decide whether he believed her entirely.
"So, will there always be more than one now?"
She shrugged, eating the last of her fries. "I don't know. I admit I really didn't think about the whole big picture thing when the idea came to me. I just knew there was no other way we'd win."
"How do you find them?"
Her lips curved into a smile and she laughed softly. "Magick."
"We have a team of witches who locate the girls for us."
"All right. You've lost me."
"Kind of out there for you?"
"Yeah. This whole thing is."
"I know," she said, placing her hand over his. "You're doing great, really. I'm surprised you haven't called the men in the white coats on me yet."
"I thought about it early this morning."
"I bet you did."
"So, where are you living now? Because I know it's not Sunnydale."
"England." She took a sip of her iced tea and he noticed she was blushing.
"What's that for?"
"Well, it's kind of embarrassing."
"We live in a castle."
"A castle? We?"
"My sister, friends and the other slayers. And, yes, a castle. It's cool, but kind of creepy at the same time." She shrugged. "I don't know the history of the place, but I'm susceptible to dreams, so it freaks me out sometimes. Hundreds of years worth of history. Some of it bleeds into my sleep. It sounds entirely more posh than it is. I don't own it or anything."
"I see. Do you ever get a good night's sleep? You were driving here in the middle of the night."
"I sleep sometimes, sure. Even though I don't patrol like I used to in Sunnydale I'm still a night person."
"There's nothing wrong with being a night person. If it suits your schedule anyway."
"Isn't this cozy?" He knew that voice. Hadn't heard it outside of his mind for years. He wished he never had to hear it again. It reminded him of her betrayal, of a time when he'd sunk to depths he swore he wouldn't ever as an undercover agent.
Buffy started to slide her hand away. He caught before she could, lacing his fingers through hers. No reason really, except one of the seven deadly sins. Pride. He was here with a pretty woman, why couldn't it be more than a weird business thing.
"Elena. What brings you to this part of town?"
"Oh, you know me, Lee, always expanding my horizons."
"Yeah, I guess." He glanced at Buffy who was looking at him as if she had a lot of questions going through her mind. He couldn't blame her, and was just grateful she didn't take her hand away. "Buffy this is Elena Cabrera. An old… My ex-fiancé."
"Oh hi," Buffy said simply, offering Elena a smile. She seemed sincere enough. Of course she would, since there was nothing between them. He'd kept her hand more for his own selfish reasons, not just pride.
"You never mentioned you were engaged." He stifled a chuckle at that comment. He hadn't seen her since the day they were supposed to get married. She probably wouldn't like the fact he didn't mention her. Of course, he hadn't had an opportunity to mention her to Buffy.
He watched as Elena assessed Buffy, as far as she could see anyway given they were still seated at their table. He knew what she saw. A pretty woman, younger than he was by at least a decade, and the polar opposite of Elena. Where Elena was dark, exotic, and foreign, Buffy was fair, pretty but not in a glamorous way, and probably about as American as they came.
He noticed the ring on her ring finger about the same time Elena did, saw the hurt pass fleeting in her eyes. He'd have to remember to ask Buffy about it since she'd claimed there was no husband or boyfriend. The ring, from his eye - untrained as it was - looked like an engagement ring. Or something like that.
"I'd ask how you've been, but I guess I know. Still frequenting the same spots."
"What can I say? I'm nothing if I'm not predictable."
"Yes, I suppose you are that. Well, I'll leave you two to your lunch then."
"We were just leaving," Lee said, blotting his mouth with the paper napkin before setting it on his empty plate. "Don't leave on our account."
"Oh, I wasn't planning to, Lee. It was a pleasure to meet you, Buffy."
"Yeah, you, too. Thanks."
Elena laughed then. The comparison between the two women was so opposite it was kind of comical. Despite - or maybe because of - Elena's chosen occupation of following in her father's mob connected footsteps, Elena was high class. He didn't sense that about Buffy.
He stood then, releasing Buffy's hand when he grabbed the check.
"She's pretty," Buffy said at the cashier counter to which he responded with a grunt. "She is."
"Bad things, though?"
"You could say that. I'm in NA because of it."
"Ouch," she said softly. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked."
"You're bearing your secrets, no reason I can't do a little of the same in return. She was also part of the case I was working at the time. The wrong side of it. I didn't find out until the day of our wedding she was connected."
"Oh," Buffy said, glancing over her shoulder at Elena who sat with someone he recognized vaguely. "And she thinks you're with me now?"
"She'll draw her own conclusions, but I imagine so."
"That's why you kept my hand?"
"That and a bit of the ol' male ego not wanting her to see I'm just as alone as I was the day I met her."
"Why is that?"
"Why are you alone?"
"Before her, I don't know. No one ever interested me. Since her. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me."
"Been there, done that, I know how it goes and how it feels."
"You're, what, twenty-six?"
"Doesn't mean I haven't been through some bad things."
"You're right, I'm sorry. I just haven't seen her since that day."
"Oh, so the first time seeing her on top of everything else."
"Will she buy I'm with you with you?"
"I don't know why she wouldn't, she really never knew the real me anyway. There were so many things working undercover I couldn't tell her. Came close to telling her, which made me kick myself even more when I found out who she was."
She did something unexpected then, sliding her hand back into his once he'd pocketed his wallet. He glanced at her and she shrugged.
"You obviously want her to think you moved on."
"Yeah, well, I didn't expect…"
She clutched his arm and smiled at him. She was good at this and he had to wonder if she'd done it before. "It's just holding your hand. I won't die from that. I don't think so anyway."
He chuckled again. "Thanks. Hopefully, I won't run into her again anytime soon for her to ask me where you went."
She shrugged. "That's the beauty of it, you can make up whatever you want. I'm traveling or whatever."
"I thought you said you weren't married or involved."
"Um? I'm not."
"You're wearing a ring."
"It was my mom's. I just haven't bothered to get it refitted, and I travel so much, get hit on. It's easier then having to explain why I'm only in their town for a day or two."
"I see. Yet you explained it to me," he said, leading her out to his car.
"I have a legitimate reason to with you."
"Because I stumbled upon you working."
"That and," she said, tugging on his tie drawing him closer as he opened her door for her.
"You're the first guy in a while who asked the marriage question at all, let alone without making a pass at me immediately after discovering the answer."
He smirked. "You're assuming I didn't think about it."
"Everyone has thoughts, Detective Scanlon."
She smiled. "Lee." She leaned up and kissed him then. Just a brief brush of her lips over his.
"What was that?"
"Just in case she's watching out the window," she whispered, smoothing down his tie and the front of his shirt.
He fought the urge to glance toward the restaurant to see if Elena was doing just that.
"Now, let's go find some killers."
"You make that almost sound like a good time."
She sat in the car then, hand on the handle, and she smiled again. No, it was more of a beam at him then just a smile. "It can be if done with the right people." She drew the door closed before he could respond.
Word Count: 3,026
"It all looks the same to me. How do you know this is the spot?" Buffy looked out the window at the expanse of desert around where Lee had pulled over.
"I remember the mile marker number Allison had me pull over by."
"You sure you want to do this?"
"I don't have any choice. I really don't. You, on the other hand…"
"I'm coming with you."
"Bullets won't work on them."
"But they'll slow them down, right?"
"Yes. You can shoot them, but I don't want you doing anything else. I really do know what I'm doing."
"If you say so."
She placed a hand on his forearm once he'd turned the engine off. "Lee, I'm serious. If I'm right and they have a hidey-hole somewhere nearby, you're about to come face to face with the stuff you until this morning didn't believe in. I can't take you with me if I have to look out for you."
"You almost sound like a cop there."
"Thanks, I think. Do we have a deal?"
"I'll give you a stake just in case, but unless they're on you leave the staking to me. And if you do have to, go for the heart. Nothing else will do."
They hadn't talked about what happened at the restaurant on the way out here. Buffy was okay with that. She wasn't sure what had come over her. Other than she'd been in the situation before where she wanted Guy A to know she'd gotten over him. Okay, it hadn't happened often, and she hadn't almost married Guy A. Still, though, she did kind of get what Lee was probably feeling.
"I was kind of hoping Willow or Xander would have called back, but they haven't. So, I guess that means we do this the old fashioned way," she said, sliding out of the car.
"What's that?" Lee met her by the trunk, which he opened so she could get her weapons.
"Search and search some more, hoping we get lucky."
"I'm telling you, there's nothing out here, Buffy."
"I know, and I'm telling you they have ways of finding things you'd be surprised exist. So, let's start at the scene, see if we can see anything in daylight we missed this morning."
"All right, this way," Lee said, and Buffy followed. "So, are we going to talk about it?"
"Back at the restaurant."
"You wait until we're out here to ask me that?"
"Well, yeah, seemed a little better than stuck in a car."
"Good point. What do you want me to say? You wanted her to think you'd moved on and I was the person you'd moved on with. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out."
"Do you kiss any guy that wants you for his girlfriend?"
"Mm, no, can't say that I have. In fact, if I told you when the last time I kissed a guy was you'd probably laugh."
"Probably not, it's been a while for me, too."
"No. Well, yes. Not so much with the kissing part. They didn't matter, you know? And kissing matters. That probably sounds odd."
"No it doesn't, I know what you mean."
Just then there was a slight shift in the air, Buffy tugged on Lee's sleeve to pull him out of the way. She knew what it meant, but Lee would have no way of knowing.
"What?" he asked, clearly miffed at her tugging him like that.
And just like that, Willow appeared in front of them.
"Willow. Am I glad to see you."
"I thought you might be."
"You could have just called."
"And miss the hottie you were telling me about." Willow smiled widely and glanced in Lee's direction. Lee was staring at Willow as if he'd seen a ghost. "He looks older."
"Wil," Buffy mumbled.
"What? He does. Not that I should be surprised."
"Where'd she come from?"
"Hi," Willow said with a smile, offering Lee her hand. "I'm Willow, Buffy's friend. Sorry to just pop in on you like that. It took me a while to get Buffy's location, I guess because you guys were moving," she said, glancing back at Lee's car.
He took her offered hand, but didn't look too sure about it. Buffy couldn’t help giggling. "You expect me to buy vampires and whatever she just did?"
"Teleport, and yes. They're very real, Detective. In fact, that's why I'm here. And why I didn't just call, Buffy. We figured it'd be easier if I just came then try and explain it over the phone."
"We found a shift in the land about a mile out this way," Willow said, pointing. "They've built themselves something underground. It's not very big, so I doubt it's their permanent residence."
"A foxhole for vamps," Buffy murmured.
"So, I came to take you to it, and to help."
"Right, thanks, always glad to have you along. Let's go."
"He's coming with?"
"Yes. I've told him not to do anything, but if he needs to shoot one that's okay."
"What? What do you expect me to do? Leave him out here in the desert by himself? Best we stay together."
"She doesn't have any weapons," Lee said simply.
"She doesn't need any. As strong as I am, Willow's stronger. With her here, we may not even need to do any fighting, except any that get away before she fireballs them."
"Just wait. It's a sight to see your first time. Well, any time really. It's cool, and yet makes me feel somewhat obsolete at the same time."
"Oh, Buffy, you're not."
Not quite a mile into their trek through the desert, Buffy was beyond thirsty. She now knew why Lee had insisted they bring water along. She took a sip of hers same as Lee did while Willow worked her locating magick. Buffy didn't understand how it worked, just knew if Willow said vamps were here, Buffy believed her.
"Sense any humans?" Buffy asked.
"No, just us. There is a fresh kill, though, not vampire. Yet."
"Yet?" Lee asked.
"I presume it will be. He or she is dead. But not long dead, I can still detect their soul and their heat."
"All right. Well, as long as no one's alive and breathing in there. Do your stuff, Wil," Buffy said quickly, not wanting Lee to focus too much on what Willow was saying.
A flick of her wrist, a murmuring of some incantation Buffy didn't recognize and would never remember resulted in the makeshift door leading to their hiding spot practically exploded open.
"One nice thing about daylight in the desert, there's no place for them to run to," Buffy said. Without hesitation, Willow did another spell, throwing a fireball followed by two more in rapid succession into the bunker.
"Let's go make sure we got them all dead," Buffy said. "You want to stay out here?" she asked Lee.
"I'll come with."
"There won't be any evidence. You realize that."
"What do you mean?"
"They disintegrate when they're burned."
"But that doesn't mean they didn't have a room set aside for just such an emergency. So, I have to check."
"I'm right behind you two."
"No, Wil, you take the back. No offense, I don't want you in danger."
He smirked at that. "Thanks, I think."
"Just remember, anything that's still moving around down there a bullet won't put down."
Buffy took the steps with caution. It was a pretty good setup they had. There must have been a magick user among the group to get the sand to cover the door once they'd come inside.
I thought of that, too.
Willow's thoughts invaded Buffy's mind. Good to know they were on the same track. Hopefully, she wasn't the only one who found it odd vampires would even bother to come out hunting in the desert. What did she know?
Willow had been right, it wasn't that big of a place. And it was clear. She cast a couple more spells to be sure they weren't missing anything while Buffy found the body Willow had claimed she sensed.
"What are you doing?" Lee asked.
"I've got to stop it from rising," she said, drawing her sword.
"It? It's a human being, Buffy."
"It was, Lee. It's not anymore. You heard Willow, she's dead. This one they did have time to kill, though, so she will rise. I can't allow that just because you don't understand what you're dealing with."
"So you have to chop her head off?"
"Yes. That's what I have to do."
"You've done it before?" He sounded horrified. Buffy couldn't blame him. There was a reason her job remained a secret. People couldn't handle what she had to do if they knew. They wouldn't like knowing that their precious Jimmy or Jane had to have their head lopped off in order to prevent him or her from coming home to them as a blood-sucking fiend.
"Yes, I have," she said calmly. "They're not people, Lee. I tried telling you that before. Whoever she is or was, she's dead. What would rise in her place would be a demon in possession of her body. The memories would be there, but she'd have no soul and the demon would be in charge."
"Buffy, I'm a police officer…"
"And I gave you a chance to stay back at the car."
"I didn't know you were going to be beheading anybody. I should call this in."
"And explain to them how you found this place how?"
"I'll think of something."
"Right. And you being the one to call in this morning's crime scene not a mile away won't look a little suspicious?"
He grimaced, raking his hand over his head. "I just…"
"I know it's hard. I'll see if she had a purse or something, so you can call her parents. I have to do this, though."
"I don't know what I'd say."
"Well, the alternative is letting a killer go free."
"She's not a killer!"
"She will be."
"They all kill?"
"Yes. They all kill."
Willow cleared her throat from the other side of the room, arms crossed over her chest. Buffy paused to glare at her best friend. Leave it to her to correct her now of all times.
"Okay, there are two that don’t kill, but they're exceptions to the rule going back centuries. Dozens of centuries."
"What made them special?"
"They have their souls."
"Maybe she will, too."
"No, Lee, it doesn't work that way. Angel got his as a punishment, it was forced back in him, cursed by a band of gypsies. Spike earned his, went through brutal trials that would have probably killed me. They didn't rise as vampires with souls and for the hundred plus years they didn't have their souls they were brutal. Angel was the most brutal of the brutal."
"You know them?"
"Yes, I know them. And I can tell you first hand that without their souls they're bad, evil."
That wasn't entirely true, Spike had shown even without his soul he could do some good things. She didn't want to cloud the issue here, though. And Spike's good deeds were usually done for his own benefit, so she wasn't sure it counted.
"There's got to be some way."
"I could let you take her back to the morgue or wherever you'd take her. Willow said she'd recently died, so we'd have a day or two for her parents to identify her. But I'd still have to do this, Lee. And then you'd have to explain to the parents why they have a headless daughter."
Willow stepped up to them then, looping her hand through Lee's arm. "Why don't we go outside, let Buffy finish up here."
"I don't know this is such a good idea."
"Has she done anything to suggest that she enjoys doing this? That she didn't wish the girl's parents had a body to bury?"
"No, I just…"
"I know. I was sixteen when I first met Buffy. She saved my life. Did she tell you that?"
"Of course she wouldn't. She doesn't talk about the lives she's saved. I'll bet she felt guilty for the one she couldn't save this morning. And I know she does for this one. You can be sure she won't sleep tonight without seeing these two girls' faces."
"Yeah, she mentioned that," Lee said as Willow led him back outside.
"That's just the way Buffy is, but she's really good at what she does."
Without further ado, Buffy went about doing what she had to do. She didn't like it. Didn't like it at all. The girl couldn't have been much older than the girl this morning. If as old. Two young girls. The body taken care of she searched the area for a purse, anything identifying the girl. She found nothing. Searching the pockets of the girl's jeans, she found a battered state of Arizona ID card. The picture looked like the girl might have looked when she was alive. She pocketed it, deciding she'd take care of it instead of putting it on Lee.
"Sorry," she whispered. Yet another one she couldn't save.
She met Willow and Lee outside.
"There was nothing there. Sorry."
"It's all right. I'm not sure I was expecting anything."
"Wil, we'll need to seal this up. We don't want more vamps finding this hideout."
"Already taken care of. They should be here tomorrow morning."
"Good, thanks. Are you going to stay for a while?"
"I can. If you want me to."
"Sure. You can help me find the slayer I came here to find since I've gotten a little sidetracked. Did I mention I've got this great hotel room…"
"It's not that great," Lee said. "Cops don't have a huge budget for putting up witnesses, certainly not ones that are off the record."
"You wouldn't believe some of the dives I've been in Lee. I've been to towns that they didn't even have cable in the rooms."
"So you weren't being sarcastic?"
"Well, a little, but not in a making fun of you way."
He smiled a little. That was good, that meant he wasn't mad at her. Just the situation. He returned his attention to where they'd just come from. She knew that look well, realization that what she'd been telling him might just be true. Coming to grips with what he saw, not that he'd actually seen the vamps.
"I wish I could call her parents."
"Calling them without a plausible sounding explanation wouldn't make them feel better."
"I don't suppose you'd know how to handle this?"
"No. It's not something I've done before. That's not to say I haven't known who I've had to stake before."
"You've killed people you've known?"
"Well, they were already dead, so I didn't kill them. But, yes, I've had friends become vamps. I guess that's one of the reasons until me slayers have been alone. No chance of getting to know anyone, no chance of that moment's hesitation when it's your friend that you have to drive a stake through. Because that moment could be the difference between you living and not."
Willow did her magick once again, closing the doors leading to the hideout so that it looked untouched. One thing Buffy knew, no one would be going in there between now and sunset. They started on their way back to the car.
"So, slayers are usually raised alone?"
"Yes, by their watchers. I'm an anomaly. The Council wasn't too happy I stayed in school and stuff either. But that's part of the reason I'm still alive. I had help, like Willow."
"Have you always been a witch?"
"Wiccan. And, no, not always. I kind of stumbled into it through one of our old teachers."
"I see. What about the slayer's family?"
"They were taken from them typically, or given to their watchers. I've only met two other slayers before I activated the others, so I really don’t know beyond what I knew about them. Faith grew up with her mom, at least for a while. Kendra grew up with her watcher since she could walk I think."
"How'd you meet them if there was only supposed to be one of you?"
"Well, I kind of died. But only for like a minute. Evidently there are no time constraints, dead is dead according to the magicks involved. And that activated Kendra. Kendra was killed, that activated Faith."
"How'd you die?"
"I drowned trying to fight a vampire who was trapped under the earth. That's how I knew to look for these vampires here today having something underground. They thrive on that stuff."
"Too much for you?"
"No, no. Well, okay, a little."
"I suppose I shouldn't add that I died a second time then."
He glanced at her then, Willow on the other hand looked away. "Long story. To shorten it up, I came back. Here I am!"
"So, you're life is as dangerous as a cop's?"
"I guess so. I can't say I've known too many cops, not ones that did their jobs anyway."
"Yeah, I got that impression looking over some of the things I read up on about Sunnydale."
He unlocked the passenger door for her, she unlocked the other doors for Willow and Lee.
"Well, I guess I'd best get you back to the motel so I can go clock out."
"You're still on the clock?"
"Yes. I had my cell with me."
"Oh, I didn't realize."
"It's all right. I think I needed to go with and see that."
She watched as his eyes scanned the area they'd just come from.
"Hard to believe things like that can survive out here."
"I don't think heat actually bothers them, just sunlight. I don't know for sure, though," she shrugged.
She'd never asked Angel or Spike, but it wasn't like California was Siberia as far as climate and temperature. If they couldn't deal with hot temperatures, surely the vampires would have gone somewhere that wasn't California.
Word Count: 2,471
She'd fallen asleep at some point after Willow left. She'd stayed most of the evening but needed to get back to Kennedy. Buffy could understand that, and had to admit she was a little envious that her best friend had someone to get back to. Not that Buffy minded being alone necessarily, but even if she wasn't. Well, she couldn't teleport and do the things Willow did to make going back and forth not just easy but cheap.
Buffy hoped one of these days she'd get a reprieve on collecting slayers. She'd hated the routine of Sunnydale, the same thing every day and every night. She was learning to appreciate having one place to call home, though. A real place where her and Dawn could call it home. Not some rent-a-castle filled with hundreds of other slayers and a communications center.
Not that the castle wasn't cool. How many people could claim they'd been in a real castle? Let alone lived in one?
She heard the knocking then, realized that must have woken her up. She recognized the effects of a spell, that groggy feeling that her mind had been under the influence of a command. She knew that all Willow had done was urged her to sleep, knowing she wouldn't be able to do it on her own.
She opened the door, surprised when it wouldn't open all the way. Willow'd even thought to fasten the chain lock.
"I thought we'd gotten past that."
"I woke you."
"What? No, it's fine. Did something happen?" She unfastened the chain and opened the door. "Oh, that smells delicious," she said, her stomach growling in agreement.
"I thought you and your friend might be hungry, so I came by to see if you wanted pizza."
"Thank you, except she's gone."
"She left already?"
"Yeah, had to get back to her girlfriend. She's had a rough time of it, too."
"Oh." He paused with a frown. "Are you? I mean…"
"No, I'm not," she said with a soft laugh.
"Not that it matters."
"Willow is, I'm not. We're just friends. Have been best friends since before she realized she was."
"And the girlfriend is okay with that?"
"Oh, there are issues at times, but she's a slayer so she understands that there are times I need Willow. And that I've known Willow for years longer. And, well, we're girls, she's in a relationship there are times she needs to talk to someone that's not her significant other."
"When you deal with the stuff we do you have to be."
She regarded him not sure what exactly they were doing. She'd be leaving Phoenix soon, very soon if the slayer she'd come to fine wanted to go with Buffy. Did that mean she shouldn't take the opportunity to enjoy herself? It wasn't like he was asking her on a date or even for anything more than that if he considered this a date.
"So, do you want to eat with me? I mean, you came here with pizza on the brain."
"Sure. Actually, I have a better idea. You're probably getting sick of these four walls."
"I'll take you back to my place. We'll eat, watch some TV, just hang out. I'll bring you back later."
"Are you sure?"
"Well, then I'd love to because you're right, motel rooms get pretty boring after a while. And I have no where to offer you to sit but my bed."
"Are you sure? When I got here you were sleeping."
"Yeah, so that I could go out later."
"Back to where we were earlier. I was going to see if I found any walking vamps."
"You think you will?"
"I don't think it's a random coincidence that two young girls were found to be vamp victims in the same area."
"They work like that? Patterns?"
"Sometimes they're random. It's just kind of an odd thing to have it happen out there, so far from anything."
"I see your point." He glanced out the window. "All right, well, we have time til you can go. Right? Sunset and all that."
She smiled. "Yes. You're catching on."
"I saw Dracula, a few incarnations of it actually," he said, opening the door.
"I met him," she said in an intentionally casual manner.
"I said that I met him once. He came to Sunnydale," Buffy said, passing by him to leave the room.
His arm shot out and he grabbed her before she could leave the room entirely. Of course, that was partly because she let him grab her.
"Wait. You can't spring that on a guy and just breeze past as if you'd said you met the president or something."
"The president isn't vampire."
He chuckled then. "I should hope not."
"You never know. There are people all over the place that know the things you're just learning about."
"Maybe that's true, but the president?"
"I've dealt with the government, not just Sunnydale either. I'm surprised you haven't thought to turn me in."
"Why would I do that?"
"There are factions of the US government that would love to get their hands on me."
"Why is that?"
"They think I'm a terrorist."
She smiled, glad to see the confusion in his eyes when she said that. That meant he didn't think she was a complete loon.
"A dozen or so get out of Sunnydale alive, I'm one of them. They think I caused it. Never mind that there were waves of people who escaped beforehand."
"Well, you did."
"Yes, and saved the world in the process. They don't see that, though. These groups, they always think in black and white. I destroyed a town of thirty thousand or so, but they don't stop to realize that I saved many more lives than I lost."
"A pretty thankless job."
"Some would say so. I used to think so. I used to hate that no one knew what I did. That it was me against them and the good citizens of Sunnydale went about their business safely because of me. But I don't think that so much anymore. Maybe it's because I'm no longer the only one. Or maybe I'm just not sixteen anymore, resenting that my life is about something bigger than dating, cheerleading and homework."
He leaned toward her then. She was so sure he was going to kiss her she even felt her heart pick up just a little faster in anticipation. He was there, his mouth barely an inch from hers when her cell phone played the Aerosmith riff it was set to that represented Xander.
He groaned and she let out a small yelp not sure what had just happened. How'd they go from talking about Dracula and end of the world stuff to him kissing her? She dragged her cell phone out of her front pocket.
"Hey Buffster. It's Xander. Did I catch you at a bad time?"
She rolled her eyes. As if he needed to identify himself after close to ten years. "Uh, hi, Xander. What's up?"
"Just touching base with you. We'll be on the ground about 0700 hours."
"That's seven o'clock tomorrow morning. Right? I never did get used to military time even when I was with Riley, but Willow said it'd be the morning. I'm going back out there tonight to see if any others show up."
"Okay, good. We have the coordinates, so we may not even need to bother you. Just in case, leave your cell phone on."
"I always do."
"There was that one time…"
"Yeah, one time, and my phone was charging."
Lee hadn't moved, his hand from the wall near her head and was totally encroaching on her space. Her eyes met his and he smiled.
"I know, I just have to give you a hard time. Talk to you tomorrow."
"Oh, hey, any luck finding that slayer?"
"I haven't tried yet. I'll do that tomorrow. Willow was here today and we went back out to the scene. So, not much time for finding slayers."
"Gotcha. Be careful out there."
"I always am.
"Night, Buffy, sleep well."
"You, too, Xander," she said fondly. Who'd have thought he'd be her go-to man? Giles was busy doing watcher stuff, so she had to have someone to rely on. Xander had taken on the role on a temporary basis. That was months ago and no one had made mention of finding a replacement for him. He was just that good.
"Yeah," Buffy said, sliding her phone back into her pocket. "Just telling me they'll be here in the morning to take care of that nest we found. It'll be inhabitable by this time tomorrow."
"Do you still need to go out there tonight?"
Her eyes met his, wondering what exactly he was asking her. "I should. I need to see if others show up."
"Your friend has impeccable timing. He's not psychic or something is he?"
"No," she said with a shake of her head. "Why?"
"I was about to do this," he said, kissing her right there in the doorway between her room and the hallway.
It was soft, a little tentative as if he wasn't quite sure what he was doing. Or why. He'd mentioned earlier kissing hadn't been something he did since his ex. As she tugged on the lapels of his suit jacket, pushing him back into her room, she realized she liked that thought. Something about her made him want to kiss again.
Hands went to his head, the nape of his neck, lower to his shoulders and forward to his chest. She couldn't remember the last time she'd touched a breathing man with a heartbeat. Riley she supposed. That seemed like forever ago.
She'd abstained for a couple of years now, longer considering she and Spike hadn't done more than hold one another her last night in Sunnydale. She had an itch, evidently he did, too. Was it bad to scratch it together? She wasn't sure. One night stands weren't her thing.
She stopped thinking and just went with her gut, sliding his suit coat over his shoulders and off. Her mouth parted, seeking his tongue as she worked the buttons on his shirt. He met hers, echoing her urgency as he reached for the waist of her jeans.
He backed her against the wall, pinning her arms against the wall by her head as he twined his fingers through hers. He wasn't going to stop here. Was he? Evidently not, as a minute later he let go of her hands so she could drop them to his shoulders, bare and very warm to the touch. He was definitely a living, breathing man.
She wasn't exactly sure who did what, but somehow they managed to get each other out of all of their respective clothes. Hands at her hips, he urged - not that he needed to too much - and her legs went around his waist.
She'd done it like this once before. Back up against a wall, but she'd been in a totally different place then. The emotions that went with that time weren't here now. This time, she let her head fall back against the wall and clung to him as for a little while he let her control the pace. And, so help her, she enjoyed it.
"Oh God," he murmured against her neck as she used her muscles, squeezing and clutching him so he slid even deeper inside of him. He was giving her a hickey. She could feel it and even though she hadn't had one since high school, if even then, she found it turned her on just now. It seemed to fit what they were doing, where they were.
He pulled away as much as she allowed him to, eyes cloudy with desire as he looked at her. She'd never stopped to wonder if her eyes looked like that, too. She hoped so.
"A little late, but I don't have anything…"
"It's okay. I'm on birth control."
"But no boyfriend?"
"No," she whispered shaking her head. "I wouldn't lie about that, not like I knew this was going to happen."
"Fair enough," he said, taking her into his arms and carrying her to the bed. "Sorry, wasn't going to last much longer like that. You're good at that."
"Mm, maybe it's you and not me."
"No, don't remember it feeling like this," he said as he sank inside of her again. She wrapped her legs around him again, arching into him to take him deeper. She hadn't noticed against the wall just how big he was. Or maybe it had just been that long since she'd been with anyone, but she didn't think that was it.
She had to fight to stop from scratching him with her nails as he thrust inside of her, each thrust of his cock stroking her clit as he slid out of her then back in again. Bringing her closer to climax until finally she shattered and came hard, clutching onto him. It'd been so, so long. She hadn't even been of the mind to take matters into her own hand, or fingers, lately. It just made her more frustrated.
He followed pretty close behind her with a murmured "too good".
"Yeah," she said simply, her way of agreeing.
They stayed like that for a long while, her legs around him and him on top of her. He made no effort to move and she found she didn't want him to.
"I must be getting heavy," he whispered, his voice sounding a little hoarse just then. He kissed her and she kissed him back as he rolled beside her, sliding a hand to her hip to draw her against him.
"You were fine."
"I don't feel like I'm squishing you this way. I prefer it."
She chuckled. "Okay then."
He traced lazily along her hip and upper thigh. "Did you still want pizza?"
"Mm, not right now. No. I think you've whetted my appetite for other things."
"I have, huh?"
"Yes, it's been years. And I'm always okay when I'm not getting any. Dry spells are fine and all, but once I have the opportunity."
She bit her lip and looked at him. "You know, I really don't think you do yet. I'll show you by the end of the night though." She sat up then, straddling him.
"Am I going to need oxygen?"
She shook her head as she began exploring him with her hands and mouth. Now that they'd gotten to this point and he was here, naked she couldn't wait to get to know him better.
"I'll just give you mouth to mouth if it gets that far."
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 was 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."
Word Count: 3,925
"I don't expect you to clean my place."
She let out a startled sound, just about bashing her on the hood of the stove. She hadn't even heard him come in. She was in his kitchen, scrubbing the stovetop. She had found his stereo and while he didn't have many CDs that interested her (or that she was familiar with) she was able to find a radio station that played a decent mix of music.
She and Allison had stopped for a cup of coffee on their way back to her car and then Buffy had stopped at a grocery store to pick up some things. She figured since she had a kitchen available to her she may as well use it. Lee didn't have much in the way of food in his house, so she assumed he didn't cook much.
She wasn't counting on Xander calling and getting into a conversation with him about the slayer she was in Phoenix to locate. So, she'd forgotten about the rice that she had started and it boiled over onto the stove. And when it had run out of water, the rice burnt to the pan. And didn't smell so good.
"You found the planter I take it."
She moved to stand, but he stopped her with a hand at her hip.
"What were you doing?" It was a logical question, but his voice was low, husky and suggested he had no interest in what she had been doing.
"I was thinking you might want something to eat."
"Where'd you get food?"
"Supermarket on the way here. Do you ever eat here?"
"Sure. I have take-out menus…"
"No, I mean real food. You know, that you cook and requires dishes to wash as a result of it."
"Very rarely. Once in a while I get a hankering for something."
"I looked through your fridge and cupboards and they were pretty bare."
His hand slid lower along her thigh, a caress that made her breath catch. It surprised her how easily she reacted to him considering she really didn't know him. Sex had, other than with Parker, been about relationship and some sort of commitment for her. The three men she'd been with other than Parker she'd gotten to know before sleeping with them.
He found the hem of her skirt, drew his hand up again pushing the skirt with it.
"I'll work on rectifying that."
"I already did a little," she whispered, sounding breathless to her own ears as his hand slid to the juncture between her legs. He prompted her to spread them and she did. She cried out, leaning forward as he slid a fingertip along her labia. "What are you doing?"
He chuckled and found her ear, nuzzling there. Pressed against her back as he was, she could feel even through his pants that he wanted her. Here. Now.
"If you have to ask that…"
"No, I mean, why here?"
"I come home from a crime scene I'd rather forget about. And instead of the temptation of a beer I find you by my stove, the smell of food in the air. Not to mention I've had a picture of you in this skirt going through my mind when I should have been thinking of other things. It was a turn-on."
"You find domesticity a turn-on?"
He slid a finger inside of her and she groaned, pushing against his hand.
"I guess so."
"Your bed would be domestic."
"We've already used the bed, a couple of times in fact."
"And that means we can't use it again?"
"I was going for spontaneity."
"Oh, well…" She broke off as his thumb found her clit, circling it while his finger thrust inside of her. She brushed the front of his trousers with her butt. "You're a little overdressed for spontaneous."
He lifted the hand from her hip then and she sighed softly, missing the warmth of his hand against her skin. And then he stroked her clit again and she wasn't missing his hand anymore. She heard the jingle of a belt buckle, the soft sound of a zipper and saw from her vantage point that his pants were now to his knees.
She made to turn around, but he stopped her.
"Where are you going?"
"I was going to…"
He nipped at her neck, the same spot her scars were and she groaned. There was something about him doing that that just did it for her. He reached around her, sliding the now cold pan of burnt rice to the countertop beside them.
He slid inside of her, just a little to be sure she was ready. He pulled out and thrust all of the way inside of her in one powerful stroke. She barely had any contact with the floor at all this way, but she had the stove for support. And he wasn't going to let her go.
She didn't mind him being behind her, but she couldn't touch him like this and it grew frustrating. She wanted to touch him. As if reading her mind, he slid a hand along her arms finding her hand and laying his on top of hers. She cried out as his thrusts grew faster, more urgent as he stroked her clit. She felt him come, she was almost there, too. He kept thrusting inside of her, emptying himself into her as he worked to bring her off, too.
He stepped away, supporting her hips as he guided her so they were both on the floor in front of the stove.
"Hmm, I never realized burning rice had such an effect on a man."
He chuckled softly. "Me neither."
His eyes followed hers and they both started laughing at the picture he made sitting on the floor, completely dressed except his pants down.
"Has anyone told you that you shouldn't take phone numbers from guys when you're sleeping with another guy?"
"Is that what this was about? I didn't know you noticed."
"Part of it. I'm a cop, I notice everything, Buffy."
"Oh, well, if you'd asked me - or him - we'd have told you he's from Sunnydale and I knew him when he was playing Little League baseball."
"And he waited until now to give you his phone number?"
"Well, I helped save him. It's a long story," she said, and proceeded to tell him about the world of nightmares Billy had created by refusing to come out of his coma. "It's nothing, he just wanted to get something to eat with someone who knew about the things we know about."
"You sure that's all?"
"You're just an attractive woman and he's someone a little closer to your age."
"You joke about my stamina, young men have stamina to spare."
She moved to kneel around him, straddling his lap as she wrapped her arms around his neck. "I haven't made one complaint about you in any capacity."
"If you hadn't been treating me like you didn't know me, maybe I would have told him I was staying with you. You seemed to be all secretive about it, so all I could tell him was that I was staying with a friend. Why is that anyway?"
"Why did you treat me like that?"
"I was at work, Buffy."
She drew away. "So, I'm good enough to come home and fuck because you had a bad day, but not to acknowledge that you know me in front of your cop buddies?"
"That's not what I said."
"That's what it seems like. I realize I'm not permanent, that I'm leaving, but you moved my stuff here. I didn't ask you to. You made your ex think we were an item."
"It just made sense."
"From a convenience standpoint?"
"Well, no, put like that…"
"I'm not asking you to kiss me or anything, but a little something so I don't walk into something like that wondering if I'd done something wrong I don't know about."
"And what am I supposed to tell Bill, Allison, or anyone else when they ask me where I'm staying? I told him a friend."
"Allison doesn't know where I put my witnesses so she's not going to show up at the hotel looking for you."
She closed her eyes and stood from his lap. He stood then, fixing his pants in the process. Somehow this had turned from good sex that he hoped was going to lead to more of the same into an argument. He wasn't sure how it happened.
"How did you get those scars?"
"The scars on your neck, there are two sets of them. They look like bite marks, fang marks I'm coming to understand. They aren't from the other night. I've looked, they're not fresh."
"I got bit. It's a hazard of the job."
"Why the scarring?"
"I don't know! What is it you want to know?"
He focused on his feet, realizing he hadn't even taken the time to kick his shoes off. Smooth, very smooth, Scanlon. Not that he was sure why leaving his shoes on made a difference when he hadn't removed any of his clothes at all.
"Despite this being temporary, or whatever you want to call it. You're still here, in my bed, in my house, and I like you. Do you think I enjoyed walking into that crime scene, knowing that you've been bitten at least once that I know about. That could have been you lying there this morning."
"But it's not!"
"That's not the point. My mind can tell me that all it wants, but I couldn't help picturing you the night Allison and I found you. I took an oath to protect and serve, and I can't do that with you. Your life is more dangerous than a cop's, you don't get backup."
"And that bothers you," she said in barely a whisper, realization dawning on her. On him, too. He was concerned for her. It'd been a long time since he'd felt the need to worry about someone.
"Yes! And I was afraid if I said anything to you that'd spill out in front of everyone."
"We couldn't have that," she said wryly.
"Not if I want to be respected on my job, no. I'm a good cop, I'm not supposed to let emotions get in my way but they did today. She looks like you. Did you notice that? Not exactly, but there's a resemblance."
"I didn't really pay attention."
"Well, she did. And then you came onto the scene, very much not dead, dressed like that."
"Like this? What's that mean?"
"Your skirt that's meant to…"
"Show off my legs? Isn't that the purpose of a skirt?"
"Yeah, but not in front of a couple of dozen cops!"
"So, I shouldn't wear skirts?"
"I didn't say that."
"What are you saying, Lee?"
"I don't know."
He sat on the couch then, looking up at her. She wasn't mad, not anymore. He didn't know her real well yet, but he could tell by her eyes she wasn't upset. He was coming to understand that she was more than just a short-term fling. He wasn't sure what that meant. She'd be going back to London soon, maybe not as soon as she thought initially but soon. And then what? At least he wasn't going to get his heart scooped out finding out she was working for the very people he was investigating.
"In addition to a few other things, yeah I guess. Cops can be pretty crass at times amongst ourselves."
"And they said stuff about me?"
He snorted. "Well, yeah. You're pretty, look good in a skirt, weren't afraid to look at a dead body, and Bill tells them that you're beyond cool."
"He said that?" She smiled at that, apparently surprised to hear it.
"Yes. As if you didn't know."
"No, I really didn't. Unfortunately, I don't often get to meet up with the people I've saved once I leave them. Bill is one of the only, so I never know if people walk away from me thinking I'm just crazy or what."
"I had to fight the urge to touch you today. That was my problem, Buffy. I saw those bite marks she had, saw your scars and I wanted to ask you about them. Touch them. And I can't do that."
"You could have asked me about it."
"I just did."
"Not and keep my focus where it should be. And I'm not just fucking you. If I gave you that impression…"
"No, I just wasn't expecting you to act like you didn't know me. And then come home, well," she said, waving a hand in the direction of the kitchen, "like that."
He could understand that. "I, truthfully, wasn't sure how to deal with you at the crime scene. It wasn't really my scene for one. I was invited because I'd found the body the other night. So, I was afraid if I said or did something to make them think we were together that they'd ask you to leave. I didn't want to risk that, because I wanted to know if you needed to take care of her."
"You wouldn't have let me take care of her there anyway."
"Well, no, but I could have gotten you in later to take care of it. I wasn't going to sit idly by while men could be in danger."
He noticed she hadn't asked him how he'd get her in or how he'd explain the disappearance of a body. The thing was when he spoke to someone in the coroner's office earlier that day he mentioned bodies did that sometimes, disappeared.
"I can't tell you how mad it makes me to think someone, somewhere in the chain of command knows about this and says nothing. They're putting the lives of their men, the men who trust them, at risk."
"Do you still want me to make you dinner?"
"I can take you out if you want, a cop hangout if that'll make you feel better."
"Or make you feel better so they know you're with me."
"There is always that benefit, but no, I just want you to realize on the job and off the job I do things differently."
"All right, let me shower and change."
"You don't need a shower. You look great just like that."
"Thank you, but there's one aspect to sex I'd forgotten about."
"Considering we haven't done anything out of the ordinary, I'm almost afraid to ask what that might be."
"Sex without a condom…"
"Ah," he said simply. He hadn't thought of that.
"Mm, yeah, so just give me a minute to clean up then I'll be out."
"We don't have to go out you know. Then I wouldn't have to worry about cleaning up."
He shrugged, about to say more when someone knocked at his door. He wanted to take her out and it didn't really have anything to do with wanting anyone to know she was with him. He should have asked her about checking her out of her room, but it had seemed foolish to keep her there when she'd come back to his place last night. She'd mentioned an expense account. So why have an expense when she could stay here free?
Okay, so he wanted to take her out because he didn't want to be one of those guys that a girl thought he only wanted her for sex. And keeping her holed up here, letting her cook meals for him. Well, that screamed of hiding her. To him. Maybe she didn't mind, but he did. Because he wasn't using her for sex. The sex had just kind of happened, and he would be the first to admit he'd been in a bit of a dry spell before it happened with her.
He looked through the peephole and let out a soft groan when he saw who it was. He glanced behind him, only to see that Buffy had already vanished into his bathroom. He could pretend he wasn't here, but admittedly he was kind of curious.
He opened the door, realizing too late while he'd pulled his pants up he hadn't bothered to refasten his belt. He hadn't been paying attention and if Elena hadn't obviously noticed he probably wouldn't have realized it yet.
"Am I interrupting?" There was a wicked smile on her lips. One he recognized as her amused look.
"No. A few minutes ago maybe. What do you want, Elena?" He fixed his pants then, fastening the buckle haphazardly.
"I realized after seeing you yesterday it had been ages," she said, breezing past him without an invitation. Her eyes went to the unusable pan of rice on the kitchen counter. "Someone need work on their culinary skills?"
"No, the culinary skills are just fine all around. And there's a reason you haven't seen me in ages."
"Come now. You're not still bitter about what happened?"
He wasn't sure how to answer that. Was he bitter about what happened? Was he upset about not being married? To her? Yes and no. He'd loved her so much, there was a part of him that wondered if he'd ever find that again. Had he blown his chance of having it all: a wife, kids.
But then he'd come back to not just who she was but that someone like her wouldn't tolerate his being a cop. It wasn't in her blood to get that late night phone call every cop's spouse dreaded. She wouldn't tolerate him putting her in that position.
And if he knew anything about himself through his struggles, he'd come to learn that he was a cop. There was nothing else he'd rather do. The cop in him rebelled at the fact the enemy knew him so well. He'd taken a mobster into his bed and hadn't even realized he was doing it. How had he been so blind? Or was she just that good?
That was the part that bugged him. Which was it? Was he that easily duped? Or had she been that good at hiding who she was?
"I really just wondered if you were still in this quaint place."
"I'm sorry if it's not to your tastes, but my living arrangements aren't really your concern anymore."
"And she doesn't mind?"
"I haven't asked her and she hasn't said."
"Really, Lee. You can be rather dense sometimes. Who would really want to live here? Like this? She struck me as being a little out of your league. High maintenance."
"Looks can be deceiving. Just because you might be high maintenance doesn't mean I am," Buffy said from behind them. They both turned to look at her and Lee was struck by how natural she was. She was pretty but it wasn't in a fake way. Here she was dressed in a towel, her hair wet and she looked good to him. He couldn't recall ever seeing Elena like this.
She walked toward them, not seeming to care she was only wearing a towel.
"How do you know I don't have a place of my own that Lee's not going to move into? You don't is how. You don't know anything about me. And from what he told me you don't know anything about him anymore. You came here to see if he'd really moved on. As if somehow his showing up at that restaurant with me was planned or an act." Buffy smiled then. "It wasn't planned. I'm here, you're not, and I can guarantee I have no secrets from him, so deal with it."
"People always have secrets."
"Only people who want to hide what they really are. I'm sure you've figured it out, but secrets aren't exactly the thing to keep for the long haul. Now you're keeping me from getting dressed and holding up my dinner out."
"She is a bit rude, isn't she, Lee?"
Lee just shrugged, resisting the urge to kiss Buffy hard there and then. She didn't have to do any of this. Elena would figure it out eventually. He wasn't sure if she suspected something was amiss, but she wouldn't let it go if she did.
"I'm from Southern California, we're just bred that way I guess."
"Are you moving to California?"
"No, actually, Buffy lives in London. For now," he added as an afterthought, since Buffy seemed willing to go along with the game they'd started the other day.
"You'd leave Phoenix? The force? I find that hard to believe."
"Good night, Elena. Your curiosities have been settled. I still live here. She's really here. We have plans."
He walked the short way to the door and opened it. "You don't need to come by again and check on me."
"We were good together, you can't deny that."
Oddly, he had a problem conjuring up images of what they were like together anymore. Once upon a time that had all he'd been able to focus on. He'd had to as a way to distract him from her deception. Now, though, well, especially today after Buffy letting him have her in the kitchen with little to no foreplay made him realize that she hadn't been as good as his memory conjured her up to be.
She'd never have made love in the kitchen or the floor or anywhere like that. Not that that mattered, but it did in a way. Didn't it? He had no kids, no pets, no anything so shouldn’t he be able to do what he wanted? Wherever he wanted? Within the constraints of the law, of course.
"No, Elena, we really weren't. A while ago I might have answered differently, but not now. I've moved on and Buffy has nothing to do with that. I was on drugs, probably the lowest point of my life. Nothing about that time was good for me."
Her face fell. He'd surprised her with his answer. He had, too. There had been some ways he hadn't moved on, letting someone get close to him. But that was a trust issue more than anything. And he was sure with the right person he'd work on that. The fact that he was willing to kiss Buffy, just kiss her told him he was already working on it.
"Good night, Elena. Have a good life."
"Lee," she said, but he grabbed her by the elbow and escorted her out the door. Once past the threshold, he released her arm and closed the door.
Buffy returned a few minutes later. He was still standing by the door, almost afraid if he left it she'd come back in.
"Do you think she's still there?"
"I don't know. You look," he couldn't help but take a nice and leisurely stroll down the length of her body and back up again. "Great."
"Thanks," she said, smoothing down the miniskirt that was really shorter than it should have been. Not that he was going to complain because she was his date. For the night, for the week, for the here and now.
"I should change into something that isn't work clothes."
"You look fine."
"And you look great. Allow me to at least try and look like I'm not a bum you picked up off the street."
She smiled and placed her hands at his chest, smoothing down the front of his shirt. She reached up to kiss him. "Okay."
Word Count: 5,647
It was her cell phone that woke them up the next morning. Early. Too early. She searched for it, knocking it to the floor which only served to compound the noise of the ringing phone. She knew who it was by the ring tone. She really didn't want to explain to Giles why she hadn't found Lexie yet. If she didn't answer, though, he'd worry. And that could lead to bad things.
"Hello," she said groggily into the phone.
"I woke you?"
"Well, it is only," she sat up slightly, glancing at Lee's alarm clock. It was on his side of the bed, so she had to look over him to see it. "Giles, it's eight o'clock in the morning."
"I'm sorry, Buffy, but I just read your email."
"Oh," she said, realizing he wasn't calling about Lexie.
"Do you need reinforcements?"
"Not yet. I'm not even sure what's going on. It might be nothing. It could be something stupid like some new vamps just being careless."
"Have you found Lexie? Perhaps she can help?"
"I've been a little busy trying to find the vampires doing these killings, Giles. So, no, haven't found or even looked for Lexie yet. I plan to today, though. At a reasonable hour."
"It's not that early."
"Says you! It's three in the afternoon there."
"Very well, I apologize. Willow says you've been working with the police."
"Yes, a little."
"I always am, Giles."
"Sometimes more than others."
"That's true for anybody, Giles. Don't lay into me this morning. I'm really not in the mood. I'm the one traveling around collecting slayers, staying in hotels, eating fast food."
"Yes, yes, and it's such a hardship for you I'm sure."
She sighed heavily, running her fingers through her hair. She hated when they sniped at one another. They were both frustrated, trying to work together to find a neat solution to the situation she'd created. It had never been done before, obviously, so they were in virgin territory.
"I'm sorry, Giles. Okay? I'm just tired and a little on edge that I don’t know what's going on here."
"I understand, apology accepted. And I will do my best to be more mindful of the time from now on."
"Thank you! I'll call once I've found Lexie."
"Have a good day, Buffy."
She disconnected and set the phone down on the small table by her side of the bed.
"Everything okay?" Lee asked quietly after a few minutes, obviously waiting to see if she was going to say something.
"Yeah. I need to find that slayer today."
"Need any help?"
She propped herself up on her elbow to look at him. "What did you have in mind doing?"
He shrugged, sliding an arm along her arm. "Whatever you need me to do. I know you were going to do it yesterday but I called you out to a crime scene."
"No, this is really better one on one. Besides, you have to go to work."
"Not until this afternoon."
"Oh, right, you have that weird shift."
He smiled. "Yes."
"So, I can go find Lexie this morning and then visit you this afternoon at the police station."
"Because I'm suspecting these two girls aren't the first two victims. And they seem to be making their way toward town. I want to see if there's a pattern or we can at least figure out where the victims were found. See if maybe there's a common point in the middle where they might be hiding. We missed something, obviously. It wasn't that foxhole we found."
"Right. Yeah, we can do that."
"And no one at work will question it?"
He shrugged. "I don't have to tell them what I'm doing."
She leaned down and kissed him. "Thank you for dinner last night. It was nice."
He chuckled. "We didn't scare you off?"
"Nope. Were you trying to?"
"No, but I told you cops can be a little crass, and when everyone but you drinks it stands out."
"They were all fine."
"How was I?"
She laughed softly, rubbing her cheek against his shoulder. "Better than fine?"
"I was, huh?"
"Yes, and it was nice to go out like that. Thank you. I needed it I guess. I don't take time to relax that way. I used to, but I created this problem so I try not to be drop-the-ball Buffy anymore than I have to be."
"It sounds like you're doing more than your fair share."
"You're biased because you've never met Giles. You might agree with him if you did."
He kissed the top of her head. "I doubt it. I certainly wouldn't call you at eight in the morning."
"So, breakfast and then you can go about your business."
"Okay. If you insist."
"Well, we're both awake."
"That we are."
"And I'm sorry, but you wore me out a bit last night."
"I did, huh?"
"Just a bit. Give me 'til later and I'll be ready to go."
She shimmied down his body, cupping him as she went. "Are you sore?"
"Buffy," he whispered as she rolled his sac in her hand.
"Should I," she said, getting herself comfortable, "kiss it and make it better?"
She'd tried to do this yesterday in the kitchen, but he'd stopped her. He didn't seem in the mood to stop her now, so she took him into her mouth while fondling and stroking him. She really didn't care if he came, that wasn't why she was doing this. She just wanted to taste him, to feel him grow hard in her mouth.
She licked and sucked, finding his sac and taking the thin skin there gently between her teeth, rolling it between them. He cried out. She felt him pulse in her mouth, licked the veins becoming more pronounced the harder he got. He reached, pulling her hair away from her face. She lifted her mouth so she was only in contact with the tip of his head, her eyes finding his to make sure he was watching.
And then she took him all of the way into her mouth in one long, slick stroke. He was just the perfect size both length and width for her to be able to take all of him without feeling like she was going to gag. Spike had taught her how to do this well. He cried out as she used her teeth, lightly scraping him as she eased her mouth off him. She did it again and again, taking him all the way in, altering the pace of how she slid off him, but always taking him into her mouth deep and hard. He seemed to like it as much as she did.
"Am I making it better?" she asked, taking a brief break from the rather enjoyable task of going down on him.
He didn't really answer, at least not coherently. That was good, if he was coherent she was doing something wrong.
When she left after breakfast that morning, she felt pretty confident he was going into work that afternoon with a smile on his face. She programmed the car's GPS with Lexie's address and headed in that direction.
The bad thing about GPS was that it was sort of like driving on autopilot. It gave her time to think.
She'd never had a relationship based on sex before. So this was new territory for her. Not that it was strictly sexual, but this was the first time she didn't know name, rank, serial number, and past misdeeds about a person before she'd gotten down and dirty with them.
So, what did that say about her? And why was she hoping that this vampire problem in Phoenix wouldn't be solved too quickly.
"Bad, Buffy, bad." She so could not go there. She needed a trans-continental boyfriend like she needed Angel to lose his soul again. Okay, maybe that was a little drastic, but pretty close.
Sad thing was she liked him. She liked playing the part of his fiancé in front of his ex. She'd never really envisioned herself married. The closest she'd come was Willow's 'I will it so' spell back when Spike had just been chipped by The Initiative. She wasn't sure if all that excitement with the planning was in her for real or part of the spell.
Willow was happy, had a steady girlfriend. So, why couldn't Buffy? No one said she couldn't of course, but Lee living in Phoenix and her in London would pose a problem eventually. She rubbed the side of her head, hoping it would stop hurting from the thinking.
She found Lexie's address and checked herself in the mirror to be sure she was presentable before leaving the car. This was the hardest part of the deal, explaining to them who she was and what she'd done. And how what she'd done affected them. Some were glad to find out they weren't crazy and some were upset that their newfound powers came with a price. Some were happy to train and join the mission. Some didn't. And some went rogue. They hadn't dealt with many of those yet, but they were out there. She was sure of it.
She knocked on the door and waited. The door opened and an older version of Lexie was looking at Buffy. They had the ability to run background checks on the slayers, complete with a photograph. It was helpful in knowing that Buffy was giving her slayer spiel to the right person.
"Hi, I'm looking for Lexie. Is she home?" Lexie was a little younger than Buffy, but not so much that she hoped she would get away with making her mother think they were friends.
"Is she expecting you?"
"No, I was just in the neighborhood and thought I'd say hi."
"Come in. She's downstairs working out, it's all she seems to do these days. I'll get her."
"I can go down there. If she's in the middle of a routine I don't want to force her to stop."
"All right, I'm sorry, I don't know your name."
"I'm Buffy, Mrs. Fergus."
"It's nice to meet you."
"You, too. Thanks," she said when Lexie's mom indicated the stairs to the basement. The hard rock music coming from there was a pretty good indication, too. There was a door separating the two floors and Buffy shut it on her way down.
The girl's back was to Buffy, which gave her a moment to check her out. She was in shape. Not out of control bulky or anything, but she had good definition. And judging by the quality exercise room she had down here the activation hadn't been the reason for that definition.
"Hey," Buffy said loud enough to be heard over the music. The response was a clattering of the free weights she'd been using with her arms.
"I know you."
Buffy smiled. It was the one good thing about the slayer dreams. All the girls had them, all the girls knew who she was. As well as most of the slayers before Buffy. Not all of them and some knew different ones than others. But Buffy was always a common denominator. She imagined because she was not only the last one but also the one who'd activated them. Of course, she wasn't really the last one. That label belonged to Faith, but Faith had been inactive for so long before coming to help those last months in Sunnydale.
She draped a towel around her neck and grabbed a bottle of water from a regular sized refrigerator. "Do you want one," she asked, fridge door still open.
They each took sips of their water, sizing one another up.
"So are you going to tell me why you've been starring in my dreams the past few months?"
"I can tell you and then you'll have a decision to make."
She blotted her face with the towel and sat on the edge of the workbench, leaving Buffy to take the only chair in the area.
"This is going to sound a little strange. Believe me, I know, because when I was told I think I would have believed in Big Foot or the Loch ness Monster over this."
And she did. Buffy altered the story a little, depending on the response of the person on the receiving end. If they were hanging onto her every word, seeming to believe her she gave a little less detail initially. If it seemed like they needed convincing, she dialed the details up a notch. All of this culminating in their increase in strength and other goodies that came with being a slayer.
"So, the dreams…"
"Are part of the package. You'll have them forever, whether you come with me or stay here."
"And I could stay here? I'm going to school…"
"We have quite a few who have elected not to join us at all. I've stayed long enough to train them how to use their strength and how to fight a vampire in basic terms. Because, like it or not, you are a slayer and that seems to come with a little beacon attracting vampires. And once they find out a slayer is nearby they come out of the woodwork."
She paused, taking a sip of her water. "We've had others who haven't wanted to come to London and I've stayed long enough to help them. Then I send a few other slayers who have been trained by me in to continue helping her."
"I'm not sure…"
"I will say this. Maybe it was fate that sent me here, I don't know. There is something going on. I've been in Phoenix for a few days and I've already seen three vamp victims. One almost got me, but luckily I got rescued by a psychic."
Buffy waved her hand. "It's not important and really has nothing to do with you or why I came to Phoenix in the first place. But the point is if you want to see what it's like, there's action. Lots of it, right here."
"Can I get back to you? I mean, I'm not sure…"
"Yes," she said, pulling out a business card. It listed the address of the Council's headquarters and then simply her name and international cell phone number. "You can call me anytime. Like I said, I'm going to be here for a while anyway. I'll call here if I leave town before you decide."
"I'll be honest. I was called when I was fifteen and I hated it. I lost my friends, my family, everything. I've sacrificed more than I care to confess to, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I've had opportunities, several, to just walk away. The most recent being when I activated all of you. I could have just said screw it and gone on my merry way, walked into the sunset, all the stuff signaling the good guys won. It won't end, though. It may not be the last big bad I fought, but there will always be evil to fight, the world to save. It's a thankless gig, no one knows what you do except a select few and they don't say thanks because they're fighting right along side with you. They may not be wielding a stake or a sword, but books and computers for knowledge in how to defeat things are just as important."
"I believe you, I just have plans."
"I get that, I do, and you're not the only one. If you want to come with me one night on a patrol and see what it is I do let me know. It's entirely up to you. You could stay in Phoenix, you know. There's nothing saying you'd have to come to London. I can stay here as long as it takes for you to feel ready."
Wishful thinking, that. If Lexie wanted to stay in Phoenix, that would give Buffy a reason to stay.
"Sure. And if it's any consolation, you already did help save the world. That day, the spell, the strength of a couple thousand slayers helped me push back the First enough to shut it down."
She nodded simply, taking a sip of water but she wasn't looking at Buffy. She wasn't sure what to make of it. Usually she had a feeling about whether someone was interested. This one was hard to read. Independent. Buffy got that and so she stood from her chair, taking the bottle of water with her.
"Bye, Lexie, and if I don't hear from you. Good luck."
She found the police station easy enough. She was quickly learning that GPS was a Godsend. She made a note to tell Giles that whoever made her rental car arrangements in the future needed to request it.
"I'm looking for Detective Scanlon," she told the officer at the front desk.
"Is he expecting you?"
"Yes," Buffy said simply. "My name is Buffy Summers."
"All right," he said, picking up the phone. "Detective Scanlon, a Buffy Summers is here to see you."
"He'll be right down," he said after a moment of silence on his end, hanging up the phone.
"Thanks," Buffy said, clutching her purse in front of her as she walked to an area where they had pictures on the wall. She realized too late that she was looking at fallen officers, those who had died in the line of duty. There were so many of them. Some too young. A gentle hand to her shoulder brought her out of her thoughts. How long had she been standing there staring at the pictures?
"You made it."
"I did," she said, turning to face him. He was smiling at her, but his eyes reflected what she felt. A sense of loss from looking at pictures of so many dying to make the world a safer, better place. Or trying to anyway.
"Good. Come on back, I've been waiting for you. How'd your errand go?"
Buffy shrugged, falling into step beside him. "She's hard to read so I really don't know what she's going to do, but I'll stick around for a while no matter if we find out there's nothing down my alley going on here."
"A while, huh? Like how long of a while?"
"Trying to get rid of me already, Detective Scanlon? Afraid I'll scold you for leaving the toilet seat up one morning?"
He chuckled, opening a door for her. "No, I'm just curious how long you think I'll have the pleasure of your company."
"If you think any part of your company has been anything but pleasurable, allow me later to rectify that misconception."
"So? Any idea?"
"No. Like I said, I have no gut feeling about her. I'll give her some time, but eventually I have to get back."
"Can I ask why?"
"Why do you have to go back to London?"
"Well," she said, realizing he'd stopped at a desk. She presumed it was his, though there were no personal effects to indicate it was his over anyone else's. "We're based out of London."
"But you travel all over the place anyway."
"Yes, but we train everyone in London unless they don't want to come."
"But you're not training every day, every week."
"And you like heat and lots of sunshine."
He didn't say anything else, holding a chair out for her instead before taking a seat himself.
"Are you asking me to stay in Phoenix?"
He averted his gaze. "I'm not sure I should answer that. If I say yes it might scare you off."
"And if you said no?"
"My answer wouldn't be no, so I wouldn't have to worry about what your reaction to that would be."
"Oh," she said simply. He was asking her to stay, or at least think about it. "It would be kind of hard to go from living with you like this to not."
"I can't move in with someone I just met."
"Yes, because sleeping with me is nothing special."
She blushed. "If this is about this morning…"
"It's about this morning and last night and yesterday and the night I met you." He shrugged. "Never mind."
"No, I'm sorry, I just wasn't expecting you to ask me that."
"I wasn't really either."
"I'm quirky and my life is not a picnic. There are probably some other things you should know about me before you think much harder on this."
"Nothing I want to tell you here."
"All right. I'm about due for lunch. I'll show you what I've found and then we can grab a bite down the street and you can tell me these things."
She closed her eyes. She really didn't want to tell him these things. None of them, but it wouldn't be fair to him either if he was really thinking about this to withhold the information from him. She was telling the truth when she'd told Elena secrets destroy relationships.
"You were right, these two…"
"Three, don't forget the girl…"
"Yeah, I remember. Three," he amended. "They're not the only ones. I've got a time set up to talk with my commander later this afternoon because I want to know why we haven't been aware of this connection sooner."
"You think he'll tell you?"
"I don't know, but there've been at least six in the last month." He showed her a map he'd printed out with computer-generated pushpins to identify where bodies had been found.
"And they all fit the details of, you know?"
"Yes. Severe neck trauma."
"Huh," she said, wondering why these victims hadn't shown up on the Council's radar either. "Can I have a copy of this?"
"This is your copy and if you give me your email address I'll email it to you, too, so you can send it to your people."
"My people," she said with a low laugh. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. Now, lunch?"
"You don't sound so sure?"
"No, it's just not so much fun dredging up things. You know? I feel like I'm doing it constantly having to explain who I am to the girls. And now to you."
"I'm sorry if I make you feel that way."
"It's all right. I won't mislead you."
"I doubt you could do that."
"You say that now."
It was late enough in the afternoon yet too early for a dinner crowd so the restaurant wasn't too busy and they were able to get a table right away. Buffy noticed Lee looking around, same as she was, apparently both wondered if Elena would show up here again.
Their food orders placed she sighed softly. "I'm not sure where to begin. You asked me about the scars on my neck. I have three of them actually, though one isn't as pronounced."
"The first set came from the Master, an old vampire who was stuck underground due to an earthquake back in the 20s or something. I died."
"Right you mentioned that."
"The second set, the ones that are the most pronounced were from my boyfriend."
"He was dying, poisoned by another slayer who'd gone bad. The only cure for him was the blood of a slayer. I tried to get her, but couldn't."
"So you gave your own blood."
"And nearly died again I take it?"
"Yes, though he stopped in time. I'm not sure why the scar is there like that. Maybe because the Master didn't need to really feed off me, he just needed a little where Angel needed to replace the tainted blood."
"All right. So, wait, you had a vampire for a boyfriend? How? They're evil aren't they?"
"Well, he had a soul. I told you that I knew of a couple who do. He was cursed with his back at the turn of the century. The other vampire with a soul, Spike, went off to Africa to get his after he tried to rape me."
"And you let him live?"
"It's a long story, but yes. I was in a very bad place in my life. Willow had brought me back to life after I died the second time. They thought because I'd jumped into this portal that was meant to open a hell dimension that I was in hell."
"But you weren't?"
"No, and it took me months to get back to normal. And Spike suffered the most for that. I used him in the worst possible ways. He loved me and I used that to get whatever comfort I could from him without giving anything back. So, yes he tried to rape me, but I can't sit here and tell you that it wasn't partially my fault. Our relationship leading up to that had been violent. Fight and fuck, fuck and fight." She blushed, taking a sip of her water. "Sorry."
"The third scars are from Dracula, but like I said, his aren't as pronounced. So I don't know," she shrugged. "The holy water thing I discovered recently. It cleanses the bites somehow so they don't scar. It hurts like a son of a bitch, but it beats being covered in scars."
"So, two vampire boyfriends?"
"Mm, no, not really. My deaths. My months of dark abyss-like living. Two vampire boyfriends. Did I mention my sister is really a ball of energy older than history?"
"Yeah, that's why I jumped into the portal actually. I'd done so much, given so much I was ready to end it and give Dawn the chance to live her life. She didn't ask to be made human, to have Glory chasing after her. I wanted to spare her that. Our memories were altered, more than our memories actually, because she's in photographs and people who shouldn't remember her do. So, it's like they bent time to put her there."
"You really have interesting stories to tell."
"Too bad they're not the stuff fiction is made of."
"Have you ever thought of being a writer? You've got to have a ton of stories at your fingertips that would sell."
"Maybe. I'm not so good with words."
"It couldn't hurt to try."
"I suppose not. So, that's it. I lay this out for you and you're giving me career tips?"
"What do you want me to say? Are you still involved with them?"
"No, I'm honestly not even sure what they're doing."
"And you're out of the miserable place?"
"Yeah I am."
"And you're not going to go jumping into portals because you're ready to call it quits?"
"No, I'm not. I've come to the realization that I like my life. It took me a long time and lot of pain to get here, but I did."
"I surprised you with my question back there. I'm sorry. It just came to me and I asked it. I should have thought it through. I was sincere, though, there's no reason you couldn't do what you're doing from Phoenix or Chicago or Cambodia. As long as you have access to an airport that can get you to London when you need to get there."
"You're right. I just…"
They grew quiet as the waitress brought them their food. Buffy had a BLT and Lee had some sort of club sandwich. His looked better than hers. Oh well.
"You're here for a while anyway. Think about it. Even if you decide to stay and not with me we can find you some place to stay."
"And you'd be okay with that? Going from seeing me every day to whenever we could?"
"If that's what it takes, yeah. I like you, I won't deny that. I mean, the sex is great but it's more than that. I like your courage, your integrity, you talk big but you don't say anything you don't mean. And you're the first woman I've been with since Elena that made me see that I want what I almost had with her."
"Lee, I'm not marriage material."
"Okay, maybe marriage would be in the cards. But kids aren't."
"Babies you mean, right?"
"And you're okay with that? No Lee, Junior walking around?"
"I've grown content with the fact I'd be alone for the rest of my life, so yeah."
"I don't get that. You're a nice guy, a good looking guy, an honest guy. What gives?"
"I don't know. You tell me?"
She laughed, taking a bite of a French fry. "I think you maybe like being alone and just haven't wanted to pursue it. Add to it being hurt by your ex…"
"I'm not so much with the liking being alone. I mean, I used to hate it. I think I thought if I didn't have a boyfriend I would die. I'm okay with it but I admit the past couple of days have been nice. Having someone there."
"And I am going to cook dinner for you tonight. You eat out entirely too much."
"All right. Do you need money for groceries?"
"No, I'm good."
"If you do, let me know."
"You've paid for every meal we've eaten so far, I think I can splurge for some groceries."
"So, you think she's going to go back with you?"
"No. I don't think she'll walk away from the opportunity, but I think she'll stay here. I think that's what's going to catch her up, feeling like she should go to London but wanting to stay here. Her father died not too long ago and she moved colleges to live with her mom."
"Yeah, so I think she's here for the long haul. And I can't blame her, having lost my mom I would want to cling to my dad, too. If he let me."
"I'm sorry about that. If there was something I could do."
"It's not your fault, but thank you. So, you'll probably have me for a while anyway."
Her cell phone rang the, the ordinary ring which meant it wasn't anyone she had programmed on her phone. She glanced at Lee, realizing she didn't even have his phone number programmed in it. What did that say? Of course, if she was still at the hotel she might have taken the time to put it in.
"Hi, Buffy, this is Lexie."
"Hi. How are you?" She was surprised to say the least. She hadn't expected a phone call this soon. A few days at the earliest had been her guess.
"You said I could come with you?"
"I think I'd like to."
"Okay. I can pick you up a little before sunset. I'm working on a couple of things now, so hopefully I'll have an idea of where to take you."
"I'm glad you called, Lexie."
"I'll see you later."
"Do I need anything?"
"Nope, just you. I'll bring everything we'll need."
"That was quick."
"Yeah," Buffy said. "Before I forget, what's your phone number? The card you gave me is somewhere in my purse."
"Think you're going to need it?"
"You never know."
He gave her three numbers, she programmed them all in.
"Am I allowed to answer your phone?"
"Why wouldn't you be able to?"
"I don't know, just asking in case I'm ever there and it rings."
"You can answer it."
"Okay," she said, satisfied with the answer. If he had things to hide he wouldn't have given her the go ahead to do that.
"Yeah, I'm really surprised she called this quickly. I guess my feeling was wrong about her. Then again, she could just be curious and if we see any action it could send her packing."
"No, this is something I need to do on my own. But thank you. You can keep me company when I get back later."
"You can bank on that. Ready to go then?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
Outside the restaurant, he slid his hand into hers as they walked the few short blocks back to the police station. She couldn't remember the last time she'd walked with someone and held their hand. She knew for a fact she'd never done it with Spike, so probably Riley. And that was just too long ago.
"I guess I need to go back to your place and look at this map and see if I can figure out where I'm taking her. Otherwise, it's surfing online for obits listing people with neck trauma."
"You can use my computer if you want. I've got DSL. There's no password or anything since I live alone I've never felt the need."
She noticed neither was talking about what they were both most likely thinking. If Lexie agreed to pick up the slayer baton and stay here in Phoenix, Buffy wouldn't be here past Lexie getting trained. She usually followed up on the slayers to see how they were faring. And, of course, if Lexie needed reinforcements Buffy and as many other slayers as were needed would be there.
"Thank you," she said simply. What else could she say? He was being generous, too much so in some ways. It made her wonder what he'd be like if she did stay here. It'd have to stop. Didn't it? The kindness, the consideration.
"Nettles is looking for you," the man sitting at the front desk said once they'd gotten in. "He told me to tell you to bring her with you if she was still with you."
"All right," Lee said.
"Who's Nettles?" Buffy asked.
"My commanding officer."
"Why does he want to see me?"
"I haven't the foggiest."
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 say 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.
Word Count: 2,628
Walking into the kitchen one minute to find Buffy alone and then seeing Willow there the next was becoming a common occurrence in Lee's apartment. He wasn't sure what it said about him that he was getting used to the redhead appearing out of nowhere.
Today, however, Willow had come the normal way by flying since she brought her girlfriend. Lee sensed small amounts of tension between Buffy and Kennedy, but Buffy had never mentioned it and Lee not knowing the situation didn't ask.
It was hard for him not to ask. She'd been staying here for a few weeks now and it was hard some days to remember that it wasn't permanent, that he really had no business or right to ask her what the history was between the two slayers.
One thing he was having a hard time getting used to was seeing Buffy come back to his apartment from patrolling with Lexie injured. The injuries were rarely bad and she healed so quickly he had to look close the next night to see where they'd been. But knowing that she went out nights and could potentially get beaten to death bothered him.
A couple of times she'd actually woken him and had him help bandage a wound that she couldn't reach properly. He hated seeing blood on her, knowing it was hers and that there was nothing he was able to do to help her. This was her life. She'd been doing it for a decade, as difficult as that was for him to fathom.
He understood a dangerous job. He lived one every day, but the threat to most police officers was a gun. It happened, of course, a police officer was disarmed and pistol whipped with their weapon. Or beaten with their baton. But rarely.
Two weeks had gone by and the police had gotten no closer to finding the people responsible for the killings. Buffy, on the other hand, had come up with a lead via her dreams. It was perhaps intangible, but Lee trusted her enough to believe if she thought it meant something he should too.
He'd had her sit down with a sketch artist that they'd used in the past with Allison. Whether the artist thought Buffy was like Allison he didn't know. And he didn't care. Finally, they'd gotten a face to look for. The only thing was that Buffy hadn't been able to guarantee the man belonging to the face was the one in charge.
Lee had tried Allison, but she hadn't had anything to offer them. So, Buffy's lead was all they'd had and it hadn't produced much. Lee had expected that, since they were dealing with creatures that didn't frequent the usual criminal haunts.
Using a search engine Willow had developed that allowed them to scan obituaries and police reports provided to local newspapers with their criteria had helped. It had broadened the search from the Phoenix area so they were able to get a lead on the guy.
Kristian had been the vamp's name, he'd left a trail of death and destruction from Laredo west to Phoenix over about a year. Nettles seemed okay with the fact there was no body to bring to trial, just happy the job was done and the problem solved. The cases would remain open, officially unsolved, and eventually be forgotten when no new victims showed up. As it stood, the press hadn't seemed to make the jump from individual killings to serial killer.
It had bothered him more than he wanted to admit to watch Buffy go off with Lexie to take care of the vampire. She'd said they had to do it alone. He could understand that, but that didn't mean he'd liked it. He'd reported to Nettles after the fact that the killings would stop. That he had been able to stop her from doing. He didn't want her anywhere near Nettles.
That had been a week ago, and for now she was still here. Lee didn't like to think about the fact that could change at any moment. Once Buffy felt confident Lexie was comfortable on her own she would leave.
They had gone to dinner earlier with Allison and Joe as well as Willow and Kennedy. Lexie had joined them at a club for some dancing after dinner. Allison and Joe had gone home. And now the time of day Lee knew he would miss most when Buffy left was here. Bedtime. Weeks of sleeping with her, waking up when she had one of her dreams, and making love to her. The first and the last were enjoyable, to say the least.
The dreams weren't so pleasant. She assured him - as Kennedy had at dinner - that it was just part of being the Slayer. He could accept that, had to as it was a part of who she was. The part that bothered him was that neither Kennedy nor Lexie had dreamt of Kristian as Buffy had. So, that had to mean he was targeting Buffy somehow. And had known she was heading for Phoenix.
The fact that he really wasn’t equipped to protect her from beings like Kristian was his own issue to deal with. He knew that. There were people who didn't like cops, but rarely did someone go after a cop without provocation. Buffy had vampires and demons singling her out because of who she was, it didn't matter they'd never laid eyes on her.
And they did seem to target her. He'd listened as Willow talked with Buffy and as Buffy relayed information to Lee, or bounced ideas off of him. Buffy had been responsible for activating all of the slayers, she'd defeated an evil entity and changed the balance of things. There seemed to be a bounty on her head more than the other slayers.
He'd gone to bed, letting Buffy spend some time with Willow and Kennedy without an outsider. And he was, even if he was becoming familiar with the things they dealt with he was no expert. And he hadn't gone through the things they had. He suspected Kennedy felt a little of that, too, but it was different.
He listened as the three women talked in hushed tones. Occasionally they'd erupt into feminine laughter, shushing one another apparently afraid they'd wake him. He listened in amusement with a smile. There were so many things she brought to his apartment that he hadn't realized he needed before now. Laughter being one of them.
She did other things, too. She picked up flowers when out buying groceries more than once. He couldn't recall ever having fresh flowers - or any flowers - in his apartment before now. And food. He had food, good stuff, and someone not just to cook for him but he could cook for, too.
He apparently dozed off, because he'd lost track of their laughter and talking. And she was here now beside him. He opened his eyes.
"Did I wake you?"
"No," he murmured.
"Did we keep you awake?"
"Willow and Kennedy said to thank you for the use of your couch."
"Tell them they're welcome, I know you're glad they're staying here. I wish I had more than a rollaway to offer them."
"Yes," she said with a smile, kissing him. His arm went around her about the same time she skimmed his calf with her foot.
"I can understand why Kennedy might be jealous."
"Why?" she asked.
He shrugged, rolling onto his back, propping an arm behind his head. "You and Willow," he turned his head to look at her. "You've been through a lot together, shared a lot."
"We're best friends."
"But it's more than that. Xander, too. The three of you, you've faced death together, saved the world. You've lost loved ones, grieved with another. That's a bond that's hard to compete with."
"Well, no one's asking you or Kennedy to compete with us."
"No, but it's innate I think. And jealousy is a natural feeling when someone obviously knows your significant other so much better than you. It's different than dealing with an ex, because your paths don't cross. Or not as often. The fact that the person has that experience with your partner isn't so in your face. The past, something you as the newcomer can never experience with them."
"Not exactly. A little envious maybe, but I was really talking about Kennedy. Willow's a woman, into women, not another guy."
"Am I your partner?"
"I'd like you to be," he admitted.
"Here in Phoenix?"
"If that's agreeable with you, yes. Distance would be hard, especially since I don't think either of us can afford to fly to see one another very often."
"I do like it here. It's not exactly like California, but it's warm and sunny."
He chuckled softly, grazing the top of her head with a kiss. "Definitely a reason to move here."
"Can there be two of you here?"
"Sure, she might prefer it actually. We could get breaks, time off. There's more for me to think about. Giles, the others in London."
"On the other hand, I don't think there are castles in Phoenix."
"No, but there are ranches. A few might be available for a song."
"It's a thought. Giles is happy to be in London, though."
"And he'd have to be here with you?"
"Well, no, but I like having him with me for reference and stuff. And he's Giles, he's always been with me."
She scooted on top of him. She tucked some hair behind her ear with one hand, stroking his chest with the other.
"But reference and stuff could be done via email and conference calls."
Hands mirrored one another as they checked on the readiness of the other. She sank over his length, taking him inside of her and he groaned softly.
"And I think I deserve the chance at a life outside of slaying."
"No argument there," he murmured, his hands sliding to her hips as she took him deep inside again.
"There's always the idea of you coming with me."
"I think they have police officers there."
He chuckled and she leaned toward him, her breasts brushing against his chest as she gripped his forearms with her hands. It was times like this, when she didn't concentrate he was mindful of just how strong she was.
"Kiss me," she whispered.
A hand moved from her hip to her head, drawing her to him to do just as she asked. He'd grown to love the intimacy of kissing her. It wasn't the most intense of their lovemaking sessions, but he sensed she wanted something else anyway. She seemed just to need him this way, proof that she really had this in her grasp.
She cried out, biting his lower lip as she rode to her release. He rolled them so he was on top of her, chuckling softly. "Your friends are going to know what we're doing in here."
She laughed, kissing his shoulder and neck. "I don't care," she said before stifling another groan by biting his neck. She rode another release, biting and sucking at his skin there. It'd probably been twenty years since he had a hickey. He'd always thought they were kind of childish, but realizing that it was passion - her passion - that had her giving him one was a turn-on. Enough of one that he was right behind her, finishing on the wave of her second release.
She stopped sucking and began kissing and licking the spot. He groaned softly, even fresh off an orgasm she could affect him that way.
"Sorry," she whispered, biting his earlobe.
"No reason to apologize."
"It's going to be visible."
He shrugged, kissing one of her breasts. "He'll deal with it. It's not like I'm a traffic cop, pulling people over." He nipped at the underside of her breast. "Besides, they're not illegal."
"You would know."
"I would at that."
She grew quiet, he nuzzled against her breast. He liked this part, the closeness after sex. She didn't turn from him, didn't prompt him to move off of her right away. She seemed to enjoy the afterplay as much as he did.
"What's wrong," he whispered, nipping the skin at her breast. He sucked a little, much as she'd been doing, but knew there'd be no mark there in the morning.
"Can I say something without freaking you out?"
"I don't know, that depends."
She laughed softly. "Okay, it's two things really. I'm not only falling in love with you but I want to figure out how this can work."
He wasn't sure what to say, how to respond. Love. He wasn't expecting that from her.
"You don't have to say it back or anything. That's not why I said it. I promised myself a while ago that I wasn't going to close my heart off anymore. I told you about Riley and Spike, how badly I hurt after Angel left. I didn't even give myself the chance to love someone again. I won't do that again. So, I'm not going to hide from my feelings."
"I can say falling in love with you and not feel like we're rushing things."
"Well, you moved me in with you. If that's not rushing things…"
"I was trying to be nice."
She giggled as he rolled beside her.
"Did it work?" he asked.
"Yeah, I guess it did. I'm not used to someone being nice to me just for the sake of being nice. Especially after the way we met."
"There's something about you, I don't know how to explain it. I knew you'd done nothing wrong. And I may question Allison at times, may be a little rough on her but I trust her for the most part. That's why I'm rough on her. I need to make sure she'd stand up in court if it ever got to that point."
"Come to London."
"I have to go back. Soon. The case is done, Lexie's fine. I need you to see what I do, what I'm working for. It's different than just seeing Lexie. You have vacation time or something, right?"
"Yes, I've been working like a dog for years."
"Then take some and come visit me."
"Buffy, I can't just up and leave."
"Well, I know that. I just meant, plan on coming. If it's a couple weeks or next month, that's fine."
"It's not every day I get invited to see a real castle."
"And I'll do you better than just seeing one. You'll stay in one."
"Better enough to be tempting?"
He brushed the back of his hand along her body. He loved how she felt, how she reacted even to the barest of touches. "It's not the castle that's tempting me, Buffy."
"You are a sweet talker."
"Just stating the truth. If you think that's sweet, then more points for me."
She turned onto her side, sliding her foot between his legs. "So, you'll come?"
"I think we already got that part out of the way."
"That's me," he said with a chuckle. "And, yes, I'll check with work tomorrow to see about getting some time off. I'm not involved in anything pressing at the moment, so maybe I can arrange it sooner rather than later."
"Okay," she said, sliding an arm around him. "Good night."
"Good night," he said, kissing the top of her head. He ran his fingers through her hair as she settled against his chest as she usually did. He'd fall asleep soon, but she'd brought up something he hadn't really given any thought to.
Word Count: 5,734
"Buffy, I can't seem to find the updated file on Lexie Porter."
Buffy glanced at Giles from her computer, watched as he lowered his glasses to regard her. "I'm sorry, Giles, I wasn't listening."
"That's quite obvious. You haven't done much of anything since your return."
"Giles, that is so not fair." She knew that Giles did more than his fair share, especially when it came to paperwork and research. That didn't mean she was just sitting at her desk eight hours a day, watching the clock. She worked hard.
"All right, I should clarify that point. You haven't done much paperwork since your return."
"I'm not sure why I have to do so much of it anyway. I've never been book person. That was you."
"Yes, well, I'm not the slayer, you are. You're the one who finds and trains these girls."
"I know, I know." She sighed.
"Have you heard from him yet?"
"Yes, the gentleman you've been mooning over the past two weeks. I believe you or Willow mentioned he's flying in today."
"I haven't been doing any mooning, Giles. I've been working, training. And his name is Lee."
"If you say so," he said, sliding his glasses back on. "As I was saying, I can't seem to find the updated file on Lexie Porter."
"Because I'm not done with it yet."
"Buffy, you've had two weeks. Your response times are normally much faster."
"I'm sorry, Giles. I guess you're right, I've been distracted."
"Care to talk about it?"
"I'm not sure I'd say anything you really want to hear."
"You're thinking of moving to Phoenix?"
"I've thought about it. Or at least somewhere that's not quite so far. And so expensive to get there from."
"You care for him then?" He sat as he posed the question, setting the papers he'd come into her office with on her desk.
"And you're not sure how he can fit into your life."
"Pretty much. I can't just walk away from this," she said, gesturing to her desk. "I did this, I'm responsible."
"Buffy, we've visited over eighteen hundred young girls and women over the past year or so. I think we've collected about as many as we're going to. The Lexie Porter's of the world are going to be fewer and farther between now."
"You want me to go to Phoenix?"
"Of course not, but if anyone deserves a chance at a life it's you. We're here in London, my home. That gives me the chance for a life. To see family and friends," he sat up then, reaching for her hand over the desk. "I do understand what you're going through. I, too, have had an ocean and then some separating me from those I cared for."
"Among others, yes."
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
She smiled a little. "That's my fault, too, isn't it? If Merrick hadn't died…"
"Buffy, stop talking like that right now. None of this is your fault and I wouldn't take back the past eight years of my life for anything."
"Yes, I'm sure dealing with me has been a cake walk."
"Well, no, I wouldn't lie to you and if I said that I would be. I can assure you that even when you've let me down, as seldom as that happened, I was still proud of you." He released her hand then. "Look at me, Buffy."
She did as he asked.
"There's nothing I don't forgive you for. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
She swallowed. He was talking about Jenny Calendar. They never talked about her, about the time Angel ran free in Sunnydale without his soul, about Giles getting tortured, and Buffy leaving town for months without word to anyone she was okay.
"If you think he's the one for you then as much as I'd miss you I think it'd be prudent for you to pursue it."
"Well, I don't know if he's the one for me. I just know that I like him. A lot."
"And when was the last time you allowed yourself to feel that way about anybody?"
"I think it's time you gave it another chance. That's all I mean. I don't want you to go, but the bulk of our work is done. The hard part anyway. From here it's just maintenance. And as you said, I'm the book guy, you're the one we turn to for action. Faith has done just fine on her own in the States."
"He mentioned there are like ranches and stuff that might give us space like this place does."
"So, he's not just falling for you, but trying to make accommodations so you don't have to leave your priorities behind?"
"Yeah, we talked about it."
"I like him already."
"You would. He's a good man."
"When does his flight arrive?"
"It was due twenty minutes ago."
"And you're worried he missed it?"
"No, just wondering why I haven't heard from him yet. I was checking online to see if it had arrived yet when you came in."
"As you should be. Go, head to the airport, Lexie's file can wait."
"Thank you," she said with a smile. She stood from her desk, modeling her dress for him. "How do I look?"
He cleared his throat and Buffy smiled. "I'm not sure how to answer that question. As your watcher?"
"As a man?"
"Well, that I can do and tell you unequivocally that you look rather smashing."
"Thanks, that's what I was going for."
"A new dress?"
"Yes! It cost a fortune. I wasn't exactly at my stylishly best in Phoenix, so I thought I'd make up for it." She noticed Giles smile a little. "What?"
"Nothing, it's just refreshing to see you acting this way."
"Why?" she asked, a little suspicious. It was very un-Giles-like for him to find her acting any way that wasn't slayery refreshing.
"You're growing up. You grew up very fast in some ways, and I've watched as the rest has caught up the past year or so. And I'm pleased he's human at any rate."
"Ah, the heart of the issue."
"No, if you had chosen to be with Angel or Spike that would be your decision to make. The differences are quite hefty. At least this way, your partner won't watch as you grew old and die while he remains as young as the day you met."
"He's older than you are?"
"Yeah, like ten years."
"And you're okay with that?"
"Sure," she shrugged. She kissed him on the cheek, grabbing the purse that came close to matching the new dress. "I'll see you later."
"You can just say tomorrow. I understand."
She laughed softly. "Well, you'll know where to find me anyway."
"I'll be mindful of the DO NOT DISTURB sign on your door."
She wasn't sure what it said about their relationship that they could talk like this now. Years ago, it would have just wigged her out to hear Giles talking about sex. Now, not so much. Maybe it was part of that growing up thing he'd mentioned.
She made her way to the airport. They'd agreed on a point she'd pick him up so that she wouldn't have to park. He called on her cell phone just as she was driving onto the airport property.
"Perfect timing," she said.
"How did you know it was me?"
"Because the call came up as a local number I didn't recognize."
"Ah, she's good at detective work, too."
"Sometimes I am."
"I've got my bags, so I'm ready for you."
"You are, huh?"
He chuckled in the phone. "I'm ready for you to pick me up."
"Oh," she said, feigning disappointment as she switched lanes in traffic to the one she wanted.
"I'm ready for other things, too, but that should go without saying."
"Hmm, we'd better hang up or I'm liable to have an accident. I'll see you in a bit."
She found him a few minutes later. He kissed her as soon as she got the back open.
"You look very nice."
"Thanks," she said, glad she'd spent the extra money on the dress.
"I know I look like I've been on a plane for a while."
She pressed herself against him, squeezing his hand and kissed him. It was one of those long and slow kisses that she had no business giving him outside of an airport. She did it anyway.
"You look very nice to me," she whispered, drawing away.
"I guess so."
It didn't take them long to load his bags into the back of her car and they were on their way.
"Mm, have to be prepared to haul a bunch of people around. I don't know where Giles comes up with the money for things, but we've got a few of these. Some are better and newer than others."
"This looks pretty new."
"Mm, one of the perks of being THE slayer."
"You get the best car?"
"Yes. The gas mileage stinks, but I don't drive often really. And Giles had the cargo area redesigned a bit so I can carry some supplies with me at all times without getting pulled over for having a battle ax visible."
"Good to know."
"He watches out for me."
"I would hope so since he's your watcher."
"Ha ha. That's not what it means, though when I was younger I sure thought it did! You know, one of the projects that we have underway is assembling all of the watcher's diaries and slayer journals, compiling the information onto disk."
"You could learn a lot that way?"
"Well, yeah, and I understand why watchers didn't relinquish their diaries at the end. Their slayer was dead, most often they didn't witness the last battle, and so in a way the diary is rather incomplete. But, we want that information. There had been a couple of watchers who'd seen that vamp I told you about, Drusilla, after she supposedly died in Prague. The information was never passed on, though. That's changed. Whether a watcher has a slayer or not, if they see anything they report it to our hotline. It's anonymous, so they don't have to get too involved, we just want the information."
"Are there watchers without slayers?"
"A few have elected not to stay with us as we've revised things. They liked the old way," Buffy shrugged. "Not many, though, really. The most slayers one watcher has right now is twenty."
"Twenty in one town?"
"Well, we try to put them in metropolitan areas so we get twenty slayers covering a larger area. Say, Chicago or New York, and then it's divided up into territories so each slayer knows where she's supposed to patrol. Obviously, if one needs help, they help."
"Can I say something without you getting insulted?"
"Sure, I think so anyway."
"To sit here and hear you talk like this, it blows me away."
"Why? And what's insulting about that?"
"Well, no offense, but to look at you. First impressions I mean. You're the stereotypical Southern California blonde."
"So, to listen to you talk about strategizing and organizing what basically amounts to a huge military project. Well, it's a little humbling."
"I'm not sure I could do it."
"I don't have any choice."
"Well, no. I did this, I have to do my part."
"That doesn't mean you have to succeed at doing your part."
She glanced at him. "Failure just really isn't an option for me. I mean, sure I've had it happen, but I learn from my mistakes and go back and try again."
"I asked you not to be insulted. And, I'll be honest, it's kind of a turn-on."
She smiled at that. "Mm. And there are things that don't turn you on?"
"About you? Not many."
"But there are some?"
"Oh well, you know, I might not get turned on when you do laundry or something."
"I'll keep that in mind."
They were quiet for a while. Lee seemed to enjoy sitting there and watching the view as Buffy left the city for the more rural area where they were staying.
"Wow," he said as the gates swung open once she'd used her passkey card. The passkey system wasn't the only modernization done to the castle.
"You said castle, and I believe you meant castle. I just didn't think you meant A castle."
She smiled as they drove onto the grounds. She tried to remember when Giles had first brought her here, what her reaction had been. Sad to say, she was kind of used to it now. It was magnificent.
"Yeah," she said simply. There was nothing more to say really. It was what it was. If he had known her three years ago, struggling to make ends meet and keep a roof over her head, working at Doublemeat Palace. There were times it made her so angry that the Council had access to this type of stuff and yet she was forced to sling burgers to stop from living on the street.
"What are you thinking?"
"You're thinking something not so pleasant. If I offended you…"
"No. I was just thinking about things in the past, no sense dwelling on them."
"Well, slayers aren't paid. It's not a voluntary deal, but there's no compensation in it either. After my mom died, things were pretty bleak. What she had for money saved went to pay her medical bills. Here I was struggling to keep me and Dawn safe and the Council had this type of stuff at their fingertips."
"Are they paid now?"
"We're working on it. We do provide them housing and there are so many of us now that taking a job isn't crazy like it was when there was just one. The thing is, we don't want to open purse strings to pay a thousand girls when after a year we may only be down to four hundred. That sounds bad, I know, but we're still gathering not just slayers but information. So, until we know for certain where everything sits."
She turned to look at him. "Does that sound bad? I'm doing exactly what I hated the Council did to me."
"Except there was just one of you and now there's several hundred. You're trying to be responsible. Is it wrong? I don't know, that's not for me to decide. You and Mr. Giles are the only ones who know."
"Giles seems to think we're doing the right thing until we know who's going to stay. Someone like Lexie, she might not even need anything from us. She's going to college and stuff. Then there are some who willingly left everything behind to come here and they'll do this until they can't."
"And we do have tutors available and colleges offer online classes now, so getting an education isn't a problem. In fact, Giles and I encourage it. Because they can't slay forever, they'll need something to fall back on."
"You're doing the reasonable thing, Buffy."
"So, I'm not evil?"
He chuckled as she turned the Expedition off.
"Why's this on your mind today?"
"I don't know. I guess I was remembering seeing this place for the first time, like you are today."
"I'm sorry if I brought up bad memories."
"No, it's okay. It's just one of those things that hurts, you know. I gave up my life for them and they couldn't even help me out with the mortgage on my house."
She got out of the car then, no use dwelling on things that couldn't be changed. She really had moved past it, but some things were easier to let go she'd come to realize.
"So, do you want the tour first?"
"If I say yes is that bad?"
"I've never been in a castle."
"Me neither, so I understand what you're feeling. And this place was empty when we got here. So, it was kind of spooky."
"We can just leave your stuff here and come back for it. Then again, someone might see it and know it's yours and just bring it to my room. Either way, it's safe. We've got spells on the perimeter, so it's difficult for people to just climb over the wall and walk onto the property."
"I didn't feel anything."
"Because you were with me and my passkey. That's the downside I guess, if they have a passkey or manage to slip in when the front gate is open, the spells aren't as strong. Really, we just wanted to keep curious kids out of here."
"So, there are three floors, a basement and a sub-basement. Not sure what the sub-basement is supposed to be for but we use it for training. And some storage. The basement is kind of our communications center. That's Xander's domain. He can track the slayers and access cameras all over the world. Maybe I shouldn't tell you that," she said with a smile.
"I'm off-duty and kind of out of my jurisdiction here anyway."
"Right. The infirmary is down there, too. This is the first floor, probably the most used floor to be honest because the great hall is so huge. We can spread out."
"This room was originally for servants I guess," she said of the first room they came to. "Right across from it is the library and since we make with a lot of research, we turned this one into a second library. The main library is just books, but this one has computers and stuff, too."
"We don't use the chapel much, but any of the slayers who want to can. We have Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Wiccans, Jews, you name it. So we don't have anything specific set up, except the holy water. But if they want some time to commune with their god this is the place."
She led him then through the great hall and kitchen and out to the courtyard briefly before heading back to where they'd started to grab his bags. And then onto the second floor.
"Giles, Xander, Willow and Kennedy, Dawn and I are on this floor. Our office is here, too. Giles and I are really the only ones who use it. Xander's stuff is downstairs." She showed him to a small room above the main entrance. "This used to be the room they controlled the main gate from I guess. Kind of weird to think it didn't just slide open like it does now, that someone stood here and had to do it by hand."
"Yeah," he said.
"Bored yet?" she asked, showing him her room. He set his bags down. She saw him look around. Mr. Gordo was overlooking things from the nightstand by her bed. She didn't leave Sunnydale with much, but she'd made sure Mr. Gordo hadn't been left behind.
"Well, this is about the end anyway. We can go upstairs, but it's just bedrooms, nine of them. They're big enough we can fit three girls in a room, four if we have to. For a while they were piled on the floor wherever we could find space. Right now, we're not quite to capacity, so I think only two bedrooms have three slayers in them."
"I'd like to see, just to say I've seen it."
She took him upstairs and then outside.
"We don't have a gardener or anything, but some of the girls are into gardening. And Willow, with the magic can make things grow pretty well. I've seen pictures of what the yard used to look like and we don't even do it justice, but it's better than nothing."
"Has this always been Council property?"
"Yes, well, going back like three hundred years anyway. A son of a son or something like that became a watcher and from that point forward it was the Council's."
"Glad you think so. I guess there used to be businesses and houses and stuff out here, like a village. But those are long gone."
"You'd really give this up to come to Phoenix?"
"This isn't mine to begin with, I've only been living here for a year. And this isn't a home, Lee. This is a means to an end, a convenience because I've been training hundreds of slayers while living here. On the other hand, would you give up Phoenix to come here? Castle aside, the place is always full. Six of us are constant. For someone used to living by himself…"
He shrugged. "I didn't think we were talking about living together anyway. Or am I wrong?"
"No, but I assumed you'd stay here for a while until you found a place or whatever. Or me the other way around."
"I'm not sure that would work."
"Why?" she asked, confused.
"I think if I came here or you there and I lived with you I'd want to stay."
"You seemed against it."
"I just think we need to know each other better. We both knew my time in Phoenix was temporary. If I go back there or you come here, it won't be."
"So, it's early yet but you've been on a plane for over half a day. Someone's probably cooking breakfast about now if you're hungry. Otherwise, I don't know what you want to do. Sleep?"
"Do I get the pleasure of your company?"
"That could be arranged. I know Giles wants to meet you, but I'm sure he can wait until when you haven't just gotten off a twelve hour flight."
Buffy turned in the direction of the voice, squinting into the sun to see who it was. The youngest slayer to stay with them, Caroline, was running toward her. She was sixteen and for whatever reason her parents had allowed her to come to London and train. Buffy didn't understand it, but it wasn't her job to question the motives of parents.
"Hi Caroline, what's up?"
"Oh, hi, sorry," she said, blushing deeply when she noticed Lee. She was like that. It was kind of sweet actually. She blushed like crazy around Xander.
"It's okay, Caroline, what's wrong?"
"It's Abby. We were working with the crossbows."
"Well, she shot herself with one of the quarrels."
"You can't be serious?"
"I didn't see it happen, it was so fast. I don't know what she did, but she's in a lot of pain."
"I don't know! I only saw you from the window."
"Sorry," she said to Lee.
"It's okay. I'll see about something to eat while I wait for you."
"Thanks," she said, leading Caroline and Lee back to the castle.
"Kitchen's back that way, but like I said someone should be up already. We have some early risers."
"I'll be fine, Buffy, take care of what you need to take care of."
"I'd bring you with, but it's kind of slayers only down there."
"I get that," he said, holding up his hand. She saw he did understand. She didn't wait to see if he remembered the way, taking the stairs as fast as she could downstairs.
The communications room was empty, which wasn't entirely unusual for this time of the day. Xander had alerts set which would signal him in his room if anything got tripped while he was sleeping. The other direction was the infirmary. She heard the screaming before she was even through the door. Louise, the only slayer who happened to be a nurse in real-life, was attending to Abby.
"I got the quarrel out," Louise said. "The sedative is starting to work, but she won't let me suture her so I have to wait."
Buffy looked at the diamond-shaped wound on Abby's chest. She'd seen worse, so didn't think it was too bad. Of course that was relative. She didn't have a crossbow quarrel wound in her chest.
"I'm sorry," Abby whispered.
"It's okay, Abby," Buffy said, brushing the other slayer's forehead with her hand. "Let Louise get you fixed up. You don't want to walk around with a hole in your chest."
"I screwed…Don't know…"
"You didn't. It was an accident," Buffy said, noticing when Abby had succumb to the sedative. She watched as Louise prepared her equipment. "Let me know when she wakes up."
"Okay. Caroline really didn't need to get you. We know your company just got here."
"No, she should have, I want to know when someone gets hurt. I need to know. And especially something like this. What were they doing?"
"I don’t know. I wasn't there and she wouldn't tell me."
"I'll ask her later." Buffy gripped Abby's hand briefly. She of course didn't respond. "I'm glad you're here, Louise. If I don't tell you that often enough I'm sorry."
"You do, and you're welcome. I'm just glad I hadn't left for the clinic yet."
"She would be fine. Faith and I didn't have the luxury of doctors and we survived, unscarred."
Louise's eyes fell to Buffy's neck, the scars there. "Those aren't from a fight," Buffy said quickly, with finality. No one knew where those scars had come from, it wasn't something Buffy talked about. They gossiped, of course, there were rumors but to this point Buffy hadn't heard anyone come close to the truth.
She wasn't ashamed, it's just that it had nothing to do with training the slayers. And she was entitled to some privacy. They wouldn't be saving a vampire's life anytime soon with their blood, so no one needed to know about it.
She found Lee at the large table with a few of the other slayers.
"I smell French toast," she said.
"It's good, too."
She sat next to Lee who gave her a bite of his French toast.
"Let me guess, Alyssa."
Alyssa raised her hand. "Yup," she said quickly.
"I can tell."
"Are they being nice to you?"
"Yeah, so far," Lee said. "No torture or third-degree anyway."
"Abby. She'll be okay. It wasn't too deep luckily. They'll let me know when she wakes up."
"Should be good to go the day after tomorrow if not sooner."
His plate cleared, she grabbed it to take it to the kitchen. He followed, sliding his arms around her from behind as she rinsed off the plate. He nuzzled against her ear and she took a deep breath, a little scared she liked him being so close this much. She'd been told she was overflowing with love, she was putting her heart on the line here and taking the chance that he was the one some of that overflow would reign down on.
"Why do they all stare at me like I'm an alien?" he asked, followed by a nip at the scars on her neck. He did that sometimes, though she didn't think it was intentional.
"Because you're the first non-slayer or non-part-of-the-team person they've seen here. And I get the impression a few of the younger ones haven't had boyfriends or anything. Like Abby."
"Listen, if I'm compromising something…"
She spun around in his arms, touching his face.
"No, Lee, you're fine. It's just we don't walk around broadcasting who we are or what we're doing here."
"All right, because I could stay at a hotel."
"Mm, no," she said, wrapping her arms around him. She went onto her toes to kiss him. "No hotels. That would mean you wouldn't be here with me. Now, if we want to get a room for a night or two so we can be alone that'd be different."
"You'd like that, huh?"
"Yeah, maybe. A weekend in town or something," she murmured before kissing him. "Take in a show or whatever. Okay, no maybes about it. Definitely."
"Count me in."
"In the meantime, let's get you tucked into bed."
"Alone?" he asked, his hands resting at her hips.
"Not at all," she said, pressing into him. "I've missed you," she whispered, kissing him again.
"I was hoping you'd say that and I've missed you, too."
Their kiss was interrupted by the sound of a throat being cleared at the kitchen's entrance. They drew away from one another, Buffy peaked around him to see who it was. Xander.
"Do you need to check on the injured girl?" he whispered.
"No, they'll let me know if they need me. I'm yours." She turned her attention to Xander, leaving her hand in Lee's. "This is Xander. Xander, Lee."
Xander walked toward them, offering Lee his hand. "Hey, glad you made it."
"Xander, good to meet you."
"We were just heading upstairs. He's tired," Buffy said.
"I'm sure he is," Xander said with a wink. As if she had anything to be ashamed of. He and Anya couldn't keep their hands off each other. "See you later."
"Bye," Buffy said, overlapping with Lee's, "it was good to meet you, Xander."
"See ya," he said. "Oh, good, Alyssa made French toast," they heard him say.
Up in her room, Lee took to the bed almost immediately. He must have been tired because the only thing he bothered taking off were his shoes. "You know, I did nothing but sit on an airplane for twelve hours but I feel exhausted."
"It takes a lot out of you."
"You do this all the time."
"You get used to it."
She lay next to him. He played with her hair. "If you were in Phoenix would you have to get used to it more?"
"Not necessarily. I talked to Giles a little this morning and he thinks that we've found most of the slayers. So, I think the time of racking up my frequent flyer miles is about coming to an end."
"You're okay with that?"
"God, yes. I wouldn't do it differently, I mean, the world is still here. But, I'm ready to rest. I'm ready to just be Buffy for a while."
"They come to you for everything, don't they?"
"Yes, but again I wouldn't have it any other way. It's the only way I can really know what's going on. Faith stays away because she feels like she's playing at being the slayer to my being the slayer or something. It's not like that, but she had a rough time growing up and I think that's just part of it. We had a hard time of it when she first came to Sunnydale and I guess some hatchets are easier to bury than others. She came through for us, I'm willing to overlook her past, but I think she needs to come to grips with things. I don't know. I've never asked her to stay away."
"I came here honestly, to talk you into Phoenix, but seeing this and what you've got here. I'm not sure that's fair."
"Well, it doesn't have to be a full-time thing for me."
"That's not fair to Giles or your friend, Xander, though. You up and move to Phoenix and they're stuck here."
"No, you're right," she said, turning to look at him on the pillow. "I don't know that there's an easy answer, and we don't have to make it now or even before you leave."
"You want me to leave without some idea of what we're going to do?"
"I honestly don't know, Lee. I really don't. It's not like I planned on this happening. I didn't go to Phoenix thinking I was going to meet someone."
"Let me see what there are in the way of jobs here while I'm here."
"You don't have to do that."
"You'll need time to do your thing anyway. I have nothing important holding me to Phoenix. The job, but life can't be entirely about the job."
"But you're doing exactly what you're saying I shouldn't have to do."
"Except I don't have hundreds of people counting on me, Buffy. I can't take you from this, even if you spend your time with me at my place instead of here you'd be a car ride away."
She kissed him. "You are a good man."
"So you keep saying."
"Well, you know, a girl falls in love with a guy they kind of hope he's a good man. It's nice to know so far I haven't been wrong."
There, she'd said it. She'd hinted at it, toyed with it, at his apartment saying she thought she was falling in love with him. There was no thinking involved now. She knew she had gone and done it.
He rolled onto his side, gathering her to him. "Oh man, you say that when I'm exhausted."
"Is that bad?"
"Babe," he said, running his fingers along her face and hair. "A good looking woman tells me she loves me it'd be ideal if I could not just say the words back but show her that I mean them."
She smiled, tilting her head down a little. "The words would do for now. If you want to say them I mean. No pressure. I just can't close my heart off anymore, and I don't want to say if I lose you that that's why."
"You're not going to lose me, Buffy," he whispered, kissing her. "We'll figure this out somehow. And I love you, too. I wouldn't haul my ass to England for anyone but you."
"You wouldn't huh?"
"While travel has always sounded nice, on a cop's salary trips to London are a little out of my league in general. So, no, I wouldn't lose the vacation time, spend a whole bunch of money to come here for someone I didn't love."
"Well," she said, tracing the outline of his lips before kissing him. "That's very good to know. Now, we'd better let you rest up."
"Because when you wake up, I have big plans for you."
"You do, huh?"
"I can't wait to find out what they are." He gathered her to her. "I missed this," he said as she nestled against his chest.
"Me, too," she whispered. "More than you know."
"Yeah, I know the feeling. Scary, isn't it?"
"See you when I wake up?"
"I wouldn't miss it for the world."
Word Count: 2,202
Lee rang the doorbell. He had two stops left to make, having made the rounds for the past few days to everyone else. One of the two stops he looked forward to, the other not so much but he had to do it. Allison opened the door and smiled at him, though he saw surprise in her eyes.
"Can I come in a minute?"
"Sure," she said, opening the door. "It's a little messy, sorry. The girls have each taken turns with the flu the past week or so."
"No problem, Allison. I have no kids and sometimes my place looks worse than this."
"What's up? Did something happen?"
"No, I just wanted to say good-bye."
"Yeah. You knew, didn't you?"
"What?" He could see in her eyes that he'd hit on something, though. "Those visions about Buffy, you left some things out."
"Well, it's not my place to tell people their future. That's not what I use my gift for."
"So you did know?"
"Yes," she said simply. She placed her hand over Lee's forearm and squeezed. "She needs you almost as badly as you need her."
"Well, I hope so, because I just turned in the keys to my apartment."
"I'm moving to London."
"Well, yeah, I tried not to invade when it became obvious that what I saw was coming true. Will you be working?"
"Yeah, I've got a job and I'll be helping Buffy some, too."
He chuckled. "Yeah, that's what I said when she approached me with the idea. But a lot of the girls don't know how to handle regular weapons. Guns, and while they don't work on some of the things they come across they do work on others."
"Oh, right, I suppose."
"Anyway, I just wanted to say good-bye."
"Well, I don't know what to say besides good-bye. Good luck. Is she…?"
"Well, that wasn't the next question, but that was one of them. So, you're happy?"
"Yeah," he said, jingling some coins in his pocket. "Surprisingly enough, I sure never thought I'd find it again. Neither did she. She's willing to take a chance, so I guess I took that as a sign that it was time for me to as well."
"I'm happy for you, Lee, really. When do you leave?"
"In a couple of hours, I'm heading there now actually. They're renting my apartment furnished, or they'll get rid of what they don't want. Everything else but a couple weeks worth of clothes has been shipped over ahead of me. I've got a couple of other stops to make before I head to the airport."
"Who's taking you?"
"Lexie. The woman she came to Phoenix to find in the first place."
"Oh, right. Good, you're not going alone then."
She closed the distance between them, giving him a hug. "I'm happy for you, Lee."
"Thanks, Allison, me too. Take care of Joe and your girls. You've got a nice family, I've never said that because I never really took the time to appreciate what a family is and means."
"Thank you," she said, sounding not just surprised but pleased.
"You're welcome. Say good-bye to Joe for me."
Lee headed to stop number two, Lexie was along for the ride. She had a book to read while she waited, not that he planned on the second stop taking any longer than the first.
"I appreciate you taking me to the airport."
"It's okay. Thanks for the car."
"You're welcome. It wasn't worth shipping it over there, so it may as well get put to good use. Just take care of it and she'll get you through a few years yet."
"It'll make things easier on Mom, so I'll take care of it."
Lee glanced at her briefly. She was a pretty quiet kid. Kid? She was in college, but she seemed like a kid to him at times. She really seemed to take to slaying, too. She was even talking about a trip to London over spring break to meet other slayers.
He pulled in front of the office building and put the car in park.
"If I'm not out in fifteen minutes, call me on my cell phone."
Her eyes went from him to the office building. "Who's in there?"
"Someone I really don't want to see."
"Then why are you here?"
"Because it's the right thing to do. I'm not sure for who, but it is."
She regarded him, seemed to search his eyes for something. Apparently, she found it because she nodded. "All right, I've got you on speed dial."
"You do, huh?"
"All right, I hopefully won't be long."
He went through the front doors, stopping at the reception desk. This was the respectable side of things. The front they put on. There were seedier sides. He'd lived them.
"Elena Cabrera please," he said when the woman asked him who he was there to see. "Tell her it's Lee Scanlon."
"She'll be down in a minute."
"Thank you," he said, taking a seat on one of the luxurious couches in the waiting area. It probably cost more than he earned in a year.
He stood when he saw her appear, habit.
"To what do I owe the honor of a visit?" She glanced at her watch. "It's early for lunch, but if you wanted to…"
"This isn't really a social call, Elena."
"Oh," she said, looking a little disappointed. "I just assumed…"
"What? That I couldn't hold onto someone who wasn't hooked up with the mob and came crawling back to you after she left me?"
"Well, she is younger than you."
"Yeah she is," he clenched his fist, taking a deep breath to clear his mind. "I came to say good-bye, Elena."
"Good-bye? I don't understand… Is something happening? Is something wrong? Are you sick? Lee…"
"No, Elena, I'm moving overseas."
"Why would you do that?"
"That's where Buffy lives."
"I was wondering why no one here seemed to know anything about her."
"You were checking up on her?"
"For your own good, of course. I don't want to see you hurt, darling," she said, cupping his cheek.
He took hold of her hand roughly and pulled it away. "I'm not your darling and I don't need you checking up on my girlfriends."
"Girlfriend? I thought you were engaged."
"Is it? I wonder."
"Anyway, I just wanted you to know. I'm gone. I really have moved on."
"Then why did you need to come say good-bye."
He shrugged. "Because it's the right thing to do, so you didn't show up at my apartment one day or at the police station and find me gone." Despite what he felt for her, emotions that had bordered on seething hatred for years, he knew if she'd ever come to him with a legal and legitimate concern he'd help her. It was just the way he was.
"I do appreciate it." She frowned. "You're really doing it? Marrying her?"
He hadn't asked Buffy yet, and they had a long way to go to get to that point. A lot of getting to know one another. But, "yeah," he said simply in answer to both her question and his inner voice. His intentions were marriage. He wasn't going to pick up and move to London for a fling.
And he didn't see Buffy letting him pick up and move to London if that's all he was to her. So, they were both on the same chapter, maybe not the same page yet, of the book. That helped. And she wasn't a crook, she didn't kill people - well, okay, she did but she was within her right to do so. And while they'd had arguments or heated discussions, he never once had the desire to resume his drug use.
"I wish you well then, Lee."
"Thanks. Take care."
He walked to the front doors then, pushing one open.
"Will you have children with her?"
He stopped short at that question.
"I don't know, Elena."
"Doesn't she want them?"
"That's really none of your business. We just haven't come to any decisions on kids. Why do you ask?"
"Because I couldn't help but notice what a striking couple you two make and that you'd make attractive babies."
"Thank you, Elena."
She blew him a kiss. "Be well, Lee."
He didn't feel bad, he didn't feel good. There was no great feeling of closure or catharsis, but he knew he'd done the right thing. Their paths had seldom crossed over the years since they'd broken things off, but he knew somewhere in her mind she still counted on him.
"All done?" Lexie asked.
"It went okay?"
"Yeah, yeah it did. Better than I pictured it going I guess. You never know when you're dealing with ex's."
"You went to say good-bye to your ex?"
"I suppose that does sound kind of strange. I don't know why I felt the need to, I just did."
"No need to explain it to me, Buffy might wonder."
"She's met Elena, knows our history. I wouldn't question her going to talk to one of her ex's."
"I suppose not."
He turned to face her, draping an arm over the back of her seat. "You think I screwed up?"
"Well, no, I don't know. I certainly don't know Buffy that well or anything."
"Not that I can take it back or anything anyway. I was just trying to be considerate to someone who might still think she can count on me at some point. When Buffy and I first saw her, we weren't really together, Buffy and me I mean. So, I guess I felt the need to drive home the point I really am moving on."
"Thanks," he said, turning his focus back to the road in and putting the car in gear. "I guess it's to the airport we go then."
They made small talk along the way, but soon Lee was sitting in the terminal by himself. He had books and a laptop, but nothing really held his interest right this moment. He was uprooting his entire existence. He felt confident in and comfortable with his decision, but it was hard to look out the window and realize he was leaving. For good. That he'd managed to get his life down to a few dozen boxes.
The job he had taken was a good one. The woman waiting for him in London was a good one, too. Those two things he was certain of. It was the rest he, while not having second thoughts, was a little frightened about. His existence had been so safe, so controlled for so long that to take such a drastic step was a little unsettling.
Unsettling wasn't bad, it just made him wonder what he was doing with his life. Elena had asked him about kids. He was essentially moving to London with no assurance of anything beyond what he and Buffy currently had. He thought it was enough, that they had the building blocks to create more - a future.
Would Allison have said something if she saw that he was making a huge mistake by moving? Maybe not, but he liked to think her enthusiasm was a good sign.
The trip was an uneventful and rather boring thirteen hours. Unlike his last visit when Buffy picked him up outside, she was there waiting for him once he cleared customs. She launched himself at him, he dropped his carry-on bag barely in enough time to catch her.
Her mouth on his pretty much caused all of the doubts he might have been having about making the right decision to go right out the window. Her arms around him, her body pressed up against him, her mouth on his. Yeah, she was well worth the upheaval.
"Hi," she said once they both needed to take a breath.
"How was your flight?"
"Did you miss me?"
"If we weren't in the middle of an airport I'd show you how much."
"Oh, well, that's good enough to tide me over."
"You sure," he said, kissing her.
"Positive." She groaned softly, resting her forehead against his chin. "I suppose I should get down."
"That might make it easier for us to leave, yeah."
"And those security guards over there look like they're about ready to come tell us to get a room."
"Mm, I like their thinking."
Buffy slid off him. He watched, transfixed as she reached into the front pocket of her jeans. She pulled out a key. A hotel key. "I like their thinking, too."
"You didn't have to do that."
"You moved here, the least I could do was ensure we celebrate your first night as a London resident privately."
"I like the way you think."
"Me, too," she said. "Now, let's go get your stuff so we can start that first night off right."
One thing Lee knew as he watched her walk ahead of him a bit, if anyone could make sure his night went right it was Buffy.
Word Count: 1,494
Buffy woke with a start at the unfamiliar ring tone invading her dreams. It took her a minute to realize there was a logical explanation behind it. The logical explanation woke up just a beat after she did, reaching for the offending phone.
"Scanlon," he said gruffly, sounding as sleepy as she did. It probably didn't help that they hadn't gotten to sleep until a couple of hours ago.
A few non-verbal responses were given by him and then finally. "I'll be right there."
He disconnected and set the phone back on the nightstand.
"Sorry it woke you, I'm not used to the ring yet."
"It's okay. You need to go in?"
"Yeah, drowning victim found in the river."
He drew her to him for a kiss, lingering longer than he should have. She kissed him back almost urgently, which was silly considering he'd just been inside of her about two hours ago.
"It's probably nothing, but we need to be sure."
"I understand," she said, skimming her hand along his torso and behind him. She trailed her fingertips over the small of his back and his ass. She kissed his jaw, his neck, his collarbones, growing wet when she heard his breath hitch and the soft groan he gave.
"Buffy, I already get enough shit about living so mysteriously I can't be late."
"Then you'd better be fast, Detective Inspector."
He laughed. "I'm not sure fast is a word I want to use in conjunction with our sex life."
Despite his protests, she felt him growing harder by the second against her body.
She kissed up to his ear. "Maybe I want fast and hard right now. Like that time in your kitchen…"
"Buffy…," he croaked.
She pushed the covers back, slid down the length of the bed, and took him into her mouth. She took him just as she'd said she was in the mood for, fast and hard. Assured he was hard she turned to face away from him on her hands and knees.
"You don't want to leave me in this state all day, do you? What if it's not nothing and you're gone for hours?"
Glancing at him over her shoulder, seeing the desire in his eyes, she knew she'd won. She turned to face forward, hoping her smile of satisfaction wasn't too obvious as he moved behind her.
"You always get me when you do this."
"Mm, that's the point I think," she whispered, moaning softly as he slid into her. She hadn't been watching so hadn't been totally prepared for him to enter her. Just as she'd requested, too. "I love a man who can follow directions."
He hissed softly as she used her muscles to clench around him. "Glad to oblige, ma'am."
There was a time or two he was gentle, too gentle. She'd had to remind him that she could take it. He always hesitated those times, she wondered if he saw something in her eyes that let him know just how much she could take. She knew as much as it might frighten him, the idea of hurting her, that it turned him on to no end that she liked it like that sometimes. Rough. Fucking.
The sounds alone were enough to drive her over the edge. He seemed to be about as frantic as she was. She loved hearing that skin-to-skin sound as he drove into her, powerful thrust after powerful thrust. His breathing, his sounds coupled with her own. His hands, never sure where to focus: her breasts, between her legs, her ass. And the actual physical feeling of having him inside of her, hard and fast and deep and so "there!" she cried out. She might have said it more than once, she couldn’t be sure because the orgasm that tore through her from him hitting that spot again and again was that intense.
He collapsed on top of her, bringing them both to their sides at the foot of the bed. He kissed her ear. "You never cease to amaze me."
"That's kind of the point I think. Move all this way, I need to be sure you don't regret it."
He leaned up then, kissing her neck.
"I know you're kidding, but it wasn't good sex that was the deciding factor in my moving."
She glanced at him. "I know, Lee." She leaned over and kissed him. "Go, get dressed, do your policeman thing. I'll be here when you get home. I just needed you and knew if it was bad or something you wouldn't be in the mood later."
"Or I'll be in the mood for more of the same of that."
"You know where to find me."
"And if you're not in our room?"
"I'll make time for you, Lee. Always." She laughed lightly, rolling to face him as she traced his jaw. "Besides, we've proven more than once that we don't need a bed. A wall, a floor, a table."
"Do you want kids?"
"Sorry, kind of out of the blue, but you're on the pill. If that .01 percent happened to us, would you want it?"
"I'll be honest; I haven't given much thought to kids. I've met the child of a slayer, she died when he was just a boy and at the time, not knowing I was going to be just one of a thousand or more. Well, I always thought I wouldn't do that to a child, leave them so young."
"And now that you're one of a thousand or more?"
"Mm, I think it's more that I've found someone I can actually contemplate that happening with. My first and last boyfriends were vampires, not much of a chance for kids."
She shrugged. "I was still a kid! Marriage, kids, so not on my list of priorities."
He stood from the bed and slid on a pair of pants. She remained where she was, making no effort to cover up and watched him.
"Would marriage be on the list now?"
"If the right person asked me…"
"Am I the right person?"
"Are you asking?"
He chuckled, walking to the closet to get one of his shirts. It was still so strange for her to have men's clothing in her closet. Not just a few things or something left behind, but a full wardrobe with permanent residence in her closet.
He'd been here three months and while he'd talked about getting his own apartment when he'd visited, he hadn't. And she hadn't asked him to. She liked having him here, liked the sense of permanence. She hadn't had that in her life since her mom died. And this was very different. She knew, eventually, she would no longer live with her mother. That wasn't the case with Lee, at least she found herself hoping not.
He walked to the edge of the bed, buttoning the shirt. "Not exactly the way I envisioned it, but yeah, I guess I am," he said.
"Hmm, I don't know. You're a cop. That's a pretty dangerous job…"
He smirked. "Yeah, because yours is just a cake walk."
"Don't I know it?!" She moved to her knees, stretching to put her arms around his neck and kiss him. "If you're really asking, my real answer is yes. I'd have to think about the kids part, but I mean, I'm not even twenty-seven we have time for that anyway."
"I, uh, don't have a ring or anything, wasn't planning on doing it this way. Was actually thinking of doing it over New Year's."
"You were?" she asked with a bright smile. "Really?"
He kissed her nose, swiping it with his fingertip afterward. "I'd thought about it. I'll have been here for six months by then, we'll have known each other for about nine. I thought that was enough."
"Well, I have my mom's ring…"
"I want to get you one, I just wanted you to understand that while it was a little impromptu I had thought on it." He slid his necktie on and knotted it, kissing her as he adjusted it at his collar. "Gotta run, babe. I'll see you later. Okay?"
"And thank you."
"For which part?"
"Hmm, good question. I could think of a lot of things I'm thanking you for right now, I'll just leave it at that." He took her hand, grazing her fingertips with his lips. "Love you."
"Love you, too," she said.
Her heart did a little flip-flop thing as he left the room that told her maybe, just maybe she'd actually found it. The real deal. A normal life. A good life. A man who she could have a family with. Scary thought that. She collapsed on the bed, drawing the covers around her. Her last thought as she drifted back to sleep was the fact that she was engaged. Really engaged, not a spell induced engagement. She was getting married. How very cool was that?
Word Count: 1,264
"This is so totally the life," Buffy said.
"You think so?"
"You don't think it's a little strange? No cell phones, no people knocking on your door at all hours of the night, no vampires, no murders, rapes or muggings. No rooms to wander through but this one."
"Mm, put like that, yeah, it is a little strange. But I like it and could totally get used to it."
"You wouldn't know what to do with yourself if you weren't as busy as you are."
"You're probably right."
They did have their cell phones with them, but neither had turned one on yet. Giles was the only person who knew where they were staying, so if there was apocalypse-worthy stuff he could get a hold of Buffy.
"So, what plans do you have for today?"
"Besides making love to my husband? Not much of anything. I thought maybe we should go see a museum or something."
He chuckled. "Why?"
"Well, we're in Paris. We should, like, do touristy stuff."
They'd been married a year, but only just now were taking their honeymoon. Time and a crisis or two for both of them prevented them from getting away sooner. It was nice this way, though. A reaffirmation that they were married.
They'd scrimped on the wedding, basically eloping with about a dozen witnesses. It was the only way to do it fairly. With the entire police force back in Phoenix and now in London, and close to two thousand slayers, it just wasn't feasible to invite everyone. And neither wanted to get into a playing favorites thing. So, they'd gone small and casual without pomp and circumstance.
That meant they'd been able to save a good amount for a nice honeymoon. Others had given money even though they'd said no gifts, which went to this trip. It was the first vacation Buffy'd ever had really, certainly since she was a kid. Lee hadn't had too many of them either. So they were both enjoying it. The fact they were starting their third day and hadn't been out of their hotel room other than a handful of times didn't lessen their enjoyment of Paris at all.
"I've heard tell there are a lot of people who don't see the outside of their hotel rooms on their honeymoon. Besides, you've been drinking French wine, isn't that touristy?"
She laughed. "Hmm, I guess so."
She'd gotten used to drinking the occasional glass of wine around him. She'd felt odd at first, but he'd assured her he didn't have a problem with it.
"So, two years ago when Allison woke you up in the middle of the night…?"
"I never would have believed I'd end up here."
"Me neither. I thought I was going to die that night. And maybe in a way I did. That Buffy, the all work and no play Buffy. I got you out of the deal, and this so am very glad I went to Phoenix."
"You asked me once if I wanted kids."
"Oh, well, you marrying me is plenty of answer for right now, Buffy."
"I know, it took me this long to come up with an answer. An answer I was happy with anyway. Well, not quite this long. Do you want to hear it?"
"If you want to tell me."
"I wasn't sure someone would want to marry me, have kids with me knowing I might leave them responsible for kids on their own. And that still bothers me, but I know the risk is less now than it was two years ago. And I know you have read all of the warning labels that go with my life. So, that's a long-winded way of saying, yes, I would love to have kids."
"We've got the making them part down pretty well for when we want to do that."
She laughed. "Yes, we do. In fact, I was kind of thinking of maybe going off the pill soon. Like when we get back to London."
"Oh?" He chuckled and grew quiet. "So, you really made up your mind."
"Is that okay?"
"Yeah, I'm certainly not getting any younger," he leaned in and kissed her. "That'll just give me a legitimate reason to take you away from things a few days a month."
She laughed. "Yes. The doctor said it could take a few months. Or longer. I've never tried before, but something about after the pill or something."
"I'm good with that."
"How's that for an anniversary present?"
"A pretty outstanding one. We certainly have had an interesting couple of years. I never would have believed it if someone told me."
"I never understood why you kissed me that first time."
"Mm, at your hotel room, right?"
"I don't know why either. I just couldn't help myself. You were - are - beautiful and amazing, and the way you talk about your life is just so matter of fact. It was kind of a turn-on."
"I knew that night that I was in trouble."
"Yes, and now look at me. Married to you."
"You know, you're pretty amazing, too. I think back to it, and really I'm not surprised you didn't have me committed."
"If I didn't know Allison I might have been tempted, but I was at least open to the idea that there were things I didn't understand in this world."
"Yes, you were."
"So, do you want to venture out of our room?"
"Mm, I don't think anyone who knows us would be overly surprised to find out we didn't do much."
"Why? Because we're like a couple of nympho's together?"
"No, because we're under stress and always going, always looking after other people that we get the opportunity for a week to ourselves and we're going to take it." He kissed the top of her head. "And because we're like a couple of nympho's together."
"You're probably right."
"Of course I am." He drew her to him. "Besides, I want to celebrate this kid thing."
"But we can't make one yet!"
"Well, then we've got the next few days to perfect making one. Or to take advantage of the fact that we're alone."
"It's only five other people."
The slayers were all gone by this point, out on assignments with watchers. The castle that had been bursting at the seams not too long ago in Buffy's mind was now fairly empty. Buffy, Lee, Giles, Xander, Willow, Kennedy, and Dawn lived there permanently. Giles was seeing the mother of one of the slayers. Buffy didn't know how serious it was, but she was glad to see Giles happy for a change. She'd been worried about Xander being happy. What had started out as a childhood crush on Dawn's part had turned into something more of late. Buffy wasn't sure how she felt about it, but they were both adults. And it hadn't gotten too serious for her to really worry yet.
"About that… If you plan on staying off the pill after the first one."
"We might need a bigger castle."
"An ambitious mind, I like that. We'll work on that. Now, seems to me you said something about celebrating…"
"I did at that. Unless you really wanted to venture outside."
"Outside is highly overrated. We'd need clothes and no sex is allowed in public."
"That's a drag," he said as she moved on top of him.
"I thought so, too." She leaned down to kiss him. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com