The Ghosts You Can't Escape. by pixiecorn
1. Prologue by pixiecorn
2. Just One Day by pixiecorn
3. The Big Kind by pixiecorn
4. She's No Black Widow by pixiecorn
5. Well... the thing is by pixiecorn
6. A Good Bit Of Drama by pixiecorn
7. REM by pixiecorn
8. Samhain by pixiecorn
9. Suspect by pixiecorn
10. Just A Theory by pixiecorn
11. Something Sinister by pixiecorn
12. Perfect Match by pixiecorn
13. Fighting Ninjas or Hulky Commandos? by pixiecorn
Police cars lined the street, their blue and red lights flashing bright in the dark of the night leaving a stream of color reflecting off the walls of the property they sat out the front of. Yellow crime scene tape wrapped around the fences of one small suburban house cutting off any access to the public.
There was a handful of neighbours that had gathered outside, standing just beyond the yellow border. All dressed in their night things with robes and slippers covering their bodies and feet as they waiting for answers, straining their necks just to catch a glimpse of what lay inside the house.
Pulling out a pair of bright blue gloves from his jacket pocket, Detective William 'Spike' Giles ducked underneath the tape that had sectioned off the house. If he heard the neighbours asking him questions he didn't acknowledge or answer them. With his head down he made his way towards the path and the 3 steps that led to the front door.
Another case, another late night.
For Spike this seemed was becoming a frequent occurrence.
He was always the first on call when someone went bump in the middle of the night. Most of the other detectives in the precinct had families, small children and wives.
Spike was alone.
A night owl married to his job.
It had just passed 2:00 AM when the call had come in.
His crime scene unit was a buzz of activity when he first stepped through the doors of the house. He followed the movements towards his people into the lounge-room and immediately saw his partner Charles Gunn standing there.
"What have we got Charlie?"
"Two victims. One male, one female, husband and wife. Both victims sustained blunt force trauma to the head before their throats were cut. Body's moved post-mortem."
Spike silently surveyed the scene in front of him as Gunn tapped away on the tablet in his hands. His own tablet sat in the glove compartment of his car, idle and un-used. He could never figure out how to work the blasted thing. Technology and Spike had a tendency to break rather quickly. Good old pen and paper were his best friend. Solid, reliable. The things you needed in his profession.
Spike pulled a small leather-bound black notepad from his back pocket and flipped through it. This was the third murder case within the last month where a couple had been murdered. All three times the victims had been carefully placed on a couch, both sitting on either end with their hands outstretched.
Fingertips barely touching.
Their throats slit.
"Same MO as the last few killings boss."
"Time of death?"
"We won't know until Fred looks them over."
"How long had they been married?"
Spike glanced at his partner, a sad sigh in his voice. Gunn pressed a few buttons on the tablet he held, typing away for a moment before answering.
Spike glanced at the couple one more time, his eyes lingering on their hands, fingertips barely touching, golden wedding rings shinning in the flash of the camera as his team took photos of the crime scene. Out of the corner of his eye he watched as Gunn took a deep breath, absent-mindedly twirling the gold wedding band on his own finger. Spike swallowed, his stomach dropping at the mere thought that his best friend and wife could have been the ones sitting dead on this couch.
He had been on the force for years nearly seven years and made a conscious effort to try to take his own emotions away from a case, staying subjective was hard when cases like this struck a little too close to home.
"I want photos of everything. Bag everything! I want this psycho caught before he kills another person in this bloody town!"
"You want me to notify the next of kin?" Gunn asked, already flipping through the screens of his tablet to find the information of the couple that sat before them. "Spike?"
"Sorry mate, yeah."
The crime scene unit buzzed around them, taking swabs of everything, photos being snapped from every angle and each possible item of evidence being bagged. Spike stayed for nearly an hour surveying the room and investigating further into the house, trying to figure out an access point where the killer could have entered the house but as usual there was nothing.
No finger marks.
Slamming a drawer in the office in frustration, Spike sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose feeling a headache coming on.
"We're almost done out here."
Spike followed Gunn out of the room, stopping mid step, heart thudding deep in his chest. Seven years on the force and the sight before him never got any easier to witness. Two matching gurney's laid out in the lounge area with matching black bags holding the deceased bodies of the couple within. Two officers lifted the gurney's, their legs clicking into place as they were wheeled from the house.
Two more people taken too early from this world.
With one last look around the room Spike and Gunn followed suit and exited the house, the front door creaking shut behind them. One police officer stepped up and covered the door in crime scene tape before being stopped by Spike as he walked down the small drive.
"I want an officer stationed out the front of this house for twenty-four hours. The killer could come back."
"I'll be at the station if anyone needs me."
"It's nearly 3:00 AM, man. Go home!"
Gunn yelled at Spikes retreating back as he rushed to follow, ducking under the tape surrounding the house and out into the street where Spike had parked his car. The neighbours who had lingered along the border when he had arrived had all but gone, leaving only the direct neighbours behind. One of his officers was finishing up his questions when Spike shouted back.
"Can't do that Charlie! Not while there's a killer on the loose." Spike slipped into his vintage black Desoto and fired up the engine, flashing Gunn a particular look. "Don't forget the coffee this time, mate!"
Kicking his car into reverse, Spike drove off into the night. The blue and red police lights flashing behind him as he left yet another crime scene. Gunn shook his head, packing up his kit and equipment before following in his own car.
Chapter End Notes:
So what did you think? Have I piqued your interest? I'm also in need of a BETA if anyone is interested?
Just One Day by pixiecorn
"Miss? Miss are you alright?"
"Oh! I'm so sorry! Y-yes I'm fine."
Buffy Summers shook off the chills that had suddenly crept up her spine, leaving a flood of goosebumps in their wake. She tried not to let it affect her but she knew all too well what would soon follow, a shudder running through her at the thought. The older woman behind the cash register stared at her quizzically before handing over her coffee and muffin in a brown paper take-away bag.
"You think you can be happy with Frank. HA! That cheating bastard doesn't deserve you!"
"That'll be $10.50."
Buffy tried to ignore the voice to her left, knowing that if she turned her head that she would be able to see a person standing there. A person that no one else could see. She had tried all her life to ignore them, telling herself that they weren't real. Spirits, or ghosts you could call them. To her they looked just like normal everyday people but with one slight difference. They had a blur surrounding them, their image not quite complete. It was as if they were stuck in-between two planes of existence being pulled in two different directions with one foot on either side, not able to take a clear form.
"If I can't have you no one can. Baby we were so good together. You deserve so much more than him, Ruthie."
The spirit of the man moved through the solid counter that separated her from 'Ruthie' as if nothing was there and stood directly next to the older woman. The man was dressed in a simple brown suit and had a rather big gash in his forehead with a few shards of glass sticking out, face bloodied. Buffy tried her hardest to not make eye contact, her voice and hands shaking as she pulled out her purse.
It was always quite confronting to see a spirit in the form they were in when they had died.
She wasn't sure if it was the stutter in her voice that gave way to the fact that she could see him or that she was trying her hardest to look anywhere but directly at him. As soon as they linked eyes for the briefest of seconds Buffy knew she was doomed. His eyes widened with excitement and he all but rushed through the counter again to get to her.
"Can you see me? Oh my god you can! Go on tell her. Tell her that Frank is a cheating bastard!"
This was so not happening again. Buffy shook her head, eyes downcast as the spirit glided right in front of her doing her best to act as normal as possible. Well as normal as you could be with a ghost hovering three inches from your face. From this close up she could see that one of his eyes was red and blood-shot from the trauma he had sustained upon his death. It was not a pretty sight.
"Tell her! She needs to know. Go on! Tell her!"
The man tried to grab Buffy's shoulders but seemed to slip straight through her like an icy fog. An instant chill ran through her body, arms freezing up causing her to drop the coins of change Ruthie had given her. If anyone were to ask what it felt like to have a ghost pass through you she would have responded with her best decision. That of a chilly winters day icy breeze. The kind that had your face and limbs tingling without feeling for a few moments as you adjusted to the cold and then suddenly with a rush, your blood would warm again and you could move once more.
It wasn't the most pleasant feeling she ever experienced but then again here in Sunnydale no one had asked her what it felt like. Here in Sunnydale, she was normal.
Plain little Miss Buffy Summers. Who so did not talk to herself in public when ghosts decided to pay her a visit.
"Leave me alone!" She growled out, dropping to pick up the coins she had spilled. She shot 'Ruthie', who stood behind the counter with her lips in an 'O' an extremely apologetic look before grabbing her take-away bag and morning coffee and running out of the shop as fast as her feet would carry her.
Heart pounding a million miles a minute, she rushed through the streets of Sunnydale to the small shop she owned a few blocks away. Her hands shook as she pulled the keys from her purse, unlocking the shop door and turning the hanging sign to 'Open' before unintentionally slamming it shut behind her in her hastened wake.
"Just one day. I want just one day without ONE of you bothering me!" Pacing back and forth in front of the small counter space, hands still shaking she repeated her mantra. "Not real. They can't touch me. Not real. They can't touch me. Not real..." Buffy took a bite of her muffin, slipping to the floor, hand in her hair as she shook her head in denial. Luckily for her the ghost from the shop had chosen to stay behind and haunt Ruthie and not follow her.
A small blessing but she would take it none the less.
Buffy had been able to see ghosts for as long as she could remember. At first her parents had thought it cute, thinking she was just telling them about all of her imaginary friends. You know how kids can be. But when you are cursed to see ghosts show up in the same form as how they looked when they had died and you start talking about limbs missing and bloodied bullet wounds; your parents start to question your sanity.
Buffy had learned the hard way to keep things to herself.
Twelve months in a mental institution at the age of fifteen, spending three of those months in isolation after a few disagreements with the orderly's and doped up on as many pills as she could remember. She shuddered at the memory.
Buffy had never forgiven her parents for putting her in that place and as soon as she was able to she had moved out of home and across the state to a small town called Sunnydale. Here, she was able to rebuild herself. Now at the age of twenty-three she was the owner of a small art gallery that also sold old artifacts from all across the world. It was a small business but she had built up her clientele and now had regular customers that used her to import their rare artifacts. She had a handful of close friends who on the weekends frequented the only club in town and who all got together once a month for movie nights at her house.
Life for Buffy was good.
And the best part was that no one knew she could see ghosts.
Back in LA she was a freak of nature that everyone knew had spent a year in the nut house but here she was just plain old Buffy Summers. Over the last few weeks things had started to change. Seeing spirits had gone from being a once or twice a month thing to becoming a regular occurrence, seeing them a few times a week and in all different places and forms. Something wasn't right with the ghost world.
"Go away. Go away. Go away."
The chills that seemed to follow her like a clouded fog since the incident in the coffee shop clung to her limbs as she sat on the floor.
"Talking to yourself again, Buff? That's the third time this week!"
"Xander! Hey, I didn't hear you come in."
"I'm here to fix the bell remember?" Xander helped her off the floor. "You feeling ok? You're looking a bit pasty." He laid the back of his hand across her forehead to check her temperature.
"I'm fine. Just a strange morning is all."
"Alright, if you say so. Let's see what we can do about this bell. The Xandman is here to help."
Buffy smiled at her best friends antics as he pulled a few tools from his toolbox and set to work on fixing the small bell and it's mechanism that hung over the shops front door. Xander was one of the first to befriend her after only being in Sunnydale for three weeks. She had bought the shop she stood in now but back then it was a run down little old shop that was in massive need of a little TLC. Xander worked in construction and renovation and she had hired him to help clean up and renovate the shop. The two had clicked instantly and a friendship had formed. He was in a long term relationship with his girlfriend Anya, who Buffy adored. Anya was the kind of woman who said what was on her mind and didn't sugar coat things. Buffy admired her for that.
They had hung out a few times in the shop while Xander worked and it wasn't long before they all got together for coffee outside of their working hours. They had introduced her to their friends, another couple who were absolutely inseparable and practically joined at the hip, Willow and Tara. The two girls were a little bit quirky but quirky Buffy could deal with. They all got on like a house on fire and five years later still remained the best of friends.
Her secret remained locked away.
"We still on for tonight with the gang?" Buffy asked, grabbing her coffee mug from the counter top and walking over to lean on the door frame. Xander stood a few rungs up on a ladder, pulling apart the bell that hung just above.
"Sure thing. Whatcha thinking, fighting ninjas or hulky commandos? Oooo or we could try that new-"
Buffy stopped paying attention to Xander when a cold breath of air puffed out of her lungs even though she had just taken a sip of warm coffee, goosebumps rising on her arms. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw a flicker of movement.
"I need your help."
Buffy smiled at Xander and nodded her head, doing her best to ignore the spirit of a woman in her mid forties that had just materialized in the center of her shop. She had just wanted one day alone, knowing that her ghost from earlier staying behind was just a blessing in disguise.
"My son is in grave danger. Please! You have to help me!"
"How about we decide when we're all together?" Buffy held the door open as Xander stepped down from his ladder. Over the years she had done her best to shut them out, becoming better and better at ignoring them so that no one around her noticed the little conversations she would sometimes be appearing to have with herself.
He swung the door back and forth a few times testing the bells springs, satisfied with the jingle it made with each click.
"Sounds good to me. Good as new! I would stay and chat but I'm meeting Ahn for breakfast and well, you know how she can get. I'll catcha later Buffsta."
"Bye Xand, thanks again!"
No sooner had the door shut behind him did Buffy turn and face the woman, a scowl on her face. Very much not impressed at being disrupted for the second time that day. The woman was dressed in a long black gown, a cardigan wrapped around her shoulders. Her long sandy blonde was hair down in waves and came almost half way down her back. She looked quite striking and Buffy guessed she was in a nightgown.
At least this spirit had seemed to pass peacefully she surmised with a sad sigh.
"Please, you must help him. He is in grave danger!"
The woman reached out to grab her wrist and Buffy for the first time in her life felt cold nimble fingers wrap around her wrist. Cold fingers with death's icy touch. She gasped, heart stopping . The coffee mug she held in her hand went crashing to the ground, its contents spilling on the floor.
"W-what the hell was that!"
"I-I don't know. T-that's never happened before?"
Chapter End Notes:
Also guys I'm still in need of a BETA. If you're interested in BETAing this story or the second one I've got going at the same time (Chosen) please let me know. It would be greatly appreciated!
The Big Kind by pixiecorn
"Spike, man, we've gone over this for hours." Gunn groaned, flopping his head down onto his arms that lay resting on the desk in defeat.
Spike stood staring at the white board in front of him, a slight glare in his eyes. Pictures of each murdered couple were stuck to the board with possible links between them all scattered across it with strings and markers. Papers and clippings of information stuck to the boards left hand side, separated from the couples images, they were leads that seemed to go nowhere. With his arms crossed over his chest he glared at the board with narrowed eyes, as if somehow the information was going to jump out at him if he willed it hard enough. The answers were there he just had to find them.
"He's gotta slip up sometime. We'll get him."
It was a determined statement and they both knew it to be true, but Gunn could see his partners resolve starting to slip. This was the first case they had ever encountered that had taken them this long to crack. No matter what leads they seemed to be chasing after or what evidence they seemed to recover at a crime scene it always seemed to lead to the same outcome. Dead ends.
They were chasing their own tails with nothing in sight.
"Of that I have no doubt, but Spike, man, you need to take a break. Staring at that board for hours on end isn't helping anyone."
Spike took a few steps back and sat down in the chair opposite Gunn in defeat. He knew his partner was right. They had spent all the hours of the morning since leaving the latest crime scene going over possible leads. So far, the only thing each murdered couple had in connection with each other was that fact that they were all recently married and all from Sunnydale. Other than those connecting factors there was nothing. The victims didn't know each other, they didn't live in the same area, hell they didn't even shop in the same area.
Nothing made sense.
Spike and Gunn sat in silence, both staring at the board as they waited for the autopsy's to be completed on both bodies from their recent murder. Quite hopeful that new evidence would arise.
"Fred got anything yet?"
"Not since I rang and asked five minutes ago." Gunn mumbled, head still buried in his arms, eyes closed with exhaustion. What he wouldn't give to still be lying in bed with his wife curled up beside him. Since the murders had become more frequent and it becoming quite clear that they were indeed connected the station had labeled the cases to be those of a serial killer. With Gunn working nearly as much overtime as Spike and coupled with the fact that he and his wife both worked for the same crime unit it felt that the only time he got to see her was when they were both at work. He rolled his eyes as Spike dialed the number off the desk phone to the connecting autopsy department below the station.
Spike wasn't a man known for his patience.
"Actually I think so."
Gunn's head popped up straight from the desk and met Spike's eyes as his wife's voice came through the loud-speaker. Spike's accent coming on thicker as he got more wrapped up in a case and more sleep deprived as the hours ticked on.
"Wha' is it?"
"Well your killer definitely slipped up this time."
"Wha' kind of slipped up?"
Gunn rose from his chair and downed the last of his lukewarm coffee, eyes wide in anticipation of the information his wife was about to deliver.
"The big kind. The 'left some DNA behind' kind. You are never going to guess what just popped up on my screen."
"We'll be righ' down."
Spike grinned, giving Gunn a pointed look as he slammed down the phone before rushing out the door, Gunn not far behind. They missed hitting a co-worker on the way to the elevator and managed to squeeze through the doors just before they shut.
Winifred 'Fred' Gunn's voice greeted them at the elevator, walking backwards into her small lab that was connected to the autopsy room. Fred was a very chipper and quite welcoming person considering the profession that she was in. Her work space encompassed her personality, her lab walls were covered in bright colored paintings, potted plants with flowers of various size and color scattered in various corners of the room. Fred had a unique way of filling the room up with as much life as she possibly could just to escape the death that she was constantly surrounded by.
"What's the what babe?"
"Wha's the big news, luv?"
Spike couldn't help but chuckle at the couples antics. He had known Fred and Gunn for going on seven years, having been partnered with Gunn when he had started at the station. Fred back then had just started at the station as well. She acted mainly as the Crime Units lab technician and on a few occasions helped out in the morgue. Nowadays though she acted as both positions full-time, this time with help from her own team of lab technicians.
"Right, yes! The reason I called you down here! Well actually you called me, like twelve times within an hour, but that's beside the point. You're down here now and that is because of this!"
She walked swiftly over to a desk that sat along one wall, two computer screens sitting on top. One of the screens had charts and numbers filling it with scientific terms, none of which Spike could read and the other screen showing a picture of a DNA strand.
"Wha' am I looking at, pet?"
"I know that you berk!"
Spike growled, glaring at Gunn before looking back at Fred. Gunn just laughed, Spike was too easy to goad sometimes.
"It's a woman!"
Both men stared at the screen with the DNA strand blankly before Spike blinked and turned back to face Fred.
"Your killer is a woman!" Spike and Gunn stared at her with mouths slightly open, glancing back towards the screens as if to see if they could decipher the scientific codes there. "Mr. Johnstone, your male victim didn't go down without a fight. I found traces of blood underneath his fingernails. Unfortunately it's not enough for me to test who it is exactly, but I can tell you that it is one-hundred percent a woman's. It's also not his wife's DNA."
"Are you sure?"
"Positive. I also found defensive wounds along his forearms, not like the other victims. It was most likely made from the blade that was used to cut his throat. It's thin, sharp. I-I've got a small list of possible weapons or tools that could have been used, but other than that I'm afraid that's all I've got for you guys. The DNA doesn't match anything in AFIS but I'm still looking."
"Fred, you are amazing!" Spike beamed, eyes wide as he pulled out his phone and dialed a few numbers.
"I knew there was a reason I married you." Gunn tugged on the corners of her white lab coat and pulled her in for a hug, kissing the top of her head.
"Get Wells to meet me at me desk, I wan' him to mock-up a profile on a possible lead. Let me know if anything pops up on AFIS, luv."
"Watcha thinking Boss?"
Gunn was already following Spikes footsteps towards the labs exit, tossing his wife a smile before falling into step with his partner.
"We've been looking at this all wrong. Gotta hit the board again to see it from a fresh perspective."
Gunn slowly nodded, pushing the button on the wall to call the elevator back down. Staring at Spike, he raised both eyebrows.
"Right, fresh perspective. Woman goes crazy and starts slicing people's throats."
Fred shook her head and turned back to her screens as the duo retreated back to the elevator behind her. The picture of the DNA strand sat spinning on her screen and with furrowed brows she tapped her chin, a trait she had picked up in Med school when she was stuck on a really hard problem.
Turning around she watched as another large screen that she had linked up to yet another computer behind her shot up image after image of people's faces. They were the faces of all the known criminals in the world whose DNA was in the government's system, AFIS. AFIS stood for 'Automated Fingerprint Identification System' and it was part of Fred's job to run the program when DNA swabs such as the one she had found on Mr. Johnstone were found.
Nine out of ten times AFIS found a perfect match, but with each image popping up after the next Fred wasn't so sure it would this time.
"Who are you mystery woman?"
Chapter End Notes:
What did ya'll think? I'm still in the search for a BETA so please shoot me a msg if you're at all interested!
She's No Black Widow by pixiecorn
"You're not going to leave me alone are you?"
Buffy huffed out, standing up from the floor with her hands full of coffee drenched napkins. It had taken her a few moments to shake off the feeling of ice-cold fingers wrapped around her wrist before she could move. Still a bit unnerved and wary over the fact that her ghost had yet to leave her alone, she went to the counter and started to unpack a shipment that had been delivered late the day before. Anything to keep her busy and not thinking about what had just transpired.
"What part of grave danger are you not hearing, dear? This is serious!"
"That is exactly the part that I am listening to! Why on God's name would I rush to help someone who is in grave danger. You're a ghost for Christ sake! You're not even real! This is so not happening to me." Buffy dropped the wooden statue that she held in her hands back into its box, packing peanuts spilling over the edge and onto the countertop. With an exasperated sigh she spun to face her ghost, ready to give her a piece of her mind, but stopped as she met the woman's eyes. She stood with her hands on her hips, her lips set in a firm determined line with a fierce look on her face.
"My son is Police Detective William Giles, Sunnydale Crime Unit and if you do not help me he is going to DIE!"
"There's no need to yell at me!"
Buffy shouted back, eyes widening as through the glass windows of the shop front she saw Mrs. Mackenzie from the store next door stop to stare at her. Mouth open wide in shock.
"A-are you alright dear?"
"Yes I'm fine! Thank you for your concern Mrs. Mackenzie! Ok bye." Buffy turned around and rushed behind the counter, ducking down behind the desks to sit on the floor. "Oh my God!" There was a few moments of silence, her eyes tearing up at the thought of Mrs. Mackenzie seeing her talking to herself.
"I'm not going away until you help me."
"Jesus Christ!" Buffy sat up straight at hearing the voice coming from right in front of her. Sitting on the floor opposite her against the wall was the blurred form of her persistent ghost. The woman crossed her arms and raised one eyebrow, lips still set in a firm line of determination. "You're really not are you." Buffy didn't need a response, she already knew the answer. "Fine! I'll talk to your god damn son if you agree to leave me alone."
"There is absolutely no need for such language."
Her ghost chastised as she stood and dusted off her pants.
"Look lady, I've had a-"
"Anne. You may call me Anne."
"Ok, Anne..." Buffy rubbed a hand down her face, her back to the glass window of the shop front as she spoke. "I've had a rough morning so I would really appreciate it if we kept the talking to a minimum."
"That's fine by me but you are still going to have to listen to what I have to say. My son can be quite difficult-"
Buffy mhh'd her response, grabbing her purse from below the register and fishing out her keys. She flicked the shop lights off, turning the door sign to 'closed' before locking up all the while only half paying attention to Anne as she nattered on about her son.
"God damn ghosts are going to drive me insane."
"So it's best if you just repeat everything I just explained and it's sure to make sense."
"Sure, why not because he is totally going to believe that the ghost of his dead mother decided to pop up in the middle of my store and annoy the living daylights out of me just to save his life. Yup, I would totally believe me too. No worries!"
Buffy all but trudged down the street all the while muttering to herself as Anne floated on behind her.
"You really shouldn't slump like that dear, it's bad for your back."
"What did I just say about keeping talking to a minimum!"
"Suspect is female, most likely caucasian, age is hard to tell. I'm thinking that she's in her late thirties, this is a tough one guy's. Judging by the precision and the time she has taken to place all of the body's in these particular positions after their deaths indicate that she's smart which comes with age, but there's just something that's not quite right. She's careful, methodical. Takes her time. Why?"
"She's no Black Widow and definitely not a sexual predator. It could be revenge, no, there's no connection between the victims so that's not right."
Spike knew it was pointless to interrupt Andrew Wells when he was in the middle of a profile. Once the boy was on a roll he tended to spout out whatever he was thinking, usually random facts of information until he seemed to find himself a conclusion. Andrew had more degrees than Spike could count, but he was the units best profiler. He had a masters degree in psychology as well as a degree in forensics and had spent the last three years working closely with Fred.
"Black widow is the killer that usually dates or gets close to the victims first, right?"
Gunn was sitting in Spike's chair, watching as Andrew stared at the board with his analytical eyes, pulling information out of the crime scene photos and papers that neither he nor Spike could see. There were certain 'tells' as Andrew liked to call them that spoke to him that helped him form his images of what the killer looked like and helped him form his opinion of who they were as a person.
"Correct. Black Widows will get emotionally close to their victims before they kill them, normally killing for material gain. Which this is not the case here, so, speaking of let's get back on topic."
Spike shot Gunn a look which shouted 'don't interrupt the bloody man.' It had Gunn slumping back in the chair with his arms folded.
"There's no profit of the crime, nothing was taken from the scene. No money. I would say team killing based on some of the information here, but there's no evidence to suggest a second party was involved. Her sanity is definitely up for question though. I don't think your girl is all quite there. None of the cuts to the victims throats have been sloppy so she's experienced with the weapon. Has Winifred sent up the list of possible weapons?" Andrew Wells stood back from the white board that occupied most of the space next to Spikes desk, finger tapping against his forearm as they sat folded across his chest as he spoke.
Spike handed over the list of possible weapons Fred had given him hoping that Wells was able to narrow down their large list. Andrew was his best chance of attempting to understand the killer and was a critical part of catching the murderer.
"I'd almost bet money that this stems back to a married man she lost," his eyes skimmed down the page. "or you know, the one she killed first."
"Why? There doesn't need to be a reason. To a psychologically unstable person everything is justified in his or her own way. This one." Andrew pointed out a weapon on the page.
"A surgical knife?" Spike raised an eyebrow.
"It fits the profile. Have you thought of looking into the medical side of things?"
"What like a doctor?"
Gunn sat on the end of his chair, sipping on his third coffee of the morning.
"Doctor, nurse staff, veterinarian, could be anyone. Anyone that would have access to scalpels or blades and know how to use them."
"I'll look into it." Spike nodded, staring down at the papers and pictures of various blades in his hands.
"Your killer has taken the time to make their wounds clean, but inflicting their end result, death, quite quickly." Andrew glanced over the photos that hung clipped up to the white board of the three couples that had been murdered over the last few weeks. "It is strange though."
"What is?" Spike looked up, folding his arms across his chest.
"There's hardly any defensive wounds on the victims. How did she subdue them?"
"There was defensive wounds on the latest male victim. Fred found traces of ketamine in all the victims systems."
"Ketamine?" Andrew was taken back. "That's used in veterinary clinics to knock out animals before surgery. My own Mr. Mittens just went in last week to have-"
"Already on it boss." Gunn sat further back into his chair, spinning it towards the desk as he typed away on his computer.
Spike had his phone out of his pocket in record time, dialing Fred who answered on the second ring.
"All six victims had traces of ketaminein in their system correct?"
"Different forms and doses of it, yes." She replied slowly, questioning in her voice.
"Is there any chance you can find where they were sourced from?"
"You mean like what brands and where they are used?"
"Exactly, pet." Spike grinned, meeting his partner's eyes who nodded and typed away on the computer.
"Y-yeah I can try."
Spike hung up the phone and turned to Andrew who was already gathering up his papers.
"I'll try to work on a more detailed profile for your killer, there's a few things I want to look into further. I'll get back to you this afternoon."
Spike spun towards the voice that had walked into his office. Harmony, the stations receptionist stood half in the door and half out, an amused look on her face. Spike forced himself to not roll his eyes at her and her smirking face. He had regretted ever taking her out on a date five years ago and ever since then the bint hadn't let up about trying to get him in the sack again.
He all but growled out at having been interrupted in the middle of a case.
"There's a young woman here to see you. A miss Buffy Summers. She said it's urgent."
"Bring her in." He flipped the white board around so that it's plain side faced the room. Gunn got up from the desk and left the office, hands laden with the papers he had just printed.
Spike sat down behind his desk, minimizing the tabs on the screen that Gunn had opened so that the station's logo flashed as the screen saver. It wouldn't do to have the public seeing what was on their computers
"H-hello my name is," Buffy coughed as she stepped further into the office. "Hmm my name is Buffy Summers."
"Pleasure to meet you, luv. I'm Detective Spike Giles. What can I do for you?" Spike reached out and shook her hand before he indicated she take a seat opposite him at his desk.
"Oh just look at how handsome he has gotten. Though I could never see why he dyes his hair that absolutely atrocious white colour!"
Buffy took a few moments to take in the man that was Detective Spike Giles. He wore dark jeans with a grey shirt tucked into his pants, his muscular chest causing the shirt to go taunt. He wore a black suit jacket over his shirt, not a formal jacket, but one slightly more casual. His angular cheekbones were sharp and chiseled against his jaw line, striking, but not as captivating as his bright blue eyes. Eyes that were the brightest blue she had ever seen, being brought out more by his platinum blonde hair. Eyes that were staring at her quizzically.
"Right, yes. The reason I'm here." She let out a nervous laugh.
"Go on dear. Just as I explained." Anne smiled at Buffy as she stood behind the desk next to Spike, raising one eyebrow in waiting.
"Yes," Spike nodded slowly. "Your urgent matter?"
"R-right." Buffy glanced over his shoulder to his mother and then back to Spikes face. He slowly started to raise one of his own eyebrows in question. "Well that's just downright freaky."
"Excuse me?" He stared at her strangely before trying to follow her line of sight to the empty wall behind him.
"Look this is going to sound completely insane! Quite frankly I've had almost as much as I can take of this whole mess, but hey! Mrs. Mackenzie already probably thinks I'm crazy so why not the whole town. I can see ghosts. The ghost of your mother is standing right behind you and she brought me here to deliver a very important message to you."
"Yes that's right. You're in danger."
"You're going to die."
Chapter End Notes:
Well... the thing is by pixiecorn
"What! I said he was in grave danger and WOULD die if you didn't HELP him!"
"Wait! No! That came out wrong! I told you this wasn't going to work." Buffy glared at Anne.
"Not when you deliver it like that! Do you have no finesse."
Spike hurriedly pushed a few buttons on the phone on his desk before speaking into the intercom, all the while staring at the crazed woman sitting opposite him in his office. "Charlie can you get in here!"
"Sure thing, boss." Gunns voice popped back loud and clear through the speaker.
"I told you that he'd think I was a raving lunatic!"
Spike nodded his head in agreement with the young woman who seemed to be speaking to herself and slowly started to rise from his chair.
"Ooooh I've got it! Sing this! It's the song I used to sing to him as a child. Early one morning just as the sun was rising, I heard a young maid sing in the valley below-"
"No way! I'm not doing that!" Buffy's eyes widened, shooting Anne a look that said 'you're absolutely crazy'.
"Whats up boss?"
Gunn stepped into the office and took in the site before him. The young blonde woman was standing in the middle of Spikes office, staring over Spikes shoulder and talking to the wall. Spike met his eyes and made a few gestures with his hands next to his head, spinning them around in a motion to indicate that the young woman was, in Spikes words, bloody barmy.
"Can you escort Miss Summers here, out of my office and out of the building please."
Spike had one hand behind his back, reaching for the weapon he kept in the back of his pants as Gunn stepped up behind Buffy.
Buffy felt the man Detective Giles called Charlie step up behind her, ready to escort her from the building and she knew she had no choice. She sent a glare Anne's way before opening her mouth.
"E-early one morning just as the sun was rising. I-I heard a young maid sing in the valley below..."
At Buffy's pointed look and wide eyes Anne continued the song.
"Right, yes. Oh, don't deceive me, oh never leave me. How could you-"
"Oh, don't deceive me, oh-" Buffy spun around, her hands up in defense as Gunn stepped closer to her as she sung.
"How could you use a poor maiden so."
Buffy almost stumbled over her words as Anne hovered over to stand next to her son, staring at him wistfully as she sang into his ear. Buffy was processing the words as she sang them and stopped mid sentence to drop her hands and stare at Anne.
"Seriously. You sang that to him as a child? No. You know what. I'll go on my own, you don't need to escort me out. Sorry Anne, I tried." Buffy grabbed her purse from the floor, shaking her head at Gunn who had stepped back and stormed from the room, mumbling to herself.
Spike stood there with his mouth slightly open, not believing what he had just witnessed.
"What-" Gunn made a move to sit down opposite Spike who had slumped backwards to lean against his desk. He almost broke out into a laugh, but stopped at seeing his partners face. "the hell was that?"
"I have no bloody idea."
Anne puffed out a breath of air, blowing her ghostly hair from her eyes as she crossed her arms and glared at her son.
"Well don't just stand there William. Go after the girl!"
Spike opened and closed his mouth, no words forming as his mind struggled to put sense to what had happened.
"I'll be right back mate."
He was gone in an instant, leaving Gunn to slide down into the previously occupied chair, confusion covering his face.
"What the hell just happened?"
"God damn ghosts. Why can't you all just leave me the hell alone."
"Well, you sure stuffed that up didn't you."
"Great juuuust great." Buffy threw her hands up in the air as Anne's blurry form popped up next to her, gliding along as she hurried her way down the street and as far away from the station as she could get. Buffy was close to tears, having just embarrassed the hell out of herself. Not only did Mrs. Mackenzie probably think she was insane, but now the police crime unit of Sunnydale sure as hell did. It wouldn't be long now until someone came to fetch her for another stint in the loony-bin.
"Leave me alone, Anne. I can't help your son. He along with his whole damn unit is probably standing back there laughing it up and talking about the new crazy loon in town! God, I'm so stupid."
"It was an unfortunate start, but I don't think it's irredeemable."
"Shyeah, well, I beg to differ." Buffy rounded the corner of the street her shop was on and only got a few steps in before the pounding of shoes on the pavement was heard behind her.
"Oh god! Please just kill me now." Buffy looked to the sky, desperation on her face. Sending out a silent prayer, wishing that the earth would swallow her whole and spare her the minutes she would have to spend explaining herself to the handsome detective with the captivating blue eyes.
"Miss Summers, please stop."
"It's Buffy." She continued to walk, seeing her shop in the distance. The jogging footsteps fell into place beside her to her left, to her right the glowing form of Anne floating along beside her.
"Buffy, could you please stop. I have a few questions."
"Oh, I bet you do." Buffy half but laughed, fishing her keys out of from her purse.
"Can you just stop walking for five minutes- Oh."
Buffy stopped out the front of her shop and opened the door, gesturing for him to enter, a small smile on her face as she shut the door in Anne's ghostly face. She felt like poking her tongue out at her persistent ghost who just folded her arms in defiance, gliding straight through the door, quite smug with herself. Clearly she wouldn't be gotten rid of as quickly as she had hoped.
"How did you do tha'? Before in my office."
"Yup!" Buffy said, popping the 'P' as she lent back on her shop counter.
"In my office, you sang a song tha' no one and I mean no one but my mother sang to me as a child." Spike's face was a mask of confusion as he spoke, his hands gesturing a lot which was an indicator that he was nervous.
"Look, Detective Giles-" Buffy started.
"Look, Spike, I tried explaining it all before in your office. I can see ghosts. Your mother, who I might add is rather persistent, popped into my store this morning demanding that I go see you and give you an urgent message."
"Right. I'm going to die." He paced back and forth in front of her, rubbing his temples. "Let me just try to wrap my head around this for a mo'."
Buffy nodded, cutting a glare at Anne over his shoulder as she started to open her mouth that said 'Don't even!'
"You can see and talk to ghosts?"
"Ghosts are real?"
"This is the part tha's a bit," Spike sighed and shook his head. "The ghost of my mother came to see you to warm me of my impending death?"
"W-well see... the thing is-"
Buffy shot up and away from the counter before he could utter another word. He jumped slightly at the movement, her eyes wide, one hand outstretched and a finger pointing to the opposite side of the counter. He couldn't see anything there and from his point of view it looked like she was talking to the cardboard box that sat on her counter. It had a wooden statue poking out of it with packing peanuts spilling onto the counter top around it.
"What! No, 'no the thing is'! You said death! Grave danger and death!" Her eyes seemed to move around the room, following a form he couldn't see. Spike tracked along with her movements before she turned to face him, a glare on her face. A glare that seemed to be shot directly at him and had him taking a step back.
She was a fierce young looking woman who Spike didn't fancy ever getting on the wrong side of.
"Y-yes well I may have exaggerated that last part just a little." A sheepish look came across Anne's face as she gestured a small amount with her fingers. Buffy growled in response and through her hands up in the air in defeat.
Chapter End Notes:
Just posting a quick short chapter before I get flown away for a few days with work. What are your thoughts? Liking where it's going?
A Good Bit Of Drama by pixiecorn
Sorry for my delay in updating! I was away on a work conference and didn't have access to my computer to post.
"This is exactly why I don't deal with ghost's. Nothing good ever comes from it." She mumbled to herself, fingertips rubbing her temples trying to ease the headache forming there. Anne was standing over Spikes shoulder, hands ringing the edges of her shawl as she tried to look as sheepish and innocent as she could. "You said, and I quote, 'He's in grave danger and if you do not help me he is going to die!' "
"He's a detective for Christs sake! He's always in danger!"
It took him a few moments to realize Buffy wasn't talking to him even though she was pointing at him for the second time that day. He couldn't help but shake off the unsettling thoughts rushing through him over the whole situation. For starters he still wasn't sure that Buffy could actually see ghosts, or believed for one second that ghosts were even real.
Buffy was talking still, facing him front on, but was staring right past him. He coughed before speaking.
"He's standing right here."
Buffy met Spikes eyes and sighed, dropping her head for a few moments before taking a few deep and calming breaths.
"I am really sorry about all of this. Your mother is here and as you've probably already guessed, we're having a bit of a dispute at the moment."
"I can hear tha'." With one eyebrow raised, a slight smile on his face as he spoke. The look he sent Buffy's way had her cheeks flushing a light shade of pink and it was hard to miss the slight smirk that his lips formed knowing that she was embarrassed by his remark.
Buffy met Anne's eyes over Spikes shoulder before speaking.
"I don't like dealing with ghosts. I avoid talking to them if I can, but seeing as she isn't going to go away, I'll do my best to relay her messages."
"Correctly this time."
Buffy rolled her eyes and nodded.
"Yes, correctly this time."
"Word for word."
"Yes, word for word."
"Just one quick question, luv." Spike interrupted, stepping forward. "I though' ghosts, you know.." he made a few gestures with his hands, passing them around the room. "moved on. Went to the other side or whatever it is ghosts do. My mother passed away years ago. Why is she still here? Not tha' I mind having you around Mom, but um-"
"Ghosts typically stay behind due to their unfinished business."
"It's the case he's working on."
Buffy motioned for Spike to join her back towards the counter, further into the shop and away from the big glass windows of the shop front where passers-by could look in. She did so not need another Mrs. Mackenzie incident today.
"Anne said that you being in danger has got to do with the particular case that you're working on at the moment."
"It's a ghost."
"It's a ghost?"
"What?" Spike's face scrunched up in utter disbelief as Buffy spoke the words.
"How is that even possible?" Buffy's face was also a mask of confusion as she met Anne's eyes. Anne hovered through the counter and now stood just behind the register. It was always freaky watching the blurred forms of ghosts just pass straight through solid objects. Buffy sometimes wondered over the amount of places ghosts could get into, lines they didn't have to wait in and copious amounts of information they had access to. The possibilities were endless. Still, not being able to touch or feel ever again, being a ghost had its downsides too.
"No." Spike shook his head, tapping the counter-top, determination in his voice. "People murder other people. Not ghosts, luv."
Buffy shot him a look that read 'do you think I'm stupid' before she started pacing back and forth. She thought back to the last few weeks and all the things that didn't seem to add up, her accounts with ghosts had become more and more frequent. She had started seeing them in the streets and during this past week alone had seen ghosts following their loved ones. The coffee shop ghost from that morning had caused chills like nothing she had ever felt before. Cold flushes were quite common to experience when a ghost was near by, but this. No.
The cold that still clung to her even now as Anne hovered around the room was like winter ice, it's crisp breeze just lightly touching her skin. She had even felt Anne's cold fingers wrap around her wrist earlier that morning. The cold icy grip of death itself.
Something was happening that had never happened before.
"S-something is happening. The wall that separates my plane of existence from yours is thinning."
"That can't be possible."
"Your mother seems to think that the wall or veil that keeps them, the ghosts and spirits, separate from us is getting thinner."
Spike let out a nervous laugh and shook his head. He thought back to his own morning, where in the earlier hours he had been at a crime scene, looking at two dead murdered victims with his team combing through the evidence. Real life, solid people. People and science were real.
"I don' even know if I believe all of this. Come on! Ghosts? Different planes of existence. This is the kind of stuff you read about in novels and watch on the sci-fi channel, luv. Not real life." He muttered a few words under his breath Buffy couldn't hear and shook his head.
Before she could utter a word in response, she felt the cold icy touch of Anne's fingers as they gripped her shoulders. Cold piercing shards seemed to crawl through her body like a snake weaving it way along the ground causing her to stand up straight like a rod, unable to move, her eyes wide. She tried to talk but her breath came out in puffs, fog blowing out with each puff of air like it would if you were out in the snow.
"Buffy? Luv, are you alright?"
"I-I..." She felt a trickle or warmth flowing from her nose and dropping onto her lips. Blood. She saw a flash of images before her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she lost consciousness.
"Buffy!" Spike tried to run forward and catch her before she fell to the ground and smashed her head onto the floor. She fell into his arms in a tangled mass of limbs and hair. "Jesus Christ! She's like ice!" Her body was cold to the touch. He rushed to pull the phone from his back pocket, fingers dialing emergency.
"No wait! Call your father!"
Anne's hand covered her mouth as Spike froze, fingers hovering over the buttons on his phone. Buffy still unconscious in his arms, nosebleed slowing down but not stopping completely.
Spike hadn't heard his mothers voice in nearly ten years and the sound of it had his heart stopping. The room was silent, nothing but the sound of Buffy's slow breaths penetrating the air and the sound of his own heartbeat in his ears. Slowly, not entirely sure if he had actually heard his mothers voice he scrolled through the contacts list in his phone until his fingers hovered over his father's name.
His mother always did like a good bit of drama.
Buffy was deathly still in his arms, her breath coming in short gasps. He pushed dial and held the phone up to his ear, trapping it between his shoulder and head as he checked Buffy's pulse.
"It's Spike. How many times do I have t-"
"I refuse to call you by that blasted name. Your mother gave you a name and I-"
"Look da, sorry to bother you at work but I need your help."
The sound in his sons voice had Giles pausing mid argument, his own voice faltering. It was rare for his son to be calling asking for his help, especially in the middle of the week and nearly the middle of the day.
"Is everything ok?"
"I'm not sure."
"Where are you?"
"Not too far from you actually." Spike glanced out through the shops glass windows and out to the street signs. From the name on the sign he knew that he was indeed only a block away from his fathers shop. "I'll be there soon. Get some blankets."
Spike ended the call before his father could continue and placed the phone back in his pocket. He glanced around at the empty store, not exactly knowing what he was looking for but not surprised when he saw and heard nothing. The shop was empty. Besides the paintings, statues and artifacts that were displayed on stands and easels, there was no one else there. He hooked his arms under Buffy's legs, one around her shoulders and scooping her up from the cold hard floor.
She still felt like ice.
Chapter End Notes:
What are your thoughts??
Spike huddled Buffy close to his chest as best as he could while struggling to grab a hold of her small bag that sat the counter top. With one hand under her legs holding the bag and the other scooped around her back he made a slight jostle and adjustment before walking towards the door. With his arms full he had to walk through the doorway sideways, his view of the street obstructed, nearly dropping Buffy onto the ground when an elderly woman almost literally ran into them.
"Oh my goodness is she alright? Does she need a doctor?"
"She's fine, just took a small fall and hit her head is all." Spike reassured the woman as he tried to shut the door behind him. It wasn't an easy task with arms full of damsel and hands gripping her bag tight. The elderly lady looked at him suspiciously and he set her straight. "I'm Detective Giles and I'll see she gets home safe and sound."
"Oh, I-I'm Ruth. I own the little cafe down the street just there. I was actually coming to check on her." Ruth helped him shut the door after seeing him struggling.
"Can you get the keys?"
"Poor, dear. You know she has been acting so strange. Then again she is a strange girl." Ruth took the bag from the hand held under Buffy's knees and sorted through the belongings until she pulled out a set of keys. She locked the shop door for him before placing them back in the bag and securing the bags handle over his wrists. "She comes into the shop every now and then." She peered down at Buffy's form with a frown. "You know I hear her talking to herself sometimes. Just this morning she-"
"I really should be going. Make sure she gets looked after."
"Such a strange young woman."
"Y-yes well I'll see her home safe all's the same, Ruth. Thank you for your help with the door, ta."
"You're a kind Detective Mr. Giles."
Spike nodded and starting walking, Buffy still huddled up in his arms as Ruth ducked into the shop next to Buffy's. He could see her in the window with another woman, their judging eyes watching him as she carried Buffy down the street with strange looks on their faces.
He didn't have time to linger or think what they were talking about. Buffy was still out cold.
It took less than ten minutes to walk to his fathers shop from Buffy's. He stood outside the shops front and nearly laughed at the irony of the situation he was now in. The Magic Box's bright flashing sign stood out against the shop window. The windows display was full of ridiculous items and bits and bobs that the realist in him couldn't understand why anyone would want to purchase such things. Crystal displays with rocks of all shapes and colors were laid out over a purple velvet drape with books on aura's and gem stones lining the window front. His father's previous profession had been one of an upstanding and outstanding college professor in London, but ever since they had uprooted their lives and moved across the pond to the states after the death of his mother, things had changed. From the very first day he spent in the small town of Sunnydale he knew things were never going to be the same. His father had thrown away his job and teaching career and decided to 'retire' and become the glorified owner of the small 'magic' store.
He had never really understood his father's decision to stop teaching and go into retail. Spike saw his father once a week for Sunday roast and very rarely did they talk during the week, so it was no surprise that his father had sounded a bit strange earlier. Spike had his job and his father had the shop that was just the way of it.
Buffy moaned in his arms, her brows furrowed in discomfort as he pushed the door open.
The Magic Box indeed.
"William, what on earth-"
"Don't ask Da," he walked straight into the back of the shop where a few book cases blocked the view of Buffy's limp form from public view and he laid her on the small table there. "I don' have any answers."
"Is she alright?" Giles locked his shops front door after checking that no customers were inside before rushing to the back to check on the woman his son had just brought in.
"Did you get the blankets?"
With a nod his father pulled a bundle of blankets out from behind a bookshelf and laid them across Buffy's small frame who had started to shiver, lips turning blue.
"What happened?" Giles reached over the check her pulse, his eyes downcast on the watch he wore around his wrist. He didn't look at Spike, eyes focused on his watch as the seconds hand ticked by as he monitored her heartbeat. All seemed to be in order, her pulse was strong and steady and only then, satisfied she was in no immediate distress, did he glance up at his son who had nothing but worry and concern written on his face.
"It's a long story, one minute we were talking about a case and the next second she just froze, got a nosebleed and then passed out."
"Why did you call me? Why not call an ambulance? The girl clearly needs a doctor, William."
"That's the strange part actually."
"She's so bloody cold still." Spike rubbed his hands up and down Buffy's blanket covered arms in an attempt to warm her up, whilst also avoiding how to explain to his father that his dead mothers voice told him to.
Spike ignored his father's weirdness for the moment as he stood and stared at the blonde woman on his shops table and pondered of the predicament he was in. Spike brushed a few strands of hair from Buffy's eyes and with a corner of one of the blankets did his best to wipe away the dried blood that was left under her nose and on her lips from the nose bleed she had sustained earlier.
Buffy's eyes moved beneath her closed eyelids and Spike grabbed onto her shoulder attempting to wake her.
"She's in a REM sleep."
"REM sleep, it's a certain phase in your sleeping pattern. REM stands for rapid eye movement. It's caused by the relaxed muscles in the body, and causes the natural tendency of the sleeper to dream vividly.
Spike stared down at Buffy's face, having removed his hands from her shoulders. Her eyes went from the left to the right, moving rapidly beneath her closed lids as if she was in the throes of a dream.
"William, oh my dear boy. What have you done to yourself?"
"I hurt myself Ma."
"I can see that."
"Well what did you expect when you run around the house chasing your father who shouldn't be letting you run in the house in the first place! Rupert, you should know better."
"It was just a spot of fun."
"Well no ones laughing now are they."
"No, OW! Stop that."
"It's going to need stitches. Come on, in the car with you both. We're going to emergency. You know you're lucky you didn't lose your eye, William."
Buffy had been in a REM state, as his father had explained to him, for way too long. Spike hovered over her face, eyes wrought with concern as her features scrunched up in distress, brows furrowed. A tiny pinch of color had returned to her cheeks, indicating that the blankets were doing their job in warming her up, but she was still cold to the touch.
"Buffy?" Spike ran a hand down her cheek, watching as the muscles relaxed beneath his fingertips. Slowly but surely, her eyes opened. He almost jumped back from his position hovering over her when he felt small cold fingers trace the scar over one eye that covered most of his eyebrow.
"Your mother was so angry at you. You're lucky you didn't lose your eye, William." Buffy coughed and tried to sit up, spell broken as Spike jumped back from the touch, stumbling on his feet as Giles stood with his mouth open in bewilderment.
Chapter End Notes:
My muse is taking her sweet ass time with this story, sorry guys. I've got the outline for the next chapter worked out though :) Let me know your thoughts!
"Why am I covered in blankets and where the hell am I?" Buffy sat up from where she was sitting and glanced down at herself. She pushed the layers of blankets off of her body, swinging her legs to the side and slipped off from the table top. Standing on shaky legs she tried to piece together her last moments before she had blacked out.
She remembered talking to Spike in her shop about why his ghostly mother was haunting her and a particular case he was working on. Anne had just started to tell her about the planes that separated the ghosts from their world to her world when she had frozen up and after that everything went black.
"You alright, pet?" Spike had righted himself after Buffy had touched his face. De ja vu surrounding him hauntingly as she had spoken the words his mother had said to him as a child moments before taking him to the emergency room.
"I'm fine, but I still don't know where I am or how I got here?"
"You're in the Magic Box."
Buffy turned to the owner of the voice, a man was standing in the store with her and Detective Giles. Flashes of images of the scene she had witnessed while she was out cold rushed forward to the surface and she knew with a few blinks of her eyes that it was an older version of Rupert.
"G-Giles, you can call me Giles." He pulled the glasses from his face and wiped them on a handkerchief that he had pulled from his pocket.
"You froze up while we were talking in your shop and then you got a nosebleed and passed out, pet. This is my Da." Spike spoke slowly, still unsure of what to make of the situation.
"She grabbed me." Buffy frowned, her hands coming to rest on the spots where Anne had touched her earlier.
"You keep saying that, Da, but I'm not so sure I even want to know why."
"It's quite remarkable. This young woman, Buffy was it? She is a Sensitive."
"Excuse me, I'm a what now?"
"A sensitive. A psychic or a medium you could say. It really is quite remarkable, I haven't met one like you in a very long time."
Buffy took a few steps back towards the table she had just previously occupied and sat down in one of the empty chairs. Still feeling slightly chilly she wrapped a blanket around her shoulders. Buffy had never been heard let alone having been called any of the terms Giles had just called her, she was always the 'freak' or the 'crazy loon'.
Spikes phone ringing broke the uncomfortable silence that filled the room. Glancing between his father and Buffy he pulled out his phone and answered.
"Fred's narrowed down the ketamine search to three possible places of origin. You coming back to the office any time soon or still off chasing that pretty young crazy thing from earlier?"
"I'm a bit tied up at the moment, mate. Why don' you check out the first place and send me the address of the second and I'll meet you there."
"You alright, boss? You don't sound like yourself."
"It's been a strange morning, Charlie.
"You're telling me."
"Just send me the address, Gunn."
"No need to get testy, I'll send it now. See you in an hour."
Spike was watching Giles and Buffy as they exchanged looks, listening into his one-sided phone call. After it ended, the uncomfortable silence still hung in the air and it was Buffy who finally broke it.
"You haven't met one like me in a very long time? That means there are more people like me out there? More Sensitives, or whatever you called them."
His phone buzzed and he pulled it from his pocket, a text from Gunn showing the address of the second origin destination of a ketamine user. He quickly text back with an order to relay his findings of the first place and to call him if he needed back up.
"Oh yes." Giles smiled warmly at Buffy and came to sit opposite her on the small table. "There are many, all at different levels as well. F-from what I can judge from meeting you so far, you are quite advanced."
Buffy was rubbing her temples, anything to stave off the brewing headache she had forming. It was a lot to take in, finding out that you weren't alone and for once not having someone automatically calling her insane or crazy when they found out what she could do. Or more importantly, who she could see.
Thinking on who she could actually see, Buffy noted for the first time that Anne wasn't hovering around anymore. In fact she hadn't seen Anne since she had grabbed her. Spike noticed her glancing around the room, noticed her searching eyes and spoke.
"Is she here?"
"No. I haven't seen her since she grabbed me."
Buffy and Spike spoke at the same time and Giles glanced up and starred into his sons eyes.
"A-Anne. My Anne?"
"Yeah Da, it's Mom." Spike sat down at a chair around the small table, picking up the discarded blankets from the floor and placing them on the table.
"After all these years." Giles had a smile on his face that Buffy couldn't quite decipher. A smile that was so sweet, like it held a hidden memory or secret, something he held close to his heart.
His smile bought a small one of her own to her face.
"So I'm not as skeptic as I used to be, but I still don't understand what the bloody hell is going on. One minute we're talking about my case and the next you're passed out on the floor with a nosebleed. I pull out my phone to call an ambulance and I hear Moms bloody voice telling me to call you." Spike was talking fast, pointing at Buffy and then Giles, cutting them off whenever they went to speak.
"She came to me about your case-"
"My case that involves a real life serial killer who is murdering people."
"Well William, maybe it's because your mother thought I may have some answ-"
"She's a bloody ghost!"
"A ghost that can apparently touch people." Buffy growled, still rubbing her temples. She didn't have time to deal with another person freaking out after finding out that ghosts exist. Spike was still rambling on but she had tuned out, so too had Giles, who spoke to her.
"That is quite fascinating actually."
Spike looked up to the ceiling and through his hands up before he let his head fall onto the pile of towels on the table.
"I don' understand wha' any of is has to do with my face."
"What?" Buffy scrunched up her features and stared at Spike who still had his face buried in towels. Slowly he lifted up and spoke again.
"I don't understand what any of this has to do with my case."
"Well, before I went all nosebleed on you, Anne was telling us about the veil that keeps the ghosts and spirits separate from us. That veil is getting thinner."
"Here we go." Spike shot his father a look and shook his head. "More mystical bullshit."
"It's not bullshit, son."
Giles was up and moving in between the few shelves he had at the back of the store that housed all his books. It took him a few moments, but he came back with a thick volume and placed it on the center of the table in front of Buffy.
"Witches and Their Lore. You don't call this nonsense?"
"It most certainly is not."
Buffy stayed quiet while the two argued, clearly there was something deeper going on that laced back quite a while for the two to have such a heated argument. The book was thick and she didn't know where to begin, flipping absentmindedly though the pages, and only half paying attention to what was written there.
"You quit your job and then buy this place-"
"Don't you dare start in on this again-"
Spikes phone ringing broke their argument.
"I'm about to head across to the next place, are you going to meet me there or do you need a ride?"
"Yeah, I'm uh at my Da's shop." Spike for the first time remembered that he had followed Buffy on foot from his building and had carried her from her shop to his fathers and didn't have a way of getting to the address Gunn had sent him.
"You are having an interesting day." Gunn chuckled back.
"Just honk when you're out the front you berk."
"See you in ten, boss man."
Giles was rubbing his glasses and staring at the ground while Spike was staring at the phone in his hand, neither meeting each others eyes.
"Are you two finished or are you going to continue arguing because I have so many things I could be doing right now other than sitting here." Buffy asked from her seated position at the table, one eyebrow raised.
"Great, so Giles, what's with the book?"
Giles sat back down in his vacant chair and pulled the book towards him, flipping to the back he searched the index, scanning the pages before he found what he was looking for. It took him a few moments to find the particular page and paragraph he was after, but when he did he glanced up at Buffy and spoke quite excitedly.
"Halloween and the origins of the festival-"
"You're kidding me right?"
"Would you shut up! Your mother came to me for a reason and whether you want to believe it or not it's somehow connected to the case you're working on WHICH, might I add, you're in grave danger in being on. Let your father finish." Buffy snapped, Spike shutting his mouth and smart remarks to himself at the look she sent him. He sat down in the chair next to her and slowly pulled it a few centimeters away from the desk.
"You know you're right bloody scary when you want to be, luv."
"I've had a long, long morning Detective Giles."
Giles hid the smile that was brought to his face over the young woman silencing his son with a cough and read from the book.
"H-halloween seems to have grown around the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, the marking the end of the light half of the year and the beginning of the dark half. Samhain was in part a sort of harvest festival, when the last crops were gathered in for the winter, and livestock killed and stored. But the pagan Celts also believed it was a time when the walls between our world and the next became thin and porous, allowing spirits to pass through."
"If the veil is really becoming thin, then that does explain why I've been seeing a lot more ghosts lately."
"Before it was only every couple of weeks, but now-"
"Samhain?" Spike asked, the word not ringing any bells of meaning or explanation.
"A term used before halloween. Samhain is normally held halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice."
"When is that exactly?" Buffy asked with a chill in her spine.
A car horn blasted outside.
"Well it's between October and November, but if you're asking for the precise time it would be um, sunset on October the thirty-first and to sunset on November the first."
"Tha's only a week away."
"Y-yes, six days to be exact."
The car horn outside blasted again, a few more horns at a quicker pace. Gunn being impatient.
"This still doesn' explain my case and speaking off, I have some investigating work to do in the real world. So-" Spike stood from his chair, "if you'll excuse me."
"B-but what about what your mother said, about it being a ghost."
"Call me if you find anything solid, yeah. Da, I'll see you on Sunday for tea, Miss Summers." Spike smiled at them both before turning to leave the store, pointing out Buffy's discarded bag from earlier so she wouldn't forget it when she left.
"Quite a strange man, your son is, Mr Giles."
"Indeed. Some might say the same about you, Miss Summers."
"Yes well, I've always been a little peculiar." Buffy turned back to the book on the table and began reading over the chapters on Samhain while Giles looked on.
Chapter End Notes:
After getting some feedback I've tried to make the chapters a bit longer! My muse is a bit slow on this one guys. What did you think?
"Took your time." Gunn remarked through the open window. "Here I was thinking you'd forgotten about me." Grinning as he watched his partner get into the car.
"With all your honking, not bloody likely." Spike quipped back, slamming the car door shut.
"How's your old man?"
"He's fine. Tell me you found something?"
By his partners tone and posture, Gunn saw it was clear Spike didn't want to talk further on the matter of his father or on the morning he'd had. Spike was a man of action and purpose, always to the point and straight down to the business of things. Gunn nodded and pulled away from the curb, navigating his way through the mid-morning traffic as he spoke.
"The first place was a bust. It was a little family owned veterinarian clinic. The husband and wife have been running the business for nearly twenty years and they were more than happy to show me around the premises and quite willing for me to run through their stock count with them. Nothing was missing, all the ketamine was accounted for." Gunn reached into the center console of the vehicle and pulled out his tablet that had a page open on it, ready for Spike to read. "They said they used it for knocking out or calming animals when they came in, called it a dissociative. It's all in there." He passed Spike the tablet. "Something about impeding the brain's sensory connection to the body."
"Sounds like bloody dangerous stuff."
"In the wrong hands, definitely."
Spike starred out the open window of the car as they drove through the streets of Sunnydale and watched the world flash by. Images started to blur together until he was standing back in the lounge room of the crime scene earlier that morning. He saw the young murdered couple on the couch in front of him and a shiver rushed through his body. No one deserved to go out like that.
"Anne said that you being in danger has got to do with the particular case that you're working on at the moment."
"It's a ghost."
Buffy's words flooded his mind and for a few moments he let himself get caught up in them. He was starting to believe that ghosts did indeed exist and Buffy sure as hell could see them, but what he wasn't so sure about was that a ghost was going around murdering people. He needed solid evidence. Like who the woman was that had left her DNA at the latest crime scene.
Lost in his own thoughts, Spike didn't hear his partner speak until the car had come to a stop and Gunn stepped out from the vehicle and onto the small parking they had pulled into. Sunnydale Vet's bright yellow sign was plastered above the entryway to the building, yellow and harsh against the blue brickwork. The building itself was small, run down and looked as if it needed to be condemned rather than be left open for business.
"Sure as hell has seen better days I'd imagine."
Gunn nodded his agreement, both unfastening the safety locks covering their weapons that sat concealed on their chest holsters underneath their jackets. The front door was open and together they walked inside, noticing the lack of customers and their pets. It looked like any other veterinarian clinic to Spike, with its sterile floors and white painted walls. A few chairs lined one wall that was opposite the reception desk, where no receptionist sat.
"Can I help you gentlemen?"
The owner of the voice was a man in his fifties, thin and dressed in a pair of jeans and yellow Sunnydale Veterinarians uniform shirt.
"I'm Detective Giles and this is Detective Gunn. We'd like to ask you a few questions."
"What is it regarding?"
"Just a few questions, sir." Gunn smiled, the man seemed a bit jumpy and on edge.
Spike took note and stayed silent, knowing his partner was as observant as him and wouldn't push too hard in his questioning. Any wrong word could spook a suspect into running, or worse. The man nodded and folded his arms across his chest. A defense mechanism.
"How long have you worked here, Mr?" Gunn asked the questions while Spike took notes in the small notepad he carried.
"Ethan Rayne and going on two years now."
"Business good?" Gunn smiled again, glancing around at the empty and run down floors and walls, his tone suggesting the opposite.
"It's been a slow few months." Ethan gritted out, eyebrow raised.
"We're investigating a series of recent murders here in Sunnydale and need to look over your stock levels of all the drugs you carry on the premises."
"Do you have a warrant to search my practice?"
"Then until you do, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"Good afternoon, Mr. Rayne."
With a tight nod and a raised eyebrow, Spike slapped shut his notepad before turning to Gunn and motioning for the door. Before they stepped out onto the parking lot, Spike had his phone out and was dialing the station.
"H-hello Detective Giles, sir."
"Jonathan, I need you to pull up everything there is to know about a man called Ethan Rayne."
Spike had already closed his phone and slipped into the car again.
"He just made the top of my list of people involved in this murder case." Gunn took a few moments to stare back towards the building with narrowed eyes. Ethan was standing still with his arms crossed, scowling at them through the glass windows.
"Something definitely wasn' right about him."
"Let's check out the last place on Fred's list and then head back to the office."
The last place on Fred's list was just like the first establishment Gunn had checked out. Another family run veterinarian clinic with all its stock accounted for. They drove back to the station in silence, Spike staring down at his notepad at the information they had discovered and the observations he had made during their very brief interview with Ethan Rayne.
He seemed like a smart man, knowing his rights as a citizen and very defensive when they asked to check his stock levels. Spike knew it was going to be difficult to get a judge to sign off on a warrant when they clearly had no hard evidence linking Ethan directly to any of the crime scenes. All they had were traces of Ketamine in each of the victims bodies and a woman's DNA. Ketamine which anyone could have easily broken into Sunnydale Vet's and stolen. The place didn't look like it could afford much in the way of proper security.
It took them nearly an hour to drive back to the station with roadworks slowing their drive. Spike took the time to catch a few minutes of sleep, his eyes becoming heavy and weary as the hours he had been awake for stacked up. The crime scene flashed in his mind as they often did, reviewing the scenes in his sleep. Spike walked the rooms in a time lapse, trying to remember the smallest of details that he may have missed. For someone like him, a man married to his work, it was very hard to leave the job behind. It followed him everywhere.
Even in his sleep.
Spike had no longer been in his office for five minutes when Jonathan, his tech guru, rushed in all flustered with his hands full of papers.
"H-here's the files you asked for, sir."
"Thanks." Spike shot him an appreciative look, watching as he scuttled from his office before sinking back into his chair. Gunn walked in and sat down opposite him, laying a sandwich and fresh coffee on the desk.
"Courtesy of your favourite receptionist."
"Don' start." Spike could hear the grin in his partners voice and shot him a glare, snatching up the coffee.
"Wasn't trying to." Gunn grinned, picking up half of his partners sandwich and taking a huge bite.
Spike opened the file Jonathan had given him and divided half of it to give to Gunn to read over while they ate and recharged. In Spike's pile of documents was Ethan Raynes CRB, to which Spike raised one eyebrow at and took a large sip of coffee and sat up in his chair.
"Ethan Rayne, age fifty-three-" Spike tisked and flicked his wrist to straighten the bending papers in his hand, eyes lighting ever so slightly at the information that he read. "Someone was busy in London."
"What do you mean?" Gunn sat up in his own chair, munching away on his half of the sandwich, his pile of papers yet to be touched.
"Rayne's criminal records check has a few priors and arrests from when he lived in London. No conviction or jail time, but says here he was a subcontractor for a rather powerful gang family in the UK and turned snitch."
"Interesting." Gunn took the last bite of his sandwich and sifted through his own pile of papers.
"Standard background information here," Gunn's eyes scanned the pages. "No brothers or sisters and parents long gone. Man studied medical science at university, with a degree in veterinarian science. Oh here we go!"
Spike downed the rest of his coffee and waited for Gunn to continue.
"Ethan Rayne married Sarah Winters in the summer of 1975-"
"Yeah." He paused. "Sarah Winters, age twenty-three-"
"Sarah Winters, daughter of Shaun Winters." Spike's eyes scanned over his files and found where the name Winters was printed. A black line was marked through it where it had been redacted in the file and changed to Rayne.
"Who is she?"
"Only one of the biggest bloody crime families in London in the seventies. Christ! Says here after Rayne turned snitch for the British NCA they had enough dirt on Senior Winters to lock him away. Man got sentenced to life imprisonment."
"No wonder Rayne came stateside then. I'd want to escape that family drama too."
Both men sat reading the files Jonathan had brought them, the room silent. Spike's half of the sandwich lie forgotten on the center of the desk, empty coffee mug the only evidence that he had refueled.
"At the end of 1975, Rayne and Winters arrived stateside and one year later had a daughter."
"Interesting." It was Spike's turn to sit back and wait for Gunn to continue, his stomach rumbled and he picked up the discarded sandwich on the desk and took a bite.
"Sarah Winters died in 1976 giving birth to their daughter Drusilla Rayne."
Spike sat back, dropping the sandwich back on the desk, chewing his bite and pondering all the information they'd just uncovered.
Gunn continued to read.
"Ethan opened up Sunnydale Vet's in the early nineties after Drusilla finished high school and his file looks pretty cut and dry after that boss. Something about him though," Gunn shuddered and discarded his papers. "dude just rubs me the wrong way."
"Do you think a court will sign off on a warrant?"
"Not enough evidence."
"Worth a shot though-"
"What happened to the daughter?"
"Yeah." Spike sat up and sifted through the papers looking for her name. "Where is she now? Rayne was clearly hiding something and Fred did say the DNA she found was a woman's."
Gunn wheeled his chair around the desk next to Spike's to gain access to his computer. He turned the monitor on and logged into their departments database. His fingers typed away until he found what he was searching for.
"This could all be connected."
"There's no way she could have done it, boss."
"Why the bloody hell not? This could be the break in the case we're looking for."
"Well for starters she's dead."
Just A Theory by pixiecorn
"Yeah," Gunn said, drawing out his words. "It was a good theory though."
Spike leaned back into his chair and closed his eyes and let out a sigh; one hand sat restless on his desk, fingers drumming away on Ethan Rayne's open file. He had a gut feeling that Ethan Rayne was connected to the case and from all the information they'd uncovered within his file about his past he was definitely a man worth looking into further.
"You gonna eat that?"
Spike's train of thought was broken, he peeked through one eye to see Gunn pointing down at the second half of the sandwich that he'd only taken one bite out of. Although his stomach still grumbled, he shook his head no and closed his eyes again. Silence filled the room, the only sound that broke it was Gunn's chewing.
"There's no profit of the crime, nothing was taken from the scene. No money. I would say team killing based on some of the information here, but there's no evidence to suggest a second party was involved. Her sanity is definitely up for question though. I don't think your girl is all quite there."
Andrews profile of the killer came to him and a strange thought crossed his mind and on reflex had Spike sitting up in his chair and dialing the familiar extension code on his office phone.
"I don't have any new information to offer you if that's why you're ringing. Unless it's to tell me that you caught the killer and I can go home because I have to say-" There was a pause for a deep breath. "Being hauled out of bed at three in the morning to come to work, which I've had no breaks from by the way, leaves one cranky Fred to roam the office-"
"N-not that I don't love my job, but if AFIS doesn't spit out a name soon I-"
"No luck yet, babe?"
"No Charles, nothing."
Spike half smiled at Fred's frustration and tight lipped tone with her husband. Gunn had finished the sandwich and was leaning against the desk with his forearms supporting him.
"I've got one small reques' to make and then I promise you can have the res' of the afternoon off and go home."
"Does that also-"
"Yes, tha' includes Charlie boy."
"Can you do a search for a specific person through AFIS for a Drusilla Rayne?"
"I can. Is she the murder suspect? Someone you interviewed today?"
They could hear the sound of clicking as Fred typed away on her computer as she made the new changes to the search program Spike requested.
"She's dead though." Gunn whispered, taken back when Spike held up a finger to silence him.
"Just a theory, luv." Spike spoke into the phone, one leg bouncing slightly under his desk. There was silence for a few moments, and Fred let out a small frustrated growl as the system clearly yielded no responses.
"She's not in AFIS."
"Balls." Spike slapped his palm down onto the desk. "Can you check psychiatric hospitals or rehabilitation centers?"
"Why? Maybe." There was a pause. "Hang on, let me try a wider search." Fred resumed typing.
"Why are we searching for a dead woman?" Gunn asked, leaning back into his chair with disbelief in his voice. The search seemed completely pointless considering the woman, Drusilla Rayne, was dead going on nearly one year and couldn't have possibly killed anyone.
Spike didn't answer his partner's question. What could he even say in response. 'You remember that pretty blonde from this morning? Oh yeah, she talks to ghosts. My dead mother told her that another ghost is going around murdering the people of Sunnydale.'
Not bloody likely.
Spike stayed silent and waited for Fred to speak.
"I'm coming up!"
Before either could speak another word, Fred disconnected the line and it was silent in the office once more. Spike and Gunn were left sitting alone with papers strewn across his desk and two very confused looks on their faces.
Buffy sipped on the second cup of sweetened tea that Giles handed to her, thanking him with a soft smile.
"It's sweetened, to help settle your nerves."
"Thank you." She could still feel the chill from Anne's touch, but had calmed quite considerably since his son, Detective Giles departure.
"I do have to apologize for my son's behavior. I'm so terribly sorry-"
"Don't be." Buffy smiled in assurance. "I'm still a little bit rattled myself. I don't quite understand what's happening." She placed the tea cup on the desk. "How do you know all this stuff anyway?" Buffy pointed to the pile of books that Giles had brought down from his bookshelves that now sat on the table in front of her.
"Let's just say I had a very strange experience with the occult arts in my early twenties." Giles averted his gaze and pulled the glasses from his face and began cleaning them.
"Not gonna pry." Buffy held her hands up at seeing the look that crossed his face. It was very clear that something big had happened in his past, something dark. She felt goosebumps rising on her arms and rubbed them away.
"There are many things to be said about the knowledge of the hidden, but that's for another time." He placed his glasses back on his face and smiled at her. "I do find you quite intriguing, Miss Summers."
"Please call me Buffy."
"Buffy." Giles nodded and took a seat next to her. "Does anyone else in your family posses the same gift as you?"
"Gift?" She stared at the titles of the books that sat in front of her. Witches and Their Lore. Mediums. How to Connect to the Other Side. Stones and their Abilities. "It's more like a curse."
"Quite the contrary, Buffy. It's a gift, a very extraordinary one."
"Try telling that to my parents. No one believed me when I was a kid and when I became a teenager-" Buffy looked down. "I got thrown into the loony-bin because of this gift." Tears came to her eyes and she refused to meet Giles gaze. Instead, she picked up her tea cup with shaky hands and took another sip of the sweetened tea.
"My dear, I-"
"It's fine." Buffy smiled, blinking away her un-shed tears. "I got out and learned to deal with them. The ghosts that is."
"I do believe that in these books lay some answers to the questions you might have."
"Would you mind if I borrowed them? I only work a few blocks over and I can bring them back in the next few days-"
"Take as long as you need."
"Thank you." Buffy traced the lettering on the large book in front of her, it's pages still open on Samhain. Something about the books called to her. She couldn't put a word to the feeling, but Buffy knew that within their pages were the answers she seeked. "I'm not the first person you've met right? With abilities like this?"
"You're not, no. Actually I do have a friend who might be able to help, or guide you for lack of a better term, into understanding your gift a bit better. Would you like me to set up a meeting?" Giles pulled a small file-fax from his pocket and flipped through the pages until he found the name and number he was looking for.
"How about tomorrow night for dinner? Something casual?" Giles could see the hesitation on Buffy's face and softened his features.
"S-sunday? Isn't that when you have dinner with your son?"
"Oh he won't mind. William has known Jenny for years."
"If that's ok, then yes I'll come to dinner. I would like to know more. Understand more."
"Tomorrow night then." Giles tore a piece of paper from the back of his file-fax and wrote his address down to give to Buffy. She stacked the books in a pile and stood from the table.
"Thank you again for your help, you really didn't have to."
"When my son calls with an emergency like that, my dear," Giles handed her the paper. "I very much do need to help. It was a pleasure to meet you Buffy."
"Likewise." Buffy awkwardly held the books she'd borrowed in one arm and reached out to shake his hand. The bell jingled above the door as he opened it for her as she thanked him once again before leaving.
Something Sinister by pixiecorn
It was past midday by the time Buffy made it back to her store after walking the short distance from Giles shop to her own. She didn't see any ghosts, nor feel the chill that seemed to linger in the air when they were nearby on her way back which only furthered the nervousness she felt. The bell Xander had fixed earlier that morning on her shops door jingled as she walked through the threshold. She placed the books that Giles had graciously loaned her on the counters top and set to work unpacking the stock that she had been trying to earlier that morning.
Buffy's eyes kept glancing towards the books on the counter as she absentmindedly pulled the figures out from their delicate wrappings, packing peanuts falling to the floor carelessly in her wake.
"You're being ridiculous." She scolded herself, shaking her head and forcing her gaze back towards her task at hand, very much determined to get at least half a day's work in.
By the time she pulled the last figure from its wrappings ten minutes later, packing peanuts were scatted all across the floor, evidence that her concentration to her task was wavering. Her eyes glanced at the pile of books one more time, feeling a strange pull towards them and not knowing if it was just her curiosity getting the better of her or something else entirely.
Buffy ticked of the stock from their invoice and filed it away in her drawer before crossing her arms and coming to a halt in front of the books. She glared at them, biting the corner of her lip between her teeth and glanced back towards the other two boxes of stock she had yet to unpack and put on display.
"This is ridiculous." She whispered, piling the books up in her arms and grabbing her purse before swinging around the 'Sorry we're closed' sign that hung under her door handle. "It's just a couple of hours. I'll be back to normal trading times tomorrow." She muttered to herself, locking the shop up.
"Are you alright dear?"
"Mrs. Mackenzie! Hi. Sorry I didn't hear you, uhm, see you. Hi!" Buffy stammered nervously as the owner of the shop next to hers popped up behind her.
"Are you feeling better?"
"Yes. Ruth from the cafe around the corner came into my shop this morning in a very flustered state and said that a young handsome Detective had carried you away in his arms. Have you fallen ill?"
"S-something like that."
"Best to take the rest of the day off then."
"Yes." Buffy dragged out her words slowly, starting to feel an all too familiar chill rise in her body.
Mrs. Mackenzie seemed rather concerned at Buffy's distracted state as her eyebrows drew together as she stared at her face.
"Are you sure you're ok to get home on your own? Perhaps I should call that detective-"
"No! I'm fine really. T-thank you for your concern Mrs. Mackenzie, it's only a short twenty minute walk."
"If you're sure then, dear."
"See you tomorrow Mrs. Mackenzie."
Buffy had already started down the street, smiling at her retail neighbour. As soon as she was out of site her pace quickened as goosebumps rose across her skin. Buffy clutched the books to her chest and blew out a stray piece of hair from her eyes.
"Well I have to say that I've never-"
"There's no need to swear, dear."
Buffy's heart lurched out of her chest at the voice that spoke right next to her, causing her to trip on an uneven piece of path and almost end up sprawled out on the concrete below.
"Could you not! Jesus! Why-"
"I can't help it! It sort of just happened. Poof." Anne gestured with her hands, trying her best to imitate her materialization next to Buffy.
"What do you mean poof?"
"Well one minute I was here, well actually we were in your shop and then I wasn't." Anne surveyed her surroundings. "And now I'm here apparently. Be a love and tell me exactly where here is?"
"Well, Anne," Buffy ground out, resuming her fast walk. "We're on the sidewalk. Walking."
"Well that's rather obvious."
"Language, dear! It's not becoming of you."
"Can this conversation wait like five more minutes for when I get home." Buffy stated rather than asked.
"Where it's private."
"I suppose it must."
"There have been 'you're a crazy person' looks sent my way too many times today."
Anne remained silent and floated alongside Buffy as she walked with purpose down the street. Buffy was glad Anne stayed quiet for the rest of the walk; half of which was because she needed to recover her heart-rate after being startled and the other because she was trying to wrap her head around what Anne had just said. She cast a glance out of the corner of her eye at her ghostly companion, who seemed very interested in her surroundings and looked rather confused at how she had ended up outside on the street.
Buffy walked the short distance from the footpath on the sidewalk to her front door, stopping briefly to collect the mail that had no had doubt been sitting in her letter box for days. She struggled with her arms full off books to reach for her keys that were in her bag and let out a frustrated growl when she nearly dropped them.
"I would offer to help."
She didn't need to turn around to know that Anne was holding up her transparent hands. Once inside, Buffy placed the books on the small coffee table in front of her couch before making a beeline to the dining room, Anne floating not too far behind. Hands reached automatically for her favourite glass while she pulled out a bottle of bourbon and started unscrewing the lid with one hand.
"It's a bit early don't you think?"
"It's five o'clock somewhere." Buffy stated, walking back towards the kitchen and reaching into the freezer to pull out some ice cubes for her drink. The golden liquid made its way into her glass and with a glance at her persistent ghost, Buffy poured a few extra shots in. "Why not."
"You're just like William. He drinks too much too."
"Good on him." Her words were mumbled as she walked back into the lounge room and coffee table where the pile of books sat, ignoring Annes huffed response.
Buffy pulled the book that Giles had first showed her; Witches and Their Lore, into her lap and curled her legs up onto the couch. The thick volume balanced across her thighs as one hand held her glass, taking a large sip before she started turning the pages.
"Are you going to answer my question now?"
"I don't know."
"Well that's rather rude-"
"The answer to your question is, I don't know." Buffy glanced up from her page and met Anne's eyes. "I don't know what happened back in my shop. I don't know where you disappeared to and I don't know how you just materialized out of nowhere right on the side of the road."
"Yeah, oh." Buffy nodded and turned back to her page, eyes scanning each paragraph. "I did, however, meet your husband, eh, widower? Anyway, he's been extremely helpful and loaned me these books, which I'm hoping will shed some light on the situation."
"You met my Rupert? He's such a sweet man." Anne hovered over to the couch where Buffy sat and stood next to her so she could peer over her shoulder and read the pages as Buffy turned them.
"We found information about the veil, you said it was getting thinner."
"Yes. Something's happening on this side and I've never felt like this before. It's quite unnerving." Anne rubbed her ghostly hands over her arms and shivered.
"Ah here it is!" Buffy smiled and read aloud. "Halloween seems to have grown around the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, marking the end of the light half of the year and the beginning of the dark half. Samhain was in part a sort of harvest festival, when the last crops were gathered in for the winter, and livestock killed and stored. But the pagan Celts also believed it was a time when the walls between our world and the next became thin and porous, allowing spirits to pass through."
"Is it almost Halloween?"
"Yes, Giles said it's exactly six days away."
"I've been around this plane of existence for a while, watching my boys, but this is the first time I've ever felt like this."
"Strong. It's the only way I can describe it." Anne floated to the center of the room. "Over the years I learned to move the occasional object, but I've never been able to pick something up." Anne's brows knit together in concentration. "This shouldn't be possible."
Buffy's mouth dropped open as she watched Anne pick up a picture frame from her mantel and hover back towards her, hands shaky and outstretched as she took the object from her.
"W-well that does explain why I felt you grab me today."
"I'm sorry for that."
"What happened to you afterwards? Where did you go?"
"I don't know. I felt like I was still there, just not-"
Buffy stared at the frame in her hands and watched Anne close her eyes in a mix of concentration and frustration.
"Yes. It's very difficult to explain. I heard voices for brief moments and I responded and then they were gone. I felt very tired afterwards, as if I had been drained of all my energy and then, as soon as it had happened. Poof! There I was standing next to you again."
"But that was hours later."
"It's all very confusing."
"Yes it is." Buffy agreed, taking another large sip from her glass. Anne remained silent as she read the paragraphs in front of her on the pages to which she was grateful. It had been one very long and eventful day and all she wanted to do was sit down in silence and try to wrap her head around all the events that had transpired.
"No wait! Go back to that last page." Anne craned her head over Buffy's shoulder minutes later as she was about to turn a page.
"Well that paragraph talks about sacrifice."
"Well sacrifices are made in order to reap bigger harvests are they not?"
"And I am getting stronger."
"You're definitely less transparent that some of the ghosts I've seen in the past."
"There is a string of murders going on in this town. What if they are the sacrifices?"
"What! P-pagans sacrificed goats and, and sheep. Not people!"
"We're not dealing with Pagans, dear. It's something much darker. Something much more sinister."
Buffy glanced down towards the page and paragraph Anne had made her turn back to. There was one line that left a shiver running down her spine.
"Sacrifice offered at the beginning of winter, when the powers of darkness and blight are in the ascendant."
"Well that doesn't sound good."
Chapter End Notes:
What do you think? Thoughts??
Perfect Match by pixiecorn
Spike couldn't sit still any longer. His leg was bouncing up and down from under his desk and within a few minutes of waiting after Fred had disconnected their call he was up and pacing his office. Now he walked back and forth, fingers itching to pull a cigarette from the box that was tucked away in his back pocket. On a white board to his right was the taped up images from the various crime scenes as well as photos of each murdered couple with dot points on their similarities and connections that he had added over the last few hours with Gunn. Having printed pages of information spread across his desk was one thing, but seeing the connections visually often stimulated him into an epiphany.
He placed a photo of Ethan Rayne off to the side of the board and stared at it.
The board also acted as a constant reminder that there were people in his town that deserved justice for their murders.
Gunn wasn't as restless as Spike was. He still sat in impatient silence, but did so while stretched out leaning in his chair, fingers drumming away on the armrests. They both jumped, startled, when Fred rushed through the door.
"You're not going to believe this!" She grinned.
"What did you find?"
"It's a perfect match!"
"Wha'?" Spike's eyes widened.
This case just keeps getting bloody weirder.
"But she's dead." Gunn tipped forward in his chair, mouth hanging open slightly.
"Well someone put her DNA at the crime scene because that right there gentlemen," Fred slammed the paper onto the desk and tapped at the numbers displayed on it. "Is a one-hundred percent positive result."
"Well I'll be." Gunn raised his eyebrows in bewilderment. "Huh."
"She came up in Sunnydale Hospitals Psychiatric database. She was a patient there for two years prior to her death." Fred pointed to the top of the page where Sunnydale Psychiatrist's logo was printed. "She also spent a number of weeks in solitary confinement after lashing out at a few of the orderly's." Fred stepped back and let out a sigh. "There's not really much more information I can access unfortunately, but that's definitely your girl."
"Thanks, luv. This is great."
"A judge still isn't going to sign off on this, man. And you know that."
"It's a bloody start!" Spike picked up the piece of paper, scanning over the image of Drusilla Rayne that was printed on it before sticking it right next to her fathers photo on the white board.
"It sounds crazy-"
"You don' think I don' bloo-"
"Boys!" Fred yelled, freezing when they both swiveled their heads to look at her. She let out a nervous laugh. "It's been a really long day and I think it's best if we all just take a few steps back from this case."
"William Giles, you will take a break from this case!" When Spike narrowed his eyes at her Fred shrunk a little. She knew it was best not to tell her boss what to do, especially when he was so overworked and tired. "Um, please?" She blushed.
"Best get on home and recharge mate." Spike winked, showing Fred he took no offence to her shouted command. He tapped his partner's arm in the desk chair and motioned for the two to leave.
"I promised you could have the afternoon off. Don' make me change my mind."
Gunn stood and walked around the desk to stand next to his wife who was staring at the papers and sandwich crumbs that were scattered across them, quizzically. Spike looked like he was ready to pass out from exhaustion, all but falling into the chair Gunn had just vacated. His stomach rumbled as he smiled a goodbye and wished them a good weekend.
"Have you eaten today?" Spike looked down at the desk and back up at Fred's questioning gaze. He knew better than to lie to her when he saw her brows knit together in a determined line. When Fred switched on her determined face she was quite a scary woman to deal with.
"I had a bite, yeah."
Gunn coughed and started walking towards the door, instantly knowing where the conversation was about to lead and wanting to bolt.
"Charles! How many times have I told you to stop eating his lunch!" Fred swatted at her husbands retreating back.
"Harmony goes to a lot of effort to make sure he gets food every day and you're always eating it before he gets a chance."
"She never brings me lunch!"
"That's because I cook your lunch at home and bring it to work for you! You're not pregnant, nor eating for two you big glutton!"
"Luv, it's fine." Spike chuckled, as Fred smacked Gunn for good measure one more time.
"It's not fine!"
"I never eat the food that bint brings me. Could be laced with something you know. She's been trying for years to ge' me to take her out again. Not going to bloody happen."
"Come on, we're taking you to lunch." Fred chuckled, and shook her head. Harmony was sweet enough as receptionists go, but was completely hopeless at her tasks. Everyone in the building knew that she had a massive crush on Spike, but they all knew better than to ever bring the subject up in front of him.
"But babe, afternoon off." Gunn raised his eyebrows suggestively at his wife who swiveled her gaze between the two boys, torn.
"Go home, pet. I'll be fine." Spike chuckled again as Gunn gave him the thumbs up from behind Fred's back.
"Fine. I'm cooking your lunch every day next week though!"
"Deal." Spike nodded. "You had better be ready for me to crack tha' whip on Monday, Charlie boy! We've got a lot of work to do." Spike grinned at their retreating backs.
"Bright and early, man. I'll bring the coffee."
"Yes?" She paused at the door and met his gaze.
"Don' wear the poor boy out too much, yeah." Spike winked again, causing another pink flush upon her cheeks.
"We'll see you on Monday. Have a good weekend and please try to get some rest yourself." Her gaze soften as she took in his drained appearance.
"Don' be worrying about me, luv."
"Monday! Double shots! I got your caffeine needs covered brother!" Gunn walk back towards the office.
"Charles, get in the car!" Fred shouted, pointing down the hallway.
Spike began organizing the papers that were left strewn across his desk after his partner and wife had left, brushing the crumbs from the top pages and clipping them neatly together in a binder. He knew it was highly unlikely a judge was going to sign off on a warrant to search Rayne's premise, but it was worth a shot. This case had little in the way of hard evidence, but plenty in circumstance and they were running on nothing more than bread crumbs. Literally.
With a sigh, he typed up his report on the computer, adding all the information and file attachments he could to get his case seen. With one eye open on the screen in hesitation, Spike pressed send. All that was left to do was wait and see if a warrant was issued and then he and Gunn could really start getting some legwork done.
He glanced at the photo of Ethan Rayne that was stuck on the white board one more time and back to his computer screen. He knew the man was connected, he just had to find out how. Fingers typed away onto a search system, the one in which Fred had pulled Drusilla's information from and within minutes he had set it up on his screen. Flipping open his newly reorganized case folder, he clipped in a fresh piece of paper and grabbed a pen and began writing.
Drusilla Rayne: Sunnydale Psychiatric Hospital
Dead: 2 years
Crime Scene: DNA found... How?
"It's the bloody X-Files in here." Spike mumbled, throwing down his pen and staring at the page where he had circled the word ghost.
"Ghosts? Different planes of existence. This is the kind of stuff you read about in novels and watch on the sci-fi channel, luv. Not real life."
His own words from earlier that morning plagued him. There was no denying the young fiery blonde woman who had come into his office proclaiming to talk to ghosts was lying. Especially not after she had sung the song that only his mother used to sing to him as a child. Yes ghosts were real, but trying to wrap his head around even the idea that one was committing murders seemed near impossible.
Spike pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling a headache coming on. He pushed the extension on his desk phone and waited for its recipient to answer.
"I'm not quite finished with that profile yet-"
"It's alright. I've actually got a potential lead. It's a bit of a strange one, but I was wondering if you could do some digging on a woman called Drusilla Rayne. She's been dead for two years, but her father is the lead suspect in the case. I need to know all there is abou' her, to help me better understand him."
"Ok, yeah I can do that. Surely her file information is better than what I could bring you?"
"I just need a profile on her. She spent two years in Sunnydale Psychiatric Hospital-"
"Oh this is getting interesting."
"Just find me everything you can and work up a profile of who she was as a person and what she may have been capable of." Spike remarked after Andrew's interest was piqued. "I'll send you the attachments Fred gave me and you can start from there." Spike was typing away on his computer as Andrew spoke.
"How soon do you need it?"
"I'll be back in the office Monday."
"Two days?" Spike hit send and could hear the ding that Andrew's computer made, notifying him of an incoming email through the phone. "I'll get right on it."
Spike disconnected the call and glanced at his open binder one more time before closing it. He'd been awake for more hours then he could count and after reading the same sentence on his computer screen three times in a row, he knew it was time to call it a day. He agreed with Fred and recalled her on many occasions telling to take a break from a case. Sometimes you needed to step away from a situation, in this instance it was a rather peculiar case, to see a different perspective or angle.
He would be recharged and ready to tackle the case full force on Monday.
Chapter End Notes:
Reviews feed my muse!! I've done a very rough outline of the next few chapters and where I want this story to go. Stay tuned for more!
Fighting Ninjas or Hulky Commandos? by pixiecorn
Buffy sat on her couch engrossed in her book for how long she wasn't certain, but after reading through half of the thick volume 'Witches and Their Lore' and only understanding half of what was written within it's pages, she swapped to 'Mediums'. She really hoped that this was the book that would help her to better understand herself and the words Giles had used to describe her gift.
Two glasses of bourbon later she was no closer to finding an answer. She'd stopped drinking a few chapters into her new book, finally coming across a page that had an overview of Mediums and their abilities. Each time she had gotten up to refill her glass, Anne had sent her a raised eyebrow and a look of disappointment. What did she care, Anne wasn't her mother, hell Anne wasn't even on this plane of existence, but still it gave her pause. Now her glass sat discarded on the coffee table in front of her.
Anne had remained silent for the most part, interjecting every now and then when she wished Buffy to turn back a page so she could read. Buffy got so frustrated at having her constantly looking over her shoulder that she opened the rest of the books on the floor so that Anne could read at her own leisurely pace.
After Anne had picked up the picture frame earlier and walked it across the room, Buffy assumed that turning the mere pages of a book wouldn't be that difficult a task.
She was wrong.
Anne had a lot of trouble picking up any object after the incident, saying she had felt drained of all her ghostly energy again. Her brows knit together as she concentrated, trying her best to will her fingers to grasp the pages in front of her, getting nothing in return. Her fingers fell through the pages and to the floor beneath her.
Buffy glanced up from her paragraph when Anne let out another frustrated sigh.
"I don't understand how I was able to do this earlier and now I've got nothing." She tried turning the pages and once again and her hands fell through the books center.
"You still look pretty solid." Buffy sat up, taking in Anne's form. "I mean, you're still not as transparent as the others have been. Maybe you just need to take a break and recharge?"
"It is possible." Anne stood from her position crouched on the floor and hovered her way back towards where Buffy sat on the couch. "Have you found anything useful that can help in your book?"
"I think so." She mused. "Not so much on what's happening in Sunnydale, but more so about me. A-about my abilities."
"It is." Buffy smiled up at her. "It's nice to be able to put a name to it and not just be called crazy."
"It's fine." Buffy cut her off before she could speak. She didn't want anyone's sympathy for what she had been put through. Sympathy only made her feel worse, wanting no reminders of her time in 'The Loony Bin'. "This books says that mediumship is a communication of spirits to which one may; see, feel or hear messages from the other side." Buffy paused and glanced at her ghostly companion. "I've always had all three of these abilities so I guess that's what Giles meant when he called me a sensitive."
"Quite a strange term isn't it? A sensitive?"
"It's kind of confusing." Buffy scanned the paragraphs in front of her. "It says that another term used to describe someone who is able to see ghosts is a clairvoyant." Buffy paused and placed the book in her lap, lost in thought. "In my case though I think I'm called a Clairvoyant Medium, which is a mix of the two. They're the ones who can see spirits as if they have a physical body, although most of the time you guys are pretty transparent to me." She gave Anne a pointed look.
"Does that mean your gift in that area might not be as strong?"
"I don't know I-"
"I hope I bought everything with me because I am so not making another trip to the store."
"Shit! Shit! Shit!"
Buffy sat straight up and slammed her book closed and cast her eyes down at the scattered books that lie on her floor then back up towards her ghost who had hovered into the middle of the lounge area, staring at her with wide eyes after her outburst of profanities. The voices came closer, walking up her footpath and stopping on her front porch. Within a few seconds the familiar chiming of her doorbell sang throughout the house.
"Shit! Shit! Shit!"
"There's no need for such-"
"I completely forgot my friends were coming over for dinner and a movie night!" Buffy rushed to pick up the books on the floor, piling them against her chest as she stood and stacked them against the small side table at the end of the couch.
"I don't see what the problem is." Anne stated, watching in slight amusement as Buffy rushed around her living space in a panic.
"You can't be here!"
"It's not like they're going to be able to see me, dear."
"I can see you!" Buffy glared, trying to get her point across.
"I can't pretend to act normal and have conversations with my friends when I know you're in the room." Buffy rushed out, making a dash to the kitchen to put her glass in the sink. When she came back into the lounge area Anne was still hovering there. "Can you please leave?"
"There's a lot of research that need's doing to help my William with his case and-"
The doorbell chimed again and Buffy heard Willow talking on the other side of the door.
"She did say six o'clock. I'll try her phone in a minute."
"Anne!" Buffy shout whispered, her eyes pleading, her heart racing. "I promise I'll make with the research tomorrow, but right now I need you to leave so I can have a normal evening in with my normal friends. Please!"
Anne could see the desperate plea in Buffy's eyes and nodded in understanding. She turned towards the door, making her way over to it, but not before facing Buffy one more time.
Buffy flinched when Anne floated straight through the front door and directly outside to where her best friend was standing, waiting patiently for her to answer.
She turned the handle and opened the door just in time to see Anne float straight through Willow, who let out a little shiver before brushing it off and greeting her with a big smile.
"I was beginning to think you'd forgotten about us. Here, I bought us dinner as well as yummy sugary goodness to make! Well I'll be making it because let's be honest, you really can't cook." Willow laughed, nudging her girlfriend Tara through the door, her arms laden with grocery bags.
"Sorry, I didn't hear the door the first time." Buffy stammered out, eyes wide, watching Willow shake off her shiver as if a ghost hadn't just walked straight through her.
Over her shoulder she watched as Anne floated away, becoming more and more transparent the further she got until she was completely gone. It was a strange sight, watching a ghost leave. The first few times she'd witnessed it as a young girl she wasn't sure how to process it, ghosts just had the ability to pop up out of nowhere and disappear at their own leisure.
"I bought the popcorn for later." Tara smiled, walking inside and breaking her out of her thoughts.
"Popcorn is always good." Buffy agreed, closing the door and letting out a relieved sigh. Finally, an evening of normalcy with her friends.
"Did you have someone here just before we arrived? I could have sworn I heard you talking to someone." Willow asked, walking towards the kitchen to put her bags down.
"Hmm? Oh the phone. Yes I was on the phone. W-work related phone call."
Tara stared at her for a little bit too long making Buffy nervous as they followed Willow into the kitchen to get a start on dinner and dessert. Tara always seemed to know when she wasn't feeling well, or if she'd had a really stressful day. Buffy didn't know what it was that allowed her to have such an insight to people's emotions and sometimes even thought that Tara herself might have a similar gift. It wasn't until after a ghost had followed them all to dinner a few weeks ago, being rather persistent and unwilling to move on, staying to hover around the restaurant until she had snuck away to have a private conversation with him that she had really started questioning the possibility of Tara having her own abilities.
"How is work?" Willow asked, laying her ingredients out on the small island in the middle of the kitchen, breaking Buffy from her thoughts again.
"Huh?" Buffy asked, taking a seat next to Tara at the counter as Willow prepped their meal.
"You said you were on the phone and it was about work."
"A-are you ok Buffy?" Tara stammered, not sure how to interpret the colours she was seeing around her friends form.
"Yes! Sorry guys, it's been a really really long day. There was a little mishap this morning, one I don't really want to talk about, but I have to go into the shop tomorrow to unpack a delivery." Buffy hated lying, but it was only really a small lie, partially the truth. Her friends didn't need to know about all the craziness hiding in her closet and she planned on keeping that door closed for as long as possible.
"Well, we're here to take your mind off of your terrible day!"
"Thank you." Buffy smiled, silently thanking Willows cheeriness and the ease in which she had believed her little white lie.
"We have a lamb roast for dinner." Willow pointed to the lamb in front of her, which she had already placed on a tray.
"It's easy to cook, we just leave it in the oven." Tara smiled, nudging Buffy jokingly.
"Hey, I'm all about the less actual cooking I have to do the better."
"We know." Tara and Willow laughed together.
"The meat should take an hour or so to cook, which means we just have to cut up some potatoes and vegetables and then in the oven they all go." Willow turned the temperature on the small oven that was nestled in the corner of Buffy's kitchen letting it pre-heat. Next she pulled everything out of the bags she had carried in with her onto the bench.
"And it all just cooks itself?" Buffy asked, staring at the raw ingredients in front of her, brows furrowing.
"You just have to set the temperature and timer and know when to add the vegetables in." Tara chimed, pulling a few things to center of the island to within Buffy's reach.
"Sounds simple enough. Wait, have I cooked this before?"
"Umm." Willow averted her eyes and ducked under the bench to pull out two chopping boards, having cooked in Buffy's kitchen often enough to know where everything was kept.
"I have, haven't I?"
"Last year. Y-you tried really hard!" Willow offered her a small smile, placing one chopping board in front of her girlfriend and giving the second one to Buffy.
"I ruined it didn't I?" It was a fact, Buffy nodded to herself as her two best friend's sympathetic eyes met hers. "Sorry." Her shoulders slumped.
"It was only a little bit burnt." Tara offered, trying to lighten Buffy's souring mood.
"A little bit? Ha!" Xander laughed, walking into the kitchen, no one having heard neither he nor Anya come in through the front door. "That meat was as black and as tough as a piece of charcoal."
"Xander!" Willow shouted, pointing her knife at him and shooting him daggers.
"It was very terrible." Anya nodded in agreement, walking into the kitchen and placing a bottle of wine on the bench.
"Oh look, something I'm not terrible at!" Buffy stood from her chair and set about getting some wine glasses for everyone. "Consuming wine."
"We love you Buffster, but you and cooking just don't mix."
"Thanks Xan. I'm pretty sure I got that memo years ago though." Buffy laughed, handing him a freshly poured glass of wine before emptying the bottle into the other four glasses. They were going to need more wine.
Willow and Tara had started chopping up the vegetables that they had brought with them while Anya set about getting the cooking trays out and lining them with non stick paper so that when the vegetables cooked there would be less mess to clean up. Buffy and Xander edged to the outskirts of her kitchen, neither knowing what to do next and not wanting to get in anyone's way when there was knives and chopping going on.
"Why don't you guys go and pick the first movie?" Willow offered, seeing her two friends lost faces.
"Let's leave the ladies to cook. Whatcha feel like-"
"Are you saying I'm not a lady?" Buffy teased as they walked into the lounge.
"No! Yes!" Xanders eye's bugged. "Yes you're a lady. I just meant-"
"Xander I'm only teasing. We all know I'm useless in the kitchen."
"I didn't mean you weren't a lady b-because you're very much a lady." He stammered, wine glass in hand and pointing out the womanly body parts on her chest. "Y-you're just our fiery little Buffster with the non Martha Stewart cooking skills."
"So what do you feel like watching?" He coughed, taking a large sip of wine before staring at Buffy's movie collection. "Fighting ninjas or hulky commandos?" He asked, earning a smile from Buffy as it was the same question he had asked her that morning while fixing her stores bell.
"How about some action?" Buffy offered, wanting anything with mindless fighting and explosions in it. "You ladies feel like having a Jason Bourne marathon?" She shouted, a chorus of 'yes' being echoed down the hall from the kitchen moments later.
"Votes are in! Jason Bourne it is!" Xander grinned, happy with their choice and set about getting the lounge area ready for everyone's viewing pleasure.
Chapter End Notes:
So I'm going on holidays for a week and won't be able to post anything so I thought I'd spoil you all with another chapter!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.