Disclaimer: Not mine. No money made.
Author's note: Has it really been that long? I've been distracted for a while by another story, "Protector of the Pink-Haired". But now I have returned to this story. If real life agrees further updates will arrive faster.
Liza and Michelle had managed to hold off the police interrogation for a short while longer. Doctors had come and talked to them. Now they were in Xander's room watching him wolf down a hospital meal. His eyes were clearer, but he still moved slowly and carefully. The girls told him their theories.
"Good thinking, both of you," Xander praised them. "I agree that a staged attack is very unusual. But you are wrong about the first five vampires. They weren't sacrifices. With five to three the odds were in their favour. They didn't know that they didn't face three humans, but two slayers."
He thought for a moment. "Your theory about a hiding place could be valid. Perhaps there's something here which they don't want to leave behind?"
"I have no idea." Michelle answered. "We need more information."
"I spoke to Cleveland," Liza said, "they are researching again. Smallville isn't really known as a demonic hotspot. They told us to be careful and they will send back-up if we need it."
"We need our things from the motel." Xander decided. "First, I need my clothes back."
He looked around. "Where might they have put them?"
"In the trash where they belong," Liza answered, "your clothes were shredded and drenched in blood." She pulled a bag into his view. "A police man drove me over to our motel so I could bring you something clean."
"How did you convince him to take you?" Xander asked with an amused smile.
"I told him I would run to the motel to get your stuff. He thought it would be safer and faster to drive me there." Liza answered with a completely fake innocent smile. The smile became real. "It was nice to meet a police officer who is a real gentleman."
"There was a piece of Kryptonite in my jacket, the meteor rock. What did you do with that?"
"I sent it to Willow. You said she might want to examine it."
Xander laughed. "Good answer. And well done. What about my other stuff?"
"Your wallet and the other things from the clothes you were wearing are in the bag, even the keys to our last car."
"Thank you," Xander said, "now get out." He waved towards the door. "I want to get dressed."
With some good-natured grumbling Liza pulled Michelle out of the room. "We will leave you alone for a short while." She mock-whispered to Michelle: "Sometimes he can be really shy."
With a shared laugh the girls left the room.
Xander stood up and opened the bag. Yes, Liza had chosen his clothes for him. At least his boots were still there. I better hurry, before they decide to take a peak.
"How's your arm?"
Michelle looked at her cast. "I haven't thought about it for some time. It itches. I think it's healing."
"Good. Maybe in a few days you can take off the cast. It should be completely healed by then."
Liza shrugged. "Slayer healing. It doesn't get better than that."
"How do you handle being a slayer? I had my first fight against vampires last night and I'm still scared. I have a broken arm, but the outcome could have been much worse. Are you not afraid, too?"
Liza thought for a moment. "I know that each day could be my last. As a slayer I expect to go down fighting one night. Even without being a slayer death is a possibility every day. There's no point in being afraid of reality.
Yes, there are monsters out there which scare me…"
Liza stopped. "Someone's coming."
A moment later the sheriff and the older officer from last night came around the corner and walked straight to Xander's door.
"Hello," the sheriff greeted them, "how's your friend?"
"Hello, sheriff, officer. He's getting dressed at the moment."
Liza knocked on the door. "Xander, are you decent? You've got visitors."
Liza opened the door. The sheriff stepped in first, followed by Michelle and Liza. The officer was last and closed the door behind him.
Xander was straightening his tie. He wore dark trousers, a white shirt and a tweed jacket. He shot a short glare at Liza, promising payback for her choice of clothes. Then he turned professional.
"Hello, sheriff. How may we help you?"
"Hello, Mr. Harris. I'm surprised to see you out of bed. I was told you were pretty beaten up by the explosion. But if you are up and about, there are some questions I would like to ask, all of you."
"Of course, sheriff. I'm afraid there's not much we can tell you. We'll try to help." Xander sat down on the bed. "I'm still not up to a hundred percent."
The sheriff noticed how Michelle and Liza moved to stand beside him, covering his sides. The girls liked to play at being body guards. She gave them a critical look. Not bad for amateurs… in fact, pros couldn't position themselves much better – if they were grown-ups and not small teenage girls.
The officer remained standing behind her and watched Harris.
"This was the first car bomb in Smallville ever. Do you have any idea who might have placed it?"
"I'm in Smallville for the first time in my life, sheriff. I haven't the slightest idea who might have placed that bomb. I doubt it was specifically aimed at me."
"Your car was completely destroyed in the second implosion. In my opinion that points clearly towards you or at least towards your group."
"Yes, it must look that way for you. I still think it must be some kind of misunderstanding. Have you learned anything else from the evidence?"
"Most of your belongings were destroyed in the explosion. The fire fighters managed to quench the fire, but without a doubt they ruined some traces doing that. We know the bomb was set off by a timer of some kind. The investigation is still running.
What were you doing there at that time, Mr. Harris? It's hardly a place to take two young girls to."
"We were just exploring the town. Michelle led Liza and me around. We were talking and didn't think of the time. Only when we returned to our car did we realize how late it had become. We had no reason to expect any danger in a quiet town like this. We stopped a short distance away from the Jeep, because Michelle had found something on the ground, a beaten-up stuffed toy horse. While we wondered how it came to be there, the first car exploded. We hit the ground then, I covered Liza. A few moments later our car exploded. I don't remember much after that. Fire, sirens, and the back of an ambulance. I came to my senses much later in this hospital."
The sheriff turned to Liza. "What do you remember?"
"It was like Xander said. After the second explosion I felt him go limp. I struggled out from under him. Because of the loud explosions I couldn't hear anything. I checked Xander over and found no serious injuries, none I could see. Then I checked on Michelle. The first explosion had thrown her down and broken her arm. She had a lot of scrapes and bruises, nothing serious as far as I could check. Then the first fire truck arrived."
The sheriff asked a lot more question, but Harris and his girls told and retold the same story. She tried a different tact.
"So, Mr. Harris, why have you been exploring our town in the company of two rather young girls? What is your relationship towards them?"
"You have to ask these questions, I know." Xander said with the slightest trace of understanding in his voice. "Liza is an orphan from Nigeria. I'm her legal guardian. I work for the Jenny Calendar School in Cleveland, a school for talented girls. Michelle was offered a scholarship there. I'm here to explain the details to her."
Xander slowly pulled out his wallet and offered his card to the sheriff. "Here's my card. You can find all the information you need about the school online or you can call."
The sheriff took the card. "I will," she said. "Thank you for your cooperation. One of our cars will drive you to your motel. I suggest you don't leave town for a few days."
"Believe me, sheriff; I'm not up to long distance travel at the moment."
"Visit my office when you are feeling better. Perhaps you'll remember something more then. Or one of the girls."
"They didn't tell us everything," the officer said after they had left the hospital behind.
"Yes, and there is something else," the sheriff answered. "Did you notice how matter-of-factly they talked about the double explosion? There wasn't any trace of shock. They looked more annoyed than frightened."
"Michelle looked a little pale."
"True. She's the new one. Perhaps she will tell us more when we manage to talk to her alone."
"You think?" the officer asked. "Sounds like a plan to me. I don't have a better idea."
"Let's give her a few hours and then we'll try."
Xander wasn't in a good mood when he was finally alone with his slayers in their motel room. His body hurt and he still hadn't any clue, who had been behind the car bomb and the attacks. He knew Liza was okay, so a little frustrated that she had no clear target to hunt down. He worried more about Michelle. It must have been a frightening night for her. Xander knew he had to talk to her soon, but at the moment he just didn't feel up to it.
"Damn," he said to himself, "I need a miracle to figure this out."
The door to the room opened.
"No," a woman's voice said, "I think you need a witch."