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Elemental

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Summary: Someone's killing demons in Sunnydale -- so who's this vampire trying to figure out who?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > CrimeMediancatFR1312,134151,07325 Feb 0725 Feb 07Yes
Another one of the stories I believed lost.

Disclaimer: Joss Whedon created Buffy and Giles. Sherrinford ain't mine, either;
but you should figure out who created him quickly enough.

X X X X X

There had been a string of mysterious demon deaths in the area, and for once
Buffy hadn’t been responsible. Things had gotten so bad for the Sunnydale’s demonic
populace that they’d actually approached Buffy and asked for her help in
tracking down whoever was responsible.

But even though the deaths were gruesome – as in, don’t bother with the body
bag, just find me a wetvac – Buffy and Giles were pretty well satisfied that the dead
demons had been among the scummier and more bloodthirsty in town. So Buffy gave
the demons’ emissary thirty seconds before she pulled out the crossbow.

The demon made it out of sight in ten.

Still, Giles and Buffy both thought it best to keep an eye out for their
mysterious new demonslayer, on the chance it decided to switch targets and go
after humans.

A week or so later, Buffy was examining the latest kill – a Carba demon,
surprisingly. Given the recent deaths Giles had thought it would be a good idea
for Buffy to take a quick refresher on the demon species known to inhabit
Sunnydale. Buffy’d only gotten half of it, but she remembered Carba demons. They
were about four feet tall and ate insects, and as demons go were fairly friendly
and harmless.

“This isn’t right,” Buffy mused as she studied the corpse. “Why’d our killer
change like this all of a sudden?”

A harsh voice, distinctly British, spoke from behind, “Change? Indeed! But far
from sudden, Slayer.”

Buffy spun and saw a tall, oddly-dressed vampire watching her. Immediately she
assumed a defensive stance. “Relax!” The vampire snapped. “Had I wished to harm
you I would already have done so. I am not here to engage in combat.”

“Well, if you know I’m the Slayer,” Buffy answered, “You know that’s kinda what
I do with vampires.”

“The demons sent for me to help solve the mystery of their murdered comrades,
since you refused to do so,” the vampire said. “I’ve no quarrel with you and
will not fire unless fired upon. Now move.”

As Buffy bemusedly moved aside, she said, “How DID you know I was the Slayer?”

“Simplicity itself, madam,” the vampire said as he bent to examine the body.
“You were standing here calmly examining a demon’s corpse. Your stance, once you saw I was a vampire,
was one born of long experience -- and you immediately discerned what I was. Consider
also the stake you carry in your hand, or the crossbow peering out of that valise by your feet.
Need I go on?”

“No,” Buffy said wryly, “I think I get it.”

“Good,” the vampire said. “Now if you would be so kind . . . .” he bent down and
looked closely at the head, a good five feet from the rest of the body. “Aha!
Just as I thought,” he exclaimed.

“What did you think?” Buffy asked.

“Look at this, Slayer. See those marks along the face?”

Buffy looked and saw what appeared to be claw marks gouged deep into the Carba
demon’s cheek. “So the attacker had claws. So?”

“Look more closely. Observe. The grooves are equally spaced, and equally deep.
If this had been the result of a an attack by a naturally clawed creature –“

Buffy finished the vampire’s thought. “There’d be more variety than this.”

“Just so,” the vampire answered. “I would conclude this was made by a fork of
some kind. Perhaps to throw us off the scent of the truth.”

“And what would that truth be?’ Buffy asked.

“I’m not sure – hello, what’s this?” he asked. Then he motioned Buffy over.
“Confirm this for me, would you, please?”

Buffy looked where he was pointing. “A smudge of mud, a spent match, and a large
drop of water. So?”

“I’m not entirely certain yet . . . . have you access to a spell book?”

“I know someone who does . . . why?”

“There’s something in it I need to see.”

“I’m not sure that Giles would grant access to his collection, much less his
apartment, to a vampire.”

“He will if you tell him that Sherrinford needs the information.” He told Buffy
the precise things to look for.

Buffy didn’t entirely trust the vampire, but he’d given her no reason for
mistrust other than that. “I assume you’ll be here?”

“I’ve already gleaned what I can from the other victims, and witnesses, and
there may yet be something here to discover.” He pulled out a long, straight pipe and
lit it. As Buffy turned to leave, Sherrinford said, “Tell your Watcher to check
the progression of victims as well.”

Still confused, Buffy walked off.

X X X X X

But if Buffy had been confused by her encounter with Sherrinford, Giles‘
reaction absolutely stunned her.

“Anything he needs,” Giles muttered, reaching for a couple of his spellbooks.

“Giles?” Buffy asked in shock.

“Oh. Right. Well, on extremely rare occasions, a human being’s personality is
so forceful that it overwhelms the demon’s natural instincts. Sherrinford is
one of those. And he has done so much good in his time that the Watcher’s
Council – and in this I’m inclined to go along with them – has declared him off limits
for killing until and unless he begins attacking humans.” Giles began looking through the book.

“Whoa. If he’s a good guy,” Buffy said, “Why is he helping demons track down a
killer?”

“Because first and foremost Sherrinford loves solving puzzles,” Giles answered.
“And as long as they do not substantially advance the cause of evil he’s willing
to solve them for anyone. Aha. Here it is.” He pored through a book called Signs
of Four.

“And the part about the victims’ progression?” Buffy asked.

“Something I should have noticed earlier,” Giles said. “The demons in question
were getting less and less threatening, more and more innocent. Soon he likely
would have progressed to humans or the otherwise utterly blameless. We must stop
this creature while we can.” Placing a solid metal bookmark in the middle of the
spellbook, he handed it to Buffy. “This should be what he needs. I would
strongly recommend you giving him whatever other assistance he needs.”

Buffy took the book and left, if anything more confused than she’d been when she
came.

X X X X X

Sherrinford was standing over the corpse’s torso, examining the matchbook, when
Buffy returned to the alley. “Did your Watcher discover the spells I was looking
for?”

“He thinks so,” Buffy said.

“May I have the tome?” The vampire asked acidly. “Or should I attempt to read it
from there? Vampirism, I can quite assure you, does not enhance one’s powers of
telescopic vision.”

Buffy walked over and handed him the book. “Has anyone ever told you you’re not
very nice?”

“Miss Summers,” Sherrinford said, “We are in the middle of trying to trace down
a killer who has managed to kill some of the foulest and most vicious demons that
Sunnydale has proven itself capable of attracting. Given the circumstances the
social niceties do tend to vanish.” He paused. “Nonetheless, I do apologize for
my behavior. It is a deplorable lack of logic on my part that allowed me to forget
even for the briefest of instants that you are the Slayer.”

“Apology accepted,” Buffy said wryly. “Is the book what you needed?”

“Indeed. This is precisely the spell that was used. Now come! We must apprehend
our villain before he strikes again!” And then he strode off.

Buffy followed Sherrinford until he stopped at the same hotel Faith had once
used. “Okay,” Buffy said, “What makes you think our villain is holing up here?”

“The matchbook I found near the body originated at this establishment,”
Sherrinford said. “And it is known throughout the world of the preternatural
that this hotel is the one to go to if one comes to Sunnydale.”

“Really?” Buffy said.

“Oh yes. Now, quickly! Our quarry is inside and must not be permitted to
escape!” Sherrinford then found the night desk clerk and got a room number remarkably
fast. “I hope you don’t mind,” he said as the two of them left the office. “The clerk
is himself a fellow vampire – his name is Alberto – and I promised him if he gave
us the information we desired you would give him a pass for the next three months.”

Buffy was a little annoyed at this. “But if I see him killing someone –“

“Oh, he realizes that. I would not be surprised if he used the interval to clear
entirely out of town. Now, to room 217!”

Inside room 217 was, to Buffy’s surprise, a sleeping human being; at each corner
of the bed sat a small humanoid like critter, maybe two feet tall. When
Sherrinford and Buffy entered they immediately yelped out, “COMPANY!” as one, in
varying voices.

The bed’s occupant – a sour-looking black man in late middle age – immediately
jumped up and yelled, “Attack!”

The one nearest the door immediately turned into a dust devil -- powerful and
tiny, while the one on the far end burst into flames and shot through the air
towards Buffy. Buffy immediately had a thought and ran into the tiny bathroom,
with the flaming creature right behind her. Then in one motion she turned on the
faucet, grabbed the creature, and put it beneath the stream of flowing water.
After about a minute or so it disintegrated.

Buffy then raced out to the main room. Sherrinford had somehow already dealt
with the other three creatures and was closing in on the sorcerer. “Back off!” she
told the vampire.

“I’m not going to kill him, madam,” Sherrinford said. “I simply need to do . . . this.”
And he punched the man in the jaw, knocking him out.

“That was easier than I would have thought,” Buffy commented, “if this is the
same guy who’s been making demon souffle out of some of the biggest bads in town.”

“We caught him off guard,” Sherrinford said. “He seems not to have had any
inherent magical abilities.” Then he reached for the man’s wallet and looked
carefully at the identification inside. He removed three credit cards, handing
them to Buffy. The man’s name was Thurgood Scott. “Dispose of these, madam,”
Sherrinford said, and then removed about two hundred dollars and put it in a
pants pocket. “Demons are notoriously unreliable with fees. Now, come! He must have
his spell components about somewhere!”

Buffy found a whole desk drawer full of vials, herbs, and assorted animal parts.
There was also a long, goo-encrusted fork in there. “Let’s be sure we take that with us,”
Sherrinford commented. “And, hello –“ It was a photo album, the kind made for easy
transport. Inside were the photographs of seventeen demons, two werewolves, and
eight humans. The seventeen demons were the precise ones that had been killed, arranged
in the album in the order of their deaths.

“Well, if we’d needed any more proof –“ Buffy said.

“Indeed,” the vampire said. “Now I assume you see why I’ve been purloining the
contents of Mr. Scott’s wallet.”

“I think so,” Buffy said slowly.

A flicker of a smile crossed Sherrinford’s lips. “Let’s see if you do. Our prey
awakens.”

Buffy walked up to the man as he opened his eyes and said, “I don’t know for
what sick reason you were killing those demons, and honestly I don’t care. But you
don’t do what you’re doing in my town. So here’s what my pal and I thought.
We’re going to leave you here alive. But we’re taking your money, your credit cards,
and all your spellcasting gear. And then as soon as we leave ol’ Sherrinford here is
gonna place a few phone calls to some ticked-off buddies of these demons you’ve
killed. I were you I’d start running.”

Sherrinford took the spell components and walked out the door; as an added flourish
Buffy stole the sorcerer’s shoes. Then they made their way back down to the office, where
Sherrinford telephoned a couple of demons. Buffy peered out of the office window and
saw Thurgood Scott running down the street, having not even bothered to change his clothes
before taking off.

Sherrinford hung up the phone. Buffy commented, “I’ll give ten to one against him
even making it past the city limits.”

“I never accept fool’s wagers,” Sherrinford said.

“Before you head off, one question. How exactly were the demons being killed?”

“Those samples I found at the scene, the four homunculi we fought in the hotel
room, they did not give you enough data to deduce the truth?” Sherrinford asked.

Buffy shrugged. “Nope, Still not sure. I mean, I know it was sorcery, but the
type? How were they being killed?”

Sherrinford laughed. “Elementally, Slayer!”

The End

You have reached the end of "Elemental". This story is complete.

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