Buffy Summers, Rupert Giles, and all other characters, concepts, and details of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
are copyright of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and 20th Century Fox. Olivia Benson, Elliot Stabler, and all other characters, concepts, and details of Law and Order: SVU
are copyright of Dick Wolf, the associated production company, and NBC. No infringement is intended. No profit will be made.Author's Note:
I almost typed "Not-the-Author's Note", because I'm so used to posting stuff for my brother. Please see his Xander-centric series, "Oh, the Places He Goes!".
First, this story is not finished. I am battling a vicious writer's block and have decided to post what I have in an effort to pressure the creative juices back into work.
Second, there are a handful of unwritten BtVS-only stories living in my head that occur after the end of S7 and after the end of "Shadow's Waiting." They include how Jenny came to be present and alive again (I never forgave Joss for killing her off), and how Xander met The House that the Scooby gang came to occupy. Again, writer's block is a bitch, so never, ever take the fact that you can crank out 5K words on a good night for granted, my friends.
Third, "Shadow's Waiting" is taken from Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time
series, the first book, Eye of the World
. I highly recommend the first three books of the series, somewhat recommend the next three, and gave up on the remainder, though I understand he is now writing under the gun of an incurable illness and trying to finish the series in the time he has left.
Fourth, all feedback is welcome. Every review you submit is a Godiva chocolate bar in Heaven. In Hell, the chocolate melts before you can eat it.
Shutting up now. Here's the first chapter.SHADOW'S HUNTING: Chapter One
It could have been worse, he reminded himself. After all, a roof over his head, three square meals a day, interesting companions….No, really, while it could be worse – and he had certainly experienced worse – if he didn’t find something to occupy his time, he’d go stark, raving insane. Which, considering the circumstances, was rather ironic.
“I devoured them!” his neighbor declared. “I would have opened the portal if not for the sun. Her light bound me, burned me. She took my power to save the ones I ate. The last one…the last one was the best. I tasted her. I was inside her. So much darkness. It should have been mine. It was mine!”
He took a deep breath with every intention of yelling “Will you SHUT UP!” at the top of his lungs, but stopped when he heard his neighbor’s next words.
“Slayers! They were mine, but the sun, she took them away. Bitch! Thief!”
Ethan sat up on his bunk, all attention towards the ravings of the paranoid schizophrenic sociopath to his right.
“Tell me about the sun, mate,” he prompted. “What was her name?”
There was a moment’s pause. Presumably, no one had asked Derek Harper to explain anything about his delusions in some time.
“She was a tree,” Harper said. “She branched and reached for the sky, but her roots were in darkness. She overpowered me and stole the darkness from me. She took my prize, she took my power.”
“Her name, mate,” Ethan reminded him.
There was another pause, as if Harper were deciding whether to trust him.
And a smile spread over Ethan’s face.
Let the fun begin.
Olivia realized she had been staring at the ceiling for some time. The clock read 2:48, and even the Manhattan streets outside her window were quiet; it was too dark and too cold for anyone with sense to be out. Yesterday had been not great. Their vic in the Thomlinson case had backed off her statement, either intimidated into it by a puritanical mother or because certain details of her social life looked like they might be scrutinized by the ADA and the defense attorney. In turn, that meant that the perp she and Elliot were certain had committed not one but four different rapes would never see trial on the one count they could pin to him.
Except that wasn’t why she was lying in bed, awake, at almost three in the morning.
With a suppressed groan, she levered herself out of bed and stretched to get the kinks out of her shoulders and back. Without flipping on the light – no need for neighbors to know she was up to something, and besides, she must have had more than her fair share of vitamin A, the way she could see in the dark – she pulled open a dresser drawer and took out the pile of clothes neatly folded inside. There was a set of silk thermal underwear, the better to keep her warm without having to put on in Arctic gear. As she pulled them on, her fingers brushed the knife scar just above her collarbone and the surgical scar just below it, close to her throat. It was the souvenir of another perp, Derek Harper, and his attack in a pitch black basement six months previously.
She pulled on knit tights for another layer, a long sleeve sweater. Next were the sturdiest wool pants she could find on a cop’s salary, cut wide in the legs, and a dark blue wool sweater – the warmest clothes she owned that gave her the most freedom of movement. Socks, boots, and a handmade cowl she slipped over her head to keep her throat warm. No scarf.
Dressed, she reached under her bed for the storage box she’d bought only two weeks ago when her collection had started to get a little unwieldy. Inside were an assortment of wooden drumsticks, large knitting needles, and stakes, all sharpened to the hardest point teak, birch, and oak could take. Most of them had grips taped to the handle end, the better to hold them while wearing gloves. Several had lanyards tied through a hole drilled into the very end, so it would dangle from her wrist even if she dropped it.
She picked up her leather jacket – tailored to fit closely to her chest but still let her move. After pulling it on, she slipped one stake up the sleeve of her right arm, letting it rest against her forearm, and looped the lanyard over her wrist. Three more stakes went into her jacket, some long, some short, all deadly. Then, she tucked her holster into the small of her back, where the jacket would cover it up, put her badge into an inside pocket, grabbed her hat and keys, and left the apartment, locking it behind her.
It was insane, she knew. Walking down to the subway, she didn’t see a single other person out. Too cold, too dark, too late. Except that she knew she’d find what she was looking for where some of the homeless junkies and working girls congregated. What, she reminded herself. Not who.
The subway station was empty, but her nerves pricked up like she’d walked into a loud bar on the verge of a fight. No one checked the video unless there was evidence of a crime, she reminded herself. There were too many stations to oversee, too much video to watch, unless there was a specific reason to. And they wouldn’t try anything here, anyways. It was too affluent a neighborhood. If someone went missing, there would be questions, investigations.
No, it would happen on the subway, where a body could be dumped and become an “accident”, or it would happen in the dark recesses of one of the larger stations, where runaway kids, junkies, the demented, and the lost could huddle out of the cold – uncounted and uncared for, except by one another.
Unless, of course, she really was just as crazy as she thought she might be.
When the subway cars rattled to a stop, she took the middle door offered, checking surreptitiously around her, and cursing the fact that the round mirrors bolted at the tops of columns were useless to her. There was one person in the car, sleeping off a Tuesday night drinking binge. Transit authority would move them along at the next major stop. She stood as the subway train lurched to a start. Her nerves sang to her.
She walked up to the car door, peering into the forward car – empty. A glance back told her the same of the one behind. Probably the only other person on this moving tin can was the driver, locked in to his little cubicle in the front. The drunk was propped up against one of the bars, parka hood pulled down as far as it would go, legs splayed out in front of him. She couldn’t see his face.
Rolling with the wobble of the train, she walked back to the midsection, where he sat next to a door. She nudged his leg with a foot.
“You okay?” she asked. “Not really safe to be sleeping on the subway.”
He wasn’t dead. She could tell that by the nudge. Dead bodies had no muscle tone. This guy did.
“Sir?” she asked again.
He twitched, pulling his legs under him.
“Can I see your face, sir?” She had a cop’s voice and way of turning a request into a command.
He turned his face up to hers, and she took a step back without thinking. So much for being insane.
His eyes were golden, like a hunting cat’s or a demon’s. There was something terribly wrong with his forehead, like some special effects makeup artist had gone nuts with the latex. He growled when he got to his feet.
“Good Samaritans always taste better after midnight,” he grinned, showing fangs and bloodstained teeth.
It occurred to her just how naked she was – no partner, no backup, and practically no preparation for this. It occurred to her that she ought to have been scared out of her wits, but there was no time.
He reached for her throat, intended to drag her forward. She caught his hand, twisted his arm hard enough to break it, and managed only to push him back a few feet. Her stake. She needed her stake in her hand. With her left hand, she reached into her jacket for one of the stakes she’d stowed. With her right, she popped her wrist to dislodge the stake hidden there and let it slide into her hand.
The vampire charged her, was on her before she’d freed her left hand, before she’d gotten the stake into her right hand. Stupid! She cursed herself for not having her weapon out before going into the car. She was a cop, she knew better. She let him carry her to the floor in a sacrificial throw, put a foot to his stomach, and threw him past her head, before twisting back to her feet as fast as she could.
He crashed head down, into the far door, a ruckus that would probably cause the driver up ahead to radio for a transit cop to meet him at the next stop. She had a stake in each hand before he was up on his feet. She was ready for him, crouched into a fighting stance. When he saw her, a new smile opened his mouth.
“Little old for slaying, aren’t you, puta
?” he said, and ran his tongue over his teeth. “I heard stories about the Slayer. You sure as hell ain’t her, old lady.”
“Don’t be so sure,” she answered, adrenaline making her voice sound distant and tinny to her.
He rushed her, and this time, she was ready. She let him trip over her foot, caught him by his coat and rammed him into one of the poles hard enough to bend it. When he fell back, she pushed him to the floor, put a foot on his throat, and staked him, right-handed, through the heart.
For one horrible moment, as he looked at her with a grimace of surprise, she thought maybe she was insane, that she’d just killed a perfectly innocent – well, perfectly human – person. Then, in the space of a long second, his skin pulled in on itself, crinkling, tearing, shredding into powder, and finally disintegrating into a cloud of foul smelling dust.
“I’ll be damned,” she muttered as she stood up. Here was her proof – she wasn’t crazy, her dreams weren’t just dreams, vampires were real, and she was a Slayer, a Chosen One. And somehow, she knew that there were others like her.
She fished into her pocket for one of the smaller evidence bags she habitually carried with her. Finding one, she knelt again and picked up pinches of the dust to be analyzed by the ME. Handy, that disintegration taking everything with the vamp – clothes, belongings, forensic evidence. She tucked both stakes back into her jacket, reminding herself that next time she was alone with a vampire, she’d have the stake out before she got jumped.
When the train pulled into the station, there was a transit authority cop waiting for it.
“Everything all right, ma’am?” he asked, peering into the car.
“Yeah,” she answered. “Too late to be out, but other than that, I’m fine.”
She climbed the stairs and crossed to the other platform to catch the return train. With any luck, she’d be back in bed just after four and get a couple of hours’ sleep before work.
Rupert Giles, librarian, Watcher, and now a cog in the machinery of the new council he had founded, sat at a desk wide enough to land aircraft, chewed on the stem of his eyeglasses, and regarded the frustration of a puzzle he couldn’t solve.
Laid out on the desk, held down by paperweights, a coffee cup, the lamp, and a Minoan sculpture, were pages of notes, scribbles, mapping, sketches, and details logged only four months ago after one ghastly weekend. He found himself wishing that Willow had been strong enough at the time to take the role of anchor, the one to remember all that had truly happened when the spell they concocted translated reality to a new version. It had served its purpose. Olivia Benson, detective with the Special Victims Unit and one of the oldest Slayers they’d discovered, still lived – albeit with scars from the time she’d spent in the hands of Derek Harper. The scars, now, were physical manifestations of the psychic damage he’d done to her.
It should have been just that – simple, final. Olivia might figure out that she was something other than a police officer, but she wouldn’t remember what had happened, and she wouldn’t know she was a Slayer unless someone told her. But that wasn’t what was happening. Something, some piece of the spell that had saved her life, or the spell that had protected her until they could reach her, something was still simmering in the shadows of her mind, and there was no way he could figure out what it was, what effect it would have on her.
The overhead light came on, and he looked up, surprised. He hadn’t noticed how dark it had grown. He’d become accustomed to the long twilight of California, and an Ohio winter left him feeling like he’d been kept in a lightproof box.
“You know,” Jenny said, coming up behind him, “you can go blind that way.”
She slid her hands over his shoulders and leaned in to hug him.
“So you keep telling me,” he smiled, setting his glasses down.
She rested her chin on his shoulder, looking over the archeological mess of his desk. Xander had put his office just off the library – either respectful of Giles’ need for access to large quantities of research material or simply too much in the habit of thinking “library = Giles”. It did afford him a certain amount of privacy from the growing tumult of the Council School for Gifted Young Ladies. They were currently at forty students, the youngest three years old and the eldest over sixty.
“Still worrying the problem?” she asked, kissing his ear.
In the past three months since Jenny had returned to him, she had gained enough weight that she no longer looked half-starved and exhausted. This time, it seemed to him, was precious beyond the speaking of it, and a tiny part of him was terrified that something would happen to take her – or Buffy, Willow, Xander, Dawn, or any other member of his family – away from him, never to be found again. It was hard not to hold on to them so tightly they couldn’t breathe.
“Frustrating,” he finally answered her. “I cannot determine how else to wring information out of the spell. How was Olivia protected? That would go a great deal towards answering the most important question: what will become of her?”
“Willow can’t help?” she asked.
He shook his head. “With no memory of the spell, she wouldn’t be able to recall any of the specifics of the casting. It would needlessly upset her.”
She came around, and he leaned back to let her perch on the arm of the chair, letting him put an arm around her waist.
“I don’t know, Rupert,” she sighed, picking up one of the sketches of the pentacle he and Willow designed on the spot for the spell. “This is big stuff. You left a lot of limitations out, a lot of room for chaos to play with things. You may never know what all happened.”
He rubbed the bridge of his nose, acknowledging what she said. “It was necessary at the time. Had we kept stringently to the limitations necessary for an orderly spell, it would have taken far more time than we had, and had we missed even one – miscalculated or underestimated – Olivia would have died. Leave room for chaos, pour your power into it, work with the purest of intentions, and you stand a much better chance of achieving your goal than if you applied the strictest limits, determined every chance influence and consequence and tried to control for them.”
“I know,” she agreed. “But it could come back and bite you in the butt.”
She kissed his forehead, ruffling his hair back. He tilted his head back, letting her kiss his lips, draw her fingertips down his cheek so lightly he shivered. She lingered on his mouth for a moment until they broke apart with a sigh.
“You’re quite right, of course,” he said, looking for his glasses. He always lost track of them once she started kissing him.
“Could you ask Olivia?” Jenny asked.
He considered it for a moment. “Perhaps through Elliot, though it would be awkward to say the least. Olivia knows me only as a family friend who came with Willow to claim Kennedy’s body. In her memories, she never even met me. I can’t imagine that she would be eager to answer questions of a crazed foreigner.”
“Just a thought,” she answered, starting to kiss him again.
He pulled her down into his lap, thankful that Xander had splurged on his chair. It was sturdy enough for the two of them to cuddle in. Jenny took the glasses from his hand, set them aside, and continued to kiss him. After several long, agreeable minutes, they broke apart.
“Bedtime?” Jenny asked.
“Very well,” he agreed. “But I’ll have you know, I have no intention of sleeping.”
She grinned. “Thank heavens for that, English. You snore something awful.”
He was inside her, moving in her, and the sweet ache of it overwhelmed him. Their breath mingled as he tilted his head down to nuzzle her lips again.
Her legs tightened around his waist, pulling him in, and she squeezed his hands in hers, almost enough to hurt. He was coming, gasping, bringing her with him, and shivering all over as their love making wound down. She caressed his back, but he couldn’t stay; he had to pull out, for the sake of the condom, and get cleaned up.
The dark of Liv’s apartment became another place, a basement he hadn’t been in for four months or more, and he wasn’t naked anymore. Instead, he stepped carefully past one column, looking for the end of that enormous room – flashlight held in his off hand at shoulder level, gun in his right hand.
“I don’t like this,” Liv muttered, less than two yards behind him, her light trained into the same consuming darkness as his.
“Yeah,” he agreed. “Let’s do a check of this room and then call for back up.”
He swung his flashlight over the walls and ceiling, seeing obscene spatters and scrawls in faded brown. His nerves screamed at him. They were in danger.
There was a noise behind him – a scrape, a loud, crunching clatter like someone had dropped a box of tiles, and a thud. He pivoted, bringing his flashlight around to light where his partner should have been. She wasn’t. There was another sound, one he couldn’t process though it turned his blood cold with a shock of adrenaline. When he put his light on the source, the first thing he saw was the glint of a double-edged knife, red halfway up the blade with blood.
It was in the hand of Derek Harper, their perp, and he was kneeling over Olivia, raising the knife for another stab. There was no sequence of events in Stabler’s mind between seeing his partner in danger and firing his weapon. The bullets hit Harper in his torso, knocking him over. Stabler kicked the knife out of his hand and added another kick to Harper’s head, probably breaking the man’s jaw. Working faster than he thought he could, he cuffed Harper and turned to Olivia. He had his radio out as he put two fingers to her throat to find her pulse.
“Three fifteen!” he yelled into the radio, “officer down. I need a bus at 436 West 126th, in the basement. This is Stabler from the one-six, Special Victims. Three fifteen, officer down!”
She was alive, but unconscious. With the flashlight in one hand, he checked for injuries and found the stab wound in her left shoulder. It was terrifyingly close to her neck, and the blood poured out. He stripped out of his jacket, wadded it up and pressed it to the injury with brutal pressure.
“Hopkins,” he yelled for the building super who’d let them into the basement, “get in here!”
And he sat up in bed, breathing as hard as if he’d just sprinted a hundred yards, shaking with adrenaline and the memory of smelling Olivia’s blood. It took several long moments for him to slow his breathing down and get his heart to give up its jackhammer pace. The clock read some time after 3:30, far too early to get up. He did anyway.
The house was too big for just him rattling around, but it seemed that was the way it would be. Maureen and Kathleen were both in college. The twins were in high school in his mother-in-law’s – ex-mother-in-law’s, he reminded himself – neighborhood. They came over for the occasional weekend, when he had visitation and the job didn’t completely steal his time away.
Rupert had warned him about the vivid dreams, the memories the spell had created. He’d never had dreams with such detail before. The sound, the one he’d heard and been unable to place when Harper had attacked Liv, he’d woken up one night weeks after the attack remembering when he’d heard something similar – one of the few times he’d gotten home early and joined Kathy and the kids for a late afternoon snack. Kathy had used a butcher’s knife on a watermelon, stabbing and then slicing. It had been the sound of Harper’s knife sinking into Olivia’s shoulder. She’d been lucky as hell. Half an inch further in, and it would have cut into her subclavian artery. She’d have bled out in less than a minute for all his efforts.
Except that wasn’t how it had happened. Harper had never stabbed Liv. He’d kidnapped her, tortured her, psychologically raped her, and nearly killed her. Would have killed her, if Rupert and Willow’s spell hadn’t translated the damage into something a trauma center could treat. And for all that he remembered those hours perfectly well, he also remembered two uniforms dragging him away from her so the EMTs could load her into the ambulance. He remembered with perfect clarity how his jacket had been soaked in blood when a CSI tech had bagged it and how his shirt had stuck to him with sweat and more blood when the captain had spoken to him. He didn’t remember what Cragen had said, though he could hear the soft, determined tone of voice. He’d taken Stabler’s gun – which was fair – and left both Fin and Munch watching him, as if worried that Stabler might find the operating room where surgeons were repairing the damage to Harper and try to finish the job he’d started. He remembered the questioning by IAB, his statement taken by Cragen, and later filing his own report.
Just like he remembered the vampires, the darkness, and the utter madness of a man who tortured and killed Slayers to steal their power. Just like he remembered the two nights he and Liv had spent together, making love and curling into one another as if skin was a barrier to be ignored. And she didn’t remember a thing. In her mind, he’d dropped her off Sunday night, saw her again Monday morning, said goodbye to her when she’d left in the late evening, and met up with her on Tuesday, a few hours before the attack.
It was enough to make a man insane, he thought, starting a pot of coffee brewing. There’d be no more sleep for him. If he tried, he’d just lie in bed thinking about Liv, and considering their partnership, that was the very last thing he needed to do. She didn’t remember, and while he was fairly sure she knew something about being a Slayer, she sure as hell hadn’t talked to him about it.
With a cup of coffee in hand, he sat down at the computer to check his email and send a note to Rupert.