Buffy - through Chosen. I also reference an event from The Gatekeeper Trilogy books and use one element from the season 8 comics though you won't even know what it is if you haven't read them. Supernatural - NightshifterDisclaimer:
I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer
. They belong to Joss Whedon and Eric Kripke. Some of the dialogue taken from the episode Nightshifter.Notes:
Written for the Once More With Buffy challenge at Route 66. I chose the episode Nightshifter. I couldn't find a transcript so I had to watch the episode and pause it every minute or something for the dialogue so it's not exact. Anyway, it's last minute but it's done. Hope you enjoy and feedback's always welcome!
Buffy bit back a sigh as she looked around the bank. Nothing to worry about, Giles had said. Just go meet the newest Slayer and come back.
Of course, things couldn’t be that simple. No, this couldn’t be a simple case of Slayer meets Slayer, it had to turn into something else.
“Damn shapeshifters,” she muttered.
“Excuse me?” the lady in front of her asked. Buffy blinked and then smiled.
“Nothing, sorry. Just muttering about my little sister.”
The woman smiled in understanding and nodded, turning around and Buffy fought back another sigh. She wasn’t sure how Giles was so sure that it was a shapeshifter and that it would be here. All he’d tell her, no matter how much she bugged him, was that it was reliable information.
Sure, that was helpful.
“This is not a robbery!”
She turned, eyes widening as she saw the large man lift and fire the gun twice towards the ceiling.
“Get down, damn it,” he shouted, motioning with the gun. “Come on! On the floor in the middle! In the middle! Come on, hurry up!”
Buffy moved slowly, eyes scanning the rest of the room as she did what he said. Around her, women were screaming and she could feel the panic building already. She watched as he held up a chain with a key dangling from it.
“Now there is only one way in or out of this place and I chained it up. So nobody’s leaving, you understand?”
Buffy bit her lip, considering her options. She was pretty sure she could get the gun away from him but there was no guarantee that he wouldn’t get the chance to fire a couple shots before she could. Anyone could get hurt. Behind her, she heard a woman whimper and she closed her eyes, mentally cursing the situation.
It was too risky. She couldn’t take the chance that someone might get hurt.
“Hey buddy,” a man called from the side. Buffy and the large guy both turned. He took a step back away from the two men who had just entered and Buffy frowned, studying the one who was still talking. He looked familiar. Not to mention, he was gorgeous. “Why don’t you just calm down? Calm down.”
“What?” Judging by the way he said it, this guy couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “You!” He lifted the gun.
Oh yeah, this was going well.
“Get on the floor. Now!”
“Okay, we’re doing that. Just don’t shoot anybody. Especially us.”
Buffy’s lips twitched and she glanced down to hide her expression as she listened to the conversation.
“I knew it. As soon as you two left. You ain’t FBI. Who are you? Who are you workin’ for, huh?”
Now this was interesting. She lifted her gaze and studied the two kneeling on the floor. She knew she’d seen the shorter one before. Of course, she barely managed to keep a straight face at his next question for the two.
“The men in black? You workin’ for the mandroids?”
“We’re not working for the mandroids,” the taller one burst out, gesturing at himself and the other guy.
“You shut up! I ain’t talkin’ to you! I don’t like you!”
The other guy gave him a look that Buffy couldn’t interpret as Tall Guy raised his hands. “Fair enough.”
Suddenly the guy with the gun turned and looked at Buffy. “Get over there. Frisk ‘em down and make sure they have no weapons. Go!” She nodded and moved to stand behind them.
Now really probably wasn’t the best time to be thinking she’d like to spend more than just a minute or so frisking the more talkative of the two. It wasn’t. She gave herself a mental shake and quickly frisked the taller of the two first. The way the other one tensed didn’t escape her and she repeated her motions on him as well, feeling the dagger strapped to his ankle.
She had a split second to make her decision and she backed away. “They’re harmless,” she said, voice and gaze steady. She could practically feel the surprise coming off of the second one, even if he didn’t show it.
“Sit back down.”
Buffy nodded and she moved back to her spot, looking directly at the two this time. She raised an eyebrow at Green Eyes and nodded briefly. Maybe lying about the weapon hadn’t been the smartest thing to do in this situation but at least now they wouldn’t be completely helpless. Green Eyes turned back to the man with the gun.
“We know you don’t want to hurt anybody. But that’s exactly what’s going to happen if you keep waving that cannon around. Now why don’t you just let these people go?”
“No! I already told you. If nobody’s going to stop this thing, then I’ve got to do it myself.”
He held up his hands. “Hey, we believe you! That’s why we’re here.”
“You don’t believe me! Nobody believes me! How could they?”
Green Eyes looked like he was struggling to come up with an answer and suddenly Buffy knew what to do. She cleared her throat and drew his attention to her, raising her hand the way Willow sometimes did when she wanted to get a point across. “I believe you,” she said. She fought to keep from laughing at the look of surprise on each of their faces. Green Eyes was looking at her with a half-smirk on his face while Tall Guy looked like he couldn’t believe someone was buying this. Looking at their expressions, she suddenly realized exactly where she knew them from.
She thought back and decided that the pictures she’d seen hadn’t done either of them justice. Of course that had been a few years ago.
“You believe me?” The surprise on his face was echoed in his voice as he lowered the gun a couple inches.
Buffy nodded. “Yes. I know about these things.” She let out a breath and turned to look at the men she now recognized as Dean and Sam. “My friend, John Winchester, told me all about them. We worked together a few times. Hunting things.”
She felt a flash of sympathy as she saw them both struggle to hide the shock and grief that their father’s name brought up.
“You know John Winchester?” Sam asked while Dean continued to stare at her. She nodded.
“I knew him. He was a good man,” she told him, deliberately using past tense to let them know she’d heard about his death.
A hunter like John Winchester didn’t die without others hearing about it. Once word had reached the Roadhouse, the news had spread like wildfire.
She’d had herself a good cry and then gone and taken out a couple of nests around town. She figured John would have appreciated it.
Dean didn’t say anything for a moment, just stared at her before he finally opened his mouth. “You worked together more than once?”
“You must be good.”
Buffy smiled a bit. “I am.”
“So you know how to go after the mandroids?” Gun Man asked. Behind him, Dean and Sam exchanged a look.
“Hey,” Dean said. “Come here.”
“What?” He lifted the gun again. “No.”
“You’re holding the gun, boss, you’re calling the shots. I just want to tell you something. Something that she already knows about this, I’m betting. Something you need to know. Now come here.”
Dean and Sam continued to watch the guy as he turned to look at her and Buffy nodded, standing.
“Come on. I think you should hear what he has to say.”
He looked at her for a moment before walking over to Dean and Sam, Buffy behind him. She moved so she was standing to Dean’s right and began scanning the room again to make sure no one was listening. The last thing they needed was for the shapeshifter to listen in. Even though she was pretty sure that by now, it knew that at least Dean and Sam were on to it.
“It’s the bank manager,” Dean said, voice low and Buffy had to stop herself from showing any sort of reaction. Now that was something that she hadn’t figured out yet.
Gun Man—and really she should probably find out his name so she could start calling him something other than Gun Man—looked around the room and then leaned in a bit closer, eyes wide. “What?” he whispered.
“Why do you think we got these get ups, huh? We’ve been monitoring the cameras in the back. We saw the bank manager. We saw his eyes.”
“His laser eyes?”
“Yes his—no! No, no, look, we’re running out of time. We’ve got to find him before he changes into someone else.”
“Like I’m going to listen to you. You’re a damn liar!”
Buffy fought back a sigh. And things had been going so well. She glanced over at Dean, who didn’t take his eyes off the gun. Sam looked at her though and gave a small shake of his head. She nodded. Okay, she’d let Dean handle this part.
As she watched Dean begin to stand, she wondered if maybe that was such a good idea.
“I’ll shoot you! Get down!”
Dean held up his hands a bit more. “Take me. Okay? Take me with you as a hostage.” Next to him, Sam glanced over and Buffy wondered if it was surprise or if he was just hoping that Dean’s plan would work. Either way, she couldn’t blame him. She tuned back into what Dean was saying. “But we’ve got to act fast because the longer we just sit here, the longer he has to change. Look at me, man. I believe you.” He shook his head. “You’re not crazy. There really is something inside this bank.”
Buffy held her breath as the two continued to stare at each other for a few more moments. She was surprised when Gun Man looked at her as if to see if she believed Dean and she couldn’t help but wonder if it was because she’d been the first to say she believed him. Whatever the reason, she could work that to their advantage so she nodded at him. He turned back to Dean.
“All right.” He paused and then pointed at Dean and then Buffy. “You two, you come with me.” He turned and raised the gun, pointing it once again at the people huddled on the floor, his voice getting louder. “But everyone else gets in the vault.” He turned back towards them and nodded in Sam’s direction. “Including him.”
“Okay.” Dean looked over at Sam, who nodded in agreement. “Okay. See? No arguing.” He glanced at Buffy but didn’t say anything before turning around. “Let’s go.”
As they walked to the vault, Buffy dropped back so that she was walking next to Sam and Dean. She glanced towards Gun Man as he herded everyone into a line to be sure he couldn’t hear her before turning back to them. “You realize that it’s not going to take long for the cops to get here, right? Someone’s bound to have noticed the chained door.”
“Not to mention the fact that no one has left the building,” Sam said, keeping his voice low. He frowned when Dean opened his mouth. “One Elvis joke, Dean, and I’ll have to hit you.”
“You’ve got no sense of humor, Sam.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “I’m about to get locked in a vault with no way of knowing where the shapeshifter is. I’m entitled.”
Before Dean could answer, they’d reached the vault. “Come on, move.” Gun Man’s voice echoed throughout the vault. “Move, move!” He turned as Sam held up his hands and walked into the vault behind the others and then moved so he was standing next to Dean. “You lock it up.”
Dean began to push the door closed, moving so he could glance in the opening one last time. “It’s okay everyone. Just stay cool.”
“Spin that. Spin that thing,” Gun Man ordered, pointing with his gun. Buffy frowned a bit at the fact that she wasn’t even asked but then she probably shouldn’t be surprised. She knew exactly what people saw when they looked at her and it definitely wasn’t a girl who could knock them across the room with one kick.
“We should start looking. There’s no telling where he’s gone by now,” Buffy said, pushing away from the wall she’d been leaning against.
“You think the mandroid left?”
“He’ll still be here. There’s no way out,” Dean told him, quickly taking off the uniform he was wearing to reveal his regular clothes underneath. As they began to head towards the offices, Gun Man stopped.
“No, wait, I go first.”
Dean turned. “Ronald, I know you think—“
“I have the gun so I’m going first!”
For a few moments, Dean looked like he was going to protest until his eyes landed on the gun and he stepped to the side. “All right. You first.”
Walking down the hall, Buffy decided to look at the bright side. She now knew the guy’s name and she might get in a good fight before the day was over.
“You know, you still haven’t told me your name,” Dean said, leaning closer as they walked. “And I’m guessin’ you already know mine which puts me at a slight disadvantage here.”
“Sure does, Dean.” Buffy’s lips twitched at the look he gave her and she grinned. “Buffy Summers.”
“Buffy. Not what I expected.”
“I never am.”~*~*~
It was interesting to watch the change that came over Dean as they began to search for the shifter. The flirtatious attitude disappeared and in its place was steady determination. He became all business.
Really, it wasn’t all that surprising when she thought about it. John had been the same way.
It was definitely different than the way Ronald seemed to be handling it. Any minute now, Buffy was going to start humming the Mission: Impossible theme.
Dean glanced over at her and, seeing the look on her face, grinned. He raised an eyebrow in clear invitation and then turned to follow Ronald into the next room, suddenly all business again.
Buffy shook her head. So maybe the flirtatious attitude hadn’t completely disappeared.
Well, that would just keep things interesting.
“Check behind the desk,” he told Ronald, pointing to one side of the room even as he moved to go through the door that would lead into the next room. Buffy looked between the two and decided to stick with Ronald. He may have the gun but of the three of them, he was the one that didn’t actually know what they were facing. She moved around one side of the desk as Ronald moved to the other and only had a split second to realize what it was Ronald had stepped on before he let out a shout and fell to the floor.
Dean rushed into the room, tossing aside the uniform he’d had slung over his shoulder. Buffy made a face as she looked down at the skin beneath Ronald. It didn’t matter how much she’d seen over the years that was never going to stop being gross. She looked up at Dean and nodded to indicate that they’d found something.
He moved closer and lifted his hands briefly before letting them drop as he stared down at the skin even as Ronald screamed and scrambled off the floor, staring at the spot where he’d fallen.
“What the hell is that?” he demanded, voice still shaking slightly. Buffy moved the desk lamp so that Dean could get a better look and he let out a breath as he crouched down.
“Ah, great.” He lifted a fist to his mouth and shook his head. “When it changes form, it sheds its old skin.” He stood and turned to the door.
“Which means it could be anybody now,” Buffy said, following his gaze. Ronald had crouched back down and was now touching the skin and she made another face when he picked up a piece and lifted it to his nose.
“It’s so weird,” he said. “Robot’s skin is so lifelike.”
Buffy shook her head as Dean turned back around and looked at Ronald. “Look, let’s get something straight. It’s not a mandroid. It’s a shapeshifter.” It was obvious that Dean had decided to give up on keeping Ronald in the dark and Buffy couldn’t blame him. It was hell trying to keep this stuff a secret and she usually didn’t have much luck with that anyway.
“Yeah.” Buffy nodded. “A shapeshifter. It’s human.”
“More or less,” Dean interrupted.
“More or less,” she agreed. “It’s got human needs. In this case, it’s money.” Which she was pretty damn happy about because the last shapeshifter she’d met had been all about the sex and that was just one situation she did not
want to repeat.
“It generates its own skin, it can shape it to match someone else’s features. You know, tall, short or—“
“So i-it kills someone and then takes their place,” Ronald said. He looked completely freaked out and Buffy couldn’t blame him. It was a lot to take in at first.
“Kills them or doesn’t kill them, I don’t think it really matters.” Dean looked at Buffy. “You got anything?”
“A couple daggers. It was pretty much all I could get away with.” She reached back and pulled one of the daggers out from under her shirt. “I’ve got one at my ankle as well.”
“Nice.” He nodded and moved towards the desk as she hid the dagger again.
Ronald stared at the two of them before he seemed to focus on Dean. “W-what are you doing?”
Dean picked up a letter opener and studied it before nodding and then looking up. “You remember the old werewolf stories? They pretty much came from these guys. Silver’s the only thing I’ve seen that hurts them.” He started to walk out of the room, only to stop when Buffy moved around the desk and wrapped a hand around his arm. “What?”
She lowered her voice so that Ronald couldn’t hear her. “Don’t you think you should give that to Ronald?”
“And tell him what? Stab anyone that comes near you?” Dean lowered his voice to match hers.
“At least he’d have some sort of protection.”
He paused. “I get where you’re coming from. I do. But he doesn’t know what to do and he may have been a security guard but that doesn’t mean he knows how to fight. Giving this to him is like telling him to invite the thing to get closer to him. He has a gun, he can shoot it. It won’t do much but it’ll let us know to get to him if something happens.”
Buffy thought about this and then sighed. “I really hate that you have a point.” She just wouldn’t let Ronald go off on his own. There was no way to guarantee that they’d get to him in time if he did find the shapeshifter.
Dean grinned. “It’s part of my charm.” He glanced over her shoulder. “Come on, Ronald.” He left the room and turned down the hall. Buffy motioned for Ronald to go ahead of her and she couldn’t stop the twin reactions of amusement and worry when she saw the smile on his face as he followed Dean. She shook her head and closed the door behind her.
Listening to the way Ronald was currently laughing, Buffy decided to let worry take over.
“What are you, nuts?” Dean asked, turning around and Buffy fought the urge to roll her eyes even if he was pretty much saying what she’d thought. Tact was clearly not his strong point.
“That’s just it. I’m not nuts,” Ronald declared and suddenly, Buffy understood the laughter. “I mean, I was so scared that I was losin’ my marbles but this is real. I mean, I-I was right. Except for the mandroid thing. Thank you.” He nodded at Dean and turned to do the same to Buffy.
Dean looked at Buffy over Ronald’s shoulder and then turned. “Yeah, don’t mention it.”
“It’s better that you know what you’re up against anyway,” Buffy said. It had to be. At least this way, he wouldn’t shoot it thinking that it would do some kind of damage. Now he was a bit more prepared.
They’d barely taken two steps before all the lights went out. Around them, emergency lights came on.
“Crap,” Buffy muttered.
“Damn it.” Dean looked around the room. “No, no, no, no, no, no.”
“What? What is it?” Ronald asked, lifting the gun to his shoulder.
“They cut the power. It’s probably their way of saying hi.”
Double damn. Buffy shook her head as they began to walk again, faster than before. She hated dealing with cops. Or any government official really.
“Cops,” Buffy answered, speeding up so that she was walking next to Ronald rather than behind him. Dean glanced back at her, looking a bit surprised and she shrugged. “I may have had a few run-ins.”
“Join the club.”
“As long as you have badges.”
“The cops?” Ronald asked, voice getting higher. Dean stopped and turned and Buffy could practically see the frustration.
“Well, you weren’t exactly a smooth criminal about this, Ron. I mean, you didn’t even secure the security guard. He probably called ‘em.”
Buffy frowned at him. She understood the frustration, hell, she was feeling it herself. But she didn’t see what snapping at Ronald was going to accomplish.
“I-I didn’t think to—“
“Hang on, hang on. Let’s just take a breath here for a second. Think. They probably got us surrounded.”
“Lovely,” Buffy muttered as Ronald looked around, almost as if he was expecting the cops to magically appear. “And they cut the power to the cameras too.” Dean seemed to know exactly where she was going with that train of thought.
“Which means there’s no way of knowing who the shapeshifter is.” He sighed. “Yeah, it’s not looking good.” He started walking again when they heard a sound coming from the other room. Ronald lifted his gun as Buffy and Dean turned towards the sound.
“You hear that?” Dean said. Buffy nodded.
“Damn right I did.”
“We need to get those people out of here and figure out which one of them is the shapeshifter.” Dean turned to Ronald. “Time to open up the vault, Ronald.”
Nobody said anything else as they made their way to the vault. Once again, Dean was the one to open it and this time, Buffy didn’t fight the urge to roll her eyes when she heard the woman inside say in a breathy voice, “Oh my God! You saved us, you saved us!”
“Actually, I’m only liberating a few. Come on, everybody, let’s go.” He waved a group of people through the door and then looked at Sam. “Uh, Sam? We need to talk to you.”
Buffy nodded at Sam as he walked out and then waited until Dean had closed the door. “I’m going to make sure the natives don’t get too restless while you explain everything to Sam,” she said, motioning to the group huddled together.
“Right. Probably a good idea.”
She moved to stand by the group of people and leaned against the wall.
“What’s going on?” one of the women demanded.
“Just stay calm and you’ll be out of here soon, okay?” She glanced over at Ronald who was pointing the gun at one of the windows and frowned before looking over at Dean and Sam, noting that Sam really didn’t look happy. “We’re working on it, I swear.”
“Is he going to kill us?” a man asked.
“No. He’s not going to kill any of you.” But I make no guarantees on me or the Winchesters if one of you turns out to be the shapeshifter
, she thought.
“Help him manage? Are you insane?” Sam burst out and Buffy turned to stare at him. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Ronald do the same. Dean smiled and made some hand gestures to assure him before motioning Buffy over.
“Look,” Dean was saying when she got there. “I know this isn’t going the way we wanted it to—“
“Understatement,” Sam interrupted.
“All right but if we invite the cops in right now, Ronald gets arrested, we get arrested, the shifter gets away and we probably never find it again, okay?”
“Not to put an even bigger damper on things but I’d probably get arrested too,” Buffy told them.
“What?” Sam asked.
“Well, I can’t exactly explain what I’m doing, can I? And well, there was this thing with the army and how they just never take you off their records and it’s kind of a long story.” She smiled. “But I have a couple connections and a friend who is really good with hacking so I could probably do some damage control.”
“Dean’s wanted by the cops.”
Buffy nearly smacked herself. “Ha! I knew I recognized you from somewhere other than those pictures of John’s.”
For a moment, it looked like neither of them knew what to say at that revelation.
“He showed you pictures?”
“You know that Dean’s wanted for murder?”
“Yes and yes,” Buffy replied. “First, we bonded over the whole killing demons thing. Actually, I think he was a bit surprised to have anything in common with me. But that’s a story for a different time.” She looked to the left. “Ronald, get out of the light.”
“And the murder thing?”
“Who hasn’t been wanted for murder a time or two?” Off of Sam’s look, she backtracked. “Besides you, apparently. Look, if I hadn’t recognized you, I’d have been worried about these people. But I knew your dad well enough and I know enough about you from what he’s said and from what I’ve seen tonight that no, I’m not worried at all. Matter of fact, if I can, I’ll try to help with that.”
“How the hell would you manage to do that?” Dean asked.
“Like I said, I’ve got a friend who’s good at hacking. Plus, those connections I mentioned.” Riley could probably pull some strings but she knew that when it came to certain cops or FBI agents, that wouldn’t matter to them.
She was still a bit pissed about the incidents in Nevada and Oklahoma. Like it’d been her fault that the demon had decided to attack in the casino. She’d killed it, hadn’t she? And the ritual sacrifice in that small town in Oklahoma had been stopped even though she still felt guilty that she hadn’t managed to save everyone.
And it had put her on the radar when she’d been very happy being off said radar. She was just glad that she was only wanted for questioning.
Hell, she should have had Willow take care of that when it happened. That was a mistake she wouldn’t be making again.
“All right then.” Dean looked pretty damn happy about that and he turned to Sam who had stopped looking at Buffy and was now eyeing Ronald.
“Seriously?” Sam nodded in Ronald’s direction.
“Yeah. Ron’s game plan was a bad plan and a bit of a crazy one but right now crazy’s the only game in town, okay?” They stared at each other for a few moments before Dean looked over at Buffy. “I’m going to search the rest of the place.”
“Alone? Right. I’m coming with you.”
“Somehow, I thought you might say that.” He looked at Sam one last time before walking away. Buffy gave Sam a small smile and headed after him, walking a bit faster to catch up to him.
“You have a plan?” she asked softly as he pulled out a flashlight and turned it on.
“Find it, beat the crap out of it, and kill it.”
“Sounds good to me.”
They moved quickly and quietly, the flashlight cutting through the shadows as they looked into each room. They paused as they heard a noise from up ahead and Buffy pulled Dean back against the wall that would be hardest to see if the shifter decided to head in their direction. They waited a few moments and then Dean pushed away from the wall and nodded that it was clear.
Once they were in the next room, they began to look around. Buffy stopped and stared at the ceiling as she remembered her first time fighting Spike at Parent/Teacher Night. She’d gotten around through the ceiling.
“Dean,” she whispered. He turned. “Check out the ceiling. You move the tiles and you can get pretty much anywhere in the building.”
“Son of a bitch.” Dean started moving the light over the tiles and then swore again when he spotted one that wasn’t completely in place. He studied it for a moment. “We need to move that.”
“Give me a boost and let’s see what’s going on.”
“Are you crazy?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means if the shifter is up there and pulls you through, do you really want to try fighting it in a contained space like the freaking ceiling?”
Damn. She was definitely off her game tonight if she hadn’t thought of that one. “Then what do you want to use?”
He looked around the room and then grabbed a coat rack. “This.” He began to push at the tile, frowning at how heavy it was. One last push and the tile fell through, along with a body. They each took a step back.
Buffy crouched down and looked at the man, noting the slit throat. She swore when she recognized him. “Dean,” she started but he’d already crouched down as well.
Ronald was yelling at two men to stay where they were when they got there. Dean pulled Sam to the side.
“We know who it is.”
Sam gave no indication that what Dean was saying was important except through his voice. “Who?”
“Black guy, bald, wearing a shirt that looks like it came out of your wardrobe.”
“We need to start isolating him,” Buffy whispered.
“I know how,” Sam said. He went back to the vault as Dean took the gun from Ronald. “You know, Ronald, you’re right. We’ve got to get this man outside. Come on, I gotcha.”
“Yeah, I’ll help you,” the shifter said.
“Oh I’ve got him. It’s cool. Thanks,” Sam assured him and Buffy had to bite her lip to keep from laughing and to hopefully make it look like she was worried. She was sure that this wasn’t going the way the shifter wanted it to. “Watch your step.”
“Thank you,” the man said.
“Thank you,” he repeated as Sam led him down the hall. Buffy watched them go and then turned back around.
“Hey, can I talk to you for second?” Dean called, nodding to the shifter.
It smiled, hands to the side. “Hey, you’re the one with the gun, man.” He smirked as he walked through the door. “But whatever.” He swung out, punching Dean in the stomach and knocking the gun from his hand. Buffy kicked out and the shifter grabbed her ankle, using it to toss her to the side.
“More experienced than the last one,” she muttered, moving to get up only to get knocked down again when it threw Dean on top of her. “Damn it.”
“Well this is awkward,” Dean said, out of breath from the hit he’d just taken. He shook his head and began to stand even as the shifter ran around the corner and into the main area of the building.
“Hey you! Come back here,” Ronald yelled, running after him.
“Oh God,” Buffy said, standing up. She and Dean ran around the corner in time to hear Sam shout,
“Ronald, get down now!”
Dean grabbed Buffy and pulled her back as the bullet ripped through Ronald. She stared, horrified as he simply fell to the ground. Dean’s grip on her arm tightened and she looked up to see that his expression mirrored her own.
A few moments passed and then Dean let her go and moved forward, kneeling on the floor near Ronald. “Stay there.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes. If he thought he was going out there alone he was crazy. She went to move forward and then stopped when she heard him speaking again.
“Sorry, Ron. You did a real good job tracking this thing. You really did.” She softened when she realized he hadn’t wanted her to hear this and moved back. He reached out and pulled the gun towards him, staring at Ron once more before turning back to her. “Come on.”
She nodded and moved with him, never once indicating that she’d heard him, saying her own silent goodbye to Ronald.
“Now we get the security guard and everyone else out of here so it’ll be easier to find the son of a bitch.”
“Sam went after it.”
“So who’s going to take the guard out?” Buffy asked, already knowing the answer he’d give her.
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Dean spun around. “You got a better idea, sweetheart?”
“Yeah. I take him out. You and Sam already said it. You’re wanted by the cops, Dean. They even get a glimpse of your face and you’ll be in even more trouble than before.”
“And you said you’d be just as likely to get arrested as us.”
“Not if it looks like I’m one of the hostages.”~*~*~
Buffy let out a breath as she began to lead the guard outside. She blinked at the lights going and as she came in sight of the door, she felt Dean move a bit closer to the door. Before he could try to move even closer, she stepped on his toes. He glared at her once before nodding and putting the gun to her back and using it to shove her towards the door to make it look convincing.
He’d been pissed when he’d heard her idea and he hadn’t been shy about it. But he’d given in when she pointed out that while she may be wanted for questioning, her face wasn’t as well known as his and it’d be easier to take mentions of her off the record.
“Don’t shoot. Please don’t shoot!” The guard held his hands up as he walked outside and she began to back away.
“Ma’am, come out here now. We can get you checked out.” Not on your life.
She continued to back away.
“Ma’am,” one of the officers called and she couldn’t help but feel insulted despite the situation. Ma’am? Ma’am was what you called older women. Or married women. And she wasn’t either.
Her eyes widened when a few of the officers began to walk towards her and then suddenly, Dean was behind her, arm around her waist and gun in the air.
“Get back,” he shouted.
“You idiot,” she hissed. He pinched her side.
“I said get back!” He glanced around and then pulled her inside, and chaining the door back up. “We are so screwed,” he muttered.
“Sure, now. What the hell were you thinking?” she asked as soon as they were out of sight.
“I was thinking that the cops were coming up here and I needed to do something to keep them away since you backing away wasn’t going to do it,” Dean snapped, looking around.
“This is so not my fault Mister I-Don’t-Stick-To-The-Plan.”
“Fine, it’s my fault, whatever. Let’s just find Sam and the shifter, kill it, and figure out a way to get out of here.”
Buffy was silent for a few minutes and then she sighed. “Well, it’s not like it was a great plan anyway.”
He looked at her and nodded, recognizing her words as the apology they were meant to be. “It wasn’t bad.”
She smiled. Apology accepted.
The sound of Smoke on the Water (and thank you, Spike for that lesson) sounded in the air as they walked down the stairs and Dean pulled out his phone. Buffy frowned as she listened to his half of the conversation.
“What?” He shot her a look and shook his head as he listened. “God, it’s like playing the shell game. It could be anyone. Again.” He paused. “All right, you go search every inch of this place, I’m going to go round everyone up.” He hung up and turned to Buffy. “They’ve already seen me. You should help Sam look.”
“Somehow, I get the feeling that it’ll be coming back for you and me. We stick together.”
Dean stared at her for a moment and then nodded. “Fine. Let’s get this done.”
The trip back to the vault was made in silence and Buffy couldn’t help but wonder if this was going to be the time that she got busted. Wouldn’t that just be the perfect way to end the day?
“You mind being lookout?”
Buffy blinked as Dean’s voice pulled her out of her thoughts and shook her head. “Nope. Get them out and I’ll be sure it doesn’t come at you from behind.”
“Yeah, I’d rather avoid that.” He didn’t say anything else as they turned the corner and went to the vault where the last of the hostages were standing. “Come on, let’s move everybody.”
“And I thought you were one of the good guys.” It was the woman who had spoken earlier when she had thought Dean was there to take them out of the vault the first time. Now when she spoke there was bitterness in her voice as if she’d been betrayed. Maybe she felt she had been since she was once again being left inside the vault.
Buffy turned quietly so that her back was to the wall, allowing her to still keep watch while she watched the interaction. She saw the vague guilt and frustration on Dean’s face; emotions that she had a feeling were normally well hidden.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
She scoffed and turned. “Why do you care?”
His voice was soft when he answered. “My name’s Dean.”
The woman paused and Buffy could practically see her soften. She smiled. She had to give Dean credit. He may seem like he was all business but it was good to know that even during a situation like this one he didn’t forget about other people and their need for some sort of connection.
The phone ringing broke the moment and Dean looked at the phone and then back at Cheri. “Everything’s going to be all right. This’ll all be over soon.” He looked at Buffy and then backed away, shutting the vault and spinning the lock once more before picking up the phone. “Yeah?” He paused, listening to the person on the other end. “Yeah, listen, I’m not really in a negotiating mood right now.”
Buffy rolled her eyes and blew a few strands of hair out of her face. Because that attitude was going to make them so much more relaxed. She tensed when she heard Dean’s next words.
“Whoa, kind of harsh for a federal agent, don’t you think?”
Federal agent. They’d brought the FBI in. Damn it, damn it, damn it. Of course, people locked in a bank by a man with a gun, what did she expect them to do? Invite everyone to the station to play Candyland? Right.
She felt herself get even more tense when Dean straightened, something like shock flickering over his face as his eyes flew to hers briefly before he turned and looked down the hall. Then he smirked and Buffy wondered if it would be wrong to hit him.
“Yeah, well that part’s true but how’d you even know we were here?” he asked and Buffy fought the urge to swear again. She watched as shock came over Dean’s face again followed by disbelief and then the first hints of anger mixed with grief. “You don’t know crap about my dad.”
Buffy’s expression hardened. She didn’t know who the hell was on the other end of the line but they had no right bringing John into this. None.
For a few moments, the grief seemed to outweigh the anger and then the expression on his face smoothed out and all Buffy could see was a man restraining himself from saying something that they all might regret.
“You got no right talking about my dad like that. He was a hero.”
He paused and then his eyes snapped to Buffy, widening slightly. He held out the phone. “For you.”
She blinked and felt a tightening in her chest. Instinctively she knew that whatever this was, it was not going to be good. Licking her lips, she stepped forward and took the phone.
“I never thought I’d catch you with the Dean and Sam Winchester. You hoping to add to your body count?”
Buffy didn’t bother to hide the fact that she was angry. “Who the hell is this?”
“Special Agent Victor Henrickson and I’ve been looking for you for four years, Buffy.”
Four years. Sunnydale. God, she’d hoped that they’d managed to get rid of any mention of themselves but obviously they hadn’t.
That didn’t mean she had to give him the satisfaction of knowing he’d thrown her.
“Well, you found me. Want a cookie?” To her right, she could see Dean looking at her, curiosity clear on his face.
“Witty banter won’t help you. You’re in trouble after Nevada. Quite a few people died there and in Oklahoma. You were there.”
“I’ve been a lot of places. What of it?”
“You’re not the only one in trouble. The others...your friends, aren’t they? Willow Rosenberg and Alexander Harris. They were there as well. And it’d be a shame if any of this affected your sister. Her college career is promising.”
“You go anywhere near my sister and I’ll give you a reason to arrest me.” She didn’t care how stupid it was to show weakness, there was no way in hell he was threatening Dawn or using her against her. “She’s got nothing to do with this.”
“Maybe she doesn’t but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that she does considering you raised her after your mother’s death. The three of you have one hour to make a decision or we come through those doors, full automatic.”
Buffy closed her eyes as he hung up. She took a deep breath and hung up the phone, her hands clenching into fists after she’d done so.
“He knows you.”
She laughed, not caring how strained she sounded. “Oh apparently he’s been looking for me. Looks like I was wrong about how wanted I was. He blames me for some deaths a demon caused in Nevada because I was there. But I can’t tell him that I was there to stop the demon, can I? And I can’t tell him that I was in Oklahoma to stop the big ritual sacrifice either.” She gave into the anger and kicked the wall, wincing at the impact. “And now he’s brought my sister into it and she wasn’t even there, damn it.” She turned. “She was in Cleveland, splitting her time between college and researching for us so we’d know how to stop them each time.”
Dean looked at her in understanding and she figured he knew exactly what she was going through. She sighed.
“He gave us a deadline.”
He straightened. “How long do we have?”
“One hour and then they’re coming to us.”
“Fuck,” Dean swore and put his hands on the counter. They stood there, trying to figure out what to do as Sam walked up.
“Hey,” he said. Dean turned towards him even as Buffy nodded in his direction.
“Hey.” Dean let out a breath. “We got a problem outside.”
Sam just shook his head. “We’ve got a problem in here.” He gestured to the vault.
“Which one is it?” Buffy asked, turning towards him.
He glanced at her and then at Dean. “Bank teller. She was wearing a black dress, had hair a bit below her shoulders. She was standing next to me when you got me out of the vault. Seemed to have a serious case of hero worship for Dean.”
“Cheri,” Buffy and Dean said at the same time. They looked at each other, surprised, before turning back towards the door.
“We better take care of this.” Dean paused and turned to Sam. “The feds are here and the agent they got here knows that we’re in here. He knows all about us, about Dad...” He glanced at Buffy. “And he seems to know quite a bit about Buffy too.”
“Shit.” It was all Sam said as he let out a breath.
“Yeah. He gave us an hour to come out before they come in.”
“Then we better be quick.” Sam and Dean each moved towards the vault, stopping when Buffy stepped up. “What—“
“Dean’s going to need to try and look all intimidating with the gun so I’ll help with the door.” Off their looks, she smiled. “I’m stronger than I look.”
“Which is good because you look like a jar of peanut butter would give you problems.”
“I’ll punch you.”
“Guys?” Sam gestured to the door. “Shifter? Feds outside? Any of this ringing a bell?”
Dean nodded. “Open sesame then. And make sure you’ve got that letter opener out. We’ll take it to the room where Cheri’s body is and get rid of it there.”
Buffy didn’t wait for Dean to say anything, just pulled out one of her daggers and helped Sam spin the lock before pulling open the vault. They stayed in the opening as Dean stepped forward.
“Cheri. We’re going to let you go,” he said.
“What?” The shifter looked around. “Why me?”
Buffy wanted to smirk but kept her expression blank instead. She had to admit, this thing wasn’t stupid.
“Ah, it’s a show of good faith for the feds. Come on.” Dean motioned with the gun towards the opening.
“Uh...” It looked around and then backed away. “I think I’d rather stay here. With the others.”
Dean lifted the gun slightly and stepped forward. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to insist.”
The shifter looked around the vault and then walked towards them slowly, glancing at Sam and Buffy as Dean walked back out. Quickly, they shut and secured the vault.
“Let’s go,” Buffy said, already walking down the hall. Sam followed, easily catching up to her.
“Down the hall, to the left. Second room on the right,” he told her, voice low. She nodded and looked behind them to see Dean with one hand on the small of the shifter’s back to direct it before turning back around and following Sam’s directions.
She let out a breath when they walked in the room and saw Cheri’s body on the floor. She adjusted her grip on the dagger and turned as Sam, Dean and the shifter stopped just inside the doorway.
“I thought you were letting me go,” the shifter said. No one said anything as Dean spun the shifter so that it was facing Cheri’s body. The shifter screamed, struggling to get away.
“What is this, community theater or are you just a natural actor?” Dean asked as the shifter continued to scream and struggle.
“This is the last time you become anybody. Ever.” Sam’s voice was hard as he lifted the letter opener and as the shifter’s eyes widened, Buffy felt that first glimmer of doubt.
“No! Oh God,” the shifter exclaimed before fainting. Dean stared at her in confusion and Buffy frowned, trying to place what felt wrong about the situation. Sam tilted his head as he studied the shifter. All of them looked from the Cheri with the slit throat to the Cheri sprawled in front of them and then Dean shrugged, sliding the gun off his arm and setting it down as he crouched next to the Cheri in front of them. Sam continued to look between the two Cheris and Buffy stared hard at the Cheri with the slit throat before turning and looking just as hard at the Cheri that had fainted.
Dean pulled out the small knife that he’d had strapped to his ankle this whole time. Off of Sam’s look, he shrugged again. “I wasn’t going to come in here naked.”
Buffy snorted as the statement interrupted her study of the two Cheris and Dean turned to grin at her. She raised an eyebrow before turning to look back at the Cheri with the slit throat as Dean turned back to the other Cheri.
She frowned and then her eyes widened as she realized what had been bothering her this whole time.
“Dean, wait,” she said, turning to see him lifting the knife. She stared at the Cheri in front of him and could have slapped herself for not realizing it earlier.
The tickle at the back of her neck hadn’t started until she’d come into the room which meant that there was nothing evil about the Cheri they’d just pulled out of the vault. It was the other Cheri, the supposedly dead one that set her off.
As Xander loved to say, her spider sense was tingling.
“This isn’t right.” She shook her head.
“Are you kidding me? Killing the shifter isn’t right? What the hell—“
“Dean,” Sam interrupted, holding up a hand as he looked at the Cheri that had fainted. He frowned. “Think about it. What’s the advantage of this plan? I mean, fainting now wouldn’t help it survive.”
“Huh.” Dean looked from one Cheri to the other, the sound of a helicopter the only other sound in the room. He stood and walked to the other side of the room, crouching next to the Cheri with the slit throat. He stared at her for a moment and then the sound of glass breaking caused them all to turn. Buffy spun back around when she heard Dean gasp to find the Cheri with the slit throat had wrapped a hand around his neck and the other Cheri was finally waking up.
Just what they needed.
As Dean struggled with the shifter, Buffy watched, waiting for the right moment. Behind her, she heard the real Cheri began to scream again and Sam went to her as Dean tried to stab the shifter.
“Get her out of here, now,” Dean ordered. Quickly, Sam and Cheri ran out of the room and Dean swore as the shifter kicked him off it. It stood and began to run out of the room.
“Oh no you don’t,” Buffy said, grabbing its hair and yanking it back into the room. She smirked at the truly girly move before kicking it in the stomach.
“Bitch,” it spat.
“Does this mean we can’t have a sleepover? What a shame.” Buffy dodged the kick it aimed her way and grunted when it managed to punch her. She shook her head and punched it in the nose, smirking when it cried out. “Yeah, I hit harder.”
She knew Dean was doing the same thing she’d been doing earlier and waiting but they couldn’t keep this up much longer. There was only one reason she could think of that they would have heard glass breaking and that meant that Henrickson was a damned liar who wouldn’t wait an hour.
Almost as if the shifter was thinking the same thing, the shifter knocked her into Dean and took that moment to run off. Apparently, it’d learned something from earlier.
“We’ve got to stop doing this,” Dean muttered as they both shot to their feet.
“Like you don’t enjoy it,” Buffy shot back as they ran out of the room and after the shifter. Dean grinned.
“It does have some benefits.”
They slowed down to a walk at the sound of footsteps coming closer. There were too many for it to be the shifter or Sam and that could only mean one thing. “Feds,” she whispered. Dean nodded and motioned to another opening, pulling out the flashlight.
“We need to find that thing before the feds do and they take it out of here thinking it’s some helpless victim.”
“I really, really agree.”~*~*~
It was in the third room when Dean and Buffy heard the feds coming towards them again. Dean grabbed Buffy’s arm and pulled her behind a cabinet, waiting.
Buffy kept her mouth closed, making an effort to breathe through her nose only. Breathing through her mouth always seemed too loud in these situations. She looked up when she felt Dean tap her on the shoulder and tilt his head to the right, indicating they should move there. She nodded and followed him as they went around another cabinet and wound up between it and the wall. She raised her eyebrows at him and he shook his head.
“Trust me,” he mouthed and she studied him a moment before nodding. They stood, waiting until they heard the feds leaving the room before relaxing and walking around the cabinet again. They continued to look through the room, splitting up so that they could each explore one side.
Dean opened a door and looked through it; shining the flashlight inside to be sure it was empty as Buffy opened another door on her side.
“What the fuck?” Dean exclaimed. Buffy turned to find Dean facing off with herself. It was even dressed the same. She sighed.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she muttered to herself before walking towards them and raising her voice a bit. “Why is it evil things get such a kick out of wearing my face? Because that’s really getting old.”
“You know,” the shifter said. “I thought my life was screwed. But you, you’ve got issues. Daddy running off, Mom dead on the couch and little sis almost getting sacrificed. And man, that whole ripped out of Heaven thing. That’s got to piss you off still.”
Buffy ignored the way Dean stared at her after each revelation and focused on the anger working its way through her system. Taking her face was one thing but airing her past for a guy she’d only met that day? No one did that and got away with it, she didn’t care if she liked the guy or that she’d liked his father.
“Yeah and what’s your story? No one to love you because you’re just not pretty enough and you don’t have the money to buy your happiness, right? And that’s all you really need, isn’t it? You just want the money so you can do what you want and to hell with the people you have to get rid of in order to make that happen.”
“What did it feel like to know Spike burned to death and turned to ashes along with the rest of your town? How did it feel to remember the last thing you told him was that you loved him and he didn’t believe you because, well, let’s face it, that was one fucked up relationship you two had.” You sorry son of a bitch.
Buffy let the pain of that memory go through her and added it to the anger she was feeling. She smiled and felt satisfaction at the look of surprise on her own face before she spun into a roundhouse and sent the shifter flying backwards. The moment it landed, it was up and lunging at her.
“You can throw all the painful memories at me you want. It’s not going to matter and you know why?” Buffy asked as she ducked, avoiding the foot that came at her head. She smirked. “I’m better than you.” She lifted an elbow and rammed it into the shifter’s throat. “It doesn’t matter that you’re downloading my thoughts, my memories. Because you’re not me and you’ll never be me, no matter how hard you try.” Really, talking probably wasn’t the best thing to be doing with the feds wandering the building and searching for them but she had to get it out and banter had always been her preferred method. That and violence. So she figured this should work.
“I could be you. Another day and I’d do so well as you that not even Dawn would be able to tell the difference,” it snapped, voice scratchy from when she’d hit it.
Buffy laughed and kicked it in the chin so that its head snapped back. “You think you could fool my sister? Please. Maybe you’d start out okay but you’d slip. And you know why?” She adjusted her grip on the dagger, blanking her mind out the way she’d done when she had fought the mind readers last year. She watched the shifter frown and she took advantage of the confusion, knocking it back and slamming the dagger into its chest. “You’re not as smart as you think you are.”
She watched as the shifter’s eyes widened and then went blank as it fell back against the wall, sliding to the floor. Staring at it, she shuddered. She spun when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
Dean stared at her and then his gaze moved over to the shifter. “It’s weird to have to kill yourself, isn’t it?” he said and Buffy could have kissed him for not bringing up any of the stuff the shifter had mentioned.
She let out a breath. “Yeah.” She looked back at the shifter. “At least this time I don’t have to see what I look like without a head.”
He blinked. “What?”
“Another long story.”
Dean opened his mouth to say something and stopped when they heard footsteps again, closer than the last ones had been, too close for them to get into hiding. They turned to see a member of SWAT standing there.
He lifted his mask and they let out a breath when they saw Sam. He looked between the two of them and then his eyes landed on the shifter, widening at the sight of Buffy with a dagger sticking out of her chest.
“I, uh, got you guys uniforms too. Kind of hard finding a guy small enough Buffy but I think I got close.” He motioned behind him and Buffy noticed that there were two unconscious men on the ground, one only a few inches taller than her.
“Let me just get my dagger. I’m not leaving it.” She turned around and pulled it out, wincing when the blood dripped before she used the shifter’s jeans to clean it. “It was a gift,” she said softly, putting it back under her shirt.
The pants were a bit too long for her but that didn’t matter. She’d run and fought in pants that didn’t fit before and she’d do it again. At least this way, they covered her boots. Buffy kept an eye on Sam and Dean as they all pretended to be searching for, well, themselves. And wasn’t that just fun?
She fought back a sigh. Maybe killing the shifter would work out for her. After all, then the feds would think she was dead, right? And they wouldn’t look for her.
Of course, the downside to that was that they’d probably assume that Dean or Sam had killed her.
She blinked as a man in a FBI jacket, who was clearly in charge, appeared. This had to be Henrickson. She watched as he stalked from room to room and grinned behind the mask when she heard Sam yell “Clear!” from the room. She had to hold back the laugh when Dean did the same from the next room up.
Buffy came up behind Dean as he came to the room that Henrickson was in and frowned. The sight of her own body still weirded her out. She shook her head as they watched Henrickson head to the next room before moving in the opposite direction, meeting up with Sam.
They didn’t speak as they ran out the door, all three running up the stairs to the parking garage. They slowed down to a walk as they reached the third floor and kept walking, stopping next to a black Impala that Buffy remembered seeing in John’s pictures. Dean opened the door on the driver’s side and motioned for her to get in. She nodded, grateful that she wouldn’t have to walk.
The minute they were all in, they each took off their helmets. Dean and Sam shoved the masks up on their foreheads and Buffy took hers off completely, throwing it on the seat as she shook out her hair.
Nobody spoke for a few moments and then Dean shook his head. “We are so screwed.” He started the car and pulled out. Sam stared out the window and Buffy tilted her head back, closing her eyes with a sigh. “Where are you staying?”
“It’s a couple blocks from here,” she said, giving him directions. The rest of the drive was silent until they got to the hotel. “You can take off the uniforms here,” she told them once they’d gotten out of the car. “Not sure if you want to keep them or not since they just might come in handy.”
For the first time since they’d left the bank, Dean grinned. “I like the way you think.” They all went into the room, taking off the uniforms and letting out a breath as the air hit their skin.
“We’re going to have to keep a low profile for awhile,” Sam said. Dean nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, we’ll figure something out.”
Buffy sighed. “I’ve got to call Willow and let her know what happened. I’ll ask her to get rid of as much evidence concerning you guys as she can. It won’t throw Henrickson off probably but it’ll take away all or most of the case he’s most likely trying to build against you guys. And then she can get me back to Cleveland.”
“You’d be surprised at how much demonic activity is in Cleveland.”
“Really?” Sam asked, looking up from folding the uniform pants he’d been wearing.
“Really.” She nodded and turned to the nightstand, grabbing the pen and pad of paper that was there and scribbling her name and number on it before ripping it off and turning back to them. “Listen, if you guys are ever in Cleveland and you need a place to stay or you need anything, just give me a call.” She handed the paper to Dean, who looked at it and then back up at her.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Get your mind out of the gutter, Winchester.” She walked into the bathroom area and grabbed the stuff she’d left on the counter before going back into the main part of the room.
“That offer for a place to stay apply to now?” Dean asked.
Stuffing the last of her stuff in her bag, she turned. “It is. You heading to Cleveland?”
“We could be. You need a way back that won’t draw attention to yourself, we need to lay low, and Cleveland apparently has enough demons to keep us from getting out of practice.”
She smiled. “Okay then. Road trip it is.” She looked at Sam. “You’ll flip over the library we’ve got at the house.”
Sam blinked. “You have a library?”
Buffy nodded. “We’ve got a lot to talk about on the drive so that you won’t be in the dark once we get to Cleveland.” She headed towards the door, pausing only to leave enough cash to cover the room on the dresser. After all, if she was dead she couldn’t very well check out of the room, could she? She adjusted her bag and headed for the Impala.
“Like what?” Dean asked as he took her bag and opened the trunk, tossing it in next to theirs.
“We can start with how I met your dad and go from there,” she said, getting in the car. “Actually, we should probably start with what you know about Slayers.”
The look on each of their faces as it clicked with them was priceless and Buffy smiled as she settled into the backseat. This trip had turned out way better than she’d thought it would.