Gravepine.. erm, Grapevine. (no graves here, nosiree)
Harry Maybourne had come a long way from his days as a simple Air Force officer pulling boring duty at Cheyenne. He'd joined the National Intelligence Agency, spied on fellow Americans, committed Treason, and gone underground to hide from all his past sins. But somethings just never changed. You could take the man out of Sunnydale, but you couldn't take the Sunnydale out of the man.
Many people in the town had been content to ignore the fact that the Mayor never aged or went through re-election, that people mysteriously disappeared all too often. Harry had been among them at first, until at the age of fourteen, he watched helplessly, hidden amidst a trashpile, as a classmate was drained by a hungry vampire. He'd decided then, that he was leaving the town and never coming back, not for anything. It was a wonderful, wishful, futile thought.
You could never leave Sunnydale, not really. Your body might walk out, under your own direction, if you were lucky. But some part of you always remembered the terror, the vague feeling of a threat just outside your sight, waiting to pounce. The paranoia helped, ironically enough, with his profession, but the tells of a Sunnydaler were with him always. Never inviting anyone in. Checking for reflections on pure instinct. He could pretend not to be Harry Maybourne, but anyone else in the know could decipher the signs easily, and mark him as one who had seen what goes bump in the night.
So it was no real surprise to Harry, when the old Sunnydale grapevine caught up with him. It wasn't anyone he knew, but then, it didn't have to be. The well worn cross than hung below the broad silk choker the woman wore was hint enough to make him initiate contact. A few casual pleasantries, confirmed their mutual hometown histories, and Harry got to catchup with the old Sunnydale network. Given the way his life had been going, Harry expected bad news. Life was happy to deliver.
Fourteen hours after the tete-a-tete over coffee with Mrs. Esterhauzy, Harry's deliberately plain Toyota Camri rolled to a stop at a Motel 6 a few hours away from Sunnydale. He had no intention of spending the night in that town.
Okay so this is a blindingly blatant attempt to nick some Rhyming reviews. Pretty please?