If it weren't for . . . . .
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the recognizable characters. I receive no profits from this. It is just for fun.
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Summary: Faith doesn’t join the Mayor.
AN: Thoughts are between slashes (//Thought.//)
Buffy and Xander went to an All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet. Since they were no longer in Sunnydale, Xander let Buffy go just a bit wild on the number of servings she had. They both wanted to have as much energy available as possible for their upcoming task.
They read the local paper looking for stories similar to what they knew from the Sunnydale News might indicate supernatural activity. They also marked out areas on their map using information from the phone book as to warehouse locations and out of the way bars.
It was a bit frustrating to find some place they could switch glamours. The whole city seemed to be camera happy with traffic cams, parking lot cams, outside security cams, ATM cams. Even the taxis had cameras mounted in them. Finally they found an alley between streets that didn’t seem to have cameras covering it. They walked in as Hiroshi and Hikaru, and came back out the same way about two minutes later as Jack and Dan, two nondescript white males who appeared to be muscular but not overly so. The places they were going to try and visit were not for the meek looking, but they didn’t want to look too menacing either. The jackets and pants they’d been wearing were reversible so they were now dressed differently as well.
Two hours after seeking out the seamy underbelly of Vegas, both demonic and human, they finally located a demon bar that also catered to humans. They had agreed beforehand to avoid demon only hangouts because their presence as humans would draw too much attention to themselves. They’d go to one only if they had strong evidence of being able to find Faith.
Their inquiries had also given them the names of a few human contacts to try if the demon ones didn’t pan out. One of them had ties to both the human and demon groups in Vegas. According to their source, while the man already had connections to the criminal element in Vegas, it was due to a personal introduction to the supernatural some twenty-five or so years ago that convinced him to keep those connections open as well.
Their cover for their inquiries, one of Giles’ ideas left in a note for Xander, was that they were human muscle for hire and part-time bounty hunters of demons, or humans, who drew too much attention to the supernatural. This would give them some cred to be asking questions as long as they made it clear they were only looking for trouble-makers.
If Faith was in town, she would probably fall into the trouble-maker category sooner or later. Subtle was not her strong point, as shown by her purported exploits when on the run from Kakistos, and that was what would draw the Council to her sooner or later. Especially once the Mayor stopped running interference for her as they expected him to do once his own plans were concluded to his satisfaction.
Of course their first stop provided no leads as to Faith’s possible whereabouts. Nor did the next five places they checked out.
They were offered a job to take out some Eriff demon that was committing a series of arsons against used car dealerships. The city and county were putting together a task force to solve them and there was concern the increased scrutiny and security would ID the perpetrator as a demon even though the Eriff could pass for an ugly human. Shooting flames out of its mouth would be difficult to explain away. So far no one had been killed but if the authorities tried to apprehend the demon, someone most assuredly would be.
Eriff’s had the ability to sense other demons which is why the D’esusrac demon who approached them about the job said it needed the human touch. They promised to look into it, and they would just on general principles, so the negotiated fee of 10 grand in cash plus expenses was purely for maintaining their cover. After getting their retainer of 2 grand they decided to head out to conduct another locator fix before calling it a night.
They took a bus out to the area where they could do the spell and took another back to the city once they were done. While it cut down the size of the area to search, it didn’t do it by much because of the size of the city itself. A large portion of downtown Vegas was still in play.
It was nearly 3 a.m. when they used a different alley several blocks away from their hotel to change back to Hiroshi and Hikaru.
However, when they got within few blocks of their hotel, their pace slowed to a stop due to the sight of a swarm of police cars out front with their lights spinning. There was also a good sized crowd being kept back from the entrance as well so no one paid any immediate attention to their immobility.
Xander clutched Buffy’s arm and moved them over to a nearby shadowed wall.
“What are you doing?” she asked as he began removing his jacket.
“I’m going to find out what is going on,” he replied.
“Are you crazy – er?”
“Look, I’ll just be another looky-loo asking what’s going on and hopefully it will have nothing to do with us,” he said as he pulled his pants off and turned them inside out, using Hikaru’s body to mask his actions.
“However, on the off chance that it does, you best switch to ‘Dan’,” he continued as he fastened his pants then switched places with Buffy.
“How sure are you that we’re not the reason for the light show?” she asked as she changed into her ‘Dan’ clothes.
“If it was us they were here for, they wouldn’t make such a show of it,” he said before activating their new glamours. “They’d just have some plain clothes detectives waiting in the lobby or our room for us to return. We’d never suspect a thing til they popped up to arrest us.”
“Now hang back a bit and join the crowd a ways away from me, that way no one will pay any attention to you which they might if you stayed away,” he continued as he left the shadows for the hotel entrance.
As he got closer to the back edge of the crowd, he noticed that a truck labeled MORGUE was amongst the patrol cars. That made him a bit more certain that whatever was going on didn’t have anything to do with them. That was just too elaborate a detail for this to be being staged for their benefit.
However, it also meant that they would undoubtedly be questioned by the police. Homicides, other than in Sunnydale of course, tended to require the police to talk to everybody who might even remotely have information about events leading up to the crime in addition to the crime itself. If the crime occurred while they were walking around as Hiroshi and Hikaru, there would be no problem with establishing their absence from the hotel. On the other hand, if it was while they were Jack and Dan things could get dicey. And they most probably wouldn’t know which it was until they were being questioned.
//Fun,// came the sarcastic thought.
Before he could even ask anyone what was going on, a gurney with a zippered black body bag on it was being wheeled out the door and over to the MORGUE truck.
//Oh yeah. This is going to get complicated.//
Just for appearances’ sake he asked what was going on and had his supposition confirmed that a dead body had indeed been discovered in the hotel. The police cars had arrived a little over an hour ago but there were no further details that would help him determine when the crime itself might have been committed.
Catching Dan’s attention as he walked past, he headed back the way they came while Dan followed a discrete distance behind.
Once they were back at the alley where they’d switched identities earlier, he told Buffy what he’d learned. She responded that she heard the same things being said.
“So what do we do?” she asked.
“We need to get our stuff and the only way to do that is to switch back to Hiroshi and Hikaru,” he replied.
“And when the police ask us about our alibi, what do we say?”
“Tell them the truth,” he answered. “We went to dinner and then wandered around town to get the feel for the place, not really paying close attention to where we were.”
“What if they ask our purpose for being in Vegas?”
“We stick to our cover story of looking for investment property our employer might be interested in buying.”
“And what do we say when they ask who we work for?” she said with a bit of exasperation in her voice that said she didn’t believe the police were going to be satisfied with their vague, mysterious employer like the real estate agents they’d talked to back in Sunnydale had.
At this Xander did seem to falter over the soundness of the plan.
After a few moments of intense brainstorming, on his part, Xander said, “You tell them you don’t know who it is. I’m the only one who knows and that I hired you to help out. That way they can’t trip us up for having differing stories. And no I’m not going to tell you what I’m going to say so you can honestly be in the dark.”
She glared at him for a moment, but then just nodded.
“Now let’s change back and go to the hotel before they get the chance to become suspicious about our absence.”
He turned his back to keep watch for potential witnesses while she changed and then she did the same for him.
Their second return to the hotel was at a more sedate pace than their first. And it was with some trepidation that they approached a police officer on crowd control to ask what was happening and to explain that they were guests staying at the hotel.
The officer signaled another officer and he escorted them into the lobby and towards the front desk.
A short man in plain clothes, flanked by two officers was engaged in a discussion with the Desk Clerk, standing on the other side of the counter, that Xander remembered had been on duty when they’d checked in.
As they drew near, the Desk Clerk looked up and spotted them.
“That’s them, Detective. They’re the ones who rented Room 314,” the man stated at a near shout pointing straight at Buffy and Xander.
AN: I just couldn’t resist the irony.