Works Better If You Don't Get Caught
Chapter Four: Works Better If You Don’t Get Caught
Jason looked at the closed bathroom door with something akin to frustration on his face. It wasn’t so much that the door was closed, but the picture on the front of it. A women’s bathroom, which meant that there was no way he could convince the gas attendant to give him, a man, the keys to get inside. Well, no way that wouldn’t raise a lot of eyebrows. And Jason was on explicit instructions from his Ulfric to not raise any eyebrows. Apparently the last time he had been down to the police station had caused Richard a lot of grief. And if it happened this time, it would be worse because he might sort of deserve being down there. That Dolph guy already thought he was a complete monster for his lycanthropy; Jason didn’t really want to see what would happen if the man was given any indication that he was a pervert on top of that.
“Sylvie’s coming,” Stephen offered helpfully from just behind him.
“I know, but I hate waiting, especially when we’re so damn close,” he replied. And they were damn close. The witch’s trail had dried up last night and for a little while it had seemed like they wouldn’t be able to catch a trace of them again. Anita had argued that the first time seemed to be done because of necessity; she didn’t believe someone with that much power would be so careless again, if they were still in the city at all. But Richard had been insistent on sending the wolves out into the city with the magic scent, even if the odds were slim that the witch would risk using her magic again. And so they went in pairs, everyone turning up with absolutely nothing for hours on end.
Stephen and Jason had been about to throw in the towel when they stumbled across a faint trace of the magic from last night. It was a unique scent, like spring flowers, but it was laced with one hell of a kick. It got the wolf inside each of them rumbling, and not necessarily in a good way. They had followed the trail, the scent getting stronger and stronger the longer they followed it. Until finally they arrived here, at a gas station bathroom. The scent ended there, there was nothing leading away from the gas station. This was the end of the line. If Sylvie found nothing in that bathroom, they were shit out of luck once more.
“Maybe we should go inside and buy some candy,” Stephen suggested worriedly. “That gas attendant’s been staring at us for a few minutes. Two guys staring at the door of an empty women’s bathroom is probably not something he’s used to, or likely to forget.”
Jason wrinkled his nose, but he knew that Stephen was right. It wouldn’t do to draw too much attention to themselves. The situation was bad enough as it was, there was no need to add anything else onto the headache. Without a word, he turned and headed inside to peruse the candy aisle. Stephen followed, also silent, as he randomly picked up pieces of junk food from every aisle. By the time they made it to the front counter, Stephen had an armload of candy compared to Jason’s handful. Jason gave the other wolf a look, to which Stephen just shrugged sheepishly.
“Vivian does feed you, doesn’t she?” Jason couldn’t help but tease.
“Among other things,” Stephen returned smoothly, his eyes twinkling with momentary amusement. But then his eyes slid over to the clock just behind the clerk currently ringing up their purchases. “She should have been here by now.”
Jason nodded, frowning at the clock along with his friend. They had phoned Sylvie over twenty minutes ago. It shouldn’t have taken her too long to get down here. Of course, just because she was running a few minutes late didn’t mean anything-other than the fact that he and Stephen sucked at waiting patiently.
A slightly annoyed cough brought him out of his thoughts. Jason blinked and focused in on the clerk, who looked kind of unimpressed. He looked to his register and the total flashing on the screen. Jason winced apologetically and immediately pulled out his wallet. After paying for his snacks and Stephen’s treasure trove of sugar, both wolves gathered up their purchases and left the store. Stephen was already halfway through a candy bar before they made it to the parking lot. Jason grinned at his friend and pulled out his own junk. But before he could even unwrap it, the sound of a car horn blaring interrupted him.
Sylvie pulled into the gas station, her car right on their heels as she scoured for a parking spot close to them. Soon she stood before them, eyes casting a quick look around the area, acknowledging them quickly when she noted they had bowed their heads just slightly in her presence. “They’re long gone.”
Jason nodded and pointed towards the bathroom. “Strongest scent is coming from there, meaning that was the last place the witch used her magic.”
Sylvie nodded and headed off towards the store without another word. Stephen hopped onto the hood of the car Jason had borrowed from Jean-Claude, munching away on his third candy seemingly without a care in the world. Jason peeled the wrapper off of his first and slowly took a bite out of it as he watched Sylvie emerge from the store with bathroom key in hand. The alpha wolf disappeared into the bathroom, shutting the door firmly shut behind her.
And now came more waiting. Instead of joining Stephen on the hood, Jason opted to open the car door and seat himself diagonally in the driver’s seat. His feet still planted on the pavement outside, Jason was almost done his second candy by the time Sylvie came out of the bathroom. She dropped the key back off and headed over to them. Her eyes fell on the bag of sugar-coated crap Stephen was steamrolling through.
“Hungry boys?” she asked with a chuckle.
Stephen blushed while Jason just laughed. He looked up at Sylvie, almost dreading to find out what she had seen, but knowing that they really shouldn’t be wasting time at all. “You didn’t find anything, did you?”
“Well, not exactly,” Sylvie replied with a frown. “While the witch wasn’t kind enough to leave a map as to where they’re off to next, she and her friend obviously aren’t very good at covering their tracks. This witch doesn’t mask her magic at all, and they didn’t do too good a job of cleaning up after themselves in the bathroom. Either they’re in a hurry, or they just don’t get that people can track them this fast.”
“And in English that means . . .”
There was a quick warning growl from Sylvie, and Jason immediately shut up. “It means that we are no longer looking for a redheaded witch and her brunette friend.”
Stephen frowned. “Huh?”
“There’s two boxes of hair dye in the bathroom. Our prey’s gone blonde. Ash blonde.”
“It looks like-”
“Faith, get over it. What’s done is done, and it’s bound to wash out sooner or later, so please get over it.”
Faith swallowed an angry retort and fixed Willow with a glare. The witch rolled her eyes at the other woman and brushed some of her recently blonde hair out of her face. Blonde hair that looked remarkably like Buffy’s shade of blonde. And Faith’s hair was the same damn colour now. Her eyes switched from Willow to the man she held responsible for this whole travesty.
“Hey, blonde is blonde to me,” Xander defended himself. “Considering the fact that you guys did this in a gas station bathroom, just be happy that it isn’t green or something right now.”
“Can we be a little quieter while we go about sneaking?” Willow demanded testily. She gave her friends a disapproving look and then motioned to the trees in front of her. “That’s the best damn cover we’ve got here, and it isn’t much, so you two are going to have to keep it down so we don’t get caught.”
“Still don’t know why we can’t go inside-”
“We don’t know what’s in there,” Willow interrupted Xander.
Faith made a face. “And we’re supposed to figure it out by just looking at the fucking building? Bullshit!”
“Yeah well, what if the cops are in there? Or something worse?” Willow rolled her eyes at her companions. “I know my plan is full of flaws, but it’s better than doing something that will get us full of bullet-holes.”
“You just don’t know how to live dangerously, Red,” Faith replied with a smirk. “Fine, let’s get into the bush and see what’s happening at the Circus. Shut up Harris.”
Xander tried to look affronted but failed to wipe the smile off his face. “Hey, you said it-”
“Can we get to the sneaky part of our sneakiness?” Willow interjected. “Faith’s right. Let’s try and get a better look. Since that’s where we landed, it’s a damn good chance that it’s also the place where we’re going to find a way back.”
“But the sign has fangs,” Xander whined. “No good can come of a place with fangs on its signs.”
“You worry way too much,” Faith said with a snort. “All right, enough is enough. Let’s get this show on the road.”
“It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the smell,” Xander made a face, but stepped in behind Faith when she took the first step forward. “I think that someone is using our hiding spot as their very own compost heap.”
Willow shook her head and gave Xander a little nudge with her forefinger. Obediently the man continued to make his way forward, trailing behind Faith until the brunette stopped suddenly and waved her hands erratically in the air. “Ew! Red! There’s too many damn bugs around here to do this! Can’t you fix it?”
Willow peeked around Xander’s frame and wrinkled her nose at the sight. She heaved a sigh, but relented. “Fine,” she muttered. The witch waved her hands, mumbled a few words, and a warm wind rushed through the trees. In a matter of seconds, all bugs, garbage, and quite a bit of the smell within a ten foot radius were gone.
Xander let out an appreciate whistle. “No wonder your room’s always cleaner than mine.”
“It’s cleaner because you’re allergic to picking up after yourself,” Faith said with a short laugh. She turned her back on him before he could reply and plopped down onto the ground. She began parting some of the leaves and shrubs in front of her while Xander and Willow sat down behind her. Faith peered through the hole she had created and cursed softly. “Damn, just missed someone. Oh well, we’ll get ‘em on the way out. Not like we’ve got anything else to do.”
Willow didn’t say anything, just sidled up behind Faith to get a look herself. The witch jumped at the sudden sound of rumbling from behind her. Both girls turned around to fix Xander with glares. The man just shrugged helplessly.
“Stakeouts make me hungry.”
Anita rubbed her eyes and tried to fight back the headache that was coming. She opened one eye and looked down at yet another problem.
“She gave up after a bit,” Nathaniel offered from behind her. “But I think it’s only because the sun exposure got to be too much. Honestly, I think she could have kept it up all day other than that.”
Great. That was fucking brilliant. Anita opened both eyes and glared down at the dented iron door that had just been removed from the doorway. Its replacement was already up, but she honestly didn’t know what good that did anyone. This old one had taken quite the beating, and from a mysterious-possible-vampire woman who had seemed rather determined to make it inside the Circus despite the iron obstacle in front of her.
“We’re trying to track her, but it looks like she made a clean getaway,” Micah added as he wandered back towards Anita. “Merle thinks she slipped away in the sewers.”
Anita made a face at the mention of the sewers, but said nothing. Her brain was racing, but it wasn’t managing anything productive. Strangers falling out of the Circus ceiling, a weird monster attacking the train station, and a strange vampire thingy trying to get past Circus security at daytime. She had managed to make the connection between the latter two problems, but she was still lost without a clue. Even if the strange monster from the train station was the same one trying to break down the Circus door, but to what end? What the hell was going on here? And why the hell hadn’t anyone been able to give her an answer about anything?
“Security tape’s here, if you want to look at it,” Cherry announced from somewhere behind her. Anita nodded but didn’t move. Her eyes were still on the dented iron door. The strange woman had been trying to get in, but without any luck. Nathaniel said she had been at it for some time before she left, so that meant she wasn’t quite strong enough to break down the iron door. But she still had stamina, because she had sustained her attack damn near thirty minutes. Strong creature, not overwhelmingly strong, but still strong. And unknown. Very much unknown, and yet still making such a commotion.
“Anita?” Micah called her name.
She finally spoke. “I think that I have the worst run of luck ever. Hasn’t even been twenty-four hours since this crap started, and things just keep on getting worse.”
She stopped as Zane trotted up and began opening the new door. “Jason’s here,” he said in way of explanation. She nodded and stepped towards Micah. He wrapped one arm around her waist and gave her a reassuring squeeze. She smiled half-heartedly to thank him for the gesture, but she couldn’t keep it up for long.
“Hey, got some good-Oh shit! What the hell happened?”
Jason, Stephen, and Sylvie had tumbled through the door and were looking over the dented old door. Zane gave them the quick abridged version, and Stephen’s face went from slightly pale to stark white. Anita frowned and nodded her chin towards him. “What were you saying?”
“Um, good news?” Jason shrugged.
Sylvie stepped around the old door and gave Anita a quick nod in greeting. “We found the three.”
Well, that was . . . better news than she had had in the past few hours. “Great. Why aren’t you where you found them?”
Stephen coughed uncomfortably and jerked his head towards the exit. “We are, sort of. They’re outside. I think they’re trying to spy on us.”
Well, at least they were convenient about it.