Buffy smirked to herself as she walked up to the door of The Globe. According to what she’d found out at the demon bars she’d hit earlier, this was where the vamps of Vegas hung out.
Vampires were evidently personae non grata with the owner of the first bar Angel had told her about. It used to be a blood bar, but was now strictly demon-only. She hadn’t gotten the full story on that. The bartender had muttered something about an incident back in the 70s, and the owner was going to be pissed
to hear that there was a Slayer in town. In his bad mood, he’d inadvertently taught her a few new curses. She wasn’t sure which demon language or maybe languages he’d been speaking, but she couldn’t wait to see Giles’ reaction when she repeated the words in front of him.
The second bar didn’t ban vampires, but had undergone a demographic shift since the last time Angel was in town. These days, it was populated mainly by easygoing demons who were more into darts, trivia, and whatever was on the big screen TV than killing humans or bringing on the end of the world. Most vamps didn’t dig the vibe there. She’d been unexpectedly popular, treated almost like a celebrity, with several demons clamoring to buy the Slayer a drink.
The regulars had been eager to tell her anything they knew, but unfortunately, it wasn’t much.
Most of them hadn’t heard of Daniel, and the ones that had only had heard of him very recently. They couldn’t tell if he was local or a recent transplant who’d come looking to stir things up.
She’d been about to give up and just go hunting on the streets when she got lucky. On the way out, she ran into one of Clem’s cousins. She’d stopped for a few minutes to trade news with him. (Clem had apparently moved to Seattle after evacuating from Sunnydale, and was running a coffee shop.) He’d been the one who had told her about this place.
The Globe attracted almost exclusively vampires, and was scrupulously kept quiet from the wannabes. Any human that went walking in there wasn’t coming out alive. Rumor had it the bar had a deal with a less than honest blood bank to keep them supplied with human blood in addition to the animal varieties and smattering of non-blood drinks they served. There was no guarantee Daniel was a regular, or even went there at all, but it was where she’d have the best chance of finding someone who could give her useful information. As Spike had once told her, most vamps loved to brag.
Pushing the door open, she took a few steps in before pausing to assess the situation and enjoy the stunned silence that greeted her as the entire bar realized that a Slayer had just entered the room. She glanced around, looking for anyone about to try something stupid. They wouldn’t be able to tell, but she already had a stake at the ready.
“Good to see I have everyone’s attention. Hi. Most of you have probably already worked out who I am. For those who aren’t there yet…”
She didn’t even turn around. A quick movement of her arm sent the stake home. The vamp who had been dumb enough to try to sneak up on her from behind drifted to the floor as dust. Several other vamps snarled at her, but none of them were foolish enough to repeat his mistake or try to rush her.
“I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up on current events, but there’s no longer one girl in all the world. There’s a whole army of Slayers these days. And unless I find what I’m looking for, a detachment of that army is going to take up residence here in Vegas.”
“What are you after, Slayer?”
The vamp who had spoken was in game face. Big and built, he looked like he had been in a motorcycle gang before he was turned. He towered over Buffy, but he wasn’t trying to intimidate. He was just the only one willing to get close enough to speak without having to shout.
“I’m after a problem. The way I hear it, it’s a mutual problem. I mean, you have a pretty good racket here.” She paused to make sure this was sinking in. “You don’t have to work all that hard to feed. Plenty of wannabes and tourists looking to walk on the wild side at ‘vampire clubs’. You keep the body count low and stay off the radar, so no one bothers you. Some idiot’s about to wreck all that, though. He’s stirring up the kind of trouble that’s going to get you noticed and ruin your cushy setup.”
“What do you want from us?” the spokesvamp asked, cautiously. Everyone in the room seemed to be weighing their options.
“You guys point me in his direction and I take care of it. No one gets in my way, I don’t have to get in yours. As long as everyone plays by the rules, things keep going the way they’ve been.”
“And if we don’t?”
“Then I’m far less discriminating about who gets dusted, and I might call a few more Slayers to come join in on the fun. Really clean up the place.”
There was utter silence for a minute. But it was the kind of silence that told Buffy she was close. They knew who she was talking about, but no one wanted to be the first one to speak up.
“The sooner you tell me what I need to know, the sooner I’m out of your hair and you can go back to your drinks.”
“You’re looking for Daniel,” said someone from the back of the room.
She looked around until she identified the vamp who had spoken. He was thin and weedy, his deep voice at odds with his appearance.
“That’s the guy.”
“He doesn’t come in here that often. He prefers live kills. Says we’re all stupid for being so tame.”
“ I bet stupid isn’t all he calls you. Is he local?”
“Yeah.” This time it was a female who looked like she’d been a dancer. She had the toned, taut body, and unlike most vamps, knew how to dress to show it off. Buffy was willing to bet that she had no problems finding victims. “I don’t know who sired him, but he used to be a wannabe. Saw him in Onyx every time I went for a couple of years. About eight months back, he showed up and I realized he wasn’t a wannabe anymore.”
“Anyone know where he hangs out?”
Blank stares greeted her.
“He’s not a mixer, Slayer,” the original informant told her.
Another vamp piped up, “He’s been siring himself a whole clan, and one or two of his children have probably got a childe too by now. He’s not talkative, but if you pay attention, he’s been hinting he’s got plans
Buffy frowned. She didn’t like the sound of that.
“I heard the cops in this town were on top of things. How can he be siring so many minions without them picking up on it?”
“Covers his tracks,” the dancer told her. “Doesn’t go for the obvious, tries to make it look like any bodies he leaves lying around died from something else. He might be burying some of them in the desert, too. If you have a car, it’s not hard to pick a patch of nowhere to dump a body.”
Seeing that no one was volunteering more, Buffy nodded.
“Just so you know, I’ll be back tomorrow night. And probably every night after until I find this guy. So if you know anyone who knows more, you might want to bring them for a drink tomorrow.”
With that, she exited the bar. She had a phone call to make.
Catherine was getting ready to leave when she remembered she hadn’t talked to Greg about the DNA sample from the vampire case. She was just in time to catch him before he left his lab.
“Greg! It’s been such a hectic night I forgot…that DNA sample I brought in tonight, the one from the Onyx club?”
“Yeah, I saw it. It’s way down the queue. There’s about a dozen things higher priority right now. I really can’t move it up unless you’ve got a really good reason…” Greg trailed off.
“Can you run it first thing tomorrow night? Compare it to the DNA from the Sansom case. I got it off a girl at that vampire club, but she’s a tourist, probably only around for the next few days. I want to know if she’s involved in my case before she skips town.”
“I can bump a few things down the list if you’re worried about her leaving town. Is she another vampire?”
“I’m not sure, but I don’t think so,” Catherine told him. Several hours later and she still hadn’t made the connection. She was sure there was something about the girl, but whatever it was eluded her. “But quite a few ‘vampires’ kept a respectful distance and I caught her threatening one of them outside the back door.”
“Maybe she’s the bride of Dracula,” Greg suggested.
“That’s the weird part, Greg. She doesn’t look like she’s part of that scene. She looked like a cheerleader.”
Greg shook his head. “Cheerleaders and vampires in the same case. We see the strangest things.”
Buffy wrinkled her nose.
“I thought you were supposed to be a fashion designer? That outfit is downright painful to look at.”
She dodged a kick with ease. Must be a newly risen fledge.
“Too bad for you that’s the only pain you’re causing,” she said with what she knew full well to be an irritating smirk.
Her opponent swung wildly at her, missing by a country mile.
“Jeez, not even a comeback? Not that it matters…”
Buffy thrust her stake into the vamp’s heart and watched in satisfaction as he dusted. Looking up, she realized the sun was creeping over the horizon. Vampires would be going to ground until sunset. That meant she could head back to her hotel. Hopefully by the time she was ready to go out this evening, Willow would have hacked into the Las Vegas police and coroner’s systems and be able to tell her how many suspicious bodies had turned up lately, and which cemeteries to check out.
She was looking forward to getting back to the bathroom of decadence. She figured on a nice long soak in the tub, followed by room service breakfast on the Council’s dime. She needed to relax. Aside from the run-in with investigator lady at the wannabe club, which was more of a nuisance than anything else, her night had been less than successful. At least she’d learned something about the mysterious Daniel, even if she had no idea where he was hiding out or what his plans were.
From the sounds of it, he had ambitions, and was smart as vampires went. That was a bad combination. Word on the street was he was targeting vagrants, down on their luck out of towners, and runaways- people no one would miss. If he was responsible for the girl CSI Willows was investigating, he must have gotten sloppy. Or there was also the more disturbing possibility that he no longer cared if the police found out.
When she reached her suite, she was delighted to see the huge room service menu she could choose from. She finally settled on Belgian waffles and a fruit bowl consisting of several varieties of melon. She ordered it to be delivered in an hour, and went to take the bath she’d been craving since she first saw the massive tub.
While she was soaking in a wonderful jasmine scented bubble bath, she decided she wouldn’t mention the upgrade in her accommodations to anyone in LA. She was enjoying her time alone, but she felt a teeny bit guilty that her sister was missing out on the awesomeness. There hadn’t been time or money to take a vacation since Mom had died, and Dawn deserved a change of pace just as much as she did. Taking off to Vegas on her own to stay in some ratty motel room on the Council’s dime was one thing. But letting her little sister find out about this would be just mean.
As she toweled off after her bath, Buffy promised herself that when she got back to LA, she was going to talk with Giles about scheduling a vacation- a real vacation, not a working one, which she would take Dawn on and pay for with her brand new salary from the Watchers’ Council. Maybe she’d ask Willow and Xander if they wanted to come. They could go someplace sunny and tropical with as little demonic activity as possible. Dawn was a beach person. Maybe Hawaii or the Caribbean.
Pulling on a bathrobe, she wandered out into the living room. As she’d expected, her breakfast had been delivered while she was finishing up her bath. It had been left on the table. The fruit bowl was in a larger bowl of ice to keep it chilled, while the waffles were on a covered plate and still hot. To her surprise, she found an envelope addressed to her next to the dishes.
Opening it, she found a single sheet of paper and a card from one of the hotel restaurants.
“Compliments of Sam Braun. He requests you join him for dinner in the hotel restaurant this evening, 5:30pm.”
She frowned. Who was this Sam Braun?As soon as I finish my waffles, I’m calling LA again. I’m not up for dinner and a mystery.