: I did not create and do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or CSI.
A/N: The challenge specifies Dawn and Buffy in Vegas. Dawn will appear later in the story, but in the beginning, it's just Buffy.
Buffy glanced around the room. Not at all what she’d been expecting when she booked a bargain room on a website. For what she’d paid, she had been expecting a crappy motel room off the Strip somewhere. Instead she’d ended up in one of the best suites the Rampart had to offer. She wasn’t sure how that had happened, but the manager insisted they’d double-checked. Her booking had been upgraded, and she was definitely supposed to be here. Once she’d seen the luxurious bathroom, she’d stopped arguing.
A Slayer was needed to clear up a small problem in Vegas. Seeing as she desperately needed a break, Buffy had claimed the assignment. Then she’d talked Angel into running interference with Giles and the others until she was already on the plane. She’d felt slightly guilty about going on her own, but she really needed some time to herself. No Dawn, no Giles, no Scoobies. In the wake of the last days of Sunnydale, she was pretty sure they could all use some alone time to unwind and process what had happened. Only trouble was, they were all shacked up in the Hyperion, tripping over each other no matter which way they turned.
This Vegas thing shouldn’t be too difficult to deal with. There was a blood bar or two in Vegas, had been for years, according to Angel. Sin City was America’s playground, and that included the undead and demonic. Unlike Sunnydale, the actual body count stayed pretty low, and any vamps that actually drained people knew how to cover their tracks. They had a vested interest in staying off the radar. Not because they were worried about law enforcement so much as because they were worried about what the casino owners would do if the other kind of nightlife in Vegas came to their attention.
But lately someone had stopped playing by the rules and the bodies were piling up- thus the need for a Slayer. And thus her little jaunt to Vegas. Solo. Angel had given her the name of a local contact if she needed any help, but it was supposed to be an easy job. Find out who was draining the “vamp culture” kids who thought they were just playing around when they hung out at blood bars. Deal with them. Any other vamps or demons she came across were at her discretion.
Glancing at the bathroom with a sigh, Buffy told herself that she’d make the most of it later. For now, work before play like a good little Slayer. She popped open her suitcase and pulled out some clothes good for slaying, but also workable for clubbing. Once she was dressed to her satisfaction, she retrieved her other bag. The “special” one with spells that prevented anyone but her from opening it. The weapons bag.
She decided that while she should only need a stake, a small vial of holy water wouldn’t go amiss. It could be useful for effect. Maybe scare a few of the scene kiddies into realizing just what it was they were playing with. Or frighten a few stupid fledges into cooperating.
Stashing her stake up her sleeve, she headed for the elevator, whistling as she went.
Catherine sighed. This ‘vampire club’ was starting to get familiar. This was the second time she’d been brought here on a case. The second time she’d seen a teenage girl with puncture wounds to the neck. Doc Robbins hadn’t needed to do an extensive autopsy to determine cause of death- exsanguination. This time, though, the girls’ fellow ‘vampires’ were the kind that did actually drink blood. Fortunately for them, DNA had ruled them out.
Looking around the club, she couldn’t spot the “Daniel” she’d been told about. Unlike most of the ‘vampires’ she’d encountered so far, this one didn’t have an outlandish name. But as crowded as the club was, he could be anywhere. A sudden drop in the noise level caught her attention. She looked up to see what was causing the quiet.
A short blonde, dressed nothing like the rest of the Goth-influenced clubgoers, stood just inside the entrance, surveying the club. Catherine was surprised to note that several ‘vampires’ seemed to be trying to make a hasty, unobstrusive exit. What the hell was going on? The girl looked like she should have been completely out of her element, yet she stood there like she owned the place. Undercover cop? But if she is, where’s her partner? Some of these ‘vampires’ definitely recognize her.
To Catherine’s surprise, the other woman’s eyes passed right over her without so much as a flicker of surprise to see another person who looked out of place. The blonde strode to the bar. As she did so, conversation resumed, a low murmur on all sides. The return of the usual noise level kept Catherine from hearing what the blonde said to the bartender. Whatever it was, she headed for the back when she was done. Catherine followed.
She thought she’d lost the girl, until she heard the slam of the back door closing. Hurrying to the door, she opened it slowly. What she saw shocked her. The blonde, who had to be a good five inches shorter than Catherine, had a guy twice her size pinned against a wall.
“It wasn’t me, I swear! I never drained anyone! Arms and shoulders, just a taste! You have to believe me, Slayer!”
The man sounded frantic.
“Would you shut up and listen? I know it wasn’t you. If I thought it was, you'd already be dust. You want me out of your club? Want me to stop scaring the wannabes away? Fine. But I need a name. If I don’t find the ones who have been breaking the rules and deal with them, I won’t be your only problem. In case you hadn’t heard, there’s more than two of us these days.”
“Daniel! It was Daniel!”
The fear in the man’s tone snapped Catherine out of her shock. She pulled her weapon.
“You can do better than that,” the blonde told him, sounding somewhere between bored and disgusted.
“I think you’ve done enough,” Catherine snapped. “Hands on your head and step away from him.”
The way the man’s eyes flicked from the blonde to her told Catherine he wasn’t at all reassured, even though the blonde complied with Catherine’s orders.
“Catherine Willows, Las Vegas Crime Lab. Sir, if you want to make a complaint…”
“No complaint. I just wanna get out of here,” he replied.
“Sir, I assure you,” Catherine began, but he cut her off.
“Save it, lady. I don’t care where you’re from and I don’t need your assurance.”
He stalked off.
Catherine wasn’t sure if she should call for backup to come arrest the girl or not.
“Mind telling me what the hell that was all about?” she demanded, trying to shake the idea that the younger blonde looked familiar somehow. Now that she had a good look at her, the girl couldn’t have been more than twenty-four, tops.
“Yeah, I do mind, actually,” the younger woman replied.
“Try again,” Catherine told her. “You might want to aim for something that convinces me you shouldn’t be on your way downtown in handcuffs.”
To her surprise, the girl rolled her eyes.
“Not to be rude, but if you were going to arrest me, you’d have done it already. I know the law. You don’t have enough to charge me with anything.”
“You might want to re-think that assumption,” Catherine snapped back. This kid was far too sure of herself. “I’m here investigating a murder. There are all sorts of ways I can think of to give you some quality time in lockup to learn some manners. Interfering with a criminal investigation for a start.”
Buffy was inwardly fuming. This was supposed to be a simple job. No one had warned her the Las Vegas Police were also looking into the sudden increase in vampire deaths. Of course, chances were they didn’t realize the deaths were vampire related. Real vampires, anyway. They probably thought it was the club kids taking things too far. Now she had some cop…investigator lady…whatever
on her case. And whoever this woman was, she was infuriatingly competent, even good
at her job. The polar opposite of Sunnydale cops.
“No interference here, ma’am. Just a disagreement between casual acquaintances,” she said, trying for a tone of politeness and hoping this crime lab chick hadn’t heard much.
“You really expect me to take your word for that?” Catherine asked. Do I look like I was born yesterday?
“No, but I don’t really see what else you expect me to give you.”
“A name and address would be a start. A DNA swab wouldn’t hurt either,” Catherine said. It was a long shot, but she couldn’t quite shake the hunch that this girl had something to do with whatever vampire had killed her vic.
Buffy shrugged. “If that’s what it takes.”
She knew darn well her DNA wasn’t on file. Between Riley’s agency and the Watchers, official knowledge of Slayers and their identities was buried so deep it took high level clearances to get at anything that would make the slightest bit of sense. And if anyone did…well, Willow was quite the hacker in addition to being the most powerful witch in the Western hemisphere.
Catherine holstered her gun. She noticed the girl was giving her a funny look.
“Shouldn’t you have a partner or backup or something?”
“Excuse me?” Catherine asked.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but if I wasn’t all harmless and cooperative, you would have been in a pretty bad situation. I thought cops usually worked in pairs so they could watch each other’s backs.”
Catherine sighed. Why do I always get the wiseasses?
“Let’s go. My car is out front, with my kit.”
Buffy gestured for her to lead.
“Nice try," Catherine told her. "You go first, where I can keep an eye on you.”
When they reached her car, Catherine pulled out her kit. She got a scan of the girl’s ID – a California license that listed Buffy Summers as a resident of Sunnydale- and pulled out a cheek swab. To her surprise, the girl didn’t object, and complied with whatever orders Catherine gave. She gave her local address as the Rampart hotel, with a room number which Catherine recognized as one of the high roller rooms. When she had everything she wanted, Catherine turned to the younger woman.
“I don’t want to see you back here tonight, and I better not find out you came back tomorrow night either.”
“Sure,” Buffy agreed. You won’t find out. No one in there is about to call the police. And with a little luck, now that I have a name to go on, I won’t need to bother with this place again.
“I’ll be a good little tourist for the rest of my trip.”
At Catherine’s stern glare, she added in a purposely cheery, “Do you know where the nearest taxi stand is?”
She marched meekly off in the direction the woman indicated and hoped the investigator wouldn’t follow. She had a few demon bars to check out, and then hopefully time to get some clubbing in.
When she got back to lab, Catherine found Nick and Warrick on break.
“I don’t get it,” she told them. “What on earth is the attraction in being a ‘vampire’ and letting someone drink your blood? Or drinking someone else’s?”
Warrick shrugged. Sometimes it surprised him that Catherine could have lived her whole life in Vegas and still not know about the other kind of nightlife. He’d known about vampires since he was ten. He wondered if he should try to clue her in. Granted, whatever had killed Catherine’s vic was probably just another kid pretending, like last time.
Nick laughed. “Kids do stupid things. Don’t tell me you never did anything crazy when you were that age.”
“Oh, I did plenty of stupid and crazy things,” Catherine said drily. “They just didn’t involve drinking blood. But you should have seen the blonde girl I found threatening one of the ‘vampires’. Girl’s lucky I followed her out the door. Looked like one good punch from the guy she was trying to scare would have finished her.”
Nick frowned. “I thought the kids at these clubs were more like Goths gone wild.”
“She wasn’t exactly the normal clientele,” Catherine replied. “You’d have liked her. She was cute. You probably wouldn’t have gotten the leftover teenage attitude from her, though.”
“Had a mouth on her?” Warrick asked.
“It was like trying to tell Lindsey she’s doing something unsafe when she doesn’t want to hear about it, right down to the eyeroll. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought I just found a long lost daughter.”