Disclaimer : I don't own the copyright on either Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Underworld.
It was night by the time the coach Buffy had caught pulled into the bus terminal. She slouched against the window and watched the bright gaudy adverts flit by. The bus wasn’t one of the newer types, and despite spending some time earlier fiddling around with the overhead air controls, it was still stifling.
As the bus swung into bay 14A, Buffy got up, and casually put the strap of her backpack over her right shoulder. The other passengers were already up out their seats. She’d sat at the back on purpose: when you were right at the back you didn’t have anyone behind you to watch you.
For a moment she wondered how Greyhound actually made any money out the route – it wasn’t like there was an excess of passengers. An elderly woman had sat near the front on the right, probably dozing most of the way. A family with a noisy boy of about eight sat near the front left. The only other company was a young couple, in their early twenties if she wasn’t very much mistaken. God! That pair made her sick. Like she couldn’t smell what they were up to.
Anyway they were all disembarking now, including the clingy couple and their gross smells. She turned, smiled, and gave a small ‘thank you’ to the driver. He didn’t respond. Just another example of how she wasn’t cool, she thought to herself. Turning quickly, Buffy exited down the two steps and onto the raised curb of the bay.
Entering the main building, Buffy blinked momentarily with the bright light of the arc lamps overhead. Looking around she could see a huge digital clock in the centre of the room that read 19:10:02. There were still plenty of people around, and a lot of them looked like tourists or LA natives going on day trips. She guessed that seven o’clock wasn’t exactly late to be returning from a day out.
Finding the exit was easier said than done. They’d ‘remodelled’ the bus station a couple of year back, and it was completely different to how she remembered it. On one side the bus stops marched off, while on the other were a series of shops selling food, cigarettes and cheap food from what she could see. Deciding that following the bus stops as they counted down seemed like a plan, Buffy started walking and dodging the other people at the station. Stop 8 was really busy, and she could see a guy in a blue crinkly shell suit jacket arguing the someone from the bus company.
Going down the station was, apparently, the right thing to do seeing as how she had reached an exit that was festooned in adverts and flanked on either side with shops selling food and toursity type rubbish. Avoiding the tourists, Buffy made it out onto the brightly lit street, and she couldn’t see the back of the station soon enough.
There hadn’t been an elaborate and clever master plan when she’d left Sunnydale. It was pretty much a case of not having a lot of choice. She’d killed Angel. And, in doing so had saved the world from being sucked into hell. Logically, she knew she’d done the right thing, but it didn’t stop it hurting inside. At least it was over. Finally.
Her mother though… Buffy didn’t want to even think about it.
Looking around she crossed the intersection and making her way up the street noticed a snazzy looking hotel – all polished glass and fake wood. Okay, Buffy thought to herself, that’s not really going to work. Not on the two hundred dollars she’d taken with her anyway.
Finding somewhere to crash was kind of essential to the young blonde. She needed somewhere cheap as well. Having lived in LA before moving to Sunnydale, Buffy knew it well enough to know what she was looking for, and soon enough was walking towards a red brick four story building that had a worn looking sign proclaiming it the ‘Peterson Palace’.
Entering the building she was put into a small room with a counter with no one behind it. Buffy could hear that there must be someone around, and walking up to the counter noticed a guy sitting in an adjoining office watching cable. The pale green paint was peeling and didn’t look like it had been touched in the last thirty year. Typical, she thought to herself, he hadn’t even heard her come in.
“Hello!” Buffy said loudly.
The guy, who was a bit overweight, got up and turned around. He had a podgy face with dark hair that was greying at the temples. Buffy decided that he smelt of beer and stale sweat – sometimes being the slayer really wasn’t an advantage. He came out from his office and took his place behind the desk, both hands on the counter. She didn’t like the way he looked her up and down.
“Yeah, can I help ya?” he said, his voice surprisingly high for his size.
“I’m looking for a room,” Buffy told him.
“It fifteen bucks a night, or eighty for the week,” he told her.
“Okay. Can I have a room for the week?” Buffy asked taking out a wodge of cash from her pocket and counting out four twenties.
“Sure,” he fiddled around with something under the counter and produced some keys along with a form. “Room 402. What’s the name?”
Buffy was tempted to give her real name, but then decided against. She was under no illusions that Giles and her friends would be looking for her, and she didn’t feel like being found just yet. “Anne.”
“Right… well, nice to have you Anne,” he said deliberately emphasising her name. “I’m Lenny. If you need anythin’ jus’ let me know.”
“Thanks,” Buffy said taking the offered key and making it over to the stairs.
The stairs were painted in the same peeling green paint and were lit by the occasional light bulb – which really didn’t do much to help the general dingy feel of the place. Making her way up to the top floor, Buffy soon found room 402.
On taking a look around it was actually more luxurious than she had expected for the money. It had a small kitchenette, a bathroom and a bedroom. There was a phone on a small table next to the bed.
Dumping her bag next to the bedside table she flopped back on the bed. To her slightly hyperactive sense of smell, she could tell that the bed hadn’t been cleaned in a good long time, but she guessed she could be so picky.
Buffy had already been thinking that she would have to get a job. She wasn’t going to be able to pay for the rent on this place from her remaining hundred and twenty for ever. A vague idea of working waiting tables had occurred to her – possibly in a diner. If she could get a night shift that paid better that would be a bonus.
Of all her lack of planning as to what she was going to do when she did finally get to LA, Buffy had been clear about one thing : she wanted to get a job, forget, and as far as it was ever possible for her – lead a normal life for a couple of months. After that, she might be able to think a bit straighter about what had happened to her.
It was tempting to lay back where she was and go to sleep. She’d been sitting doing nothing for the last six hours on a bus though, and didn’t see what even more rest would do for her. Not that she would actually sleep for that long anyway. Recently, Buffy had tended to find that much more than four or five hours sleep and she was back awake again, fully rested. Whether this was as a side effect of her being the slayer, or as a reaction to the pressure she’d been under, she still wasn’t completely sure.
Getting back up, Buffy pulled the black leather of her coat back around her, before exiting back out of her room and locking the door behind her. Her rucksack didn’t exactly contain anything valuable – just a few clothes – but that didn’t mean she wanted to loose it either.
Hurrying down the street, she dodged between a couple of parked cars, and made her way across the road, to look in the window of a dinner that was shut up. It looked a clean kind of place that served day customers. The sign above the shop named it Bernie’s Burger. There weren’t any signs for vacancies in the window, so Buffy carried on. Most of the shops seemed to be smaller types: watch menders, laundrettes, pizzerias, cloth vendors, and so on. A lot of them had steel shutters over the windows and doors.
Dodging down an alley, she headed to the next street. A couple of lads were hanging around mid way down. They stopped talking as she approached. Buffy guessed that this probably wasn’t the type of area or alley a girl like her would usually choose to go down, so that explained their lack or talking. She didn’t make eye contact with them, and they didn’t cause her any problems.
The next street was much like this, so she wandered for some time until she could make out the beat of a club at the edge of her hearing. Following her ears she discovered a large club come bar that opened onto the street. There were guys in trendy jeans and shirt, and girls wearing dresses that revealed more than they covered. Buffy felt distinctly manly dressed in her blue jeans, white top and black leather jacket – not exactly the fashion of choice.
Every late opening bar was a potential job opportunity though, so she’d see if they had any vacancies. Okay, she thought to herself, so the chances of whoever ran Calypso actually giving her a job were slim – but they were much better with her asking if they had any jobs that if she didn’t.
The guys on the door didn’t pay her much attention, and Buffy returned the same compliment. A woman next to the door asked her if she wanted to leave her coat. Buffy told her not.
On getting into the main bar she could see it was an almost regular bar, constructed of some modern looking light wood and brushed steel. This had a number of tables and booths, which then led to a kind of dance floor. The general lighting scheme seemed to be red: Buffy’s official least favourite colour.
She made it through the crowd to the bar, and even managed to avoid having to pull any slayer moves to get anyone out of her way. A fragile looking brunette with makeup that was too heavy sidled up to her.
“Can I get you anything?” she asked, a fake bored smile plastered on her face.
“Umm… I was wondering if you had any jobs going?” Buffy asked.
The brunette behind the bar, who Buffy noticed was called ‘Claire’, seemed to think for a moment. “Oh, you’ll want to see Martin, he’s the manager – he’ll be in tomorrow afternoon?”
“Thanks,” Buffy said, returning her own fake smile.
“So you gonna have something to drink?” the woman asked again.
Jesus! Buffy complained to herself. Did these guys get paid on commission or something? “Just a Coke – diet.”
The girl dispensed it. “One dollar sixty.”
Buffy pulled out a ten and handed it over begrudgingly. She supposed that she couldn’t tell her to put her one dollar sixties worth of Coke back in that stupid machine. Who ever heard of a Coke costing one sixty – she could go down Walmart and get a frikkin’ massive bottle of it for a dollar.
“Thank you!” The spindly woman said handing Buffy her change. ‘Claire’ had that annoying fake smile plastered on her face again.
Taking her drink, Buffy wandered over to a booth that wasn’t occupied and drank half her coke. She cast a sceptical eye over the people dancing – all those people dancing and having a good time really rubbed in the fact she was here on her own. Gulping the rest of her drink down in one go, she turned to leave, and stopped dead.
She was getting a tingling, and not of the nice warm and fuzzy type. This was a tingling at the back of her neck that generally meant something not quite natural was close. Given her luck, Buffy wasn’t exactly surprised, but she wasn’t pleased either. She’d specifically come to LA to get away from the supernatural and her freaky life, and now, after less than a day, she was having it dumped on her again.
Scanning the people in the club she was trying to find who it was. She was so busy concentrating on this that she didn’t notice a young man come up to her.
“E-Excuse me…” he started, hesitating.
“What!” Buffy snapped, and looked at the deer caught in headlights look on his face. He was probably around the same age as her. She’d never thought of herself as scary until now. “Sorry… you startled me,” Buffy explained.
“Oh… I’m sorry,” he almost pleaded. “I just wondered, if I could… buy you a drink… if you don’t mind…”
Buffy was annoyed with herself as she still hadn’t got a clear idea of where the odd feeling she was getting was coming from. She looked back at the lad still standing there – he was starting to look like he thought she was weird. “Oh… sorry… my mind was elsewhere.”
“That’s okay… I just wondered if you wanted a drink?” he asked again.
“Oh,” Buffy should have expected that. She’d of actually liked some food, and taking a drink off him, while sounding nice, would just lead him to think she was interested in him. And while he seemed nice enough, he really wasn’t Buffy’s type. “Sorry. One’s enough.”
“Oh… okay,” he said sounding a bit disappointed. He wandered off, and Buffy forgot him instantly. She focussed her attention back on the feeling.
Ah-ha, Buffy mentally said. She’d spotted who was causing her slayer sense to tingle – or to be more accurate, the two people causing it, unless she’d completely lost her touch. Two guys, both with dark brown hair that was a bit straggly, and both wearing jeans with chains. One had a denim shirt on while the other had a simple white t-shirt. Probably in their late twenties, and on the surface there was a certain rawness to the feel of them.
From Buffy’s point of view though it went deeper than that. It was like how if she had two boxes – one with a bear in it, and the other with a man, she could tell the difference without needing to see into the box. She’d know one was an animal and the other was not. And that’s how it was with these two who were standing casually at the bar. To everyone else they were just regular guys (well… Buffy guessed to some of the girls they might seem like regular hot guys), but to her there was something off about them.
It was tempting for her to walk out the bar and leave them to do whatever it was they were up to. They were probably just going to have a drink, or even pickup a couple of girls. Of course, there was also the chance they were here to lure some kids out and kill them or use them in some kind of freaky ceremony.
That, and, as much as Buffy would have liked there to be an off switch for being the slayer, there wasn’t. She could ignore the feelings it sent to her brain, and walking away wasn’t that hard. The most difficult thing was dealing with asking herself what if? What if she did leave now : okay, chances were nothing would happen. But if she did read about some missing teenager in the paper the next day, she’d never know if she could have saved them. If she could have stopped them getting attacked.
So, with a sigh, she got up and headed over to a part of the bar that was away from her two suspects and asked for another coke. It was a grinning blond that served her this time. If she was going to get a job here she would have to practice her fake smile in the mirror before coming tomorrow. She headed back to her chair.
Over the last hour sitting in her booth Buffy had seen the kind of weird behaviour from her two perps that she would expect from the supernatural. They’d been at the bar for about a whole fifteen minutes and probably got hit on by at least two different girls – each. They then go on the dance floor.
Okay… so Buffy had to admit, there was nothing technically out of the ordinary so far… but then it got kind of weird. They both dance around with different girls – after about ten minutes one guy seems to stick to a fairly average looking girl, while the other guy keeps switching partners until he hooks up with some bimbo who looks like a porn star or something. Why does guy one stick with his average looking girl, when he’s already been dancing with other girls who are way hotter.
Not that Buffy thought there was anything wrong with guy one’s girl… she just wasn’t as… blatant… as the girl who guy two picked. Oh, Buffy was sure that guy one’s girl was very nice and all, but this wasn’t exactly the setting for riveting conversations, so looks kind of meant quite a lot. So his actions made no sense whatsoever.
So, after an hour of either of them plying their respective partners with drinks and dancing with them, they lead them off the dance floor and make as if to leave. Buffy held back to avoid attracting attention, and let them almost finish collecting their stuff before following along behind them.
Keeping her distance, Buffy followed them down about three or four blocks before coming to a grimy looking apartment building. This one even made her dive look classy. The ground floor was clad in a light coloured stone, but the upper two stories were red brick. One of the downsides of keeping a block behind to avoid them realising she was following them was that she could only see what building they had gone into, and not which apartment.
Also, given that they’d not taken the two girls into the nearest alley to kill them, Buffy was fairly certain they weren’t going to do anything too bad. But, being on the cautious side, she decided she would rather check out what was going on just to be sure.