A Sense of an Ending
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon and NCIS is the product of Don Bellisario.
Intro: Special Agent Buffy Summers is past Sunnydale, ask anyone and they’ll tell you she’s moved on…Truth of the matter is, Buffy Summers is a very good actor. Head Slayer of the IWC she has spent recent years submerging herself in her work, people who think they know her, do not know her at all. Hell she barely knows herself. But when a serial killer targeting slayers across the globe emerges, Buffy is forced to face her own demons, whilst attempting to track the killer. All while trying to discover how, what is apparently a human, has been able to subdue a slayer. At the same time attempting to stay ahead and predict the next victim and the killer‘s next move, but when she comes too close to the truth will Buffy fall prey to the very thing she has been hunting?
'But cold, cold is that resting place,
Shut out from joy and liberty,
And all who loved thy living face
Will shrink from its gloom and thee.'
Darkness was falling as Buffy Summers, senior IWC agent and head slayer accepted the yellow hard hat from her guide. Not that she needed it, but the Metropolitan police force’s ‘finest’ didn’t need to know that.
“Through this way Ma’am.”
He was a uniformed police officer, obviously new on the block, pimple-faced and with a hairstyle that was as dead as the 70’s era that it had been spawned from. She knew the type, she’d dealt with enough police officers over the years, this time on the right side of the law…or the badge as the case maybe.
But really, ma’am? Did she look like a ma’am? Did she have Mom-hair? She was still on the right side of the age line at 28, so why the hell was this kid, who looked like he could be Andrew’s long-lost sibling, calling her ma’am?
She frowned irritably, 5pm on a freezing British winter evening, on a London building site, Buffy Summers stood in her fashionable knee-length duffel coat, a fetching black scarf around her neck, with her hands firmly jammed into her pockets. Even after all this time she still couldn’t get used to the damned weather. She was a California-girl Damnit, she and cold did not mix, neither did she and rain. Which was unfortunate really as this was the stereotypical British weather forecast. Spending a lot of time travelling this didn’t really bother her, but when she was called back to the IWC HQ in London, well then it kicked in at full-force. She hated it…Giles was ecstatic, possibly orgasmic over the fact that -gasp- the weather wasn’t always sunny. But she drew the line when he began to quote a poet who wrote about rain…
And people wondered why Willow spent most of her time in Mexico, Xander in Africa, Andrew in Rome and herself constantly traversing the globe, recruiting and slaying as she went.
She crinkled her nose in distaste as her brand new suede boots were slowly slurped up by the swamp like stuff that these people called ’mud’. It was hell on the wardrobe.
Finally she reached what looked to be a large hole in the ground, surrounded by yellow police tape- warning do not cross - but what she couldn’t see from this angle she knew was already there. The report she’d been sent had clarified that much, an excavated basement that the builders on the site had been re-concreting before they moved on to building the rest of what was intended to be a gazillion floor apartment from the sounds of it.
But what was down there…God she hoped that it wasn’t what she suspected it to be. The bastard (or bitch as the case may be) had been eluding her for 2 weeks. And that was only since she’d been brought on the case by an insistent and worried Giles, previously it had a team of lower level slayers on the case, the case notes she’d managed to obtain were, for lack of a better word, crap. Well, all but one set.
Vi Simmons, an old acquaintance of Buffy’s, one of the infamous Sunnydale slayers, who’d been called to aid herself and Faith in the battle against the First. Though she’d been on the case only a few weeks longer than Buffy, had managed to put together a set of concise and useful notes that were good enough for Buffy to pick the girl as her second for the duration of the investigation.
Earning the sunnydale slayer glares from the other slayers, as much to her irritation, Buffy was still very much an idol or an icon of hero-worship, to many of the other slayers. Well to all but Kennedy, and frankly after what she did to Willow, Buffy was of the personal opinion that the girl deserved to be eaten by weasels, but her that was just Buffy‘s view of the situation. Besides Willow had gotten her own back, who knew that faithful little toaster could be quite so devious?
She flashed her IWC ID at the patrolling law enforcement and they swiftly backed off, causing her lips to tilt into a slight smirk, either Vi had already beaten them down verbally or they’d been warned ahead of time by their fellow officers. Either way, if it got her job done then she didn’t give a damn, though it did give a sense of power that was rather satisfying after being referred to as ’Barbie doll’ by some of the more foolish ’coppers’. Who didn’t seem to be able to put their one brain cell to use in any situation other than breathing and inhaling their food.
“Buffy!” Vi waved her over, her once red-hair dyed brown, at first in a fit of pique shortly after they first set up the IWC, when the other girls had made one ginger comment too many. However the (currently) 23 year old had discovered she did, in fact like mahogany brown hair and kept it, cropped short in a stylish yet practical bob, as always.
One glance at the serious expression on the other slayer’s face was enough to tell Buffy everything he‘d been hoping not to know about the gruesome discovery.
It had happened again.
A serial killer had apparently decided that it was open season on slayers, beginning his/her rampage in Italy, then Germany, and now England. 7 other bodies, 7 dead slayers who would never fulfill their potential, all because of a mysterious and clearly insane individual. Who they knew for a fact was human….making things so much worse. How could a human do this to a person? How were they hunting down slayers that appeared to have nothing in common, some of them didn’t even work for the IWC…And perhaps the most important of all, how had an ordinary human who hadn’t appeared to use magic, been able to overcome a Slayer? Once maybe a lucky shot, twice a co-incidence but 8 slayers killed and dumped in the exact same manner. No one was that lucky, either there was a mole in the IWC, as Giles feared, with access to the files on all active slayers, or someone had discovered a way to track slayers.
Right now Buffy wasn’t sure which was a worse thought.
As she approached the on-scene ME pulled back the sheet he’d been using to cover the body, sure enough it was their killer’s calling card. What remained of the young woman’s body was brutally savaged by human hands, and positioned in a provocative position, a cross seared into her chest the same as the rest of the victims, and like the others, a tarot card clenched in one hand, held there by rigor mortis.
The Death Card….
“Sonova…” Buffy snarled under her breath as she recognised what was left of the facial features, and realised what had Vi so upset.
It was Candice.
One of the remaining Sunnydale slayers. Who’d survived the Bringers, survived turok-khans, survived the battle with the First. Gone on to be a pretty successful Slayer….only to end like this. Dumped in a ditch, with her dignity ripped to shreds, the cheery smile she’d usually worn, extinguished.
She swiftly, curtly, gave the ME the address to which the body was to be transported, an IWC facility, linked up to HQ. She really wasn’t feeling like talking or making nice right now, in fact she was feeling like going home and getting piss-drunk on that bottle of Glenmorangie whiskey which Giles had given her for her last birthday and the stuff he swore by, and she hated with a passion. But right now she didn’t really give a damn. Seeing as she didn’t drink, she didn’t have anything else. Too many bad memories of 5 million B.C Buffy to make her fond of alcohol…ever.
“Well get him for this…right Buffy?” Vi turned to her, face hard, but her eyes desperate for an affirmative, all child-like innocence.
Buffy couldn’t remember how long it had been since she’d been that innocent. Probably since she’d died…the first time. After all she’d already gotten to 3 on that count…luck number three…hopefully that meant she wouldn’t be dying again anytime soon. It had become such a cliché.
“Yeah Vi….we’ll stop ‘him’.” She nodded, her honey-blonde hair tossed in the chilled North wind, she turned her stubborn expression away from the shell that had once been Candice.
“We’ll stop him…”
“Do you want to know something….” Vi winced, a slight movement, but Buffy’s enhanced senses, which had if anything increased over recent years (something to be said for slayer longevity), had easily picked up on it.
“What?” She grunted, keeping her focus on what she was doing.
“I always wondered why Willow and Xander never used to let you drive when we were in Sunnyhell….kind of got my answer now.” The younger Slayer whimpered, clinging to the handle which Xander had once upon a time in a car with Buffy, nicknamed the ‘Oh Shit Handle’ that was to ‘Be clung to in the unfortunate and hopefully unlikely event of being stuck in a car when the Buffster was driving’.
A smirk curled Buffy’s lips upward, it wasn’t her fault her slayer senses reacted too fast for the car. Silly, silly passengers, she might be terrifying to be in a car with, but she’d only ever crashed once. That had been completely the other guy’s fault during the whole Band Candy incident, that she honestly preferred not to think about, especially the knowledge she had thanks to her brief foray into the world of the psychically ’gifted’.
“Oh come on, you’re a slayer, show some backbone.” Buffy laughed, taking a particularly vigorous turn on the way to the IWC morgue.
“I would but I think I left it a few miles back down the motorway…” Vi whimpered, taking on an increasingly green tinge.
“Oh hell no. There will be no nausea and/or sick-age in my car. I just had it serviced.”
She glared suspiciously at the other Slayer, as she lovingly stroked the wheel of her new car. She’d bought it herself, separate from the council company cars, a deep metallic blue BMW soft top, that she adored and did not want to spend the next few months cleaning out due to a slayer unable to keep a grip on her own stomach’s actions.
“Just get me off this ride…” Vi groaned, squeezing her eyes closed tightly.
Hours later, Buffy found herself and Vi waiting in the morgue, where Candice’s body had been brought to for autopsy by an IWC medical examiner/wiccan who went by the name of Dr. Mark Holly, Holls for short to most people who knew him.
Vi had a decidedly queasy look about her, despite her status as a slayer and their constant battle between keeping clothes nice, shiny and new against the variety of various demon goos of all though shades and colours of the rainbow. Like some warped version of Skittles really.
But she’d noticed that iffy-ness about the morgue in some of the slayers, despite their calling. Maybe it was the clinical efficiency of it all. Stainless steel tables glinted in stark overhead lighting, jars and specimen bottles crammed into countless shelves along the wall. Or maybe it was just the reminder that everyone, slayers more than most, were mortal, would one day die.
Gods she was morbid these days. Could probably out-brood Angel on her worst days, and that was a feat, going against the ‘Dark Prince’ in a wallowing contest and winning…Not that he was around to go up against, having died going up against the Circle of the Black Thorn. They’d arrived in time to save Gunn and the Old One inhabiting Fred’s body- Illyria, but were too late to save Angel, Wesley or Spike. Apparently Angel had gone down fighting a dragon and taken it with him, show off…
Shaking her head as if to free herself from a layer of water, like a dog would, she blocked out those thoughts. The past was the past, and she planned for it to stay there.
“What have we got Holls?” Buffy queried, forcing away the desire for small talk to distract herself from this situation.
She did not need to be distracted, she needed to be on her game in order to stop the S.O.B who’d done this to those girls.
“Hello to you too Summers.” the ME rolled his eyes. “10 separate stab wounds in total. Added onto the usual…signature. It’s in the same style as ever, the killer looks to have cleansed the marked portion of the skin before using a brand to burn the symbol into the flesh. Pre-mortum again by the looks of things.”
Buffy nodded her agreement at the observation.
“How’d you know?” Vi questioned, tilting her head to one side in a manner reminiscent of a puppy-dog.
“She struggled, the brand has been jarred to suggest as such.” Holly frowned, his grey eyes taking on a more stormy cast. “Same as the others, she was chained down whilst our killer worked. He’d beaten her first, the knife wounds came later. The wounds are from the same blade, a serrated edge by the looks of the incisions. The one to the throat looks to have been the killing blow. Nicked the carotid artery. From the looks of things she drowned on her own blood.”
Buffy gritted her teeth, clenching her fists tightly enough for her freshly manicured nails to pierce the skin.
“I’m gonna assume that there were defence wounds.” She stared at the ME, his expression giving nothing away.
“Numerous, but not nearly as many as there should be for a Slayer, it’s unlikely that these would be able to slow one of you birds down.” He ran a hand through his mop of black hair, streaked with grey. Disappointment etched in his features.
“Our killer was as thorough with regards to evidence as always then?” Vi questioned, flipping through the notebook she’d taken to carrying around in her pocket, carrying short hand information for later.
“Only a few fibres, I’ve sent them to the lab, the same unidentifiable ones as before I believe. But you'll have to check that with the blokes in the Lab. Whoever this is they’re too anally retentive for their own damn good.” Holls huffed, his inability to obtain any useful forensic evidence from the bodies had become somewhat of a personal insult to him as a professional.
“Can you give me a TOD?” Buffy focused on studying the body and not mentally linking it to the cheery party-girl that she’d once known.
“Deep body temp was taken at the scene and I double checked. By the looks of things, if nothing affected the predicted cooling rate, Miss Darrin here’s been dead for weeks. Same as the others this looks to have been a…” Holls began, but was cut of by a certain blonde slayer.
“Body dump, any signs of…” Her voice trailed off.
“No, no signs of sexual assault. Looks like she was dumped a few days ago, there are however signs that her body was frozen for a brief period between death and the killer's disposal of the body. That’s all I can give for now. You know where to find me if any further questions arise.” Holls nodded, steering them both towards the cold steel door of the morgue.
“I’ll call if anything comes up Doc.” She nodded seriously, shuffling Vi out of the room and, much to the younger Slayer’s horror, back into the BMW.
Buffy entered the main foyer of the main IWC Headquarters located in one of the more expensive sections of the London scene, and old building all sandstone and stained glass with an air about it that reminded her of a church, especially the wide marble mosaic swirling outwards from a Catherine wheel design that covered the entrance hall floor.
Clutched in one hand was her caffine-fix, her regular Starbucks Mocha frappachino, currently the only thing keeping her up and running despite her Slayer advances. In fact she suspected that most of the blood in her veins had by this point become almost pure coffee. Gotta love those addictions. Spike had smoked, Wills cleaned, Dawnie slurped down the oddest culinary concoctions, Giles literally inhaled his tea. As for her, she was no where near legible until her daily dose of the best Colombian lighter fluid, a. k. .a. the IWC office coffee, more oil than anything else. These days she’d taken to carrying a cup of at least half-full Starbucks around her in order to escape hurting the feelings of the truly evil individuals who were heartless enough to call ‘that’ coffee, when she refused another cup of the stuff. But Buffy wasn’t about to offend the people who also happened to make the best low fat coffee cake on the planet.
Mmmnn it made her tingle just thinking about it.
She’d sent Vi back to her apartment, the girl had looked dead on her feet after the day’s events, and Buffy hadn’t begrudged her. She was feeling equally as mentally and emotionally exhausted, but couldn’t afford to stop right now. Giles had called her to an office-powwow.
He was sounding so much more watcherly these days, unsurprising with him being the head of the International ’Watchers’ Council, but still. He was so secretive, as though his decisions didn’t affect all of them. It had also been his decision to put off calling her in, so needless to say tweed-boy wasn’t exactly it her good books at this point.
In fact she was tempted to lock him in a room with Andrew when he was on one of his geek-spiels and see how superior he acted then. Two hours in a room with the Nerdinator would have any one reaching for the nearest axe and/or gas canister.
And suitable revenge for the stunt those two had pulled with her double in Italy and the so-called ’Immortal’, like she’d ever date such a slimy worm.
Not that her own love life had been much to write home about over more recent years, after so many relationship disasters had piled up on the ‘Buffy list of dating no-no’s’ she rarely considered anything other than occasional one nighters.
One of the things she missed from her time on the mouth of hell- literally- was the sex. Along with the good times, the close friendships that had faded over more recent years, the closeness to Dawn that she no longer had….
She was dragged from her thoughts as Giles’ secretary, a young slayer named Emily, waved her through into the office of the big-cheese himself.
“Watcher-mine.” Buffy nodded.
“I’m going to assume the body was dumped.” Giles sighed, slumped behind his large oaken desk looking so much older than the last time she’d seen him, seemingly aging a decade over that short period.
“How’d ya guess?” She drawled coldly, it was just like to others, body dump weeks after the actual death. “How the hell has Candice been missing for weeks with no-one reporting it? The ones in France and Germany I can understand not being reported in, they’ve been undercover (or most of them), why the hell did no one report her missing?”
“Because she was supposed to find the killer….” Giles trailed off as Buffy’s eyes widened.
“Bait? You used her as bait?” The outraged tone of the senior slayer was enough to make her Watcher wince.
“She came to me, one of the other victims was…close to her.” Giles massaged the bridge of his nose. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”
“Well it was. Why didn’t you tell me?” She demanded wearing the infallible resolve face, Willow’s trademark and one of the most powerful weapons within the council, second only to the Puppy dog eyes that she was an expert at.
“It started before you were involved, and…I didn’t think my dear girl. And for that I am truly sorry. But its something I will have to live with.” Giles crumpled inward, and she couldn’t help but wince. She’d never seen her Watcher like this, not even after Jenny’s death, suicidal and bent on wrecking a bloody vengeance, yes, completely docile and up for a round of self-flagellation, no.
“Giles…” She reached out to rest her hand over his, providing comfort. They’d drawn apart since Sunnydale, as had all her relationships really (except Faith who turned up as often as a bad penny), but he had been like a father to her and in the end that was what mattered.
He shot her a grateful look, interlacing his fingers with hers, and she suddenly noted how skeletal they looked, it wasn’t just this situation that was getting to Giles, age was catching up. Not blatantly, but enough to be picked up by her super-eyes.
“I suppose you’re wondering how I knew about the body dump.” Giles sighed, changing the subject, apparently not willing to discuss his current exhausted condition.
Stuffy British man, all Edwardian when it came to showing weakness.
That whole stiff upper lip thing got real old, real fast and Buffy was strongly resisting the urge to call Willow and inform her of his lax interest in his own health. Technically speaking it was the adult version of ‘telling’ but Willow would be much better at mother henning than her. She wasn’t exactly the mothering kind, hell she’d essentially murdered her own tamagochi, sitting on poor Mr Gordo Jnr when he least expected it. May he rest in peace (or pieces to be accurate).
“Yeah, I was kinda with the wiggins about how you knew that.” Buffy nodded the affirmative, putting her previous thoughts to one side, they would need careful planning and execution which would have to wait until later.
“Who ever our killer is…they’ve struck again.” Giles responded, standing and turning to stare solemnly out the window.
“What!” Buffy was all but shrieking by this point. “Where? What the hell…that’s completely different from the usual MO.”
“True, but the chances of a copycat are non-existent, especially with how tightly we've suppressed any and all information regarding the entire case. And as for where….Washington D.C.”
“Oh you have got to be kidding. Damnit Giles, how is this sicko getting around? We’ve been checking any and all flight details for a related link in the murder locations…nothing. How could they have gotten there so quickly? Holls said the body had to have only been dumped a few days ago.” Buffy growled her frustration and resisted the urge to take her troll hammer to the nearest wall, statue or any inanimate object that happened to cross her path in this moment of ire.
“The victim was a 25 year old Slayer who turned down a position with the IWC. A petty officer Danielle Meyers. We got the information when an American federal agency ran a multi-departmental scan of fibres similar to the mysterious and unidentifiable ones we’ve found on all victims. Willow hacked the connection and has locked down all their...computer-box....things. The data she retrieved has informed us of the identical nature to the other crimes. The Agency’s Director was most forthcoming once I had flashed our credentials and after a particularly commanding phone call from the President of the United States.” Giles shot her a weak smile. “She agreed to a joint investigation.”
Buffy almost whistled, she’d forgotten how devious Giles could be.
“You really are an evil mastermind aren’t you.” She muttered, causing Giles to do the stuttery-thing.
“W-well…I’ve arranged a jet to transport yourself and Vi over the pond, o to speak. Along with clearance to reveal all by the mystical side of things, seeing as whoever our killer is appears to be human. I’ve also agreed to send over the information we’ve collected so far. So please Buffy, play nicely and share with the other children.” He gave a groan that implied that he knew full well she’d probably give her temporary partners a hard time during the case.
“I will if they do.” She gave a mock pout. “Can't promise anything about Vi though, she’s evil dontcha know.”
“So, who will I be working with? Hopefully no military, I had a lifetime of those during the Initiative incident.” Buffy rolled her eyes.
“Ahem….well, funny you should mention that really…” Giles coughed nervously.
“Gi-les. Tell me they aren’t military.” Buffy’s eyes narrowed suspiciously in the direction of her entirely too shifty Watcher.
“Well technically they’re law enforcement for the marines. NCIS, it stands for Naval Criminal In…” Giles began, cleaning his glasses, a very clear sign of a guilty conscience in this case, as opposed to the ‘let-me-clean-my-glasses-so-I-don’t-have-to-watch-your-childish-and-inane-hormonally-charged-antics’ action that had happened more often than not back in the dreaded years of High School.
“Investigative Service. Yeah I know. Dated an army ranger, remember. I could probably still even do some of the hand signals.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “When’s my flight?”
She could put up with them if they weren’t all chauvinistic and cover-uppy, a là Reilly and co. Just as long as she could stop their killer, preferably before the head count reached double figures.
“It’s waiting for you at Heathrow. Violet has already received a call. I suggest you head to your flat and pack. I’ve ensured your weapons will pass through security.”
“Thanks for the heads up Giles.” She forced a smiled onto her face that even he, king of the oblivious-people, would be able to realise it falsity.
Backed up, naturally by the sarcasm that permeated her voice.
“Looks like I’m headed to Washington.”
Oh yeah, Willow was definitely getting that call, possibly Dawnie as well…It depended on how well this trip went.
She was leaning heavily towards the bad end of the spectrum. After all, let it not be said that Buffy the vampire slayer didn’t have that healthy dose of cynicism a day to keep her going. Or was that apples?
Nonetheless, Giles would be having visitors in the VERY near future.
A/N: Read and Review.