Everybody Looked the Other Way
Author’s Note: Yes, this is the origin of the Buffyverse version. No, it's not the full story. And yes, the two at the beginning are probably who you think they are; they're also the last "viewpoint killers" we're going to get in the fic.Some folks whispered, some folks talked
But everybody looked the other way
And when time ran out there was no one about
On Independence Day
, Martina McBride
X X X X X
"Sucks that we came back in the summer. No school"
"Yeah. It's okay, though. Still plenty of places we can go."
"What are you thinking?"
"Well, here would be kind of a good start if most of these geezers didn't already have one foot in it."
"Natural selection at its finest. Hey, did you see they came out with a DOOM 3?"
"Yeah, sucks we won't be able to play it."
"Play it? We're going to live it. Did you have an idea?"
"Feel like taking in a baseball game tomorrow?"
"Mr. Cleve! Mr. Hull! What are the two of you doing out of bed? Don't you know it's almost 10:30? You should be asleep by now. Now come along and we'll make sure this doesn't happen again."
"Lord, sometimes I don't know what the two of you are on about. Now come on. It's past your bedtimes."
X X X X X
Nina Cassady had taken no pleasure in slapping Elliot Stabler down, but it had had to be done. She'd never had any intention of heisting Stabler and Benson from Cragen, since she already had Munch and Tutuola at her disposal, but Stabler did need to know that she had a right to know whatever he knew about the Matthew Brodus case.
After she managed to convince him that yes, she had that right (which had required the assistance of Tutuola and Cragen), he'd told her everything she'd wanted and then stormed off. Munch had followed him.
Benson, for her part, had stayed quiet during the exchange until Cassady had asked her explicitly if Stabler had missed anything, and no, not to take that as any indication that Cassady thought he was holding anything back.
"Nothing," she said curtly.
"I have to double check here: Nothing from the victims indicating anything their rapist said about hearing voices?"
"The boss lady there," Tutuola said, "Has this theory that the city's bein' invaded by a flood of wannabes. Your boy there's actin' like he's Matt Brodus, and we got Aileen Wuornos, Richard Speck and Jenny Brandt in custody."
"You're kidding," Benson said.
"Do you have any better ideas?" Cassady asked. "Ones that don't involve possession, obscure drugs or communicable diseases?" Ed Green and George Huang had given her a preliminary report over the phone. The psychiatrist had noticed no physical symptoms, and nothing the people seemed to have in common except for 'hearing voices' -- and even Frankie Morekas, aka Jenny Brandt, denied those. Aileen Woolcott was calm, Ming Chen frantic and agitated, and Frankie Morekas firm in her denials, despite the physical evidence. He was at a loss, but recommended strongly that they be seen at greater length for further analysis.
"Aileen Woolcott is convinced she's doing this for everyone's own good," Huang had said, "Chen has no idea what's going on or why he attacked those girls, and Morekas absolutely refuses to acknowledge the truth. About the only thing they do have in common is hearing the voices, supposedly, of deceased murderers."
Green hadn't noticed anything further, but he did think it might be a good idea to check to see, if possible, what drugs they were taking, if any. Woolcott and Chen gave their permissions; Morekas refused, though they would check with her son and her ex-husband the next morning.
In any event, that was enough for them to cross "communicable disease" off the list of potential causes. She also heard from Huang that the FBI wasn't thinking in that direction, either.
Of course, she knew the truth, or something close to it; her job, as she saw it, was to direct the police away from "possession" and into as many blind alleys as she could find, while taking care of the symptoms and trying to maintain order as best as they could until Kennedy, Buffy and the other Slayers could figure out the root of the problem and take care of it.
"What direction are they thinking in?" she'd asked.
"Officially? They're following a number of leads."
"And unofficially?" Cassady asked, grinning; she knew bullshit when she heard it.
"Unofficially, they're as puzzled as you are. This hasn't technically entered FBI jurisdiction yet -- no one involved has crossed state lines and no one's thinking terrorism -- but no one there imagines that the NYPD or anyone else involved is going to stand on ceremony."
"I wouldn't like to see the FBI giving press conferences on how they're figuring out while the NYPD is standing around with their thumbs up their asses, but otherwise, no. If they figure out what's going on I'm happy to let them have it."
After she'd gotten done talking to Huang, she'd looked up and found Cragen staring at her. "Did I hear you correctly?" He asked. "You're willing to let the FBI take credit?"
"If they figure it out first, sure," Cassady said.
"Even when it's your job on the line?"
Cassady sighed. "I'm really less interested in saving my job than doing what I can to help those people. I'd rather the FBI figure it out in five minutes than us in five days after another hundred people are dead. At this point if Animal Control had any good ideas I'd listen to them. I've had way too many people play politics with me; I'll be damned if I'm going to be one of them."
"Huh," he said. "Interesting." And he'd turned around and left.
Once Munch and Stabler had gotten back from wherever Stabler had stormed off to, Stabler, wearing the phoniest grin this side of Krusty the Klown, had come back and said that he would be delighted to cooperate, before grabbing Benson and heading off to talk to ME Warner.
“Okay,” Cassady said to Munch, “What exactly did you say to him?”
"I told him that if you succeeded, it would look good for everyone, and that if you failed, everyone would blame you and you'd be the laughingstock of New York City."
"And he figured, win-win," Tutuola said.
"Exactly. He won't be giving you any more problems," Munch said.
"Thank you. Look, you guys have been doing pretty much nothing but study reports for a couple of hours. Have you come up with anything?"
"Eyestrain," Munch said.
"What he said," Tutuola said. "Also, about half a dozen of these aren't close enough."
"And these three," Munch said, holding up three folders, "Seem to all be the same person -- someone doing their best John Dillinger impression. Otherwise --"
"Okay. Good catches both. Fresh start tomorrow. Thanks to you both for your help, willing or not. Anything that happens overnight I'm going to pass off to the ESU guys."
"Should we be on call?" Munch asked.
"Yeah, but if I do call you, it'll be because all hell's broken loose."
"Why do I think we need to lay in a few priests?" Munch said.
Right then, the phone rang. Cassady picked it up.
X X X X X
"Charles? I think you've done all you need to do for the day."
The former Watcher said, "I believe you are correct; even a crisis can only give me so much energy, and what I need at the moment, I suspect, is sleep."
"I've called your chauffeur," Kennedy said. "He'll be here to pick you up in about fifteen minutes."
"Thank you, Miss Kennedy," he said. Bull Shannon was back home; Natasha Romanoff had called in, saying that she was available for further tracking if necessary. Kennedy had asked her if her identity as a former Russian spy was public knowledge.
Natasha had said that it was freely available, but it wasn't exactly something she publicized.
"Would you be willing to use it to help us right now?"
Natasha had asked "How?"
And Kennedy had explained the 'alibis' she and Nina Cassady had come up with, and Natasha had responded with a long laughing fit. "Thank you," she said when she was done. "It has been a while since I was able to laugh like that."
"So glad we could amuse you," Kennedy said acidly. "So. What was so funny?"
"You and your Slayers are many wonderful things," Natasha said. "Some of you are even competent liars. But spies? Federal agents? Perhaps, assassins, you could convince people of. But agents? No. Subtlety is not your strength."
"I think I did a pretty fair job."
"Because you convinced three police officers that you could beat them up," Natasha said. "Still, it is the cover story you are stuck with, at the moment."
"We do have someone in the government willing to back up the story." She'd called Riley Finn on the way home, and while shocked, he'd agreed to back their play.
"That is good. You wish my help?"
"What can I do?"
"Join Buffy at Special Victims," Kennedy said. "You may give it that air of authenticity you seem to think we need so badly."
"I would be delighted." Natasha hung up.
Done with Charles, Kennedy then turned to Willow, "Sweetie?"
"Hmmm?" she said tiredly. Woodstock was upstairs, at this point. Kennedy knew Willow was perfectly capable of pushing herself to stay up all night, but didn't want her to if she didn't have to.
"When you go to bed, does the map disappear?"
"Yes. Well, it's not exactly physical: I can't fold it up and stick it in my pocket, and we don't have any witches around to maintain it once I fall asleep. Don't worry. It shouldn't be any problem to start up again tomorrow. And by that point condition apocalypse will be in all its chaos-y glory and we'll have plenty of witches around to take over, so I can concentrate on the exorcism end of things."
"Okay. Well, then, if Nina needs our help overnight she's going to have to tell us where and when. Thanks. You can take it down whenever; I don't think we're going to need it any more tonight."
Willow nodded, closed her eyes, and the map disappeared. "I'll just meet you upstairs," she said.
"I may be a while," Kennedy said. To Kestrel and Harriet: "I know it's been a long day, but could I get you two do at least run a quick regular patrol? A couple of hours is fine; we just need to be sure the vampires of New York know we're not forgetting about them. Paula, we're going to need to have someone on switchboard duty, in case either Nina or Giles tries to call in. You take first shift, I'll take second, and we'll see how Milla's feeling.
"Are we all staying here tonight?" Harriet asked.
Kennedy sighed. "Yeah, I think we are. The sleeping bags will be out by the time you get back."
Kestrel said, "I think that was a hint."
Harriet said, "I'm not waiting around to find out," and they both left.
X X X X X
Buffy had just gotten off the phone with Nina Cassady -- she was about to walk into SVU headquarters -- when she felt a presence behind her. Nothing horrendously supernatural, or even her rusty vamp-sense would have kicked in.
"I know you know I'm here," said a familiar voice in a distinct Russian accent.
"I knew you knew," Buffy said.
"Really? How?" Natasha asked.
"Because you froze long enough for me to determine whether you were a threat or not."
"That would have only told you it was someone who knew you," Natasha said.
"All I needed to know. Someone who knew me and had hostile intent, and was able to get that close, would have been doing his or her level best to take off my head by now."
Natasha smiled and nodded, saying, "Good enough. You, maybe, I could turn into a spy."
"It's hard enough being a vampire slayer; I'm not looking to add to my resume," Buffy said. "What are you doing here, anyway?"
"Kennedy thought your cover as 'federal agents' would be better if you had an actual agent around."
"Even one who worked for the bad guys?" Buffy asked.
"Even that," Natasha said, apparently not offended. "And I've been officially retired from that business for years now, anyway." Buffy knew that unofficially was a different story, but --
"Wait a second. How do you explain being over eighty years old?"
"The public explanation is that there is a line of women like me," Natasha said. "It helped that, once I defected to the US, the Soviets indoctrinated a succession of women as their new Black Widows. Privately, though, I am the only successful result of a Soviet experiment in the supernatural similar to one you are familiar with."
"The Initiative," Buffy said with a sinking feeling.
"Exactly. And our 'Initiative' went public during the fall of communism. I hate to say it, but it may have been what gave your Colonel Walsh her ideas. Even though hundreds of beings, human and otherwise, died horribly, and the only positive result was one woman with a somewhat enhanced ability to heal and a vastly extended lifespan. Apparently that was deemed 'acceptable' by whatever department actually authorized Colonel Walsh's project."
"But not by you."
"No. There are acceptable losses in engagements. These were not engagements. None of them were." She shook her head and said, "In any event, I believe Detective Cassady is waiting for you. Shall we go in?"
"Let's," Buffy said.