A/N: Post series for BtVS, post season 1 for Supernatural. This is the first in a series. The series will be slash, but this story is completely gen and stands on it's own pretty well. It's also complete, so I'll be posting a chapter a week for about a month. Enjoy, and don't forget to let me know what you think!
Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural and I'll be making no profits off either one.
Amazing image by dollarformyname
, thank you so much!!
. . .
The road to the salvage yard was dusty and way too long. Xander cursed his lack of air conditioning for what had to be the hundredth time. The Council would have sprung for a decent car, sure, or at least a nice rental, but this wasn’t really Council business. Xander felt like it was something he needed to take care of on his own. If that meant suffering heat exhaustion for his cause, well, it was too late to change his mind.
The sign for Singer Auto Salvage was almost unreadable, but the stack of cars just beyond the gate left little doubt that Xander was in the right place. He pulled in, relieved to find that there was indeed a house nestled in the midst of the discarded and decomposing vehicular corpses. There was only one car that looked to be in working order parked in front of the house, and it wasn’t the signature black muscle car he’d been told to watch out for. Still, Lorne had assured him that this was the next step in his search for the elusive hunter, and he’d be damned if he was backing down now. He’d sung for this lead, and that wasn’t generally something he did outside the influence of certain tap-dancing demons.
He pulled up to the front of the house and turned off the car. The silence was as oppressive as the heat, and the ticking of his cooling engine echoed loudly through the yard. He thought he heard cicadas off in the distance, but since he didn’t really know what cicadas sounded like, he couldn’t be certain. There was no indication from the house that anyone had heard him drive up, so he got out of the car and slammed the door. Before he could head for the front steps, however, he heard an ominous growling behind him.
Careful to avoid any sudden movements, he turned around to find a large, angry looking dog standing behind him. He offered it a small smile, but the tail remained motionless and the teeth bared.
“Hey, nice doggie, uh… where did you come from?” The dog gave no sign of suddenly deciding to be friends, so Xander (slowly) started reaching behind him for the door handle while talking to distract the beast from his clever exit strategy. “”Good doggie, hopefully not very hungry doggie, you just stay right there, just another minute, that’s right, you just keep on not eating the nice Xander’s face…” The reaching quickly turned to fumbling, and the fumbling was just about to turn into frantic scrambling when he heard the slam of the screen door.
Xander heaved a huge sigh of relief as the dog bounded gleefully toward the house.
“Thanks,” he said, turning to face his rescuer. An older man with a beard stood on the porch, eying Xander in a way that let Xander know this guy could and probably would kill him and stash his body in the trunk of one of his many cars without breaking a sweat if Xander gave him half a reason to do so. “Uh… sorry to bother you, Mr. … um, Singer, is it?” he said, resisting the urge to put his hands up.
“Who’s asking?” His voice was gruff, and Xander suspected his patience was thin.
“Xander. Harris. I’m, um, I’m a private detective, actually. I was hoping I could ask you a few questions? Well, just the one- Um, I’m looking for a Sam Winchester? It’s not anything serious, I just-“
Xander suddenly found himself staring down the barrel of a shotgun. Well, not staring down, exactly, as the man was standing a good twenty feet away, but that twenty feet was still way too close for comfort.
“Who sent you?”
Xander swallowed the automatic response of “I’m on a mission from God”; it wasn’t that he didn’t think that the guy would appreciate a good Blues Brothers
reference, but he suspected that now was not the time for it. “Nobody. Like I said, I’m a PI. I’m just following a lead. Look, I kind of forgot to wear my bullet proof vest today, so if you could maybe hold off on pulling that trigger until my tender vital organs are no longer in the path of speedy little metal objects?”
Before the man could respond, another (younger and entirely more chiseled looking) man pushed through the screen door. Xander flinched as it slammed loudly shut behind him. “Hey, Bobby, what’s going on?” He didn’t seem concerned by the presence of the gun, instead continuing to wipe what looked like motor oil off his hands with a dirty cloth.
“He’s askin’ about Sam,” the man, apparently ‘Bobby’, answered, and suddenly new guy was as deadly serious as his friend.
“What about Sam?” he asked, and as frightening as Bobby was, this guy brought a whole new level of intensity to the table.
“Nothing! I mean, it’s not even really about Sam; I just have a few questions! A few very simple, not-at-all-worth-getting-shot-over queries of an entirely innocent nature.”
“Yeah, well, we’ll see about that, won’t we?” the younger man said, exchanging a glance with Bobby that seemed significant in a way Xander was unable to divine. Both men moved out of the way of the door, clearly intending for Xander to walk through it.
“Just to be clear, here, you guys aren’t planning on pickling my innards or making a lampshade out of my skin, right?” Xander asked hopefully.
“Nah, we’re more the ‘string em’ up on meat hooks in the basement’ type,” he said with a smirk.
“Traditional. Old school, even. I can appreciate that,” Xander responded as he walked around his car.
“Quit yawin’ and get inside,” Bobby said, obviously used to the younger man’s antics.
Xander hurried to do as ordered, trying to ignore shotgun that still rested comfortably in Bobby’s hand.
The house was far dimmer than the outdoors had been, though it wasn’t much cooler. Xander could hear the hum of a swamp cooler in the background, but it barely made a dent in the late August heat. The worn wooden floors were dotted with rugs of various sizes and the walls were cluttered with bookshelves. The two men hustled him into the kitchen pretty quickly, but Xander got the impression that a lot of the books on those shelves were old and leather-bound. The kitchen was small and looked as well-used as the rest of the house. The tall guy who’s name Xander still hadn’t learned gestured for him to take a seat, and Xander got the feeling that it wasn’t just a suggestion. He sat down across the table from Xander while Bobby grabbed a few beers from the fridge.
“Drink up,” Bobby said, slamming one in front of Xander. Again Xander had the distinct impression that this wasn’t optional. Both men watched with disturbing intensity as he took a swig and exchanged another wordless glance, though about what, Xander couldn’t be sure. Either he’d stumbled upon a nest of lunatics, or there was more going on here than met the eye. It suddenly occurred to him that they could be fugitives or members of some cult, and Xander really
hoped they hadn’t poisoned the beer.
“So… do you guys happen to know how I could get in touch with Sam Winchester?” he finally asked, breaking the creepy silence.
A quick smirk was the only warning he got before the other guy bellowed “Sammy!” at the top of his lungs. Xander nearly leapt out of his chair, causing the other guy to laugh at his expense.
“What?” The response came from somewhere upstairs.
“Get your ass down here!” he bellowed.
Xander was more prepared this time, and prided himself on not reacting. The house creaked as Sam made his way downstairs.
“Dammit, Dean, what?” he said wearily from the kitchen doorway, and wow
, Lorne hadn’t said anything about the guy being a freaking giant.
“We got company. Says he’s a private eye,” the guy, Dean, drawled sarcastically.
“Xander Harris,” Xander introduced himself. He stood up and held out his hand; Sam took it automatically, looking at him in confusion.
“Uh, hi. I’m Dean’s brother, Sam,” he said awkwardly, shooting a confused look over to Dean.
Brothers; that explained a lot, Xander thought, looking back and forth between the two. Dean was obviously the over-protective older brother, and Bobby… Ok, Bobby didn’t exactly look like their father, but he was close enough to the boys to threaten Xander with a rifle for Sam.
“So… private detective?” Sam asked. “What are you investigating, exactly?”
Relieved that someone
in this house was finally asking normal questions, Xander fell into the script that he’d practiced so hard on the drive out. “I just have a few questions about someone you might remember from Stanford.” He fished around in his back pocket for the small, worn out photo he’d managed to scrounge up of Anya’s old coworker.
Sam took the picture, his eyebrows rising as he got a good look at it. “That photograph has to be almost a hundred years old!”
He was right, but Xander had an answer ready. “It’s one of those novelty old-timey photos you can get done at amusement parks and stuff. Unfortunately, it’s the only picture of her we could find.”
“I recognize her, sure,” Sam said after scrutinizing the photo for a few more seconds. He handed it back with a shrug. “I only met her once; she was a guidance counselor. Hallie something. What do you need to know?”
“You know, this might be easier if we could speak in private…” Xander ventured.
“Oh, well, if it would be easier
, then by all means-“
“Not a chance, Sammy,” Dean cut him off. “I don’t know about you, but I for one am not up for trusting some freakin’ stranger that drives up outta nowhere with some cockamamie story about bein’ a Private Dick. Anything he wants to say, he can say in front of all of us.”
Sam looked to Bobby for back-up, but the older man just shook his head.
“So,” Dean said with a broad smirk. “Shoot."
Realizing that this was the best he was going to get, Xander turned back to Sam. “You had a conversation with Hallie. I need to know what about.”
Sam shook his head. “I don’t understand, is she missing or something? How does knowing about a conversation I had with her four years ago help you?”
“She’s deceased, actually,” Xander explained with the ease of practice- lots of practice. He’d had his doubts in the beginning, when Spike and Dawn had first explained the art of bamboozling strangers, but they’d been right. Sound confident, and it doesn’t matter if the story is 90% bullshit and 10% lies. Even better if someone had experienced the supernatural and was still looking for a more mundane explanation. “She was a con artist and an identity thief; my client is trying to recover her losses. The exact details are private, but I have reason to believe that the information you have on her will be enough to help fit a few puzzle pieces together.”
“Why me? We only talked for an hour, and we were discussing my problems, not hers.”
“She mentioned you to several other people. I’m not sure what was so important about the conversation, either; that’s why I’m asking you.” That much, at least, was true. Xander had no idea what the two had discussed, but that was exactly what he’d travelled there to find out.
He sat back and shrugged. “I don’t know, I went to talk to her about my dad. We had a fight- we had a lot of fights, really, but it got worse after I told him I was leaving for college. I just- I needed to get some things off my chest, I guess. It was my girlfriend’s idea. Look, it was no big deal.”
“Maybe not, but…” This was the part of the conversation that Xander hated. It was the weakest point in his story on a good day, and today wasn’t looking to be one of those. Most people accepted his “Private Eye” story with little question, but these folks were a lot more discerning- and a lot handier with rifles- than most of the people he’d had this discussion with. There was always a chance that Sam had realized that his experience with Hallie was more super than natural, but in Xander’s experience, the “Sunnydale Syndrome” was a lot more widespread than its name would lead one to believe. “Look, this is going to sound a little weird, but did you ever say the word ‘wish’ in front of her?”