Seems Like Old Times
May 15, 2005 10:17 PM
"Here are the suspicious deaths in the last few days," Giles told them as he handed out photocopies of the obituaries section of the local paper. "Any questions?"
"Yeah," Buffy said, looking over her papers. "Who the hell names their kid Birger? Do they like cows or something?"
She gave Giles a smile when people started snickering.
"I really couldn't say," he responded dryly.
"I knew a demon named Birger. He liked cows," Anya said thoughtfully. "Well, he liked the insides of the cows. Their raw intestines make great jewelry."
"Yes, thank you, Anya. Any questions that are not related to what people were thinking when they named their children, or if they have a bovine -- or any other -- fetish?" Giles removed his glasses and began polishing them with his handkerchief.
"Cow tastes good," Oz muttered. "Hamburgers taste good. Steak tastes good."
Willow giggled and that got her a glare. She cleared her throat. "What do we think it is?"
"The obituary states that he died from an animal attack, so I'd wager vampire or werewolf, and since the full moon was a few weeks ago, I'd rule the latter out. We won't know until we inspect the body." Giles paused by the side door to the mortuary and looked around furtively. He pulled a lockpick set out of the inside jacket pocket and went to work on the lock.
"My vote is for vampires," Oz said. "Because while the local pack is stupid, they aren't stupid enough to leave bodies lying around. I was with them for a few months, and they never killed anyone."
"Indeed," Giles stated in agreement. "And that should do it."
The door swung open.
Willow branched out with her magic. "I don't sense anything."
"Well, he may just be dead, but there is still a possibility that if he was turned that he's not awoken yet," Giles reminded her.
"I vote for the dead thing, because I can't come up with any witty things that rhyme with Birger, except for the obvious fast food joint retorts," Buffy said, slowly walking into the crypt first. The light was dim and the air was musty. She pulled out a flashlight and started to look around. "If he was turned, he's not awake yet. No recent footprints. No one's been in here in a few days."
Oz sniffed the air. "Just smells stale. I don't get anything else. Except for Buffy's new shampoo and Anya's coconut body wash... which is kinda making me want a pina colada."
"Ooh!" Anya said with a grin. "We should all go for drinks after this! We could go to the Three Broomsticks and dance with the Scotsmen. That was fun." She walked further into the crypt and sneezed.
Buffy kept searching the area but found no other points of entry. "Looks like there was one way in and one way out. No exit out to tunnels or through the ceiling." She sighed and put down the flashlight. "Let's take a peek inside the box then."
When she quickly moved the top of the stone off of the casket and looked inside, her eyebrows rose. "Um, Giles? Was there an option C for 'he was never here in the first place'? Because I'd go with that one."
Giles swung his flashlight around and looked at the floor. "Well, someone was in that coffin. Look here where the dust is disturbed... It's roughly the shape of of a body. Perhaps option 'D' then."
Buffy went over to where Giles was motioning. There wasn't a lot of dust on this side of the coffin, but she could see lines that showed the body was dragged. That would have removed traces of footprints as well. "Of all the days we had to patrol, we got the toughie. I don't know whether to be irritated or thankful."
"Well," the watcher stated, "You did say you wanted something to do."
Buffy just gave him a droll look. "Thanks. So any ideas on where to go from here and who would take him?"
"Wait, guys," Willow said. "Dragged from the grave? Does this ring any bells with anyone?"
Obviously not by the way they were all looking at her.
"Chris and Daryl Epps? Cordy nearly getting her head chopped off? Oh god, what if someone is making tweed-wearing Frankenstein monsters?"
"Or stockpiling bodies to raise a zombie army later?" Oz offered.
Buffy looked between them curiously. "Are we talking 'Shaun of the Dead' zombies or '28 Days Later' zombies? Because the Shaun of the Dead zombies can groan on a beat, and that's kind of awesome."
She got strange looks for that. "What? I'm embracing the English culture, here."
"Indeed, either option is equally likely, as well as the possibility of 'ingredient' harvesting. We will have to see if the decedent was embalmed, or interred in a n-natural state. Though," he interjected, while pulling his glasses off, "I'll admit that zombies and patchwork corpses are much more likely."
"Well, this isn't Sunnydale. Where would we start to look?" Buffy asked.
"Draco would say his parents' house. You know their manor is right down the road from the Council? The have a cellar that's held prisoners before and a dungeon, but I don't think it's them. Narcissa doesn't strike me as the sort to let random dead body parts in her house.
Oz sniffed the air. "It's weird. I can not smell a trail, and I should be able to. Whatever did this is covering its tracks pretty well."
A snarl came from the open door. Everyone turned. It was one vampire. Not even enough for everybody.
"This is it?" Buffy asked. "This is the hoard of evilness that is sent to thwart me? What the hell, is everyone taking a break?"
"Well, it is a yearly holiday for some demons," Anya said. "I could be sipping mai tais on a beach in Mahi Mahi with a rather nice Brachian demon, but instead I'm in a crypt with you all looking at quite possibly the world's most pathetic vampire."
Her chipper mood fell and she frowned. "God, my life sucks sometimes."
Willow gave her arm a pathetic pat. "There there."
"You want this, Buffy?" Oz asked.
The blonde slayer sighed loudly, sizing up her opponent. "Might as well, unless you want to go for it."
"Well, I've been practicing."
Everyone else looked at Oz as if to say 'go for it'. He growled a little and stepped towards the vampire - who turned a ran.
"Oh!" Willow shouted. "Cheater!"
Oz rushed to the door and waited.
He took out his stake and aimed. The wood sailed end over end and went through the vampire's back.
"Remember that one summer? Andy Hoelich, the gymnast? I said after that the next time I threw a stake at a vampire, I'd hit them?"
Willow smiled at him. She recalled that night. She, Oz and Xander had been outmaneuvered by their former classmate. Oz's thrown stake had glanced off of a stone that night.
"Impressive," Buffy said with a nod. "I just wish it hadn't been wasted on that excuse of a vampire."
She turned back to the group. "So, we have possible zombies who can maybe do Thriller, a bunch of crazy undead guys other than vampires wreaking havoc in the country side and too high expectations for vampires on this side of the pond. Am I close?"
"We have Astoria looking for Ethan," Willow said. "Which I don't know how good of an idea that was."
Buffy crossed her arms and kicked up some dust. "I still don't understand why I can't go after him. I'll be gentle, I promise. I'll only rip out one limb instead of all of them."
Giles raised an eyebrow. "Oh, you'll be going after him. AFTER
we find out where he is."
"Promise? No telling me after he's already subdued?"
"As capable of a witch as Miss Greengrass is, I'd much rather send a team in who has previous experience in dealing with him. Namely, us."
"It's like Christmas just came early," Buffy said with a grin.
"Not that I don't trust Tori," Willow said. "But I don't trust her not to do serious damage, Giles. He harmed her through one of her own visions. That has to be a big deal for a Seer. She's not really the bygones be bygones or bigger picture type when she gets upset. The fact that Ethan's 'playing' has been affecting Marcus and Draco? I wouldn't put her at her most reasonable."
Oz frowned. "You think she'd kill him?"
"If he pisses her off? Yeah." Willow's eyes drifted into the distance. She pointed. "More vampires."
"Ah, excellent," Giles said, drawing his sword, "Lay on, MacDuff."
"You want me to lay down on a dog?"
Everyone frowned, definitely not getting what she was talking about.
"Oh," Oz said suddenly. "You mean McGruff the crime dog. McGruff. Totally different thing. MacDuff is from MacBeth."
"It means go fight, Buffy," Willow said.
"Oh. Why didn't you say so?" Buffy asked, making a face. "And Draco complains about not being able to understand Americans. What's so hard about 'go kill it'?"
"Buffy," Giles sighed, "Go kill it." He made a mental note to make her watch the latest rendition of MacBeth from 2006. At least he might get her to understand some of the references he was likely to use.
"Willow," he began, sounding tired, "If I were to say 'double double boil and bubble' to you, at this moment, what you you respond with?"
"Fire burn," she whispered, branching out with her magic and lighting one of the vampires on fire. "And cauldron bubble."
"Show off," Oz whispered.
"At least someone appreciates the bard," Giles grumbled under his breath.
"Well," Oz began. "I didn't think I will live in your heart, die in your lap, and be buried in your eyes
fit this situation."
"Perhaps you and Willow can discuss the meaning behind that particular quote when we have returned to the manor and I am out of earshot. In the meantime, I think we may have more than nothing to make much ado about," He indicated the approaching vampires from the sides of their little group.
Buffy looked around after staking another vampire. "What the hell? This is double the size of the last nest we hit."
A side-punch knocked her off her feet and over onto a gravestone. She rolled over but stopped when she noticed the disturbed ground. It was a fresh grave, but there were marks in the grass nearby that showed a body was dragged and didn't walk away. "We got another possible zombie over here!"
"Fan-bloody-tastic," Giles said, decapitating a vampire. "Perhaps we should detain one of these fellows for questioning."
She nodded and jammed her stake back up her sleeve and didn't go for a kill shot, instead wearing down the vampire and ending with kick that slammed the vampire back into a tall gravestone.
Buffy approached cautiously and turned the vampire over. He was out cold. "I don't know if we'll get a lot out of him, but I've got one."
The others joined her. Oz was looking around to make certain there were no others. Anya ended up having to stake one more.
Willow waved her hand and bound the vampire. "Should we do this here or take him with us?"
"Well I don't know about you guys," Anya piped up. "But I think I inhaled my last vamp and now my throat itches. "
Giles removed a flask from the inside pocket of his jacket. "Here," he said, handing it to her.
Anya took a swig and grinned. "That's the good stuff, Giles. You've been holding out." Before he could take it back, she wandered to the other side of the group, still drinking.
He rolled his eyes. Trust Anya to guzzle Firewhiskey as if it were water. "Do make sure I get that back."
She waved him off and went to stand over the vampire. "So how are we making him talk? Plucking out his eyeballs? Holy water drips? Having a near-immortal subject opens up millions of wonderful areas to explore."
"Indeed. I was, however, going to suggest interrogation by Vampire Slayer," Giles responded.
"He won't like me telling this, but Draco's actually good at torture... if we decide to go that route."
"Willow's right," Oz said. "Draco won't like her telling that."
Willow glared at Oz. He just smiled.
"While I appreciate the suggestion, perhaps it would have been wise to allow allow Draco to offer his services. I'm told that the thought of torture turns his stomach." Giles looked at them, with an eyebrow raised. "Besides," he continued, "What am I? Chopped liver?"
"Well, we don't want you torturing anyone either," Willow said. "Maybe we could ask Astoria or Marcus? I think they'd like it. Or at least not be as bothered by it."
"Perhaps if Buffy defers." Giles raised an eyebrow. "And we'll not have anyone we have not met officially doing any interrogations."
"You don't trust my judgement about Marcus?" Willow asked.
"You don't trust my ability to beat the shit out of a vampire?" Buffy asked skeptically.
"I was kinda going on your theory that you don't always use violence and wouldn't enjoy beating him up."
"Huh," was Oz's only comment.
Buffy snorted. "Since Draco and I didn't work out I have to have some form of tension relief."
"You know if you had dates, you might not have this problem," Willow commented.
"Yes, yes, and if wishes were cattle, we'd all be eating steak." Giles stalked off into the night grumbling under his breath about the youth today. "Do bring THAT
along with you when you've completed your discussion about your sex lives, or lack thereof."
"You know, Giles," Oz said, starting a slow walk after the older man. "You're actually the most active of all of us for once. You've had dates."
"Yes. Shall we all couch our stories in metaphors involving baseball?" Giles was sounding a little irritated.
"I don't want to hear about Giles and Andromeda like that," Willow said. "I have to go to the coven meetings with her. I'd be looking at her all funny."
Buffy had a small smile on her face. "With Ethan free and running around, all I'd worry about is keeping them away from police cars."
"Yes, do let's bring that up. Thank you Buffy, now I'm depressed as well as irritated."
She walked over to him and link her arm in his, leaning her head against his shoulder. "I just wanted to see if I could get you to walk into a tree again."
Oz snickered, but then he, too, started thinking about Joyce Summers, and others they'd lost along the way. As if she could sense his thoughts, Willow linked her hands through his and gave him a comforting smile.
Anya sighed. "Forget the drinks. Now I want fruit punch."
Buffy smiled and then looked down at the vampire. "All right. Prisoner transport and some fruit punch coming right up."
Willow waved the hand not in Oz's and set the vampire to floating. She could use a snack herself.