Note: A big thank you again to Inachis, because without her help this chapter wouldn't be here.
Chloe looked up at that and looked Xander over once again before she replied, "Yes, I am. I found the reports on it kinda strange and started to investigate the occurrence a bit."
"Interesting. What did you find out?" Xander asked her.
"Oh my, you are a curious one, aren't you? Why do you want to know?" Chloe asked back.
"Let's say mysteries intrigue me," Xander answered, which resulted in a coughing Faith as she tried to suppress her laughter.
"Why not? Can't hurt to bounce back what I've found out so far on someone. Sadly it isn't much. Most people I‘ve talked to at this point can't recall what exactly happened. It looks like something has clouded their minds in regards to what took place in that cinema. I just replied to an email, a few minutes before you came in, to someone who claims to remember more. We agreed on a meeting in two hours in a café near the place," Chloe told them.
"Would you mind if we join you?" Xander asked.
Chloe looked at him strangely once more and then asked, "Why?"
"You could say I'm some kind of an investigator into strange things and mysteries. As I said before, they intrigue me and I try to find out what's behind them. That's why we came here. We read the articles about the missing persons and planned to look into it. Finding you now, looking into the same thing, is a fortuitous coincidence, and if we team up, we could find out what is behind it much faster," Xander said.
"So you would look into it even if I don't agree to work with you?" Chloe asked.
"Yep," was Xander's only answer.
"Ok then, we'll meet the witness together. I just hope we don't spook her," Chloe replied.
Faith smiled at her and said, "Ok, now that we've agreed to look into this case together. Why are you interested in it?"
Chloe, who had hoped they wouldn't ask that, squirmed a bit and then replied, "I come from a small town in Kansas, where I was the editor in chief of our High School paper. A lot of weird things happened in our small town that I looked into."
"Hellmouth?" Faith asked. "I hope not," Xander replied, "They should all be dormant except the one in the ‘Dale."
Chloe looked from Faith to Xander and asked, "Hellmouth?"
"Oops...," Faith muttered.
"You said you investigate the weird stuff in your hometown? We kinda did the same in ours. Most of the weird stuff there happened because we have a literal portal to Hell under our High School," Xander replied.
"A portal to hell? Wow, that makes the weirdness in Smallville because of the meteor rocks kind of small time," Chloe mumbled.
"Meteor rocks?" Xander asked and Chloe just nodded to it and after a moment she said, "Yes, Smallville was hit by a meteor shower over 20 years ago and the meteor rocks, which where all over the area, emitted some kind of radiation that changed some people and gave them weird abilities."
"Don't say it X," Faith interrupted Xander before he could even start to say anything.
"What?" Xander said.
"I know you too well X. You just wanted to say something like ‘Interesting, maybe we should visit Smallville to check it out'."
"No, I wasn't, but now that you mentioned it, my dearest slaygal," Xander said with a smirk. Faith groaned and only mumbled, "Damn...."
Chloe smiled to their antics and said, "If you visit, go to my friend Clark Kent there. He can show you around."
"Don't encourage him," Faith said with a mock complaining tone.
Before Chloe could reply to that a grumbling sound was heard and Xander blushed a bit. "Ahh, I think it's about time for breakfast."
They spent the next hour eating and telling each other about the strange things that had happened in their hometowns.
(Richmond a café near the cinema in question)
They entered the café and sat down at two separate tables so as not to spook Chloe's contact from the start. They would wait until she was there and had made contact with Chloe before joining Chloe and her contact at the table.
They ordered a coffee and waited for a few minutes. As the door to the café opened a few minutes later, Xander looked up and slowly let his blasting rod slip into his hand. "What is it?" Faith asked as she noted what he'd done. "That woman at the door? She has some kind of magic. I just want to be prepared," he replied quietly. Faith nodded to that and while sipping from her coffee, she glanced at the woman as well.
She guessed the woman was around 20 - 25, had a slender body and long black hair which flowed over her shoulders. She was dressed in jeans and a light blue sweater and some sneakers. While beautiful, Faith noted that the woman looked a bit haunted and ready to run. It seemed like it was a good idea not to wait all at one table for their contact.
The woman looked around for a moment and then stopped her gaze on Chloe. She looked her over for a moment and then it seemed like she gave herself a small jolt and directed her steps to Chloe's table. "Ms. Sullivan?" she asked.
Chloe looked at the woman for a second and then nodded. "Yes, but please just call me Chloe. Please, sit down."
Chloe waited until the woman had seated herself and then asked, "Do you want a coffee or something before we start?"
The woman nodded and so Chloe quickly ordered a coffee for her. After it arrived and the woman had taken a sip, she said, "So you said in your email that you can tell me more about what happened at the cinema?"
The woman was quiet for several moments and then said, "Yes." After a small pause she continued. "A friend of mine was dumped by her boyfriend a few days ago and so I promised her I'd watch a few movies with her. She's quite the horror nut and so we went into the Blackwell theater to watch one of her favorites, just don't ask me what it was called." She took another sip from her cup and then went on. "The movie had been running for an hour or so when it happened. I noticed that everybody around me seemed to have fallen asleep and before I could even try to wake my friend, something came out of the screen."
"Out of the screen?" Chloe asked, surprised and a table down Xander just rolled his eyes.
"Yes, I couldn't exactly see what it was because it was dressed in a robe, or something like that, with a hood that was pulled up. It looked around for a moment and then grabbed two girls out of the front row like they were weightless and then vanished back into the screen. Just a few moments after that everyone was awake again and acted like nothing had happened at all. I questioned my friend afterwards, but she just looked at me like I was crazy."
Chloe was silent for a few moments and just as the woman started to fidget she said, "Interesting. Do you have any clue why you didn't fall asleep?"
"No, none at all," the woman replied and the continued, "So you believe me and don't think I'm crazy?"
Chloe smiled at her and replied in a calm tone. "No I don't think you are crazy. I've seen a lot of strange things in my career. Your story might give us a lead to find out who is behind the disappearing people."
"Us?" the woman asked, surprised.
"Yes, my friends at the table over there and I. We didn't want to spook you, so I sat here alone," Chloe replied.
Xander saw that the woman looked over to them as Chloe mentioned him and Faith and the woman looked him directly into the eyes. He quickly averted his gaze, before the soul gaze could take place. There was no need for it and he didn't want to expose the woman to that.
He stood up slowly and went over to the table with Faith following him.
"Thank you for your information Miss. That will probably help us to find out what is happening in that cinema," he said in calm voice.
"No problem. Promise me to inform me when you have found out what happened. I haven't slept well since it happened and I couldn't talk about it with anyone," the woman said and gave Xander a card with a number on it. "You can reach me at that number for the next week."
After Xander nodded and put the card away the woman took a last sip from her cup, stood up and then quickly left the café.
They sat quietly at the table for a few moments after the woman left before Xander groaned and the hid his face behind his hands. "What is it X?" Faith asked, a bit worried.
Xander looked up again, looked at Faith and asked, "You remember the origins of my powers?"
"Yeah, some Chinese takeout guy and one called Dresden or so," Faith replied.
"Indeed and if there is a guy who is even better at attracting trouble than me, it's Harry," Xander said and ignored Faith's snort of disbelief. "Let me tell you of one of his adventures. This cinema thing here reminds me of it."
Faith and Chloe looked at him, intrigued, and nodded and so Xander quickly told them the story from one of the Dresden Files books about Splattercon, Phobopages and Artic Tor. After he finished quite a while later, both women groaned, just as Xander had.
"So let's hope that...," Chloe started to say but was silenced by Faith's hand over her mouth and hiss from Xander, "Don't jinx us!"
Chloe rolled her eyes and then something clicked in her brain and she said in surprise, "Wait a second...You said you have powers like that Dresden guy? You're a wizard?"
Xander grinned and replied, "Yes, and no, I will not do any love spells or love potions for you."
"What?" Chloe sputtered.
Faith grinned at seeing Chloe's face and said."That's what most people think about if they hear X is a wizard, but X and love spells? No go...I'll tell you story about that later."
"FAITH!!!," Xander yelled.
"Yes, oh mighty wizard? Will you spank me if I tell her?" Faith replied with a sultry grin.
"That and more," Xander grumbled and groaned as he saw Faith's grin.
"So Chloe there was this cheerleader queen and...," Faith started, but was interrupted by Xander.
"Faith... we have other things to do than gossip about my love life," he said.
"Sure stud, let's go to that cinema and find out what's behind this girlnapping, but after that I'll tell Chloe so you'll have to keep your promise," Faith said, grinning.
Xander groaned, looked upwards and said, "Why me? Why do I have to love a girl who enjoys torturing me?"
Faith looked at him dumbstruck and mumbled, "Love me?"
"Oops..Did I say that aloud?" Xander said and quickly hurried out of the café, followed by a loud "XANDER!!!"