Acknowledgements: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
characters are the creation of Joss Whedon.
Chief of Detectives Frederick Stein looked across his desk at the woman on the other side of it. She met his eyes with a steady gaze of her own. “So, you understand our special needs?” he asked.
“You need someone who knows the real situation in this town, and can keep a low profile.”
Stein’s lips quirked into a humourless smile. “Precisely.” He looked down at the folder in front of him for a moment before he looked up again. “You know what happens to people who don’t keep a low profile.”
Her smile could crack a mirror. “Yeah…I got that message.”
Stein’s expression matched hers. He had escaped her fate by a hair’s breadth. The only thing that had saved him had been an explosion at the high school graduation, and a memo to his former boss protesting political interference in a criminal investigation. He had spent a couple months thinking that memo would end his career, but when the smoke had cleared, it had saved it. His own investigation—that had gone on discreetly in spite of his former boss’s direct orders to drop the matter—had shown that the former Mayor was as dirty as could be, and his former boss was in it up to his retirement fund. The state investigators who had come in to sort out the mess had given Stein a clean bill of health, partially thanks to that memo in his file. They didn’t seem to notice many of the other things: things that Stein had been ordered to ignore…
He stood, and held out his hand across his desk. “Welcome to the Sunnydale Police Department, Detective Lockley.”---
There was a knock on the door. Stein looked up toward it, “Ah, Detective Clark. Come in.”
Dennis Clark came into the office. “You asked to see me, Sir?”
“Yes Dennis,” said Stein. “I want you to meet your new partner: Kate Lockley. I want you to show her the ropes.”
“Partner, sir?” asked Clark. “Are you sure that an outsider…?”
“Lockley knows the score, Detective,” said Stein. “I’m sure that you’ve heard of her.”
Clark paused for a moment, and looked again at the blonde woman in his boss’s visitor’s chair. “You’re the one who captured Faith.”
“‘Captured’ is much too generous a term,” said Lockley. “She surrendered to me. Your name is in her file as the officer who arrested her here.”
“Again, someone was being generous,” said Clark. “She was unconscious when I arrived on the scene, and she escaped again, almost as soon as she woke up.”
“So,” said Stein. “Think you can show our new detective around?”---
Detective Lockley followed Detective Clark out of the office of the Sunnydale Chief of Detectives. He showed her into a much smaller one: an office that held one small metal desk, and a large filing cabinet. “Welcome to my domain, Detective Lockley.”
“This is it?” asked Lockley.
“Yep.” Clark waved his hand around. “Welcome to Sunnydale’s very own X-Files.”
“I had enough of the Scully crap when I was in L.A.”
“Well, I’m Sunnydale’s Mulder, and Chief Stein is our Skinner. It’s about time we got a Scully.”
“But Scully’s the skeptic,” said Lockley.
“We need a skeptic,” said Clark. “I’ve seen too much shit. Every time someone in this town dies, I’m looking for a supernatural explanation. But people die for lots of other reasons. We need someone to tell me: ‘Hey, maybe this wasn’t a ritual sacrifice! Maybe this girl was stabbed by a jealous boyfriend!’”
“But I know about the vampires and stuff!” said Lockley. There. Someone had finally said it. Everyone had beat around the bush, but no one had actually said
the ‘V’ word before.
“Precisely,” said Clark. “But not all murders are committed by vampires, or other demons. There are human monsters out there too. I need someone to keep me grounded. Someone who knows about both sides. Someone who knows the darkness that lurks in the hearts of men…but knows that darkness isn’t only
human. I’ve been a cop in Sunnydale too long. If someone dies, I go looking for a demon. We need someone who knows that the demons are real…but also knows that whatever a demon may do…there’s a human being out there who can ‘do better.’
“We need someone who knows that there are things out there that can Avada Kedavra people to death, but also knows that some of those things are human.”---
Kate’s first day on the job was an eye opener. She had known that Sunnydale was a hotbed of vampire, and other demonic activity, but she’d had no idea just how
bad it was. This little city—with a population not much more than thirty thousand—had as much supernatural crime as all of Los Angeles County. An L.A. cop could go her entire career and only run into one or two supernatural cases—and usually didn’t recognize them for what they were when it happened. She hadn’t, until she’d run into Angel. She’d spent some time, after she had learned the truth, going back over her case notes for any unsolved murders in her past, and only came up with one that looked like it might have involved vampires. She had only been peripherally involved in investigating the ‘Slasher’ murders that had taken place a few years earlier in L.A., mostly centred around Hemery High School. Now that she knew what to look for, it was obvious to her that a group of vampires had been responsible for them. Her involvment in that case had been in the investigation of the staking death of a British national named Merrick Jamison-Smythe—who it had turned out had been in the country illegally. She still didn’t know why he had been staked. Was it possible someone had mistaken him for a vampire?
The rarity of the supernatural in L.A. made it easy for its cops to pretend that it didn’t exist, until something really rubbed their noses in it. And even then, most cops went right on pretending they didn’t believe in it. In Sunnydale there was at least one supernatural case a week, and the department was small enough that they all knew about them. Every cop here knew the score, even though they still didn’t talk about it. At night, the Sunnydale patrol cars always had two officers in them, and there were some sections of town that they just didn’t patrol at all after dark. They never
pulled cars over for moving violations at night, but they did have the most extensive photo-radar setup in California, for a city their size. Speeders, and people who ran red lights in Sunnydale, got their tickets in the mail.
Another desk had been crammed into Clark’s office for Lockley. It was so tight that there was barely room for either of them to move. You couldn’t get in or out of the door if any of the filing cabinet drawers were open—they were probably in violation of some fire safety regs. Lockley spent most of her first day just reading over old case files. The top drawer of the cabinet held their currently open cases. Other drawers had inactive, or closed cases. On reading through some of the closed files, Lockley started to notice a pattern. For at least two out of every three ‘closed’ cases, there was no reason given for just how, or why the case was closed.
She waved one of the file folders at Detective Clark. “Why’s this closed? You’ve got an attempted armoured car robbery, by a guy that witnesses said was super-strong, and then he just vanishes from the scene of the crime—nothing about how he did that—leaving two accomplices behind. Then they get busted out of jail, and there’s nothing in this file that indicates what happened to any
of them, and it’s closed?
“We find it’s best not
to record everything that happens in this town,” said Clark. “We track it as best we can, but some things never get written down…such as when the problem gets taken care of by someone who isn’t
on the city’s payroll.”
“You’ve got some demon hunters in town,” said Lockley.
“I believe she prefers to be called a ‘Slayer.’”---
Lockley sat in the passenger seat of an unmarked police car, parked on Revello drive, half a block down from number 1630. It was hot in the car, since the engine—and therefore the air conditioning—was off, and they had the windows rolled up and the doors locked. Clark refused to allow Lockley to open her window even a crack. Sitting in a parked car, with the windows down, simply wasn’t done at night in Sunnydale.
“There she is,” said Clark. Lockley could see a couple of people leaving the house. Clark handed her a digital SLR camera with a zoom lens. “Take a look.”
Lockley looked at the couple through the camera. She saw the girl. She lowered it and looked again: two people. She took another look through the camera, and only saw the girl. “That man’s a vampire!”
“Yeah, I know,” said Clark.
“So why isn’t she slaying?”
“Wouldn’t we like to know the answer to that one!” said Clark. “A few years ago, he was the
top vamp in town. Then he mostly disappeared for a couple of years. He showed up once or twice for a few days and caused some mayhem, but he didn’t stick around anymore. Then a couple of years ago he was back, but he wasn’t killing. He just hung around, committing a little petty larceny, but doing a lot more damage to the demons in town than the people, so we’ve left him alone.”
Lockley took another look through the camera, zooming in on the girl. “I’ve seen her before.”
“Yeah, she was in L.A., when Faith turned herself in. I didn’t get her name at the time, but she was involved in that up to her eyeballs.”
“Make’s sense,” said Clark. “That’s the house I
arrested Faith in, after Miss Summers had already beaten her senseless.”
“So, any case that gets resolved by Miss Summers, gets stamped ‘closed’ and you leave her out of the reports.”
“That’s pretty much how it happens.” ---
Clark drove Lockley around the town, showing her some of the other points of interest. The university, the Bronze—which was a favourite hangout for the town’s kids, and vampire hunting ground—and the new high school that had just re-opened. The old Sunnydale High had held the national record for the most mysterious deaths each year for nearly half a century. That title had gone to the nearby Fonderin High for the last three years, but Clark was expecting that to change as soon as the new school year got into full swing. “I don’t know what they were thinking, rebuilding on the old site,” he said. “I guess that after two years of trying to unload the land onto someone else, the School Board just gave up, and decided to bury its collective head in its ass.”---
They drove past another cemetery on their way back to the station. “There sure do seem to be a lot of those,” said Lockley.
“Twelve, in the city itself,” said Clark. “If you want to actually take a look inside one of them, I suggest you do it in daylight.” He saw something up ahead. “On second thought…” He pulled the car over to the side of the road, and stopped the engine. He reached across to the glove compartment, opened it up, and pulled out a couple of crosses and water pistols. He gave one of each to Lockley, and got out of the car. “Come on.”
Lockley got out her side of the car. She kept the cross in her hand, and tucked the water pistol into her belt. She figured it must be loaded with holy water. “What’s happening?” she whispered.
“The one time it’s safe to enter a cemetery at night in this town,” Clark whispered back. “When the Slayer is in the same cemetery. Come on, and keep quiet.”
Clark moved quickly to the cemetery entrance, and paused. Lockley had followed him. They both peered around the pillar beside the gate. They saw Buffy Summers walking between the headstones. She seemed to be looking for something. She stopped by a fresh grave. After taking a quick look around, she settled down on top of a nearby tombstone, and pulled a yo-yo out of her pocket. She started to play with it as she sat there, watching the new grave, with her back to the gate.
Clark waved for Lockley to follow him, and moved through the gate. He ran quietly across the lawn toward some bushes. Lockley kept half an eye on the Slayer as she followed him. The Slayer seemed to half look their way, just as they ducked behind the bushes, but then she shrugged, and went back to playing with her yo-yo.
Lockley had a quick look around their hiding spot: a small clump of bushes around an old grave. There was lots of clear ground around them, so it would be difficult for something to sneak up on them here. They also had a clear view of Buffy Summers, sitting on a tombstone, doing tricks with her yo-yo. It didn’t take long for Lockley to decide that she really was very good with it: she must get lots of practice. It seemed very strange though, to be in a cemetery, after midnight, hiding in some bushes, watching a girl play with a yo-yo.
Summers suddenly froze, holding her yo-yo in a sleeper for several seconds before her hand twitched, bringing it back up. She stayed still, watching the new grave, almost looking like a statue. Lockley couldn’t see what had caught her attention, but she felt Clark tensing beside her. She didn’t know if he had seen something, or if he was only reacting to Summers.
Summers sat frozen for half a minute, before Lockley saw the earth over the fresh grave move. A hand thrust up through it, followed by an arm, and then the head and shoulders of the new vampire. Lockley expected Summers to do something. In this moment, when it was struggling to free itself from its grave, the vampire was at its most vulnerable. It was still nearly immobilized by the earth holding it in the ground. A child could stake it, but Summers didn’t move. She just sat, and watched, while the vampire finished pulling itself free from the ground.
The vampire stood, and sniffed the air. It suddenly whirled toward Summers, and snarled at her. It bared its fangs as it moved toward her.
Summers stayed sitting on the tombstone, calmly watching the vampire until it was nearly on her. Then her wrist snapped, and the yo-yo flew out, and hit the vamp on the forehead.
The vampire was stunned by the blow. It stopped where it was. It seemed too surprised to react in any way beyond that. Summers had caught her yo-yo, as if it was just another throw, and her wrist snapped again, tossing the yo-yo out at the vampire’s head.
This time the vampire fell over onto its back. Summers watched it lie there, not moving, while she threw and caught her yo-yo a couple more times. Then she shook her head. “You’re no fun.” She reached into a pocket of her jacket and pulled out a stake. She plunged it into the vampire’s heart, and it vanished in an explosion of dust.
Summers returned her stake to her pocket, and walked off toward the cemetery gate, playing with her yo-yo, and singing softly to herself. Lockley heard a snatch of the song, something about going through the motions, as Summers passed them.
She and Dennis moved around the bushes, keeping them between themselves and Summers, until Summers got to the gate. Summers paused when she got to it, and turned back toward the cemetery. She waved in the general direction of the bush, before she turned away, and vanished into the darkness.
Lockley looked at Clark. “She knew we were here.”
“Yeah,” said Clark, “I’m surprised she acknowledged us, though.”
“It’s part of the game we play,” said Clark. “We usually pretend to ignore her, and she usually pretends to ignore us. I guess with us actually paying attention to her tonight, she decided to drop the pretense too, for a moment.”---
The sun was peeking over the mountains to the east of the city when Kate got home. Her apartment was still pretty bare: she didn’t have a whole lot of furniture, or the time to unpack the possessions she did have. The apartment was also pretty cheap, considering its location: right on Sunnydale’s main street. Every sort of shopping available in this town was no more than a block in any direction. The low price came from the simple fact that the apartment had gone empty for a few years, following the murder of its previous occupant. Sunnydale’s real-estate market was the cheapest in California, and it had the highest vacancy rate. There were always apartments available, even if you ignored the ones that people had been murdered in.
Kate wasn’t bothered by ghosts though. If this apartment was
haunted, she figured that the ghost of the previous occupant would look favourably on her. She was the cop who had put his murderer behind bars, after all.
The people who had cleared out the dead man’s possessions had somehow missed one item, and Kate had left it hanging where it was. She really liked the Japanese print of a volcano that Lester Worth had hung on his wall.
The only item of ‘decoration’ that Kate had added to the apartment for herself, so far, was the mirror on the wall by the door. Some people might think that it was the act of a vain person: a mirror to let her check her appearance before going out, or before she opened her door to let anyone else see her. Sunnydale veterans would know better though. The mirror was positioned to let her see whether or not someone standing in the hallway outside her door had a reflection, before she would invite them in.
Kate went to take a shower before crawling into bed to sleep the day away. One disadvantage of this new job was that she would mostly be working nights. Still, it beat being unemployed, and she was used to keeping strange hours.