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Let the Dominoes Fall

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This story is No. 4 in the series "One Last Shot AU". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: 4th in the OLS Series - A Prequel of sorts

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Law and Order: SVU
Television > Dexter
(Past Donor)WhedonistFR13632,1791326,6833 Nov 1022 Jan 11Yes

This Place

Title: Let the Dominoes Fall
Fandoms: BtVS, Law & Order SVU & Dexter
Pairing: Buffy/Willow, Alex/Olivia & Debra Morgan/OC
Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dexter and Law & Order SVU do not belong to me, nor do the character contained herein, ‘cept for the original ones, like Jimmy, he’s all mine and no one else can have him. Title of story belongs to Rancid – ‘cause their my boys and I love ‘em dearly. This is for fun, not money…suing is bad and provokes the wheel of Karma in a negative fashion…

A/N:A while back, I was asked for a prequel to the first story in this massive A.U., One Last Shot, and the stories that followed, Dark Passenger & Animal. This A.U. took a turn for the wacky in Dark Passenger, crossing over with Dexter and then more so when I wanted to see what damage I could do to the gang from the One-Six.

Let the Dominoes Fall isn’t a true prequel, but it answers questions that a lot of the readership wants to know…at least I hope it does. For that reason, this can actually be a stand-alone if you accept the fact that Buffy and Willow & Alex and Olivia are in established relationships. I hope you read and enjoy…like the rest of the series…they have been experiments to test the boundaries of my writing ability…for this I’m sorry. I hope I succeeded with this endeavor.

Thanks for reading!

Ch. 1 – This Place

“I swear to God, Liv…” assistant district attorney Alex Cabot grumbles into her pillow. It isn’t that Alex is unfamiliar with ringing cell phones at five o’clock in the morning. It’s the simple fact that she and Olivia went to bed not more than three hours ago and if there’s one thing Alex needs it is a minimum of four hours sleep to function properly. Needing to confirm, Alex raises her head to glance, bleary eyed, at the red digital display of the alarm clock across the room. Grunting, she flops back down and buries her head under the pillow.

Grumbling, Olivia extracts herself from the blonde and rolls over. Snatching her cell phone off the bedside table, she growls, “Benson.”

“Detective Olivia Benson?” the man on the other end of the line asks.

Swinging her legs off the mattress, Olivia shivers as her feet hit the cold hardwood floors. Her right hand fumbles with the lamp for a second before finding the switch. A quick flick between thumb and index and her half of the bedroom softly lights up. Olivia winces as her eyes adjust and she answers, “Yeah. Can I help you?”

“This is Detective Rick Book outta the ten. We met a while back,” the other detective answers.

Olivia pulls the phone away from her ear and glances back, appraising the naked back of her lover. Deciding on a course of action, she stands and weaves her way around the bed, heading towards the bathroom. “Hi, Rick,” Olivia says, vaguely remembering the detective on the phone.

Not a bad guy. Good cop. They had met at a scene which she and Odafin Tutola, one of the other detectives who work in the Special Victims Unit, were mistakenly called to a few months prior. Turns out the rape call wasn’t a rape just a game of “spank the wife” carried too far as one of the neighbors had called it in. Olivia shakes her head at the memory. The wife so completely mortified that she hyperventilated and nearly passed out.

“Hey, I was wondering if you could come down and meet me at the corner of 13th and Avenue B. I got a body that I think you’ll want to take a look at,” Book asks. Knowing what she knows about the other detective Olivia knows it’s not a call he’s thrilled to make.

Padding into the bathroom, Olivia flicks the light on and closes the door softly behind her. “Yes, give me thirty minutes and I’ll see you there.” She hears his grunt of agreement and ends the call. Taking a moment to appraise herself in the mirror, she shakes out her shaggy, shoulder length brown hair and opts for a pony tail. She also grabs the pants, bra and shirt she had on earlier.

She had only worn them out to dinner with Alex and then to a movie. They were good enough then and she decides they’re good enough now to slip on. Once dressed, she brushes her teeth and slips out of the large master bathroom to find her gun, badge, shoes and car keys. The bathroom door quietly closes behind her as she looks up and sees Alex perched on the edge of the bed, wrapped in their bed sheet. Her lover has laid out the items Olivia was going to look for. Unable to hide the smile, the detective leans down and meets the lips of her girlfriend.

Alex playfully shoves her away and says, “You should get going before I call that partner of yours back and tell him that you can’t make it.”

Olivia grins and winks, “Wasn’t El. It was Rick Book a detective out of the ten. Seems there’s a scene he wants me to look at.”

Olivia watches her blue eyed beauty scowl. Alex’s lips purse and she says, “So does that mean you’ll be home before I have to leave for work?”

The hopeful tone was a farce and both ladies knew it. Alex is still powerless in her refusal to not try and con the detective back to their home before their day truly began. Of course, the shake of the brunette’s head is confirmation enough for the lawyer. Sighing as Olivia pulls on her shoes, Alex manages a good natured, “Fine. Go catch bad guys.”

Placing one last, lingering kiss on Alex’s pouting lips; Olivia snatches the keys to her Mustang off the end table by the front door and heads out into the frozen, predawn morning. The sun wasn’t even thinking about coming up as Olivia exits the parking garage and heads south on Eighth. The only positive thing is that the salt trucks had been out. In January, the detective wasn’t even contemplating the return of spring, let alone summer, but at least they had been through what she hoped was the worst of the winter weather at the beginning of the month.

As she rambles down one of Manhattan’s busiest streets, Liv takes in the evidence of the blizzard that nearly put a stop to all activity on the island, still piled high against the buildings. Two and a half feet of snow in a forty-eight hour window was no joke, even in a place that is used to brutal winters.

As she passes the last light before Avenue B, Olivia can’t see any signs of a crime scene. No sirens, no cruisers with their lights on and no tape. She does spot the detective on the corner after the light. He is as she remembers, tall, six-four, six-five, reddish brown hair, pale freckled skin, muscular build and as he approaches her as she steps from her car, warm green eyes that find hers as he smiles.

“Olivia,” he says stretching a hand out in greeting, “thanks for coming out.”

She takes the hand, noticing how her own is lost in his massive paw. “It’s good to see you too Rick.”

They turn left down the street and duck into a side alley where two police cruisers, a Crime Scene Unit Van and a Coroner’s van wait on them. Pulling her coat tighter around her as the wind picks up, sneaking through the cracks and seams of her jacket, Olivia really regrets not stopping for some coffee before getting here. She looks up at a bland brick industrial type building and her face sours. “So, Rick, what have we got?” she asks, as they both snap on a pair of gloves.

He leads her through an open doorway, stepping over the power chords to the flood lights that the techs set up. “An anonymous call came in at four-twenty-six to dispatch. The responding officers, Lisa Hople and Jackson Werner, came in saw the body and immediately secured the scene.”

Olivia takes in what she can see. High ceiling, exposed rafters on the first floor, a steel grated stair case to her right leads up to the second floor of the building. A long wall separates the other half of the building. She follows the other detective around its corner and gasps. The full view of the body and its surroundings lay bare before her.

To steel herself from the shock of the body, Olivia’s eyes track a familiar pattern of study. She starts with the body. A girl is face up, naked, blonde matted hair, blue eyes stare lifelessly up at the rafters. Her eyes travel down the body, noting the full figure, past the breasts to the stomach, taking in the cut on the left side of her abdomen, to the parted thighs, the left leg bent out at the knee away from the body while the right hangs off the platform the body is on. She doesn’t see it but she imagines there are abrasions and blood on the right shin to match the left one.

She briefly locks eyes with the pretty African American medical examiner hunched down next to the victim. “Hey Melinda,” Olivia offers.

Melinda Warner gives her colleague a tight smile and nod in greeting.

Olivia’s eyes track back to the body and scan outwards. The three foot high platform the body is on is plywood constructed, spray painted a matte black, five feet wide by five feet long. The most disturbing thing about the image, besides the presence of the victim, are the symbols chalked on, for lack of a better term, the altar.

Olivia looks up and around, nothing else in the place screaming ritual. Dried pools of wax pock mark the perimeter of the altar, but no candles are present. The rest of the warehouse looks like it hasn’t seen anyone inside of it for at least a few years. Her hands rest on her hips as she spins around taking in the outlaying parts of the building.

Knowing that S.C.U. is going to be spending the better part of the day going over the primary scene and the building, Olivia pulls her phone from the left pocket of her coat and dials a familiar number.

The wind happens to pick up, whipping her coat and hair around her as Buffy steps from the cab and pulls her beige, fitted pea coat tighter as her breath plumes in front of her. The petite blonde grumbles silently as the sun barely starts to peak over the city skyline. Six in the morning, in January, is way too early and way too cold for her to be out. Olivia owes her big for this.

Following the foot traffic of the forensic unit, she digs in her pocket and finds a pair of latex gloves and her badge. The badge drops from the chain it’s attached to as she pulls it over her head, letting it rest on the outside of her coat. Passing the uniformed officer guarding the mouth of the alley, she nods and takes in the neighborhood. Buffy notices only one or two on lookers and is thankful that it is so early and so cold. The winter does have its perks with staving off the lookey-loos that flashing red and blues tended to draw.

Buffy moves quickly down the alley, side stepping one patch of black ice and another half frozen puddle of winter city sludge. Ducking under a set of wires in the doorway she calls out, “Liv?”

She waits before moving left towards the sound of Olivia’s voice, “Over here Buffy.”

Buffy comes around a concrete pillar and stops cold, locking eyes with Olivia immediately. The brunette detective hunches over the body pointing at a few things Doctor Warner points out on the victim. The blondes blood running cold as she sees the markings on the raised pieces of wood. She recognizes a few of them, but cocks her head to the side as no residual mojo pings her slayer senses.

Shaking it off, Buffy immediately pulls her cell phone out and begins snapping a few pictures of the chalked out symbols. At least the blonde now knows why she was called out by her friend. The camera on her phone clicks for the third time and she selects the other pictures she wants to send. Typing a quick message to her wife she sends the message with attached pictures and turns her attention to Olivia and the M.E.

“Hi Melinda,” Buffy chirps waving a gloved hand at the doctor.

“Hi Buffy,” Melinda says smiling. “How are you this morning?”

Buffy shrugs. “Was good until this one,” she playfully whines, pointing to Olivia, “called. Willow said to say that if she gets to the labs before you that she’ll handle the night’s intake.”

Melinda’s shoulders drop and she laughs, “Thank God for your wife!” A grin spreads over the doctors face as she clarifies, “I swear I haven’t had to do a single intake and stock form since she came on board.”

Olivia smiles at the two, but agrees that Doctor Rosenberg does rock.

“She’s taken Melinda. Tread lightly,” Olivia teases.

“Pshh,” the doctor scoffs, “Willow’s got eyes for blondes, which leads me to believe those lunches Alex spends with us on occasion…”

“Hey now,” Buffy cuts in stepping up next to Olivia on the left, “Will would totally let us watch if anything were happening.”

Melinda and Buffy laugh as the blonde ducks the smack Olivia tries to give her.

“I swear you two are horrible. Leave Alex out of this and can we please get back to the victim,” Olivia directs.

“Benson,” Rick calls out stuffing his notebook in to his coat pocket, “I was gonna…” He trails off as he looks over the new detective standing next to Olivia. “Detective Book.” He holds out his hand in greeting, wincing slightly as Buffy’s hand closes around his.

“Detective Buffy Summers,” the woman chirps, letting go of the hand Rick offered.

“Nice to meet you. I take it you work with S.V.U.?” he asks.

Shaking her head, Buffy answers, “The Two-Four actually, but I occasionally dip my toes in when Olivia or one of the other detectives from the unit calls for help.”

“Major Cases?” Rick asks as his eyebrows knit together.

Buffy looks the detective over and appraises the cheap suit and worn loafers, the black leather of his holster worn in some spots to a ragged brown. When she catches the short reddish brown hair and kind green eyes that remind her of Jimmy she grins, instantly taking a liking to the cop. “Nah, Major Case squad runs out of One-P-P. I’m the standard gumshoe.” Buffy offers him a smile and small head tilt, trying to set him at ease.

“Oh, that’s right.” He cuffs the side of his head with his palm and looks over at Olivia. “Well in that case, I’m going to leave it in your capable hands. Olivia, you okay with that?”

Olivia runs a gloved hand over her face and nods. “Yeah. You want me to keep you in the loop?”

Rick looks around and then down at the body, shaking his head. “I’ve got an eighteen year old daughter. The less I see of young dead girls the better off my heart. Thanks though.”

Melinda, Buffy and Olivia all nod and watch the tall detective amble out of the scene. Turning to Buffy, Olivia asks, “Thoughts?”

Buffy bites her lip and shakes her head. She tips her chin towards Melinda Warner and frowns. Nodding, Olivia turns her attention back to the body, motioning Buffy forward. Undoing the buttons on her coat, Buffy kneels down and looks over the victim.

“I.D.?” the slayer asks.

“None yet. I’m hoping once we get out of here and back to the station, we can find something in missing persons or if Melinda can do an I.D. back at the lab…”

“Alright. So, tell me what you and Melinda have found out so far.” Buffy looks closer at the slash across the girl’s abdomen. It isn’t as jagged as she expects. The wound looks like it was carved into her body. What concerns her most though is the dried residue on the inside of the girl’s thighs.

Buffy’s jaw clenches in realization. She hates rape cases. Despite the lack of energy coming from the platform and the warehouse, the slayer-turned-cop is under no illusions that whatever happened here wasn’t of the good. Whether it is related to her previous occupation will remain to be seen. Hopefully the pictures she sent her wife will yield something.

A smile, inappropriate as she half-listens to Olivia go over the victim’s wounds, takes her over. Buffy and Willow have been married for five months and eighteen days, not that the slayer is keeping track or anything. Nor is the calendar that she has on her phone marked with a particular number to help her keep track. She is still over the moon happy that after all they have been through since getting together; she can officially call Willow her wife.

At least in the states where it is legal. In New York, they are still “Domestic Partners” but the state could kiss Buffy’s ass as far as the slayer is concerned, Willow Rosenberg is her wife and no demon, hell god or government bureaucrat that she would encounter could change either of the women’s mind.

“Buffy,” Olivia hisses waving a hand in front of the detective’s face, “were you listening?”

Blushing Buffy ducks her head and mumbles, “Uh, Melinda’s taking the body and we need head back to the One-Six…?” Her response comes out more questiony sounding than she prefers.

Olivia rolls her eyes. “Do I even want to know what you were thinking?”

Buffy’s lips press together as she shakes her head. “I’m going to call Pat and Jimmy to loop them in. Let Jimmy know where to find me and Patrick that I’m working this case with you.”

Olivia nods and says, “Yeah, I’m gonna call Cragen and fill him in. Was Deb headed in?”

Buffy shrugs buttoning up her coat. “I don’t know it was just Will and me at the apartment. The note on the fridge said Jimmy was spending the night at her place.”

A grin spreads over the other detectives face, “They gonna get a place?”

Buffy shakes her head and says, “No, I think she may actually end up moving in with us. Jimmy doesn’t want to leave so…”

Olivia raises her eyebrow and says, “Whatever floats your crazy boat.”

Cocking her head to the side, Buffy looks at Olivia and asks, “Besides the obvious, why did you call me in for this?”

“It pinged on my ‘weird shit’ meter. You’re the first person I think of when weird shit happens.” Olivia stuffs her hands in her pockets and rocks back on her heels, wiggling her eyebrows playfully. The move eerily similar to Elliot when he’s joking around.

Buffy good naturedly flips the other detective off before ducking under the tape and heading outside to call her partner and captain.

Doctor Willow Rosenberg pushes through the double doors that lead to the autopsy suite in the Manhattan Medical Examiners office. The suite isn’t actually a suite, but a thirty-by-fourty foot green tiled basement that holds the ability to be hosed out and down if the need arose. The need arose at least once a day. The rest of the place is outfitted with some of the best autopsy equipment a strained government budget can handle.

Willow shuffles over to the receiving doors, looks through the peephole to verify that it is Fritz standing outside with her latest patient, before pressing the button to raise the receiving doors, whipping up a very cold, bitter draft of winter wind.

“Hey doc,” the man grins. Only slightly older than Willow, he lumbers his five-foot-eight frame through the door and hands her a clipboard. “I got one body, female. Doctor Warner signed over everything. I just need your signature and do you want her on the table or do you want her in the cooler?”

Taking hold of the clipboard, Willow scans the information and notices the names of the detectives assigned to the case. A small smile creeps up the corners of her mouth as she answers absently, “The table please. I’ve a clear schedule for the next few hours.”

“You’re the boss,” he grins at her. Willow noticing that it’s a little goofy.

Her eyes drop back down to the information on the paper and she scribbles her name across the bottom, offically taking responsibility of the remains. This job is vastly different than what she was doing at the hospital and clinic she worked at before. No more thirty-six hour shifts, no more getting smashed in the face with a bed pan by some strung out addict just wanting to get a hold of their next fix and most importantly, no feeling like she’s putting her work before her wife.

She watches as Fritz takes care in placing the body bag on the steel slab that’s closest to her. He makes sure the bag and it’s contents are secure before pushing the gurney away and turning to take the clipboard from her. She gently hands it back and he says, “If there’s nothing else, I’d like to head out for break. You want anything?”

Willow shakes her head and says, “Nah, I’m good. Brought leftovers.”

He nods again and steps outside into the fridgid morning. Waiting for him to clear the receiving bay, Willow presses the button and waits while the doors shudder downward. She turns back to the body on the table behind her. Alone, she grabs an apron, gloves and mask. Usually there’s someone, an assistant medical examiner with her, but once she received the call from Melinda this morning, she called off the two volunteer examiners and sent Melinda home after she had finished up at the scene.

When she got in, she finished signing off on the paperwork to release two of the bodies that were housed in the refrigeration unit off to her left and placed orders with two supply companies for the necessary things to run this place. If you would have told the little Jewish Wiccan eleven years ago, when she was in her senior year at Sunndale high, that she would be a doctor and working for the New York City Medical Examiners office, she would have laughed. She may have patted you on the head like a good little crazy person before high tailing it towards the library to find her slayer.

Of course if you would have told that same teenager that she would be married to said slayer and that said slayer would be wearing a badge, she would have begun checking Rupert Giles’ tomes about an upcoming apcolypse, barring the mayor’s “I just wanna be a big snake” campaign to cap off her graduation.

Willow sighs as she once again is struck with the wacky turns her life has taken. So much has happened in eleven years that she herself needed some way to keep track of it. Unfortunately all she has are her memories, a few scars, emotional and physical and Buffy to keep it all straight. But for Willow, as long as she has Buffy, everything that happened from her trying to end the world to making her hometown a landfill, none of it matters anymore. For the most part, barring a few dicey situations that the Coucil needed help with, the fight against the demon population wasn’t hers anymore. It wasn’t her wife’s either and she was grateful for that.

Turning her attention to the body bag, Willow slides the zipper down and spreads the opening wide, taking stock of the first impressions of the victim. Coupled with the photos sent to her phone, Willow starts to put together a potential scenario for her wife and Olivia. Slipping her hand into the right hip pocket of her scrubs, she fastens the Bluetooth to her ear and pressing the ‘on’ button for the devise, speaks, “Call Buffy.”

The mechanical voice chirps in her hear, confirming her selection and dials the number. It takes only three rings for her wife to pick up, “Summers.”

“Hey Baby,” Willow replies smiling despite herself.

“Will did you get the pics I sent out this morning?” her wife asks, causing Willow to wonder what she’s up to on the other end of the line.

“Yes and seriously, no ‘how’s you’re day going, dear?’ or…or how about ‘sorry I ran out on morning snugglies ‘cause Olivia called’?” Willow teases and can hear the exasperation as her wife’s breath rushes through the earpiece.

“Sorry, we’ve been trolling the missing persons and haven’t come up with anything. I’m cranky.” Willow listens as she begins fingerprinting the victim, using the Tablet-PC that’s kept in the suite for these purposes. “Nothing has come through so far and Olivia abandoned to go hunt down a couple decent cups of coffee.” Willow hears her wife pause before she snarks, “I’m thinkin’ all the times in the library with Giles, the man was on to something. Do you ever think about switching to tea?”

Laughing lightly, Willow moves to the other side of the table to more easily fingerprint the other hand. “I did when I was with the Coven the first time. And you know what I learned?”

“Besides the obvious?” Buffy answers. A grin of her own forming on her lips as she takes a folder Debra passes to her.

“Tea’s good for really cold, sleepless nights. Other than that, I’ll take a mocha with extra whipcream any day of the week.” Gently she set the victim’s hand down and sets the tablet on a side stainless steel tabletop after loading the prints and starting a search program. “As to your pictures, I looked at the symbols,” she looks up checking to make sure that she’s still alone and continues, “The symbols are a mish-mash of gobbledygook. It looks like some frat boys found a new age Wiccan book and doodled with some chalk.”

“So then not, uhm, related to my previous career?” Buffy asks trying to keep it as quiet as possible as she’s surrounded by two detectives that know nothing of her being a slayer and one detective that does know, but wisely keeps her mouth shut.

“None. Did you get a feel of anything?” Willow grabs a clean tray and nail scraper before picking up the left hand of her victim and meticulously scrapping underneath her each fingernail meticulously. The scrapings for each nail go in their own separate dish that she marks and labels for forensic analysis later today. Marking the container with the requisite information, she sets it next to the tablet and preforms the same task on the right hand.

“Nada, it was a big fat nuthin’,” The detective pouts slightly.

“Well that’s good. It just makes my thoughts of this being un-magicky and more stupid-peopley that much stronger. Honestly, there aren’t any magick rites that would call for a mix of those symbols which, by the way, I think more than one are just made up, and the sacrafice.” Willow huffs, pausing for a second before launching back into her now formed rant, “Sacrifice, so totally not what most think it is. I mean sure there are some that call for the blood of an innocent, but those are heavy, dark, dark magicks. Gah! Why are people so dumb!”

Buffy waits a few beats before asking, “You done?”

“Yes,” the redhead pouts. “It’s just…”

“Frustrating and obnoxious?” Buffy supplies grinning as Jimmy steps through the bullpen doors. She offers her partner a wave and says, “We still on for dinner?”

Willow tilts her head trying to figure out who her wife’s talking to. “Yeah, Deb’s comin’ over too,” Jimmy answers in the background. Nodding, Willow’s gaze travels over to the tabletop that’s holding the tablet. She wanders over and looks down to see the search that she had started earlier complete.

“Will,” Buffy says, “You, me, Jimmy and Deb for dinner. Eat in or should we go out?”

“In,” Willow answers distractedly. “Hey, I’m sending over the I.D. on your victim. Sarah Holland, nineteen from Woodburne. Date of birth is October Second, Nineteen-Ninety-One. I’ll email you the particulars along with Social and last known residence. Maybe you can find her parents.”

“Crap. Thanks, Will. So no mojo and what about cause of death? I was hedging my bets on the cut our perp carved out of her.” Willor frowns at the tone in her wife’s voice, knowing that the age of the victim is just as upsetting as everything else.

“Can’t confirm yet, I’ve barely opened the bag. I’ll have a preliminary report done by the time you come pick me up to go home,” Willow teases hoping to lighten the mood a tad.

“Fine,” Buffy huffs. “We’ll get started on things from our end and call if you find anything else.”

“’Kay, love you, Buff. Give a hug to Jimmy for me. Be safe.” Willow waits for her wife to say her goodbyes before pulling out her phone and switching the application to a voice recorder.

Turning her attention back to Ms. Sarah Holland, Willow begins the process of discovering the young woman’s last few hours alive.

Olivia looks up at Weinstein Hall and shudders, memories of her days in college as a freshman coming back to her. Not all of it was bad, but her roommate left much, so much, to be desired that she requested a new roommate after winter break. Idly, she wonders what type of roommate Sarah Holland made. As she makes her way to the entrance, waiting on Buffy to get off the phone, Olivia shoots off a quick text message to Alex about dinner. With any luck she can be home by seven and they can relax and maybe get some actual sleep tonight.

“Right, ‘kay, we’ll see you at home. Bye, old man,” Buffy chirps and ends the call, slipping her phone into her coat pocket. “You ready?” she asks a patiently waiting Olivia.

For her humor Buffy receives an eye roll from her partner for the day. Slipping past the brunette detective holding the door open, shuddering, Buffy looks around at the interior as her own college experience and U.C. Sunnydale comes back to her. Olivia picks up on Buffy’s agitation and asks, “What?”

“Just remembering my first college roommate. Kathy,” Buffy answers, her face pinching in memory of the demon masquerading as a college student, “she was a demon. Literally, she sucked my soul from me when I slept.”

Olivia’s eyebrow arcs in her friends direction, shaking her head as she says, “Summers, if it were anyone else, I’d take that as a figure of speech, but with you…I’ll be damned if I can’t tell.”

Buffy snorts as they make their way to the elevators and up to floor Ten where Sarah’s room is. “I’m being very literal. I found out after I flipped out on her and accidently ripped her fleshy skin mask off. Bitch cost me three-hundred dollars to get the carpet replaced after her father opened an inter-dimensional portal and took her home.”

The elevator doors slid open and three college girls fall out of the cab laughing and brushing past the two officers. Buffy and Olivia turn and watch their retreating forms. They step into the cab step for step, Buffy spins and hits the button for the proper floor and is thankful that no one decides to get in the elevator with them.

“Uh-huh,” Olivia finally says. “I’m not sure how to respond to that. So I’m gonna not. Did you ever get a new roommate?”

“Yep, Will.” Buffy’s hands clasp in front of her as she stares ahead.

“And you two didn’t ever…?” Olivia lets the question trail off implying the rest.

As the cab stops and the doors slide open, the women take a moment to figure out where room ten-oh-seven is by reading a small map in front of the bank of elevators. Turning left, Buffy answers as Olivia follows behind her, “Nope. I was….well…things were…,” she stops herself, unsure how to actually convey what her freshman college experience was like. Does she talk about Riley, the Initiative, the freak out over Will actually coming out and one her favorites, the attack of the Chumash ghost tribe during her first attempt at holding a traditional Thanksgiving with her friends.

“It was really, really complicated so no, a world of no,” she finally settles on an answer, but amends quietly, “Doesn’t mean I didn’t have a dream or a thought about it though.”

They stop in front of Sarah’s door and Olivia produces the key she obtained from university. “Only a thought or a dream?”

“One or two…maybe more,” Buffy concedes and grins.

“Right,” Olivia drawls, deciding to knock before using the key she holds in her hand.

To their surprise a short, brunette answers the door, blinking up them. “Yeah?”

Olivia and Buffy flash the badges on their hips and Olivia handles the introductions, “I’m Detective Benson and this is my partner, Detective Summers, we’re looking for Sarah Holland? Are you Shay Courtney?”

Buffy prevents the smile from forming as the brunette’s eyes grow large and she nods mutely. Olivia gently pushes Shay back into the dorm room and Buffy follows, closing the door softly behind her. It takes the slayer-turned-detective only a minute or two to glance around the room to know which side is whose. It takes her only a moment more to spot a picture encased in a cloth leopard print frame of their smiling victim and a family of a mother, father and little brother. Sarah Holland grins back at her in her cap and gown.

Swallowing, Buffy says, “It’s her.”

Olivia’s neck cranes to get a curt nod from Buffy before turning back to Shay. “Shay, have you seen or heard from Sarah today?”

“Nuh…no. She, uh, she went out last night to a party. I haven’t seen her since she left,” Shay stammers a little, the pitch of her voice rising. “Is everything okay?”

Olivia gently steers the girl to what she assumes is her bed and kneels in front her, placing a hand on her knee. “Sarah’s body was found early this morning. I’m sorry.”

A hand quickly covers Shay’s mouth as her eyes, a pale blue, well up with tears. Olivia gives her time to process the information, knowing from years of experience, that it’s best to let them talk next. She also sends out a silent prayer to any deity that may be listening that the two hour drive up to Woodburne Jimmy and Debra are making will go as smoothly as possible.

The four of them had decided that calling the parents of the girl was a bad way to deliver the news. Deb saying that if it was someone calling her to tell her about her brother she’d take the news a lot worse over the phone than in person, she volunteered herself and Buffy’s partner, James McAllister, to make the drive. Since she lost her own brother nearly a year prior, Debra’s ability to sympathize with the victims has taken a turn for the better.

As Shay gathers herself, Olivia remembers first meeting the Miami native, broken and thought dead in a hospital as a monster tortured and killed her brother, Dexter. Those two months spent working with Buffy and Jimmy for the first time are some of the most horrific in her career as a police officer, but she also recognizes that they are some of her happiest as well. It’s when her and Alex got together. When her life took a turn for the better as the blonde A.D.A. waltzed back into her life and took a firm claim over Olivia’s heart.

Buffy watches the scene with Olivia and Shay play out. The college roommate telling Olivia how nice a girl Sarah was. Shay even slips into the present tense when discussing her friend only to stop herself midsentence to correct herself, to drive home the fact that her roommate is no longer living and her life will forever be told in the past tense. For her part, Buffy offers the girl a sad smile and goes back to looking at Sarah Holland’s side of the room.

A twin bed, a single desk and chair, laptop open, but shut off on the desk. A lamp, some books and the single photo in the frame are the only things visible on Sarah’s side of the room, this side a stark contrast to Shay’s. The pixiesque brunette has a few photos in frames, but half of the wall with the other girl’s bed lying against it has one poster and a collage of fliers and Polaroid’s of friends and family. The desk that Shay occupies is cluttered, clearly disorganized, but very lived in.

Buffy stops nosing about as Olivia walks the girl to the door and gently asks they be allowed to search Sarah’s side of the room while Shay works on a list of contacts of the people that she knew Sarah went to the party with.

As the door clicks shut again, Olivia turns and asks, “Anything?”

“Yeah, not good. We can take the computer and I see a cell phone charger, but no phone. My guess is that her purse and phone are somewhere that’s else,” Buffy says as she begins to stuff the laptop into a messenger bag and scoops up the few papers that lay on the desk.

“Alright, we’ll get a unit down here and they can do their thing. I’d like to get started on the list her roommate’s putting together for us.” Olivia dials in to dispatch and requests a crime scene van to process the room. “They’ll be here in a half hour,” she informs Buffy.

“’Kay,” she answers absently sticking her head in the closet to have a look around. Pulling her head back out, she gently shuts the door and flops down on the bed, gnawing on her lower lip. “Ya know…this half of the room…it,” she pauses gathering her thoughts and words as her brow knits together, “this half of the room reminds me a lot my first place when I got to the city.”

Olivia’s head tilts to the side trying to figure out why exactly that should matter; moreover it’s been one thing that she’s always wondered. Why did Buffy, slayer supreme and from everything that’s been told to her by Buffy’s family, repeated savior of humanity, come to New York of all places. Olivia’s hands move to her hips, pushing back her jacket as she asks, “You know that’s one thing I always wondered.”

“What?” Buffy blinks up at her friend trying to figure out what’s on her mind.

“Well, I mean out of all the places that you could have gone. After sinking you’re hometown and saving the world, why come to New York? Why be a cop? And why does a barely lived in half of a college dorm room remind you of your first place here?”
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