A/N: Another one of those, here's some info before we get to do something. Sorry.
Nick was staring sightlessly into a cup of coffee when Greg entered the break room; after assignments had been given out for shift. Greg filled a cup for himself. He turned back to the table and when he noticed his friend had yet to move, he placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"Hey," he said softly. "You alright?"
That sparked a reaction from the Texan. Nick let out a loud, hysterical giggle, shaking his head. "Hell no. We were surrounded by...." he trailed off to make sure they were still alone and lowered his voice to a harsh whisper. "Demons, Greg. Real, un-freakin-believable demons. We're working with a damn vampire, G. A vampire! One that, I might add, saved your ass last night because you got a bar full of demons all worked up an' horny with your little singing act."
"Hey, Lorne made me sing, and I had no idea that would happen. It's not like I'm something to get worked up over anyway," Greg defended as he took a seat.
"Thats bull and you know it Greg," Nick said absently as he rubbed his hands roughly over his face. He missed the small pleased smile that flashed across Greg's face. "You know how Xander said we might start noticing things now..."
"Yeah, well, the obscuring spell stopped working on me years ago. But yeah, I remember what it was like when it happened to me," Greg smiled, encouragingly.
"Yeah, well. I went by the grocery this morning to get some beer on the way home. What I always thought was an empty lot next to the market....it's not so empty, its a demonic grocery. Then I get in the elevator in my building...there's a new button for a sub-basement. Why does my building have a sub-basement? One that needed to be hidden? And how is it possible that these things were never noticed before?!" he finished, his voice rising with tension.
"Hey, take a deep breath. Its alright," Greg soothed. "Of course you didn't see all of this before. They wouldn't be much of a secret if the spells didn't work, now would they? There's a reason for all of it to be kept away from the general public. Could you imagine what would happen if everyone discovered the truth?"
"Mass hysteria and panic, resulting in the loss of innocent lives on both sides," Grissom said stoically as he joined them, Xander and Spike following behind.
"Then you get the maniacs who think they can control it and want to find out how it all works; you end up with even more of the lunatics backed by way to much money, like the Initiative, the military group we told you about," Xander added, taking a seat beside Greg.
"Soddin' wankers," Spike growled, taking a seat as well.
"Okay, I understand that, on a rational level," Nick said, raising his hands. "But, I'm not in a very rational state of mind right now. Gil, I know you've got that whole zen thing going on, but how are you not freaking out? How can you just take it all in stride and not have some kind of reaction to it all?"
Grissom quirked an eyebrow. "I will have you know that I became very well acquainted with a bottle of brandy before going to bed. Irrefutable evidence has been provided, so I have no choice but to accept it. That does not mean, however, that this information is not...upsetting."
"Hey, I found out by being attacked. I think I would like learning about it the way you have," Greg said.
"I learned the night I was turned," Spike offered.
"I learned by my best friends being taken, then I was staking one of them a week later," Xander offered.
"Okay...okay. So, maybe this didn't come out due to a personally traumatic experience, but its still hard to get my head around. This just throws everything I was taught as a kid into a whirlwind. I mean, what about God and the Devil and Heaven and Hell and all of that?"
"That's still up to you to decide, just like it has always been," Xander said with a shrug. "Learning about the things that go bump in the night doesn't have to change anything you already believed, other than those things are real. It could actually make those religious beliefs stronger. When Buffy died she went to heaven, or at least that's where she believed she was. Then Wills did a spell, and we brought her back. The last battle of Sunnydale we walked right into the Hellmouth. Was it actually Hell, a hell dimension, or something else altogether?" Xander shrugged again. "I can't tell you that. I don't know. I do know that I've seen enough to know that anything is possible."
"Very well said," Grissom nodded.
"When did you get all philosophical and shite?" Spike questioned. "Anything is possible...well yeah. We've seen enough, I can't argue that."
"I learned that after our nightmares were made real, and I had to fight Bo-bo the clown. Then, a girl literally became invisible from being ignored. That's about when I decided if you could imagine it, it could happen." Xander paused to think about that for a moment. "Huh. Then that fear demon made our worst fears real, and I became invisible. Guess it's a good thing I never shut up so I can't be ignored, huh." Xander waggled his brows.
"It is nearly impossible to ignore you when you don't want to be," Spike snorted.
"Hmmm. Maybe I should try to be ignored. Just think of all the things you could do if no one could see you," Xander shot back with a lecherous grin.
Nick finally broke and laughed loud and hard. Greg and Grissom quickly followed suite. Spike smiled proudly at Xander.
"Ah, my work here is done. Tension breaker, thy name is Xander."
"Did that really happen? The invisible thing?" Nick asked, once he could talk. Xander nodded. "Damn. That really could be a lot of fun, at least for a while."
"As informative as this conversation has been," Grissom interrupted, becoming serious once again, "we do have a case to work on. Were your contacts able to get any new information for us?"
Spike smirked, pulling some folded papers from the inside of his duster. "You could say that." He handed the papers to Grissom. Nick and Greg moved to look over the man's shoulder.
"How did you get this information?" Grissom asked, looking over the rim of his glasses.
"Giles is the know-all of all things demonic. Wills is a techno goddess. There's not a system she hasn't been able to get into. But, you didn't hear that. Giles got us a ritual, and a time for the next sacrifices to be made. Wills got into the LVPD files and started searching for missing persons. She got a list of all the men that have been reported missing over the last month. Then she cross-referenced their addresses and employment records. We thought she found the couple, same address, been missing for seven days, reported by each of their employers."
"Wow. Archie would soo be drooling all over her right now," Greg said.
"Yeah well. She also went with the belief that they were all gay. She logged into some local gay groups on the net, did some more gentle questioning, and got us the names of eight missing guys, none have been reported to the LVPD. We haven't been able to figure out why they haven't been reported."
"This is all very impressive." Grissom said, a small frown creasing his brow as he studied the information in front of him.
"Yeah well. Wills got into the files of our possible couple, she thought she found. You guys, well some CSI anyway, collected DNA from their home."
"So, that wasn't them. They would have been in the system already," Greg said. "Even without a comparison sample to run with it, it would have been listed as an unknown sample collected at a scene."
"Right. But, they may be being held for the next sacrifice in four nights. So, the question is why haven't our missing guys in the community been reported? Will isn't having much luck either. All she's been able to get are first names and vague descriptions of these guys."
"So, you've got eight potential leads on victims, possibly ten if our couple doesn't overlap. But, no names or anything else to go on?" Nick rubbed his hand over his head.
"Well, yes and no," Xander hesitated. "No names or descriptions, but the names of three gay clubs keep being repeated. Like, if you didn't know better, you would think they were the only ones in the city."
"That gives us a place to start looking. Maybe these guys are all being picked from the same club. How much do you know about the ritual?" Greg asked, mentally processing all of the information they were receiving.
"It's to summon Men...Mez...Muw...the name isn't important," Xander waved after stumbling over the pronunciation. "The name is all we have right now, Giles is still looking through his dusty old books to find out what the deal is; what this big bad is supposed to do. He knows that it takes thirteen sacrifices, the first five, which we already have. Then seven days later another six, and the final two get a special sacrifice right after. He's got someone working on the translation right now to see if we can figure out if there is anything special about the victims. What, if any, criteria is being used for picking them."
"This is very impressive. I don't know how to thank you for all of this," Grissom said.
"Hey, no problem. It's what we do," Xander assured him. "We need to ask a favor though. This is taking longer than we thought it was going to when we first came. We need to meet with the local higher-ups, let them know why we're in town."
"Why?" Nick asked.
"It's the polite thing to do," Spike said innocently. Then scoffed. "If you were running this town, and suddenly we show up snooping around, what would you do?"
"I understand," Grissom said. "What can we do for you though?"
"Well, can you get us in contact with one of the big shots in the casinos? They're being backed by these guys, so they're gonna know how to get in touch with them. And having humans ask to talk to their backers, that's going to cause some panic; make something happen. Going through the demon community involves a lot of politics and ass-kissing," Xander ended with a disgusted shiver.
"We'll see what we can do. How soon would you need to meet with them?"
"The sooner the better. The longer we're here stirring things up without them knowing what's what...the more paranoid they're gonna be," Spike answered. "Sooner they know the less we have to worry about them sending someone after us."
"I'll see if I can get you in to see someone tonight. Tomorrow at the latest."
"We could go by the Tangiers, talk to Sam Braun. He's used to us hitting him up for information," Nick offered. "Then swing by the scene, see if you guys can find anything that we didn't. Obviously we weren't looking for demonic activity when we went over it."
"Thank you," Xander gave a relieved sigh. "It sucks when they send someone after you when you've already got your hands full with one baddy. So, are we ready to head out?"
Grissom nodded absently, going over the information in front of him. "Greg and Nick will go with you. I've got paperwork to get caught up on, and I need to go by the morgue and pick up the final findings from our autopsies."
"Let's go," Xander said standing. "Oh. Wait. Almost forgot. These are for you two."
"What's this?" Greg asked, studying the pendant in his hand. Front and back were covered in intricate overlapping symbols.
"Part of a tracking spell. Just in case," Xander grinned.
"Tracking spell?" Nick questioned, uncomfortably. "Why do we need these?"
" 'Cause big, green, and horny said you two get into trouble like we do, and you're in danger now." Spike snorted. "That means random attacks, kidnappings, horny demons wanting to screw you...get the point. Put 'em on and let's go. And don't even think about taking 'em off until we're done with this."
"Don't feel bad guys," Xander said as they put the pendents around their necks. "You're not the only ones tagged." Xander pulled his own pendent from his shirt.
"Too right. I've had to save that arse of yours to bloody many times from demons wanting to make you their personal sex slave. You're mine. I don't share," Spike said as he left the room, duster billowing behind him.
"It's not my fault they like me," Xander whined. Nick and Greg followed a sheepish Xander down the hall. Their laughter could be heard throughout the lab.