Chapter 2Disclaimer: Almost none of the characters are mine, but belong to CBS or to Joss Whedon and co.
Note: This story takes place in AU BtVS season eight.
While Mac and Jo had stared in horror at the sight of Ruth’s corpse with its face ripped off almost completely, their co-workers Danny and Lindsay were busy with a more pleasant task: they were getting coffee.
“So, any ideas why Dan got Mac and Jo got called in such a hurry?” Danny was wondering out loud. “I mean, this was shaping to be quite an easy week, with nothing particularly outstanding-“
“Hmm?” Lindsay looked away from a particularly attractive chocolate tart (she leaning against buying it, as her thighs had looked suspiciously bulky this morning). “Danny, did you say something...” she trailed away. “Wait a second, I know this girl-“
Danny blinked, as his – partner’s rapid attitude shift caught him unawares. “Say what?” he began, but Lindsay was no longer listening to him, as she ran out of the coffee shop and into the street.* * *
This was Courtney’s first true visit to New York City, and she was finding it overpowering. The Times Square alone was nothing that she had ever seen in Washington State, and the idea that sooner (or later) she will be able to see the Statue of Liberty in person made her feel almost orgasmic.
“So, Mr. Giles,” she shyly turned to her companion. “How do you find New York? Isn’t it amazing?”
Giles merely nodded in agreement. Privately, as an English patriot and a city dweller himself, he was more resistant the charms of ‘the city that never sleeps’ (and it really didn’t) that one of his new Vampire Slayers, but, in lieu of Courtney’s almost child-like excitement he decided to play along. “Yes, quite. Uh, I am guessing that you have nothing like this back home?”
“Oh no! Back in Helena, it’s only schools, and more schools, and some colleges. Honestly, if you’re not a compete bookworm – emphasis on complete – then you’ve got nothing at all to occupy your time with!”
“That’s not true – you’ve also got baseball,” an unfamiliar (to Giles) feminine voice came from behind them. “Why, Courtney! It really is you, isn’t it?”
Slowly, Giles and Courtney turned around and saw an older blonde staring at them, with an almost palpable excitement. “Lindsay!” Courtney exploded with an equal amount of excitement. “It’s you?! What are you doing here?!!”
“I’m working here,” Lindsay said, half-surprised, half-proud and half-smug. “Remember, when my family would visit yours and vice versa? I always did say that one day I’ll be working in New York City of all places. Isn’t it great?”
“It’s awesome!” one could almost hear the capital letters in Courtney’s ‘awesome’. “And who’s the guy behind you? Your man?”
“What? No! That’s Danny!” Lindsay said, feeling rather confused about her cousin’s query. “He is... my co-worker.”
“Oh, yeah, I remember – you are working in the police, aren’t you?”
“CSI, actually,” Lindsay corrected her cousin for the un-teen time since the two of them would talk about their careers. “Think more Sherlock Holmes, less inspector Lestrade.”
“You’ve read Conan Doyle? Willingly?” Courtney’s own companion asked, his voice slightly incredulous, and also rather accented.
“But of course-“ Lindsay began to speak, but her cell phone chose to come to life at that moment. “Oops. Duty calls. Courtney, do you have the address of your hotel? Maybe we can talk later?”
“Here it is,” Courtney quickly jabbed a card into Lindsay’s hand, even as the older blonde was beginning to walk away. “It’s my cell phone number. Call me!”* * *
“...I’ve called Danny and Lindsay for back-up. Soon enough they’ll be here,” Jo said, as she returned back to the others. “So, I am guessing the cause of the death was the obvious?”
“Not exactly the choice of words I would use,” the coroner looked sympathetically as the CSI officer, who came back looking distinctly paler than before. “I mean, yes, Ms. Limo died because her face was ripped away – Hell, most of her head was ripped away, but, well, I for one have no idea as to how it happened.”
“Well, what ideas do you have?” Jo pressed on.
“I can only think of a bear trap – well, maybe not a bear trap, but one of these animal traps – you know, big, mean, look like jaws with teeth.”
“Yes, I can see where you’re going with that,” Jo nodded in agreement. “But there is a ‘but’, right?”
The coroner just nodded. “You should probably talk to your friend in the police,” he said slowly, “and see the crime scene. I had only a brief glance, but yes, you’re right – the bear trap theory just isn’t working here.”* * *
The office of the deceased Ms. Limo remained almost the same as it was the morning before... well, relatively speaking.
“Jo, glad you could join us,” Mac said from his observation point, as Jo rejoined her partner at last. “Are you feeling better?”
“I just stepped aside to call Lindsay and Danny,” Jo said coldly, “nothing more. So, what have we got here, besides the blood?”
“Let’s start with it, shall we?” Mac replied, too brightly for Jo’s liking. “Did you read the coroner’s report?”
“Yes, and saw the corpse as well,” Jo snapped. “Almost the entire skull structure is gone, save for some hindmost bones.”
“And the lower jaw,” Mac added, as he produced the body part in question – safely enclosed in a plastic evidence bag – with all the style of a stage magician.
Jo almost lost it then and there, but was able to recover her self-control enough to say: “I see that it shows the same amount of wear and tear as the throat?”
“The neck, rather,” Mac replied. “As you pointed out, not just the face is gone, almost the entire head is. The remove of the head opened up the neck arteries, this caused blood to splatter-“
“I can see that,” Jo shot back, “I can see that on the wall behind you. I also think that the blood went from top to bottom and not just because of gravity.”
“Exactly,” Mac nodded. “Ruth Limo was standing when she died, leaning towards the wall – away from her killer, I suspect.”
“But she was facing him,” Jo countered. “Otherwise the damage on the remaining skull bones would be different.”
“Exactly,” Mac agreed. “Somehow or other, her killer rips of her face, the carotid artery and other blood vessels continue to pump blood, as the body is toppling backwards and most of the blood ends up on the wall, on the floor and on Ruth herself – the corpse by itself is very pale and bloodless on the inside.”
“And this leaves us where?” Jo asked, as the usual rush of solving a part of the puzzle already faded away. “I mean, shouldn’t some blood end up on the assassin too? Or did he use a weapon with a long reach, or something?”
“I see that we’re too late and the investigation has already started,” Danny appeared in the doorway behind Jo and Mac. “Lindsay went with Don to check the security tapes – something funny is taking place with them as well.”
“Good,” Mac nodded sagely. “Come on in and join the process.”To be continued...