The rain had stopped by the next morning, but the gray clouds stayed put leaving it chilly and gloomy. Good weather for a funeral, which turned out to be exactly what was on Sookie's agenda that day. Alcide had called last night when they'd gotten in, asking Sookie to go to a service for a friend of his, so Sookie had switched her shift at Merlotte's and was headed to Shreveport. Buffy, figuring this would be a good opportunity to get her car back, caught a ride with her.
The only problem with this great plan came when they reached Fangtasia and her car wasn't where she'd left it. In the parking space in its place was a little white placard.
"What the hell?" Buffy muttered, looking out the window.
She shot Sookie a questioning look, but she just shrugged, as clueless as Buffy was at what was going on. Giving an annoyed grunt, she opened her door and hopped out. It was cold and windier her than it had been in Bon Temps, making her huddle in her jacket as she strode toward the little white card. How the heck was it not blowing away? Crouching down next to it she saw that it was folded in half with each end taped to the asphalt so that it kept its tented shape. Careful not to rip it, she pulled the tape up from the ground and read what was written inside.
"Call me if you want it back
", a phone number and Pam's signature.
Buffy stared at it a moment in annoyance before refolding it and sticking it in her back pocket, then got back in Sookie's warm car.
"She's holding my car hostage."
Good point… Why was Pam kidnapping her car so she could talk to her and not Eric. Maybe because he didn't want to talk to her? Her stomach rolled itself in a knot at the thought. She'd been thinking he'd come around, realize he was wrong and apologize, maybe even with a little begging for forgiveness thrown in. But he didn't want to talk to her at all…
Something of her thoughts must've shown on her face because Sookie moved on quickly. "So that means you can't get your car until after sunset."
She looked at the car's clock. 11:52. Great.
"Well, I guess you're coming with me," Sookie said, putting the car in drive.
Buffy glanced down at her jeans, white sweater and camel colored coat - she looked okay, but she definitely wasn't dressed for a funeral.
"I'll pass. Just drop me somewhere with coffee and I'll get a cab back to Bon Temps."
"That's a long way," Sookie said, glancing at her with raised eyebrows. "It'll cost you a fortune."
"No offense, but I think it's worth the cost not to have to go to a funeral," Buffy said with a shrug. "It's my own fault for leaving the car here in the first place."
"You came to help me out," Sookie said, sounding like she felt guilty. "So really, it's my fault. I can call Alcide, tell him I can't-"
"Chill, it's a taxi ride, not a death sentence," Buffy laughed. "Seriously Sookie, it's fine. Look, there's a little coffee house right up here. Just drop me off and I'll be fine. I'm a big girl, after all."
Sookie still didn't like it, but she finally agreed and left her, looking back twice as she drove off, like a mom leaving her kid on their first day of kindergarten. Shaking her head, she went inside and got the number for a taxi from the girl at the counter, then ordered a big fluffy coffee with whipped cream and chocolate and caramel drizzled all over it. Yum…
After calling for a taxi (and making sure they'd actually take her all the way out to the boonies), she called Pam, who obviously didn't answer because she was busy sleeping the sleep of the dead. So she left a message saying she wanted her damn car back and she could drop it off at Sookie's house or Merlotte's - she didn't offer to come back down and pick it up. After she hung up, she hesitated, then pulled up Rasul's number. He was asleep too, but maybe she should call anyway, leave a message saying... hell, she didn't know what to say. She felt bad about the way things had gone between them before she left. The look on his face, that weary acceptance in his voice, it wouldn't leave her alone. But even though things with Eric had gone south, she still couldn't see herself giving into Rasul's advances. Maybe it was because things were too fresh, maybe after some time…
The taxi arrived and she tucked her phone away without calling.*******
Back in town, she spent the majority of the dreary day wandering around Bon Temps. She was less than impressed. She'd liked Sookie's place and the bar, but the rest of the town was just flat out boring. Then again, nothing was great when it was cold and gloomy out. Maybe things were different in the summer, more full of life or something. But even then, it wasn't somewhere Buffy thought she could live. She wanted the newest trends, a great selection of shoes, a variety of people from all walks of life. Bon Temps didn't offer any of that. Besides, the everyone knowing your business thing was crazy. She couldn't count how many time someone had come up and asked who she was (who does
that? Apparently people in a small town, that's who) and then proceeded to recite the Stackhouse family history when they heard she was friends with Sookie. Not to mention the disbelieving looks she got from some of the people when she said that, like it was a shock Sookie had friends. It made her dislike the town even more.
The place where the panther-guy had been shot was way out in the middle of nowhere, so she'd have to wait to get her car back if she wanted to see that spot. But the Sonic was right there in town, so she went there to grab a bite to eat and survey the area. From what she could see as she sucked at her milkshake, the shot had come from across the street where two empty businesses sat with a narrow space between them. The shooter could've actually been in one of the buildings, but it seemed more likely that they'd been in that little walkway - quicker escape that way.
Taking her milkshake with her, she took a little fieldtrip across the street to check out the buildings and the alleyway. The windows of the buildings were covered in grime, but from what she could see, it didn't look like anyone had been in there for a very, very long time. The alley on the other hand had some trampled weeds that could've been nothing or they could've been from the shooter. Then again, they could've been from cops that had followed the same line of thought Buffy had and came to check this little alley for clues. She wondered if a town like this had the budget for all that fancy crime scene crap they had on TV, if they'd been able work out the trajectory of the bullet and all that magical forensics stuff.
She was squatted down, taking a closer look at the ground when she noticed someone moving toward her from the street. Glancing up, she saw a square-ish man striding toward her in that no-nonsense way of someone that's in a position of authority, or at least thinks they are. She stood up slowly and waited for him to come to her, adopting an expression of polite curiosity.
"Can I help you?" She asked as he stopped a few feet from her.
"I was about to ask you the same thing," he said with a smile that didn't reach his eyes. "Can I ask what you're doing over here?"
"Only if I can ask who you are."
He pulled out his wallet, flashing a badge. "Detective Bellefleur," he said, all traces of casual friendliness gone. "And you are?"
"Daisy Smithington," Buffy said, giving the name on her most recent fake ID. Who ever was responsible for coming up with names was definitly screwing with her.
"You new in town Miss Smithington?"
"I just got in the night before last. I'm a friend of Sookie Stackhouse."
A look very close to distaste flickered across his face, concreting Buffy's dislike of him.
"I don't see Sookie anywhere around here," he said, looking around in exaggeration.
"She's in Shreveport today, so I thought I'd check out the town."
"In Shreveport doing what?"
"I didn't realize it was police business to track people visiting out of town," Buffy said with a placid shrug. "But she's at a funeral with her boyfriend."
The detective's face had turned a little red at her mild chastising of his nosiness. "And what exactly are you doing in this alley? I think you've avoided the question for long enough."
Just as she was opening her mouth to lie like a rug, a black truck with obnoxiously bright pink and aqua swirls on it pulled over at the curb next to them. The passenger side window rolled down to reveal Jason Stackhouse leaning over from the driver's seat to look out at them.
"Sorry I'm late," he said giving Buffy a smile. "You get bored waiting at the Sonic and walk over here? Hey, Andy, how's it going?"
Buffy barely kept her jaw from dropping. Guess Jason wasn't as dense as she'd thought. Then again, being a better liar than she'd imagined didn't exactly gain him any points in the "I'm not the murderer" category.
"Yep," she said, then held up her milkshake with a smile. "I thought I'd walk off some of these calories."
"You were waiting for Jason?" Andy asked, not bothering to hide that he thought that was complete bull.
"Uh-huh. I don't have a car right now, so I needed a ride."
"I told her I'd pick her up, but she had to agree to let me buy her a drink at Merlotte's tonight," Jason said, giving Andy what was supposed to a guy-to-guy conspiratorial wink.
Andy turned away from Jason, not bothering to reply. His eyes were narrowed as they landed back on Buffy.
"I'll be keeping an eye on you, Miss Smithington. I suggest you stay out of trouble," the detective said before walking away.
"'I'll be keeping an eye on you'," Buffy mocked in an unflattering impression when he was out of ear shot. She then made a face at his turned back, making Jason chuckle quietly.
She opened the door and hopped up in the cab, catching sight of something lacy and zebra stripped poking out from under the seat as she did. She didn't investigate further, but did make sure to touch as little of the door handle as possible when she pulled it closed. At least it was warm in there. Although that probably just helped whatever bacteria and germs there were in there grow faster. Like a whorehouse Petri dish… You'd probably be able to see it from space if it was lit with a black light. She wiped her hand discreetly on her pants.
She'd rather not go anywhere with Jason at all, but she figured Bellefleur might cruise around the are a time or two more. If he saw that she hadn't gone with Jason it would be an open invitation for more suspicion. She'd rather not butt heads with the local police any more than necessary, at least not while she was still nosing around.
Jason pulled out from the curb, back into the trickle of traffic creeping through this main drag of the town, and looked over at her briefly.
"So, what were you really doing out there?" He asked seriously, flicking on his blinker as they came up on a stop-light.
Buffy hesitated, then decided to go with the truth. Since he was still on the top of the suspect list, maybe she'd catch him off guard…
"I told Sookie I'd look into the shootings while I was in town," she said, watching his reaction closely.
His eyebrows rose as he glanced back over at her. He looked annoyingly skeptical, but not guilty or worried. "She really think you can help?"
"Yep, fixing weird and dangerous problems is kinda my gig," she said with a shrug.
"That's great," he said, smiling suddenly. "I don't know if she said anything to you, but some people think I might've done it. The sooner that bastard is caught, the sooner my name gets cleared."
He seemed genuine, but he'd also lied like a pro to the detective not five minutes ago. Then again, it was pretty selfish to be more worried about clearing his name than about more people getting killed. If he'd really wanted to draw her suspicion away he would've said something more along the lines of hoping she could save lives. But he could also know she'd think that was pushing it too far… Ugh, she was getting a headache…
"So you were at the Sonic trying to find clues from when Heather got shot?" He asked. She nodded. "Find anything?"
"No, but it's been a while since it happened. I just wanted to see the area, really."
"Have you seen where Calvin was shot yet?"
"No, I didn't have a car. Plus I didn't know exactly where it was."
He took a sharp left that had her sliding into the door, then putting on her seatbelt, again trying to touch as little as possible.
"I know where it was," he said, giving a wave to a passing truck. "I can show you."
Deciding that killer or not, this was a good offer, she agreed. It wasn't like he could get the drop on her, her reflexes were ten times his and she was already wary of him. Might as well kill two birds with one stone - keep testing him to see if there was a killer hiding in him somewhere and also see where the second shooting took place.
Jason put his arm along the back of the truck's seat and tugged on a strand of her hair. "After you get done looking around, we can go get that drink I promised."
She looked over at that smile that was half charming and half naughty and wondered if maybe she'd be killing more than two birds with that stone…*******
The bar was busy when she arrived with Jason, getting more than a few curious glances. Jason seemed to be soaking up the attention like a sponge. No doubt loving the idea that everyone in the bar probably thought they were sleeping together since they'd come in together.
She'd managed to keep from hurting Sookie's brother so far. But just barely. He was relentless
. Even after she told him point blank that she wasn't going to sleep with him tonight, tomorrow night, or any other night, that she wasn't even the tiniest bit interested, his first response wasn't to leave her alone, it was to ask if she was a lesbian. She was tempted to say yes, just to get him off her back, but she also didn't want to give his ego that break so she said no. He'd just grinned and told her that as long as she was into guys then he had a chance. She gave up after that, settling on just ignoring him.
The scene of Calvin's shooting was a bust, but she'd pretty much expected that. There was some glass from where the shot went through his windshield and tire tracks where he'd swerved off the road when he'd been hit, but that was it. What was interesting was that the shot itself was pretty damn impressive. To get a head- on shot like the one that hit Calvin in the chest, the shooter would've had to be in the woods far down the road, waiting for the truck to come around a ninety degree bend. Where they must've been was a similar bend in the other direction. She was sure someone with a shifter's reflexes and sight would've been able to spot them immediately if they'd been closer, because they would've had to be in the middle of the road to make the shot if they were.
So that was two people, one a moving target (who knows, maybe both were, Heather could've been walking when shot), hit in vital areas, and from a pretty good distance. Then there was Sam, hit in the leg from a fraction of the distance. Weirdly enough, she was starting to wonder if Sam's shooter was the same as the other two. A more inexperienced accomplice maybe? Or someone completely unrelated with a grudge? She should talk to Sam again, see if there was anyone he'd pissed off recently.
Mind full of mysteries, she headed for the bar, hoping Jason would leave her to go sit with the friends he was waving to. Both Charles and Sookie were working that night, but both of them looked busy, so she just took her seat at the bar without saying anything to them, grimacing when Jason sat on the stool next to her with a grin.
"So, what do you want to drink?"
"Just a water," Buffy said scanning the room. She'd thought that the vampire tinglies she'd gotten when they first came in were just from Charles, but now that Charles was at her back she could tell there was another one in there somewhere in the main seating area.
"Come on, you have to get something better than a water," Jason wheedled. "How about a shot? Or one of those floofy girly drinks with an umbrella?"
"Just a water," Buffy repeated distractedly.
There. On the left side of the room was the vampire she'd been searching for. Dark haired and slim with a pale pointed face, he was sitting with a pretty dark haired woman who looked more than a little out of it. She was about to call Charles over and ask him about it when a new ping appeared on her Slayer radar.
She felt Jason stiffen beside her as she caught sight of source of that new ping. The girl was about Buffy's size, a few years younger and looked like she had attitude to spare. She was making a beeline right for them. Buffy didn't need to be a psychic to know she was looking at a pissed off ex. Jason probably left them laying around like dirty socks in his bedroom, completely oblivious until he tripped over one.
"What the hell is this?" The girl asked, stopping in front of them with her hands on her hips and what was very close to an actual snarl on her face.
"I'm having a drink with a friend," Jason said, his tone that mocking innocence aimed at pissing someone off. "Is there a problem with that?"
"A friend? Are you fucking serious right now? You expect me to believe you aren't banging GoldiSlut here?"
"Hey-" Buffy started, but was interrupted.
"What's it to you? You thought I was a murderer, remember?" Jason said bitterly.
"I didn't think that, it's just my family. You know how they are," she shot back hotly.
"Yeah, I do. And if you want to let them do your thinking for you, that's fine. But don't think I'm just going to sit around and mope about it. Plenty more fish in the sea."
Oh god, he did not
just use the fish in the sea line. But instead of rolling her eyes and laughing, maybe making a comment about how he'd need a bigger pole, like Buffy would've done, the girl just clenched her fists, the energy coming off of her spiking suddenly. Buffy tensed, not to defend Jason if the girl started to attack him, but so she could get the hell out of the way. But she didn't hit him, instead her eyes suddenly filled with tears and she spun away, rushing for the exit.
Buffy spun toward Jason and shoved him hard enough that he had to lurch to his feet if he didn't want to fall on his ass off his stool.
"What was that for?" He asked, looking pissed. It was actually nice to see something other than that panty-peeling smile on his face.
"Go after her."
"What, why? I'm fine right here with you."
"No, you're not. Because if you hit on me one more time, I'm going to have to hurt you. So go after the girl that actually wants you and fix things. Now."
Jason looked undecided for a moment then shook his head and gave her that smile she was really starting to hate again. "Yeah, okay. But you know where to find me if you change your mind." Then he was headed for the exit, much to the relief of Buffy's sanity.
"Looks like you have a fan," Charles said, making her spin back around on her stool. Okay, so maybe she just liked spin-y stools…
"I thought I was going to have to explain to Sookie why she wasn't ever going to have any nieces or nephews if I had to spend five more minutes with him."
Charles laughed and handed her a glass of water, showing that he'd heard their conversation. "Besides the unwanted suitor, how have you found the town?"
"Weird," Buffy said bluntly, taking a sip. "But that's probably just me. I'm kind of a city girl. What about you? How's the bartending going? Anybody get drunk and confess to shooting people?"
"That would make your job much easier, wouldn't it," he laughed. "But sadly no. I've found the bar crowd to be fairly tame…"
His words drifted off as his eyes focused intently on something behind Buffy. Turning to follow his gaze, she found Sookie at the table the vampire was at, her hand on the girls shoulder that was sitting there. Sensing trouble on the horizon, Buffy slid off her stool and headed toward them. Sookie started shaking the girl, who looked mostly unresponsive, and suddenly the vampire was up and in front of her, snarling and grabbing Sookie's arm. Buffy was there in the blink of an eye, jerking the vamp's hand off Sookie and stepping between them.
She looked up into beady brown eyes her hand slowly tightening on his wrist, watching as the fury on his face faded to something more wary and considering.
"There a problem here?" She asked, eyes never leaving his.
"He's hurting her, or he's letting someone else do it," Sookie said, sounding both defiant and a little scared behind her.
"It's not any of your concern," he sneered.
"I'm making it my concern," Buffy said back, giving his wrist another squeeze, darkly pleased when he flinched a little.
"Sookie's overreacting," the other girl spoke for the first time. "Everything's fine."
She sounded tired and slightly dazed. Sookie was right, something was definitely off here. But taking a quick glance around the bar, she realized that she'd be the one that looked like a trouble maker if she didn't ease up. The girl said she was fine, and that's all the many eyes on them would see. Looking back at the vampire, she saw that he realized that too. His smug little smile made her want to snap his arm. She released him before she gave into temptation.
But instead of backing away, he leaned forward slightly, his voice so low that she knew not even Sookie, who was almost touching her back, would be able to hear it.
"Every bit of embarrassment you just caused will be taken out on her tonight. Every scream, every drop of blood, every humiliation will be because of you. Aren't you glad you stuck your nose where it didn't belong?"
Then he laughed in her face.
Buffy's hands clenched at her sides until she could feel blood gathering under her nails, using the slight pain to keep her focus on not letting the Slayer part just take over. So she stood there and just watched him back away chuckling and pulling the girl to her feet. Watched, shaking with fury, as the left.
As they stepped out the door, another figure slipped in. Looking like she was going to a PTA meeting in her khaki pants, white button down shirt and soft blue cardigan, Pam watched the vamp leave then looked right at Buffy, eyebrow raised questioningly. Seeing her standing there, keys in hand, made Buffy smirk darkly. A plan of action settling in her brain and making her feel a little more calm. Turning to Sookie so quickly that the other girl stepped back, she forced herself not to look like a homicidal maniac as she asked quietly what Sookie knew about the couple that had just left.
Sookie hesitated for a second and then nodded toward the back hall. "Let's talk back there."
"Talk about what?" Pam asked appearing next to them and looking at Buffy with eyes bright with excitement. "You smell of violence and blood, whatever you're plotting, I want in."
Buffy didn't bother to argue where so many eyes were still on them, instead she just turned toward the back, Pam and Sookie following. Going through the narrow hall, she stopped by the store room and faced the other two.
And Sookie did. What she knew wasn't really much, but it was enough. The girl's name was Tara, an old friend of Sookie's, and she'd somehow gotten involved with this Mickey guy, now she was trapped and according to Sookie, who'd read her mind, pretty much hopeless.
"Where's Tara live?" Buffy asked when Sookie was finished.
"Why?" Sookie asked warily.
"You want me to help your friend or not?" Buffy asked impatiently.
Sookie only hesitated another second before giving her directions. She didn't look like she was sure she was doing the right thing, but she looked determined anyway. She didn't stick around after she'd told Buffy where to find Tara and Mickey, just turned and went back through the swinging door, shoulders tight.
Pam stayed though, she was still looking at Buffy with that unholy glee that normally would be unnerving, but didn't bother Buffy in the least in her current mood.
"You're going to do something to him aren't you?" Pam asked, a wicked smile forming on her face.
"I'm going to kill him," she said bluntly.
"Oh good, I was hoping you'd say that," Pam said. She rattled the keys and headed for the door. "Let's go, I'm eager to see some bloodshed tonight."