Frankenstein Part One
Frankenstein Part One
A/N: Disclaimer's in the first chapter. From here on, unless specifically stated, everything happens in Sunnydale.
Xander nearly fell as he came down the stairs into the basement because he was looking over his shoulder with a rather bewildered expression. Jon, who was already in the basement warming up for patrol, laughed at him.
"Hey. No laughing!" Xander objected, mock-scowling at Jon. "Did you ... ?"
"Yeah, I heard." Jon said. "It's not that weird, Xander."
"Yes, actually, it is. And edging into a bit pathetic. I was hoping that by the time you get to that age, you stop being a nervous, twitchy geek when it comes to asking girls out."
"What age?" Buffy wanted to know. "And who's asking who out?"
"Giles' age. I accidentally overheard him rehearsing to ask Ms. Calendar on a date when I passed by the bathroom." Xander said.
Buffy's eyebrows went up. "Ok ... that's ... "
"Exactly!" Xander said, pointing at her. "That is exactly my point. It's wiggy with a side of weird!"
"We're going to have to tease him later." Buffy decided. "Maybe give him a few pointers." Then she gave herself a mental shake. "Where's Willow?"
"Changing into patrol clothes. She'll be down in a minute." Xander said. He headed over to the mats and started stretching, warming up prior to them heading out on patrol for the evening.
A minute later, both Willow and Giles descended into the basement. Xander somehow managed to not snicker at Giles, but he wasn't quite sure how. They both spent a few minutes stretching and warming up, and then everyone headed out.
About halfway through their patrol, a sour-faced Angel joined them, glaring at Xander and Jon. Xander gave Angel a wide, mock-innocent grin, completely unrepentant about Angel's increasing discomfort and dislike of himself and Jon.
The tail-end of their patrol brought them into one of the many cemeteries in town.
"Buffy and I will go this way." Angel said, motioning to one side.
"No. No you won't." Jon instantly refuted. "Splitting the team up in hostile territory is a very, very bad idea."
Especially when Angel was taking their most able fighter away from the group. There would come a time when splitting up wouldn't be as dangerous, but right now, when Xander and Willow had only a couple months of training under their belts wasn't it.
Buffy looked from Angel to Jon, then sighed. "Angel, we can talk after patrol's over, ok? They have a point."
Angel looked even more sour than before, but didn't push the issue. They started their sweep of the graveyard, Jon listening intently for any sign of movement. Xander walked close enough to him to bump shoulders every few steps or so. It allowed Xander to keep Jon from zoning without either of them having their movement restricted the way it would be if Xander had a hand on Jon's arm or shoulder.
Four vampires and about half the graveyard later, Buffy came perilously close to falling face-first into an open grave. Only Angel's lightning-fast reflexes saved her from the spill.
"Ok, that can't be good." Xander said, staring down. Because it was an open, used grave. That had been, relatively speaking, neatly dug up. The entire length of the casket was fully exposed, rather than there being a simple, torso-sized hole in the earth, which is what happened when newly turned vampires dug their way out of their graves.
"No, indeed it cannot." Giles agreed. "This is not the work of a rising vampire." He glanced around, clearly looking for something ... anything, really, to tell them what the heck had happened. "There are a number of other demons that feed on corpses or parts of corpses, however, so this could be their work."
"Jon?" Xander asked, glancing at him.
Jon frowned, and glanced around before giving his head a shake. "All I smell is humans, and decay." He admitted. "Nothing that stands out as 'not normal' ... but that's not saying much." He pointed. "There are some drag marks there, but they only go about fifteen feet or so. Just far enough to get the body well clear of the grave. Doesn't look like the body was moving under its own power, either. There's shoeprints to either side of the drag marks."
"Like someone was dragging the body out." Buffy said, and Jon nodded.
"Yeah, like I said. Not good. Not good at all." Xander groused.
"Shoeprints eliminates all but a handful of demons." Giles said. "Most demons can't even begin to fit into human clothing, even if they wanted to." He eyed the ground for a moment. "And the most likely suspect, at least here, would be vampires."
Angel shook his head. "Very unlikely to be a vampire's doing. Those that are turned are either left to their own devices or the body is brought to the vampire's lair after the blood exchange so the new vampire can rise in safety. Coming back to dig one out before they rise is only done by a Master when the turning process gets interrupted and they have to leave the body behind. The vast majority of the vampires in town aren't Masters. I'm actually the only one ... and perhaps the Anointed One, but I'm none too sure about that."
"Which leaves humans as the next most likely suspects." Giles said with a heavy sigh. "And the purposes to which a human with ill intentions can put a corpse ... well, needless to say, there are a number of possibilities. We're going to have to keep an eye out, and find out what's going on. Preferably before this gets out of hand. For now, we need to finish patrol."
"Right. Let's get a move on." Buffy said, eyeing the grave one last time. "Xander, you got some paper and a pen?"
"No, but I do." Willow said. "You want me to write down who it is, right? So we can see if there's anything in who this is to give us something to go on?"
"Yep." Buffy said. "Probably won't be, but it's worth a shot."
Willow nodded and pulled a small pad of post-its out of one of the pockets of her tac vest, along with a pen, and jotted down the information so they could do some research later.
About half an hour later, they'd finished their sweep of the cemetery, and their patrol for the night. As she'd promised, Buffy headed off with Angel so they could talk.
"Why am I not liking that?" Xander asked Jon.
"Because you don't like him." Jon pointed out.
"What she sees in him ... " Xander trailed off when Jon gave a full-body shudder.
"Ugh. I don't want to think about it." Jon said. "It gives a whole new meaning to ... certain words."
Xander, being a teenage boy, figured out what Jon was talking about pretty fast, and joined him in the full-body, horrified shudder. "Augh! You bastard! I'm going to get you for that. I did not need to be thinking about that!"
Giles gave them both a glare. "Gentlemen, a bit of decorum, if you please." He scolded.
"Translation: I don't need to think about that either." Xander mock-whispered to Jon, loud enough for Giles and Willow both to hear him.
Willow, not being a teenage boy, was a touch slower on the uptake, but she got it at that point, and her face screwed up. "Ewwww." She complained. "That is just ... ewwww."
Giles just took off his glasses and cleaned them. Xander was fairly sure he heard Giles muttering under his breath, but didn't ask Jon, mostly because he was pretty sure he didn't want to know what, exactly, Giles was muttering.
They headed back to the house, and Giles began rifling through some of the books, looking for the various uses dead bodies could be put to, whether by humans or the handful of demons who could wear human clothing. Willow headed upstairs to do some research on the dug-up body on the computer.
Xander glanced at Jon. "Well, it's not even midnight yet, and I for one am not at all tired. Want to spar or work on your senses for a bit?" He asked.
Jon nodded. "Sure. Bit of both?"
"Sounds good to me." Xander agreed. "Sparring first, since we're still warmed up from patrol?"
Jon nodded, and they both headed onto the mats.
They spent about fifteen minutes working on perfecting moves Xander already knew, before Jon introduced him to a new one. Five minutes into that, Buffy came storming into the basement, looking anything but happy.
"Do you two have to give Angel so much shit?" She asked, sounding very aggravated.
Jon and Xander looked at each other for a moment. "Yes." Came the flat answer from both of them.
"Well lay off a little, all right? He has useful information, and he's a good fighter, and we'll lose that if you two keep it up." Buffy grumped.
Jon and Xander shared another look, which said rather clearly 'who cares'. They didn't say it out loud, however. On the other hand, they didn't agree to go easy on Angel, either. Buffy, not being as stupid as she liked to pretend to be, picked up on that, huffed, and stormed upstairs, muttering under her breath about testosterone poisoned idiocy.
Another look between the two of them, and they went back to sparring. After about another fifteen minutes, they stopped and headed upstairs to clean up and then work on Jon's senses a bit.
The biggest part of Jon learning to use his senses was learning to identify what certain sounds and scents were. Having enhanced senses was more or less worthless if you had no idea what it was you were picking up, or couldn't tell the difference between a sound as heard on TV and one heard in real life.
Blair had been invaluable in getting them started on the process, and they'd made a good amount of headway while they'd been in Cascade, but it was an ongoing process. The process also served as practice in avoiding spikes and zones, so it served a dual purpose.
Tonight's plan was to go through Joyce's cupboard of cleaning products, to learn the differences in their smells, since Blair had only had Jim-friendly cleaning products in the Cascade apartment. Xander planned to drag Jon to the supermarket later, to sample the smells of every cleaner and laundry soap on offer.
Jim'd had to do something similar early on, and according to him, it had come in handy on more than one case. Jon wouldn't exactly be working police cases, but you never knew when knowing the difference in smell between two laundry soaps might come in handy. Xander had also talked to Giles about obtaining samples of skin and blood from the most common demons, so Jon would be able to clearly identify them, rather than having to attempt to describe what he was smelling in an attempt to identify what demon they were after.
Willow had found out a few things about their ... well, victim, Xander supposed. The girl was, to their surprise, the victim of an honest-to-goodness accident, rather than the 'accidents' that most demon-related deaths were attributed to. Evidently the car she and two of her friends were in crashed, and all three girls were killed. There was no immediate evidence of demonic activity as the cause of the crash, which was rather startling.
There was, in point of fact, nothing in what Willow found to provide a reason for her to be chosen to be dug up. It left the cause a mystery still, which none of them was fond of, but there wasn't anything they could do about it right then, because they had to get through the school day.
They dropped Willow off at the big announcement corkboard, so she could sign up for the science fair, as she did every year. Xander was actually half-tempted to join himself, or help Willow, just so he could do something wacky and throw people for a loop. In the end, he decided against it. He had enough on his plate dealing with the whole Sentinel/Guide thing, trying to get passing grades, and fighting demons. Xander managed to push the questions about the girl whose body had been dug up to the back of his mind.
Cordelia muttered disgustedly as she exited the gym after cheerleading practice. Really, what did the girls expect? They were pathetic, and not even trying, and really, at this point Cordelia was almost convinced that Buffy could do better, which was saying something.
She was so busy with her mental commentary on the faults of the cheerleading team that it took her a minute to realize something was ... not right. But about halfway across the parking lot, she did finally take notice. What was wrong, she didn't know, but she was suddenly very uneasy, and staring around herself, looking for a threat she sensed but couldn't see.
Another few feet along, and her heart was hammering and there were goosebumps all up and down her arms. She had the distinct, disquieting feeling that she was being watched. Where from, considering there weren't all that many cars in the parking lot, and not much else to hide behind, she didn't know, but ... she was being watched.
Spooked, she took off at a tangent away from her car, reasoning that if someone was following her, they might know what her car looked like and be lying in wait near it for her. Unfortunately, the sensation of being watched didn't receed, and before she quite knew what she was doing, she was running flat-out, instinctively trying to flee from the danger she still couldn't see.
She skidded around the corner and glanced around for a likely hiding place. The only option open to her was a dumpster. Grimacing in distaste at the necessity, she nevertheless climbed in and tried to quiet her breathing.
After about five minutes, the sensation of being watched faded, and Cordelia started to climb out.
Only to come face to face with Angel.
She screamed at the top of her lungs and took a wild swing at him in her startlement, then took another swing a few moments later when the fear turned to anger.
"You bastard! Was that you following me? Are you really that pathetic that you have to resort to stalking people?" She yelled.
"Cordelia. Come out of the dumpster." Angel said, offering her a hand.
Cordelia blinked at him. There was something ... odd ... about the tone of his voice. After a second she shrugged it off, and accepted the hand.
Unfortunately, in the process of climbing out ... she looked down.
The dumpster was half-full of human body parts.
Cordelia began to scream and flail in earnest.