Dawn in D.C.
One of the (very few) upsides to being a professional slayer was that it rarely involved mornings. Slaying was an up-all-night, sleep-all-day kind of job, and it suited Buffy just fine. It was like living perpetually on college student time.
Except today it was an up-all-night, up
-all-day kind of job, and that suited Buffy not at all. Wasn't there some expression about burning candles on...something? Whatever. Her motel room had actual lights anyway, which incidentally were on
, because the sun had yet to show. Stupid Riley and his stupid...finding kidnapped people.
Yeah. Slaying was also a job you couldn't exactly call in sick for. You could pass out and be hospitalized and still end up fighting creepy demon death things. What was she thinking about again? Oh yeah, getting her ass out of—
“Buffy? Are you still in bed? We've got to go!”
“Commander Finn said we should get there while it's still dark so we can maybe catch them going in for the night and see where they're hiding.”
“Mm-hm.” Commander Finn? Oh, right. Riley.
“Dawn's coming in less than two hours!”
“Dawn...?” Buffy momentarily pictured her little sister before it dawned (argh) on her what Vi really meant. “Oh.” She sat up and rubbed her face. There were traces of makeup still clinging to her eyelids. “S'an annoying name,” she muttered into her hands.
“Nothing. I'm taking a shower now. Go away.”
Temperance woke to a ringing phone. It hurt. She wished to go back to sleep. She wished the phone would stop ringing. It did. She turned over. The phone began ringing again. She decided she would turn it off.
Gently, she rolled over and retrieved the phone from her nightstand. Her windows were dark.
“ANGEL,” the screen informed her.
“Eguh,” she informed her bedroom, and pressed 'talk.'
“I hate to bother you—”
“But is Spike there?”
“I am in my bedroom.”
There was a long pause. Temperance started to fall asleep. “And Spike isn't there?”
This woke her up a bit. “If you are suggesting that Spike and I have had sex, the answer is no.”
“Good. That is, do you know where he might be?”
“You were with him last night.”
Temperance looked at her windows. “It is still night.”
“Well, very early morning, in fact, but—”
“Spike is missing.” She sat up, resigned to consciousness.
“Yes. No. He's Spike, he...well, but the sun is coming up. Soon.”
It took her sleep-addled brain a moment to understand the significance of this. Vampires. Sun.
Her headache intensified. “You are worried about him.”
“You are not worried about him.”
“Of course I don't want him to, uh, burst into flames. At least, not right now...the point is that there are some very powerful forces in this town that are, let's say, not happy with us, and recently he hasn't made a habit of staying out all day, so I'm....worried about him.”
The content and manner of this short speech raised more than a few questions. Temperance didn't ask any of them. She found—for the first time in her life—that she didn't want the answers. She simply waited for Angel to speak again.
“I need to know where you two were last night. I need to get there as soon as possible. See if I can find out where he's gone.”
Temperance was fully awake now. She glanced at the clock. 5:34. Sunrise would be in less than an hour. Angel didn't have much time. She imagined Spike bursting into flames. She felt a twinge in the pit of her stomach. She replaced her imagined Spike with an imagined Angel. The twinge got bigger.
“We were at a bar. I'll meet you there.”
“You don't need to—”
“Sunrise is in 43 minutes. My car has tinted windows.”
She could hear breath being exhaled on the other side of the phone. This time she didn't bother to wonder why he did that. It didn't really matter. “Thank you, Dr. Brennan.” Angel's gratitude did matter, just a little.
She gave him the address.
This didn't make sense, and not in a whimsical, Lucy-in-the-Sky-With-Diamonds kind of way. This didn't make sense in a super-villain-death-trap kind of way. The Jefferson Memorial was the absolute wrong place to hide anything
, let alone a demon lair. It was so big and open and—and well lit
. Not to mention flooded with tourists all day every day. Well, except today. Riley had made sure no one would be coming anywhere near it today. People were being told it needed “maintenance.” It still freaked Buffy out that he had the kind of power to close a national monument, no questions asked. Then again, Buffy herself had a lot of power these days. They were generals, the both of them. Only, Riley was, well, better at it.
At the moment he was issuing orders from his crouch in the bush beside her, whispering confidently into his headset. He was sending his soldiers around the “perimeter” to ensure that no “hostiles” made it in or out. (Riley still used this word, to Buffy's...concern? Amusement? Both?) Buffy's job was to lead the slayers into the building and see what might be seen. At Buffy's signal, or if there was any sound of fighting, the cavalry (okay they didn't have horses, but still) would rush in and, if they were lucky, overpower whatever was guarding the senator. That was the part she didn't like: that they didn't know what they were fighting. On the scale of bad that ranked somewhere between birthdays and giant mayor-snakes.
The monument didn't look dangerous; it looked inviting. The bright white stone and yellow lights made the pre-dawn sky seem a beautiful, deep blue in contrast. Jefferson stood serenely in the center, waiting for sunrise and his flood of admirers. Every corner of the place was illuminated, as if to say nothing here
. Of course, that meticulous lighting would make it impossible for them to sneak up on anything. They could have turned it off, but that would have warned anything present of their...presence. Argh. Words were angry at Buffy today. Even more than they usually were.
“At least nothing will be able to sneak up on us
.” she whispered to Riley.
“Wouldn't bet on that, actually,” said a voice behind her.
Angel was pacing in front of the darkened bar exactly like a dog searching for a scent. Temperance opened her mouth to ask a question—about the possible animalistic nature of vampires, or the nature of their olfactory powers—but then stopped herself. Vampires were not animals. Neither were they humans. Vampires belonged to a different category, a category she didn't want to name, or even to think about. A category she wished with all her being she had never encountered.
Angel jerked his head. He'd found it. Temperance followed him across the street, down the block and around a corner, an officer with a sniffer dog. She wondered where Booth was, how he was handling this new world. It would be easier for him. He believed in magic already, although he'd kill her for calling it that. The God in the sky, the Devil in the ground, and the angels. It abruptly occurred to her that Angel, born in 18th century Ireland, had very likely been raised Catholic. Just like Booth. Could it truly be a coincidence? His name, too. Angel
. Perhaps he had chosen his name out of some religious feeling...
Something was trickling back. Her confidence, or perhaps her curiosity. Whatever it was, it made her feel more herself. She would be Dr. Temperance Brennan, even in the face of magic. She would ask her questions.
“Angel, I was wondering about—”
“Lost it! Damn!”
“He must have got into a car.” Angel rubbed the bridge of his nose. “No, that stupid motorcycle. He said he didn't steal it, but if I know Spike...”
“Sorry, yes. Is there anything else you can think of, Dr. Brennan? Anything that might help?” His jaw was twitching inhumanly fast, his mouth almost buzzing from closed lips to bared teeth to closed lips. He looked like a nervous animal.
“Angel, what's wrong?”
“The sun. The sun is coming up.”
“Oh. What exactly
“We burn,” he said shortly. “What did you talk about? Did he say where he was going?”
“I...left before he did.”
“Oh.” Angel deflated. Temperance realized she had to tell him about last night. Some of it, at any rate.
“But I left him with a friend of mine. Angela.”
Angel's eyes, which up until now had been darting wildly around, focused firmly on hers. “Angela?”
Riley's crossbow spun swiftly around to point directly at Spike's heart. “Don't move.”
“Didn' realize you were in town.” Spike was standing behind them, looking casual and rather conspicuous. Riley was kneeling in a bush, crossbow-wielding arm resting on his upright knee, eyes on his target and his target alone. Spike gave Riley a once-over, eyebrow raised. “Still playing soldier, are we?”
“This is my town.”
That made Buffy want to laugh. Don't let Booth hear you say that.
Spike craned his neck, playacting a search. “Guess I missed all the 'Riley's Town' signs, then?”So it was gonna be one of those days, was it?
Buffy had to fight the urge to walk away and let them kill each other. It would certainly ease the strain in her calves. Instead she turned her head towards Riley. “He's not evil. You know, if you care. Also: shhh. And Spike, get the hell down.”
This drew Riley's gaze. And his suspicion. “You knew he was here?” Then that last part sunk in, and he lowered his voice, “And you didn't tell me?”
“Know how you feel, mate,” Spike said, ducking into the bush. He looked rather comical, squatting. Buffy almost wanted to laugh.
She didn't. “What are you doing here, Spike?”
Embarrassed Spike. That was a rare one. “Followed you,” he said, under his breath.
“Just like old times,” Riley muttered, and turned back to face the monument, pressing his ear like a character in a spy movie. “Everyone in position?”
No way was Buffy done with Spike yet. “What possessed you to...Spike, if we need your help, we'll ask for it.”
“Really? Since when?”
“We have this under con—”
The rest of the word was lost in an ear-splitting crash
from inside the monument. Buffy spun around, stake at the ready. She felt Spike tense behind her. The phrase old times
echoed through her mind in the instant before Riley hissed “MOVE,” into his headset.
The surrounding foliage exploded with movement as thirty people rushed towards the sound.
Buffy held back for a moment, searching her surroundings for any hint of an external ambush. Nothing. She sighed.“Note to Buffy: never attempt that sentence again.”
She felt Spike's laughter rumble behind her as they charged up the steps.
“And your friend Angela got along well with Spike, I presume?”
“I—I suppose so.”
Angel seemed to have relaxed considerably, although Temperance couldn't begin to imagine why. He tilted his head toward the car. “Take me back?”
“What about Spike?”
“You'll find him at your friend's house.”
“I will—Oh. Of course. You believe that Spike and Angela had sex last night. Is Spike prone to sex with near strangers?”
Angel made a choked noise, perhaps a laugh. “You're not one for euphemisms, are you?”
“Euphemisms make it difficult to speak with precision and clarity. Do you not wish to ensure your friend's safety?”
“Can you open the car with that...button thing? The sun's coming.”
Temperance did as Angel asked, and he slide into the back seat. She walked around the car, extracting her phone from her purse as she went.
“Look,” she told him, settling into the driver's seat, “It will take me less than a minute to call Angela. I would be more comfortable having direct proof.”
“Would she tell you the truth?”
“She is also 'not one for euphemisms.'”
Temperance tried her home phone first. It rang. It rang some more. It went to voicemail.
“Hey. You've reached Angela Montenegro. Please leave a message after the—” Her voice was interrupted by the tone. Angela had told Temperance once that this was charming and humorous. Temperance believed her.
“Spike? Spike? If you are there, Angel wishes to speak with you and ensure your safety. Spike?” She waited a moment, then hung up.
“That was indelicate,” Angel muttered from the backseat.
She ignored him and dialed Angela's cell. Voicemail again.
“Hey. You've reached Angela Montenegro. Please leave a message after the—” Beeeep.
“Angela. I wish to know if you and Spike had sex last night, or, failing that, if you have any information about his whereabouts. It is nearly sunrise and his...friend
is worried. Please return this call as soon as possible.” She hung up, tossed her phone onto the passenger seat, and started the car.
“Um, Dr. Brennan?”
“Why did you mention the sunrise to her?”
She pulled out and turned in the direction of Angel's...well...current residence.
“I wanted to explain to her why it was so urgent.”
“Why would that explain—you didn't tell
her, did you?” Angel's voice deepened in timbre considerably. It made Temperance nervous.
“She deduced it for herself.”
“How could she—no. Let's start from the beginning. What happened last night?”
“Huh,” said Buffy.
“Right,” said Spike.
“Where are they?!” hissed Riley, into his headset.
The monument was deserted. That awkward, well-lit kind of deserted that belongs to closing department stores and streetlight-flooded playgrounds. The effect was strangely enhanced by the circle of slayers and soldiers frozen in confusion, all holding weapons, none sure where to point them. This was not of the good. This was not near the good. This was not in the same galaxy as the good.
The hostiles must be somewhere.”
“Uh, mate? I don' think—”
The world moved. That's what it felt like. It didn't exactly shake—there was no back and forth to it—it was more like it stepped to the side. And stayed there.
Still, it was enough like an earthquake to force a small, panicked noise out of Buffy.
In an instant Spike's hand was on her forearm. The spinning stopped. The anchor settled. Buffy snapped into action.
“Andrew. Take Vi and Erin and—and—what's your name?”
“Take Vi, Erin, and Scottish Girl and search around the monument. Make sure nothing is hiding anywhere.”
Riley gestured at two of his soldiers. “Go with them.”
Buffy nodded in his direction. “Yes. Everyone else, search this place. Whatever you can think of. Trap doors, invisible walls, anything magic-y or otherwise suspicious. Go.”
They did. Slayers to examine the statue and soldiers to tap on the floor and Andrew and Vi and Erin and Scottish girl to....vanish?
Six people had walked towards the steps. No people were on the steps.
“Jesus,” said Spike.
“Oh God,” said Buffy.
Spike's hand returned to her arm.
“You didn't you tell me she was a witch!”
“You didn't ask. At any rate I just discovered it myself, last night. And as you didn't see fit to inform me of the existence of...witches, which is clearly necessary information—”
“Turn the car around.”
“We're going to the Jeffersonian.”
“Excuse me,” said Andrew's voice, from behind them, “But does anybody know what just happened?”
There was a silence. It was stunned.
Slowly, Buffy, Spike, and Riley turned, stepped to the side, and peeked around Thomas Jefferson.
Six people stood on the exact opposite side of the monument. All mildly disoriented, all completely unhurt.
“You feel at all good about this, pet?”No. No no no no
“I suppose this isn't a good time to mention that the sun is coming up?”
Riley put his hand to his ear. “Was anyone watching—” At this point Spike snatched Riley's headset, spun around, and flung it, pitcher-like, in the direction of the stairs.
“Hey!” said Riley.
“Ouch!” said Andrew, and rubbed the back of his head.
The headset clattered to the floor at Vi's feet. She picked it up, glanced behind her, and turned back to examine it.
“Where did this come from?” She wondered to herself.
“Fuck,” said Riley. Buffy stared at him in shock.
“Well look at that: Soldier Boy knows a dirty word.”
Angela arrived at work with an aching head, a churning stomach, and a distinct feeling of guilt. Bren was not on the platform. Or in her office. Or anywhere else. The feeling of guilt intensified.
As she stood in the middle of the lab, wondering what to do next, Cam marched towards her, high-heels clacking.
“Cam, do you know where—”
“No,” said Cam shortly, and clacked off.
“Kay...” Angela muttered, treading gingerly in the direction of her office.
Jack Hodgins was inside, wearing the rapidly blinking eyes and bouncing legs of a small boy intent on sharing. Or possibly urinating.
She pressed one finger carefully to either side of her nose. “Yes, Jack?”
“Have you seen Booth? I think I've figured out who our mysterious men—well, women too—um, people
in uniform were. It's a shadowy government branch, used to be known as 'The Initia—”
“No, I haven't seen Booth.”
“Oh, well do you know—”
“Why don't we just call him?” She reached for the desk phone, then realized. “I need his cell number.”
“Isn't it in your phone?”
“Yes, it is in my phone. My phone, unfortunately, is in my apartment.”
“You forgot it?”
Jack pulled out his phone, touched a few buttons, and handed it to her. “Use mine.”
The phone rang. Once. Twice.
“Hodgins?” said a hoarse Booth.
“No, it's—” She was interrupted by a confused clattering, as if the phone had fallen to the floor. There was a pause, a rustling, woman's laughter. Then the quiet tap
of the phone disconnecting.
She closed the phone. Jack stared at her expectantly.
Angela felt her lips stretch into a smile, as if against her will. The guilt vanished. “I think he has a woman over.”
Jack stared at her. “And...?”
“And Dr. Brennan is late
A twin smile spread across Jack's face. She couldn't remember the last time they'd smiled at each other like this.
Yes she could. She absolutely could.
Something in Angela's smile changed. Its purpose, or its direction. Suddenly she was smiling at
Jack. And he was smiling at her.
“It's a loop,” Riley was telling Andrew, “A space loop. Exit on one side and you find yourself entering on the opposite side.” No service.
“Cool! Like Pacman?”
“Um, sure?”No service.
“So,” said Andrew in his cheery, Most-Likely-to-Make-Buffy-Hit-Me voice, “How do we escape?”
“Yeah,” said Riley, and walked off to confer with his soldiers.
Buffy checked her phone, yet again. No service.
She shook it. No service.
She held the phone up in front of her and began walking around the “perimeter.” No service.
“Think you're likely to get anywhere with that?”
Spike was leaning against the Southeast wall with an attempt at casual indifference. Buffy knew instantly that he was nervous as hell.
“And what're you doing that's so productive?”
“Not bursting into flames.”
Buffy looked out at the blue-black sky, then back at Spike.
“Sunrise is coming,” he insisted.
“You've been saying that.”
“Because it's true. I can feel it.”
Buffy looked back down at her phone. “Well you've been feeling it for a really long ti—oh.” She'd been so focused on the tiny service bars that she hadn't noticed—
“Buffy?” said Vi's voice, “Can you—”
“I'm busy,” Buffy told her, eyes locked on her phone.
“Oh, okay.” Vi's footsteps receded. “Andrew? Can you explain what's going on? No one will talk to me.”6:13.
“Of course, dear slayer! You must only ask your devoted watcher and he will deliver. You see, we're in a loop...”6:13.
“Buffy,” said Spike's voice, next to her ear, “What's wrong?”
“...out the opposite end, just like in Pacman! So you see...”6:13.
“Nothing can get out...”6:14—
“...and nothing can get in!”6:13.
She felt Spike stiffen. “Slayer? Ever wondered how those ghosts got into the game in the first place?”
She looked up. “Wha—”
Something very tall, and very hairy, and very, very angry stood at the top of the stairs. As Buffy watched, another tall hairy angry thing flashed into existence, as if it had stepped through an invisible barrier.
“Hostiles!” shouted Riley, and the room became a sea of charging people.
Thirty seconds later, as Buffy ducked under Spike's arm and swung her axe at a tall hairy angry ankle, something occurred to her.
“Spike,” she shouted, above the chaos, “You've played Pacman?”
The sound of connecting punches and laughter drifted over her shoulder. “What else d'ya think I do with eternity?”