The Doppelganger in the Suit
Disclaimer: I am a thief. Please don't sue me! I have stolen from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Bones.
1) This story is not really geared towards people who've never seen Bones. I spend about equal POV time on Buffy, Booth, and Bones, and the story takes place in the Bones universe. I don't spend much time, if any, explaining or introducing Bones characters, so if that's going to annoy you, this might not be the story for you.
2) Timeline/Spoilers: April 2010, post Bones 5.16 "The Death of the Queen Bee," so obviously post "Chosen" and "Not Fade Away." In other words: all of BtVS/Angel and most of Bones is fair game. Doesn't gel with the Angel: After the Fall and BtVS season 8 comics, but I do steal some odds and ends, nothing spoiler-y.
3) Please take the time to tell me what you think. I promise this will be the one and only place I ask, but trust me when I tell you that your reviews mean a lot. Suggestions/criticism are welcome, particularly of the specific variety. The more specific you are, the easier it is for me to understand what's bothering you and try to fix it.
Buffy had blood on her hands. She hated how used to that she was. She'd wiped her hands on her jeans, but still it was there, a faint rusty smudge, and the smell. That smell was so many of her memories: graveyards and hospital beds, the breath of an enemy, a lover. She knew its taste too, mingled with fear, sex, and the way it slowly moved from persistent ooze to sticky mess to crusty coating, soaking through her clothes and turning them into brittle, flash-frozen versions of things she'd once loved. There wasn't one person she loved whose blood she hadn't felt drying between her fingers. Tonight the blood was that of a stranger, but really what did it matter? Some died because of her, some in spite of her, but they all left their bloody mark. Her hands smelled of monkey bars and recess. It had always been like this.
She wasn't usually this broody. Not anymore, anyway, it was only that tonight was one of those nights when they all died. Six of them, bodies thrown around the warehouse like dirty clothes. It bothered her, but she was grateful for that. She could still care. Buffy let herself feel it for a moment, then shook it off. It was a fine line between caring too much and too little, but she was an experienced tightrope walker.
Around the corner, onto another dark, depressing street. Before she died (permanently), would she know every creepy warehouse district from L.A. to Beijing? It seemed likely. Twenty-nine and she was already well on her way. Twenty-nine.
And she'd never imagined she'd live past eighteen. Life's a bitch. And then you die. And then your friends bring you back to life. Twice.
Buffy smiled a little. She no longer carried even a drop of resentment towards Willow and the others. She'd lost that a long time ago. But it was more than that: somehow, somewhere along the way, she'd learned to be grateful for her best friend's actions. Buffy was still here, and, unbelievably, she wanted
But there were more pressing, if less happy-making things to think about. She was in D.C. because of a spike in vampire activity in the area. One of the two over-worked local slayers had nearly gotten herself killed and so Buffy had come down with Rona and Vi to help out and investigate. It was odd; Washington D.C. was usually pretty devoid of demon activity. New York, a much more popular destination, was relatively close, and Buffy suspected vampires weren't big fans of politicians. She thought she remembered Spike making a joke about their blood tasting funny...
There was someone following her. She didn't know how long the someone had been there, and she decided to give herself a stern mental lecture about over-confidence, just as soon as she dealt with this someone. Or this something. She hoped it was a something; if it was a something, she could stab the something and then go home to a nice warm shower. If it was a someone, then there'd be questions, talking, threats, and the possibility of prisoners and late night calls to Giles and research and...great. Only one way to find out.
Buffy turned a corner, sped up, and ducked into a narrow alley. A moment later, a man came around the corner. He stopped at the edge of a pool of light and glanced around, confused, alert. And then he was looking at her, and she saw his face clearly, and she tensed, relaxed, tensed again. She stepped out of the alley, into the light.
"God, Angel, why can't you just walk up to a girl and say 'hi' like everyone else?"
"What?" He looked rather adorably confused, mouth half open, face scrunched up—wait, were those wrinkles?
She was in front of him in under a second, without breathing or thinking, reaching up to touch his face...
He pushed her hand away, hard, and jumped backwards, reaching for his hip.
"Step back, miss. FBI." He pulled out his wallet, flashed a badge.
Buffy couldn't seem to make sense of anything. It was Angel but it—wasn't. It wasn't Angel. Not Angel. It couldn't be him; the hand she'd touched had been warm. She blinked, focusing her eyes on the man in front of her. He was wearing a suit, and his hair was...different, and, did that actually say "Cocky"? Not Angel. So, so not Angel.
His hand was on his gun, she realized. She really hated guns.
"Um," she said stupidly, "FBI?"
"Yes. Special Agent Seeley Booth. I need to ask you a few questions."
She stared at him.
It seemed weird, him calling her Miss. He sounded a little like Angel.Snap out of it, Buffy! It's not him. For one, he would never wear that belt buckle.
"Right. Um, questions?" His hand was still on his gun. She wondered if she'd have to take it away from him.
"Yeah, questions. For starters, I'd like to know what you were doing in that warehouse."Oops. How was she supposed to answer that one?
"Uh, I, I was trying to...I saw someone get dragged in there, I..." She couldn't come up with anything. It didn't help that he was looking at her, all suspicious, with those chocolatey, Angel-eyes.
"Right. Okay, I'm gonna need to take you in for questioning."
Buffy sighed. The last thing she needed right now was the freaking FBI on her back, but there was no way she was getting dragged into some government building for "questioning."
"Sorry, that doesn't really work for me."
His eyebrows went up. So did his gun. "I'm not asking. Either you come in willingly, or I arrest you on suspicion of murder."
Buffy had his gun in under two seconds. Not-Angel looked like he was trying to figure out what had just happened. Buffy examined the gun. The minute she looked away from him, Not-Angel darted towards her, but she dodged him easily.
"Does this thing even have, like, bullets? How do you get them...out?"
She looked up at him. His face was an odd combination of hostility, confusion, and the slightest bit of amusement.
"You wanna get the bullets out
?" He was watching the gun, which she was pointing loosely in his direction, just to make sure he didn't try to jump her again.
"Well, yeah. I don't want anyone to get shot
That shut him up for a moment, then, "What's your name?"
Buffy smiled, still focused on disarming the stupid thing.
"I don't mean to be rude, but if I tell you that I'll end up on some FBI wanted list or something, and that can only end in badness. God, I never thought I'd say this, but I wish I knew more about guns."
"You pull the round out from the bottom."
"Ah. Ha!" She held up the offending object in triumph, then slid it into her jacket pocket. Buffy looked uncertainly at the gun. "I really should watch more movies." She tossed the now useless weapon back to Not-Angel. He looked down at it, back at her, replaced it in its holster.
"See ya," she said. Neither of them moved. He looked so much like...
"How did you do that?"
"Get the jump on me?"
She laughed. "What, macho FBI feelings upset by getting one-upped by a girl? Don't sweat it. I've got a few unfair advantages."
"Sorry, not really in a sharing mood."
"Look, whatever your name is, if you didn't murder anyone—"
"I didn't murder anyone."
"...then you might be able to help me catch the people who did. Just tell me what you saw. If you're afraid of someone, I can protect you..."
Buffy giggled. "Protect me? That's sweet, but I don't need protection. And if I did, what makes you think you'd be any help? I took your gun
, didn't I?" On the other hand, the protect-her thing? Very Angel.
He opened his mouth, but no words came out. There was a siren in the distance. After a moment, Buffy realized where that siren was probably headed.
"Whoops, that's my cue to disappear." And she did.
A few streets away, she slowed to a walk. Would she have to call Giles right away? It seemed too big a coincidence, meeting an Angel-look-alike, the fact that'd he'd been following her, the fact that it was her
. But, she reflected, weirder things had happened to her. Much weirder. Shower first, she decided. Giles could wait.
"Six victims, four female, two male, all in their twenties and thirties. I can't determine cause of death conclusively until we get back to the lab, but these five look like they died from blood loss—puncture wounds in each of their necks, looks like they hit the carotid artery. The newest of them is extremely pale, and the way the older ones are decomposing suggests major blood loss—"
"Right. They bled out. So where's the blood?"
Cam glanced around the warehouse, then back at Booth. She shrugged. "I have no idea."
"You think they were killed somewhere else?"
Cam looked skeptical. "Maybe. But the victims died at different times—about a week between the oldest and the newest."
"And why would the murderer kill them somewhere else, bring them back here, and then leave them lying around for anyone to find?"
"Exactly. I think they were killed here."
Booth felt his stomach begin to tighten. He didn't like the direction this was heading.
"Which brings us back to my original question: where's the blood?"
"The only explanation is that someone intentionally, uh, collected it."
Booth closed his notebook. He wasn't having a good night. First he'd lost his gun to some absolutely tiny
blonde woman, and now he had a crazy blood-letting serial killer on his hands, and the impossibly fast blonde woman was his number one suspect, and he didn't know her name or have any idea how to find her, and had been too embarrassed to tell anyone about her yet, which meant he was going to be forced to have a very uncomfortable conversation with Hacker before he could start looking for her, and...
"You had a little space-out there."
"Sorry, I was just wondering what this sicko could possibly want with that much blood."
Cam shrugged. "Yeah, I'm just going to let you figure that out."
"That's very generous of you, Camille."
"What about the last victim?"
"Her? What you see is what you get. Essentially, her throat's been ripped out. No blood missing on that one."
"Yeah, great, no blood missing. I'm gonna go see what Hodgins has for me."
He crossed the warehouse, surveying the carnage. Five of the bodies had been tossed into one corner, but the sixth one was slumped on the ratty couch, now soaked and spattered with blood. It was a young woman—no older than twenty-five—and she had died only a few hours ago. He was pretty sure he'd heard her scream.
He had been on his way home when the call had come through: "suspicious activity." He was close by, so he took it. He should have learned by now that taking calls out of the kindness of his heart never ended well. Last time he'd done that, he'd been blown up by Santa. Although, that had
ended in Bones undressing him...
Dispatch had sent him to an abandoned warehouse. He assumed it was no big deal, teenagers throwing a party, drunk squatters, nothing that couldn't be handled by a badge and a little fear.
Fear. That was what he heard as he drove up to the warehouse. The scream had him out of the car and sprinting towards the building in an instant, nearly two decades worth of instinct and training kicking in smoothly, gun out, adrenaline fueling a tight control, slow motion and fast forward, routine and terrifying. Do what you have to. Get there in time.
He didn't. Glassy eyes and blood greeted him when he threw open the rusty metal door. The warehouse was empty and eerily quiet, no sound except the crunch of...
Adrenaline again, across the wide space and out the door, running silently after the footsteps.
Hodgins was squatting in front of the couch, scooping dust off the grimy floor, a look of indecent excitement firmly plastered to his face. Booth felt a little like hitting him. That scream...it had made her real to him, too real, and Hodgins' enthusiasm annoyed him more than usual.
"Got anything for me?" he snapped.
Hodgins didn't seem to notice his tone. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I've got something very, very strange here."
"What, dust? I've got plenty of that in my apartment, thanks."
Hodgins stood up, holding the vial out towards Booth. "Not dust, ash
"So there's no burn marks, no fire pit, no evidence of anything burning, but there's ash everywhere
. There's probably several pounds of the stuff."
Booth squinted at the ground, realized what he was doing, and quickly stopped. "So what does that mean?"
Hodgins smiled that utterly happy smile that Booth knew came right before—
"I have no
"Wonderful. I've got blood that should be here and isn't, and ash that shouldn't be here and is."
Booth could swear he saw Hodgins' ears perk up, like a cat who hears a mouse...
"Yeah, Cam says the vics died of blood loss, but we can't find any blood."
There it was. The crazy glint in the scruffy squint's eye, the glint that meant this was going to be one of those cases, the glint that came right before the man transformed from scientist into nut.
"Well, come on. Blood loss, ash, two small punctures in the neck
, what does that add up to?"
"I have no idea."
"Use your imagination, Booth!"
"I'd prefer not to." But he had a sinking suspicion he knew where this was going.
Hodgins leaned in, glancing around conspiratorially before whispering: "Vampires, Booth. Vampires."
Booth closed his eyes. This was not what he needed tonight.
"Do you ever listen to yourself?"
"People see vampires all the time, Booth. Most of them don't live much long after they do," he nodded toward the pile of bodies, "but sometimes people get away. The truth's everywhere on the internet, you just have to know where to look."
"Yes, because crazy people on the internet are always telling the truth."
"Come on, it's the only thing that makes any sense," Hodgins argued, still whispering. "The victims drained of their blood, the puncture wounds, and—"
"And it's not possible that we're dealing with some lunatic with a vampire obsession?"
"Sure, except that still doesn't explain the ash."
Booth tried very hard to stay calm. He mostly succeeded. "Well, that's your job, isn't it? Find me a scientific explanation for the ash."
"I was just trying to help."
"Well, don't—don't do that anymore."
Booth stalked away. Vampires
. Un-fucking-believable. Apparently Hodgins had gotten crazier post-Angela. Vampires? Really? At least his conspiracy theories had always involved humans in the past.
He waved goodbye to Cam, nodded towards the officer at the door, and headed for his car. He needed this day to be over. Tomorrow he'd deal with the missing blood, the ash, the blonde. The blonde
. At the very least she was an eye witness, at most...well...he didn't really think she'd murdered all those people. She'd held the gun like it was a dead animal, disarmed it, and then given it back to him. She could easily have hurt him (how had she moved so fast?) but her only interest had been protecting herself. Still, she had said some weird things (something about an angel?), and if she was crazy in some way...
It made more sense than vampires. He needed to find her.