Disclaimer: I do not own either BTVS or The Dresden Files.
AN: I've shifted the Dresden Files timeline around a little bit so that 'Changes' occurs in August, rather than October. Thus, Murphy arrives in Sunnydale during September. From the point of view of BTVS, this story starts during the beginning of Season 2, just after 'When She Was Bad.' Writing in the first person, particularly from Murphy's POV, is a new experience for me, so please let me know what you think of the story so far. Also, if anyone can think of a better title for this story, please let me know. Chapter One
Even a month later, I still could not believe that he was dead.
Who was he?
It sounded like a bad joke when I said it aloud, but he was Harry Dresden: professional wizard. When I first met Harry, I had figured that the title, along with an ostentatious outfit which looked like it belonged on the set of 'El Dorado,' was just a gimmick – a way of setting himself apart from the rest of Chicago's private eyes in a profession which was never exactly replete with business.
Well, actually, the first time I met him, he had been getting his butt kicked trying to protect a little girl from a ten foot tall troll. That was just the kind of brainless, chivalrous, sexist crap Dresden had always seemed inclined to pull. Okay. So, on some level, it might have also been a little bit heroic, but a real hero would have kept the little girl from walking over a bridge guarded by a troll in the first place. I had not known it at the time, but Dresden had actually known that the troll was hiding under the bridge when he decided to cross it along with the young child in his care. What kind of nitwit did that? If I had not come along when I had, both Chicago's sole professional wizard and his charge would have probably ended up dead: a rather ignominious end to the tale of Harry Dresden.
Of course, back then, I hadn't known about wizards, trolls, or anything else of the supernatural variety. So, like most people encountering the unnatural for the first time, I had simply written the whole thing off. It was dark, the light was bad, I couldn't possibly be sure of what I'd seen, and Dresden was just a savvy con man.
But that was far from my last encounter with things that went bump in the night. It had taken some time, but, eventually, I had realized that Harry Dresden was for real – it was all real. Well, maybe leprechauns and Santa Claus weren't real – I was keeping an open mind, but pretty sceptical – however, the rest of it – trolls, vampires and countless other evil nasties – every single one was for real. Worse, not only did they exist, but they butchered countless Americans every year, no one but a select few the wiser. Once I had realized that – that these monsters were harming the people who I, as a police officer, was sworn to protect – my path was clear.
Using every resource at hand, ignoring official disapproval when I had to, I had set out to protect Chicago's citizens from the things which went bump in the night. Harry had been my friend and partner in protecting Chicago from the supernatural – the one person I could always count on when the chips were down. Before his death, I had even briefly hoped that he might someday be more.
It had not been easy, and I had made many enemies as I transformed Chicago's Special Investigations Division into a genuine police force dedicated to fighting the things which most people would rather not know existed. Unfortunately, it had also not been without cost to me personally.
First, when I had gone to save an innocent young woman from the clutches of an honest to goodness Faerie Queen, abandoning my unit in the middle of an investigation, I had been demoted and placed under careful watch. Then, a day before Harry's death, I had gone to bat for him one last time, joining in what should have been a suicide mission to save Harry's eight year old daughter from the assembled might of the Red Court of Vampires.
Somehow, we had made it out of that debacle alive, saving little Maggie in the process, but, mere hours later, Harry was dead anyway, murdered by an unknown sniper. I also had not come out unscathed, as, due to my lengthy disappearance, I had been drummed right out of Chicago's police force.
Adrift, without either Harry or my old job protecting Chicago's citizens, it had been lucky for me that Sunnydale's police department had been willing to take me in, despite my record. According to Sunnydale's police chief, he was always on the lookout for promising cops who had been drummed out of other departments. In all honesty, though I had not said so at the time, not willing to risk my new job by mouthing off at the old blowhard, that policy was pretty weird. After all, what kind of police department actively sought out the dregs of other cities' police forces?
Some of Sunnydale PD's other policies had also struck me as ranging from a little bit odd to downright bizarre. For example, on the slightly odd end of the scale, while I had been informed during my orientation that the city had a serious problem with gangs on PCP – pretty strange in and of itself, as PCP usage had gone down drastically among Americans since the early eighties – the police force had never bothered to look into local PCP dealers. In fact, according to the officer heading up Sunnydale's drug unit, they had not arrested a drug dealer of any description since 1981.
However, compared to the policy on grave robbery, ignoring a persistent drug problem was small potatoes. Apparently, Mayor Richard Wilkins III – who seemed to have been Sunnydale's mayor for longer than most of the town could even remember – had decided that, as Sunnydale's grave robbers apparently dug up between three and ten graves each night, it would be too much effort for the police to investigate all reported grave robberies. Thus, Sunnydale had adopted what the mayor referred to as his 'don't ask, don't tell' policy towards grave robbery. The police would not investigate whether grave robberies were occurring, and, through public education, citizens would be encouraged not to report grave robberies either. Apparently, the mayor had recently campaigned on this policy, noting that reported grave robberies were down by more than ninety percent.
In all honesty, the more time I spent in Sunnydale, the more I was starting to feel as if I had stepped into an episode of the Twilight Zone. However, as I had already taken a job with the Sunnydale Police Department and had bought a modest home in the area – figuring that, considering the rock bottom price at which I had purchased the house, its value could only go up – I was pretty well stuck here for the foreseeable future.
Oh well. It might not be Chicago, but Sunnydale did have a certain charm. Even if my partner had not shown up for work on my first day, apparently claiming that he had business to take care of – which a helpful passing officer had explained was my partner's code for 'I'm drunk off my ass' – things could be worse. I had a job in law enforcement again, I had a house, and I could afford to put food on the table. Even better, my annoying skank of a sister, who, of all people, had decided to shack up with my ex-husband after we divorced, lived halfway across the country now, so the odds of her and her new hubby stopping by for a visit – another word for gloating – were slim to none.
As it happened, it was not until that night when things would actually begin to get worse.
I was patrolling my beat alone at the corner of Wilkins I South and Wilkins III East (and was it just me who thought that there way too many things in this town named after one Wilkins or another) when I got a call from one of the police department's emergency dispatchers.
“Sergeant Murphy, this is Dispatch. Please acknowledge.”
Pulling out my walkie talkie, I replied, “Dispatch, this is Murphy.”
“Sergeant Murphy, we just got a 911 call from near one of the cemeteries in the East End. Young man, sounded a bit crazy: he was claiming that he'd seen a corpse rise from the grave and start killing people. It's probably just a prank, but you should still check it out.”
Recalling the rough map of Sunnydale I had internalized before starting this job, I frowned.
“Dispatch, did the caller say which cemetery he was calling from? Aren't there two or three in the East End?”
“Four, and, no, he didn't say. Just check them out one by one. Like I said, we get these sort of prank calls all the time, so it's probably nothing. I'd send Robbins and Wilson to back you up, but they've turned off their radios, so I'm guessing they're taking a coffee break.”
Already moving towards the nearest cemetery I could recall, I stopped for a moment at the emergency dispatcher's words, simply staring ahead dumbly for a moment before I managed to find my voice again. He couldn't have possibly just said what I thought he had said?
“Uh, Dispatch, could you repeat that.”
“Something wrong, Sergeant?”
“Uh, no. Just thought I misheard you.”
“Four cemeteries, probably a prank, check them out, and you're on your own. No problems, Sergeant Murphy?”
“Uh,” I briefly equivocated, “I guess not. Thanks Dispatch.”
I was getting less and less impressed with Sunnydale's police every time I dealt with my fellow officers. What sort of self-respecting officer turned off his radio and took a coffee break while he was on call? I had drummed officers right out of Special Investigations for less serious misconduct. It was at least becoming clear how I had managed to land a job with Sunnydale PD. Compared to most of the rest of the malcontents who apparently called this department home, the chief had probably decided that I had a sterling record with Chicago PD.
Of course, while the call received by the emergency dispatcher could be a prank or hallucination, it might just as easily be a zombie, a black court vampire, or one or a dozen other assorted nasties I had tangled with at one time or another. He might even have seen a regular mugger or gang, and just gotten startled. From what Harry had told me, Chicago had been something of a supernatural hotspot – something to do with the convergence of ley lines around the city – so the odds of me running into supernatural evil in this small, university town were probably much lower. Even so, I was not going to take the chance that anyone I was sworn to protect might get hurt or killed because I had been remiss in my duty.
Hurrying as quickly as I could without being sloppy, it still took me nearly an hour before I hit pay dirt in the third graveyard I had checked out for suspicious activity. Apparently, putting off checking out the Wilkins I Memorial Cemetery and Wilkins II Memorial Cemetery, on account of being annoyed at their names, had been a bad call. If I had been even a little bit faster, maybe I could have saved the man and woman who were laying motionless on the ground in front of me. Looking at the amount of blood on the man and the way the woman's neck was bent, I was obviously far too late for them. Now, all that was left was to find out who or what had killed them, and bring their murderer to justice. Fortunately, I already had at least one lead which might help me in that endeavour.
Apparently, the young woman I had found standing over the corpses was named Buffy Summers. To be frank, she looked like a fairly stereotypical, blonde, All-American cheerleader (an impression which was reinforced by her name), but I had been told that I fit that description myself once or twice, so I was well aware that appearances could be deceiving.
My instincts were not screaming murderer, as she related an unconvincing story of a wild animal attack, but they were saying that she was a liar and extremely suspicious. Her story was just a little bit too well-practised and she was a bit too calm for an innocent bystander who had barely survived an attack by wild dogs (which had apparently left no tracks) just moments ago.
I had already called in the murders, and a team of police should be coming soon to tape off the area and start an investigation, but I had no intention of letting Buffy Summers go, no matter how stridently she protested that she needed to get home. I did not know what Buffy had really seen, but I was sure that it was the key to understanding these murders. Buffy Summers was going to help me discover that key, even if I had to drag it out of her.
Fortunately for me, as she had been found standing right over the bodies of the couple I was investigating, she was unquestionably a suspect in this case. That gave me a fair bit of leeway when it came to holding and questioning her. Of course, she could just clam up, which seemed to be her current plan, after I had dismissed her wild dog story, but she had to know just as well as I did how that would look if this case came to court. If she didn't give me anything, even though I suspected she had not been involved in these murders, things could start to get very ugly for her.
Apparently coming to the same conclusion, Buffy was biting her lip, the very picture of indecision. Hoping that I might prompt her towards honesty with some reassurance, I gave encouraging her a try. If it didn't work, well, I'd always been told that I made a great bad cop, so that would be plan b.
“Miss Summers, you do understand that I'm not here to persecute you. I'm on your side. I just want to know what really happened. I promise that, whatever you say, I'll believe you, so long as it's the truth.”
The girl looked at me sceptically. I'd like to say that she looked up at me, but, in truth, short as she was, I still did not have more than a few inches on her. Maybe that lack of difference in height, and the implicit equality it implied, was what did it, maybe it was my attempts to encourage her, or it might even have been some other factor I was unaware of, but slowly, as she looked into my eyes, her scepticism seemed to soften into something closer to cautious optimism, as she haltingly spun a quite different story from the tale of the wild dogs.
Looking as if she was sure that her story would be dismissed, she haltingly began to speak.
“I-I'm not sure exactly what he was, but he kind of looked like a vampire. I mean, he had these sort of sharpened teeth, like you see in the movies, and, after he threw the woman into one of the tombstones, he bit the guy in the neck. I mean, you can still sort of see the bite, see. Maybe he was wearing some sort of costume.”
I carefully resisted the urge to sigh. The girl was still lying, or at least not telling me the whole truth. Even so, at the very least, her new story matched the available evidence – it kind of reminded me of the sort of stories I used to have SI make up after they would crack a supernatural case. After all, telling the truth would have simply gotten us all drummed out of the force, if not committed.
Now, there was an idea. If this girl actually knew about the things which went bump in the night, and actually had seen a vampire of some kind, then it would make perfect sense that she would try to feed the cops some story – particularly Sunnydale's cops, who, from what I had seen so far, were, by and large, not the sharpest tools in the shed. If that was the case, then no matter how hard I pushed, she wasn't going to tell me the truth, probably thinking that it would be dismissed out of hand.
I could try and convince her that I too knew about the supernatural, but, if the killer was an honest to goodness vampire of some kind, then I would rather handle the case myself than get Buffy involved. What Buffy should really be doing at this time of night was going to bed, after hopefully taking a long shower to wash off the fine coating of dust she seemed to have somehow picked up while wandering around this graveyard. Vampire hunting was best left to the professionals.
If I was right, then all I really needed from Buffy was a description of the vampire, or vampire-like creature, which she had encountered. Fortunately, when Harry had died, hoping to keep it out of his often reckless, young apprentice's hands, he had willed Bob to me.
Bob was a spirit of knowledge, or something like that. In all honesty, I was not exactly up on all the different kind of spirits loitering around the Earth. However, what I did know was that Bob, who essentially looked like a talking skull, knew virtually everything there was to know about supernatural monsters. On the downside, he was a disgusting pervert and voyeur, but I had mostly handled that aspect of his personality so far by keeping him stuffed in a closet all the time. He would probably be cranky, but provided I offered him a big enough reward, I was sure that I could convince the perverted spirit to help me identify what I was facing. All I needed was a few more details.
I smiled at the young woman.
“Miss Summers, thank you for your cooperation. If you could just give me a few more details on the mask you saw the assailant wearing, and maybe help one of our sketch artists to draw a picture of the man you saw, I would really appreciate it. Just try to recall as many details as you can remember.”
Whoever had killed these people, I would find him. Sunnydale was my city now, and its people were mine to protect. No one – man or monster – was going to be getting away with murder in my town – not anymore.