it's always about the blood (B:tVS/White Collar)
: it's always about the bloodAuthor
: Jedi ButtercupRating
: The words are mine; the worlds are not.Summary
: Neal sat back, staring at Elizabeth's guest wide-eyed. "Mozzie will never believe this... or maybe he will. Don't tell me, the organization you work for really is a secret conspiracy spanning centuries?"
: Post Chosen for B:tVS; murky timeline for White CollarNotes
connected to the other B:tVS/WC stories. For Ava, for Day 24 in Wishlist 2012, for the prompt: "Elizabeth Burke has never known Neal Caffery to stumble over his words, but Buffy Summers had always been something of a miracle worker."
"So, that's life in my world, the last few years," Elizabeth's guest said, lounging back in her chair in the Burke dining room. She'd only emptied about half a wine glass with her meal, but she was in a very good mood, green eyes bright as she grinned at the young man seated across from her. "Drafty European castles, a lot of food I can't pronounce, so much paperwork I considered teaching my sister how to forge my signature...."
"You're fooling yourself if you think she doesn't already," Elizabeth laughed.
She'd met Dawn Summers, after all, that long-ago spring when she'd suddenly started breaking dishes in her professional kitchen without meaning to. The young woman was just as beautiful and fierce as her older sister... but their skills lay in very different areas. Paperwork was one of Dawn's strengths, not Buffy's, and everyone in the Slayers Consortium knew it.
She wondered, sometimes, what she'd missed by not taking up the calling the Consortium had offered; but she already had a very full life as a caterer, and learning just enough to safely take out the occasional vampire that slipped into her serving staff had proved to be more than enough excitement for her.
Well-- in addition to the cases her husband and his too smart and gorgeous for his own good consultant brought home with them on a regular basis. She'd never have imagined White Collar crime could be so fascinating, and occasionally even dangerous, when she was Dawn's age. The life of an FBI wife might seem less important to some than evenings spent patrolling cemeteries and saving the world, but anyone who thought so had never met Peter Burke-- or Neal Caffrey.
"Hush," Buffy replied with a mock-pout. "My sister is still young, and innocent, and law-abiding, and not even a little bit tempted to take over the world. Let me hold onto my illusions; they're comfy."
Peter chuckled, giving her a fond smile. He was deeply uneasy with the world the Slayers moved in, and even more so with the lack of legal checks on the powers that moved in
it, but he did like several of the people who belonged there; Buffy especially had a forthrightness and personableness to her that he appreciated. "Well, we'll know who to blame when the time comes, then, won't we."
"All shall look upon her and despair, I take it?" Neal offered with a charming smile.
Buffy smiled back-- but there was a distance to her answer that Neal didn't usually encounter, Elizabeth suspected. "You'd be surprised, actually. That's more the speed of another friend of ours... I think Dawn's more likely to go the Dumbledore route. All shall scratch their heads, and be managed into obedience with big blue eyes and a jar of blood pops."
"Just how many would-be world conquerors does a girl from California made good actually know?" Neal upped the wattage of his teasing grin.
"You'd be surprised," she laughed at him, a wry curl in the corner of her smile. "How do you know I'm not one myself? Girl from California made very
good, and all."
At Neal's skeptically lifted brow, Elizabeth smiled herself; he had no idea, did he? "Oh, didn't Peter tell you? Why did you think Peter invited her to consult on your case?"
"Because she secretly rules the world
?" Neal's eyebrows grew even more eloquent, but he turned back to Buffy with a smooth, seated obeisance. "Your Majesty; I had no idea."
"Not the whole
world. Just one small, creepy corner of it. And they only let me think
I rule it. Hence the business with Dawn and signatures." She'd blushed at his little mock bow, but her smile faded as she set the wine glass down and studied him more seriously. "Seriously, though, I am
an expert in one thing. Hunting a particular kind of bad guy. And Elizabeth tells me the case you and her husband are working on has all the fingerprints of being one of them."
"A forger surfacing after decades of being thought dead?"
"A forger surfacing after decades of being
dead," Buffy replied dryly. "Vampires: big with the ego. He was always going to pop up again eventually. Just my luck it happened in my
Neal glanced at Peter, then Elizabeth, a wrinkle forming between his brows. "Ah, did you just say vampires?" he said, then swallowed as the silence stretched. "That isn't just a metaphor about con men sucking the lifeblood out of the economy, is it?"
"I only wish," Peter replied with a wry grimace, not seeming to notice Neal's wince in return.
Buffy did, though; she blinked, then threw Elizabeth's husband a frown. "Hey, no insulting the other consultant. Neal-- you're the one that picked up on the fact that he was using period-appropriate paint, but with that extra eww of protein particles added to the mix, right?"
"I suddenly hesitate to ask how that might be relevant," Neal replied, still looking baffled.
"Some signatures are ink; but with vampires, it's always
about the blood," Buffy wrinkled her nose. "Like I said: fingerprints. Or in this case, DNA. Not that it'll help us ID him; it's not exactly his blood he's using. But I doubt he's realized yet that we can use it to track his victims
; most things that live centuries kind of lose track of modern advancements. And if we can track his victims, we might finally be able to run him down. How many of his forgeries have you found so far?"
about this," Neal sputtered, staring at her.
"'Fraid so," she shrugged, then picked up one of the table knives and threw Elizabeth an apologetic glance before turning into a shiny metal knot. "There's a whole speech; it always starts The World Is Older Than You Know, but Elizabeth can fill you in on that later."
Neal glanced at her then; and Elizabeth gave him a reassuring nod. "I know it sounds strange, Neal, but listen to her."
Peter grimaced again. "I try not to think about it too much. But yes; she means what she says. And we're definitely going to need someone like her on hand when we track down this guy. Much as I hate to admit it, there are some criminals even the FBI can't handle, and I refuse to risk El."
"Elizabeth?" Neal's eyebrows were reaching for his stylishly disordered brown hair.
"It's a long story, Neal," she told him, reaching across the table to squeeze his hand. "Like she said-- I'll fill you in later. It's nothing bad, I promise. Well-- at least not for us." She reached to Buffy next, taking the knife from her hand, then proceeded to casually unbend it, wincing at the new stress marks on the smooth finish.
"But for the people whose blood is ending up in those paintings, it is," Buffy redirected the conversation. "So. Forgeries?" She picked up her wine glass again and took another slow sip.
Neal just stared at her for a moment, as lost for a response as Elizabeth had ever seen him. But there wasn't any of the disengaged calculation in it that she saw sometimes when he was assessing a situation for his own benefit, or dealing with Peter when they were at odds over something; he was perplexed, and half-believing, and still utterly fascinated by the woman sitting next to him.
Had he run into some evidence of the supernatural before? Elizabeth would have to ask him one day. But in the meantime, Buffy Summers, sometime miracle worker, managed to produce another: she made Neal Caffrey stumble over his words.
"That knife-- you-- vampires
? I just...." He took a deep breath, then closed his eyes and opened them again, staring around at the small group. "All right. Assuming for a moment none of you are crazy... I'd say at least three new forgeries; the protein content of the others was more degraded. If they're as old as you suggest, we probably won't have any luck matching missing persons on those. Also... it wasn't all
blood," he grimaced. "We'd assumed... are vampires even capable
"Well, they aren't Anne Rice vampires, if that's what you're asking," Buffy winced. "They're not exactly Dracula vampires either, except for bat-guy himself; he's kind of an anomaly. So...."
"Well... one of the guys who used his name, at least?" Buffy laughed. "The Council was never sure. But he's got the skills, and he's been around a long time. Spike always said the guy owed him eleven pounds from way back, so I'm not going to argue about the name."
Neal sat back, staring at her wide-eyed. "Mozzie will never believe this... or maybe he will. Don't tell me, the organization you work for really is
a secret conspiracy spanning centuries?"
"Okay, I won't tell you," she smirked in return.
Elizabeth smiled, and got up to retrieve another bottle of wine. "It looks like this is going to be a very productive
working relationship," she murmured in her husband's ear as she moved past him.
Peter caught one of her hands and squeezed it, whispering back incredulously. "Are you kidding? If they team up, they really will
take over the world."
"And would that be such a bad thing?" she teased. "Honestly, if you can't trust him by now...."
"With my life, yes. With the world...?"
"Good thing she's a Slayer then, huh?" Elizabeth laughed, then slipped out of his grasp and went back to her own calling: being the best hostess she possibly could.