Four Way Stop
Four Way Stop
Disclaimer: I own none of the canon characters or universes. I don't know anyone who does and I made no money off this fic, but enjoy it anyway.
*** I can’t seem to leave this universe alone. This follows ‘Minor Intersections’ and ‘That Road Again.’ Finally, the Buffy crew get center stage. ***
“Mail Call!” Willow yelled. Mini-Slayer footsteps thundered to the front hall. Many had family and friends around the world that wrote to them during their England training. Snail mail was a reliable alternative to e-mail, especially with Willow as post-mistress. She had spelled the world mail service to deliver anything relevant to the residents at Giles' family mansion. Despite popular opinion, not everyone had free access to the Internet. Besides there just was something special about holding a letter in your hands.
Buffy Summers, the oldest resident Slayer, remained where she was at the breakfast table. Xander was wolfing down his food directly across from her; Spike was sitting beside her watching the 'telly.' Dawn was upstairs getting ready for high school with most of the newly called Slayers. Giles' last known where-abouts was in the library, asleep after yet another all-nighter. There was really no one left who would care enough to write her. Faith, Wood, Andrew, Angel and the others that she knew from fighting all had a computer to e-mail her.
So no one was more surprised than Buffy when Willow dropped a package in her lap. It was addressed to Buffy Summers of Sunnydale. The postmark read Las Vegas.
Buffy looked up at her best friend. "What's this?"
Willow smiled. "Why don't you open it and see?"
Spike tore himself from the British sitcom to tease. "Pet, do you have someone on the side writing you mushy love letters?"
Buffy glared. "No one's written me mushy love letters."
Spike looked shocked for a moment and Xander grabbed the opportunity to harass the vampire. "That looks like more than a love letter, Fang-less. Maybe it's dirty pictures of their last time together."
Buffy tore open the envelope and slid the contents onto the table. She flipped the photos over. "Well Xander, it looks like you were right about the dirty pictures but wrong about what they're about."
Xander snagged the closest photo. It was a full body shot of an eviscerated human. Xander took another big bite of cereal. After a lifetime on the Hellmouth, it took a lot to make him to lose his appetite.
Buffy checked the manila envelope one last time. Something colorful had snagged on the bubble-wrap. Carefully she pried it out. 'It' was a pair of airplane tickets from LA to Las Vegas.
A note was attached. It read: 'Slayer, please come. I can't stop this and I don't know any one else who can. PS While you're in town, here are a couple blood bars you could clear out." Two addresses were listed.
Willow had read the note over her shoulder. "Huh, sounds like someone is behind in the times."
Spike grunted, "but a little too informed on certain people's secret identities."
"Willow," Xander passed the picture to his best friend, "isn't this mark part of a cult sacrifice."
Willow eyed the picture. "It is. I'd better wake Giles up and start researching."
Xander grinned. "And he'd best consult his books." He glanced at the clock. "Tally-ho, friends. I best get to work. If it's an real emergency call me."
Buffy nodded, "will do."
Buffy stared out the airplane window. Spike slept in the seat beside her. The stars were beautiful above the clouds. In her lap were all the directions and instructions that Giles and Willow thought that she and Spike would need on their little trip. According to Giles, this should be a simple hack-n-slash. A single, easily killed, demon trying to raise a larger, less easily killed, demon in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas. What was more disturbing to the Scoobies than the demon on the loose was the fact that someone knew Buffy, by name, as the Vampire Slayer. Finding that particular person, while making sure this whole trip was not a trap, was a secondary goal on this trip. The third goal, of course, was to have fun.
Willow had made all the arrangements for the trip. She had exchanged the plane tickets sent for tickets from New York to Las Vegas. The Watcher's Council sprung for the tickets from London to New York. The trick had been to check the arrival and departure times as compared to that time-zone's sunrise. The sun would chase them all the way to Sin City. Spike would have to travel back to England in a box.
Buffy could not wait to hear those creative complaints. She squirmed in her seat, trying to get comfortable. She should rest now. When morning came, she would be very busy.
"And Willow scores once again." Buffy muttered. They were waiting outside for a taxi. They had successfully passed customs and any other airplane security with barely a pause. It was a miracle considering one bag was completely stuffed with weapons.
A man bumped into her. "Oops. Sorry."
She turned to look at him. "Not a problem." He was average height with brown hair. There was nothing out of the ordinary here, except that he seemed familiar. Her eyes narrowed and his gaze skittered away.
"Pet, you're staring." Spike whispered. "You're making him nervous."
Buffy turned to her lover. "I know him from somewhere."
Spike shrugged. "He didn't feel evil."
"You're right," said Buffy.
"Of course I am, luv." Spike looped an arm around her waist and pulled her close. "Don't worry. It'll come to you."
She came, the Slayer had come! David could not stop the chant in his head. He had learned of Sunnydale's destruction only after he had sent the tickets. Apparently it had happened several months prior and David had missed it. He had no idea how she managed to find out that Las Vegas needed her kind of help. He had come to the airport on the vain hope that the post office, somehow-some way, had managed to track down the Slayer. He had spent every spare moment the last couple days at the airport; an exercise in futility. He had never expected to see the Slayer. Pure luck had to be the only explanation for running into her.
He really was not surprised that she did not recognize him on first sighting. She had more important things to remember. He had recognized her. She was older, thinner, and darker. Sadness and mourning hung on her shoulders like a mantle. David did not recognize her companion.
But she had accepted his invitation and come. Hopefully she would kill any and all supernatural before she left his town.
Buffy had left Spike at the hotel room. It was daylight and she was going to do some power shopping. She had promised to get Willow, Xand and Dawn something from her trip. Unfortunately, the first store she saw sold antique books. She groaned to herself but entered the store anyway. She found three books that Giles would be interested in. Since she was there on the Watchers' tab, she bought them. One she would give to Willow. She'd get a kick out of 'Demons versus Wicca; An Unabridged History of Conflict.'
Buffy wandered the length of the Strip and a good portion of the side streets. She admired the sites, the artists and the shops. A few places she made note of to come back and visit after sunset. Freemont Street, where the artists sold their wares, didn't open until after dark. She also made note of the location of the two blood bars mentioned and the crime scene that started the trip.
She glanced at her watch; late afternoon. She had better get back to the hotel and sleep before night came. She was here on business after all.
Spike and Buffy patrolled the blood bars first. They split up at the door to divide and conquer. The vampires were easy to spot. Most took one look at the Slayer and made for a hasty exit, in the opposite direction. Spike's reputation also garnered some respect. The humans, ironically, thought that Buffy was completely out of place in the bar. She had dressed for the occasion in baby blue capris, platform sandals and rainbow colored sixties flowing shirt that left her mid-drift bare. It was the most color the bar had seen in years.
A few of the humans thought they saw an easy mark and tried to intimidate the Slayer with no success. She barely acknowledged them. One of the more perceptive looked into her eyes and saw something darker than his own soul.
Spike and Buffy found a worthy quarry at the corner table. He had the stillness of a vampire, the power of age and the intelligence to be wary. He smelled the dust of vampires on their skin. He knew who had been stationed outside the door and who would not return to the nest come daylight. He had suspicions on this blond’s identity. She sat across from him. William the Bloody, Childe of Drucilla and Angelus, stood blocking the only escape route. To run would invite the end that much sooner.
“Slayer.” She obviously wanted to talk.
The blond sent an overly friendly smile his way. “Good evening! We’re looking for a Grand Matel Demon. Do you know where we can find one?”
The vampire was confused. "Grand Matel?"
William snorted. "She means a Grend'Mat."
The native vampire nodded once. “If I say?”
The Slayer answered. “Then I slay.”
“And leave?” He asked.
“Without tying up loose ends?”
The smile dimmed. “If the information is accurate.”
“If I don’t say.” The vampire tested the waters.
Her smile grew feral. “You would eventually.” He wondered if her will was stronger than his. Could she make him talk? She could certainly make the experience painful. William growled. Either way, he would not survive the experience.
“You have kept your bargains with vampires before,” he said.
“If it’s worth my while.” She glanced to William in confirmation. He had heard about the first bargain. That had only been for one fight, to save Drucilla and to prevent hell on earth. He wanted more.
“I know of two newly-called Slayers in the area.” He dangled the bait. He had expected one of the Hellmouth survivors to arrive eventually. He had not expected the One.
She was unimpressed. “I do have other sources.”
“One is currently imprisoned by one of my kind.” He had been furious that the fledging would endanger the nest with such stupidity. By offering the mess to The Slayer, he would save himself the trouble of disposing of both the errant vampire and the captive Slayer.
She hardened. “Plus the Grand Matel.”
“Plus the Grend’Mat.” He agreed.
“What do you want?”
“You to never return.” It was a gamble. He knew she had other resources, others she could send in her place.
She held up her hand. “No killing, no Siring, no ending the world.” She ticked off her list. She gently placed her hand back on the table. “So basically don’t send me an invitation written in blood.”
He leaned back. “You didn’t forbid feeding.”
She gestured to the bar. “I’m guessing you get it without a struggle. I can’t outlaw humans’ stupidity.”
He gestured to her clothes. “You dusted my guards.”
That dangerous smile again. “They attacked first.” He bet they had. Jonas and Miccah had earned the right to stand at the door.
“Do we have an agreement?”
She tilted her head. “Do you have a name?”
“Davide Michellii.” William should have heard of him. He had survived a tussle with Darla centuries ago.
She smiled. This was the smile that had ensnared both Angel and Spike. “I promise not to come unless invited.”
He nodded, and borrowed a pen and paper from a waitress. He passed the three addresses her way. He tapped the first address. “This is the Grend’Mat.” He tapped the last one. “This is the prison.”
She nodded. “Thank you.”
His jaw dropped. He had not expected common courtesies from The Slayer. She left the blood bar, William the Bloody trailing behind her. Davide understood so much more than he had.
“Do you believe him?” Spike asked.
She smiled up at him. He grinned back, that was the smile of the hunt. “’Cause if he’s lying and trying for a trap, Faith and a dozen Mini-Slayers would enjoy Las Vegas as a training ground.”
“He knew that.”
“Yep. That vamp was too smart for something so obvious.” She pulled out her cell phone. She would make sure that her last will would be carried out if she died tonight.
“We going for the captive Slayer first?”
“Mary, Mary.” A hand gently tapped her cheek. “Wake up now.”
She groaned; she hurt. White lights flashed before her eyes. She struggled to stay awake. She did not attempt to focus on the blur in front of her. The pain deafened her. She could barely hear the friendly voice.
“You’re safe now. Don’t struggle. We’re taking you to a friend.”
Mary sighed and welcomed the darkness this time. The nightmare was over. She hoped.
Rupert Giles had called, waking her from a sound sleep. She was a Watcher, or she had been. She had been tossed out when she had defended Rupert for the debacle of Buffy's eighteenth birthday so many years ago. Rupert had offered her a rather high position in the New Watchers. She had refused. Patricia was just too old for that sport now. She was content with her job at the Las Vegas Museum of Natural History.
Now an injured Slayer was coming to her for medical assistance. A Las Vegas Hospital could not be guaranteed to turn a blind eye when a patient miraculously recovered. She fussed with the placement of the gauze, the needle and thread. She hoped that her meager skills could help. She paced to the window. No one yet.
She eyed her living room. Was she prepared? A blanket! The injured Slayer was sure to need a blanket. She hurried to the closet muttering to herself.
This was why she said no to Rupert. The waiting, the knowing that someday the girl would die. She was afraid that if she was given the care of a Slayer, she would treat her as some expendable being to protect her heart. Or she would not protect her heart and have it ripped out when the Chosen One succumbed to an early death like they all did. She would not be able to find the middle ground like Rupert had, if he had. The odds were against her Slayer living more than two years.
Someone pounded on the door. She opened it to find a young peroxide blond male in a black duster. “You the Watcher?”
She nodded. “Yes, yes. Rupert called.”
“Good enough.” He yelled to the bushes. “This’s the place.”
Patricia held the door open as a tiny blond female, she had to be the famous Buffy Summers, carried in a mostly covered bloody and broken body. Patricia could not tell if she was alive. Though she had to be for such urgency. Buffy gently set the bundle on the couch as directed.
Patricia opened the filthy blanket. The child was nearly nude. Blood, bruises and bite marks covered every bare inch of skin. Patricia did a quick physical assessment. Her pulse was weak and her breathing shallow. Her neck and shoulder had several puncture wounds. The vampire must have been feeding off her for days. She would be low on blood and fluids. Patricia wondered where she could find the IV equipment to replenish her. The girl gasped when she palpated the ribs, she’d have to bind those. The hips were good as were her legs and feet. The girl’s hands were a mess. Her index finger of both hands had been bitten off and all remaining fingers were smashed. That would be a problem, though not immediately fatal.
That done, she turned to the two who delivered her. The male was still standing in the doorway. Slayer Summers stood half-way between, trying to stay out of the way.
The Slayer looked worried. “Will Mary live?”
Patricia nodded. “I believe so. The vampire was not trying to kill her, just keep her subjugated enough to feed on her. He probably was trying to increase his own strength by improving his food source.”
Slayer glared, Patricia had no idea why. “What can we do to help?” she asked.
Patricia pointed to the man. “Get me a bowl of water and a towel from the kitchen, we’ll have to clean her up.”
The man smiled. “You’ll have to invite me in first, pet.”
Patricia blanched. Knowingly invite a vampire into her home? “Absolutely not!”
The Slayer laid what should have been a calming hand on Patricia’s arm. “That’s Spike . . .”
“William the Bloody?” Patricia had been a Watcher; she knew the name.
“He has a soul now.”
Patricia stuttered. Rupert should have mentioned this. Rupert should know better to trust a vampire, especially one with a soul. After all, look what happened with Angel.
“Do you have everything you need here?” The Slayer asked.
“Huh?” Patricia was trying to function. Yet another reason she would make a horrible Watcher, she hated high stress and adrenaline situations.
The Slayer calmly repeated the question.
“Oh. She needs an IV. I need saline, tubing, and an 18-gauge needle. She’s extremely dehydrated and low on fluids, for obvious reasons.” Patricia babbled. She never babbled.
Spike spoke. “What about plasma?”
Patricia stared at Spike as if he had just vamped out. “What?”
The Slayer repeated the question. “What about plasma?”
“Yes, of course that would be useful.” Patricia suddenly realized that they would not be waltzing down to the 7-11 for the equipment. They would steal it. “Please bring me multiple IV kits, in case one is deficient or contaminated. Don’t forget to check the expiration date.”
Spike grinned, “You know if you let me have a taste of the bit’s blood, I could probably match blood type.”
Patricia was horrified. She could not keep her reaction off her face. The Slayer looked both amused and irritated. “Spike, hurry back.” She sauntered to the entryway, gave Spike a smoldering kiss goodbye and then slammed the door in his face. Slayer Summers glared at the Watcher. “You’ll have to invite him in.” Before Patricia could argue, Summers pointed to the other doorway. “The kitchen, I presume.”
Patricia buckled down to the business of making the injured Slayer as comfortable as possible. They could have the discussion later.
Patricia cupped the teacup in both hands. The warmth seeped through. The soft fragrance teased her nose. Patricia took a sip of the tea, let the bitterness linger in her mouth. The ritual relaxed her.
Mary, the Slayer, slept soundly, fluids slowly dripped into her body. Her natural Slayer health was speeding the recovery process. Buffy, as the other Slayer insisted she be called, was out with Spike. They claimed other business. Spike had insinuated that the trip was recreational. Patricia knew better. Rupert had at least filled her in on the Grend’Mat Demon. Patricia planned on giving Rupert an earful on the information he had left out.
Patricia sat in a chair beside the couch. Mary was sure to have nightmares. She might as well doze while she had the chance. Buffy and Spike hoped to finish slaying with enough time before dawn to safely visit Mary. Patricia hoped that the Grend’Mat took extra time. That way Buffy would visit during the daytime and leave Spike at the hotel. Thus far neither had forced her into inviting the vampire into her home. She wanted to keep it that way.
Patricia fervently thanked God that Rupert had not asked her to house the two for their stay. The stuffy and skinflinted old Watcher’s Council would have insisted.
Buffy eyed her clothes with disgust. “Why can’t demons die neatly?” She was covered from head to toe with a pale green slime.
Spike chuckled. Buffy glared. He was relatively slime-free.
“Just for that you can bury the . . . thing.”
“Sure thing pet. You do Red’s magic clean-up voodoo.” Spike picked up a few wayward demon appendages before hauling the main portion of the demon’s body further into the desert. Luring the Grend’Mat out here had been a cakewalk. Killing it had involved a little more work. Still it would have made a rather educational trip for a Mini-Slayer or two. Giles had denied anyone the pleasure. He did not want who-ever knew Buffy’s identity to figure out the others'.
Buffy still had to find the anonymous tipster. She mulled over possible plans while she spread Willow’s spell ingredients over the fight scene. The white dust glowed the same color as the demon’s blood and then all evidence faded from sight. Maybe Spike had a few ideas.
The PTB’s apparently wanted Buffy to find her anonymous informer. Or maybe God had answered Patricia’s prayers to keep Spike out of her home. Either way, they found him.
After the pair had buried the demon’s remains, they hurried back to the hotel for a quick shower to make themselves presentable for a visit to Mary. They chose to run to Patricia’s house instead of taking a taxi. A shortcut led straight to a crime scene being processed. Unfortunately, it was a shortcut previously unseen by the investigators, but immediately suspected as the get-away route. So Buffy and Spike were asked to have prints made of their shoes and to show an criminal investigator named Nick Stokes the complete length of the path.
Investigator Stokes requested that they come to the police station to sign their official statements. The two were antsy as dawn approached and confided to the nice man that Spike was allergic to the sun. After requesting to see ‘William Essex’s’ passport, which did mention Spike’s rare medical condition, Investigator Stokes thanked them for their time and sent them on their way.
Right outside the Crime Lab door, Buffy ran into a man. His papers fluttered to the sidewalk. When he turned to collect them, Buffy read ‘CORONER’ on the man’s jacket. The pieces clicked. Buffy recognized this man from the airport and even further back to the Sunnydale Morgue. Buffy thoughtfully picked up a few wayward papers and then, with a firm hand under his elbow, helped the man to his feet and over to a corner of the parking lot that he had not planned on visiting. Amused, Spike followed his Slayer.
Thus was how David found himself looking into the very intense eyes of the Slayer and her partner. He promptly started stuttering.
The Slayer was not in a patient mood and thankfully cut him off before he could make a complete fool out of himself. “You sent me the airline tickets,” she said.
“Yes Ma’am.” The simpler the answer, the less likely he’d screw it up.
“You worked in Sunnydale Morgue, night-shift.”
“Yes Ma’am.” To himself, David wondered if there was any other morgue shift in Sunnydale.
“You knew I was the Slayer.” She was asking.
“Yes Ma’am. You save my life.”
“I did?” The Slayer looked confused. David guessed that she saved a lot of lives on the Hellmouth.
The Slayer pondered the fact for a moment before restarting the conversation. “You know about Vampires.”
“Yes Ma’am. I dusted a few before they reached their graves.”
“You did? So that’s why a couple never rose. You and I should have coordinated our efforts and infused a couple of hours into my social life.”
The Slayer suddenly graced David with a beautiful smile. “You know my name. Use it.”
“Yes Ma’am, I mean Miss Summers.”
The Slayer held out her hand. “Call me Buffy.”
In a daze, David shook the hand of his hero.
“Your name?” she prompted.
“Uh. David, Ma’am.” The Slayer glared. “I mean Miss Buffy.”
“David. It’s been fun and if anything major wiggy ever happens again, call me or a friend at this number.” She handed him a business card. David stared at it in shock. He noticed that no title was listed under her name. The Slayer was still talking, “You’ll have to give your name and say that you’re the Las Vegas coroner but we’ll try to get someone out here right away. Everyone there knows about demons.”
She stopped talking and David realized that a response was expected. “Yes, Ma’am. Thank you Ma’am.”
The Slayer threw her hands up in the air. “Gah! Stop saying Ma'am! You make me feel so old. Well then, I guess I’ll be hearing from you.” She turned and walked away arm in arm with her male friend. David watched them until they were out of sight and then sighed.
What on earth had he been doing when he ran into the Slayer, literally, for the second time?
Spike chuckled and then murmured, “And another heart bites the dust.”
Davide Michellii had watched the interplay with avid attention. He was far in the shadows across the parking lot. Too far away to hear, but not to see the conversation as it unfolded. He had thought that he was well out of the range of Slayer senses.
When the Slayer had stared straight into his hideout, Davide realized his mistake. She knew. That complicated matters. The Slayer had the coroner as part of her fan base, if not on her payroll. She would not have to keep close tabs on the city; she had one person who could do the job for her. All she had to do was keep an eye on one man whose job was at the pulse-point of the supernatural.
Davide had a dilemma. If he killed or turned the coroner, the Slayer would know sooner or later and return with a vengeance. If someone else killed or turned the coroner, the Slayer would still be back in his city with a vengeance, blaming him. So now Davide had to insure that a mortal remained in good health. It rankled, but anything was better than a bored and experienced Slayer patrolling the streets at nights. She would declare war on the un-dead just to liven things up.
Davide slid along the shadows of the lingering night. He had to return to the nest and give out new orders. This mortal must stay alive.
He would be watched very closely.
Gil Grissom had wanted to ask David a question. Was there any way he could have been wrong on his estimated time of death for the last victim? The beetles had disagreed with David’s estimate. Grissom had been waiting in the entrance lobby and had just turned his back for a second. David had been coming up the front walk, now he was no where to be found.
Grissom walked through the double doors and searched the parking lot. Several of the parking lot lights were not lit. He would have to bring that up to maintenance’s attention. Then he spied David. He was in the far corner speaking to a young couple. The distance was too great for Grissom to accurately lip-read. Unless he was mistaken, David said “yes” and “Ma’am” several times. Then the blond couple left and David wander his way.
Gil Grissom opened his mouth to ask his question but stopped. David looked positively star-struck. The young coroner brushed by his supervisor with nary a murmur. It was an odd state for such a normally levelheaded young man. Grissom followed. David would soon run into a wall and be forced to join the rest of the real world.
He would ask his question then.
David sat at the same old bar and fingered the same old silver cross.
But things had changed.
His mood was so drastically different from any other time he had come here. Tonight he was jubilant. The Slayer had come, killed whatever was sacrificing humans so messily, and was willing to come again if things got out of hand. It was a nice promise to hang on to.
David smiled at the bartender as he placed another beer in front of David. Heaven knew the trials David had put the poor man through as he had been debating whether or not to send the Slayer plane tickets, not to mention the bender he went on when he had heard of Sunnydale’s destruction. Talk about mixed feelings.
David handed the man a thirty-dollar tip. The man’s eyes widened and David just smiled. He had good reason to be so generous. All was right in his world.
His generosity had not gone unnoticed. A voluptuous blond in a tight blue dress appeared at his side. “How about you buy a lady a drink?” she purred.
Her hand slid up his leg and David choked on his beer. While he was gasping for breath, he fell off his barstool to land on his butt on the floor. David stared up at the female good-naturedly laughing at him. Then she leaned over to offer him a hand up.
Wow, just when he thought his life could not get any better.