Potential Problem III
A Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel / CSI crossover. This story is the fourth in a series, the earlier parts are Should Have Gone To Vegas..., Manhunters, and Slayer, Las Vegas. They should ideally be read in that order, since the events of previous stories are mentioned. This story is set immediately after the Angel season 4 story "Orpheus", and contains spoilers for BtVS up to "Lies My Parents Told Me" and Angel up to "Orpheus". I've no idea where it fits in CSI continuity, if there is such a thing.
All characters are the intellectual property of their respective creators, film companies, etc.; this story may not be sold or distributed on a profit-making basis.
I'm British, so's my spelling. Live with it.
By Marcus L. Rowland
Catherine Willows was unimpressed. In approximately thirty seconds Joyce Rosenberg had interfered with a crime scene and given most of the possible witnesses time to run. Now she had a corpse that had been moved, and evidence that was bound to be contaminated by Joyce's hair and fingerprints.
"It's unfortunate that you moved the body," said Nick, "it's going to reduce the value of the forensic evidence considerably."
"Sorry, didn't think of it," said Joyce.
"We're both sorry," said Willow, "The problem is that neither of us have had an opportunity to work properly with the police before. In Sunnydale they just don't want to know about these things, so we have to do everything for ourselves."
"Well, if you'll try to be more careful in future," said Catherine, "Joyce, we'll need your fingerprints to compare with any we find at the crime scene."
"Is there a problem?" asked Nick.
"Could we speak privately?" asked Willow, gesturing to a table in a far corner. The CSI investigators, Willow and Joyce moved to it. "Switch off the radios please. I'm going to make sure that there are no eavesdroppers." She rummaged in her bag, and Joyce expected her to start casting a spell. Instead she pulled out a small electronic device. "We had some trouble a while back with a bunch of high-tech wanna-be supervillains who thought it'd be a good idea to bug the Slayer, had to start taking precautions."
"What's this about?" asked Catherine once the bug-jammer was switched on.
"Me," said Joyce, before Willow could speak. Her voice seemed deeper, a little coarser. "It's okay, Willow, I had a feeling this might be necessary."
"Are you sure?" asked Willow.
"Yeah. It's just gonna get too complicated if we keep this up, or if you try to fix it up with magic, and I'm not gonna start running again with those scumbags on the loose here. Okay, first thing I should do is introduce myself. My name's Faith and I'm not a Potential."
"You're not?" asked Catherine.
"Did Buffy tell you that she's died a couple of times?"
"What happens when a Slayer dies?"
"Another one gets..." Nick began, then tapered off with his jaw dropping.
"First time Buffy died a kid called Kendra got activated. Never met her myself, but she was about Buffy's age, fifteen or so, and pretty green."
"Poor Kendra..." said Willow. "She was unlucky, ran up against Drusilla in Sunnydale about a year later. Drusilla is really powerful, even Buffy has never been able to kill her. They lured Buffy away, and she killed Kendra in front of the rest of us. There was nothing we could do."
"Then I drew the short straw," said Faith. "I was careless, thought I could whip anything, didn't plan properly. Let my first Watcher get captured and tortured to death in New Orleans a couple of months after I was activated, and went on the run. The vamp that did it was Kakistos, he chased me to Sunnydale, then Buffy and I killed him. Trouble was it left me... think they call it post-traumatic stress, but I was still having the trauma nearly every night, going out to hunt the monsters. I kidded myself I was enjoying it, and I got careless again."
"How?" asked Catherine quietly.
"Thought I was staking a vampire, stabbed a man. Killed him. Then I tried to get rid of the body, when that didn't work I tried to put the blame on Buffy. It ended up with me working for the Mayor when he tried to destroy Sunnydale, and me in a coma for six months. When I came out of that I tried to take Buffy's place magically, and when that didn't work I ran to LA and tried to take out Angel, hurt most of the people he worked with. What I was trying to do..."
"You wanted him to kill you?" asked Catherine.
"You're good. Yes, I think that's what I wanted. Him or Buffy. He saved me instead, kinda turned me around, and I gave myself up to the police."
"So your fingerprints will be on record. I don't see that as a problem."
"When things started going down the tubes in LA I was still in the pen, which is why the Bringers had to pay someone to ice me. When I was told that Angel needed my help I busted out."
"As far as I know there are no Federal warrants out on me, but I'm sure as hell wanted in California. Don't know how the system works, but I kinda think it's your duty to tell them so that they can extradite me."
"Something like that," said Nick. "One question; what do you plan to do?"
"I was going to give myself up once we'd dealt with the demon in LA, but from what Willow tells me I'm really needed in Sunnydale. There's an apocalypse coming, and this one is gonna be a doozy. Buffy and the gang may not be able to handle it without me. After that I guess it's back to the pen."
Unnoticed, Willow's eyes momentarily flickered black, and a tendril of all-but-invisible energy snaked out to Catherine and Nick and as quickly vanished.
"So you're voluntarily returning to California?" asked Nick.
"Yeah, I guess."
"We won't have to worry about extradition then, will we? Why waste the taxpayers' money?"
"Nick..." Catherine began.
"Have you committed any crimes in Nevada?" asked Nick
"No," said Faith.
"Not if I can help it."
"Okay... Let's say that for now we keep your prints off the national system until you're ready to leave, then give you a head start. Say twenty-four hours."
"Sounds good to me."
"Are we agreed then? Catherine?"
"Well... okay. Provided there's nothing else."
"Yeah, I guess that's okay, if you can make sure that nobody else enters them into the computer until you're ready."
"That's okay, at least for this crime scene. We'll tackle any others as they come up. Faith?"
"Five by five. Better get back to calling me Joyce though, or we'll have to go through this again with your boss and the rest of your crew."
"Okay.. Joyce. Just one question - if the girl before you was activated when Buffy died the first time, what happened the second time?"
"Don't really know," said Joyce, settling back into her role.
"I do," said Willow. "Giles did some research, as much as he could without telling the Watchers that she was dead. They think that the line of Slayers runs through you now. When Buffy was killed she wasn't replaced."
"Oh... you mean that I'm the Chosen One now and she isn't? All those Potentials are waiting for me to die?"
"You could put it that way, I suppose."
"Oh boy, I'll bet Buffy was really pissed."
"I don't think she's thought about it or knows. If I told her I think she'd be relieved that it wasn't her responsibility any more."
"Okay... have to think about that one, get my head around it. Let's get back to work."
As they went back to the body Nick moved next to Joyce and said "So, are you as strong as Buffy?"
"If that's a pick-up line it needs work. I'm stronger, faster, and wilder, baby. And modest too."
While Nick and Catherine returned to the body Joyce stood near Willow and murmured "You did something, didn't you? Saw your eyes change."
Willow looked slightly guilty, and said "Just a suggestibility spell to make them a little more inclined to our point of view, might not even have been needed. Don't worry, they wanted to help you anyway, I just made it a little easier."
"Chill out, Willow. If the worse comes to the worse they'll put me in a cell somewhere, and I'll just have to escape again. Not like it's difficult or anything. Don't hurt yourself trying to protect me."
"Don't worry, I'm being careful. Now keep cool, cos' I'm going to use some real power to find out exactly what happened here."
Raising her voice, she said "I think I can cast a spell that will help you, if that's okay, but it's a one-shot deal so you'll need to be ready to record it. You'll need camcorders and lights."
* * * * *
"Okay," said Willow, "Spell's ready to activate. Remember, I can't work the mojo twice, it's like playing back a tape that self-destructs. This won't be detailed, you won't be able to recognise faces. But it won't harm your evidence and ought to give you a rough idea of what happened. If I've got it right the playback will start a couple of minutes before the Bringer died, and end a couple of minutes after. From what the barman said it all went down very quickly. Are your guys ready, Nick?"
"Ready," he said. "Cameras rolling."
"Okay." Willow threw some crushed powders into a coffee mug, which began to produce clouds of yellow vapour, rapidly filling the bar with a thin mist. "Memory of what was, spirit of this place, show us what is to be shown. Comperio! Disclose!"
The vapour clumped to outline vague forms seated at the tables, four figures at the bar, and someone behind it. A minute later another form appeared at the door, roughly five feet tall, seemed to look out of the window, then quickly moved to the ladies room. Moments later more shapes appeared at the door, six squat forms which darted amongst the customers. One went into the ladies room. About thirty seconds later the other five seemed to notice something outside the bar and ran out again, fading into nothingness.
"That's it," said Willow about thirty seconds later, "hope it gave you something useful."
"I think so," said Catherine, "let's compare notes and have a look at the tapes."
* * * * *
"Right," said Catherine, looking at the screens, "That's probably the Potential. She comes in, a little unsteady on her feet, looks around, then stands there looking out the window. As she does so I think she puts her hand on the glass, about there." She pointed at the window, and Nick put a yellow marker below the point she indicated. "Here it looks like she notices something outside, because she immediately moves toward the ladies room, possibly touching the wall again as she does so, about there." Another marker. "Now she goes into the ladies room and shuts the door behind her. As she goes in there the Bringers come in and start to sniff around the customers. Meanwhile she's gone to the fire exit and it looks like she's trying to get the door open... no, she's doing something to the alarm first. Check that."
"Yeah," called Nick from the ladies room, "looks like the wire is cut, wanted to get out without setting it off. Probably prints on the wire or the sensor box. That's interesting, she's cut just one lead, left the others intact, looks like she knows how to neutralise an alarm."
"That fast? There are pro burglars that would take longer. Is it part of your training?" Catherine asked Joyce.
"No, must be something she picked up for herself."
"Now one of the Bringers goes into the ladies room, she immediately turns and attacks it. From the speed with which it falls I'd say she's already armed, it doesn't look like she takes the knife from the Bringer until after it's down. Judging by the wounds on the body it's another Bringer knife she's using, or something very like it. She drags it to the closet then goes out the door. From there she could turn left or right, but we've got nothing outside the building. Right takes her towards the strip, and towards the alley where the other body was found, but it also takes her past the front of the bar. About fifteen seconds later we have the Bringers leaving, I guess in pursuit."
"Why did she go that way?" asked Nick. "Doesn't seem to be any reason for it, left would give her more of a lead."
"She's not running," said Joyce. "She's luring. Took one out in the John, another in the alley. She's letting them catch up with her, one by one, and killing them."
"If you're right," said Willow, "and she killed this one before the one in the alley, and she already had a Bringer dagger, there's another body out there somewhere."
"Whoever she is," said Joyce admiringly, "she's good."
To Be Continued