CSI: New YorkDisclaimer:
Zuiker, Bruckheimer and various others own the rights to CSI: New York. Whedon and various others own the rights to Buffy: the Vampire Slayer. I still don't own a car.~*~*~
"For the moment, the danger is contained, but past experience tells us this state of affairs won't last." Giles took out a handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his brow before continuing. "Each of you has been asked to provide the names of those under your command who might best be able to work with the Council on protecting the Hell's Kitchen area. The sooner you get those names to us, the sooner we can begin training your people." He took a sip of water and wiped his face once more. "Are there any questions?"
Nearly one hundred of New York's finest stared back at Giles in stony silence for several seconds. Giles sighed, though not so much for the hostility — he'd expected that — as for the sheer stubbornness of the police officers in the audience. They were looking for someone to blame, and at the moment, he was the most convenient target. He wiped his face again and waited as he leaned heavily against the podium.
Just as he was about to close the meeting, one man stepped forward. "I have a question."
"And you are?"
"Detective Mac Taylor, Crime Scene Unit."
"Ah yes, Detective. You and I need to speak after the meeting." Giles took another small sip of water and wished he would stop sweating so much. "Your question?"
"I think I speak for everyone when I ask where the hell you people were last night." A low, unfriendly murmur of agreement rumbled through the room, and Detective Taylor took another step forward. "We were told that if we let your Council have its way, the city would be protected against this kind of thing. Instead, we've got a dead police officer and — you."
Giles wiped his forehead and began to wish fervently he'd listened to Buffy when she'd called this morning and told him to stay put. "Detective, I know this —"
"Why the hell are you sweating so much?" Taylor took two more steps forward, and Giles began to wonder if he would have to fight his way out of the room. "Is it because you lied to us? Because you can't do a damn thing after all? Maybe it's because your whole organization is a joke."
"Or it could be that he's sweating because he has eight inches worth of stitches and staples keeping his guts from falling out."
Giles looked to the back of the room. "It's hardly that serious. You said weren't going to be able to catch a flight until this evening."
"I flew Willow Air," Buffy said, moving with a subtle swagger toward the front of the room. "And for the record, I also said you had to stay at the hospital."
She looked at Detective Taylor and said, "Yes. Hospital. He was injured in the fight last night and shouldn't even be here. But no, he has to try and make everything right, even though it was NYPD's screw-up."
The room erupted in angry denials as she made her way to the podium. When she got up there, she forced Giles into a chair then took over the meeting. "Enough!" Her tone of command was sufficient to quiet the room. "We determined the exact location of the hellmouth around eight o'clock last night and notified the city and your Chief immediately. As agreed, the Slayers assigned to New York were sent to Hell's Kitchen to deal with whatever came out."
"Then where the hell were they when Officer Michaels was killed?"
Buffy stared at Taylor until he backed down. "Lucy Michaels was exactly where she was supposed to be. And if her department-issued radio hadn't gone dead while she was getting her instructions, Giles could have told her to wait until he and the other two Slayers got there."
After a moment, Taylor asked, "What are you saying?"
"I'm saying Lucy Michaels was a Slayer," she answered, her voice flat and unfriendly. "She was a Slayer who trusted the Council and the NYPD to have her back. You tell me, Detective — which group let her down more?"
Giles offered a mild, "Buffy, please."
"I'm not in the mood." She turned and bent down to get his arm around her shoulders to stand him up again. "I have to call Lucy's parents about the funeral arrangements, and I can't babysit you all day. There's an ambulance waiting outside, and it's going to take you back to the hospital."
"A cab would have been more than sufficient." The two of them moved carefully off the short platform and toward the back of the room.
"Right. Like you wouldn't have the cab driver take you right back to the hellmouth."
"I'm not a child, you know."
"Then stop sneaking out of your room."
As they approached Taylor, Giles stopped, earning a glare from Buffy. "Detective, we really do need to talk. Your group has to be brought up to speed on what you might start to find at murder scenes."
Taylor looked as if he'd just been punched in the stomach, and he made a visible effort to get himself together. He nodded sharply. "We'll talk at the hospital."