Not the Author's Notes:
I do this. I get all excited that the page application is working, and I forget to add in the notes and disclaimers. Here's the deal: I didn't write this. My brother did. However, my brother - for all that he is a feedback junky - will not post this on his own. He wants me to post it. And he's holding his feedback for MY story hostage until I do. This irritates me to no end, not least of which is the fact that I'm at least as much a feedback junky as he is, and his stories ALWAYS get more comments than mine. *hmph* So, if you choose to comment on his story, please add a note that he needs to send me my feedback. Thanks.Disclaimer:
Xander, Giles, Riley, and all other Buffy the Vampire Slayer
characters are the wholly owned property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and 20th Century Fox. Grissom, Greg, Brass, Catherine, and all other CSI
characters are wholly owned property of their owners and the flesh-eating lawyers they employ. No infringement or profit is intended by this story.Vegas Vacation
“Greg! Got a case for you.”
Greg Sander looked up from his lunch and saw his supervisor, Gil Grissom, walking towards him.
“Uh, yeah. On it. Where’s the crime scene?”
“It’s a couple of blocks off of the Strip. An attempted mugging was interrupted by a very successful assault. Brass is interviewing the main suspect.” Grissom explained. “It’s all in the file.”
“Who am I working with.?”
“It‘s just you.”
“Sarah is assisting me on the dead homeless woman. Catherine and Nick are on the body found in the desert. And Warrick’s on vacation. You’re just about ready to go on your first solo case. It should be pretty simple.”
“Um, yeah. No problem. Consider this wrapped up.” Greg babbled. He grabbed his jacket, threw the remains of his lunch in the trash, then ran down the hall.
Grissom stood there in the hall for a moment, then glanced at his watch. After a another few seconds, Greg ran back down the hall, grabbed the file from Grissom, turned and ran back.
As Greg got to his car, he flipped open the file and scanned it.
//Let’s see. Couple walking down the street. Couple of thugs with ‘messed up faces’ jump them. A car runs the thugs down. The driver then chases the thugs down a dead end alley. Fighting is heard. When the cops show up, only the driver is found. Driver’s name is Alexander Harris. Weapon found on him was a…. pointed stick?//
Xander sat in the interview room, looking around in boredom. The door opened and Xander saw the older detective enter.
“Mr. Harris. I’m Detective Jim Brass. I‘m hoping you can help us clear some things up.”
“Love to, Jimbo. How can I help you?”
“It’s Detective Brass.”
“Oh. Sorry. You just seemed like the kind of guy I could talk to. You know, the kind of guy I can really open up to and tell all of my deepest, darkest secrets. But, no. Sorry, about the informality, Detective Brass. Just wish I had someone I could confide in. Maybe my lawyer. I should give him a call. Could I borrow your phone?”
Brass sighed. “Are you formally asking for your lawyer?”
“That depends. Can I call you Jimbo?”
“…. if you want.”
“What about Jimbo McFuzzFuzz?”
“You sigh a lot.” Xander observed. “I have a friend, whenever he gets frustrated or flustered, he cleans his glasses. Me and my friends would have a contest on it. Who could get him to clean them first, how many times. I even got him to reach up to take off his glasses while he was already cleaning them, just once though. I was really in the zone.”
“Mr. Harris, are you asking for your lawyer?” Brass asked.
“Nah, I’m sure we can clear this up.”
“Now Mr. Harris -”
Brass looked up. “I’m sorry?”
“Call me Xander. Short for Alexander. Which is itself short for Alexander Harris. I prefer Xander.”
“All right. Xander, you have a California license, what are you doing in Nevada?”
Xander shrugged. “I’m on vacation. You may not know it, but Las Vegas has a nice tourist trade going. They don’t want it to get out, otherwise the town might play to that and the whole atmosphere could get artificial.”
“Yeah, that would be a shame. How did you lose the eye?”
“Red Rider BB gun accident. If only someone had warned me.”
Brass glared at Xander, then continued.
“Can you tell me why you had a sharpened piece of wood on you, when the police found you in the alley?”
“It’s my whittling stick. I whittle. I find it relaxing.” Xander calmly said.
“We found over a dozen similar pieces in your car.” Brass noted.
“I relax a lot. I have stress. It’s a killer you know.”
“Each one sharpened to a needle point with hand grips carved in. You could do a lot of damage with those. You know I’ve seen hundreds of jury rigged weapons, these have got to be the best crafted of any of them.”
“Well, I don’t like to brag, but I do good work.” Xander said modestly.
“Then there was the axe in the trunk.” Brass said.
“It’s my whittling axe. Got to carve those sticks somehow.”
“With an axe?”
“Yup. It‘s more challenging that way.”
“And the crossbow?”
“… You wouldn’t buy it’s for whittling?”
Brass shook his head.
“I’m in the William Tell appreciation society. I was meeting the member with the apples when this whole thing happened.”
“So you don’t want to explain the axe or the crossbow to me?” Brass demanded.
“That depends. Do you have any unsolved axe murders or arrow shooting victims you need to solve?”
“Is there anyone who will say I used the axe or crossbow in any way which could be considered illegal?”
“Then I don’t really feel like explaining them.”
Brass began to sigh, then caught himself and stopped. He looked back down at the file.
“Now we have witnesses that say you drove into two men this morning.”
“Did those witnesses mention the two men in question were attacking a couple?”
“There are some mentions of that. Do you often run down people you suspect of committing crimes?”
“No, I usually pull out a automatic machine gun and fire in their general direction, but I left my uzi back in California. How are the couple?”
Brass stopped. “The couple?”
“The ones that were attacked. I saw one on the ground. Were they hurt?”
“The man has a broken arm and some cracked ribs. The woman has a slashed throat. She’s in the ICU. We don’t know if she’ll make it.” Brass informed him.
Xander sobered up. “Shit. I should have… called an ambulance, given her CPR, something. Shit!”
“Calm down. Her husband called right after you showed up. He stopped the bleeding until an ambulance showed up.”
“Oh. Good. I just…”
“Had to chase two hurt men down an alley, brandishing a sharpened stick. Now this is where things get fuzzy. Why did you take off after them?” Brass asked.
“Well, I did hit them with my car. I wanted to exchange insurance information with them.”
Brass slapped his hand down.
“What happened to those men? You chased them into a closed alley. Only you came out. What happened?” Brass yelled.
Xander sat up and looked at directly at Brass. “I lost them.”
“You lost them?”
“Yeah. It looked like they turned down the alley, I followed in, but no one was there. I looked all around in the alley, then the cops showed up.” Xander stated.
“You expect me to buy this bullshit story?”
“I don’t care if you buy the story. All you have is me stopping a brutal attack.”
“I have you using what can be considered excessive force against two men. I have you chasing those two men after they’re hurt, with you brandishing a lethal weapon. I have witnesses saying you threatened to kill those men. I have your car which is loaded with lethal weapons. And I have the disappearance of those two men, who haven’t been seen since you attacked them, threatened to kill them, then chased them with said lethal weapon. Now I have crime scene investigators going over your footsteps with a fine tooth comb. We will find out what happened and we will find out everything you did.”
Brass stepped back once he finished. He looked back down at the file, then back at Xander. When Brass spoke again, it was in a calmer, quieter tone. “Now this is the time you want to clear anything up. We know the men were attacking a couple. You see this and decide to step in and help them out. But in situations like these, you get your blood pumping, adrenaline flowing, mistakes can be made.” Brass’s voice dropped down to a whisper. “No matter what you think mistakes can be made.”
Brass straightened up and spoke clearly again. “So you chase these guys, maybe you want to make sure they don’t get away. But you catch up to them in the alley, and they put up a fight. Not your fault, right? You have to defend yourself. Perfectly understandable. But you get carried away and go too far. All of this can be understood if you talk straight with us. But if you try to hide anything, if you lie to us, or expect us to eat up any concocted stories things will be much different. The moment we find these guys, your time to explain is over. If they’re alive, you can bet they’ll say you tried to murder them. If they’re dead, then you’re up for murder. All we have to do is find them. And that’s a matter of when, not if. So one last time. What happened out there?”
Brass leaned over Xander, staring down on him. Xander looked up.
“Detective Brass?” Xander asked.
“Do we get lunch around here, cause I skipped breakfast this morning. I could really go for a burger.”
Greg looked up as Brass stormed into the lab.
“Greg, you collect the evidence on the Harris case?”
Greg gulped. “Yes, sir.”
“Let me know the second you find anything solid on him. I need to find the two muggers, alive or dead. This punk has been jerking me around.”
Greg nodded. “Gotcha. Don’t worry about it. It’s in the bag.”
Brass nodded, then left the room. Greg let out his breath, then banged his head against the table.
“So how’s the case going?”
Greg looked up and saw Nick Stokes at the doorway.
“Great. Smooth as silk. Like clockwork. No problems… none at all.” Greg mumbled.
“Oh. Let me ask that again. How’s the case going, really?”
Greg shook his head in dismay. “None of it’s making sense.”
Nick pulled up a seat at the desk. “How so?”
“It all comes down to the muggers. They got hit head on by a speeding car, but witnesses say they just picked themselves up and sprinted away.”
Nick thought over this. “Depends on how hard they were hit. I’ve seen stunt men walk in front of a car going up to forty, get hit, fall off the hood, and walk away without a scratch.”
Greg continued. “Nope. The skid marks in the alley show where the car stopped. And at the alley wall, there were cracked bricks with traces of blood and hair, showing where the muggers landed. The car knocked them back ten feet hard enough to crack brick. This wasn’t a love tap. Those guys must have had broken bones.”
“What about drugs? If someone has enough stimulants in them, they can shrug off almost any injury that doesn’t have nerve damage. Speed, ecstasy, PCP.”
“Maybe.” Greg allowed. “Then there’s the chase into the next alley. I have foot prints from the two muggers showing them going into the alley, but none coming out. There’s signs of a struggle, but no signs of where these guys wound up. No footprints, no blood drops, nothing.”
Nick grimaced. “I’ve had a case like that before. Just once or twice. Bad luck you get it on your first lead.”
Greg banged his head on the table again. “Grissom’s going to kill me. He finally trusts me enough to give me a lead, and I can’t figure out what happened here.”
Xander drummed his fingers on the table of the interview room as he waited alone. He got up and walked over to the full mirror along the wall. Xander leaned forward and pressed his head against the glass.
“Hello? Anyone there? Jimbo? Guess that’s a no on the burger, huh?”
The door opened, and Xander stood up. Detective Brass entered.
“Mr. Harris? Your counsel is here.”
The a uniformed officer entered with a familiar face entering behind him.
“Riley! Hey man. Glad to see you. What brings you here?”
Riley Finn smiled and clasped Xander’s outstretched hand. “You did.” Riley turned to Brass. “Are you planning to charge Mr. Harris with anything?”
“Not at this moment.”
“Then Mr. Harris would like to leave. As his counsel, I am informing you that he is done answering any of your questions.”
“Mr. Harris, thank you for your cooperation. This investigation is still ongoing, so don’t leave town.” Brass said.
“He won’t.” Riley replied.
“And stay in contact.” Brass warned. “If we need to find you, we’ll go to your hotel or your mother’s residence. If you’re not there, we’ll come looking for you. And you don’t want that.”
Xander and Riley rode along in the car. Xander glanced at the driver. “Have we met?”
The driver smiled. “Graham Miller. There were demons trying to kill us at the time, but we’ve met.”
“So how did you find out I was here?” Xander asked.
“My unit is part of a special forces branch. They monitor news reports, police reports, all the usual stuff. Anytime certain keywords pop up, they get interested. So this morning a police report was filed including the words violent assault, disfigured faces, wounds to the neck, sharpened stake, and your name.”
“Yup. We keep a lookout for you and all the other Scoobies. Not in a Big Brother way, but more like want to keep track of where the bad stuff is and you guys seem to gravitate towards it. I was out in the desert on maneuvers when I got word you had been taken into custody.” Riley explained. “What happened?”
“So, I’m on vacation, thought I’d try my luck at one of the casinos, when I spotted two pale guys in outdated clothes following a couple of newlyweds.”
“I thought so. But I’ve been mistaken before. Luckily, there are mirrors all over the place, and I was able to see they didn’t have a reflection… or I didn’t see…whatever. I follow them out, see the newlyweds grab a cab, and the vamps take off after, so I get my car and follow. I thought I lost them, but I went around the block and saw the vamps jump the couple. I gun the car and run over them. They take off, and figure they’re hurt, so I can finish them off easily. I chase them into an alley, but they put up a fight. Luckily I broke some bones when I hit them with the car, so they don’t fight very well. After a few swipes, they charge me and I stake one, then the other. I take a moment to catch my breath when a couple of cops come in and politely ask me to try on a brand new pair of handcuffs.”
Riley grew serious. “Xander, be careful. The Las Vegas cops are… Well there’s only one word for it. They’re competent.”
Xander’s eye widened. “They are? Oh. I’ve kind been mouthing off to these guys. How bad is it?’
Riley sat down. “Nothing too bad. Since the vampires are dust, they can’t tie you to any assault or murder. But they can put a lot of unwanted attention on you.”
“Huh. That could be bad. The work I do with the Watcher‘s Council is not something I‘d like the authorities to take a close look at. You do know about the Council, right?”
Riley shook his head.
“God dammit!” Xander growled. “Giles has been harping on the fact that we need to build up allies and work with others, but no one has made the first attempt to contact the only actual demon hunters we know of? Unbelievable. I’m going to call Giles and fix this.”
Later that evening, Greg Sanders stared in disbelief at the printouts before him.
Catherine Willows entered the break room and saw Greg staring.
“Hey, Greg. How’s the case going?”
Greg looked up, startled. “Oh, Catherine. It’s um… It’s going just great. I…”
“I talked to Nick. He said you hit a few snags. Any problems?” Catherine asked in a concerned tone.
Greg sighed and gestured to the paperwork before him.
“I thought I’d take a look and see if Brass’s suspect has any priors.”
Catherine nodded. “Makes sense.”
“I had to go online, since the town this guy grew up in apparently fell into a hole in the ground close to three years ago.”
“Wow. Wait, I heard something about that. Sunnyvale?”
“Sunnydale. I printed up everything his name was in.”
“So, does he not show up?”
Greg let out a small laugh. “He’s everywhere.” He waved a thick stack of paper at Catherine. “This just covers a year and a half. I have three more stacks like this. He was questioned dozens of times. Let’s see… A missing persons report was filed for a Jesse McNally. Mr. McNally was last seen at a club called the Bronze arguing with Mr. Harris. That same night, a gang on PCP attacked the club, killing the bouncer and one of the guests.”
“How many times was he arrested?”
Catherine eye’s widened. “None? After being questioned so many times? That doesn’t sound right.”
“Tell me about it. Most of these reports are filled by a Detective Stein. He must have talked to Harris a dozen times, but he never seems to make a note that this guy has been involved in all these crimes.”
“What else has he been involved in?” Catherine asked.
“Well, a gang on PCP attacked the local mall, leaving two people missing, presumed dead. Witnesses said they saw Harris and others in the mall at the time, right before a… gas explosion took out part of the courtyard.
“A gang on PCP attacked the Parent/Teacher night. Five people dead in that one. Again Harris was present. At his high school graduation, another gas explosion occurred, killing ten students, five parents, the high school principal, and the town’s Mayor.
“A biker gang ran through the town one night, killing three people and vandalizing several shops. Harris is spotted in the vicinity. Harris is spotted as the driver of the getaway car in a hardware store robbery. The gang that commits the robbery is last seen chasing Harris. The remains of three of the gang are found the next morning. The leader, Jack O’Toole is never seen again.”
Catherine sits down as she listens to this recitation. “My god. He’s never been arrested?”
“Nope. Then there’s my favorite. Harris is a witness to a shooting. A Buffy Summers is wounded , and a Tara McClay is killed. The suspected shooter is a Warren Meers. Two days later, police find a carcass in the woods. They have to use dental records to identify, since the body has been torched. Guess who it is?” Greg asked.
“Got it. The two days after the McClay shooting, Harris shows up at the hospital to treat some injuries consistent with being in a fierce struggle. The thing is, Harris isn’t alone in most of these. He usually in the company of Buffy Summers, Willow Rosenberg, or Rupert Giles. I did a cross check on the names. Buffy Summers has about three times the number of mentions in police records. She was almost arrested a couple of times, but no warrant was ever issued, and no charges brought. It’s almost as if the Detectives began investigations, then just lost interest.”
“There’s got to be something going on here. Something the reports don’t cover.”
“I know. It’s almost as if these are cover stories. A few phrases keep popping up. Gangs on PCP, gas line explosions, animal attacks. I swear in a couple of the reports, the phrases actually have quotes around them. And I can’t follow up, since the paper copies and all the evidence went down the hole with the city. The police force is scattered around the country. All I have are questions.” Greg lamented.
Riley watched with amusement as Xander ranted over the phone.
“Dammit, Giles! Are you telling me that while you were setting everything up, it never occurred to you to contact Riley? After the song and dance you gave me about the new Council needing every ally it could get?
Xander paced back and forth as he listened to the other side of the conversation.
“I WAS IN AFRICA! And if there were any government funded monster fighters there I damn well would have talked to them…. I don’t know. You could have asked Buffy. She got in contact with them before…. Yeah, I know the old Initiative base was destroyed with Sunnydale, but there are other ways. You got all those Coven members that can track a gnat through a hurricane, I’m sure one of them could at least scrounge up a cell phone number for you….
Xander looked up at Riley and gave a thumbs up. “Okay, then. Look you have the contact information. Just make sure you follow through on this….. Then give it to someone who will…. NO! DO NOT HAND ME OVER TO…. Hey, Andrew. How’s it going…. Uh huh…. Yep…. Say, Andrew, I hate to cut this short, but my cell phone battery’s almost dead. So you have all the info, right? Okay, then I want you to set up a meeting with one of their guys and have Giles handle it from your end. They’ll only deal with the top guy…. Uh huh…. Yeah. Good. Oh, Andrew? I was just talking to Giles. Did you know he’s never seen any of the Star Wars movies? Yeah he said he wanted to, but was afraid he wouldn’t be able to follow the plot. Maybe if he watched it with someone who could fill in all the backstory…. Say, that’s a great idea. Glad you thought of it. Be sure to tell Giles I mentioned this to you when you watch all the movies.”
Xander hung up the phone, with a sadistic smile on his face.
“Your group should be hearing from him in the next few days. And Giles will learn a very important lesson.”
Riley smiled. “Never thought I’d see the day when Xander Harris would chew out Mr. Giles. I heard what you said. Thanks for vouching for me.”
“Anytime. Besides, you’ve proven yourself to us already.”
Riley grimaced. “Well, in Sunnydale before I left, I wasn’t exactly proud of my actions.”
Xander shrugged. “We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. Compared to others, yours are pretty light.”
Riley nodded. “You want a beer?“
“Coke is fine.”
Riley grabbed a couple of drinks and handed one to Xander. He paused for a moment, almost unsure of how to say what he wanted. Finally, Riley took a breath and spoke. “I uh… heard about Anya. The government made a list of survivors. I’m sorry.”
Xander considered this. “Thanks. It… It took me awhile to recover. When I first heard, I was in shock, making dumb jokes and lame comments. It was a couple of days later before it really hit me.”
“Anyone else not make it?” Riley asked.
“Tara. You knew about Joyce. Jonathon, you remember him?”
Riley nodded. “Yeah. He did that spell.”
“Yeah. There were a lot of people you didn’t meet. Between Sunnydale and LA the next spring, a lot of people died. Good people. Some I knew, a lot I didn’t. Some I had lost touch with over the years, but they kept fighting the good fight. They died way too soon . Every single one of them deserved better.” Xander paused. “Angel and Spike died also.”
Riley choked back a laugh. “Man, that’s harsh. I had issues with them also, but I thought they were on the right path.”
Xander shrugged. “I don’t know. I just remember all the hurt they caused. Anya got stabbed and people barely noticed. Spike goes up in a huge ball of light, and I’m supposed to be impressed? Then he shows up in LA a few months later. Then Angel leads his whole group into a suicide run.” Xander paused to take a swallow of his drink. “I kept hearing about how they deserved a second chance, but I could think about is all the others we lost. They never got a second chance, what do those two do to deserve so much.”
Riley shook his head. “I don’t think the world works like that.”
“Tell me about it. You know, all the grief I gave Buffy about how she couldn’t think straight when it came to them… I don’t think that I can ever think straight about them. I’m just see all the bad they did, when she sees all the good.” Xander took another gulp. “But I don’t want to spend any more time talking about them. How have you been? How’s Sam?”
Riley grinned widely. “We’re doing good. And since you asked, I am obligated to bring out the pictures.” Riley pulled out his wallet and opened it. “That’s little Forrest right there. Just turned one.”
“Congratulations. Good for you.”
“Thanks. We’re expecting our second in six months. She’s pissed that she got taken out of the combat unit while she’s pregnant.”
“Well, she should have thought of that when she chose to have ovaries.”
“What about you? What have you been up to?” Riley asked.
“Well, after Sunnydale, I was… in shock, I guess. Giles was busy setting up the new Council. Willow had her shiny new girlfriend. Buffy took Dawn with her to Rome to enjoy her new burden free life.”
Riley frowned. “But they… were there for you, right? Helped you through it all.”
“Yeah, not so much. Dawn tried talking to me before Buffy took off with her. Giles had a whole world saving organization to set up. Willow and Buffy… I don’t know. After the last couple of years in Sunnydale, we never could get back to that close friendship we had. Too much had happened. Anyways, after I moped around for a couple of months, I went to Giles and demanded an assignment. I went off to Africa on a scouting job that was supposed to last three weeks. And I wound up working over the next two years straight, building up the Council branch. One of the few surviving Watchers, a guy named Sam Zabuto, took me under his wing. We found and trained Slayers, recruited new Watchers, even prevented a couple of apocalypses. Once the branch was set up, I came back to the States.” Xander explained.
“Well, glad you came back. It’s good to catch up.”
Xander nodded. He took another drink, then spoke. “You said you had a list of the Sunnydale survivors?”
“Yeah. Almost all of the town evacuated, but not everyone. Once Sunnydale fell into the ground, FEMA stepped in and organized things. Why?”
“That cop mentioned, if he wanted to find me, he would check my mother’s residence. Is my mom in Vegas?”
Riley thought for a moment. “I don’t know. But I can find out for you.”
The next morning, Greg Sanders sat at his desk, staring at the files before him.
//There’s something I’m not seeing. It’s got to be in here.//
Greg glanced and saw Sara Sidle enter his office.
“Hey, Sara.” He muttered.
“You’re here pretty early.”
“Technically, I’m here incredibly late.” Greg told her.
“Well, then, you’ll be glad to hear this. How much do you love me?”
Greg looked up, startled. “Uh… well I… What have you heard?”
“Just that you may have hit a wall on your solo case. But never fear. I have brought your salvation. A video of the alley.”
Greg paused. “I checked. There weren’t any cameras with a line of sight in the alley.”
“Not a direct line of sight. There’s a traffic camera that overlooks the street where the initial mugging and intervention took place. And the important part is that the building opposite the alley has reflective glass, that the camera is pointed at.”
Greg smiled. “Thank you, thank you, thank you. I owe you big time. Money, organ transplant, you name it.”
“Dibs on your kidney. Have fun with this.” Sara handed the tape to Greg.
Greg rushed down to the video analysis room and popped the tape into the first player.
//Okay. View of the street. There are the newlyweds, happy as can be… and there are the muggers. They’re attacking… I don’t see any weapons. How did they injure the woman? She… What the hell? Is he biting her?//
Greg ran the tape back and reviewed the passage.
//He bit the woman. He actually bit her… Here come Harris… Boom. They did get knocked back several feet. No way anyone gets up from that hit. I don’t care what drugs they’re on… Yet there they go, running off with Harris behind them//
Greg paused and zoomed in on the reflective glass.
//Okay, I don’t see the muggers… wait there’s Harris. He ran into the alley and…starts an interpretive dance piece? What the hell is he doing? He waving the pointed stick around like a knife. What is he… WHAT THE HELL? He just got thrown back, but there’s nothing throwing him.//
Greg rewound the tape.
//Let’s try this again… I see the muggers run down the street.//
Greg paused the tape as the muggers were right in front of the reflective glass. Greg stared at the tape.
//They should be showing up. But I don’t see them.//
Greg ran the tape, then paused it just as Harris got to the spot the muggers were in a moment earlier.
//There’s Harris, and there he is in the glass. Why can’t I spot the muggers? How could they disappear?//
Greg ran the tape back to the beginning.
//Newlyweds… muggers attack… mugger bites the woman… muggers get hit by the car, then get up and run… muggers disappear once they go down the alley… Harris interacting with no one.//
Greg rewound the tape and started it again.
//Guy bites a woman on the neck… Isn’t hurt by the impact of the car… Guy with a pointed stake chases them off… They don’t show up on the reflection//
Greg stopped. He got up and ran to his office, grabbed the Sunnydale files, then ran back to the video room. He sat down and opened the files.
It was late morning, when Riley dropped Xander off in front of the apartment building.
“Thanks for the ride.”
“No problem. Look, Xander?”
“Just. Be careful. Don’t set yourself up for anything.”
Xander looked confused. “Dude, what do you mean?”
“It’s just… I have met your parents before. And I do have a degree in psychology. I know your home life wasn’t ideal.”
Xander laughed. “Oh man, that’s just how my family works. Sure we may insult each other, throw things, or charge each other rent to live in the basement, but deep down…” Xander saw Riley’s _expression. “Huh… You know you’re the only person to actually notice it. Buffy and Willow were at my place all the time and they never said a word. Cordy mentioned it a couple of times, but only when she insulted me.”
“Just watch yourself. Do not expect anything here.” Riley said.
Xander nodded. He turned and walked up to the apartment door as Riley drove away. Xander knocked on the door and waited. After a moment, he heard shuffling, and the door cracked open.
“I’ll have the rent by next week. Quit bugging me about it. It’s only been a couple-”
The voice stopped, then the door widened. “Xander?”
Xander looked around the room as his mother came back with a bottle of beer.
“So, you came to Vegas. Must be good for the sinuses.”
Xander’s mother looked at her son. “What happened to your eye?”
“I was in the hospital. I was attacked. I called you, but you guys never showed up.” Xander said.
“Oh. We thought it was just one of those bumps you would get. You were a very clumsy boy.”
“I didn’t get bumps, Mom. The two times I was in the hospital before that, I had a broken wrist. You didn’t show up then either.”
His mother shrugged. “It’s was your father’s decision. He always took care of those matters.”
“No he didn’t, Mom. He didn’t come to the hospital any time. Mr. Giles took care of all the insurance and bills. Dad never did anything except drink and blame others for why his life sucked.”
“Don’t you talk about your father that way! He… he didn’t make it out of Sunnydale.” She said.
“His tragic death-”
“Was he drunk?”
“Well, you got out okay. So did pretty much everyone else in town. But I’m guessing Dad was drunk and decided that he wasn’t going to run away like a coward. Am I wrong?” Xander asked.
“Your father was a proud man. I only left when Rory insisted he take me out. But your father stood his ground.”
“Yeah. How’d that work out for him. Look, Mom. I’m sure you want to remember him that way, but… C’mon, don’t cry.”
Xander got up and hugged his mother.
“I can’t help it. I’ve been so lost since your father’s been gone. You show up again and say such horrible things about him.”
Xander sighed. “I’m sorry, Mom. I don’t want to upset you. Please. Let me help you.”
His mother nodded. “It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had troubles. Financial troubles.”
“Sorry to hear that. Weren’t there some emergency funds set up for Sunnydale refugees. Plus the insurance.”
“It didn’t last very long.”
Xander looked up. “Are you sure. Because between my claim and the various insurance policies Anya set up, I was pretty secure. Dad must have had life insurance. And what about the house? That was insured.”
“Your father… we let the insurance lapse. Money was tight those last years. Paying for your wedding drained most of our savings.” She explained.
“My wedding? I paid Dad back for that. With interest. Three points above prime. This is not my fault.” Xander said, his voice rising.
Xander’s mother flinched. She stepped back, with tears in her eyes. “Xander. Please, if you just showed up to yell at me…”
Xander’s face fell. “No, Mom. Please. I’m sorry. Really. I just… I was in town, and I found out you lived here. I wanted to make sure you were all right.”
“I barely heard a word from you after you left that poor girl at the altar. Your father dies and it’s nearly three years where I don’t know if you’re alive or dead. Then you just show up and yell at me.”
“I’m sorry. You’re right. I barely talked to you guys after I moved out. I should have stayed in touch. And I should have found you a lot earlier. But I’m here now. We can… I don’t know. But I’m here.”
Xander mother’s looked up, a weak smile on her face. “I did miss you.”
Xander hugged and gently rocked her. “You know the last time we hugged, I think I had just wiped out on my bike, and you cleaned up my scrapes.”
His mother smiled. “And you were so determined not to cry. You never did either. My little man.” She ruffled his hair. “But you need a hair cut. How do you expect to find a girlfriend looking so shaggy?”
“Mom.” Xander whined. Then he stood straight as his mood grew more serious. “Tell me what’s happened since you left Sunnydale.”
Greg had the files spread out on the floor in front of him.
//Sunnydale files are filled with missing person reports. People just vanish. Bodies show up with wounds to the neck, drained off blood. Most reports mention wild animal attacks, or gangs on PCP. Almost all of the attacks happen at night.//
Greg flipped through the file on the vehicle search of Harris’s car.
//Fifteen hand carved wooden stakes. Jugs of water in trunk. Several crosses in the car.//
Greg looked at his notes on the tape.
//Muggers don’t cast a reflection. Harris has some kind of fight, but no reflection of who he was fighting. Examination of the alley showed two piles of dust in the area the fight took place.//
Greg sat up. He glanced up at the video screen, down the Sunnydale police files, then to the report for his case.
//It can’t be what I’m thinking. Grissom will laugh at me. Right before he throws the report in my face and fires me. But… it fits. All the evidence points to it. The muggers were vampires.//
Xander looked at his mother. “Mom, I can help you out.”
“I‘m not asking for your help.” She said.
“I know. I want to help. But, you have to make a promise.”
“What is it?”
“Promise me that you’ll pull your life together. No more gambling. You have to get a job.”
His mother nodded.
Xander continued. “And no more drinking.”
“I don’t have a drinking problem.”
“Maybe. If you don’t then it won’t be a problem to stop. Look, after I left Sunnydale, I was in bad shape. It took me time, but I worked through it. I got a job that took me to Africa. I stopped drinking altogether. Now I know you can do the same. It’s important to me.”
Xander’s mother looked up. “Will you stay here?”
Xander thought a moment. “Yeah. I will. For as long as you need me. I want to have you in my life, Mom.”
Xander’s mother smiled at her son. “Then we’ll do it together.”
Riley pulled up in front of the apartment building and honked the horn. Xander exited from and door, walked up to the car and got in.
“Sorry to pull you away from there. But the Las Vegas PD called. They have a few more questions.”
“I thought you took care of them.”
“I’m working on it. But if you don’t show up, they could issue a warrant.” Riley explained.
“Better show up then. Can you swing by First National Bank on the way? I have to make a few transfers.”
“Yeah. How did it go in there?”
Xander paused. “It went well. I think… I just never realized how much I missed her. I promised to take her out for dinner tonight. Think we’ll be back by six?” Xander asked.
“I hope so.”
“Good. I do not want to be late for this.”
For the second day in a row, Xander sat alone in the interview room. Riley had dropped him off after they ran to the bank. Detective Brass seemed to be in a bad mood over the fact that he was late, but Detective Brass seemed like he was always in a bad mood.
Brass and a uniformed cop went over his statement again. Xander stuck to his story about seeing a mugging, trying to stop it, then losing the muggers in a chase. This time Xander left out all the smart ass remarks.
The police men left, and Xander waited for them to return. He kept glancing at his watch. It was nearing six.
Detective Brass came back in the room.
“Detective. Is there anything else you needed from me?” Xander asked.
“I’d just like to go over your statement a few more times. Maybe there are some details you could fill in that you missed earlier.”
“Look, Detective. We’ve already been over this. Now, I realize I was out of line yesterday. And I apologize for it. But I really have nothing else to add.”
Brass sat down at the table. “Well, there are still some questions I have. But the good news is that our Crime Scene guy will be here with his report. What say we go over it? Just the three of us. Maybe we can fill in some blanks.”
Xander glanced at the clock on the wall.
Greg walked down the hall, his report in hand.
//Well, this is it. It was nice working as a CSI, but that’s going to be done, once they read my report.//
Greg glanced down to the file. He flipped it open and scanned it one last time.
//There it is in black and white. I actually wrote a report that mentions vampires. Brass will yell at me. Grissom will fire me. Sarah will think I’m a loser. Hodges will make fun of me and get my parking space. Oh, god. Why couldn’t I just lie?//
Greg arrived at the door to the interview room. He stopped and took a deep breath. Just as his hand reached for the knob, he heard a voice.
“Excuse me, I need to speak with Detective Brass about the Harris case.”
Greg turned around and saw a tall, fair haired man walking toward him.
“Are you working on the Harris case?”
“Can you take me to him?”
Greg nodded and opened the door.
Xander looked up as the door opened. Riley entered with a very nervous looking young man with spiked hair.
“Detective Brass, I’m Agent Finn with Homeland Security.”
Brass stood up. “What does Homeland Security have to do with this?”
“That’s classified. All you need to know is in this court order.”
Riley handed a file to Detective Brass. Brass opened it and began to read.
“What’s it say?” Xander asked.
“Basically, it states that this incident falls under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security and orders your immediate release.”
Riley answered. “Did they impound your car?”
“They did impound my car.” Xander said.
“We also need his car released, with a full tank of gas.”
Brass stared at the document in his hands. He sighed, then turned to the uniformed officer. “Box up all of the evidence on the Harris case. And call the impound lot. Have them bring his car around with a full tank.”
“Thank you for your cooperation.” Riley said.
Xander smiled. “Dude, you rock! I am naming my first born after you.”
Riley smiled and nodded.
Greg leaned over to read the paper in Brass’s hand.
“Um, what does it say?”
Brass looked up. “Basically, Harris walks, and we drop the case. How in the hell does an assault on the strip fall under Homeland Security?”
Greg could see the frustration in Brass’s eyes.
//Oh, crap. He’s pissed. And since he can’t take it out on Harris, that means I’m the closest target. Once he reads my report, I won’t have to worry about getting fired. Brass will probably rip my head off first.//
Brass spotted the report in Greg’s hand. He reached out for it.
“Tell me you have some answers for me.” Brass said.
Agent Finn pulled the file from Greg first. “I’m sorry, but all the paperwork will have to be turned over to me also. Oh and…?” Riley looked at Greg.
“Oh, Greg…. Sanders.”
“Mr. Sanders, This case is considered highly confidential. If you discuss the details in any circumstances short of a federal court, you can be arrested under the Patriot Act.”
Xander walked out of the police station with Riley. Both men held a box of evidence.
“That was amazing! I am totally in your debt. Let me buy you a beer, dinner, a hooker. You name it.”
Riley smiled. “Thanks, but just before I got here, Command called in. Me and my unit are moving out.”
Xander nodded, then looked up panic stricken. “Oh man, the time. I told my mom, I’d meet her at six. It’s now…” Xander glanced at his watch. “Seven-thirty. DAMN!”
“Xander, calm down. I figured you wouldn’t get out on time, so around five, I sent Graham ahead. He’s at your mom’s place now.” Riley explained.
Xander let a sigh of relief. “I cannot thank you enough.”
Greg, stood in the evidence room looking around.
//It’s gone. The case that would have ruined me just vanished in the wind. I’m not even allowed to answer any question about it.//
“Sorry about that, Greg.”
Greg looked up and saw Grissom at the doorway.
“Tell you what. Next juicy murder comes through. I’ll let you lead the investigation. It’ll do you good.”
Greg felt a faint smile. “Thanks, boss.”
Grissom turned and began to leave, but Greg had to speak. “Grissom?”
Grissom stopped and turned around.
“Look, that case… I…. It wasn’t open and shute. I’m not sure you would have liked my report. In fact, I’m sure you would have hated it. My conclusions were… Well, I don’t think you would have agreed with them…. If someone else wrote it, I wouldn’t agree with them..”
Grissom studied Greg. “Did you stick to the facts?”
“Did you go in with a theory and only look at evidence that supported it?”
Greg shook his head.
“Did you form any conclusions before you gathered all the evidence?”
Again Greg shook his head.
“Greg, this was a simple looking case that got very complicated. When a federal agent drops in with a court order releasing the main suspect, and confiscating all the evidence, then something very strange is going on. All we can do is gather the evidence, process it, and hope that we can make sense of it. As long as you stick to that, nothing else matters.”
Greg allowed himself a small smile. “Thanks, boss.”
Xander pulled into the apartment parking lot. As he got out of the car, he glanced out his watch. It was just after eight. Xander saw Riley pull up in his car and get out.
“I don’t see him. You sure you sent Graham to the right address?”
Riley nodded. “Look, I’m sure - There he is.”
Xander looked up and saw Graham heading out of the building.
“Hey man. What took you so… where’s my mom?”
Graham looked grim. “Xander, I’m sorry. She left.”
Xander stood for a moment then shook his head. “She…. No. No, you were supposed to be here. Didn’t you tell her I was running late?”
Graham glanced at Riley, then turned back to Xander. “She…. I got here just after five. You mother had been gone for a few hours already.”
Xander looked at Graham, glanced at Riley, then turned back to Graham.
“I… I think I need to sit down.”
Xander backed up to the curb and sat abruptly.
Graham stepped up to him. “I found this in her room.” He held out an envelope to Xander. “It’s addressed to you.”
Xander numbly looked up and took the envelope.
Riley looked down at Xander. He opened his mouth, stopped, then sat down next to Xander.
“Um, Riley? We have to get going. We’re supposed to ship out.” Graham said.
Riley looked up. “Just gimme a moment here.”
Graham nodded and headed to Riley’s car.
Riley turned to Xander. “How much money did you give her?”
Xander looked up. “Forty thousand. I transferred it over to here account when we stopped at the bank.”
Riley grimaced. “Xander, you had to know she might do this.”
Xander shrugged. “She’s my mom. A neglectful, drunk most of the time mom. But she’s still my mom, and she needed my help. Besides, there was a chance she might actually have followed through. I had to try no matter how small the chance was.”
“Look, Xander. I know this is a hard time, but you’re not alone. I’m right here for you, buddy.”
Graham ran up to them. “Sorry, Riley. I just got a call from the base. We have to leave right now. They’re shopping out for the mission as soon as we get back.”
Riley looked at Xander. “I… We have to -”
“Go. You’ve done more than enough for me today.” Xander said.
Riley nodded. “Look, you have my cell number. Give me a call in few days.”
Xander nodded. He watched as Riley and Graham got in their car and drove away. Xander pulled out the envelope his mother left him.
“At least you left a note.”
Xander turned over the envelope in his hand. He ran his finger over his name on the front.
A ringing distracted Xander. He pulled out his cell phone and opened it up.
“Hello?… Hey Giles…. Yeah, Riley took care of everything…. No, I’m free now, not really in the vacation mind anymore….”
Xander kept turning the unopened envelope over in his hand.
“Los Angeles? Sure, I can be there in a few days….. Don’t worry, I’ve made first contact with over a dozen Slayers. I know how to do this.”
Xander slowly crumpled up the letter in his hand.
“No, I don’t mind. Nothing to do around here anyway. I‘ll call you later.”
Xander closed the phone up and got up. As he walked to the car, Xander dropped the crumpled letter and envelope on the ground. He opened the door to his car, started it up, and drove away.finis