BITTER FRIENDS AND GOOD ENEMIES
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a follow up to my Gargoyles/Buffy Crossover, Demons, Slayers and Vamps, Oh My! Some who have read this in the past have not liked the way I handled some of the cannon characters. I took substantial liberties with one of them.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of the characters from the Gargoyles TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or The Gargoyles Saga (a fanfic series), and I'm using them without permission, but I don't gain anything by this either, it's strictly for my own amusement. Enjoy!
The lithe, black clad figure ignored the rope and made the fifteen-foot drop to the floor unassisted. Shadows retreated from the dim pool of radiance under the skylight only to gather more thickly in the corners and crevices of the private gallery. It didn't hinder the thief though.
Quickly scanning the room for any indication that the intrusion had been detected, the cat burglar went straight to the display at the far end. The item in the case was clearly the prize of the collection, not simply because of the place of honor it had in the gallery, but because of the security employed to protect it.
The thief pulled a small box from an inside pocket, opened it carefully, and blew across the top while moving it in an arc. As the powder slowly drifted to the floor it revealed the infrared beams immediately surrounding the case. Reaching through the carefully remembered openings in the grid careful work began on the alarm on the case itself.
The work continued in silence for several minutes, but the alarm and the lock on the case proved beyond the thief's skill. With a muttered curse the intruder grabbed the case and dashed it against the wall, setting off every alarm in the building. Quickly grabbing the item from the case the thief bolted for the rope dangling from the skylight.
"Stop where you are!" The guard took in the small figure before him and boldly moved forward, holding his gun in one hand while he fumbled with his radio with the other. His prisoner waited patiently for the guard to come within range, then did two things very quickly.
Martin Goldman had the intruder in his sites. A black clad cat burglar like something out of a ninja movie stood before him, hands raised. I am sooo lucky. To think I was gonna take the night off! This is sure to earn me points with the boss, maybe even a promotion.
His dreams of glory were interrupted though, when the burglar he'd been steadily approaching suddenly vanished. He blinked and looked frantically around him, only to find the formerly cornered burglar right next to him. He backpedaled quickly, dropping his radio in the process.
The gun was deftly snatched from his hand and he felt a strange sensation in his gut. He looked down to find a handle protruding from his stomach. In the second before the pain hit him he wondered crazily what it was for, then he knew. The thief grabbed, twisted, and yanked it viciously across his gut before pulling the knife, and part of his intestine, clear of the body.
The long double-edged knife was wiped clean on the guard's uniform before being returned to its sheath. Knowing the wound to be fatal, the thief didn't bother to check the body but simply made a jump for the rope and shimmied up the last few feet to the roof.
By the time backup arrived, there was no sign of the intruder, just a smashed display case and the rapidly cooling corpse of Martin Goldman as proof that anything had happened there. Even the skylight was secured with no sign of forced entry. At least the police, when they finally arrived, found none.
"Detectives Bluestone and Maza, I see you drew the short straw on this one." The two detectives looked at each other apprehensively before returning their attention to Mike Leland, the estate's head of security.
Leland had been a cop for twelve years before being wounded in the line of duty and having to retire. He had been offered a desk job, but declined it, determined that he would not spend his career behind a desk. Now he was sitting behind a desk for someone else and, at the moment at least, looking none too happy about it.
"Hey Mike," Elisa nodded to the small gray-haired man who had just come out of his office to greet them. "What's the story here?"
"We had a break-in shortly after midnight. We're not sure how the thief got in yet, but whoever it was stole a valuable piece of jewelry and killed one of my men."
Martin's body was still in place; nothing had been touched. A crime scene photographer was getting shots of everything. Two uniforms were dusting the remains of the shattered case for prints, and they heard footsteps above. Matt glanced up to see a figure silhouetted against the skylight. Leland noticed the direction of his gaze and glanced up.
"One of yours," he nodded, "dusting for prints. I can tell you now though, that if someone came in that way, they were part bird. The only way to the roof is by ladder, and even then it’s not easy to get around up there. It’s got a pretty good slant on it. The skylight probably wouldn't have had an alarm if Professor MacDuff wasn't so paranoid."
"MacDuff?" Elisa blinked and flipped open her notebook.
"Yeah, the guy who owns this place is named Lennox MacDuff. He's a history professor and collector."
Elisa nodded. "Yeah, I know him."
"Any sign of scratches on the roof? Was the lock forced?" Elisa glanced sharply at Matt, but Leland only shrugged.
"I haven't been up there myself." There was soft metallic clink as he tapped his right leg with his cane. "Some days it's hard enough to get around on level ground. You'll have to ask Cooper when he comes down."
They didn't have to wait long. Cooper, a thin, wiry, uniformed cop came down the ladder and through the main doors of the gallery only a few moments later.
"What did you find?" Elisa asked without preamble.
Cooper, who had been making notes as he walked in, closed his notebook and looked up at the two detectives. "The thief definitely came in that way, and it was a very professional job too. The alarm was carefully bypassed and the latch released from the outside, I'm not quite sure how, though. It looks like whoever did this went to a lot of trouble to get in unnoticed."
"Hold on," Leland interrupted. "If the perp went to so much trouble to get in without setting off an alarm then why do this," he motioned to the shattered case and Goldman's body, "once inside?"
"Maybe he ran out of time?" Cooper speculated. "Did the guard catch him in the act?" Leland shook his head.
"Goldman called in before he entered the gallery, and after
the alarm went off. He was close enough to hear the crash when the case was smashed, at least that's what Hiliard at the desk reported." Cooper was flipping through his book again.
"Yeah, yeah, so he did. Then why?"
"Accident?" Matt suggested, "Sets off the alarm and decides he can stop being subtle?" He shrugged, "or it could be he got impatient. Let's not speculate till the forensics people are done." He turned to look at the body, which was now being attended by the medical examiner. The man noticed the scrutiny and looked up. "Well? What's it look like?"
"A gutted fish," the M.E. grimaced. "This was done with a long blade, maybe 10 inches, double edged, and very sharp. He was literally disemboweled. I haven't seen anything this vicious in some time, fortunately."
"What about prints?" Elisa asked. Cooper shook his head.
"Nothing yet, but we're still looking. There are tool marks on the case though, suggesting that the thief was trying to get into it without setting off the alarm."
Questioning the other employees and arranging interviews took the two detectives almost an hour. When they finally finished they were both tired and ready to call it a night, unfortunately there were still a couple of hours of paperwork left to do.
"What was that about?" Elisa asked, during the drive back to the precinct.
"You think a gargoyle did this?"
"Oh that. The Clan aren’t the only gargoyles in the world, and not all of them are as law abiding as our friends. We have to look at all the possibilities, Elisa." She sighed.
"I know, but I don’t have to like it."
"Besides, I don’t think a gargoyle did this. Why would a gargoyle use a knife instead of claws?" Elisa had no answer to that, so she stayed silent until they reached the station.
"What exactly was stolen?" Elisa sat opposite MacBeth in his office at the University. The immortal was looking pensive and angry.
"The Fingon family crest."
"A pendant made in the form of a crest of an old Scottish family named Fingon. It was made of silver with two small jewels. I have a picture of it here somewhere." He began to peruse his bookshelves. "Ah, here." He took down a thick volume that seemed dedicated to Scottish genealogy. Flipping through the book he quickly found the page he sought.
On the page was a sketch of an elaborately designed pendant with two small jewels used for the eyes of a rather fierce looking bird.
"Buzzard?" she asked hesitantly. The question drew a short bark of laughter from MacBeth. Elisa raised an eyebrow.
"Not a buzzard Detective, but that might have been more fitting. The Fingons were not nice people. I only met a few personally, and that was quite a while ago. They had a nasty reputation as sorcerers and demon worshipers."
"What’s the crest worth?"
"Even to a collector, not much. On the street," he shrugged, "probably not as much as the silver and jewels used to make it are worth."
"Has anyone expressed any interest in acquiring it recently?" MacBeth shook his head.
"I’ve had it for years, and no one has ever shown any interest in it. It’s pretty enough to be sure, but in truth it is little more that a curiosity. There are no more Fingons."
"So you’ve no idea why anyone would wish to steal it?" MacBeth shook his head. "For a curiosity it sure had a lot of security, and a prominent place in your collection."
"Given the nature of some of my enemies, I tend to be very security conscious, as for it’s place in my collection, well it is the finest piece I have from that time period and that part of the country."
"The thief only took the one item," Elisa reminded him. "Could I get a photocopy of this?" MacBeth nodded and summoned his assistant. Elisa looked at the crest more closely. The bird, which Elisa still though looked like a buzzard, was clutching something in its claws. "What’s this?" she asked. MacBeth leaned over and examined the drawing.
"Ah, it’s a sword. Curious about that."
"Yes, while the rest of the pendant is made of silver, the sword is iron. Rather a common material to be used in such an ornament." He shrugged, anticipating the detective’s next question. "If there’s any significance to it I don’t know what it is." They were interrupted by MacBeth’s assistant who took the book to make a copy of the page. Elisa rose to follow him out.
"If you do remember anything that might be useful, you know how to contact me." She nodded politely before leaving the office.
Her classic Ford Fairlane moved smoothly into traffic, neatly cornering and braking without a murmur of protest. Usually, when there was no emergency, when she was just going from one place to another she took a little time to feel pride in her car. It worked perfectly despite its age. Keeping it tuned and working properly was sometimes a chore, but it was always worth it. Elisa always found the drive relaxing and imminently satisfying.
At least, she usually found it satisfying. Today she felt a foreboding she couldn't explain. The feeling had started while reviewing the case material and had gotten stronger while talking to MacBeth. This sense of foreboding, almost like a premonition, always came on when she was missing something obvious, at least that was what she told herself. Despite what she had seen over the years, there were some things she did not believe in. It was much easier to believe that her subconscious was trying to tell her something, trying to make a connection.
Her arrival at the precinct house was something of a surprise. She had made the trip on automatic pilot, navigating the typical traffic hazards without really thinking about it. It annoyed her to realize she had been doing this, a bad habit to get into. She focused on her surroundings and parked the car.
Matt was waiting for her at her desk, with a stranger wearing a brown suit that looked as if it had been slept in. He rose to meet her as she came into the detective's bullpen.
"Elisa, this is detective Peel from Philadelphia P.D. He's here because of the robbery at MacDuff's estate. It seems there was a similar robbery in Philly a couple of weeks ago."
"Well, from what I've learned from the case file you've put together the thief entered through a skylight, disabling the alarm in a very professional way. There was no obvious sign of how the perp got up there. The entry was professional, but once inside the thief got violent. He or she used a long bladed knife, double-edged, really cut up that guard bad." Matt and Elisa exchanged a look, then nodded. Peel picked up a briefcase and opened it. He fished out a file folder and handed it to Elisa.
"Two weeks ago someone broke into the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The thief came in by the roof and didn't set off the alarm. Once inside though things went wrong. A security guard surprised him and was killed, in much the same way as the guard here. Only one item was taken, an old journal belonging to some Scottish nobleman."
"A journal?" Matt asked, "in an art museum?" Peel shrugged.
"It was in the curator's office, not on display. I think it was part of a bequest to the museum."
"This nobleman? Fingon by any chance?" Peel nodded at Elisa.
"Yeah, that’s right. How’d you know?"
"I spoke to professor MacDuff. The pendant that was stolen was made in the shape of the Fingon family crest."
"Good. That gives us a lead to follow then."
"So, the thief stole something related to the Fingons and killed a museum guard." She stopped when she saw Peel’s expression. "Something else?"
"I wish that were the end of it, but there was a black and white in the area that responded to the alarm immediately." His expression grew more pained. "A rookie, about a week out of the academy caught up with the thief in an alley behind the museum. He didn’t do any better than the guard." All three of them stayed silent for a moment, showing respect for the dead officer.
"Well then," Elisa finally broke the silence. "I guess we work together then. Let’s begin by finding out whatever there is to know about those artifacts and the family they were connected to. I think I know where to begin looking." As she began making plans, she thought back to what MacBeth had told her about sorcerers and demon worship. Again she felt the foreboding that had disturbed her earlier. It was growing stronger.
A frustrating day of interviews and research had earned them nothing. There was little or no written history about the Fingons, nothing reliable anyway. MacBeth had found references to a few rumors about the family, but there was very little hard information. Mostly they sounded like the kind of stories that parents would tell disobedient children to frighten them.
The Fingon family had died out almost a century before. Their property and wealth had been scattered to the four winds. The journal and the crest were the only items that MacBeth could find reference to in his researches. Only one avenue of investigation remained to her.
The drive to Destine Manor was made alone. Elisa didn't know what Matt would do if he knew she had gone to see Demona by herself. Word would certainly get back to Goliath. She had considered asking Angela to approach Demona, but it felt too much like hiding. Besides this was police business.
That didn't mean, of course, that Elisa was willing to approach her after dark. Dominique Destine had been surprised to get her call but had agreed to meet her at the mansion. Destine Manor never failed to give Elisa the creeps. Even in daylight it was dark and brooding. Its owner didn't do much for her either.
Elisa was surprised to see a vehicle already in the drive, not something Demona would drive either. The small van was a dingy gray and rather battered. Its owner was standing on the porch with Demona, in her human form, laughing about something.
As she got out and approached the front porch, she recognized the other woman as Andrea Calhoun, an artist that was one of... actually, Demona's only… friend. Dominique's smile vanished when she saw the detective approaching. Andrea saw the change in her friend and turned to see what was troubling her. She wasn't really clear why Dominique hated the woman, but she wasn't about to get involved.
"Detective Maza," Dominique nodded, her tone civil if a little chilly.
"Ms. Destine. I've come on official business."
"So you said on the phone. Come inside and you can tell me what this is about, and while you’re at it, tell me how your… fiance is faring." Deomona enjoyed the look of surprise on Elisa's face before she turned toward the door and led them inside. "Bring the painting Andrea, this won't take long."
Elisa suppressed a grimace. She could understand Angela telling her mother about Goliath's proposal, but she still wished there were some things the talkative young female would keep from her mother. Goliath had only asked her a week ago, clearly Angela had wasted no time. This wasn't going to be pleasant.
The entry hall of the manor was only slightly smaller than Elisa's living room. Impeccably decorated, it could have easily been featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous had the show still existed and had Demona any intention of allowing reporters of any sort near her.
Andrea came in behind her, carrying a painting in an elaborate frame. She glanced at Elisa discreetly, "Fiance?"
Elisa offered no explanation. Andrea didn't have long to wait though. "Tell me detective, how are Angela and her father getting on? I hear they've been busy." Andrea's eyes widened in comprehension. Angela's father? The detective Dominique detested so openly was marrying her ex. Andrea made a mental note not to pry any further. Instead, she started looking for a place to put her new painting. She listened in though as they talked. After a few moments of polite chitchat that dropped the room temperature by ten degrees, Dominique got to the point.
"What's this about detective?" She took a seat on the sofa and very pointedly did not offer one to Elisa.
"There've been two robberies in the last month, perhaps more, we haven't identified yet. In each case, the only item taken was something of interest only to scholars. From a museum in Philadelphia a journal written by a Mr. Edward Fingon. Here in Manhattan Lenox MacDuff lost a pendant made to look like the Fingon family crest."
"And this concerns me, how?"
"I know you have a collection of artifacts from Scotland and other parts of the world. You might be a target. If the thief does come here-"
"He won't get far. I.. thank you for your concern, but my home security is quite adequate."
"Actually, what I'm looking for is a chance to catch this creep. He's killed three people in the course of these robberies, one of them a police officer."
"Ah, I was wondering why you didn't have my daughter act as intermediary for you."
"This is a police matter," Elisa repeated stubbornly. She carefully hid her irritation at Demona's perceptiveness. "If the thief does come here…"
"Unlikely. I have heard of the Fingon family. They had a rather… unpleasant reputation. I have no artifacts or books related to them, though."
"Do you know of someone who might?"
"I'm afraid not. The last of the family died in a fire, many of their more… valuable possessions burned with them. There was a rumor at the time that the fire wasn't accidental." She considered briefly, then shook her head. "I can't help you detective. There may be bits and pieces of Fingon family history floating about, but I don't have any or know where to find them. If that’s all your thief is after, then I've nothing to be concerned about." Elisa slumped slightly.
"All right. If you remember anything, though, that might be of use, will you please give me a call? I think you know how to reach me." It wasn't in Elisa's nature to needle others, especially about personal matters, so she left it at that and showed herself out. It had not gone as well as she'd hoped, but at least Demona was aware of the thief.
Elisa couldn't quite bring herself to pity the guy should he try to break in while Demona was there. She had no sympathy for cop killers, or killers of any sort for that matter. Over the past few years she had had, for various reasons, to ignore certain crimes, and even to bend the law herself, but 'the end justifies the means' could only be carried so far. It was always a strain for her, watching people like Xanatos get away with terrible crimes because of what revealing him to the authorities would do to her friends and family. She had learned to live with it, though.
Sometimes it was like walking a tightrope, but she lived with it, even when it meant putting up with Demona. Goliath and the others were worth it.
This time it was more difficult. At least in the past, she had had Matt to help share the burden of the secrecy when it became a burden. Right now that wasn't possible. Detective Peel had been suspicious of Maza almost since the beginning, he had asked about her sources, pried into her and Matt's history. He seemed to spend more time investigating them than he did the case they were working on. Elisa found him aggravating, so Matt had taken on the job of keeping Peel busy. This allowed Elisa to slip away when she needed to talk to her sources alone. There were, after all, certain questions she couldn't ask with the detective from Philadelphia hanging around. It had mostly been for nothing, though. There had been no new leads, and her private conversations with MacBeth and now Demona had led her nowhere. As much as she hated it, she might have to just hope that a lucky break would drop into their laps.
Until then, back to the station for more background checks and paperwork. That part was hardest for her when she felt restless. She wanted to be out and about, accomplishing something. Entering the station reluctantly, knowing she was facing a long shift behind a desk she felt more than a little depressed. Almost any distraction would be welcome at this point. Almost.
The stranger sitting at her desk couldn't have been more than 18 or 19, and he had clearly made himself at home.
"Who are you, and what are you doing here?" The young man looked up from the newspaper he was reading while he relaxed in her chair with his feet propped up on her desk.
"If you're Elisa Maza, I'm waiting for you. If you're not I'm waiting for Elisa Maza." Elisa spent a second untangling this. During that time, he rose to his feet, and pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket. "My name is Xander. I'm a friend of a friend, at least I hope you're her friend. She was a little vague on that herself, but she wants to meet with you. Once again, you and Buffy have something in common. You're on the same trail." Without another word he turned and left. The name he had mentioned both stopped her next question and generated a dozen others.
The stranger left quickly but without any undue haste that might have drawn attention to him. Elisa looked at the paper and read it carefully. She was still considering the ramifications of her
presence in New York when a voice from behind startled her.
"What's up Maza? Any leads?" She turned to find Peel approaching her, Matt only a step or two behind.
"Not really." She refolded the note and tucked it into an inside pocket of her jacket. "I went to see another possible target but didn't learn anything new."
"We've still got nothing, then?" Peel sounded as discouraged as Elisa felt. "No clues as to who the thief is or what his motives are in these robberies, let alone where he'll hit next." He eyed her curiously. "Who is this possible target?"
"A wealthy art and antiquities collector. She didn't have anything that the thief would be interested in, though. She'd heard of the Fingons, but said that she didn't have anything connected to them." Peel noted the lack of a name, but didn't comment, Matt did though.
"You went to see Destine? Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't she hate you?"
"Drop it Matt," she gritted. Aggravation from concerned friends was not what she needed.
"Sorry Elisa. Didn't mean to snap. Getting nowhere is getting on my nerves. We can't catch a break on this one."
"Maybe," Elisa mused, "maybe not." Peel eyed her curiously.
"It's probably nothing," she hastily assured him. She made her excuses and started for the door. Peel watched her go with barely concealed annoyance. After a moment he reined in his temper and turned to Bluestone.
"I have some business of my own to tend to tonight, some people to talk to, calls to make." Without another word, the belligerent detective turned and left, clearly intent on following Elisa. Matt cursed silently and, after a moment, followed.
Elisa pulled up in front of the small rooming house, just as the note had instructed. The place was dark, and looked deserted. There was no sign of anyone in the immediate area either. Leaving her car, she reached into her jacket and withdrew her gun. There was no obvious threat, but her instincts told her that all was not as it should be. The door was open and she carefully moved inside. Shades were drawn and it was pitch black. She thought about the flashlight in her glove compartment and mentally kicked herself. She was about to withdraw to retrieve it when she heard a noise coming toward her. Running low on options she slapped the wall near the door and luckily found the light switch on her first try. The lights came on and she saw something that she had honestly hoped never to see again.
Coming toward her was a creature that could have passed for human, if one discounted the bony ridges, yellow eyes, and the sharp fangs. She took a two handed grip on her gun and fired two slugs into the creature's chest. It staggered back, grunting in surprise and pain, and Elisa took the opening to get out. It was after her in a heartbeat as she ducked out the door. She knew she couldn't get into her car in time so she didn't try, instead turning and sprinting down the street. She had managed to gain some distance with the initial sprint, but it was catching up far too quickly. Her desperation increased when she heard new sets of running feet behind her.
There was a surprised grunt and a vicious snarl behind her and Elisa risked a glance back. The young man that had waited at her desk earlier in the evening and a strange girl had caught her pursuer by the arms and thrown him face first against the wall. She stopped and turned to watch as the girl withdrew a sharp stake from her jacket and drove it into the creature's back. With another snarl, this time one of thwarted rage, the vampire burst into a cloud of dust.
Breathing heavily, the pair turned to look at Elisa. The one called Xander grinned. "We meet again, detective." He turned to the girl. "Nice goin'." His friend nodded.
"Score one for the white hats," she smiled.
"What's this about?" Elisa brought their attention back to her. "I hope you don't expect me to believe that this was a coincidence?" Xander shook his head.
"No, but its worse than you think." He gestured to the pile of dust. "This guy wasn't local. I've seen him in Willie's back home."
"Are you sure?" his companion asked. "We didn't get a good look at him."
"I'm sure. Oh by the way, Anya, this is detective Elisa Maza. Detective, say hello to Anya."
Elisa nodded briefly. "I want answers."
"You'll get them, but not here. The fact that he was here proves that she knows we're in the city and on her trail. We better go." They returned to her car and got in. At Xander's direction, she drove to a small hotel a few miles away. They took a rather round about way. His concerns about being followed were unjustified though. It took her only a few random turns to be sure that there was no one following them. Upon arrival, she parked out of sight of the main street, and they made their way to a small room on the first floor.
It was a shabby little place, with a bathroom down the hall, and three equally flimsy locks on the door. Xander and Anya made themselves as comfortable as possible leaning against the couch. Xander motioned Elisa to take a seat at the table in the corner that passed for a kitchen. One of the three chairs was already occupied by another, too familiar, person.
"Hello Buffy. It’s been a while."
"Ooh, not long enough by the sound of it." Buffy gave her best sympathy smile. "My last visit wasn’t a lot of fun for you, I know. I’m afraid this one won’t be much better." Elisa scowled, getting a vivid flash of the deformed face looming over her, trying to reach her throat with its teeth… It wasn’t her favorite memory. Gargoyles, werewolves, Golems, even aliens, fine, but vampires gave her a shuddery vulnerable feeling like nothing else she’d ever encountered. Elisa hated feeling that way. Shoving the memories aside, she got straight to the point.
"You’re right. I’m not happy, especially if this is about the thief I’m after now, the one that killed a cop in Philadelphia." She looked at each in turn. Their expressions confirmed her suspicion. No
, Elisa thought, I’m definitely not happy
. "Is this more demon stuff? Is the thief a vampire or something similar?"
"No," Buffy shook her head. "The killer is all too human."
"Then this doesn’t concern you."
"It does concern me."
"The thief is human, and a cop killer. That makes it police business."
"Your thief is a rogue Slayer," Xander stepped in. "That makes it our
business." Elisa whirled to face him, then looked back at Buffy.
"A Slayer?" Buffy nodded.
"You can’t go after her like an ordinary thief, not unless you want to bury more cops. She’s too dangerous."
"I thought you were the good guys." Elisa’s tone was tinged with sarcasm. Buffy sighed.
"Slayers are people. They have the same weaknesses, the same faults. Faith… Faith had some rotten breaks, and she could have been handled better. It didn’t have to be like this." Xander shot to his feet, looking indignant.
"Give me a break! Buffy, will you stop making excuses for her? I don’t care what kind of bad breaks she’s had. The rest of us aren’t exactly singing and dancing, but we
don’t go around killing people for the fun of it." For a moment it looked as if she might object, then she gave a resigned nod.
"You’re right Xander. I shouldn’t make excuses, and I’m not. There are too many other people to grieve for now because of her."
"What exactly happened? Who is Faith?"
"It’s a long story." Buffy motioned to the chair Elisa had previously ignored. "Have a seat, and we’ll tell you." This time Elisa sat down.
Elisa was sure that they didn't tell her everything, but then she didn't expect them to. The last time they had met she had often gotten the impression that Buffy was holding back details. This didn't disturb her much, but now Buffy was holding back information that could help her catch a cop killer.
"That's not good enough." Buffy blinked at her, surprised. "I need to know why she's doing this, and where she's likely to hit next. I don't care about your Watcher's Council or your war. She's going down."
"That's the idea, but you can't handle this like a regular arrest. Faith is every bit as strong and fast as I am and she's way vicious. I came to you because I can't take her down alone, not without killing her, which is something I don't want to do."
"You'll help me catch her? Then you can start by telling me what she's after. Why is she interested in the Fingon family?"
"That also is a long story, and I don't know all of it. What I do know is that Faith isn't the type to start something like this on her own. She's working for someone or with someone."
"For what reason?"
"According to the Watcher diaries there was a man named Edward Fingon who was rumored to have created a spell that would restore him to life, if he died under certain circumstances. This spell was, supposed to be more than just raising the dead, making a zombie. And it wasn't like a vampire rising either. This spell was supposed to make him live again, no strings attached."
"What circumstances?" Elisa didn't like the sound of this, not at all.
"Giles is still trying to figure that out," Xander said. "We know Faith knows, 'cause of the way she's going. She wants the spell for some reason, and it looks like she'll do anything to get what she wants."
"She's proven that already," Anya put in.
"That's our little Faith, a real go-getter." Buffy shot Xander an annoyed look, and he subsided.
"At least he didn't say she's committed," Anya said, coming to his defense, if rather clumsily. Xander gave her a look of mock indignation.
"Even I have my standards." Elisa watched the trio trade quips for a few minutes, growing increasingly annoyed with them. The seriousness of the situation seemed to escape them entirely. Even Buffy, who had been so torn up a few moments before about her fellow Slayer’s actions, was joining in the banter. Finally, she’d had enough.
"Stop. There is nothing funny about this. I suggest we get back to business. Tell me everything you know about Faith, give me a picture if you have one, and we’ll try to figure out our next move." The three started visibly at her tone and focused on her with expressions that were an odd mix of guilt and annoyance. Guilty, Elisa believed, because they knew she was right. There was nothing funny about this. The annoyance was harder to understand. She didn’t think they were upset over her rebuke, exactly. She gave herself a mental shake. It didn’t matter. What did matter was that they focused on the job they had set for themselves.
Peel had heard enough. The Slayer was here, and his carefully laid plans could proceed. He moved quietly across the apartment he had broken into. Fortunately, the walls in the place were thin enough to allow eavesdropping without any equipment more sophisticated than the stethoscope he had with him for just that purpose. He hadn't heard everything, but he had heard enough. Peel moved to the other side of the room and took out his cell phone as the meeting got underway. A phone call would be all it would take to set things in motion.
The phone call made, he went to the wall and listened for a while longer. Maza was telling Summers everything, essentially blowing the case, and Summers was being almost as forthcoming. That simply wouldn't do. Well it wouldn't hurt to see Maza go down with the Slayer. Satisfied, he turned and left the room. The hall was dark and that suited him fine. He made his way to a side door that let into an alley near the Dumpsters that served the tenants. Through the alley to the opposite side of the block and down the street to his rental car. Once he returned to the 23rd precinct, he could take steps to ensure that Maza would, at the very least, be taken off the case.
His scheming was interrupted by the brick wall that suddenly sprang out of nowhere to slam into his face. With considerable effort he retained consciousness long enough to feel the vice-like grip on the back of his neck.
"Hey, Stein ol' buddy! Long time, no see." He turned his head to find himself looking up at what had once been his fellow detective, Simon Fitzroy. Fitzroy had once been a handsome man, very popular with the ladies. His looks and easy-going manner had charmed more than one suspect into saying more than he, or more often she, had intended. Now, those good looks were marred by the facial ridges and yellow eyes that the disguised Stein knew all too well. He opened his mouth to try to forestall the vampire, but all that came out was a gurgle, as his life drained away through the new openings in his throat.
"STOP! Police." Fitzroy dropped his dinner and spun to find a tall red headed man standing at the mouth of the alley holding a gun on him. "Let him go and back away. Put your hands on you head and don't move."
Fitzroy's old friend was in no condition to stand on his own, so Fitzroy held him up with one hand while he turned to face the newcomer. The man's eyes widened as he saw the obviously fatal wound to the throat. His eyes moved to Fitzroy and the blood on his lips and chin.
"What the hell? Why-?" He broke off, at a complete loss for words.
Fitzroy shrugged. "The boss wanted him dead, I never thought to ask why." The other man was moving closer slowly, repeating his orders. Casually, Fitzroy threw the corpse at him.
The man was quicker than his size might lead one to think. He jumped aside and avoided being flattened by the flying body. Fitzroy charged in right behind his improvised projectile and into a slug from the man's gun. He staggered, but kept coming.
The redhead backpedaled frantically, firing twice more into the vampire's chest. Then Fitzroy was on him, easily disarming him and shoving him against the wall of the alley. The shots would draw attention, even in this neighborhood, so there was no time to properly feed. Annoyed at this, the vampire brought a sharp clawed hand back, prepared to disembowel the man so he would die slowly for the inconvenience he was causing.
Buffy grabbed the vamp's wrist and pulled him away. Leaning back with arms extended, she swung the vampire hard into the opposite wall. He bounced off and staggered back, straight onto the point of the wooden knife that she had drawn in the heartbeat after she had released his wrist. She turned to examine the newcomer as the dust settled to the ground. Predictably, he was staring in shock at her and at the vampire's remains.
"Matt?!" He turned to see Elisa and two others coming down the alley toward them. "Are you okay?" He didn’t answer immediately, his mind still trying to get a grip on what had just happened. Looking back at Buffy and the strange knife she held. There was no blood on it. She had driven it into that guy, hadn’t she? Why was there no blood? "Matt?"
"Huh? Oh, Elisa. What’s going on?"
"I thought we were past the keeping secrets stage," Matt slapped his hand flat on the table, glaring at Elisa. Almost four hours had passed since the meeting in the alley. Matt and Elisa had both filled out reports on what happened. Although it had galled her to do so, she said nothing about Buffy and her friends. Explaining detective Peel's body had been harder. Matt had honestly said that he saw the perp very close to Peel, but could not clearly see what was happening. He also told them that he had shot the perp, but had been knocked into a wall by the killer before he disappeared. Elisa had grimaced at that. Now they stood around a table in the gargoyle's quarters in castle Wyvern.
Broadway, Sata, and the twins had gone out on patrol, but the rest were present. Owen was also there at Elisa's request, and Fox had tagged along for lack of anything better to do.
"Frankly, Matt I wanted to forget about this myself. Cyborgs, werewolves, even Fay, but vampires I can do without." She sighed. "It was a bit much to ask you to deal with it, too. The clan's been keeping an eye out for vampires along with everything else we've had to deal with, which has been way too much anyway."
"We have seen only three of the creatures in the past year," Goliath put in. "We believe most fled during Madoc's assault on the city. Even before that, very few actually hunted humans. They seem to prefer maintaining a low profile." He glanced at Buffy who nodded in confirmation and then at her friends, one of whom was staring around him in disbelief. He had been told about gargoyles, but hearing about them and seeing them were two entirely different things. The one called Anya seemed to accept them out of hand, but Xander looked suspicious. Anya patted his hand comfortingly.
"Relax, Xander, they're okay, really."
"You know about gargoyles?" he asked.
"Sure. It's been a century or two since I've seen any, but yeah. And they really are decent people. Why in the past thousand years my services have only been requested twice by a gargoyle. Is that good enough for you?" Xander looked thoughtful. Everyone else in the room just stared.
"Excuse me." Matt raised a hand. "Thousand years?"
"Something else you didn't tell us?" Elisa raised an eyebrow looking at Buffy.
"She doesn't really have anything to do with Faith, so, no I didn't mention that." To forestall an objection she hastily added, "While we're on the subject, remind me to ask you about 'Fay' later." Elisa started to object, then changed her mind.
"I see your point. Can we get back to this later then?"
"Thousand years?" Matt repeated. Fox also looked interested.
"I don't think your partner's cruising past that concept any time soon," Xander noted. "So, um, yeah Anya's been around a while, but then from what Buffy tells us so have you guys." He glanced at the gargoyles.
"What are you?" Goliath rumbled. "Are you one of Oberon's children?"
"Not exactly," the former avenger of wronged women hedged. "Although you could say I'm a distant cousin of sorts." Fox glanced at Owen curiously, but his expression remained unreadable.
"Perhaps an introduction is in order," Buffy suggested. "This is Anyanka. She's a sort of patron saint scorned women. Or she was until she came to Sunnydale and her powers were taken away." If the expressions of the other people in the room were anything to go by, then this explanation did nothing to eliminate the confusion.
"Ya see," Xander picked up the explanation, "whenever a man was unfaithful or dumped a woman, she could attract Anyanka's attention with a spell, and get a wish."
"What sort of wish?" Matt asked, looking, like every other male in the room, somewhat nervous. Anya shrugged.
"You know, boils, body parts dropping off, spontaneous combustion, that sort of thing." A smile of fond remembrance spread over her face, which Xander immediately recognized as a sign that she was about to begin one of her testicle shriveling anecdotes. "I remember one-"
"Anya, please!" She started guiltily and looked at Xander, with a vaguely apologetic expression. "Honestly," he grimaced, "hadn't any of your clients ever heard the expression 'living well is the best revenge?'" She frowned thoughtfully, searching her memory.
"Never mind," Matt hastily interrupted, certain he didn't want to hear more. "Could we get back to the subject at hand?"
"Ah, yes," Elisa said, trying to organize her jumbled thoughts. "Faith! Yes, um, I can have the picture you gave me copied and shown around, discretely," she added as she caught Buffy's glance. "You don't have to worry about that. The police department doesn't advertise a man-hunt when there's a chance that it will do more harm than good. We have done this once or twice before you know."
"Sorry," Buffy said contritely.
"I'll advise that extreme caution be used approaching her. We'll check all of the shelters, hotels and motels. Hopefully we'll be able to get a lead on her."
"Once she's cornered, all you'll need is a S.W.A.T. team," Xander said morosely.
"Or a few gargoyles," Brooklyn, who had been quiet until now, finally spoke up.
"Are we sure this is necessary? She's one person. Ordinary cops have been handling dangerous criminals by themselves for a long time." She sounded less than pleased at the prospect of the gargoyle's involvement, or the Slayer's.
"I'm afraid it may be."
"You really think we're helpless without you?" By now the irritation in her voice was plain to all.
"No. Of course not, but there's something you don't seem to understand." She rose and looked around the room, eventually settling on a suit of armor. "Is that valuable?" she asked.
"Not really, it's a reproduction, actually." Fox sounded a little embarrassed about that. She was about to ask why, but Buffy strode over to the armor, and yanked free the shield.
"A Slayer," she said walking back toward the table, "isn't someone with violent tendencies and a strange idea about how to have a good time."
"Well," Xander put in with a smirk, "a Slayer isn't just
that." Buffy shot him a glance that promised a display of those violent tendencies if he continued to 'help'.
"A Slayer is much more." To illustrate she applied pressure to the shield. It creaked and then began to squeal under her hands as she bent it in half, with no apparent effort. Elisa looked distinctly unimpressed, so Buffy continued. "Your cuffs won't hold her. I doubt she could force apart the bars on a cell, not quickly enough to go unnoticed at least, but holding her anywhere but a maximum security prison is going to be next to impossible, especially since she doesn't mind killing to get what she wants. With her enhanced speed, strength, and reflexes, and the training to use all of them, she's one of the best warriors in the world." Before Elisa could respond Xander spoke up.
"I hate to break in, but we do have another problem." Buffy and Elisa focused on him. "Don't tell me you've forgotten about Stein."
"Stein?" Elisa looked blank.
"He was here for a reason. I doubt it was to help us." Buffy frowned, looking more irritated than worried over the new development.
"Who's Stein?" Elisa asked.
"The corpse in the alley? That vamp's dinner?"
"Peel? He was a detective from Philadelphia. What are you talking about?" The two teenagers were shaking their heads.
"He was a cop, but not from Philadelphia. He's from Sunnydale, and he's caused us trouble before."
"What kind of trouble?"
"Mayor Wilkins turned Sunnydale into a police state. He knew everything that went on, either learning it from the police who didn't care much about civil rights or from the vamps who served him and cared even less about civil rights. Like a lot of the 'law enforcement' officers, Stein helped to cover up what was happening there. The deaths and disappearances didn't often make the paper or were blamed on transients or wild animals." Xander shook his head sadly.
"Now that Wilkins is dead there's the chance that it will all come out. Stein, like so many others, has been trying to cover himself. That includes closing out some of those 'unsolved cases'."
"So they've been pulling in people, usually real transients, and scrambling to assemble evidence. They want to cover themselves, and they're not particular about how. We've been so busy with the aftermath, that it took almost a week to notice that his Honor's little errand girl had escaped." All teasing and banter had vanished from Buffy's manner. Bluestone and Maza both looked shocked at the prospect of a town full of corrupt cops. It wasn't a happy thought, and neither knew quite what to make of it. Elisa, who had seen vampires before, was skeptical. Bluestone was openly suspicious.
"Exactly what has been going on out there?" Elisa demanded.
"What I'd like to know," Anya cut in, "is how they covered up what happened to the mayor?"
"Well," Xander hedged, "there weren't many people willing to talk about what happened, afraid they'd wind up in a straight jacket probably. Or they just wanted to forget."
"What about the mayor's body?"
"That was harder," Buffy admitted. "Since the explosion and fire were obviously arson they had to work hard to convince the papers and TV reporters that a gas main had ruptured. They sealed off the area with a lot of bull about toxic chemicals and the danger of more explosions."
"So they sealed it off for almost a week," Xander picked up the story, "until they could get rid of the mayor's body and cover up the victims. I think they burned some of them after the fact to cover up the vampire bites and missing body parts that got nipped off."
None of the gargoyles or their human friends had a ready reply for any of this. It was simply too much to take in. Finally Elisa asked one of the questions that was bothering her.
"Why would they need a week to clean up the mayor's body?"
"A human body wouldn't have been a problem," Buffy explained. "The fifty foot long demon snake he morphed into was a bit harder to hide."
"Fifty foot long demon snake," Elisa said in a flat voice that Buffy remembered her mother using on more than one occasion. It usually indicated that weirdness overload was approaching like an oncoming train and she had her foot stuck in the track. Buffy realized that Elisa was torn between wanting the whole story and not wanting to hear any more. It was Owen who provided the needed distraction, and the chance for a semi rational explanation.
"An ascension," the pale blonde man surmised. Buffy nodded.
"Ascension?" Fox asked. She was looking almost as lost as Elisa. "What's that?"
"It's a very complex spell," Anya explained. "Well, actually it’s dozens of spells that have to be cast at specific times over the course of a century. At the end of it, if it works, a human sorcerer can transform himself into a demon."
Elisa was beginning to pull herself together. "You mean like an Avatar?" Anya gave her a surprised look, but shook her head.
"No, that's different, although there are a few similarities."
"Um, hold on." Matt was holding up his hands, forming a T. "Let me see if I can summarize all this." Everyone turned to him expectantly. Buffy, Xander, and Anya watched curiously, interested only in how he would go about summarizing something he couldn't even understand. The others were lost though, and looked at him hopefully for an explanation.
"The mayor of your town was a sorcerer. He managed this Ascension thing and turned into a monster. He died, I'm guessing with some help from you," he looked directly at Buffy and she ducked her head modestly, although there had been no trace of praise in Matt's voice. "Now everyone who knew about the mayor or had any part in what happened is scrambling to cover their tracks." The three young people nodded. So far so good. "You left town though, to find Faith. Is she the mayor's 'little errand girl'?" All three nodded. "What sort of errands?"
"Oh fetching magic things that he needed, killing people he wanted dead, that sort of thing." Matt nodded, glad to see his guess confirmed.
"Now she's hooked up with someone else, at least you think so, and she's stealing specific items. For what reason?" They shifted uncomfortably.
"Well…" Xander began.
"We're not really sure. There's a lot about what's happening that we don't understand. What was Stein doing here for starters? Why did he give you a phony name?"
"We may have part of an answer to that soon," Elisa said thoughtfully. "Captain Chavez is sure to call Philadelphia P.D. to report Peel's death. It should be interesting to hear what they have to say. What I'd like to know is why he's dead. I doubt it's a coincidence that a vampire just happened to pop up and kill him." Buffy shook her head.
"Especially not a vampire that used to be a police detective in Sunnydale." At their surprised looks she added. "I recognized him. His name was Fitzroy. He tried to arrest me once for murder. Didn't have much luck, though, the body sort of turned to dust." Xander frowned as something occurred to him.
"That makes two vamps from back home that we've run into. We saw one earlier tonight when we went to pick up detective Maza. You think Faith is…?"
"I'm getting a headache," Elisa complained, rubbing her temples. "It's getting close to dawn. Why don't we all get some rest and see what develops over the next day? I'll put that information about Faith out to the other precincts, get the search started and we can see if anything turns up." They all nodded, more than happy to bring the evening's session of revelations to an end.
Buffy and friends were given rooms at the castle, since they couldn't exactly go back to the hotel. Elisa and Matt returned to their desks with the photo of Faith and began to make preparations and a few quiet inquiries before going home to sleep.
For her part, Fox cornered Owen and asked some pointed questions. Finally, more to get her off his back than anything else, he told her what he knew. The explanation raised more questions than it answered.
In a small apartment in Brooklyn other preparations were being made. Faith studied the photos of her next target carefully, noting the placement of security cameras and the likely positions of motion detectors and security lights. It wouldn't be easy, but it could be done. She looked at her partner, and again felt the urge to wipe the superior look off his face.
"What have you got to be so smug about? I'm doing all the work."
"Not quite my dear. I am, after all, the one who tracked down the components of the spell. And unless you can decipher Lord Fingon's diary on your own, I'd say this is still a very even partnership." Faith gave him a sour look, not having a ready comeback to that, and went back to studying her photos.
"Are you sure the key is there? Getting into this place is not going to be easy."
"I assure you, your efforts will not be in vain my dear. The key to activate the power that will drive the restoration spell is within that house."
"It had better be," she groused, still looking for a weakness in the security system. If this worked, they could begin again. Each of them would get what they wanted. He'd get the magic secrets he wanted so much and she'd get the boss back. She glanced over at her 'partner' who was happily surfing through a variety of arcane looking web pages while humming to himself. For his sake
, she thought morosely, he'd better be right about that spell
Elisa Maza had learned long ago that luck was a key factor in any endeavor, whether it be illegal activity or the investigation by police of that activity. Work as hard as possible, plan as well as possible. No matter how careful or thorough a person was, luck was always a factor. The thing to remember about luck was that it could be good or bad. At the moment, she seemed to have about equal measures.
Two days after the meeting at the castle, luck of all sorts seemed to be swamping them. They had found Faith. Or at least, they had found the place she was staying. They also had a clearer idea of what she was doing and why. They had learned that Buffy had been right about detective Stein, and although his motives in lying seemed a little vague the pieces of the puzzle they had so far seemed to fit her story.
On the one hand they had much more information to work with. The bad luck emerged when they began to understand what was happening.
"Maza. I want to see you and Bluestone now." With that, Captain Maria Chavez turned and strode back toward her office, never doubting for a second that her two best detectives (although she would never tell them that) were following close behind. When they entered her office she motioned for them to close the door. She began without preamble.
"We have some interesting information about 'detective Peel.'" She handed Elisa a fax that proved to be from the Philadelphia police department. The two detectives scanned it, then glanced up at the captain with questioning looks.
"There is a detective Peel in Philadelphia, but he is currently on vacation in Florida. I've spoken to his captain and sent a picture of the man who was killed in the alley. He doesn't recognize him. I'm running checks now. If our mystery man's prints are on file anywhere we'll find him. What I need right now is to know why he was here posing as a cop." Elisa considered the question briefly. She knew, or at least had a good idea, why Stein was in New York poking into their case, but she couldn't tell the captain without having to answer a lot of awkward questions.
"Possibility," Matt said.
"What if this guy was our thief, or connected to the thief in some way. He could have been here to monitor our progress on the case, make sure we didn't get too close." Chavez nodded thoughtfully.
"That makes sense. Although, it's rather a big risk given the nature of the items being stolen. He hasn't taken anything that would earn him a great profit. According to your case notes those items are of interest only to scholars."
"He didn't seem much like a scholar," Matt pointed out. "We don't know why these items are being stolen, but we do know that someone considers them worth killing for." He shook his head. "Lets just wait and see what the search on the prints turns up. Hopefully, they'll lead us to the thief. We haven't got many other options."
"I do have some good news on that front actually. Operator took a call for you a little while ago." She nodded to Elisa. "That picture you sent out got a nibble. The manager of a flea bag in Queens said he thought he recognized the girl." Chavez handed over the information.
"Care to tell me how she's connected?"
"I'm not sure captain. She might be our thief, or connected to him. My source was a little vague."
"And your source-?" Maza held up a hand to forestall the question.
"My source is reliable, if a bit flaky. I'd rather not say more, though. I just got off the phone though with someone who can, hopefully provide me with some verification"
"I don't like the way this feels Maza. Normally I'd give you your head with this, but there's too much that doesn't add up. How does your source know about the robberies? What makes him think this girl is involved? Can you be sure you're not being played?"
Elisa considered the questions carefully. Under normal circumstances Chavez wouldn't be questioning her like this. One of the things that made her a good person to work for was that she let people work without unnecessary interference. Chavez would never be accused of micromanaging. Elisa also understood the captain's concerns though. She knew that, to a degree, she was being played, and it frustrated her. She hated having to hide things from her captain and knew that Matt felt the same way. That, at the moment anyway, was at the top of the list of things that irritated her. Nevertheless, they couldn't exactly tell her the truth, especially since they weren't sure they believed it themselves. Elisa was prepared to answer the questions though. She had worked out a plausible story that, from what Buffy told them, wasn't too far from the truth. The part about vampires and demons could be left out though.
"According to my source, her name is Faith, and she has a history of violent behavior, insists that she's extremely dangerous."
"This girl?" Chavez held up the picture of Faith.
"It seems she likes knives. My source is familiar with Faith's habits and has been tracking her since early this summer."
"Private investigator? Bounty hunter?" Chavez raised a single eyebrow.
"Not exactly," Elisa admitted.
"A personal matter then? This source have a personal grudge against Faith?" Elisa nodded glumly. That was certainly true.
"I believe my source can be trusted, though. She wants Faith off the streets as badly as we do." Chavez was silent for a time, weighing her options.
"Why didn't this source come forward before? Why contact you secretly?" When an answer wasn't forthcoming she asked a question that she had been hoping wouldn't be necessary. "Is she wanted by the police herself?"
"Actually, captain," Elisa hedged, "it's more like she's unwanted."
"Faith apparently worked for the mayor of the town they lived in. It's recently come out that he was a vicious criminal. My source was her friend once, and through Faith learned some secrets about her boss and some of the city officials he had in his pocket, including several cops." Chavez looked dubious so Elisa pushed on. "I've been able to verify this independently. Faith's boss, one Richard Wilkins, died recently in a fire. After his death, a lot of ugly secrets started to come out. It seems that the people who worked for him are trying to hide their connections to him."
"You have proof of this?"
"Some. I made a few calls to contacts in California. You remember Schmidt, the L.A. homicide cop who helped us out last year with that drug dealer who jumped bail in L.A. and tried to set up shop here?"
"Yes, he said he owed us one."
"Well I asked him to look into what was happening in Sunnydale, the town Faith and my source are from."
"What did he find?"
"Practically nothing. The local authorities in Sunnydale are putting up a pretty thick smoke screen. The media there is barely covering the story. They're being fed a lot of bull about Wilkins and his dealings, but mainly the city officials are just trying to make it all go away. He was able to pull together enough information to prove, although probably not in a court, that Wilkins and several key officials in Sunnydale were mixed up in some pretty ugly business."
"Schmidt talked to an officer who left the Sunnydale P.D. A month before he quit he was part of a raid. They were prepared to bust up an after hours meeting at a local high school. He said they had received a tip that a drug deal was going down there. Wilkins and Faith were both there, but the raid was called off. He still doesn't know why. What he does know is that a day or so later his partner turned up dead."
"Schmidt didn't know. He had to get the guy pretty drunk before he would tell him that much. The death was ruled an accident, but no details are available. Only thing he was certain of was that the man was scared. The matter was covered up pretty quickly."
"Has he been able to learn anything else?" Elisa shook her head.
''When I last spoke to him, just a few minutes ago, he was trying to organize an investigation by state authorities." Chavez leaned back in her desk chair rubbing her temples. All of this was coming too fast. The revelations of what was known and what was suspected were bad enough, but she could see Elisa was tense and angry about the whole, business no matter how well she thought she was hiding it.
"All right. Concentrate on Faith. I’ll follow up with Schmidt tomorrow and see if he’s learned anything new. I have the feeling this is going to get very ugly before it’s all over." Elisa and Matt nodded and, taking the information the captain offered, retreated from the office.
Guido Martelli was a jovial looking man, short, rather round and he tended to smile a lot. The kindly innkeeper image was spoiled though, by his piggish eyes and his oily manner.
"Yes, yes, come in. Always happy to help the police." He ushered Matt and Elisa into his dingy office on the first floor of the brownstone he owned and managed.
"Yes," Matt said without preamble. "You said you had seen the person in the picture we've been circulating."
"Oh, yes! I have. Lovely girl, such a nice smile she has." The distant look and the slight hesitation before the word smile told them that it wasn't Faith's smile he was interested in.
"Where did you see her? You said over the phone that she isn't here."
"Oh no, I saw her at my brother's building." He leaned forward and smiled smugly. "He manages a place in Brooklyn, but he doesn't own it." He gestured expansively. "This building is all mine," he said proudly as a cockroach ran up the wall behind him. "I'm my own boss."
"When did you see her?" Matt asked.
"Couple of days ago. I was visiting him and she and her uncle came in to pay the rent on their place." He leaned forward, almost drooling over the picture in front of him. "I recognized her right off when I saw this picture."
"Where is your brother's place?"
Address in hand they left for the apartment complex managed by Antonio Martelli. It was in slightly better condition than his brother's building, cleaner at any rate, but looked well worn. They watched the place for a short time before going in. Martelli was annoyed to find two cops waiting to see him. He cooperated, but was rather surly about it. Fortunately, they didn't require much from him. He confirmed that the girl in the picture and her uncle were still there.
"Yeah, 'uncle' right." He led them to a locked room just down the hall from his office. "I keep a security camera to monitor the lobby. It helps keep down insurance rates because I got a record of who comes and goes. Dumb-ass insurance agent thinks some jerk who wants to rob an apartment is going to come in through the front door and sign in." He shook his head in exasperation. Opening the door to the small storage room he scanned the shelves and picked up a tape. "Here ya go. This should have what you want."
The date and time on the tape corresponded to the date and time of Guido's visit. Not wanting to drag it out, they thanked him and left.
As they reached the car, Faith came around the corner, carrying a plastic grocery sack. She was engaged in a conversation with a casually dressed man who seemed to smile a lot. Faith on the other hand looked royally pissed. Matt and Elisa didn't stop to watch, but got into her Fairlane and started the car. Matt pulled something out of his pocket.
"Wait a minute Elisa." He leaned past her and positioned what she now saw was a camera. He snapped two pictures of the pair as Elisa started the car. They then drove off without paying any further attention to the pair who turned to enter the apartment building.
Fox found Anya in the library. She was flipping through an old book written in an archaic form of Latin. When she saw what the girl was reading she whistled softly. "You really have been around a while."
"A little more than 1100 years," she answered casually. She then glanced up at Fox and smiled. "It's great of you to let us stay here like this. I mean you don't know anything about us."
"I owed it to Buffy. Um… that's sort of why I wanted to talk to you."
"I can't help but wonder… well, exactly how did you get hooked up with her? I mean you don't even seem to get along well."
"So why am I traveling with her on this crazy hunt? It's strange, even to me, and sort of embarrassing." She looked away, not knowing how to continue, and hoping Fox wouldn't ask. But Fox did.
"What do you mean? Does it have something to do with your powers?"
"No, not exactly. Ya see, I'm not really with Buffy. Xander's with Buffy. I'm with Xander." Her face softened when she mentioned the young man's name, but she sounded frustrated as well. Fox put it together quickly.
"You've got it bad for him, huh?" Then the strangeness of that
hit her and she was even more confused.
"Yeah," she sighed. "Don't ask me to explain it. I spend over a thousand years punishing men for the wrongs they've done to women and then I lose my powers. I'm not human for more than a month when I find myself falling for this guy." She shook her head in consternation. "I don't understand these human emotions at all, but when I think about what could happen to him fighting alongside the Slayer I worry myself sick. It's awful!" She slammed the book shut, rose and paced the room. "And of course he won’t stop to find a safer hobby! Oh no. He feels needed. He’s making a difference! All well and good, but where does it leave me?
"I don’t know how you humans deal with it. The only thing I do understand is why I was kept so busy in the old days." Fox was staring at her incredulously, feeling more than a little daunted. She hadn’t expected a response like this. Hesitantly, not sure that she shouldn’t back out of this conversation now, she tried to summarize the former… whatever’s.. problem.
"You came to keep Xander out of trouble, but he’s not cooperating." Anya nodded miserably. "How does he feel about having you along?" The moment she asked the question she knew she shouldn’t have.
"That’s another thing! I try to help, to reason with him, but oh no." She rounded on Fox. "Just before the mayor’s Ascension I asked him to leave Sunnydale, to come with me. He said humanity must still be a work in progress for me."
"That’s a terrible thing to say!"
"It’s standard for him." She shook her head. "He uses humor and insults to keep from having to deal with… well things." Fox was fully confused by now. She got the impression that Xander was less than receptive to her advances, probably because those advances were rather clumsy if she was as confused about human emotions as she claimed to be.
"I’m a little confused. I mean is he worth it?" Anya opened and closed her mouth a couple of times before she settled on something to say.
"He’s worth it. He’s the bravest member of the group. Braver than the Slayer."
"Absolutely!" She warmed to her subject quickly. "Look at his friends, there’s a Slayer, a witch, and a werewolf. Each one has something that makes them more than a normal human. Each of them touched by magic, but all he has is his wits and his courage." Her eyes were shining by now. "Whenever he’s needed he’s there for his friends, willing to risk his life for them or for complete strangers. No hesitation." Her shoulders slumped and she let out an exasperated sigh. "That’s what’s so frustrating about him!"
For a moment, Fox had to fight the urge to laugh. Anya’s predicament was as plain as her infatuation. Finally, she shook her head. "I wish I had an answer for you, but if it’s any consolation, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been human, men sometimes don’t make sense."
She smiled at Anya’s pouting, frustrated expression.
"Somehow knowing I’m not the only one who’s confused doesn’t do a blessed bit of good." This time Fox did laugh, and after a moment Anya joined in. That’s how David Xanatos found them. Fox had told him what she’d learned about Anya, and it had unsettled him to know that there was such a creature. It was more unsettling to ponder what she and Fox could be laughing about. He withdrew quickly and quietly.
The one-hour photo place down the block from the station lived up to its name. The girl in the picture was indeed Faith. Elisa hoped that Buffy could identify the man. That would be a pleasant surprise. She needed something to counter the two unpleasant ones waiting for her at the station.
"Look at this." Chavez handed her the paper. "This came in by fax a little while ago." Elisa stared at the notice, desperately trying to think of an appropriate response. "Is that your source, Maza?" Elisa glanced up and then back down at the paper that proclaimed that one Buffy Summers was wanted for the murder of the deputy mayor of Sunnydale. "Well?"
"Yes, Captain I-" she broke off, completely at a loss.
"When I got this, I realized that she was most likely your source. I put in a call to the district attorney handling the case in Sunnydale, to get more details and to inform officials there that she was, most likely, in the city. Guess what I found out."
Elisa looked up at her captain questioningly.
"I learned that there have been no formal charges pressed against Miss Buffy Summers. She was questioned in the deputy mayor's death, but there was no evidence she was involved."
"Then the warrant?"
"Bogus. Or someone really jumped the gun. I also talked to Schmidt. Related this little incident to him."
"And?" Chavez grimaced.
"He said he'd add it to the list. The whole town seems to be coming unglued. Questions are suddenly being raised about a number of mysterious deaths and disappearances."
"Schmidt didn't have exact numbers, but he said what he's learned so far about Sunnydale's mortality rate makes a war zone look safe. I don't know what's going on out there Elisa, but your 'source' seems to be an intricate part of it. She does have a record. A string of violent incidents that makes some of the punks that come through here look like choir boys." She picked up another sheet of paper. "Disturbing the peace, assault, assault with a deadly weapon, arson, attempted murder, and the list goes on. In each case the charges were dropped for reasons that are not explained." She handed the paper to Elisa. "What the hell is going on?"
"I don't know the whole story. She isn't very forthcoming. I do know that she's on our side in this. She wants Faith stopped."
"How do you know this Faith is the one your after? How do you know it isn't Summers?"
"I know her." She held up a hand. "I'm sorry captain, that's the best I can do. I want her out of New York and back in Sunnydale as quickly as anyone, but I do know that she's not the bad guy here."
"You're asking me to put a lot of trust in you. Aside from Summers' word, we don't have any proof."
"I've spoken to friends of hers and people in Sunnydale who vouched for her, and confirmed her claims about Faith."
"Friends of Summers?" Elisa nodded.
"That and a detective who confirmed that Faith is
a suspect in the murder of the deputy mayor. I know it's not much, but we can't dismiss it. I suggest we bring Faith in for questioning. If she has an alibi for the time of the robberies then we'll know we're on the wrong track, and I'll bring Summers in myself." Chavez nodded.
"All right. I’ll hold you to that. When do you want to bring Faith in?"
"I’ll take some uniforms tomorrow morning."
"Why would you need backup to bring her in for questioning?"
"According to Summers, she’s dangerous and has a violent temper." Chavez nodded.
"Okay. I’ll leave it to you then." Elisa took the fax the captain had given her and left. She and Matt had a meeting to get to.
Xander met them at the elevator. "Hey folks, how's the protect and serve business?"
"Been pretty good today," Matt said he held up a photograph of Faith and her friend. "We found them."
"Great, let me see." He took the photograph Matt had held up, the one that gave the best view of Faith and her 'uncle'. He looked at it and stopped in his tracks. "Ah no. Not good, not good at all." He rushed forward, headed toward the library where the others were gathered.
"The fax just arrived," Owen handed it to Buffy. "Your Watcher has found the information you requested." She looked at it curiously.
"What's what?" Angela peered over her shoulder, "What does it mean?" She looked up as her curious clan mates looked around. "There's a hand written note in the margin. It says, 'No Buffy, we haven't found a loop hole in the Slayer's don't kill people rule.'" She looked up at Buffy for answers.
"It's from Willow. I don't know what she means."
"I think I do." They turned to see Xander at the door. He was holding up a picture as he came into the room. Elisa and Matt were right on his heels, and Elisa was looking annoyed. Naturally, Xander was oblivious. "Tell me Buffy, who's your least favorite human being? Besides Faith," he added hastily. Buffy rolled her eyes.
"I'm in no mood for 20 questions." When Xander pouted she relented. "All right. Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?"
"Definitely animal, but I think you did once threaten to turn him into a vegetable." Losing patience Buffy snatched the picture. When she saw who was walking with Faith she had to smother the urge to say something obscene.
"Ethan!" The venom in her tone drew everyone's attention. "So that's what Willow meant." She looked back at the fax from Giles. Xander nodded grimly.
"Faith and Ethan Rayne, imagine the possibilities."
"Whose Ethan Rayne?" Elisa demanded. Buffy glanced at her, but didn't answer immediately.
"Xander would you fill them in please?" She moved to a table and sat down to read what Giles had found.
He motioned everyone to settle in. "Find a seat everyone, this could take a while." They all looked to him expectantly, although some, Elisa, notably, looked more impatient than anything else. It was a curious sensation being intimidated and annoyed at the same time. "Well, where to begin?"
"Once upon a time?" Anya suggested brightly, as she sat on the couch next to Angela. The glower Elisa sent toward her made up his mind for him.
"All right. Once upon a time there was a little town called Sunnydale, and in the town lived a vampire Slayer. Now this Slayer looked forward to one night each year with special anticipation. Halloween…" Some of his audience exchanged confused glances as Xander slipped into a voice that was more suited to telling children bedtime stories than briefing warriors before a battle.
Buffy smirked as she half listened to Xander's story. She could almost hear Maza's teeth grinding together. And at that moment she needed something to smile about. Giles’ recently acquired copies of the Books of Ascension had given him new insights into some of the incidents described in a Watcher's diary written about 150 years previously. It seemed that a Slayer had unknowingly prevented an Ascension. The Watcher at that time had only known that the sorcerer, Edward Fingon, was planning a spell that would supposedly bring him great power. Since the cost of that power was hundreds of innocent lives the Watcher had sent his Slayer into the fray. There had been a great battle, and the Slayer had barely survived, but Edward Fingon had not been so lucky. A crucial spell had been interrupted and the backlash of energies had apparently incinerated him.
After the battle, some of Fingon's possessions had turned up missing. The Slayer, Barbara McCrimmon, had brought her Watcher some of the items used by the sorcerer, but many had been claimed by members of the Fingon family or had simply vanished. With the passage of time, and the rest of the Fingon line, many of the magical relics once owned by Edward Fingon were scattered. A journal written by Edward had been lost, which troubled the Watcher greatly, since he believed it to contain details of the spells the sorcerer had used.
Other items had been lost as well. A crest, which was allegedly the key to some sort of protective enchantment disappeared. There was also mention of a box of some sort. The Slayer had reported to her Watcher that it allegedly held some sort of great power which Fingon intended to call on to make his spell work. Based on the description of the box, Giles had identified it as an artifact he knew to be currently in the possession of Ethan Rayne.
If Giles was right, then Ethan only needed one item to do whatever he was planning to do. He needed the key to the box. Unfortunately, Giles had no idea where the key was. Based on Faith's recent determined activities though, I believe that Ethan may know where the key is. Buffy, it is imperative that that box is not opened. There is no hard information on what is inside, but I have found other references to it, vague and ominous references to a great evil.
"Oh, terrific," Buffy muttered. "Another great evil, that's all I need." She looked over at Xander whose tone had become more serious now that he was telling them about the band candy incident and the reason behind it.
"He poisoned an entire town?" Angela was shocked.
"Well, drugged anyway. The candy didn't kill anyone; it just made them act really strange. They began to act like little kids, sugar hyped little kids. Running all over the place, acting crazy, not caring about consequences."
"Why?" Goliath had been tolerant of Xander's game till it became clear how much it was annoying Elisa. Then the clan leader insisted that he get on with it.
"A distraction. The mayor needed to get a sacrifice for one of the demons he'd made a deal with. The people had to be out of it so they wouldn't notice the sacrifice being taken."
"What was this sacrifice?" Angela wanted to know.
"Babies." For the first time since the story began, Xander seemed to be taking the matter seriously. "Laconis, the demon, eats babies, or did until Buffy set it on fire. She and Giles managed to rescue the kids and get them back to the hospital they'd been snatched from. Unfortunately Ethan slipped his cuffs and was gone by the time we got back to him." A speculative look came over his face. "I'm sure there's an interesting story behind what Giles and Buffy's mom were doing with those."
"And I'm sure I don't want to know about it." They turned to find Buffy approaching with the pages Giles had sent. "I think I know what's going on." They gave her their full attention as she related what Giles had learned. "So the rumor about this spell to restore life probably has something to do with the Ascension. I think Faith is hoping to use it to bring the mayor back."
"Why wasn't this spell used to revive Fingon, then?" Goliath wanted to know.
"It was probably never used," Xander surmised. "Actually, I doubt there is such a thing. That kind of power doesn't come cheap. What would someone have to give for a guarantee like that? Think about it. I'm a psycho who works magic. I want people scared of me. I've got some power, but what's the harm in having them think I'm even tougher? " He focused on Buffy. "Did Giles have anything to say about that?"
"Only that he couldn't find a reference to anything else like it in his books. He speculates that Fingon may have been inflating his reputation a little. It wouldn't matter if he could actually do it if enough people believed he could. It probably helped keep people in line. You know, wondering, if he could do that then what else was he capable of?"
"That sounds reasonable," Angela put in. "Mother thought much the same thing."
Goliath glanced at her sharply. "Demona?"
"I told her what we've been up to. I thought she might have some ideas. She said that she had never heard of such a spell."
"It does seem unlikely," Elisa mused. She turned to Goliath. "Remember when we ran into Anubis? He seemed dead set against the idea of anyone coming back to life." Goliath nodded, and for once it was Buffy and Xander's turn to exchange incredulous looks. Putting it quickly behind her, Buffy forged ahead.
"So what if Ethan is using Faith? If he found out about this spell and knew what the mayor was up to, he might have gotten Faith's hopes up in order to get her to do the dirty work for him."
"Okay Buff, I can see him doing that, but why? What does he get out of it, aside from an all expense paid trip to the morgue when Faith figures it out?"
"I think I know," Buffy flipped through the pages until she found the reference she wanted. "Giles talks about a box that was supposed to contain some 'great evil'. He says that Ethan has the box, but he may not be able to use it. He probably needs the things he's having Faith steal in order to open it safely." She saw thoughtful nods from around the room, including, much to her surprise, from Maza.
"So he wants whatever the box contains, but he can't open it without the right precautions."
"So does he have all he needs?" Broooklyn asked.
"I don't think so. In that picture he and Faith still look relatively cozy. I know Faith, and I know Ethan. The guy grates on you. With Faith's short temper she'd have killed him long ago if she didn't think she needed him." Xander nodded, in full agreement.
"That's true. Faith has certainly killed for less than the kind of irritation that Ethan causes."
"What I don't understand is why he does these things you say he's done." They glanced at Elisa. "What's the point?"
"What's the point when an arsonist burns down a random building? Why does someone who's already wealthy or could make a good living honestly, steal instead?"
"Thrill?" Elisa hazarded.
"Exactly. Ethan lives for chaos. He causes all these problems because it's 'fun.' Then he sits back and watches."
"I hate fighting wizards," Angela said to no one in particular.
"I begin to see the problem," Brooklyn said dryly. "So how do we stop him?"
"I find violence works pretty well." Buffy smirked. "All of the spells I've seen him use have taken some preparation or special objects. Like that statue of Janus. The spell was broken when Giles smashed it. The question becomes what does he want with that box, and where is this key he still needs?"
She slipped over the wall at the gap she had identified in the security camera's coverage. The gap only lasted a few seconds, but it was enough for Faith. She moved across the lawn, careful to stick to the areas not covered by the motion detectors. It took several minutes to cross the lawn, minutes that strained Faith's patience, but she had little choice. The security here was too tight. She couldn't get in and out with the key fast enough to avoid the police if she triggered an alarm. Since the key was the last item they needed to perform the spell, it wasn't something she was prepared to risk.
She snipped wires and bypassed circuits just as she'd been taught, and opened a first floor window. Slipping in, she moved across the room quiet as a shadow. She knew where the key was kept, roughly, but would still need to search for it. Fortunately, she would have time. The owner of the house wasn't due back till late that night.
It took only a moment to find and disable the security grid protecting the house. It would be obvious after the fact that someone had been there, but by then, she would be long gone, with the key.
Once she no longer had to worry about alarms she withdrew the small charm Ethan had given her. She spoke the incantation as he had taught her and it began to glow. The glow grew stronger or weaker, depending on whether she was moving toward or away from the object the charm was keyed to. Faith moved back and forth across the living room, holding up the charm. It's glow brightened considerably as she approached a long side hall. It didn't look promising so she started to move past it. The glow started to fade. She moved back toward the hall and reluctantly turned down it. A feeling of unease rose and her patience with the magical knickknack dropped in direct proportion. Suddenly, she realized what was happening. A spell. The room at the end of the hall was protected by a warding spell. She shoved aside the feeling of unease and forged ahead.
When she reached the door, the light from the charm abruptly dimmed and then flared again, as did the door. With an almost audible pop, the ward on the door collapsed and Faith went in. She began searching the workroom she found herself in. There were all sorts of things there that would have interested the boss, but she only wanted one thing.
"I haven't seen you this enthusiastic in a long time," Andrea smiled at her friend. "So what's this idea you have for the next P.I.T. rally?"
"Easier to show you than tell you," Dominique said, leading the way up the front walk. She opened the door and keyed in the alarm code by touch. Several seconds passed before she realized that the system hadn't beeped in acknowledgment or made any sound for that matter. She whirled to look at the panel. It was completely dark. The implications hit her immediately. Angela knew the code, but she would have simply turned it off, not disabled it. Someone was in the house, someone who didn't belong there. She turned to Andrea.
"Stay here!" she whispered. Shedding her coat, she crept through the darkened room, almost immediately catching an unfamiliar scent. She followed it and soon found herself in the hall that led to her workroom. Her hissed in fury as she saw the door was open. Charging down the hall she barged into the room prepared to rend whoever had dared to violate her sanctum. There was no one there. She made a quick survey and saw that one of the doors of a normally locked cabinet stood open. There was something missing, but she didn't have time to find out what before a noise from the living room attracted her attention.
"Andrea!" She raced back down the hall and back to her living room. A cheap vase of flowers from one of Angela's admirer's lay broken on the floor. Next to the small side table where it had stood was Andrea and a human she didn't recognize. She saw the glint of steel in the stranger's hand as she ran into the room.
The knife abruptly changed course as the stranger saw her and Andrea was yanked in front of the intruder. The knife appeared at her throat. Dominique stopped in her tracks, unwilling to risk any harm coming to her friend.
"That's right. Just keep your distance." Andrea's eyes bulged as she felt the edge of the knife against her throat. "You wouldn't want your friend getting hurt." She backed toward the door, dragging Andrea. Dominique matched her step for step.
"If you hurt her you won't get out of here alive," she promised.
"Ooh, scary," the intruder, a young female, Dominique saw, seemed less than impressed. That would change. "Why would I want to hurt her? She's so cute." She turned her head slightly and licked the side of Andrea's neck, mixed expressions of fear, confusion, and disgust flitted across the artist's face. Dominique growled, drawing another confused look from her friend. The girl just laughed. Suddenly she drew her head back and snapped it forward into the side of Andrea's skull. The artist lost consciousness and slumped in her captor's arms. The girl pulled the knife away with such speed and force that Dominique was sure her friend had just been killed.
The girl then did something she hadn't expected. She threw Andrea one armed, like a shot-put. Dominique leapt forward and caught her friend whom she was happy to see was not cut and set her aside quickly in the nearest chair. Less than a second after Andrea had been thrown at her Demona roared and sprang at her enemy.
Faith was already moving, but whirled when she heard the roar. The woman was charging toward her on all fours, her form strangely distorted. With no time to think, she grabbed the first item that came to hand, a heavy oak wall unit, and heaved. It came crashing down on… whatever it was, with a satisfying crunch and howl of pain.
Faith didn't linger to check her handy work, though. Buffy had once told her that the first rule of slayage was don't die. She didn't know what she had just seen, but she wasn't really interested in getting a closer look. She ran.
"Actually," Elisa stepped forward, "you do have other problems. Sunnydale P.D. is still interested in you. A warrant has been issued for your arrest. But when my captain called to confirm that you were in New York, she discovered that the district attorney knows nothing about the warrant and isn't pursuing any case involving you."
Buffy shook her head. "Terrific. At least their incompetent bad guys."
"It limits your time, though. You can't hang around here. We know where Faith is, but we don't have any evidence. Frankly, your word won't carry much weight, not with your record." This won her an annoyed glance.
"This is new ground for me." Buffy admitted. "I just dust 'em and go. The aftermath isn't relevant. The foremath usually isn't relevant for that matter." She began to pace restlessly. "I can't see myself testifying in a court, too many awkward questions. I prefer my way, punch, stake, move on."
"I'm not surprised," Elisa's voice became sarcastic. "No legal complications."
"Vampires aren't big on due process," she snapped. Xander glanced back and forth between them. He could see both were getting agitated, so he tried to play peacemaker.
"Look, what we do isn't that different. We all investigate crimes. We all try to protect people. How 'bout we see a little professional courtesy, on both sides."
"Professional courtesy? There's a big difference here. The difference is I don't kill my suspects, or torture them for information." She rounded on Buffy. "Police work without the paperwork. I can see the appeal, leaves more time for clowning."
Xander surprised himself. He moved faster than the Slayer, putting himself between Buffy and the detective. Both of them looked furious. "Okay! Well, we seem to be getting a bit over excited here. Why doesn't everyone just take a step back and a few deep breaths? Y'know, cool off a bit?" Buffy and Elisa glared at each over Xander's shoulder, but neither moved any closer. Then Buffy whirled and stormed out of the room.
Elisa turned and left by another door, leaving stunned silence behind her. Xander looked around at them. Anya was staring at him, her mouth opening and closing.
"Xander, that was really stupid. Either one of them could have hurt you on the way to killing each other. What would that accomplish?"
Xander looked at her incredulously for a second, but he kept the sarcasm out of his voice when he responded.
"Sorry Anya, reflex. I'm working on it."
"I should hope so." None of the gargoyles knew what to make of this exchange, so they didn't comment.
"Perhaps," Goliath rumbled, "we should go talk to them." Xander nodded, but put a hand up as he moved to follow Elisa.
"Wait. I'll take her. You talk to Buffy." The gargoyle looked like he might argue, but Xander stood firm. "Look, they don't need consoling. They need a reality check. It won't be fun for either, but it's what they need. Try to explain Elisa's point of view. I'll do the same." Goliath thought for a moment, grim faced, but he finally nodded.
"Very well. I will try." He didn't bother saying that he wasn't sure he understood Elisa's point of view. Goliath turned to follow Buffy. Xander left to find the detective. He found her in the courtyard and didn't waste words.
"What was that
all about?" She turned, surprised to be addressed. "There was no reason to do that."
"No reason? You two treat this like it was some kind of joke. There are lives at stake."
"You think we don't know that?" Xander growled, getting genuinely angry. "You think a lack of bureaucracy is the difference between us? Let me tell you what’s the real difference. Every time we go out on a mission there are lives at stake. Every time. No we don't talk about it. We can't, just can't be serious all the time, not and stay out of a rubber room. Don't you get it? If a 'perp' gets away from us it doesn't mean that someone may get their purse snatched or their car stolen. It means that someone will die, because we failed." Elisa was speechless. Xander pressed on before she could formulate any kind of a response.
"We don't chase thieves or vandals. We chase demons. Vampires don't inconvenience people; they kill people. Buffy is under enough pressure right now without you getting in her face." His voice became low and earnest, some of the anger draining away. "You think we kid around too much? That we don't take our work seriously? Too bad. The fact is we can't. We can't… we can't think so much about what we do, and what happens when we fail that it drives us screwy, and believe me it would." He turned and stalked away, taking a moment to compose himself. Elisa said nothing.
"Sometimes we see more ugliness in one night than you do in a month. Sometimes making a joke is the only way I can open my mouth without screaming. I don't expect you to understand what we're up against. I don't understand it, I'm not sure Buffy does either. We only know that we're fighting a war. A war
, detective, that has to be fought. We all protect and serve. And if that pithy quote doesn't do anything for you try this one: Inter arma enum silent leges." He turned and left.
Goliath found Buffy walking down the hall, tossing a wooden knife. He took a moment to notice the weapon. It seemed to be carved out of hardwood and sanded to a near razor edge and needle point. It was, he thought, a weapon ideally suited to a vampire Slayer. He cleared his throat to catch her attention, even as he had to increase his pace to match hers.
She rounded on him, catching the knife without missing a beat. Her jaw was clenched and her eyes practically shone with the force of her outrage. Before he could speak she jabbed him in the chest with a finger. "Don't! Don't try to defend that tirade. Don't try to make excuses. Just…don't." She turned to walk away, but Goliath placed a hand on her shoulder to stop her.
"That is not my intention." She looked at him warily. "Elisa should not have spoken as she did. More than once, in her association with my clan, she has had to bend or break Human law to protect us." He shook his head in confusion. "I do not understand her reaction to you." Her shoulder's slumped, and she sighed.
"I think I do. That's why it's so hard to deal with."
"I do not understand."
"I think I'm threatening her belief in an orderly universe." She gestured him to follow and resumed walking, feeling a need to burn off some energy. She surprised him with her next words. She seemed to have changed the subject.
"My mother hasn't been dealing with the Slayer thing very well. She sort of divides it in her mind you know? There's my world then there's the real world. Her one attempt to try to step into my world," Buffy shuddered as she recalled the aftermath of the Hansel and Grettel incident, "sent her screaming back to the real one."
Her mother had tried and failed to use the 'selective memory thing' that used to work so well for her when it was done unconsciously. She was still berating herself for what she had nearly done to Buffy.
"Elisa feels threatened, overwhelmed. However well she may cope with gargoyles and whatever, she's just not ready to… I think Giles would say, 'to incorporate vampires, demons, and slayers into her world view.'" Goliath considered this, then nodded slowly.
"I believe you may be correct. She accepted the existence of gargoyles readily enough, however, she has been tense ever since your return to New York. Perhaps, you 'blur the line' for her between…" He broke off, distressed at the thought that he might not be part of what Elisa thought of as the real world.
"You're 'normal' to her now. But me... I think I... Oh I don't know!" Her patience with amateur psychoanalysis exhausted, she started to stalk off again. "Leave me alone," she said, without turning around. "I just need a little time." She resumed tossing her knife as she walked. Goliath watched her go, contemplating what she had said. Perhaps he should speak to Elisa, once he had had time to decide how. He turned and headed for the library.
Demona pushed herself clear of the fallen wall unit. She could still feel broken bones, though they were knitting fast. She looked around to see that Andrea was still unconscious in the chair. It was something of a relief since being knocked unconscious had disrupted the illusion spell she used to appear human at night. She didn't want to have to deal with Andrea learning her secret on top of everything else. She checked her friend's pulse and found it strong and steady.
After debating for a moment, she called 911, and asked for an ambulance, before restoring her illusory disguise and trying to wake Andrea. She didn't know who the human bitch was, but she would pay for what she'd done.
Andrea was beginning to come around when the ambulance arrived.
"Okay, follow my finger." The young man watched Andrea's eyes closely as he moved his finger back and forth. He frowned. "Do you feel dizzy?" Andrea nodded, then winced. "All right, it looks like you’ve got a slight concussion. We’re gonna take you to the hospital for proper treatment, but you’ll be fine." He stood and turned to Dominique.
"What happened?" He nodded toward the fallen wall unit. "Did that fall on her?"
"No," Andrea said. "It was that woman. She must’ve hit me."
"What woman?" Dominique repressed a scowl. She didn’t want the police in here, but she couldn’t think of a way to cut off Andrea without having to answer some difficult questions.
"She must’ve broken in. When we got here the alarm was off or it wasn’t working. She grabbed me from behind and threatened me with a knife."
"Have the police been called?" The question was directed at Dominique. She shook her head.
"I was more worried about Andrea. I didn’t think to call them." He nodded in understanding.
"We’ll take care of her now." Although Andrea insisted she could walk, they carried her out on a stretcher. Dominique knew there would be questions, from Andrea and probably from official sources. So, she did something she hated doing. She called Elisa Maza.
Elisa was still stewing, but she had to admit that Harris had a point. She didn't have to deal with what Buffy did on a daily basis. Harris and Buffy might not be 'soldiers' in the strictest sense, but they were fighting a war, and much as she hated to admit it, it was a war she wanted no part of. She had quite enough on her plate as it was without adding demons to the list. The vampires were bad enough, but Summers was human. She couldn't in good conscience extend the kind of protection she offered the gargoyles to her without feeling she was falling down on the job.
She wondered if that was a form of reverse prejudice. Probably. She sighed, angry with herself. She shouldn't blow up at Buffy, just because she couldn't deal with the Slayer's problems. I owe her an apology
. She turned to go find the Slayer.
On the way in she passed Owen, being followed closely by Graeme. "Detective Maza," he greeted her, "I-"
"Hey Owen, you speak Latin."
"What does, inter arma enum silent leges mean?" To her surprise, it was Graeme who answered.
"It's a quote from Cisero. It means 'In time of war the law falls silent.'" Elisa looked at the young gargoyle, curiously. Even Owen seemed surprised.
"When did you read Cisero?" He asked.
"Never," Graeme answered. "I heard it on an episode of Star Trek." Elisa rolled her eyes.
"That makes sense."
"What does?" Graeme asked confused.
"Oh, nothing." Elisa said hastily. No matter the source of his knowledge, Harris had still chosen a rather round about and thought provoking way of telling her to shut up. "You were saying something Owen?"
"There is a call for you." He held out the cell phone. She took it.
"Hello? Maza here." She stopped in her tracks when she heard the voice on the other end of the line. Her amazement grew when she heard what the voice had to say.
"Well, that’s it." Elisa put away the last bit of evidence that could be gathered from the scene. "I'll still need you to file a formal complaint." The red-headed gargoyle seemed less than happy about that. She had discarded the illusion and was prowling the room impatiently. Despite the fact that they had a truce of sorts, Demona still made Elisa nervous, especially in her natural form. Demona took a small pleasure in knowing that the detective was uncomfortable.
"Is that necessary?"
"'Fraid so if you want anything done about this. Can you describe the person? Maybe talk to a sketch artist?"
"I can do better. There are security cameras in here as well as outside. She may have gotten in without setting off any alarms, but she can't have escaped all of the cameras. I'll make some still images from the tape."
"What about the tape itself?" Demona shook her head.
"My illusions don't work on cameras. I've no desire to have your police labs watching me on tape."
"I see." This was news to Elisa. "Okay. I'll come up with some explanation. Can you get the stills for tomorrow?"
"Yes. I'll bring them to the station. What's wrong?" She noted the pensive look on Elisa's face.
"I don't believe in coincidences. Could I see the tapes now? I need to see this robber." Demona gritted her teeth at having Elisa there any longer than necessary, but agreed. Soon the tape from the living room camera was being fast forwarded in the VCR. Demona stopped the tape at the first good image of the intruder. It was when the lights had come on and Faith was holding Andrea hostage.
"You know her?"
"Yes. She's the thief I've been looking for. This gives me the evidence I need to arrest her. I can worry about pinning the other robberies and the murders on her later." Demona's eyes narrowed.
"You know where she is?" Elisa nodded.
"We'll bring her in tomorrow morning. What was stolen?" The change in subject surprised Demona.
"Nothing important really. She took a puzzle key."
"Key? A key to what?"
"I'm not sure. I came across it some years ago and could feel the magic in it. I never have learned what it was meant to unlock."
"I think I know." It was against her better judgment, but Demona was a sorceress, a very old one. She might have some insight into what was going on. She laid out the whole story for her, Buffy, Faith, Ethan Rayne, the promised spell, and the box. Demona listened carefully and considered the implications.
"This Ethan is playing with fire."
"Are you talking about what the box contains or what Faith is likely to do if she catches on?" Demona cocked an eyebrow.
"I'm sure there's a fascinating story behind that," she said dryly. "Actually, both apply. All I really know about the spell on the key is that it is strong and well crafted. Whatever is in the box, someone was very serious about keeping it there."
"Mr. Giles message said that his books only refer to a 'great evil'. Not very helpful."
"That is your problem. For her sake you had best catch Faith. If you don't I will deal with her myself." Elisa nodded, not really wanting an argument. She left soon after to return to the precinct.
By nine o'clock, the warrant was ready. Plain clothed officers and uniforms were in place for the arrest. They had moved in carefully, so as not to be noticed. There were squad cars cruising about two blocks away. Elisa and Matt waited across the street, waiting for the signal. When they received confirmation that the two suspects were in the apartment they entered the building to take up positions.
They had the manager's reluctant cooperation. He had agreed to call them down to the lobby on some pretense. It turned out not to be necessary. Only a few minutes after the call confirming their presence, Ethan left the building.
"What preparations?" Faith demanded. "Do you know what I went through to get this stuff? What's the hold up?"
"My dear, just because you have all the ingredients for a gourmet meal doesn't mean you are ready to eat. This will require some patience. I need to go out to get some fresh ingredients for a protection spell. I want to leave nothing to chance when the box is opened."
"How long is this going to take?"
"Once everything is in place, the casting will actually take only an hour or so. It sounds like a long time, but for such a powerful spell that's actually fairly quick. Provided it's done right," he added before she could start complaining again. He rose and moved toward the door. "And don't mess with the box. It's the power source for the spell. Without it-"
"Yeah, yeah, I get it. Just hurry up." Faith glared after him until the door closed. She regarded the plain wooden box doubtfully. It had three words carved on the lid in elaborate script. She tried to read them, but it was in a language she didn't recognize. The most impressive aspect of it actually, was the lock. It was like none she had ever seen. Ethan had called it a puzzle lock. It was made of solid iron and had what she vaguely recognized as mystical symbols at three points around the 'key hole'. Ethan had the key with him. He hadn't pushed his luck by saying so, but she knew that he didn't trust her. Not that he had anything to worry about in that regard.
Although she would never admit it to another person, magic scared her. She had seen some remarkable, and terrifying things done with magic, and she didn't know what to do against something she couldn't hit. She remembered being told how one of Buffy's friends had turned herself into a rat and got stuck that way. She shuddered every time she thought about it. Shaking her head, she switched to one of her favorite lines of contemplation. Soon, the boss would be back.
Between them they could do anything. She still kicked herself for failing him before. If it hadn't been for her getting laid up he would be alive and well right now. Once he was with her again they would wipe Sunnydale off the map. It would be quick for most, but not for Buffy.
Thinking about what she would do to the other Slayer always gave her a happy. She kept adding details to the little fantasy. Her only regret was that Buffy could only die once. She stopped and glanced at the box. Maybe…
A knock on the door interrupted her tantalizing line of thought. She moved automatically to answer, then stopped. Only Ethan had any reason to be coming to the apartment and he wouldn't knock. Something tickled her Slayer instincts and she picked up her knife. It was just like the one the boss had given her. She had broken into three stores before finding it. It wasn't the boss's gift, but it reminded her of him and that they would soon be back together.
Tucking the knife into her waistband at the small of her back, she moved toward the door. It burst open as she approached.
"Police! Don't move." A dark-haired woman stepped in and to one side, allowing a male cop to come in and cover her from another direction. The first grabbed her and spun her to try to cuff her, Faith moved. The cop had grabbed her knife. Unacceptable.
Faith ducked, twisted, shoved and swept. The female cop landed on her butt halfway across the room with a surprised look on her face. Faith snatched the knife from her as she fell away and sent it spinning across the distance between her and the door where the second, red-haired cop was trying to draw a bead on her. The gun fell from nerveless fingers as he looked down at the knife protruding from his gut. Three uniforms were trying to come in behind him. Cursing silently at the loss of yet another knife, she grabbed the box and bolted for the window.
Their apartment was on the third floor and there was no fire escape. Faith didn't hesitate. She yanked up the window and slid through in under a second. For a brief instant she flashed back to another fall. She shoved aside the memory of the night she nearly died and concentrated on landing without breaking any bones. The pedestrian nearly screwed it up for her. A perfect drop-and-hard-roll -to-absorb-the-impact was spoiled by a fat man with delusions of jogging.
Faith very nearly hit him feet first, bounced off him and landed on her head. She saw him in time though and shifted position so that her tucked knees struck him in his well-padded chest, sending him over backwards. He proved a fine mattress and she rolled from his chest to the sidewalk without nearly as much kinetic energy to dissipate. She rolled twice and was up and away.
Sirens sounded almost immediately, and Faith went into evasive maneuvers that she had planned ahead of time, just in case. She had expected Buffy or her friends, not the police, but if anything, the police were easier to shake.
The ambulance was pulling away with Matt when Buffy showed up. She was just part of the crowd of gawkers, but Elisa spotted her immediately. Her expression was cold and deadly. Elisa had seen that look before, and knew that it was one of the Slayer's favored tactics. Xander referred to it as "the Look." For the first time, Elisa felt the full impact of the Look and understood its implications. Buffy was pissed.
Before Elisa could acknowledge her or do anything that might give away her presence, the Slayer turned and left. Elisa sighed, shoving all other concerns aside for the moment and focused on what the uniform had to say.
"We got close detective. We nearly had her in the parking garage over on Third, but she jumped," he shook his head in disbelief. "She jumped
to the roof of the building across the street. I've never seen anything like it. It had to be an Olympic record or something. We thought we had her cornered so no one was close enough to intercept her. Sorry detective."
Elisa nodded grimly, suppressing her frustration. Faith had proven herself every bit as dangerous as Buffy had claimed. She had been over it in her mind and she still had no idea how Faith had slipped away from her. One moment she had been slapping the cuffs on Faith and taking away her knife, the next she was flat on her back and Faith was jumping out a window.
The paramedics had tried, but Faith had caved in the man's chest when she landed on him. Matt was luckier. He would require emergency surgery to live, but he would pull through. The only bright spot was that they had caught her accomplice. Elisa turned and approached the squad car where Ethan Rayne sat under guard.
After Faith's dramatic escape, Elisa took Buffy's warnings about Ethan more seriously. She had given orders that he be watched constantly. She checked his handcuffs when she got to the car and found one bracelet loosened. She tightened it, causing him to wince.
"Where has she gone?" Elisa demanded.
"You're asking me? I've been chained up down here. Not that the company hasn't been charming of course," he added nodding to the stone-faced officer.
"Did you have an alternate meeting place, a place she might go to hide out?" Ethan declined to answer. "Okay, take him down town and book him for possession of stolen goods." Two of the items stolen, the journal and the crest, had been in plain view in the apartment. "Run a thorough check on him. I'm sure we'll turn up more."
"Yes detective." The officer shut the car door and moved around to the driver's side of the car. Ethan gave her a smile and nodded in a good-natured manner. Elisa just scowled. The guy gave her the creeps.
Xander watched Buffy pace. She had barely said a word since returning. All he knew was that Faith was still free. He kept quiet and watched her pace and think. It was nightfall before Xander got the full story. Detective Maza returned shortly before sunset, and they waited for the gargoyles to wake up. Xander and Anya had spent the day in the library, looking through Xanatos' collection of ancient books, looking for some clue as to what might be in the box. They'd had no luck.
Once everyone was assembled, Elisa told them what happened. Buffy listened silently. She was past her initial anger over the blown arrest. Now she just wanted to move on.
"Will your partner be all right?"
"He'll be out of action for a while, but he'll be fine. The doctor said he was lucky."
"He was." Buffy pushed forward before Elisa could decide whether to take offense or not. "So. Faith has the box, but not the key, the crest, or the journal."
"No. Those are in the police evidence room. Even a Slayer will have a hard time getting at them. We have Ethan too. We have hopes of prying something out of him."
"Don't underestimate him," Buffy warned. "He's essentially a coward, but he's full of tricks." Elisa nodded, knowing too well that Buffy was right.
"He almost got out of the cuffs three times before we got him into a cell. I've got a guard down in the cells to keep an eye on him. As yet, he's refused to say anything about Faith, and we can't question him without a lawyer. He's set to be arraigned tomorrow afternoon."
"That could work in our favor," Buffy commented. "Once he makes bail, he and I can have a nice long chat."
"No," Elisa insisted flatly. "I won't have you beating answers out of him. This isn't the Spanish Inquisition or even Sunnydale. I won't allow it." Buffy started to protest, but Elisa cut her off. "Don't try to justify it to me. You're not touching him."
"It won't be necessary," Xander assured her.
"Oh?" Both women looked at him curiously.
"Let me talk to Ethan. He can have visitors, right?"
"Yes, but you're not touching him either."
"I won't lay a hand on him or even threaten him."
"What do you intend to do then?" Xander only smiled.
"That's right captain. I think, afterwards, Rayne might be more cooperative. Or at least his visitor says he will be."
"What does that mean Maza? Who is it? Your source, Summers?"
"No captain, a friend of hers."
"Does he know anything about Faith that may help us catch her?"
"He knows her," Elisa confirmed. "He told me that she once tried to kill him." Chavez frowned.
"There's no file on Faith whatsoever. Why was she never charged?"
"No witnesses. With no evidence but his word, it would only have aggravated her." Chavez sighed.
"I see. I'd like a word with him. Any insight might be useful. I'm not letting Faith out of this city." Elisa nodded.
"A visitor?" Ethan ran down the short list of possibilities. None were overly pleasant. He got up off the bunk and left his cell. The guard watched him carefully. He had concocted and discarded half a dozen escape plans, but he was rarely out of sight of one cop or another, and he was sure he knew who was responsible for that.
He was escorted into a room with a long row of booths with a glass wall separating prisoners from visitors. At first he didn't recognize the young man waiting for him. Then it clicked. He was one of Buffy's friends, Sander or something.
"Hey Ethan! Long time no see."
"What do you want?"
"When we heard you were in jail, we had to help."
"Of course. You're due to be arraigned later today. Giles is making arrangements to pay your bail." Ethan stiffened in alarm.
"Ripper is here? In New York?" Xander nodded.
"He decided that there wasn't anymore he could do back home so he flew out last night. He and Buffy are looking forward to seeing you again."
"Are they?" He sounded less than pleased wit the idea.
"Absolutely. You see Faith has your box. Even if she doesn't have the key she may try to open it."
"That," Ethan grew pale, "would be a very bad idea."
"Exactly. You can help us find her before she does anything we all might regret." He let Ethan think about that for a moment before he asked. "What's in the box?" Ethan didn't answer, but Xander could practically hear the gears grinding. "I'm sure Buffy can help you remember." He nodded and got up. "See you later. We'll be at the courthouse so you won't have to go back to jail. You can just come with us." He moved out of the booth and walked to the door.
Elisa was waiting for him outside. "The captain would like a word with you. Follow me."
"If you're holding back information that could help us catch a cop killer you could be charged with obstructing justice." They both turned to see Chavez watching them. Her tone brooked no argument and Xander followed.
Chavez led the way back to her office. She took her place behind her desk and looked keenly at Xander. "What do you have to do with Ethan Rayne and Buffy Summers?" Xander didn't answer. He clearly hadn't expected to be questioned himself. "Summers has a record with the police in Sunnydale. Rayne doesn't appear to have any kind of records. Explain this." She deliberately didn't elaborate, curious to see what information she could scare out of him. He didn't say anything at first finally he nodded.
"I don't think you would believe it."
"Ethan is… an old acquaintance. He turns up every now and then to keep Sunnydale from getting boring." He grimaced at the memory of some of the sorcerer's 'antics'.
"Meaning?" Xander shook his head.
"It wouldn't help. There's no evidence of what Ethan has done."
"Tell us anyway." Xander could see they weren't going to let up. He could leave if he made an issue of it, but he really didn't want to make enemies here.
"All right. A while back, back home, the school's jazz band was having a fund raiser. Principal Snyder drafted all of us into the candy selling ranks. The school board got the candy bars from Ethan. A few hours after the candy hit the streets the town went nuts. There was something in the candy he distributed that effected the behavior of the people who ate it." He shook his head, "some drug, I don't know what, that sent inhibitions out the window. There were a lot of accidents that night. Bankers, teachers, doctors, and such running wild, having drag races and stuff like that."
Chavez looked incredulous. "You can't be serious. Why wasn't he arrested?" Xander shrugged.
"I don't know. The whole thing is still 'under investigation.'" Nobody who knows what happened was questioned or listened to. I'm guessing mayor Wilkins wanted the whole thing covered up."
"Why? I've been in contact with people in California. An investigation into Wilkins' activities is getting underway, but even assuming he had such complete control of the town, why wouldn't he want Rayne punished?" Again Xander shook his head.
"I don't know. What I do know is that Ethan is dangerous. He shouldn't be trusted under any circumstances."
"I find this very difficult to believe," Chavez warned. She wanted him to have no doubt that there would be consequences if he lied to her. Xander only shrugged.
"I told you you wouldn't."
"Why did you offer to pay his bail?"
"You were eavesdropping? Doesn't that violate some civil right?"
"Are you his attorney or doctor? If not, then no, now answer the question."
"We want to catch Faith. He's the best chance we have of doing so."
"That's our concern, not yours." Chavez voice was cold. "Don't think I'm stupid Mr. Harris. You were threatening him."
"What would give you that idea?" he asked innocently.
"Who is 'Ripper?'"
"An old friend of Ethan's. They've known each other since they were teenagers in London. It's a nickname that Rupert Giles, our school librarian picked up back then. He's changed quite a bit since."
"Librarian." Xander could practically see the suspicion level drop. "Why would Ethan be afraid of a juvenile delinquent like Summers and a school librarian?" Maybe not.
A knock at the door saved him from answering. A uniform came in.
"Excuse me captain. Ethan Rayne has asked to speak to detective Maza. He says he has some urgent information for her." Chavez looked back at Xander who was trying to hide smirk.
"It would appear your visit had the desired effect. Come with us."
"Captain?" Elisa wasn't sure she had heard correctly.
"I want him here to answer questions. I want the whole story." Unusual though it was, Elisa didn't say anything more as Chavez led the way toward he interrogation room where Ethan was waiting. His eyes narrowed in suspicion when he saw Xander.
"You wanted to talk to me?" Elisa asked.
"What is he doing here?"
"Not your concern. What is it you want to say?"
"Ah well, just as well then, saves me a trip." He turned to face Chavez fully. "I can help you catch Faith, but I want some guarantees."
"Not just from you." He looked at Xander. "I want out, plain and simple. No interference from the Slayer, Rupert or the rest of your merry little band."
"Slayer?" Chavez looked back and forth between them. They ignored her.
"So you can continue on your way causing chaos like always? Now what would convince me to allow that?" Ethan smiled enigmatically.
"If you think you've seen chaos before, wait until Faith opens that box. The creature in there has been a prisoner for a long time. He'll just be waiting for a chance to cut loose. Should be quite amusing actually, provided one is 'safely locked up.'" He smiled smugly as Xander considered that.
"I can't speak for her on that," he said hesitantly.
"Of course you can. You've been.. playing Riker to Buffy's Picard ever since our romp on Halloween night, perhaps well before that. I know she trusts your judgment, and will support your decision."
"That's enough manure Ethan, it's getting hard to breathe in here." Xander was flattered despite himself, but he knew Ethan was just buttering him up. "Besides, even if we agree, they have a say in the matter." He nodded toward Elisa and Captain Chavez. Ethan's smile didn't falter.
"I'm not concerned."
"You should be." The chill in the police captain's voice finally got Ethan's attention. "You were working with Faith on these robberies. Robberies during which she killed three people, one of them a cop. That would make you an accessory if New York state law hadn't changed to abolish that. You won't be charged as an accessory to murder. You'll be charged with murder. That could lead to life in prison for you or the death penalty. Do you really think that you have more pressing concerns?" Ethan stopped smiling.
"If Faith finds out that he's been lying to her," Xander assured them, "he won't live to stand trial and he won't escape. I think that's what's worrying him." Chavez shot him an angry glance, realizing that she had made a mistake having him there. This was confirmed when Ethan addressed Xander again.
"What makes you think I've been lying to her?"
"We know about the story Fingon spread about his restoration. It's pure garbage. She thinks you can bring her boss back to her." He shook his head. "We both know it ain't gonna happen. Did you really think you could ditch her when you had what you wanted? Faith may be a psycho, but she's not stupid. Well, she's not stupid enough to trust you at any rate."
"You have a point," Ethan admitted reluctantly. "I learned too late that I underestimated her. I may need protection, which is another reason I've agreed to help you." He turned to address Captain Chavez. "I've made Faith some promises that I can't keep. Now it seems I won't be able to simply slip out at my convenience." He suppressed a smile as he added a barb to his admission. "Faith is to sharp for that."
The implied insult wasn't lost on the captain. She kept her irritation in check, though. "Where is Faith now?"
"Before I tell you, I'd like to discuss the kind of guarantees I want from you." Chavez bristled at his arrogance, but Ethan cut her off. "You won't catch her without some kind of edge. The best you can do is kill her. I wouldn't object to that, but it's too much of a long shot, even for me to wager on. I can help you catch her, before she hurts or kills any of your officers. Why don't you call in a lawyer for me and we'll discuss it?" Chavez nodded.
"What's in the box Ethan?" Elisa asked, ignoring Chavez warning glance. Elisa knew they weren't supposed to question a suspect after he had asked for an attorney. Ethan considered before answering.
"Have you ever heard of the Box of Gavrox?"
"Yes," Xander put in. "I have, and I know that's not it. I helped to destroy that box three days before we left Sunnydale.
"No games Ethan. We won't be played. Either you deal straight, or you don't get any
guarantees. I know Faith, and by now, so do you." Ethan nodded reluctantly.
"I only mentioned it in order to make a comparison," he assured smoothly. "You know what the box contained?" Xander nodded. "Well what's in this box is worse."
"What's in the box?" Xander repeated Elisa's question. He glanced at Chavez and Elisa appraisingly before sighing and answering.
"They might believe me," he told Chavez. "You won't."
"Tell me anyway," the captain coaxed.
"What?" Chavez asked. "What is that?"
"Not what," Ethan replied. "Who. Cin-an-ev is a trickster that was worshipped by several native American tribes. I'm not sure how he came to be in the box, but according to the stories. He has to serve whoever opens it. Provided it's done correctly. Otherwise, he's free to do as he pleases. According to the legends surrounding him, he has a rather vicious sense of humor. Not one of the most beloved figures in native lore, but one of the more powerful ones." Chavez stared at him as if he'd suddenly insisted that the Earth was flat and the moon was made of oatmeal. She glanced around and was distressed to see Elisa and Harris apparently taking him seriously. They certainly looked very grave.
"What sort of nonsense is that?" she demanded. "I want to know what's in the box. What is so special about it that it is worth killing for?"
"I told you you wouldn't believe me."
"Captain," Elisa began reasonably. "Gargoyles have become common place in New York. Is it such a stretch that there are other things out there?"
"Indian gods?" Elisa shrugged.
"Well things that might be able to pass themselves off as gods. When Cortez arrived in Mexico, the Aztecs thought he was a god because he looked different and had strange weapons and things that they'd never seen."
"You're asking me to believe in what precisely Elisa? Mythical figures? What's next elves?"
"Why stop there?" Ethan jumped in with a smirk. "Why not werewolves and vampires?" Xander scowled at him, suddenly understanding why Buffy enjoyed hitting him so much. Chavez surprised everyone.
"Vampires? You mean like the one that apparently killed detective Stein?" They stared at her. "The coroner's report indicated severe blood loss from two puncture marks on the neck, but there wasn't much blood on his clothes or on the ground around him." She looked at the others at the table. "I saw his preliminary report before he tidied it up for the records. Speculations on vampires wouldn't have impressed his superiors."
"Then how...?" Elisa began curiously.
"It's a discussion for another time detective." She cut off Elisa before any questions could be asked. "Unless," she looked at Ethan, "you'd care to comment on his murder." Ethan shrugged.
"I honestly don't know anything about that." He had his suspicions though. He knew that Faith had brought a few of the mayor's surviving servants with her when she headed east with him. He kept an eye out for them, but as long as they kept their distance he didn't really care. "What matters now is finding Faith. I can help you do that. If I get some guarantees. Time is wasting captain. Do you want your cop killer or not?" That ended the meeting.
"Level with me detective." Elisa fidgeted, wanting to be anywhere else. "Cin-an-ev. Is what he says possible?" The question took Elisa by surprise, but she considered it carefully.
"Yes, captain. I believe it is."
"Would you care to check with your 'sources?’" Another surprise.
"I think that might be a good idea." Chavez nodded and Elisa left, trying not to look too amazed by her captain's behavior. She checked her watch. It was still early afternoon. The clan wouldn't be awake for several hours, but then it was really Owen she needed to talk to. She decided that it had best be face to face.
"Cin-an-ev?" Owen echoed. Elisa nodded.
"What do you know about him?"
"Nothing good, unfortunately." He removed his glasses and polished them while he thought back. "It was over a thousand years ago. Cin-an-ev is one of Oberon's Children as you've surmised. Unfortunately, he is a rather foul tempered Fay and had a tendency to cause trouble at the court. Oberon decided that a lesson in humility was called for. He stripped Cin of much of his power and imprisoned him in a magical box with an iron puzzle lock. He then saw to it that the box fell into the hands of an ambitious if incompetent sorcerer. Since then it has passed from one person to another. Cin is supposed to learn humility from his time in servitude to mortals, but I know him, and find it unlikely that he will learn anything from the experience."
"Can Faith open the box?"
"I do not know. I hope not. He was imprisoned for good reason. He may not learn anything, but he can't cause any further harm either. If she does open the box and breaks the spell that binds him, we may have a serious problem on our hands."
"And the Puck can't do anything unless this Cin-an-ev actually threatens Alexander." She frowned thoughtfully. "Well, we've still got the iron weapons we used against Madoc and his forces."
"It would be better if it didn't come to that detective." Elisa nodded, in full agreement with the disguised trickster.
"Detective Maza." Elisa turned to see Buffy coming toward her. She braced herself for an unpleasant confrontation. "Do you have any leads on Faith? Xander told me that Ethan got cooperative."
"Maybe, but you're not involved."
"I am involved," she insisted, getting angry "I won't allow a repeat of this morning's mess."
"You won't allow?"
"Faith will hurt or kill someone else soon. I won't have that on my conscience."
"She won't get away again. Believe it or not we do learn from our mistakes. Don't get in the way."
"Why are you so determined to exclude me? Would you turn down help from your friends out there?" She jerked her head in the general direction of the castle wall where the gargoyles slept. As soon as she said it she realized why the detective was being so stubborn and that she probably would turn down their assistance.
"What's really bothering you? Is it that I'm not a cop or that I'm not normal? Are you looking to prove that you can do this without any outside help? If that's it, you picked a bad time to let your pride get in the way."
"It's not pride. It's-" She stopped. Was it pride? She had never liked being dependent on anyone, but the gargoyles had been a great asset to the police and to the city for years now. She didn't resent them, so why react this way to Buffy?
"It's pride. You want this to be your victory, or at least a 'Human' victory, especially now with your partner hurt." Elisa's initial expression of outrage died slowly as she thought about what Buffy was saying. Was that truly it? Buffy looked as if she would like to continue, but was clamping down on the urge, now that her words seemed to be sinking in.
"Maybe," Elisa admitted. "Maybe you have a point." It wasn't easy to admit, but she realized that she had felt an unconscious bias against the Slayer, resentment and frustration that she finally admitted was foolish. "Your work isn't like mine," she began slowly, working it out for herself. "You can't play by the same rules. I guess it… I guess it's a bit hard to accept that you have a different set of rules because, you’re human."
"The gargoyles are outside the law. That makes it easier to deal with when they 'don't play by the rules.'" Elisa nodded. "But when I do things differently you just see a teenager breaking the law."
"I guess that’s it," Elisa admitted. She struggled with the idea for a moment then nodded, as she realized that that was what was behind her feelings toward the Slayer and her friends. "I owe you an apology I guess. I've been treating you pretty bad. You may be different, but you don't look it. Realizing that you're not is…"
"Frustrating for starters," Buffy surmised. "Yeah, I do understand. With the crowd I hang with I don't get it a lot, but I do understand."
"What about your crowd?" Elisa asked, tired of introspection and wanting to change the subject. "What about Xander and Anya? They seem just as strange in their way as you do."
"Well Anya certainly is. You know I used to date a vampire. I've also got a best friend who's a witch. She's dating a werewolf." Elisa felt reality slipping away.
"What about Xander what is he?" Buffy laughed.
"Xander is a perfectly normal human, but he, as Anya takes pride in pointing out, is probably the bravest one in the group."
"Because he is ordinary?" Buffy nodded.
"I guess she has a point too. He doesn't have to do this, but he does." She thought a moment, then had an idea. "You don't have to do it either, but you do." Elisa started to protest that she did indeed have to, then realized what Buffy was saying and why. She nodded slowly.
"Faith?" Buffy questioned cautiously. Elisa nodded.
"Ethan has agreed to help us catch her and to testify against her in exchange for immunity. He's given us a possible location for Faith."
"Is it a place Ethan and she arranged?"
"Ethan is a coward. Faith probably knows this by now and won't trust him. She might avoid places that he could tell the police about."
"Don't worry," Elisa smiled. "Ethan doesn't trust her either. He told us that he found out about a little hide-out that Faith established for herself. He's pretty sure that she doesn't know he knows about it."
"Good enough. When will your people be ready?"
"In about an hour. You wanna back us up?" Buffy grinned and nodded.
"I'll be there." They went into the library where they could work out the details.
"I think you should know, Ethan said he wanted guarantees from you as well."
"Xander told me."
"Did he tell you that Ethan specifically said that he wanted 'no interference from the Slayer?’" A look of undefined worry crossed her face for a moment, then it hit her.
"He said this in a police interview? In front of your captain?" Elisa nodded. "Oh great. Is she-"
"Asking questions? Oh, yeah. She wants to know what a Slayer is and how you figure into all of this." She continued before Buffy could begin a spiel about the need for secrecy. "She's covered for me in the past. I've only recently begun to realize how much. She knows about the gargoyles and my connection to them. She hasn't come out and said so, but I'm sure she does. I want to trust her with this, but it's not my secret. I told her that much."
"You think I should level with her?"
"She could be a big help if you can convince her." Buffy sighed.
"I wish Giles were here. He'd know what to do about this."
"Giles? Your librarian friend?"
"He's my Watcher. He trains me and tells me what I need to know, and a lot I don't need to know actually, about demons so I can do my job."
"You could call him, I suppose, but I think it would help if you told the captain something." Buffy nodded.
"I'm not sure how he'll react. We've gotten used to working around the police. The very idea is going to make him wig out."
"The captain is going to be there when we go after Faith. She won't want you there, even if you do tell her everything."
"Just tell me where to be. I'm pretty good at sneaking around. I’ll-" she raised a hand to forestall any objections. "I'll think about what to tell your captain."
"Where are the others?" Faith demanded.
"They're out hunting, mistress." The vamp, the one who used to be Wilkins' Chauffeur Faith recalled, looked nervous. "They were hungry." He saw the look on her face and stepped back hastily. "I told them to be careful, not to leave any traces. They will feed without leaving any traces. I made sure they understood this."
"They better understand. Buffy will pick up on the vamp activity in no time. You don't want her finding us like she found your two friends do you?" He shook his head.
"They'll be careful, mistress." Faith shoved him away angrily. She went back to the table where the box waited. Ethan said that without the key, opening the box would be like pulling the pin on a grenade, except this grenade would have a much bigger kick. The key, unfortunately, was with Ethan, who was now in jail. She cursed silently. Patience had never been Faith's strong suit. She had to find a way to get Ethan and the key out of the police station or she would never see the boss again.
"Has there been any word from vamps near the station?"
"Okay. Here's what I want you to do." It was a long shot, but it was the only one she had. "Find a cop who works the night shift and turn him. They won't let us get near Ethan or the evidence room, but they'll let one of their own in." The vamp nodded thoughtfully.
"Handle it personally. Be sure to get someone from the precinct where he's being held." He nodded and turned to leave.
Buffy saw them before Elisa did. Even when the detective saw them she didn't know them for what they were. Chavez, at least that was who Buffy assumed she was, reacted with annoyance at their intrusion. They were alone on the section of street near Faith's new hideout when the strangers arrived. The rest of the officers in on the raid were strung out around the block. This time no chances were being taken. Every possible exit was covered. Elisa and Chavez were across the street from the side entrance they planned to use.
Chavez was to stay outside in overall command while Elisa was to go in with backup from the 14th precinct when it arrived.
"Evening ladies. Lovely night." Chavez broke off giving instructions for the raid, and shot the three men an annoyed look. "Why are two such lovely ladies out on their own?"
"Not your concern. I suggest you clear out." The spokesman of the group grinned, and alarm bells began to sound for Elisa.
"Oh I think it is, especially if you're here for Faith." Chavez turned around to face the men, just as they changed. Chavez backed away, mouth hanging open. Elisa drew a stake Buffy had given her from insider her jacket and quickly stepped around the car, putting herself between the captain and the three vamps.
"What are they?" Chavez asked, staring at the twisted faces.
"Vampires," she answered succinctly. "Faith brought them from Sunnydale." Chavez' next question was cut short as one of the vamps exploded. The two survivors whirled, looking for the source of the attack. There was an audible 'thwap'
of a cross-bow bolt striking home, and a second exploded. The third made a dash for it, barging through the door, before it could be cut down. Elisa swore under her breath. "Now Faith will know we're here. We've got to go now." Chavez nodded, shelving her questions for later.
"All units, we've been spotted. Move in, now." Sirens sounded from down the street and the sound of doors being kicked open sounded from all sides of the warehouse complex that took up most of the block.
Weapons drawn the two women went through the door and split up. "What about the vampires?" Chavez asked. "What happened to them and are there more around?"
"Let Buffy worry about the vamps. She'll keep them off us. Let's find Faith. I'll explain later."
"I'll hold you to that." They moved through the warehouse room by room. They could hear cops all over the warehouse doing the same.
The sound of gunfire spurred them on. It was very confused, and punctuated with the occasional scream or roar. Elisa knew the sound of vampires by now. She cursed silently at not anticipating this. Between them they quickly sectioned off the warehouse. As backup arrived, each area was sealed off. Suddenly, the door in front of them burst open and a uniformed officer tumbled through. Chavez covered the door while Elisa checked for a pulse.
"Dead. His neck is broken."
"Look out!" Chavez knocked her aside as a wheeled cart came through the door at high speed. It shot past them, and Faith was right behind it. A quick kick sent Elisa's gun flying and Chavez was knocked flat by the rogue Slayer's charge, the gun slapped away with a force that nearly snapped the captain's wrist.
Morgan backed away from the creature before him. It had taken two rounds in the chest and hadn't even flinched. He shifted aim as another figure emerged from the shadows, but raised the weapon quickly when he realized the stranger's intention.
The stranger, a young man, swung a length of pipe at the thing's leg. There was a wet snap and a howl of pain as the pipe struck the creature's knee and it hit the ground. Letting go of the pipe, he drew something from inside his jacket and fell on the creature, driving whatever he held deep into its chest. It roared again and vanished in a burst of dust and ashes.
Coughing, he rose to his feet and held out what Morgan now saw was a wooden stake. "You're up against vampires. Don't question it right now, just change your tactics." Morgan took the stake and the stranger picked up his pipe and gestured him to follow. Morgan decided he'd figure it out later and just concentrate on staying alive.
They met up with two other uniforms. Both of which were carrying broken boards. The points were aimed toward them as they came into the room.
"Vampires?" Morgan asked. Officer O'Malley nodded.
"We kinda got that impression when one of 'em killed Benson. It just bit into his throat and-" he shuddered at the memory.
"Well, you got the right idea," Xander nodded toward the boards. "I suggest we get moving. Hook up with the rest of your people and let them in on the secret."
"Who're you?" O'Malley demanded.
"Me?" Xander grinned. " Xander Harris, vampire hunter." Morgan nodded, confirming Xander's claim. The officers didn't seem inclined to argue. They moved out together.
Faith ignored the two women after they were disarmed. She ran for the opposite door and the best chance of escape. A second after she passed through she came flying back and hit the floor hard. Chavez looked from Faith to the figure that had suddenly appeared in the doorway.
Like Faith, the newcomer was a young woman, no more than 19. She was short and slightly built, but she moved like a trained fighter, and her expression was one of cold fury.
"It's over, Faith."
"Hey B! I was wondering when you would show up. No fun without a little decent competition."
"Fun's over Faith. You're not getting away this time."
"I still don't know why you don't get it, B." They began maneuvering for position. Faith looking for a way past and Buffy looking for a way to take her down. "We're different, better than them." She jerked her head at Elisa and Chavez who were just recovering their guns.
"We're supposed to protect people Faith. We have a duty."
"Ha! To protect a bunch of weak normal humans? We're better than that. We're Slayers! We can do whatever we want."
"No. You can't." Faith glanced over at Chavez who was holding a gun on her. "You're tough, but you're not bullet proof. On the ground, now!"
"You heard her. Now!" Two uniforms appeared at the door Faith had been planning to use. Xander was right behind them.
"Give it up Faith. Your vamp friends are dust. They can't help you."
"When have I ever needed help?" Faith asked. She leaped at Buffy, closing with her so no one dared fire, and no one moved in to help Buffy. They knew they couldn't. The two Slayers grappled. Buffy tried to back off, but Faith stuck close. They traded blows with a speed that the others couldn't follow, let alone match. They could only stare and wince at the occasional sound of a bone breaking under the heavy blows.
They closed to grapple and Buffy took the opportunity to talk. "You really think you'll get Wilkins back, Faith? Come on, even you're not that dense." Faith said nothing, just redoubled her efforts to pin Buffy so she could use her for a shield. "Ethan lied to you. There is no restoration spell. You've been played, again."
Faith shouted in outrage and slammed Buffy to the ground. She intentionally kept Faith close while she talked. "Why would you want him back anyway? Guys like that aren't real forgiving of failure, and you didn't just fail him Faith. You betrayed him."
"Liar!" Faith screamed. Her attacks were becoming more frenzied, erratic, but she still stuck close to Buffy, moving too fast for anyone to attempt to help. "He was all I had and you killed him!" Buffy felt a rib give way under a vicious roundhouse, but Faith was taking as much punishment as she was dishing out.
"You betrayed him Faith. Don't tell me you forgot our little talk at the hospital?" Faith faltered, for a split second, uncertain. Buffy pressed the verbal advantage. "You want another deal?" she mocked. "Human weakness. It never goes away, not even his." Faith's eyes widened in shock.
"No! You were in my head!!?" Faith was screaming, almost incoherent, her attacks becoming wilder by the second. "I didn't! I didn't betray him. You stole from me!"
"I took what you willingly gave Faith, your strength, your pain. I know about you Faith. I know things because you gave it all to me willingly. You told me how to beat your boss." She added one last barb. "Thank you." After that she got too busy to talk.
Any pretense at form was gone. Faith fought like a wild animal. She gained the upper hand when Buffy managed to duck under a high punch and get behind her. An attempt at a kidney punch ended badly when her hand struck something hard under Faith's jacket. Shouting in pain and surprise she made a perfect target for a backhand blow.
Buffy went down. Faith didn't. She raised a booted foot over Buffy's head intending to crush it. She had forgotten about the police.
"Freeze! Back away! Now!" Faith paused and looked around at the guns pointed at her. Buffy rolled clear. Faith froze for a second, realizing her mistake, then a look of pure hate crossed her face. One hand reached under her jacket to pull out the object Buffy had struck a second before. No one waited to see what it was. Faith staggered as she was shot repeatedly. Two bullets struck the object she had pulled from her jacket. Cin-an-ev's box tumbled from her grasp and landed in front of Buffy. She slapped a hand over the lid, but couldn't stop it from opening.
"Uh-oh, what?" Morgan glanced at Xander for an explanation.
"He means me." A bright green light erupted from the box and coalesced into an almost human form. It was a burly male with dusky skin and the pointed ears of a Fay. Elisa motioned Chavez and the others to back away. "Well, this is interesting." He looked at each in turn, his eyes lingering momentarily on Faith's shuddering and gasping form. "I do hope I wasn't the cause of all this." His bored tone indicating that he really couldn't care less. He stretched, luxuriating in his new freedom. "I can't tell you how good it is to be out of there. You think a prison cell is confining? Try spending a thousand years in there." He noticed the guns pointed at him and gestured negligently. They promptly fell apart. "It's good to be free again. No more silly sorcerers giving me orders. No more long stretches of boredom." He strode about the room casting his eyes to the walls and beyond.
Buffy paid no attention. She was trying to get to her feet, but her injuries were catching up with her now that the adrenaline was wearing off. She managed to get to Faith. The other Slayer's breathing was shallow and erratic, but she was conscious. The wounds, she could see, were fatal. "No." She fell silent for a moment, bowing her head. Faith glared at her, helpless to lash out. Buffy turned to Elisa. "I came to you for help because I didn't want it to end this way." Elisa tore her eyes away from the newly freed Fay and looked over at Buffy.
"I'm sorry, Buffy. She didn't give us any choice."
"Ambulance is on its way," Morgan told her. "Already called. We've got officers down." He glared at Faith. "But we do have other things to worry about." He looked back at Cin-an-ev.
"Me? Surely not." He looked around with interest. "Now, where am I precisely?" His eyes grew distant as he looked beyond the walls, taking stock of his new environs. Xander made his way over to Buffy, steering well clear of the strange figure in the center of the room.
"Buffy? You okay?"
"I'll live," she replied dully, wincing as she tried to push herself up. Xander helped her rise, being careful to avoid the obviously broken left arm. "Any ideas?" he glanced at Cin-an-ev. Buffy shook her head and looked over at Elisa.
"Ask her." Elisa heard this and glanced over at Buffy. She shrugged, spreading her hands. No ideas there. "What do you intend to do? Now that you're out I mean?" Buffy turned to the Fay. He seemed to notice her for the first time.
"Why whatever I want of course," he answered pleasantly. "Maybe I'll look in on some old friends," he mused, his attention wandering. "See what Madoc is up to."
"Madoc's dead," Elisa told him. He rounded on her.
"You slept through the war," she elaborated.
"Yeah," Morgan put in. "The Unseelie court was wiped out." Chavez looked at Morgan, clearly lost, and was surprised to see O'Malley nodding in confirmation.
"I'm going to want some details later people." Morgan looked embarrassed and glanced away. "Is my entire department keeping secrets from me?" No one answered.
"Madoc, dead?" Cin-an-ev shook his head sadly. "What a waste. He and his plans for world conquest were always good for a laugh." Another series of confused and incredulous looks made the rounds. "I'm sure I'll find something to amuse me, but first." He turned to Buffy. "I believe it was you who opened the box. I should find some way of thanking you for that." Buffy stared at the Fay, not sure what to make of this. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Elisa shaking her head violently. 'No.'
"Er, thanks but no thanks. Not necessary."
"Of course it is."
"No," Faith protested weakly. They all looked at her. "I made it possible. You-" She coughed violently, blood dotting her face and jacket. "You're free 'cause of me. I want my boss back." She coughed again. "Buffy took him from me and I want it all back." The Fay cocked his head curiously.
"Indeed?" He moved over to her and looked closely at her. "Well now," his voice reflected his obvious interest and amusement at whatever it was he saw. "That might be fun. I haven't seen a good demon rampage in centuries." He looked thoughtful. "Very well. It was Buffy who actually opened the box though. So she gets a wish too." Buffy shook her head tiredly, her mind starting to drift as she slumped next to Faith, exhausted.
"Now wait a minute, you can't do that," Xander said. He held up a placating hand when Cin-an-ev turned on him. "Think about it. You just got out of there. Wouldn't setting loose a monster on your first day attract unwanted attention? Oberon stuck you in that box for pulling stunts like that didn't he?" Rather than look angered, the Fay looked thoughtful. "If you get him angry again, on your first day out, what do you think he'll do with you this time?"
"You," Cin-an-ev admitted reluctantly, "have a point. Perhaps 'low profile' has its advantages."
"Then trust me when I say you won't want Faith along. She doesn't do subtle." The Fay shrugged and sighed.
"Ah, well. It would have been fun, but your wish," he addressed Faith, "will still be granted." The smile he directed at Faith was full of anticipation and false good cheer. It sent a chill down Buffy's spine. "You will be with your boss soon, and I won't have to do a thing."
Dismissing her without a second thought he turned to Buffy. "Now I believe I owe you a wish too."
"All I want to do is retire," she muttered, starting to fade a bit.
"Huh?" With an effort she focused on Cin-an-ev. "No. I don't want you to do anything."
"You're a Slayer," he said, the sympathy in his tone was almost believable. "I know what a Slayer's life is like. I could easily take the power away."
"No. I can't be less than I am, and I can't give up the responsibility." Cin-an-ev considered this and nodded.
"Admirable." He rumbled, almost sounding sincere. "Such dedication to duty is rare for one so young. It deserves a reward. You still want a normal life? Then you shall have one, when your duty is fulfilled."
"What?" Alarm bells began to ring for Buffy and she forced her way most of the way to her feet. Cin-an-ev pulled away from her, rising into the air. Xander and Elisa both tried to intervene, but suddenly found themselves unable to move. His eyes began to glow as he chanted. "Slayer, you are content as you are, and so shall you stay Until the last demon has vanished away With their curse so ends my spell, Beyond that point, I wish you well."
He smiled, an expression that reminded Buffy strongly of a wolf, then he vanished.
"We can't let him get away," Elisa said coming forward.
"So cuff him already," Xander snapped as he helped Buffy to sit down again, trying to find a more comfortable position. Buffy didn't resist. Her eyes were wide and frightened.
"What did he just do to me?" She glanced at Faith, but the other Slayer just glared at them. She no longer had the strength to raise her head, let alone a hand to strike at them.
"I hear the ambulances," O'Malley said from the doorway. He turned to his captain. "What do we tell people happened here?" Chavez didn't answer immediately. She was looking back and forth between Buffy and Elisa, looking for an answer.
he do?" She shook herself out of her reverie and looked at each of her officers in turn. "We tell them the truth," she said. "Most of it anyway."
"Faith died on the way to the hospital." Buffy listened to the voice at the other end of the line. "Yeah, I know." More silence. "No Giles. I don't know what'll happen to Ethan. I hope he spends a few years in prison, but knowing him, the slippery creep'll probably find some way out pretty soon. At least, he may not bother us for a while." Silence again. Buffy nodded. "We'll be on a plane out tomorrow morning. There's nothing more we can do here. See you then."
"How did he take the news?" Xander asked from his position at the library table.
"'Bout like you'd expect. He said he was sorry and that he wished it hadn't come to this, but…" Xander nodded in understanding.
"Faith wouldn't have rotted in a cell. She would have kept escaping or trying to escape until..." It was Buffy's turn to nod. "You didn't tell him about Cin-an-ev's little poem," he noted.
"I-" she turned and walked toward the door, looking as frightened as Xander had ever seen her. "I need a little air Xander and a little time alone." Her friend hadn't moved from the table. He just nodded in understanding, but Buffy never turned to see.
Andrea opened her eyes slowly and looked around. A hospital room. That much she vaguely remembered. Her memory of the previous night came into focus slowly. The burglar. The look on Dominique's face, and her threat. Then a less than clear memory of a paramedic examining her and saying something about a concussion.
A soft snore drew her attention. She glanced over to find Dominique dozing in a chair by the bed. "Dominique?"
The CEO of Nightstone Unlimited came awake with a sudden jerk. "What? Oh, Andrea! How are you feeling?"
"Well enough, I guess." She began to sit up and got dizzy. Dominique helped her lie back down. "Okay, not a good idea. What happened?"
"The robbery, remember?"
"Oh. Yeah…" She rubbed her head experimentally and found a lump there. "What did she hit me with? A brick?"
"Actually, she head-butted you." Andrea stared at her friend incredulously.
"Seriously? That must've hurt her as much as it did me."
"Not quite. She ran out the door, not even hurt, apparently."
"Steel plate in her head?" Dominique snorted with amusement.
"More like there was nothing in there to hurt." She got serious. "I got a call from the police. The burglar in question was shot to death yesterday during a raid. She won't be troubling anyone again." To her surprise, Andrea seemed saddened. "Are you feeling sorry for her? She could have killed you!"
"That doesn't mean I have to be happy about her dying in such an awful way." Dominique repressed a sigh. She would never understand such soft-heartedness, in humans or gargoyles. When she looked at Andrea again she saw by her expression that thoughts of a similar vein must be running through her friend's mind. Probably wondering how I can be so callous
, Dominique thought uncomfortably. She changed the subject and they spoke of inconsequential things until the doctor chased Dominique out so she could examine Andrea privately.
Buffy walked the walls of castle Wyvern. No one bothered her. She could see the gargoyles, but they kept their distance. They chose to respect her desire for privacy, even if some, she was sure, didn't understand or approve of it. No brooding allowed
, she told herself. Faith chose her way. What happened had not been her fault. Telling herself that, though, didn't make her feel any better. That was only part of what occupied her mind though, and strangely enough, that made her feel guilty despite the weight of her own new problems. She kept coming back to one question over and over.
"What did he do to me?"
THE END…FOR NOW