The Trouble with Harriet 5/9

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series The Trouble with Harriet
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Because I have the world’s most wonderful betas, this will all be posted by midnight, US central time. I’ve removed the WIP warning.

Title: The Trouble with Harriet
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: All series characters and good stuff belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc. I am responsible for some original characters (although I stole names from Hitchcock) as well as the lame dialogue and most of the plot. The idea, of course, is stolen from the classic movie, The Trouble with Harry.
Summary: Buffy really needs a vacation, so when the chance arrives, she takes it, even though with a wandering corpse on the loose it’s almost, but not quite, a busman’s holiday. This is set in my cheerful, AU version of Season 6 where everyone sort of gets along and Spike and Buffy are a couple.

Thanks: to keswindhover and revdorothyl for the beta and to enigmaticblues for maintaining the comm.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Buffy realized that she should probably search the whole house. She’d thought of that last night, but any desire to do so had been derailed by the discovery of the Jacuzzi in the guest house. That and the fact that she had no idea what she was looking for. After all, the lawyer had said the police had gone through and found nothing.

And now she was being distracted by a too-typical argument between Spike and Xander.

“Can’t see why Harris can have the Captain America dolly and I can’t boost the ride.”

“It’s an action figure! And you said those guys were going to throw it out. It isn’t stealing if nobody wants it. Buffy, you can’t let him take the Ferrari.”

Buffy sighed, wishing Spike had not ducked into the garage as he dodged sunbeams on his way into the house. But what were the chances he’d failed to hear the magic word “Ferrari” last night and hadn’t decided then and there to find it?

And she wished Xander hadn’t been the one to bring her the extra clothes she’d called home to request. She could have used Willow’s skill breaking into Harriet’s computer, or Tara’s calm opinion about the situation.

Instead, she had Testosterone on Parade.

She took Captain America (still sealed in the original wrapping!) away from Xander and set it down on the kitchen table. “No one is taking anything. We’re going upstairs to look around. For clues.”

She started with the bedroom where she had surprised Sally earlier. It was neat, except for the dresses Sally had pulled out of the closet. The walls had been painted fairly recently and the furniture looked almost new. Probably Harriet hadn’t wanted to take over her parents’ room without redecorating. But it felt all wrong.

There was a thin layer of dust on most of the furniture, but after seeing Sally, that didn’t surprise Buffy. Impulsively, she pulled down the duvet that covered the bed. The mattress lay naked underneath. Someone had made up the bed with duvet and pillow shams, but hadn’t bothered to put on sheets.

Frowning at this discovery, she joined Spike in the bathroom, where he was standing in front of an open hamper.

“What’s wrong?” she asked before adding, “Eeww!”

“Just moldy towels,” said Spike. “Lots of them. The rest of this place looks ordinary enough.”

“More signs of Sally’s housekeeping skills,” muttered Buffy. She opened the medicine cabinet, which revealed that Harriet bought the store brands of pain relievers, and found a nearly empty bottle of Japanese Spring Blossom body wash sitting on a table next to the bathtub. Then she looked into an obvious guest room before moving on to find Xander.

He was standing in the middle of the third bedroom on the floor, looking around at the cheerful clutter. There were bright paintings on the walls, some of which looked like they had been done by amateurs. One was a strange moonscape and at least one of the others reminded Buffy of some demons she’d slain. The single bed was covered loosely with a comforter with wrinkled sheets underneath. Several bookcases were crammed overfull, and a tableau of action figures shared the top of a battered desk with a computer.

Buffy picked up the nearest book. Half Magic. She opened it up and read the name carefully printed inside the cover in block letters. “Harriet Worp. This must have been her room when she was a kid.”

Spike was getting down to essentials. He’d pulled open some dresser drawers and was holding up some panties and a bra. “She didn’t wear these in kindergarten.”

“She moved back in here when her marriage broke up.” Buffy got up and went to the closet. It was full of sensible, boring clothes. Almost mom clothes, but too boring even for that. She pulled out two blazers and held them up. “She bought the same things in different colors.”

“Saves work shopping.” Spike smiled at Buffy’s look of outrage. “I know it’s heresy to you, love, but there are people who can’t be bothered. Our Harriet seems to have been one of them.”

“Same thing with shoes.” Xander pointed. “She’s got pairs of those plain shoes with the short heels in black, brown, and beige.”

Buffy shuddered, wondering for the first time if Harriet really had been crazy. She saw something long and dark lurking at the back of the closet and pulled out a black dress. “This doesn’t fit.”

“Too long for you, more’s the pity.”

“I mean it doesn’t fit with everything else in the closet. It’s slinky. Sexy.”

“Looks like fancy dress. Maybe she wore that on Halloween.”

“The one day a year she wanted to be someone else?” Buffy knew how that could backfire, but Halloween was still a few weeks away so it was hard to see how the costume could have caused much trouble, especially as there was still a price tag attached. She put it back in the closet.

While Spike and Buffy had been discussing fashion, Xander had pulled some large shopping bags out of the back of the closet. Out of the first one, he pulled a scarf and…just a scarf. Only one, but it kept coming out of the bag, one stripe of wool after another, until it made a huge, multicolored pile on the floor.

“The Doctor,” said Xander.

“Who?” asked Buffy

“It’s a show, Buff. About…well, one of the guys it’s about wore a scarf like that.”

Spike picked up a coil of knitting. “Handmade. Did your Harriet make it for someone?”

Xander opened the next bag to reveal a supply of wool and knitting needles. “Probably. And this is…” The third bag held what also looked like a scarf or maybe a shawl, this one smaller and in more subdued colors, with an intricate pattern.

“It’s not finished.” Buffy pointed to the ball of yarn that was still attached to the scarf.

“Looks finished.” Xander found a piece of paper at the bottom of the bag. He began reading to himself, moving his lips and frowning. “Weird.”

Buffy took the paper and Spike read over her shoulder.

My sister, I send to you the work of my spinning wheel, to be crafted into a garment. I await the moment when our sister snips the thread, ending a life’s endeavor.

“What the…?” Buffy read the note again.

“The Parcae.” Spike rolled his eyes when Buffy and Xander stared at him. “The Fates. Don’t teach you anything in these American schools, do they? The Greeks and Romans believed there were three bitches who decided how long you’d live and when you’d die. One spun the thread of life, one measured it, although it looks like in whatever version our Harriet was playing she knitted it up, and the last sister snipped the thread.”

“And it hasn’t been snipped.” Buffy stared at the shawl. “So why is someone dead?”

“Buggered if I know.” Bored with the question, Spike went into the hallway and opened the door that led up to the next level.

Since she was unable to figure out the significance of the shawl either, Buffy dropped it back in the bag and separated Xander from the action figures he was posing on the desk. “Let’s finish this up. I’ll take the downstairs, Spike can have the attics, and you can go outside and check to see if anything important was thrown in the trash.”

“What? Why do I get garbage patrol?”

“Because Spike can’t, I don’t want to, and you wouldn’t go home when I asked.”

Chapter 6

Originally posted at

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