Hey all. It’s my day. I have six chapters of WIP to post. I meant to finish the story, but alas the plot kitties took a vacation on me. This story is a new genre for me, and I’m not sure I was able to successfully write it.
Warnings: Major Character death, Minor Character death, Original Character Death
Rating: R for language and violence
Summary: Something strange is going on in Sunnydale. It’s up to Buffy to figure out what.
Disclaimer: I own only the Original Characters, and they can be borrowed if you ask.
AN: Thanks to dawnofme and spikeslovebite for betaing and helping me with this chapter.
The teenage boy raced through the trees, dodging low branches, but never slowing his pace. He’d been running through the night for a long time, his legs getting weaker as he began to tire. Completely out of breath, he pressed a hand against the stitch in his left side in an attempt to relieve the pain.
He glanced behind him to see if he could catch a glimpse of his shadow. When he tripped over an exposed tree root, all he could do was lie there wheezing and hoping as he listened to the steady approach of the relentless hunter pursuing him.
“You can run, but you can’t hide.” The malicious, yet sensual whisper sounded loud in the silent forest.
“Please,” the boy panted. “I don’t want to die.” The words were a struggle to squeeze out for the breathless man. He cringed in terror when the hunter slipped through the trees towards him.
Only the moon and the forest witnessed the boy’s screams of pain and terror. When the screams died down to moans the slurping sound that remained echoed through the trees.
ONE WEEK BEFORE HALLOWEEN
Sunnydale Chief of Police, Cindy Corderman, stepped out of her office into the hallway. She glanced at the cadets that were busy helping the police officers with several suspect bookings. “Cadet Summers and Officer Stein, can you come into my office please.” She stepped back inside the small room.
Buffy glanced over at the police officer in question. Mason Stein had finally stopped harassing her about Ted the robot when she had pinned him in a self-defense session. They weren’t the best of friends by any stretch of the imagination, but at least they weren’t staring daggers at each other anymore.
Stein joined Buffy outside the Chief’s door. “Sounds like we have a case, Summers. You ready for this?”
Buffy rubbed nervous palms together. “I guess so. Let’s do this.” She opened the door to step inside. While she took a seat, Stein closed the door behind them.
Cindy handed each of the officers a file before she returned to her spot behind her desk. “This morning two bodies were found in the woods near Wilkins Memorial. Not a mark on them. The coroner has done his preliminary examinations, but he has found no cause of death.”
“Officer Wilkins is on vacation. So, I thought Simmons and Kroger were on early shift?” Stein looked at his boss. “Wouldn’t they have this case?”
Cindy sighed. She leaned back in her chair. “I’m trying to keep this under wraps. If the media finds out, I’ll know exactly who leaked the news.”
“What’s going on?” Buffy glanced at her partner. There hadn’t been even a whisper of anything wrong in the bullpen earlier.
“Officer Simmons had a nervous breakdown earlier this morning.” The police chief rubbed her forehead with one hand. She could feel a headache coming on. “He fired all ten rounds of his standard issue Ruger 9mm into Officer Kroger, killing him instantly. IA has already started their investigation.”
“Wow.” Buffy’s jaw dropped open. She was completely stunned. Sure, a lot of bad things happened in Sunnydale, but they usually had a supernatural connection. Buffy wondered if this had one too.
“Kroger’s sister works in Child Services, doesn’t she?” Stein asked. “I met her once. She’s a stickler for details. If I were you, Chief, I’d be expecting a lawsuit within days.”
“She is one reason why we’re not telling the press yet about our tragedy.” Cindy pointed towards the files Stein and Buffy were holding. “It’s also why these bodies are in the morgue already instead of being at the scene. All of Kroger’s notes are there for you to read.”
Stein opened up the file. “One is a female by the name of Harmony Kendall.”
“I went to high school with Harmony.” Buffy looked at her own file. “The other one’s an unidentified male. I don’t recognize him, but his taste in clothes is way yesterday.”
“You have a week, officers.” Cindy leaned back in her chair. “Our caseload always triples from Halloween until the New Year and with this latest …” She broke off what she was saying and shook her head. “We need to get it solved ASAP.”
“Who found the bodies?” Buffy flipped through the pages. “Ah, some army boys playing paint ball in the woods. Looks like they’re college students too. Guess I’ll be going to college after all.”
“We’ll do our best, Chief. Let’s go look at the bodies, Summers.” Stein rose to his feet.
Buffy continued to flip through the file while she followed Stein to his car. Nothing stood out to her, but maybe Willow knew the college army boys. Buffy would ask Giles to talk to Willow since the redhead talked to him more. In fact, looking at the crime scene photos, if she didn’t know better, she’d think both Harmony and the unidentified man were simply sleeping. After she climbed into the rider’s side of the car, Stein spoke.
“Tell me about Kendall.”
Buffy shrugged and twisted her mouth. “Harmony was a stuck up airhead bimbo. We didn’t really hang out that much. She was Cordelia’s friend really.”
“She was one of those that was saved from gang members on PCP that attacked the graduation ceremony, wasn’t she?” Stein glanced at Buffy from the corner of his eye. He always wondered what had really happened that day, but everyone that attended was pretty tight-lipped about the event.
“Yeah, she was.” Buffy nodded. She laid her case file down on the seat between Stein and herself.
It took only a few minutes for Buffy and Stein to reach the morgue. They hurried inside where they hoped to find the coroner. He was out, but the receptionist waved them into the back where they examined the bodies without the coroner.
Buffy examined Harmony’s body with great care. “Well, it’s true. There’s not a mark on her.”
“None on him either,” Stein replied. “But there’s something about him.” He studied the man’s face. Then, he glanced again at the file. “He’s been fingerprinted. I’m going to go check IAFAS to see if I can get a hit.”
“I’m gonna stay here for a few. See if I can get a feel for the crime.”
Stein glanced at Buffy. In accepting her, he had also come to accept that Sunnydale wasn’t a normal town by any stretch of the imagination. Things were rarely what they seemed. “You think this case requires your special attention, don’t you, Summers?”
“Yeah, I do.” Buffy let out a puff of air. “Honestly, no cause of death? It has to fall into my realm. I just have a feeling, you know.”
“Okay. Meet back at headquarters when you’re ready, then we’ll head over to Wilkins Memorial.” Stein left the morgue.
Buffy waited until her partner was out of the building before she spoke. “I know you’re there. Come on out.”
“He’s dead, Slayer, and he shouldn’t be. That’s what’s wrong with him.” A man with bleached blond hair stepped out of the shadows.
“Spike,” Buffy growled. She stepped closer to the vampire. “What are you doing here?”
“He’s one of mine. His name’s Chad, I think.” Spike tilted his head towards the man on the table.
Buffy put her hand on the butt of her handgun. She couldn’t kill Spike with regular bullets, but she could make him hurt pretty bad if he did anything to interfere with her job. What the hell was he doing here when she was on an investigation? “You turned him?”
Spike shook his head. “Not me. Dru did back when Angelus was around.”
“So, he’s gonna wake up any minute all hungry?” Buffy moved to keep an eye on both the body and Spike. She hadn’t seen any bite marks on the Harmony’s body.
“Didn’t you hear me, Slayer? He’s dead, and he shouldn’t be.”
Buffy stood perfectly still while her mind connected the dots. “I can’t feel his demon. It’s gone.”
“You’re a smart one. Angelus was an idiot for lettin’ you go.” Spike inspected the Slayer from head to toe. With a leering smirk, he drawled, “I do love a woman in uniform.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “That is so cliché, Spike.”
“Cliché but true, pet.” Spike waggled his eyebrows at the young woman. He certainly wasn’t about to let on to Buffy about the special ring that now adorned his finger. He had just found it that morning, and he wanted it to be a surprise. Spike glanced at the bodies again. “We have a problem here, Slayer. Whatever killed the minion and the bint… it’s not discriminating between species.”
Buffy chewed her lip for a second. “Agreed. I’m not exactly thrilled about working with you though. I thought we were gonna keep business and pleasure separate?”
“Feelin’s mutual, but you knew we’d cross paths sooner or later.” Spike sounded more convincing than he felt. He was looking forward to the opportunity to work with the Slayer again while fighting against a common foe. He could barely admit to himself that he found fighting by Buffy’s side more thrilling than fighting against her.
“What can you tell me about Chad here?”
Spike shrugged. “He’s a minion. What else is there to know? Normally I don’t give a rat’s ass about whether or not one comes back or not.”
Buffy nodded in understanding. Spike could easily make a new minion to replace Chad. She just hoped he wouldn’t. “What’s different this time?”
“They’re not the first.” Spike nodded towards the bodies. “Two nights ago, a Uixa demon by the name of Richard Jones was found killed the same way in the alley behind his tattoo parlor on Grant Street. His relatives contacted me to find the killer.”
Buffy gave Spike a suspicious look. “Why you?”
“I’m the Master of Sunnydale, of course.” Spike chuckled at Buffy’s gobsmacked look. He stepped towards her, and he reached out to cup her face.
“You didn’t tell me you were the Master of Sunnydale.” Buffy blurted out.
“You didn’t ask, luv.”
“Is it why you came back to Sunnydale?” Buffy felt her heart speed up in anticipation of his answer.
“No, I had to come back. My favorite Slayer is here in good old Sunnyhell.” Spike smirked. He lowered his head a bit.
Buffy stared up into Spike’s face. Heat pooled in her lower stomach when his fingers caressed her cheek. She slapped his hand away. “Not here,” she hissed. “Dead bodies are not a turn on.”
Buffy took a gulp of air before she fled the scene.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/403801.html