Rating: M for Mature language and m/m sex Also warning for violence.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters or products named in this story
Paring: S/A to start. Eventually S/X
Summary: Human AU  Spike is a Homicide detective trying to stop a serial killer before he strikes again. Xander is a psychic who offers to help him.





Rosebud Murders


by
BmblBee



Part One

Spike laid back, with his arms stretched high over his head and eyes closed, he sank heavily into the soft mattress. The warm crumpled sheets had been shoved aside long ago and his naked cooling body was covered only at the ankles and feet.

He knew any minute now his body temperature would reach the uncomfortable level and he would be forced to move,
locate errant blankets and cover himself. But right now it was just more effort than he could muster.

The dark room was quiet, the only sounds seeping through into his relaxed brain were the drifting melodies of the stereo that had been left on in the living room and the soft breathing of the man who lay beside him.

He really hadn't intended to stay over, but after the third back bending, knee to nose, tooth rattling orgasm, finding his pants and actually balancing on both feet just seemed like more of a chore than he could manage.

He knew the owner of the crumpled bed wouldn't care. Hell, he wouldn't even know till morning. Angel had the innate ability to slip into a dead sleep within seconds of the final squirt. In fact there had been more than one time Spike had been left to his own devices to extricate Angel's cock from his leaking ass while Angel snored loudly.

Spike smiled. All that was just fine with him. It's not like there was any great romance brewing here. His sexual encounters with Angel O'Connor were more a matter of convenience and mental health than life long commitment.

Both men knew as investigators in the homicide department of the Stark County Sheriffs Department they could not afford to be caught cruising. Especially since Vice was zeroing in on the few gay bars down on River street and busting men right and left.

Spike could still remember the day they had, at about the same time, caught the other staring just a moment too long in the shower. An invitation to the coffee shop next door and an honest conversation had brought them to the agreement and arrangement they now both enjoyed immensely.

No strings, no excuses or promises, just the knowledge that until the right man or a better situation came along, they were not doomed to spend their evenings with the Frank finger family.

An added bonus was the benefit of being able to bounce ideas and case particulars off someone who understood the frustrations of the job. Cops, gay or straight, were a very closed community. Outsiders were just that.

It was nearly impossible for someone not in the business to understand the mental stress and need for secrecy involved in this type of work. It resulted, statistically, in high rates of divorce, alcoholism, and unfortunately, suicide.

If a cop was fortunate enough to find someone he could relate to, share ideas and concerns with, it made all the difference in the world. It could very well be his salvation.

Which was, in fact, the very reason Spike had come over this evening. The latest case he was working was driving him crazy and he really needed another perspective to help him sort through the evidence. Another ear to listen and a brain to think things through and maybe find the one small thing that Spike was overlooking. The break that could turn this
case around.

Tonight, however just didn't seem to be the night for problem solving. After a few beers and some general conversation, the only clues either seemed able to interpret were tucked in the other's jeans.

The case of the hard and horny cocks was solved successfully.

Spike's body rippled with a shudder and he knew he couldn't ignore the goose bumps any longer. Lowering his arms, he felt the burn in his shoulders and the instant tingle of sharp pins and needles as the circulation rushed back into his arms.

With a groan at the wonderful wet ache in his ass, Spike rolled onto his side and, reaching over the edge of the bed, pulled a cover off the floor and tossed it over himself. He thought briefly about Angel then disregarded him. He knew if he let the bigger man get even a corner of the blanket he would take it all.

Spike glanced around the room. Even in the dark he could see the now very familiar outline of the dresser, the television, the night stand. He knew without looking that there would be a basket in the closet full of dirty clothes. He knew the top of the dresser would contain a wallet, change, a badge, a gun, and a spare tube of lube.

Frowning, Spike didn't like that he was becoming so comfortable here. He didn't like the familiarity he felt when he walked in the front door. He knew with absolute certainty that Angel was not the man for him, yet here he was. Stuck in a rut. For the millionth time, Spike resolved to get out more. Try to meet someone, discreetly, safely. There had to be a better way than the bar scene.

Curling up on his side with the warmth of the blanket tucked under his chin, Spike fluffed his pillow and promised himself he would think about it tomorrow.

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

"FUCK!" Spike threw the top half of his body over the side of the bed and searched frantically for his pants and the pager that was always present in the front pocket.

"That yours or mine?" Angel rolled over, yawned and waited for Spike to find which of them was going to be forced out of the warmth of the bed and into the night, praying it wasn't going to be him.

The sound of the "beep" grew louder signaling that it had been located and was now just inches from Spike's face as he strained to read it in the dim light of the dark room.

"Son of a fuckin' bitch! They found another one. I gotta go."

Angel cracked one eye open and watched as Spike threw his legs over the side of the bed. He snatched the blanket away from Spike's side of the bed and covered himself up before rolling back over.

"Sorry, Babe. I'd get up too, but my shift starts in about six hours and I really need my sleep. See ya later at the station house. Maybe we can grab a...........zzzzzzzz"

Spike looked down with disgust. "Bastard."

Spike sorted through the tangled mess of fabric on the floor and took what he assumed to be his. Shirt, pants, socks, there was no way he was going to put on those underwear. Especially with the dried, stiff precum stuck on the front.
He would just have to go camo.

Ducking into the bathroom for a quick shower, he wanted to make sure all traces of the nights activities were removed. Undetectable. If the message on the pager was correct, the victim wasn't going anywhere.

Washing quickly, Spike swiped his soapy cloth over his sore, still stretched hole and moaned at the wonderful burn. His cock twitched and he knew if he had more time.........

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

"God Damn it! I'm fuckin' on my way. Give a bloke a sec to get presentable."

Spike hustled to rinse off and jump out. He grabbed a towel off the rack and dried with one hand as he checked his pager with the other. It was a repeat of the earlier message, but this one was from the Chief Inspector.

Fishing into his other pocket, he located his cell and returned the call. "Yeah, it's me. Yeah, I'm on my way. Well fuck. Got me out of a dead sleep, didn't you? I know.... I know. I said I'm on my way. Yes, sir, I do understand the seriousness of this situation. Yeah, give me ten minutes.'

Spike snapped the phone shut and returned both items to his pockets as he pulled the pants up his still damp legs.
He tugged on his shirt and ran his fingers through his wet curly hair. Grabbing and strapping on his shoulder holster, Spike checked his 38 detective special and slammed it in its holder.

Not giving Angel a second glance, Spike was through the bedroom, past the living room, and out the front door into the night.





Part Two

Spike wasted no time. Dressed and out the door in minutes, he slapped the dome shaped, removable flashing light onto the top of his car and slammed his foot down on the gas pedal.

He threw the stick shift into first and flipped the switch, bathing his red Corvette in the pulsing blue and white twirling light as his siren screamed.

Rupert Giles, his department head, had given him the address and, luckily, he was only minutes away. Hopefully his partner would already be there. Faith had the ability to instantly, upon arrival at a scene, analyze, take charge, and organize things in a way that impressed Spike beyond words.

With his window rolled down, Spike took in the sounds and smells of the city at night. It was an environment most of the population cringed at and shied away from

People dreamt of the country. Getting away from the smog, the filth that lay in the alleys, the depression of the slums and the hopelessness of the homeless.

Not Spike. He felt right at home. Having grown up on the streets of the lower end of London, he was comfortable with the trappings of a economically strapped metropolis. It was what he knew best. It was where he belonged.

The only difference between here and London was the daytime. Cities in California had the ability to change, to disguise themselves in the sunlight into a place of palm trees and prosperity, but like everything Hollywood, it was artificial.

Costumed like a year round halloween, it can't pretend when the night comes. When the sun disappears so do the smilers, the shoppers, the happy designer coffee drinkers, the health nuts and mothers who stroll casually and safely through the parks.

Back into the sanctity of their ranch style homes in the hills above the valley and what is left is the stark reality that people like Spike are paid to deal with.

This was a job Spike had taken to like a duck to water, climbing quickly through the ranks after finishing first in his class at the academy. Two years on the street, eighteen months in robbery and a short stint in vice, he had moved up even quicker than he had hoped.

It was a series of promotions that left a bad taste in the mouths of some of his fellow officers, but, fuck it. Spike was not here to make friends. He kept to himself, choosing not to hang with the others as most cops did. The others saw Spike's separation as aloofness, snobbish, or worse, suspicious. Spike saw it as self preservation.

If his fellow officers realized his sexual preference, he would be finished. It was the one sin that could not be accepted. In an environment where they had to be able to trust their very lives to each other, a gay officer would be seen as weak. Unreliable, a sick fuck that threatened their very masculinity.

He would be done. Not only here but anywhere he would try to go. The tight knit comradery of cops was world wide.
A whisper in the right ear, a word of gossip and a man's life was no longer his own.

No, Spike was very content with the way things were and he had no intention of allowing that to slip away. He was exactly where he wanted to be. Homicide. It was what he strove for from day one. It was what he had earned during his time working back up his year in vice.

That was where he first met Faith. Faith St. John. She was the decoy. The pretend hooker put out to lure the johns into offering money for sex. It was all fairly routine, or at least it had been till that ugly October night when things went tits up. Literally.

Planted in a nondescript van on the corner of sixteenth and Waller, Spike and a rookie by the name of Cooper had been watching Faith walk slowly up and down the sidewalk.

They had chuckled as she jerked the back of her skirt up and flashed them some cheek. It had been a slow night and just as they were beginning to think she was going to come up empty handed a black, wood sided station wagon slowed.

Pulling nose first up to the curb, they watched and listened as she asked if he was looking for a date. "How much?" He answered. They waited, knowing not to make a move till he actually offered the money and requested a specific act.

"You a cop?"

They snickered as they heard her reply of "These look like cop's tits?" They waited through the few minutes of silence and could almost hear him think.

"Get in." They got ready as they watched him lean over and open the passenger side door, Spike snubbing out his cigarette and Cooper swallowing the last of his can of Pepsi.

"Not so fast, Lover." They saw Faith step back out of reach. "I need to see some cash and know exactly what you want. What? I can't hear you."

Faith stepped closer and leaned her head in the vehicle in an attempt to make sure her wire could pick up what the john was saying.

Spike sat upright and reached for the key. "What the fuck does she think she's doing?"

Before Cooper could answer, a car speeding by blasted it's horn just inches from Spike's ear causing him to jump, turn and become momentarily distracted.

"Spike! Now! Go now!" Cooper's frantic voice brought him back to the job and he looked up in time to see the station wagon speeding away and Faith no longer on the sidewalk.

"FUCK! Goddamn it! Hang on." Jerking the wheel, Spike tore out into traffic cutting off an 18 wheeler and earning him a chorus of horns, curses and threats. He was just able to follow the retreating tail lights as they sped off into the darkness.

Grabbing the microphone, Cooper called headquarters and reported their situation, requesting back up. They had lost sight of him twice, Spike constantly straining to see in all directions at once while his partner kept up a constant litany of directions and updates on the radio. Stark County Communications, jokingly referred to as Starcom, had dispatched three units and were in route.

"There! There they are!" Cooper pointed to the right.

Spike immediately turned the van onto the dirt access road that led to the cemetery, turned off his headlights and crept up cautiously. When they got closer they could see both the passenger's and driver's doors standing wide open. The interior lights of the station wagon lit up the area just enough to see the silhouettes of the two people struggling and falling to the ground.

Slamming to a stop, Spike and Cooper jumped out, guns drawn, and rushed over shouting.  "Let her go! Back away! Get the fuck away! Sheriff's Dept.,  You're under arrest!"

The huge hulking figure loomed largely over Faith's smaller body. He stood, his feet planted on each side of her hips.
Lying flat on her back, Spike could see that her arms were either tied or pinned beneath her. The look of terror in her eyes reassured him. At least she was still alive.

The glint of the blade flashed and shone briefly in the blue car light and it felt as though it had been plunged into Spike's stomach when he saw it aimed for her throat.

"Don't do it. Drop the knife and step away. Step the fuck away or I'll shoot!"

What happen next was a blur. Spike can barely remember the arc of the knife as it swiped across Faith's throat. If he was a betting man he'd have bet it wasn't him that pulled the trigger. It would have been a bet he would have lost.

The perp flew back, tumbling to the ground, dead with one bullet to the brain. Blood, splinters of skull fragments and brains splattered on the surrounding grave markers.

The cut, aborted at the first swipe, had been only skin deep and although bloody, hadn't hit an artery. It did promise a hell of a scar.

Several things resulted from the ensuing full inter-departmental investigation. First, it was determined to be a justifiable shooting, much to everyone's relief. Second all officers were quickly declared mentally fit to return to full duty and last, due to the discovery that the perp was the killer they had been seeking in the deaths of two other prostitutes, the three officers involved were hailed by the media as heroes.

Grasping the opportunity, Spike requested a transfer to homicide and with Faith as his partner, both accepted their reward.  Cooper stayed with vice.





Part Three

Turning on to 123th st., Spike had no need to try to locate individual house numbers. The flashing lights of three cruisers, one ambulance, and his partners Kia told him where the scene of the crime could be found.

He noted it was a seemingly quiet, older residential neighborhood. The building in question was a nondescript brownstone sitting in the middle of a block of nondescript brownstones. Since nothing made this one stick out as notable from the others, Spike had to assume that this was not a random attack.

Pulling up to the curb, Spike jumped out, tugging his leather badge case out of his back pocket as he went. Although he recognized the patrol cop stationed at the perimeter, flashing his badge eliminated the need for pointless
conversation.

Ducking under the yellow "Police Line" tape that had been used to rope off the area, Spike held his badge up, face
high and kept going, through the front door and, following the flurry of activity and the clatter of authoritative sounding voices, he took the steps two at a time to the second floor.

Leaping up to the landing at the top of the steps, Spike looked all around. The door immediately to his right was the hub of activity. Beyond that was another apartment door and two more directly across the hall. The apartment doors to the left each faced the victims and Spike held out hope that some snoopy neighbor had watched through their peep hole and seen something.

The landing he stood on stretched out, hallway like, about twenty feet ahead ending with a window which faced to the rear of the building. Standing in front of the window talking quietly with a female patrol officer was his partner. Without pausing to check the victim, Spike headed straight for the detective whose face lit up when she saw him
approach.

Spike was somewhat surprised to see how put together his partner looked. Hair combed, dress pants and clean white shirt. For not the first time he caught himself wondering if she ever slept.

"Hey, look who finally made it. Didn't interrupt a hot night with a cheap tart did we?"

Spike laughed at the thought of how well that name fit Angel. He wished he could tell her the truth. He was sure she would understand. He had never known her to be judgmental. Still....it was a chance he just couldn't take.

"Yeah, something like that. So what have we got? Please tell me it's a domestic gone wrong or a robbery turned bad. Please don't tell me it's another one."

Faith led the way into the victim's apartment. Through the living room to a small breakfast area off the tiny kitchen. As soon as he had stepped inside the pervasive unmistakable odor of death filled his nose and throat.

It was something he was sure he would never get used to. When he first started in homicide it was a thought that nearly obsessed him. How a person could be so alive one minute and quickly begin to rot away at the very second of death.

He had even left a pound of hamburger out on his kitchen counter once and was astounded that it took three days before it started to stink at the same level of a decomposing human body after only a few hours.

Standing back, Spike watched as the crime scene photographer took pictures of the kitchen, the living room, and shot after shot of the victim. The ambulance attendants, with an empty body bag slung over the tall one's shoulder, stood off to the side discussing the score of last night's ball game and why the Cleveland Indians didn't stand a chance
against the Boston Red Socks.

As soon as the pictures were done, the crime scene processors waited patiently till Spike and Faith had the chance to note the particulars of the crime.

"Fuck!" Spike circled the body and spoke quietly, hoping only Faith could hear the concern and frustration in his voice. "Young, female, long dark hair, fully dressed, posed on her stomach, arms straight out as if she were prostrating herself. Exactly like the other three. Do you know if......?"

"No. No way to know till the autopsy." Faith's eyes darted around to make sure no one else was listening. It was the one bit of evidence that had never been discussed much less released to the press. The killers calling card. The one thing that told them they were dealing with a serial maniac.

With a tip of his head, Spike signaled they should step out and allow the techs to collect whatever evidence they could find, bag the body and hopefully give them something to work with.

"Go ahead on out, I'll be right there."

Spike tapped out a cigarette and watched as Faith returned to speak again to the patrol officer standing guard outside the crime scene.

Holding off just long enough to step outside the building, he struck the match and sucked in deeply trying his best to erase the odor that seemed to have permanently coated the lining of his sinuses.

Tensing when he felt the small hand press into the center of his back, Spike turned and cringed as the light from the brownstone's security light shone down and reflected off the noticeable scar across Faith's slim pale neck. He could never shake the guilt that if not for his momentary distraction he would have saved her sooner.

"So what do you think? Is it our boy again? That would make four in as many months."

Taking one last deep drag, Spike dropped his cigarette and ground it out with the toe of his boot. "We really need to wait till the medical examiner's report comes in, but if I was to make an on the spot guess, I'd guess the bastard has struck again. Fuck, Faith, I just feel like we're missing something. Like the answer is right here in front of us and we can't see it."

Faith who stood with her hand still on his back began rubbing small circles feeling the tension in his muscles. She knew Spike took everything too personally. She knew he was feeling like it was his fault that another one died, but damn it, they were doing their best.

"Look, it's almost 2:00 a.m. Why don't we give them a chance to wrap things up here and we can grab a couple hours sleep. I'll meet you back at the station around 7:00 and we can sit down with all the evidence. Maybe this one isn't even related to the others. Maybe this is just a straight out lover's quarrel turned deadly. Let's wait and see before we get too
bent out of shape."

Spike hung his head, nodding slightly. He knew everything she was saying was bullshit and worse, he knew she knew it too. Neither of them would get any sleep. Not today. Probably not till this was over.

With nothing else to say, both detectives walked down the steps and, getting into their respective cars, drove away.

Each side of the front walkway had been yellow taped off with a patrol officer standing by to keep the gawkers and snoops back. Even at this hour of the morning, the streets of the city were alive with activity. Dog walkers, late night drunks, joggers and insomniacs.

Newspaper reporters begging for just one picture, coaxing the line officers for any tid bit of information they could use to scoop the competition. Living for the profit made off drama and trauma.

At least a dozen or so citizens lined both sides of the barricades trying their best to see what all the excitement was. Hoping to glimpse a bit of blood and human tragedy.

Standing slightly apart from the others in the back of the pack, stood a lone quiet figure. Dressed all in black, he loomed silently, watching, observing, more interested in the criminologists than the crime.

He noted that the handsome blond man and the slim dark haired woman appeared to be in charge. Satisfied that they would be the ones to contact, the young man turned and disappeared into the night.





Part Four

Spike sat back in his chair and propped his feet up on his desk. He had lingered in his car at the crime scene long after Faith had gone. He didn't want to go home and he sure the hell had no intention of returning to Angel's. They did not have that type relationship and admittedly, neither of them wanted to.

After giving his limited options some thought, Spike had thrown the Corvette into gear and headed down to Wooster st. Whipping into the small parking lot, Spike listened to the jangle of the bell over the front door of Momma Mabel's and settled into his favorite booth..

"William! My favorite skinny little white cop. Where you been, boy? Momma ain't seen you 'roud these parts much. You getting your pancakes somewhere else? You cheating on Momma Mabel?"

Spike laughed as the short, three hundred pound black woman scolded him and poured him a mug of coffee.

"You know better than that, Mum. You know my heart and my stomach belong just to you." Then the smile dropped from his lips as he continued to explain.

"Things have just been crazy lately. You probably heard about the killings. Can't seem to get a handle on the Bastard. Sorry bout the language. This case is kickin' my arse."

Mabel patted his shoulder. "You'll solve it, William. You a good cop. You'll figure it out. Now you sit right there whilst Mabel gets you some breakfast. You a good boy, William."

Spike sat alone in the shabby, clean, diner and did his best to choke down his breakfast. The particulars of the case buzzing wildly through his brain. He checked his watch repeatedly knowing the ME wouldn't have the preliminary results on his desk before 9:00, still, he wanted to be there when it arrived.

He had to know. He had to see if that one little fact was there. The one that made the difference between this being just one more tragic story in a city of tragic stories or a hellish nightmare.

He swallowed as much as he could so's not to hurt her feelings, left a big tip, paid the bill and went back out into the still dark early morning.

By 5:00 a.m. Spike was back in his corner office in the Homicide department of the Sheriff's Department. By 6:00 a.m. he had all the files as well as his field notes from the four related cases spread out in front of him. At 7:00 a.m. Faith had joined him

"I knew you'd be here. I couldn't sleep either. I just keep thinking if we start again from square one, treat all this as one case, and take a fresh look at the evidence we might find what we're missing."

Spike motioned for her to pull up a chair. He was not surprised to find her trail of thought was exactly on the same train as his. It was why they worked so well together and why, up to now, they had been so successful.

"I dunno, Pet. We've solved every case we've been given till now. Now we have four, or is it one? Either way, we 'aven't a tic. 'Ave we?"

Faith collected together the crime scene photos and began spreading them out, in order, to look for similarities and differences. "No sweat, Spike. We'll catch this Bastard. Hey where are the......?"

Whatever she was going to ask for was forgotten as Tom, the ME's aid dropped the file on Spike's desk and with a sympathetic look and a quick "sorry" turned and was gone. He knew he was the bearer of bad news, but in this job it was not the first time and certainly wouldn't be the last.

"Shit!" Spike flipped open the manilla file folder and began scan reading, hitting just the highlights.

"Name's Catherine Holder. White, well nourished, twenty-seven year old female. Hematoma ruptures in the whites of the eyes as well as bruising around the throat causing a partially crushed windpipe. Preliminary cause of death, asphyxiation by strangulation. Victim died sometime between 9 p.m and midnight, yadda,yadda, Wait! Here it is. Fuck! Victim did not appear to have suffered a sexual assault, howeverit is noted that a foreign object was inserted into the vagina post mortum. Said item was determined to be a rose bud, removed from the stem."

Spike closed the report and tossed it onto his desk. "It's him."

Faith tried not to let her disappointment show. She had prayed that this had been someone, anyone else. Even a copycat would have been better than this. Trying to come up with something positive to say, she was, for once, blank.

Spike ran both hands through his hair and began to speak so quietly his partner wasn't sure if he was talking to her or himself.

"Every case has been the same. No forced entry. No theft of items from the homes. All victims were female, similar build, long dark hair, no signs of struggle, not raped. Fucker just strangles them, shoves a fresh red rose bud up their snatch and positions them on their stomach, arms outstretched. I just don't get it Faith. What the fuck is his point? What's his reasoning? What the fuck is up with the flowers?"

Faith shook her head. She had no answer to the same questions she had asked a thousand times herself. The two of them had agreed with the first victim to keep the fact of the rose bud secret. They had no idea at the time how
complicated this would become, yet they still fought to have this kept from the public. It was their hidden ace. The one sure way to identify the killer.

"Listen, maybe if we start from square one and treat this last case as a separate one we might come up with something new. We know her boyfriend found her when she missed a date with him. I think we should go back to her apartment
and start interviewing the neighbors. See if someone heard or saw something unusual."

Spike nodded. It was as good an idea as any. "Right, good. Take a uniform with you. How about that police woman you were talking to at the scene?"

Faith chuckled as she stood and collected her notepad, and small tape recorder. If she was able to locate a witness she didn't want to miss a word. "Back off Romeo. She's married."

Spike pretended to be disappointed. In truth he hated lying to Faith. More than anyone he wished he could tell her everything.

"Yeah, well, my loss. Keep in touch and call if you get anything. I'm going to go over some of this again then head out to talk to the victims family and boyfriend. I'll catch up with you later and see what we have."

Faith threw her hand up in agreement and Spike watched her walk off. Several of the other detectives spoke jokingly to her as she passed and she took the time to kid and respond to each.

Within the department, Faith was considered to be the human half of their team. Spike had decided a long time ago that he could live with that reputation.

Taking the time to collect together the reports and photos, Spike was just finishing clearing away his desk top before leaving when the intercom on his desk phone ran. He punched the button bruskly.

"Detective Pratt."

"Yes, detective, I'm sorry to bother you, but there is a young man here that says he needs to speak to you. He says he may have some information regarding last nights homicide. Can I send him up?"

Spike paused. Most likely a nut wanting to confess to being the killer of last night's victim as well as Abe Lincoln and Jimmy Hoffa. It never took long before the crazies came rolling out. Still, he had nothing else.

"Yeah, sure, send him up. Thanks, Betty,"





Part Five


Spike stood behind his desk and checked the time on his watch impatiently. Whoever Betty was sending up to him
had about three minutes before Spike planned on unceremoniously dismissing him and getting on with his investigation.

He had a million things to do today and sadly, no idea where to start.

'Unless, Oh God, could there possibly have been a witness? Someone who saw something? Someone who could give a description, a name, a license number? Any fuckin' thing that would give a direction in which to go.'

No, Spike checked those hopeful thoughts. He was not that lucky. His cases were solved by hard work. Clues collected, analyzed and court cases skillfully fought.

Street informants were good for drug or burgulary cases but they seldom helped in murders. Nope, this couldn't be anything but an interruption to his list of morning chores.

His first planned stop would be the basement to pick up the latest addition to his flower collection. He wanted to make
sure he personally received and bagged it for delivery to the crime lab. If there was any evidence at all to be collected
from it he was not about to let a silly fuck up like a break in the chain of evidence compromise it. Although the others had yielded nothing, he still had hope. DNA - something.

"Detective Pratt?"

Spike was startled out of his mental musings to look up into the clear sparkling eyes of a handsome young man standing at his desk, hand outstretched.

Dark hair, dark eyes, strong straight firm body. Spike was extremely proud of himself for not whimpering. It took all the internal strength he had not to allow his eyes to slide down the boy's body, search the crotch of the faded worn jeans for a nice bulge and then roam back up to the chest clad in a white shirt, rolled up at the sleeves and unbuttoned
just the right number of buttons to show off a smooth tan chest.

Spike leaned over the desk that separated them and shook his hand. The feel of his warm, firm grip sent a small thrill through Spike's body and he dropped the handshake quickly. 'Business.' He reminded himself. 'Strictly business.' "What? Oh, yes, you must be the witness Dispatch sent up. I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."

The young man's handsome face crinkled into a relaxed, knowing smile that made Spike exceedingly uncomfortable.
Almost as if responding to a private, personal joke Spike had just told him.

"Alexander Harris at you service." Xander tipped his head in an oddly old fashioned small bow,  the smile never wavering. "Actually I'm not really a witness, per se. But I do have some information that may help in your investigation of the murders of the four young women."

Instinct and the restraints of time told Spike that this was a dead end. However, he knew that as a tax paying citizen, Mr. Harris could not be simply tasered and kicked out the front door so Spike again subtly checked his watch, gave his visitor three minutes, and began silently counting.
'One one thousand.....two one thousand....three...'.

"I know you're busy, detective, but if I could just have a bit more than three minutes and you could listen with an open mind I think it may be just the shove that could get your investigation going again."

Startled, Spike wondered if he had said that out loud, then dismissed the thought as ridiculous. Three minutes was the standard snub and if this boy was a chronic confesser he had probably been booted several times before.

"Of course. Please." Pointing to the chair on the other side of his desk, both men sat and Spike pulled out his note pad and pen. This interview would be handled professionally and expeditiously. "Fine. So, Mr. Harris. What do you have for us?"

"Xander. Call me Xander. Mr. Harris is my father."

Spike nodded his agreement and Xander took a deep breath and continued. He always hated this part. The initial introduction of himself and his talents. Nine times out of ten it didn't go well.

"To begin with, detective Pratt, I'm a clairvoyant and an empath. I receive messages, images, from souls that have passed. While the mental pictures are not always clear, the emotions are. I am able to feel what the victim felt at the time the spirit is released from the body. Lately, I've been receiving strong input from what I believe to be two of the victims of the serial killer you are searching for. I think if you allow me to work with you I can help you find some answers to the questions you have."

Spike sat, totally slack faced for the designated three minutes before his brain could kick back into gear and he could respond. When that happened, despite himself, he broke into a huge grin and chuckled, closing his note pad and stuffing it back in his pocket.

"Good one. Good one. Did Faith put you up to this? Hell, you almost had me there for a minute. Damn. O.k. then, tell her you got me good and I'll get her back for this. Now if you'll excuse me I really need to be going."

Xander sighed, but never budged from his seat. Actually, of all the ways this usually went this was by far NOT the worst, and his ass still had the boot prints to prove it.

"This is not a joke detective. I know how it must sound to you but I promise it is absolutely real."

Xander reached in to his shirt pocket and pulled out a business card. Slowly rising to his feet he handed it over to the scowling officer, waving it in encouragement.

Reluctantly, Spike took the card from Xander's hand, jumping from the static shock when their fingertips met. The spark elicited an entirely different response from the young psychic and his smile returned.

"On the back of the card I have written the name of a Police Chief in a small town in Ohio that I have helped a few times. Give him a call, what could it hurt? Then you can reach me at that address and number."

Xander turned to go but stopped at the last minute. His piercing gaze went through Spike's body in a heated rush.

"You know, detective Pratt, some secrets always have a way of coming out. You really should consider that. Coming out.... would make your life a whole lot easier."

With that he laughed, not unkindly, and walked away.

Spike stood frozen, his blood turned to ice and every hair on his body rose, his arm remained outstretched and his fingers still clutched the small square of paper he had been handed.




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