Rosebud Murders


by
BmblBee



Part Sixteen

Spike checked his watch and decided that although it was only two in the afternoon he had reached his daily quota of weird. "Come on, Xander. I'll take you back to your work and drop you off. I need to be getting back to the station house and meet with my partner. She's going to think I dropped off the map."

Xander nodded his agreement. He was just as glad to be getting out. The sorrow and anger still trapped there was starting to overwhelm him.

The small apartment was still charged with the simmering, negative energy that suffused it. The imprint of a violent occurrence of this type never really goes away, but does, over time, ease up, fade slightly and become more a memory than the living charged thing that it is when it's this fresh.

As they stepped outside they realized it had started to rain. A cold rare drizzle, the type only seen in the late part of October in the usually sunny state of California. Spike flipped his coat collar up to shield the back of his neck.

Following Spike back out to the car, they got in silently and buckled up. Pulling carefully away from the curb, Spike never took his eyes off the road, but felt compelled to talk.

"What is the answer, Xander? If you know so much about this world, and the next, you must know. What is the big secret that all the rest of us are searching for."

Xander was surprised. It was probably the last thing he would have expected the hard nosed, by the book, homicide detective to ask. Xander snorted and, gazing out the rain splattered, foggy, side window, he very slightly shook his head.

"If you are asking me the big "what is the meaning of life" question, hell I don't know. I'm as much in the dark as every one else. I do know something though. I know that the instant a baby is born it already has a certain number of days stamped on it. It is an hour glass of sand that cannot be added to or subtracted from. Have you ever wondered how one person can survive a crash that kills a dozen others? Or why someone can die from the same common flu bug that will give another person no more than a sniffle? It's because it is their time and nothing can change your predestined time. But knowing that our time is predestined isn't the secret. That isn't the part that matters at all. What is important is what we do with those days. They are a precious, divine gift that we are given. Do we share that gift with others and do our best to make their time, and the living world around us a better place or do we selfishly waste them? Do we keep those days to ourselves and hoard them? That's the true unforgivable sin you know. That is what we are judged on, Spike. In the end, when we pass over through the doorway, that is how we are finally judged."

Spike considered this and like everything else about the boy, took it as truth. It felt right. It was an understanding that seemed so simple and correct that Spike could find no doubt. He had just one more question. "Who judges us? When we die and we stand at the crossroads, whose standards must we meet?'

Xander turned and looked out the window. They had just arrived back at the Divine Creations Furniture Shop and Xander was unbuckling his seat belt.

Opening the door he stepped out and just as Spike was beginning to think he would not answer, Xander turned, crouched down and spoke clearly. "We face the harshest judge there is. We are shown all the sins, crimes, and misdemeanors of our life and we are judged by the most critical being there is. We judge ourselves."

With that, Xander turned and walked away. Spike watched long after the boy had gone inside listening to the rain as it fell against the roof of the expensive sports car and then before driving away, Spike quietly whispered, "I forgive you Da, and I love you too." With tears stinging his eyes, he then drove off, back in the direction of hard reality.

Spike felt as though his understanding of the world around him was being shaken to the core. It was as if he were suddenly waking up and realizing there was a whole universe around him that he had never noticed before. It was a concept that, along with the conciever, he wanted to spend more time getting to know. When this was over. When he had time.

Slipping around to the rear booking entrance, Spike found an open spot and parked. It was a locked, secure area where cruisers could pull directly up and unload a prisoner waiting to be printed and charged. It was an area inaccessible to the general public.

Spike entered the station house, hoping to avoid the press he spotted camped out in vans and cars at the front steps. He prayed their morbid interest was in the death of one innocent girl and not that they had put two and two together and come up with Serial Killer.

Fact was, he was pretty sure if they hadn't already, they would soon. This was not the type of thing that could be concealed for long. Any amateur detective doing some basic fact checking could figure it out easily.

Taking the service elevator, the one used to deliver the prisoners from their holding cells to the transport vans in the rear carport, Spike snuck upstairs and ducked into the homicide dept. He headed directly for the second office on the left, hoping Faith was still there.

"Spike! Hey, how's that investigation going? You got any leads?"

Spike froze at the sound of the voice. It was absolutely the last person he wanted to see today. "Angel. Case is going fine. Gathering facts, analyzing evidence, following up with witnesses. Funny you should ask. Giles tells me you wanted to take the case away from Faith and me. That right?"

Angel had the decency to briefly look ashamed before trying for affronted, as his face then screwed up in an attempt at shocked indignation. "What? No! What? Come on Spike, you know I wouldn't do that to you. I just told him that since I had successfully solved my latest case, the one with the homeless guy, that I had some free time and maybe I could give you a hand."

Spike leaned his butt back against an interview desk in the center of the main room and crossed his arms. "Was that the case where the guys flat mate was sitting beside the body with a bloody knife in his hand screaming "I did it. I did it?"

Angel shrugged. "Well, yeah, but I still had to interview him, collect the knife and turn over the body. But that's not the point is it?"

Angel stepped close, just inches from the end of Spike's nose and spoke low and suggestively. "Come on, Baby. You know I wouldn't do anything to hurt you. Not unless you ask me real nice."

Spike shuddered. If nothing else he knew one thing for sure. The case of the shaggable Angel was now closed. It could be filed, stuck on a back shelf and sealed, never to be opened again. "Step back Angel. Until Giles takes us off this case, it belongs to Faith and I and we are the one's who are going to solve it."

Angel's eyes lit up and curiosity filled his voice. "You find a witness? Come up with a new lead? Tell you what, why don't you come over tonight and I'll fix us something to eat. Sometimes it helps to discuss these things with another ear. You know, kick ideas around a bit? Maybe afterwards I'll let you take your frustrations out on me. I'll even let you use the handcuffs. You always liked that."

As if a curtain was raised behind his eyes, Spike got a really good look at what he had been doing with his life and surprisingly he was more disgusted with himself than with the slimy man he had been sharing himself with.

Immediately the thought of 'what would Xander think' popped into his mind and he was more than a little ashamed.





Part Seventeen

Faith sat in a small booth in the back of the Waffle House restaurant. It was small, plain, and looked like a thousand other Waffle Houses franchised across the country. There was nothing to make it special, which was exactly why Kennedy had picked it. She had hoped it's bland disinteresting atmosphere would prove calming.

As in any stakeout, Faith's seat had been strategically selected to offer the maximum amount of observation with the minimum chance of being spotted. Even though Elvin was not aware that Faith was the "other woman" they were afraid he may recognize her as another cop and get suspicious..

Her arrival had been choreographed to occur exactly five minutes before her girlfriend and ten minutes before they expected Elvin Masters, Kennedy's estranged husband.

Both women hoped this meeting would go smoothly. At times, El could be reasonable. Kind even. Other times, most times, he was a raving maniac. That was the thing with El. His unpredictability, combined with his wife's request for a divorce and her admission of an alternative desire, had seemed to shift his personality into the chronically weird zone.

So, while they both prayed for the best, they knew it could go either way. That was why Faith was here. Neither of them thought he would be stupid enough to go berserk in public, but with El, no one knew for sure which square to place their money on.

All settled in, with her back to the booth behind her, Faith ordered a cup of coffee, her first of many, and waited. Right on schedule, Kennedy arrived minutes later and sat facing Faith's back. Neither woman
acknowledged the other. The seating would force El to sit back to back with the detective and allow her to hear, no matter how low he kept his voice, everything the man said.

Right on time, in he marched. Faith felt the shared seat shift and bump as he dropped his large, heavy body down. "Hey, Ken, you look good. You o.k. Babe? You need anything?"

Faith's tension eased slightly at the sound of the man's voice. He sounded calm, rational. Possibly even concerned. At least he hadn't started out with the usual profanity. Maybe he'd had the chance to think things over. Maybe......no, Faith knew any suspect interview could go down hill in the snap of a finger. She wouldn't let her guard down and hoped Kennedy didn't either.

The waitress drifted over and filled both coffee cups at the table. She pulled out her pad and, with her best smile, asked if they were ready to order.

"No thanks, sweetheart, I think we'll just have coffee. You see my dear wife here would rather eat at the Y. Wouldn't you, Lover?"

Kennedy bristled and a chill shot up her spine. She knew it was too much to hope for. She was afraid that his good nature and calm facade were just that and that his anger boiled below the surface.

She pushed her cup over for the confused waitress to fill. She smiled and gave her a nod and a thanks. She waited till the server had walked away then turned her direct stare at her husband.

"I had hoped we could talk like two reasonable adults, El. There is no reason why we can't just divide up everything we have, shake hands, sign the papers and each of us go on our own way. This doesn't have to be hard. Please, El. Can't we do this the easy way?"

Elvin smiled, sat back and sipped his coffee. Every cell in Faith's body was strained and on alert waiting to feel as well as hear his response. She wanted to go and sit next to her lover, put her arm around her shoulders and offer her protection and moral support. But they had talked about it and Faith knew Kennedy was right. Elvin didn't know who Faith was and for now, that was best.

Finally Elvin set his cup down on the saucer and dabbed his napkin at his smiling mouth. Kennedy's stomach felt like it was full of rocks. She could see the seething hate flair in his eyes and his calm low tone only added to the fury she could feel grow in the air around them.

"There won't be any divorce, Kennedy. You are mine, bought and paid for with a $34.00 marriage license. Actually you were kind of cheap. I pay hookers three times that much just for a blow job. Something that you, my carpet munching little wife, always refused to do. Now I'm going to give you firty-eight hours to collect your things from that dingy little pit of fornication you jokingly call an apartment and get your flabby little ass back home where you belong."

Kennedy placed her hands in her lap hoping he couldn't see how badly they shook. She knew him well enough to know he wouldn't make a scene in a public place, at least she didn't think he would, but once they left, there was no telling what could happen. She had never been good at bluffing, but maybe this time she could. She took a deep breath and stared him down as she answered.

"And if I don't? What can you do El. Hit me? Again? Those days are over. I'm a cop now for God's sake. How stupid are you? You even think of threatening or touching me and I'll have you locked up so fast you won't have a chance to see which way they throw the key."

El threw his head back in a surprising move and laughed like a hyena. When he was finally able to control himself he snapped forward and hissed. "How dare you fuckin' threaten me? I'm your husband, for better or worse, till DEATH do us part you fuckin' snatch lickin' bitch. I had hoped it wouldn't come to this but I see I need to take steps to insure my happy home life is no longer compromised. I guess a few phone calls are in order."

An odd calm came over Kennedy. If that was his best, they had nothing to worry about.

"Call who, El? Nobody cares. People get divorced everyday."

Elvin gripped the table top till his fingers turned white. He stared at the pale white face in front of him and wanted nothing more than to cover it with red, swollen cheeks and bruised, black and blue puffy eyes. He wanted to pound his fists and cock into her till she bled and begged him to stop.

"No?" His voice took on a shrill loud tone that caught the attention of every one around them causing Kennedy to cringe and shrink back.

"How about your boss? You think your precious boss and all the fuckin' cops you work with won't care that you and the fuckin' bitch sitting behind us are lickin' pussies on the job? You think I didn't know? I know EVERYTHING you do, you stupid cow!"

Faith and Elvin both jumped to their feet and squared off, nose to nose. Everyone else in the diner stopped and turned to the drama that was unbelievably playing out with their lunch time burgers.

Gritting his teeth, Elvin shoved his face just inches from Faith's, spit flying as he spoke. "I'm going to make your life a living hell. You are going to be sorry you ever fucked with me and put your slimy fuckin' hands on my wife. All this is your fault! She wasn't like this till you made her change. Well you're both going to suffer for this."

Slamming his paper napkin down on the table, Elvin paused, turning one last time to whisper in his wife's ear. "You are going to beg me to take you back. You just wait and see. Before this is all over, you are going to beg."

With that he turned and stomped out leaving the two women shaking and frozen in the stares of the other customers.
Finally the waitress, coffee pot still in her hand, rushed up to them. "You gals want me to call the cops? You o.k.?"

Looking outside and seeing Elvin drive away, Faith handed the waitress a few dollars, took Kennedy by the arm and tried for a strained smile. "NO! No, thanks. Please don't call anyone. Everything is all right."

Faith steered Kennedy for the door and the two women left. They knew this disturbing turn of events would take some thought.





Part Eighteen

The next two days were hard driven, pounded out police work. Spike and Faith had reviewed the list of family members, friends and generally anyone who came into contact with the victims, hoping desperately to come up with a common thread.

Some sort of bond that would tie one to another. Something that, besides their physical similarities, would point to why them. Why they were targeted.

They had nothing.

Combined with the grueling twelve hour days, was the problem of distraction. Generally during a case Spike and Faith spoke constantly, talking over each detail, bouncing ideas back and forth, expounding theories. This time, however, they didn't. Each blamed the stress, the lack of information, the stunted direction for the silence when in fact each one's thoughts were occupied by one very special person.

After the debacle in the Waffle House, Faith had moved Kennedy into her apartment. Neither woman thought Elvin was actually stupid enough to make good on his threats, but why take the chance.

Spike, on the other hand, couldn't clear his mind of a certain psychic with incredible eyes and an irresistible body. The more he tried to block out his thoughts of the boy, the more he found himself fantasizing about him.

He pondered on the metaphysical and, for the first time in his life, actually considered that there might be more to the world than can be readily perceived. Spike knew one thing. He wanted to see Xander again. He just wasn't sure if it was ethical. He never would consider it if Xander was a witness, but he wasn't. He also wasn't a suspect or even someone who could be termed a person of interest. Although, to Spike, he was more than interesting.

On the evening of the second day, Spike sat at his desk, alone, surrounded by pointless facts and paperwork, Faith had finally gone home for the day and the night shift downstairs was already reporting for duty.

Spike drummed his fingers on the small wooden space not covered by crime scene photos and field notes, thinking.

'Sure is late. Time to go home. Have some dinner. By myself. Alone. Damn, I haven't been shopping in weeks, probably isn't a scrap of food in the whole fucking place. Ought to just go out. Hate to eat alone. Should have ask Faith. Hmm. Who else could I call?'

Spike was already fingering the card that he had been carrying around in his coat pocket. Once he had satisfied himself that he had totally rationalized the call, he picked up the phone.

"Hello?"

Spike shivered at the sound of the deep, clear voice. It was just as he remembered. It was just what he needed to hear.
"Hi, Xander? Hey, it's Spike. I know it's late. I hope I didn't wake you"

"Nay, I was up. Just watching the news. How's it going?"

"Not so good. Shit, to be honest, it's not going at all. Look, I'm sorry I bothered you. I shouldn't have called. I'll talk to you later, yeah?"

Spike felt his nerve slip and decided the call was a bad idea after all. Xander had been very open about being gay and Spike didn't want him to think this was a date. He was suddenly afraid taking Xander out may be perceived as coming out. Something Spike was not ready to do.

Xander had hoped and waited for two days for this call and he wasn't about to let it end like this. He knew the minute he met Spike that the detective needed his help, and he knew more. "Wait, Spike, don't go. Have you eaten? I know I haven't and I'm hungry enough to eat a cow."

Spike snorted as Xander continued. "Tell you what, I rent a small apartment over the wood shop and there's a pizza place just two doors down. Why don't I call ahead, you can pick up the pizza and then stop up. No pressure, just a couple guys, a couple beers, and a nice big gooey pizza. Sound good?"

Spike's face lit up and his tired body suddenly felt charged and renewed. It sounded better than all right. It sounded like heaven. "Yeah, sounds good. I'll leave here in about five, swing by and get the pie. I'll be there in about half an hour. Do I need to get anything else?"

"Nay, I'll order everything we need, you just pick it up. I'll see you then. Oh, Spike?"

"Yeah?"

"I'm really glad you called."

"Me too. See ya in a bit."

Spike was floating on cloud nine. He quickly scooped up all the reports and papers on his desk and stuffed them back in their folders. He quickly dropped them down in the front of the file cabinet, not wanting to take the extra three minutes it would take to categorize and file them properly.

He snatched his jacket off the back of his chair and after locking his office door, was gone.

He zipped through the late night traffic with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. Suddenly all the stress and pressure of the day seemed lifted, lessened, much less important compared to an evening of pizza, Xander, and.........?

Spike slowed the car and frowned.  'And what? What does Xander expect to happen? What do I think is going to happen? Fuck! What am I doing? O.k., as soon as I get there I make myself perfectly clear. Some food, a little conversation and nothing more. That's it. I establish my expectations immediately and there's no misunderstanding later. Right then.'

With that determined, Spike turned onto the street he remembered from two days ago and had no problem finding the Pizza Pit, right where Xander said it would be. Stepping inside, Spike approached the counter and the pimply faced boy behind it. "Pickin' up an order. Name of Harris?"

The boy smiled broadly and hustled off toward the back oven room emerging only seconds later with two large bags.
"That'll be $48.62 please."

Spike was shocked. He stood bug eyed with his open wallet in his hands. "What? What the hell all is in there?"

The boy set the bags down on the counter, his smile never faltering. "We got the mammoth sized pepperoni with extra cheese, a dozen hot wings, two bags of chips, one barbecue and one salt and vinegar, and a half dozen pickled eggs."

At the sight of Spike's gobsmacked expression, the boy's grin dropped and he took on a look of concern. "Sorry, did I miss something? Mr. Harris is an excellent customer and I don't want to forget anything."

Spike threw a fifty down on the stained counter and snatched up the bags. "If you did, Mate, I can't imagine what it could be. Keep the change."





Part Nineteen

Arriving at the Divine Creations furniture factory, Spike pulled into the alley that ran alongside the brick building. At the rear corner he saw a steel door with a button buzzer and decided this must be the entrance to the upstairs apartment.

Parking the Corvette, Spike made sure she was locked up tight then took the heavy sacks of food and walked cautiously toward the unmarked back door and rang the bell.

Almost immediately he heard the buzzing sound that signaled the occupant was releasing the lock. Spike shifted his load to one hand and stepped in. The entrance was a dim landing that led to a dark, uncarpeted stairway. Spike looked up from the bottom, not sure if he should go up or not.

"Hey, you made it. You pick up the food? Come on up."

Spike squinted into the darkness at the top of the stairs and saw a ray of light. The beaming smile of the young man he had come to see and apparently feed. With no more hesitation, Spike returned the smile and bounded up the stairs two at a time.

At the top, Xander took one of the sacks, peeked inside and led the way through another door into a small comfortable studio apartment. Spike looked all around as he followed.

There was one large open space. Most of it was living room, however the far corner was the kitchen. The only thing separating the two was a dark wood, decoratively carved island bar. The sides of the bar were lion heads with their mouths open in a feriocious roar.

Spike knew, without having to be psychic, that this was Xander's handiwork. It was simply too magnificient to be anything else.

The rest of the room was simple. Clean and uncluttered. There were no childhood trophy's, no shelves of collectables.
Nothing that defined the resident, yet the lack of personal stamp screamed Xander! louder than any pictures or
memoribilia could. For all it's stark appearance it was suprisingly warm and welcoming.

"Nice place. You lived here long?"

Xander continued in his task of retrieving plates from the cupboard and beer from the fridge. He sat everything down on the bar and settled in.

"About a year. Patrick. said I could stay here. It was just a storage area and he let me fix it up anyway I wanted."

"It's nice. Comfortable. You make the bar?"

Xander had already piled his plate high and was in the process of digging in when he nodded till he could swallow. "Yup. It was one of my first pieces. I can do a lot better now, but still, I was kind of proud of it. It was Patrick's idea to put it up here. Heavy as hell though" Xander laughed at the memory. "It took four of us to haul it up the stairs. Patrick says if I ever move out, it stays."

Spike hopped up on the bar chair, took two slices of pizza, and poured his beer into the offered glass. There was one more question that had been on his mind since the day at the diner. "You live here alone?"

Xander looked a little surprised. "Yeah, why do you ask?"

Spike looked away, wishing he hadn't brought up such a personal matter but secretly delighted that the boy was alone.
"I just wondered. Didn't you say you had told Mabel that you had found someone special? I just thought maybe........"

Xander laughed. "Oh, that. I was maybe a little premature. Nothing set in stone."

Spike was enormously relieved. For some reason it bothered him tremendously to think of Xander happily sitting here eating pizza and wings with another man. It was a realization he tried his best to block out.

"So how is the case going? Any new leads? Did you look into the possibility that the case is connected to you and your partner?"

Spike wiped his mouth and took a big swallow of beer. "No. I really don't see how it could be. We're still looking into the victim's backgrounds and trying to find some common ground. Besides, if this was about us, if this was someone
we arrested or someone with a grudge, hell, they know where we are. Why not just come after us. What would it have to do with these women."

Xander snatched the last wing just as Spike had started to reach for it. He shoved it in his mouth in one bite and jumped up to go to the fridge. "'Nother beer?"

Spike smiled and nodded, waiting for Xander to finish his thought.

"That I don't know. But I am sure of one thing. As much as he hated that woman, he didn't even know her. Also, even though she didn't know him, she trusted him, so where does that leave us?"

Spike shook his head then looked up with a slight frown. "Us?"

Xander sat back down with both beers, popped the top on his and drank a third of it straight down. "Of course, us. I'm working on this case too, aren't I? So here's what I think. I got definate strong impressions from the last crime scene, and I think I could do more if we went to the others. It would give me a chance to compare the final moments of each of the other victims and maybe locate that one thread that ties them together. Also, I know it probably isn't possible, but if I could hold something that belonged to the killer it would help a lot."

Spike pushed his plate back. He had watched Xander's face the whole time he had been speaking and Spike marveled at his expression of pure normalcy. Like he was discussing the weather or the price of fish at the local wharf market. Fighting off the feeling that he should be sitting here with a pair of alien deelyboppers on his head, Spike decided to go with the flow and see where they washed up.

Besides, it gave them a chance to spend time together and that was extremely appealing.

"O.k. How about tomorrow we go to the residence of the two previous victims. You take a look around and we see what comes of it. Afterwards we can have lunch and compare notes."

"Sounds like a plan." Xander slammed down his second empty bottle and leaned back rubbing his belly. "Why don't you go on over an have a seat. I'll clean this up and be right in."

Spike agreed and wandered over to the small cubby hole area of the living room that held the television, a small stereo and a tall shelf of CD's. Curiosity led him to examine the titles to see what sort of music interested someone like Xander. He was surprised to find a wide variety. Everything from the Four Tenors to Alison Krauss to books on tape. Spike was finding everything about the boy facinating.

"Put something on."

Spike jumped. He hadn't noticed Xander approach and was startled to see him so close that he could feel the warmth from the boy's body and smell the wonderful aroma of clean and spice. Spike swayed, listing toward the attraction of the man next to him, and stumbled.

At the last second he threw out his hands, gripping Xander's arms, and caught himself as Xander wrapped an arm around his waist.

Spike blinked, flustered. "Damn. Sorry. I guess the lack of sleep and two quick beers wasn't a good combination. Maybe I better go home."

Xander continued to hold him close despite the fact that Spike had regained his balance. Xander's voice was low, soft, in Spike's ear. "Are you o.k. to drive? You want to stay here? I have plenty of room if you want to sleep here with me tonight."

The voice and offer shot through Spike's body like a hot wave of lava. He could literally feel the blood surge to his crotch and harden his very agreeable cock. The mental images of him and the strong, confident, young man in bed
together, rolling, stripped naked, sucking, humping, touching...........

"Spike? I said the couch folds out. I have plenty of space."

Spike shook his head to clear his rambling brain. "Maybe I just need to sit for a bit. Could you fix some coffee?"

He nodded cheerfully and went to the kitchen as Spike kicked off his shoes and put up his feet. By the time he returned, Xander found his guest sound asleep. Tossing a sofa throw over him, Xander kissed the top of Spike's
head and whispered quietly, "You can't come into my bed until you say the words Spike. Those two little words."

Xander turned out the lights and went to bed with a smile on his lips and peace in his heart.





Part Twenty

It was five am and everything in the small loft apartment was dark and silent. Both men slept peacefully in their own respective beds, lulled by the quiet repetitious tic tic tic of the clock that hung on the living room wall.

Traffic on the street below was still light, pick up trucks and ratty old cars hauling early morning fishermen to their jobs on the wharf dodged around the slow rumbling city street sweepers that cruised through the back roads spraying water and running circular scrubbers in a pointless attempt to keep the pavement free of trash and litter.

Caught behind it and unable to pass, a white panel van honked it's horn impatiently, knowing it wouldn't make a difference but it seemed to satisfy the frustration of the passenger. "Fuck! Hit the horn again. Damn fucking street cleaners. You know they're a step below garbage collectors. Ride around all day in a fucking truck and collect a huge fucking paycheck. Look at them! They're intentionally blocking the street just to fuck with us."

The driver of the van bristled, the muscles in his jaw flexing with the suppressed urge to yell at the stupid bimbo sitting next to him. He had an uncle that worked for the city and knew what a hard job it was.

He earned every single dollar of the paycheck he got. A paycheck that was a lot smaller than a t.v. reporter that got her job because of a flip of a blond head, a big toothy smile and the ability to give a blow job better than a dust buster on a full charged battery.

"Look, Buffy, relax. It's not like we're reporting on the war in Iraq. We're just going to the wharf for a fluff piece on the declining use of hemp in fishing nets. If we're a little late, so what?"

Buffy scowled, giving her driver and camera man a look that just screamed "Don't forget who the star is here". She then leaned over him and slapped her small, tiny little hand down on the center of the steering wheel and let the horn roar. Max just rolled his eyes. He knew arguing further was a waste of time.

"God damn fuckin'................Heyyyyyy." Suddenly Buffy pulled her hand off the horn as something else caught her
ADD interest. Turning around in her seat she stuck her bony finger under Max's nose, pointing across the street from where they sat.

"Look, over there. I know that Corvette. It belongs to Homicide detective Will Pratt. Why the hell would it be down here when I happen to know he lives clear across town? He's working on that murdered girl case isn't he? Fuck! Max! I'll bet he's got a lead or a suspect or something. We could get the scoop before anyone else finds out. This could be my ticket into the real world of news journalism. No more old lady with fifty cats stories. Oh shit, I heard CNN is looking for someone new. Quick, turn down that alley. I say we park out of the way and watch. See who he comes out with. Follow him and find out where he goes. Be sure you have the camera ready. If he drags a perp out I want it all on tape. Those taser shots are always great."

Max finally reached a wide spot in the road and a chance to pass the huge machine in front of them. Buffy had dragged him on these wild goose chases before and they had always led to dead ends. In addition to the wasted time and embarrassment from his fellow cameramen, he had repetedly been the one chewed up and spit out by the station's general manager, Bill, leading him to believe that Bill was the one Buffy was dust busting and probably NOT spitting out.

Max considered zipping around the sweeper, ignoring her, and running on down to their assignment, but to be honest it was a toss up. Did he let Buffy put him out here chasing his tail and in the end get another written reprimand, or did he defy her and do the job they were sent on?

Max glanced at the delicate looking woman beside him and knew what a false impression that was. He had seen her at her hormonal worse. Screaming, cursing, threatening and in the end pulling out all stops and bursting into tears.

He also knew that if he pissed her off, the next time Bill pumped one down her throat she would complain about how he was compromising her career and get him disciplined anyway. It was a no win situation.

Checking his watch, he made a decision. He would pretend to play along, give her one hour, then somehow talk her into finishing their assigned job. Maybe he could survive this morning after all.

Max whipped the t.v. news van around the corner and parked about a half a block away in a darkened area of the alley. He pulled his trusty thermos out and poured himself a cup of coffee. Buffy flipped down the sun visor and began primping. Flipping her hair and checking her teeth for lipstick. Max sighed and scooted down in his seat. It promised to be a long hour.

Spike stretched his arms high over his head. He couldn't remember the last time he had slept that well, and if it weren't for some first class asshole laying on their car horn he would still be there.

Squinting his eyes open, Spike finally came to the realization that he was not home. Remembering last night he stiffened, wondering where his host was and just how humiliating this was going to prove to be. Flinging his feet over the side, he immediately sat up, jerked the strange throw cover off him and looked around.

"Good morning. I was going to wake you but you looked so peaceful I just didn't have the heart. You want some breakfast? Eggs and toast?"

Spike spun around and saw Xander, standing in the kitchen, clean, fresh and looking like the morning sunrise on a perfect summer day. His smile was so comfortable and welcoming that whatever strangeness Spike felt at being there dissipated immediately.

Pulling himself to his feet, Spike stretched the kinks out of his back and looked down in dismay at the crumpled, wrinkled mess that was the suit he had just slept in.

"Yeah, sure, breakfast would be great. Mind if I go........." Spike waved his hands in the direction of the bathroom as his bladder responded to the pull of gravity and became very insistent.

"Sure, help yourself. Hey after we eat we can head on over to the other crime scenes. I can't wait to see what impressions I get. Damn, I wish you had something the killer touched. I know it would make a big difference. I know the energy on it would be incredible."

Spike stood in front of the toilet, cock in hand feeling the wonderful relief that comes with a long hot morning piss. The possibility of discussing the rose bud with Xander flashed through his mind but was dismissed as inadvisable.

He couldn't take the chance. It was the one thing they had held back and he and his partner promised each other to discuss the matter before either of them would release it.

Spike chuckled and could just see that conversation. "By the way, Faith, I'm working with a psychic wood carver and I'm thinking of letting him handle a couple of the rose buds to see what kind of cosmic energy he can suck off them. You don't mind do you?"

Spike shook his dick and shoved it back in his rumpled pants. 'Yeah,' he thought, 'that would go REALLY well.'

After washing his hands he returned to the small kitchen and hopped up on the bar chair. "Sure. We could do that, but first I need to swing by my place and change. You mind?"

Xander slid two eggs and several pieces of toast on Spike's plate. "Sounds great. After we get done with the crime scenes we can go out to lunch."




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