Rosebud Murders


by
BmblBee



Part Thirty-Six

"It's all about attitude, Pet."

Spike stood by the side of the Corvette and waited for his lover to exit the passenger's side and join him.

"Slinkin' and slitterin' looks guilty as hell and raises all types of questions. If you march in, head up, people assume you belong there and don't pay ya no mind. So, just stick with me and we go straight up to my office and lock this thing back in the safe. Might be one or two late shift detectives but other than that, should be fairly deserted. If anyone asks, we say you're a witness and I'm taking you in to file a statement. Got it? Ready?"

Xander nodded and took a deep relaxing breath. He then turned and followed as Spike led the way through the garage to the front of the station. They marched in the front door and waved briefly to Daniel Ozborn, the late shift dispatch. Spike was greatly relieved to see that Taylor was gone. He always did say the prick gossiped more than a room full of chits at a baby shower.

Xander took the time to look all around. The officialness that swam heavily in the air impressed and excited him. He could just feel the electricity of human emotion. The victims who had been here were steeped in misery and anger. Their feeling of loss, violation and outrage loomed like storm clouds.

The criminals, with their desperation and deceit bounced off the clouds, sparking and causing a reaction almost akin to heat lightning on a blistering summer night. It was all so foreign, overwhelming and enticing that Xander could nearly taste the energy in his tongue and feel it's spark on his fingertips.

"XAN!"

"Huh? What?"

"I said come on. What the fuck are you doing? Standin' there with your nose in the air like a beagle sniffing for a bitch in heat. People gonna start to wonder, Pet. Low key. Remember?"

Xander ducked his head and grinned sheepishly, allowing Spike to grab his arm and lead him in the direction of the elevators. Once inside and as soon as the door slid closed, Xander froze. His eyes grew big and an involuntary dry heave choked in his throat. "Fuck, Spike. There was someone in here. A female. Very recently. She's being watched. The killer's watching her. She's his next target."

Spike grabbed the young man's shoulders and shook. "Who? Who, Xan? A name. I need a name."

Spike knew from the look on Xander's face that he had no name. It couldn't possibly be that easy. With his hands still on the psychic's shoulders and an expression of anger on Spike's face the elevator doors slid open.

"Whoa. Easy partner. You know the department doesn't go for police brutality."

Spike spun around, releasing his grip on Xander's arms and came face to face with Angel.

"It's not what you think, Wanker, so if you're considering writing a statement of Improper Behavior against me, forget it. Besides, what the fuck you doing hanging around outside my office this late at night?"

Angel pointedly chose to ignore the question and the accusation. Stepping past Spike, Angel approached Xander, his eyes burning with curiosity and a slight tinge of jealousy.

"Who is this Spike?"

"Fuck off Angel. This is Xander........um, Mr. Harris. He's a possible witness to a case I worked on a while back. I brought him in to file a report. Now if you're done interrogating me I have work to do."

Spike was becoming suspicious and anxious. If he didn't know better he would swear that Angel was up to something. He acted for all the world like he was stalling, trying to keep Spike talking and occupied.

Angel extended his hand and his most winning faux-sincere smile. It was smile #5 in his repertoire of smiles. The one designed to win over reluctant prospective lovers and exude an air of innocent sexuality. "How do you do Xander. I'm Detective Liam O'Connor. If you ever need anything and Detective Pratt is unable to help you, please feel free to call me."

Xander kept his expression in check and his answer in reserve till he had a chance to make physical contact. Clasping his hand in Angel's gave Xander a jolt and brought a laugh to his lips.

His eyes momentarily darted over to his guilty looking lover and quickly returned to the Lothario with the unibrow and the hair that Xander could clearly see him spending up to thirty minutes ruffling into the casual I-don't-do-anything-to-it look. "Thanks. I'll remember that and although I appreciate the sentiment, I don't think there's anything you can do for me. Besides, Spike here is the best. I trust him to take care of me."

Angel frowned, wondering what the joke was, but somehow thinking it was on him. Hesitating, he knew he had stalled long enough. There really wasn't any more to say. Punching the down button on the elevator, he turned one last time."O.k. then. Well I guess I better go. Don't forget, Spike, I'm still willing to help you out on that case you have. Just call."

Before Spike could toss out another thinly veiled insult, Xander nodded. "No problem. Spike has everything covered. Nice meeting you Angel."

Angel had just stepped inside the little box when what Xander had said registered. Spinning around, Angel looked back with a confused expression "Hey! How did you know my name was.........." The elevator doors slid closed in Angel's face, silencing and cutting off any questions he had.

Spike immediately grabbed Xander's hand and stuck a finger in the face of the still chuckling psychic. "No. Now is not the time to discuss this. I don't know what you saw but I can only imagine and that is a conversation for another time. Right now we have other problems to deal with. Come on, we should be alone.  Let's get this done before anything else interrupts us."

With a smiling and agreeable Xander in tow, Spike led the way down the row of darkened offices till he reached his own. He had already fished his free hand in his pants pocket and retrieved his keys.

The overhead lights on the second floor are scaled back on the off duty hours. They are alternated between one on and five off. This allows enough illumination to see where you're going but saves the taxpayers of the fine county of Stark a dollar or two each month. It was one of the Sheriff's points that won him reelection last year.

It didn't matter to Spike. This place had been like a second home to him and he could have found his way around blindfolded.

Arriving at the fourth door, the office of the Lead Investigator, Spike aimed his key at the lock and stopped. Squinting in the dim shadow of light he could see that not only was the door unlocked, it also stood ajar. Just an inch of so, but enough that Spike knew someone had been inside.

Reading his partner's hesitation and reservation, Xander took a step back, waited and watched. They both heard the noise at the same time. A scuff of shoes, a rattle of metal, an undefined, muffled sound whose determination was far less important than the discovery of the owner of the sound's origin.

Immediately Spike kicked open the door and flipped on the neon ceiling lights flooding the room in the eyeball frying blast of blue white glow. Startled, the intruder tumbled back away from the floor safe he was attempting to open and landed squarely on his ass.

"Giles?"





Part Thirty-Seven

Fred Cooper took an extra few minutes before getting out of the car. He checked the status of his off duty 357 in the way he
had done a thousand times before. Loaded and safety off, he tucked it back in his shoulder holster and gave it an affectionate pat.

Looking at the front entrance of the building, Cooper noticed, with some concern, that the 24-7 security light seemed to be burnt out. It gave the whole area a deserted abandoned look.

He made a mental note to call the power company when he arrived at work tomorrow. If none of the tenants had reported it by then he would make sure it was fixed before tomorrow night. Toss about a bit of official weight, as it were. Cooper knew first hand that a darkened doorway was a haven for drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, and kids of all ages just looking for a bit of vandalism and trouble.

Reaching into his glove box, he retrieved a flashlight and climbed out of the car. As long as he had come out here he might as well make himself known. Check the perimeter of the building and knock on Dawn's door. Even if she was asleep he knew she would feel better knowing he was around.

He checked his watch and knew he had about eight minutes to return to his car before the dispatcher would call on his radio asking if all was well. With his long legs and large feet he made short work of the brick walkway, all the time swinging the flashlight back and forth in front of him to light the way.

He nearly shit himself when a chipmunk darted across his path heading from one patch of bushes to another. Chuckling, he noted his tense muscles and willed them to relax. Gratefully, he looked up at the night time sky and thanked the mythical Gods of nature that there was a full moon. The blue glow from the starry sky gave the whole area an eerie illumination, but it was better than nothing.

Moving on, he stayed to the center of the walkway. The shrubs on each side of him framed and darkened the area even more and Fred found himself becoming increasingly uncomfortable. Reaching the solid double doors, Fred's flashlight reflected off something sparkling on the ground and crunched under his boots. Crouching down he picked up a small sliver with his fingers. He knew immediately what it was. Standing back up he tipped his head and saw that the light bulb hadn't burnt out, it had been smashed.

Immediately Fred turned and flattened himself, pressing his back against the cool brick of the front of the building. He flipped off his flashlight and held his breath, straining for any sound, any movement that could be detected. None came. Using his palms behind him, Fred felt the sharp, irregular roughness of the brick exterior as he crept along down toward the east end of the wall. When he reached the corner of the building, he paused, then quickly ducked his head around the side towards the small service entrance. Just as he feared, that light had been knocked out too.

Leaning back against the solid feel of the building, Fred took a deep breath to calm his jangled nerves. Every instinct he had was screaming and waving signs that were painted in neon colors announcing "Danger" "Beware" "Proceed With Caution"

Fred planned on heeding them all.

He considered returning to the car to call for back up but his cop's gut told him there wasn't time. By his estimation he had about five minutes left before his well call. He knew if he didn't respond with an "all well" Osborn would have back up rolling within minutes.

Fred thanked his lucky stars Taylor wasn't on duty. He knew he would be fucked.

Switching his darkened flashlight to his left hand, Fred drew his gun and held it firmly in his right. He edged back down toward the front entrance. Except for the lack of light, all appeared normal. He knew that was a lie.

Reaching the front doors, Fred tucked his light under his arm, reached behind him and wrapped his hand around the smooth cool door knob. It turned easily. Taking one last look around, Fred raised his gun, spun around and stepped inside.

Once inside, he again flipped on the flash light and aimed the beam in a rapid sweep of the area. He stood on a small square landing no bigger than 5 ft. x 5 ft. Off to his left was a stairway that went to the basement. Also dark. Directly ahead of him were the steps that led up to the first floor  apartments.

His heart pounded in his throat as his light detected the sparkle of more broken glass on the landing at his feet. Whoever had smashed the exterior bulbs had been thorough. And inside. He stepped forward. His right hand feeling for the side wall barely noted the mailboxes that his fingers brushed over.

Remembering Dawn's apartment number, Fred knew it must be on the first floor. As soon as she let him in he would call 911.
Phone the station and get a couple black and whites out here to run a complete check on the property. Maybe bring the dogs.
If there was anyone prowling around, Fred wanted to know the fucking reason.

Gripping the flashlight back in his left hand, Fred moved forward cautiously. The second his foot touched the bottom step he felt the arms wrap around him from behind. He was jerked back and off balance so quickly he barely had time to make any noise beyond a short grunt as the iron grip squeezed the air from his lungs. As if in slow motion, Fred watched as the flashlight flew from his fingers and crashed to the floor, rolling to the top of the basement steps and  tumbling down, the beam of light disappearing out of sight.

In the same flash of time, the razor sharp blade sliced cleanly from ear to ear. As the shock of the cut registered in his muddled brain Fred was released from the arms that held him, almost lovingly, tossing and spinning him away. Immediately his legs gave way and Fred felt himself stumble and follow the path his light had led. He tumbled, with surprisingly little pain, till he landed in a heap on the cold cement floor of the cellar.

With his vocal cords severed completely, Fred was unable to make any sounds beyond the silly gurgling that almost made him smile.

As his sight dimmed and his pupils slowly dilated, Fred watched the rapidly growing pool of red that surrounded him. A true feeling of regret and sadness filled him as he thought one last time about the wife that waited for him to call and the daughters he would never hold or protect. Life was so wonderful and unpredictable and he had been so wasteful of it. A tear rolled down his face and Fred Cooper sighed his last breath.

The sound of the car radio crackled loudly.

"Starcom to Cooper. All well?"

"Starcom to Cooper?"

"Fred? You there? Everything o.k.?"





Part Thirty-Eight

Faith made a small strangled sound in the back of her throat before lurching forward and grabbing Kennedy's hand jerking her painfully, almost off her feet.

Kennedy did her best to keep hold of the sack of booty she had pirated from her closet and drawers and still maintain her balance as her girlfriend dragged her out of the floral patterned bedroom. "Jesus Christ, Faith. What the fuck is your problem? I told you I was done. I told you I was ready to go, just quit pullin;"

Faith's iron grip on her girlfriend's hand never loosened as she rushed down the stairs and back into the dark living room, the small flashlight still lay forgotten on the closet floor. "Shut up! Leave the goddamn bag and let's just get the fuck out of here!"

Kennedy did her best to keep up. She wasn't sure what had happened but she could feel the fear rolling off Faith's back as she barreled ahead. In all the time they had been together Kennedy couldn't remember Faith ever being afraid.

"OW! Fuck!"

Faith stumbled, stubbing her toe into a coffee table in the dark and releasing Kennedy's hand. Kennedy dropped her bag and
quickly pulled a shaking Faith into her arms. "Please. Please. What is it? What's wrong?"

The solid feel of Kennedy's body and Faith's driving love and need to keep her safe went a long way to bringing Faith to her
senses. Pulling back she cupped her lover's face in her hands and Faith focused on the beauty she could see shining through the darkness.

All the things Spike and Xander had told her about the killer screamed their truth. It all made so much sense. It also proved how wrong they had been to keep the secret of the rose. "Listen to me Ken, I know this is going to seem crazy and I don't expect
you to understand, but please believe me, I think Elvin is the murderer we've been hunting."

Faith waited patiently. She waited for the confusion and the denial. She waited for all the questions and the demands for explanations. Faith could just imagine what Kennedy must be thinking. After all she had been married to this man for years. She knew him better than anyone else.

In a flash Kennedy grabbed the sack of belongings in one hand and Faith's arm in the other. She expertly steered them through the dark maze of house into the kitchen and the back door. "Grab the fuckin' box of Granny's china and let's get the fuck outta here before he gets back." Kennedy's brain spun. The facts and figures fell into place and everything added up nicely. She certainly believed he was capable of murder. She had seen it burn in his eyes. She had lived through his jealous rages and ridden the roller coaster of his emotions. To be honest she had often thought the odds were good that she would die at his hands.

Till Faith.

Faith's love had been her salvation. Her proof that life could still be worth living. Kennedy firmly believed that the only reason she had been able to leave Elvin and continue breathing was because of Faith. Kennedy didn't know what evidence Faith had that pointed to Elvin but Elvin himself was proof enough.

The two women jerked the back door open. Faith scooped up the card board box of china and quickly followed Kennedy back to the car they had parked out front. Popping open the hatchback, everything was unceremoniously shoved in and the lid slammed shut.

Dashing around like a Chinese fire drill, the two jumped in the car and squealed the tires as they drove off. It took at least two miles before either released the breath they held in their lungs.

"So what do we do? Where are we going? Christ, Faith, are you sure?"

Faith gripped the steering wheel till her fingers cramped. She wasn't sure how to go about explaining but knew she was right.

"It's a combination of everything. All the pieces fit perfectly and I know it's him. Right now we're going to the station house. Spike has something in his safe that I need you to see. Then we're going to call him at home and get his ass out of bed so we can all sit down and talk."

Kennedy wrinkled her nose at the thought. "Aren't you afraid you'll interrupt him in the middle of something? He may have company. One of those brainless bimbos I hear he has warming his sheets."

Faith barked out a stress relieving laugh and shook her head. "I don't think we need to worry about that."


~*~*~*~*~


"Giles?"

The Chief Inspector leaped to his feet and spun around, still blinking and squinting in the sudden blinding light. A look of guilt colored his cheeks as he fumbled for an explanation. "Oh, ah, Detective Pratt. I was looking for you."

Calmly. Spike circled his desk and looked down at the safe his Chief Inspector had been methodically trying to crack. "Well, luckily for me I wasn't in there. I believe I would have suffocated by now."

Giles bristled at the sarcasm and regained a bit of his authoritative manner. "You know what I mean. Besides I believe we have bigger problems here. Why have you changed the combination on the lock and not informed me? You answer to me in all investigations, Detective Pratt. And who is this? Why are you sneaking unauthorized personnel into the station house? I'm waiting for an explanation, William."

Xander felt the outrage the second it shot through his lover's body and he discreetly placed his hand on Spike's arm hoping to encourage him to practice restraint. It worked. Spike gave an almost imperceivable nod and leaned back against his desk, calmly crossing his arms.

"The combination was changed because I didn't know who around here I could trust and from the looks of things I was right. Why are you sneaking around in here Giles? Why are you trying to steal the evidence? And why, and this is the big question, was Liam O'Connor standing guard for you out by the elevators? You know all the evidence points to the killer being a cop. I think YOU are the one with a lot of explaining to do."

Giles face flushed beat red with fury at the accusation then, just as quickly, drained white as he slumped into the chair across from Spike's desk. His voice dropped to a whisper and his proper British accent sounded tired and worn. "I'm not the killer, William, maybe all this would be easier to explain if I were."

Xander stepped up to the older man who sat crumpled in the chair, his face in his hands. Crouching down in front of him, Xander gently took the older man's hands in his and coaxed him to look him in the eye. "It's not so complicated. Angel caught you taking something. Drugs from the evidence area. He promised you his confidentiality. An exchange. His silence if you helped him. Find out what Spike and Faith know about the killer. What they had locked away."

A lightning bolt of shock went through Giles. "Fuckin' Liam. Did Liam tell you all that? Fuckin' prick!"





Part Thirty-Nine

Giles' righteous indignation burnt itself out quickly and he pulled away from the men in front of him. He knew however they had found out didn't matter.

No, the jig, as it were, was definitely up and as an honorable British gentleman, Giles was ready to face the situation on his own terms. "Yes, the young man here is correct. I did the unthinkable. I've struggled with this addiction for years but I swear that was the only time I stole evidence. When Liam caught me it was the final straw. I entered a program and I promise I've been clean ever since. He said this would square us. If I did this one thing for him he would never mention the drugs again. He wanted information. He wanted leverage.

In short, he wanted your position as Lead Investigator. I refused and I'm ashamed to admit that when he showed me a letter he had drafted to the County Manager, I relented. That's what tonight was about. He felt that if he had the evidence you had secured he believed he could solve the case and earn himself a name and a promotion. I'm aware that he has even gone so far as to speak with a television reporter, promising her a scoop in exchange for kudos. It would ensure his promotion and your failure would justify your demotion. I sincerely regret my dishonorable behavior and my betrayal of you and what I believed to be our friendship, William."

Spike watched the face of the defeated, rejected older man and considered all he had told him. Maybe on a different day he could have found the anger to confront him or even the sympathy to console him but not now.

Right now Spike was too busy processing all the information and how it played into his case. It satisfied him that Angel and Giles, as pathetic as they were, could not be the killers. It also answered the question of who the weasel was that had fed Buffy the inside information.

The only inaccuracy Spike could ferret out was probably Angel had fed Buffy a mouthful of cock along with those tidbits of info, but at this point mentioning that to Giles would be moot. Instead, Spike had other things to deal with. Mainly, getting the evidence from his pocket back into the safe.

Turning to Xander, Spike handed him a five dollar bill. "Be a love, Pet, and take the Chief here down the hall and get him a cuppa from the machines, yeah? He looks a bit worn and could use it."

Xander instantly took the hint and wrapped an arm around Giles' shoulder coaxing him out of the chair. However, before Giles could make it to his feet they were all startled by Oz, the night shift dispatch who stuck his head in, rapping his knuckles loudly on the glass panel of the office door.

"Hey, just thought you all should know. Fred Cooper is AWOL. He radioed in about twenty-five minutes ago that he was checking on a subject who had reported a stalker. He requested a ten minute well check and we've been unable to raise him. We've been calling every two minutes for the past ten but getting nothing. Two cars are rolling that way now, but I thought you might want to know."


~*~*~*~*~


Faith sped through the dark streets, slamming through the gears of the shifter like Mario Andretti at the Daytona 500.

"What do we do? Where are we going? God damn it Faith, slow down!" Kennedy fumbled with her seat belt making sure it was securely fastened.

Reaching down on the floor, Faith grabbed her purse and dumped it on Kennedy's lap.

"Find my cell phone and call Spike. Tell him to meet us at the station house NOW! Tell him we know who the killer is."

Kennedy had begun digging before Faith had finished talking. She rooted through notes and scraps of paper with grocery lists. She flinched at the used tissues and felt around the hair brush and four shades of lip gloss.

The second her fingers wrapped around the soft padded case, the phone rang, vibrating sharply and nearly slipping from her fingers. Flipping it open, Kennedy never had a chance to speak. The caller shouted, loud enough for Faith to hear, that she was to meet them at an address on Market street. Spike sounded worried. The only things Kennedy was sure of were that it had something to do with the killings, Fred Cooper, and Xander.

Without saying a word, Faith slammed on the brakes and slid the car into a u-turn that left a considerable amount of rubber behind shooting off in the direction of Market.

Kennedy gripped the dash board and held on tight. "Who the fuck is Xander?"


~*~*~*~*~


Elvin Masters stood at the top of the dark landing and stared at the bottom of the basement stairs. He could just barely make out the form of the man who lay crumpled there, his life draining quickly from his body.

He had never made a sound. No pleas for help, no begging for his life. Not surprising, Elvin thought, considering the knife had cut cleanly through his vocal chords. Still, it was somewhat disappointing. The silence.

It was what he looked forward to the most. Hearing Kennedy beg. Listening to her apologize for her sins and repent her deviance. She would rebuke her corruption and turn against the very people who were responsible for these deaths. She would know that he had done it all to show her. Prove to her that the police were not the saviors she thought they were. That only he and God Almighty knew the true path of her life.

He would, in time, accept her, forgiving her sinful past and show her the truth, the light, the way. Of course a sin of this magnitude could not be rectified by a few Hail Mary's or a dozen Our Father's. No this would require a cleansing by physical correction.

Elvin closed his eyes and shuddered as he considered the ways he would lead her to the path of righteousness. The belt, the razor, he would teach her that the release of the sin came with the flow of blood. Elvin Masters sighed with anticipation and satisfaction as Fred Cooper released his last breath.

Quickly Elvin came back to himself. All of that was for later. Right now time was short and he had a date to keep. Another young lady that he had taken great pains to select. She looked so much like Kennedy that it shocked him.

The same long dark hair. The same wicked wiggle in her slim hips when she walked. It had been painful, difficult for him to watch her, but he had done it. He had chosen her to be the next message sent to his dear wife.

He had even sent a warning. A rose lovingly left on her doorstep yet they still turned a blind eye. Shaking his head in disgust, Elvin wondered again why they had refused to act. Why they took no steps to stop him. It was almost as though they were enjoying watching him work.

He hadn't wanted to do it again this quickly but the divorce......Kennedy was being coerced by that bitch she fornicated with and he needed to take drastic measures to stop them. Kennedy would see. In the end she would see that this was necessary and that it was the fault of that cunt detective that was too busy licking his wife to stop a killer.

Elvin could feel his fury stir and burn like acid in his gut. The white lights started flashing behind his eyes and he knew if he didn't stop it now the blinding headache that always followed would incapacitate him for hours. He couldn't afford to let that happen. Not now. Not when he was so close. Taking several deep breaths, he rocked himself back and forth on the balls of his feet and hummed. Slowly he felt himself defuse. His blood calmed and his heart rate slowed.

Finally, he relaxed the fists that clenched at his sides and looked up the stairs. Elvin Masters wiped the sweat from his palms on the front of his long black overcoat and smiled.





Part Forty

Buffy shuffled around her pretentiously over decorated apartment. She was already in her soft flannel, no man tonight pajamas
despite the fact that it was only 10:22. She picked up her warm cup and snapped off the overhead chandelier.

Drawing back the drapes, she stood by the large bay window in the small breakfast nook and gazed out of the window that overlooked the city below. The lights twinkled and shined in a glorious way that made her ever so grateful that she was separated from the lowlifes and trailer trash that could barely afford to pay their electric bills and keep those lights on.

She knew she was put on this earth for better things. Her perfect complexion, straight white teeth and blond (almost) hair had been a gift nature had bestowed upon her and Lord knows, Buffy was never one to turn her back on a gift. She was on the fast track to the big time and nothing could get in her way. When this story broke......when it is her face cutting in on people's
regularly scheduled programming with the explosive story of a serial killer that had been caught, she would finally be famous.

No more stories about fishermen's nets No more interviewing one hundred and two year old men with no teeth and sagging balls. No more standing like an idiot while the Thanksgiving parade marched behind her. No more.

She would finally get the respect due her. Fame, fortune, awards and adoration, all just around the corner. Handed to her on a platter by the other thing she needed to complete her successful image. A Man.

Liam, Angel, O'Connor. Buffy snickered smugly. Yeah, she still had it. She remembered the day he had finally come to her after, no doubt, worshipping her from afar. No longer able to control his craving for her he had put himself, and his position, on the line just to impress her.  He had even grudgingly bedded and fucked her cameraman in front of her, several times, just to prove what lengths he was willing to go to win her over. Oh, yes, Detective O'Connor was a keeper. Especially when he earned his promotion and gained the political influence the job carried.

Buffy sipped her cocoa and walked silently toward the great room, the only sound that could be heard was the woosh woosh of her bunny slippers as they slid across the expensive tile and hardwood floors.

He had explained it all to her in terms of scratching backs and washing hands, but she finally understood what he was trying to spell out. She was not stupid like everyone thought. It was a simple you get your's, I get mine deal. Setting her cup down she again checked the clock on the fireplace mantle and frowned. "Speaking of Detective Hard Cock" she muttered, "where the hell is he?"

He had promised to call her and keep her updated. She had more than once cursed him and considered dumping him like a fucking hot potato when this was all over if she wasn't certain he would cause even Barbara Walters to dampen her panties when he showed up at Buffy's award ceremony in a tux.

Hustling through the den into her office, Buffy flipped on the police scanner she kept there. Immediately the usual nerve chewing, aggravating static and chatter filled the room. She hated it and found the codes and signals they used annoying and confusing.

It was almost like a personal affront. Designed to keep her from tracking their activities. She resolved to insist that when Angel had achieved his position and power she would demand that dispatch be forced to spell out, in plain English, exactly what was going on.

"Starcom to car D7. Come in D7. Do you read Cooper?"

"Starcom to Cooper. Come in Cooper"

"Starcom to car D1. Are you enroute to Cooper's location?"

"D1 to Starcom. We are enroute to that location on Market. Car D2 is also responding. Have you raised any response?"

"Negative D1. Officer Cooper does not respond."


Buffy scowled. She recognized the one voice as that stuck up snotty brit accented William Pratt. She had flirted with him once or twice and he had always crinkled his nose up at her. "Well, Mr.English fish and chips guy, We'll see how uppity you are
when Liam O'Connor tops your ass. I'll just bet you never saw that one coming."

Buffy's smugness, however was short lived when she picked up on the address the dispatcher was giving. 'Market st? Market st? Why the fuck does that sound familiar?' The question had no more than gelled in her brain when the answer
knocked her straight out of her fluffy bunnies. She remembered her sister, despite her attempts to discourage, had taken a small
apartment down there.

"Dawn! Oh fuck. Dawn moved into that dingy depressing little apartment down on Market. Shit, why the fuck didn't she stay in
the valley with Mom? Trust her to find trouble."

Buffy dashed to her bedroom, jerking off her pajamas and tugging on a sweater and pair of slacks, changing only once in consideration of the lighting of the cameras this time of night.

She booted aside her slippers and slid her feet into the beige stilettos that always rubbed a blister on her pinky toe but made her
legs just look so fucking good she couldn't resist them. Rushing into the bathroom she brushed her hair, bent at the waist
and fluffed it upside down for maximum lift at the roots and then sprayed a half can of Aussie Freeze.

She brushed, flossed and rinsed her mouth and, on her way to the door, grabbed her cell phone off the charger, proud of herself that she had responded to the crisis so swiftly. With her keys in her hand, she dialed the phone and teetered unsteadily down the front steps toward her designated parking space.

"Yeah, hello?"

"Max. It's me. Meet me at Market st. I think there's something big going on down there and my sister may be caught in the middle of it. I'm on my way now. Hurry up! Oh, and Max, don't forget the camera. Call the station and tell them we may be going live with this."

"Jesus, Buffy. Have you tried to call your sister? Is she all right? Is she in some danger?"

"Huh? Oh, no, I guess I didn't think of calling, but really I'll be there in just a mo so..........look, no more conversation. Get the van and just GET THERE!"


Buffy hopped into her stylish Mazda Miata and, slamming her pointy little open toed number down on the gas pedal, tore off into the night.




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