DISCLAIMER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dexter and Law & Order SVU do not belong to me, nor do the character contained herein, ‘cept for the original ones, like Jimmy, he’s all mine and no one else can have him. This is for fun, not money…suing is bad and provokes the wheel of Karma in a negative fashion…
AUTHOR'S NOTE: : I need to get this out of the way quickly. First of all, I try my best to backfill information from the previous two stories. I don’t think it’s wholly necessary that you read One Last Shot or Dark Passenger first, although it may help. Second, there’s a loose pattern to the scene shifts as they switch POV from character to character…I’ve been told that it can be a bit distracting, tough cookies on my end. There’s no way for me to go back and change it. If you pay attention and know the characters, it should click during or right after the first paragraph. The pattern goes BtVS character – SVU character – BtVS character. Third, thank you to my long suffering beta, Dirk. The poor bastard has to put up with my awful spelling. Last, read and enjoy, comments are unnecessary, but welcome if you feel so inclined.
FEEDBACK: To whedonistic.tendencies[at]gmail.com
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Whedonist


Part II - Into the Fire

Looking over my current canvas, I soak in the colors that dance before me. The spectrum astounds. It goes from a pale yellow and flows into greens, blues and ruddy purples. Monet would be weeping at the site before me.

Another soft, wet crack fills my workroom. I grin at the scream accompanying the new colors that appear on my portrait. I close my eyes and inhale, soaking in the smell that permeates this space. The pleading from the corner adds bass to the sonics of my room but it really will not get either of them anywhere.

I lovingly run a hand along my work of art. She hangs from the ceiling, bare, bruised and broken. Unable to resist the urge, I lick a trail of blood that seeped from one of the cuts.

Purring, I cherish the fact that she tastes better than those whimpering children do. It has been so lovely hearing them cry, hearing them scream. It's given me purpose. It feels as if I wasn't alive until I saw him. Then everything made sense. I became focused and driven.

I stand before him offering everything that I have and he weeps. His tears an elixir that infuse me with joy and contentment.

He looks away from me. A rejection. Worse than any before as his eyes lock on her.

I give a slight nod to the creature in the corner and beam as she finally cries out in anguish.

After too brief a time, she falls silent.

I think it just broke my toy.

Pouting, I tell it, "Dump her." It unchains her and drags her from my room.

Turning back to him, I trace a finger down his cheek and say, "Pity that our toys break so easily." I sit on his lap and wrap my hands around his neck. I nuzzle his neck and purr into his ear, "At least we have another that won't break so easily."

His whimper tells me everything that I need to know.


Ch. 8 – Safe Tonight

I shift away from Buffy and grumble as the annoying red L.E.D. display on our alarm clock makes fun of me. I'm thinking that that extra cup of coffee at dinner tonight was not a good idea. Or it could have been that Jägerbomb at the club tonight. That wasn't the brightest either.

But it was worth it. All of us were in serious need.

I look over my shoulder and smile. At least she's sleeping soundly. Getting her drunk was the best thing Jimmy or I could have done. Eighteen days and no breaks in the case.

At least no one else has died. We're still only on five people.

I wanna blow a raspberry, but I don't. It might wake her. The case still sucks.

I flip back over and study Buffy again. It's lots better than staring at a clock. Smoothing down some of her hair, I resist the urge to pull her close. Instead, I toy with the ring I bought her. Things aren't perfect for us, but they are a hell of a lot better than they were.

You would think that after all the fighting I've done, that I wouldn't mind. I hate arguing. I suppose the physical fighting was never an area that I really made with the embracing.

At least we're not fighting. We're having conversations and we've also started spending more time together. Alone, which has helped. I think everything is going to be okay.

It has to be.

Because if I think of leaving this city and the life I've built here I start to hyperventilate. As for the thought of leaving Buffy…

I fiddle with her ring a bit more and she starts to stir. Poop. I stop and decide that maybe some T.V. will do me some good. I ease myself off the bed and grab my robe from the foot of the bed.

I've also started the new job. It's been nearly two weeks with the Medical Examiner's office and it's going well. I also have to be in there tomorrow by eight a.m. But, yay for normal hours…for the most part.

I wonder if James would swing by and drop off another Jägerbomb to keep me going at work today?

I slip my robe on, tying the sash as I make my way out to the living room. A soft blue glow tells me that someone's out here.

If Jimmy fell asleep in front of the T.V. in the recliner, I'm going to be cranky at him. His back absolutely hates it.

I round the corner and step into the living room. Surprisingly enough he's awake. The low voices of the T.V. newscaster cover the sounds of my approach. "Jimmy," I say softly. I don't need to scare him and give him a heart attack, once was enough. It's something no one in this house wants to do again.

The recliner spins my way and he's looking at me all squinty eyed. "Red? What in the hell are you doing awake?"

He moves to stand up and I lift a hand to stop him.

I smile and shake my head. "I'm fine. Just couldn't sleep. I think your son put too much bomb in my Jäger."


I nod and sit opposite him on the couch. I give him a once over and stop the laugh that's threatening to spill over. I raise an eyebrow and smirk instead. He's wearing white knee socks covered by another pair of black socks pulled up mid-calf. He's wearing a pair of boxer briefs and a tank-top undershirt thingy. I think the packaging calls them A-shirts, which makes absolutely no sense to me.

At least he looks better than he did when we first met. He was a bit bigger around the middle, but he lost some of that. Between helping us fight demons part time and the heart attack scare those years back, he's gotten a bit more in shape.

Not much, but enough.

He finally notices the smirk and frowns at me. "What?"

"Nothin'." I say and bite my bottom lip to stop from laughing.

His eyebrow rises at me and he barks softly, "Bullshit. Out with it, Red or I'll wake up Cupcake and she can get it outta ya."

"You wouldn't," I declare. Actually, knowing him, he so really would. He goes to stand and I wave a hand. "Don't. I was just admiring your evening attire."

He glares at me, half-standing, hunched over, his arms holding him up by the arms of the chair. "What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" he asks half pouting.

"Sit. Nothing at all. It's just," I stop trying to figure out how to say this without insulting his manliness. "It always makes me pause when I see you stripped down without the layers."

He lowers himself back down and continues to glare at me. "So you like the layers or not?" He's confused.

I try to clarify, "It's not about liking or disliking. It's a metaphor."

"Red," he says, muting the T.V., "you know you're one of my favorite people right?"

I wait for him to continue. When he says things like this, it usually means he's going to say something negative right afterward. "But." Here it comes. "You do know it's nearly four o'clock in the friggin' morning and neither of us has been to bed, right?" His eyes twinkle in the soft glow of the screen. "That being said, leave your need for metaphor until after we've all had breakfast and Buffy can decode your brain for me. I ain't that smart." He winks at me and turns the sound back up on the T.V.

I roll my eyes and turn my attention to the T.V. I suppose I can spare him just this once, but I hope he gets it.

It's about his vulnerability. I forget that he's human like Xander. Just a man. It's good to remember those things. On my really good days, I can kind of remember what being human felt like.

Not that I'm not human, but I'm not normal either. I'm connected to everything in a very different way than most people. I still feel the deaths of the other slayers and my connection to Buffy has just gotten stronger over the years.

I'm not sure how a regular person would handle that. I still have trouble some days.

I look up at the T.V. and shake my head. Of course, a sports thing is on.

"You know, I know that I'm from this great city, and I'm supposed to be a die-hard Yanks fan, but is it bad that I'm pretty indifferent?" he grumbles and brings up the guide.

I really have no idea what he's talking about. He carries on anyhow, "I mean, it's like March through July are the black hole in the sports world. Baseball's a game you gotta play to enjoy. Watching it's like watching paint dry. Like golf. Golf is a game you gotta play. Basketball's fun to watch, but the Knicks suck and by law I can't root for another team in the same conference." He sighs and let's his stream of consciousness rant go on, "I used to love watchin' the Lakers, but I can't stand that punk, Kobe. I'll give him credit, he's a good ball player, but he can't function on a team. Maybe I should find another team in the Western Conference."

He sighs a bit more and I wonder if it would matter if I were here or not. Would he still be grousing about sports? "See personally," he says as he finds the NFL Network to watch highlights, "I like football. It's fun, very physical and it's fast paced. There's also the upside that my two favorite teams are in different Conferences. I get to stay loyal to the fair city of New York and love the Giants while staying true to my father's side of the family and root for my Steelers in the A.F.C."

I think maybe I should put a stop to this and say, "Jimmy, you do know I have no idea what you're talking about right?"

"I'm talkin' sports, Red," he says the obvious.

"I know that, but I can't tell you which teams are which and which sport they play." I point at me and say, "You do know that we spent our time in high school stopping demons from taking over the Earth and my parents are college lecturers." I grin. "I am a geek."

Sending me another eye roll, he mumbles, "Well you aren't geeky now, Red."

I beam. "Thank you, but I still have no idea what you're talking about."

He sends a sour look my way and grumbles some more, "You know sometimes it sucks bein' the only guy in the house."

The quiet of the early morning has settled over us and it all feels a little surreal. Alex and I went out and had a nice night with Buffy, Willow and Jimmy at Jimmy's son's club. Since we got back to Alex's at one this morning, we've just been laying here talking, not talking. Whatever we want.

It's so strange how life shifts and flows.

Two weeks ago, I'd never have thought I'd be laying with Alex resting against my shoulder, our hands entwined, just enjoying the silence. Munch wouldn't believe it, Alex and I being quiet or not arguing around one another.

I can't help but snicker. That causes Alex to look up at me, questioningly. Feeling the need to clarify, I say, "I was just thinking about Munch."

"Do I really want to know in what capacity?" She smiles at me and I feel my world shift just a little bit.

"Well, you could. And I would tell you that the thoughts were of him falling over dead that we're, you and I, not at each other's throats or at the very least having some type of spat." I push a lock of her hair behind her ear and grin.

"Ah. So we're incapable of doing anything, except fighting with each other?" she asks.

Why do I get the sneaking suspicion that I'm being set up. "Let me be clear, to some, especially while we are working, our personalities have and do clash."

She nods and says nothing more. Instead, she snuggles further into me and I wrap my arm around her shoulders.

More of the surreal seems to present itself. I understand that my sexuality is at the best ambiguous or maybe it's that there's that one person in everyone's life that you're willing to bend or break the rules for.

Alex is mine.

What I don't get is that what am I to her? I knew she went on dates with men. Albeit, that means next to nothing. Has she always been attracted to women? Is this just a once in a while thing? Why is there this sudden burning need to understand?

If you don't ask you don't know. Guess there's no time like the present. "Alex?"

"Hmm?" she replies into the right part of my chest.

Well damn, now I'm not really sure how to word my question. This is going to come out all wrong. "I have some questions."

She perks up at this, pulling back and looking me in the eyes with an eyebrow, her left, arched subtly. It's the classic 'continue' signal.

"Why women? I mean, are you gay? Do you not like labels?" I know I've just sort of stuck of my foot so far down my throat that even if I used forceps I would still be screwed. Trying to be clearer, I say, "I'm just…confused and trying to understand."

Six years ago I wouldn't have been able to read the emotions that pass over her. They're lightening quick, but I see them. I'm just not sure what they are or what her pursed lips and silence mean.

I expect her voice to break the silence, but it ends up being my phone. Damn it.

I reach for it, snatching it off the bedside table right before the vibrations causes it to go tumbling off the side. "Benson."

"Liv, can you be ready to go in fifteen?" Elliot's voice sounds from the speaker. He sounds in a fantastic mood this morning.

What time is it anyhow? I pull back the phone and look at the display, six-thirty. Well, who needed sleep?

I've been told it's for suckers.

"Uh, yeah, sure. I'm not at my place. Have you left yours yet?" I ask.

"Getting ready to now." I hear the distinct ding of keys hanging from the ignition.

I mop my face with my hands and look at Alex. She's smirking at me and it's making me nervous.

"Liv?" my partner asks, mildly annoyed.


"Where are you? We've got a body dump at Bellevue," he says. And he obviously woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

I snap further out of it and ask, "What do you mean body dump?"

He sighs. "From what was communicated to me, a car passed through the emergency port and tossed a body out. She was D.O.A. so they wheeled her down to the morgue," he explains this all to me like you would a five year old.

I think I might smack him when he gets here.

"So, I ask again, where are you?" Yeah I'm definitely gonna smack him.

"I'm at Alex's. Pick me up here." Thinking that would suffice, I'm about to hang up when I hear him scream my name.

I put it back to my ear in time for me to hear him say, "That's fucking swell. Where does she live?"

Oh. Yeah, that'd probably help.

"Twenty-Five Central Park West. The Century building. I'll have Alex call down and tell them to expect you."

There's a pregnant silence and I can just imagine his face right now. This building is old; I think it was built in the very early nineteen-thirties. Alex's family has owned three apartments here since right before World War Two. I can understand why he'd be shocked. When I first got here, I was.

"What floor?" he asks, finally sobering up.


"Alright, see you in fifteen," he pauses and my eyes narrow, "try to be presentable when I get there. I don't need to walk in on a disheveled lesbian love nest."

I don't have time to respond as the call ends. Oh, he's definitely getting hit. Hard.

I set the phone back on the nightstand as I feel myself being pulled back on the bed. Before I really have time to do anything, I'm on my back and see Alex's leg swing over my body as she straddles my stomach.

She leans down and looks me in the eyes, running her hands along my sides. She whispers, "I think I understand what you were asking, detective. The easiest answer I have for you is why not….but it's more than that." A little bit of sunlight is peaking through the curtains and it's angled just right to reflect the amusement in her clear, blue eyes. "Sleeping with men doesn't make you straight. It makes you horny and they'll do in a pinch." She grinds down on me and her ass moves a little lower. "I've never made love, as harlequin as that term is to me, to a man. But a woman?" She smirks and I swallow. "It's as natural as breathing to me."

She leans further down, her mouth next to my ear, her hot breath spreading down my neck causing me to shiver as she purrs, "I have always found myself not wanting to just get off. With a woman in my bed, it's always about me wanting to explore this amazing creature before me." A nip to my earlobe and I have to stop my hips from rising off the bed. "It becomes," she continues, teasing me, "about what I can make her feel. How I can elicit a moan, a gasp, a sigh or a cry."

She stops talking for a second and looks at me. Searching my eyes, until she's satisfied she's found what she's looking for and says, "There's this reverence that I can't shake."

I swallow hard.

Her mouth breaks into a wide grin and she laughs lightly. "But, you have Elliot coming to get you from our disheveled lesbian love nest so I don't have the proper amount of time to show you what exactly I mean." She swings her leg back around and manages to hop off the bed in one graceful, fluid motion. "I suggest we get you sort of cleaned up." She turns to a dresser and pulls out a t-shirt and tosses it on the bed.

She ducks into the master bathroom and I hear her rummaging around. A few seconds later she pops back out and says, "I've set out some clean towels and you can change into that t-shirt." Looking me over, she nods. "I know that shirt will fit. I just wish I had something else you could change into."

I finally manage to shake the last few minutes off and sit up. "I'm sure it'll be fine. I know I just can't go into work in this top." I look down at the blouse. It's low-cut, designed to show a fair amount of cleavage and leave little to the imagination. It worked well, at least for Alex.

I hold the t-shirt up and am struck with a strong sense of familiarity. I lift it and cock my head to the side. Hey… "This is mine!"

She folds her arms across her chest and laughs. "Glad to see those sharp observation skills haven't left you."

I lower it from my gaze and ask, "How long have you had this?"

"Since the last time I spent the night at your place, nearly six years ago." She smirks at me and moves forward. Leading me to the bathroom, she offers a kiss to my cheek before she lands a playful swat to my ass and says, "Go shower. Elliot's going to be here soon. I'll make some coffee." I get shoved in the bathroom and the door closes.

Wait, 'disheveled lesbian love nest'? She heard that!

I poke my head out the door and holler back to her, "We should throw some dirty clothes in the living room to see if El's head'll combust!"

I'm rewarded with a hearty laugh. Satisfied I shut the door and start a very quick, very cold shower.

I slouch down in the passenger seat. Wishing for a baseball cap to shield some the bright winter sun from eyes. I idly think about killing my partner and my lover all in one go. The hangover I'm sporting is totally not helping my homicidal tendencies.

Thankfully, Jimmy seems to understand so I'm not stuck listening to the usual classic rock station or hearing him talk, this morning. He's quiet and I could nearly kiss him for it.

I close my eyes and let him drive us to the hospital. Curious about what exactly Olivia and Elliot have for us there. Olivia called me at about seven-thirty this morning, waking me up and causing a hundred plus member marching band to start a rousing chorus of a heavy bass song to play in my head.

Neither the Motrin or the gallon of water I drank seem to be helping. The coffee took the edge off a little.

What I can't figure out this morning is why, when I came out to get Jimmy, he and Will were passed out in the living room. Will was splayed out on the couch in her robe. And Jimmy, I snicker thinking of the picture I have on my phone, was passed out in his recliner. Head back, mouth open, legs stretched out in front of him, in his underwear.

That is so totally the best blackmail material that I have ever gotten. Just thinking about how to use it is better than all the hangover cures in the world put together. I grin a little and open my eyes as the car comes to a stop and the engine dies.

We must be here. Oh joy.

I shuffle out of the car and continue to shuffle behind my hulking mass of a partner. I've got about another two minutes before I have to stop grumbling and appear to at least be presentable and together. There's a victim inside that needs to see we're capable of finding the people or things that did this to her.

The bank of elevators in the lobby is busy and I straighten up. Pulling my beanie off and stuffing it in my coat pocket. I unsnap a few buttons, opening my coat and put my hands on my hips.

I can do this. Sucking in a breath, I slowly release it and let the pain recede a little. Jimmy points to an elevator that's going our way and we step inside. I stand in front of him as the doors slide shut.

It takes five minutes to go seven floors up. I think this place has seen more foot traffic in the last ten minutes than Times Square sees all year, New Year's included.

We head down one of the west corridors and end up in front of room seven-one-five-four. The door's shut, so I knock gently.

"Come in," Olivia says from the other side.

I push the door open and take a quick glance around. There's only one bed in the room, which is good. I can question the vic privately. Elliot and Olivia nod grimly and I feel Jimmy's supportive hand on the small of my back.

Amongst the monitors, wires and bandages, I can just make out the face in the bed and I nearly faint. Like full on – honest to God, faint.

The battered face of Debra Morgan stares back at me. My eyes snap shut and I hold my breath, trying to get my emotions under control

Anger, bright and hot, burns through me. I can't fucking believe this. This is just goddamn fucking impossible.

I want to hit something. I want to punch a hole so big through whatever the fuck is doing this that I could see forever through it.

I knew they were missing. I hoped this wasn't related, but now, it's like impossible to ignore. These killings are connected to Dexter, Siobhan's and Debra's disappearance.

I'd hoped that Dexter wasn't somehow responsible. That he wasn't doing this himself, but I can't dumb down enough to believe that.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

I knew it. I knew it. I told Will it was a bad fucking idea and now, I've got a cluster fuck of a cluster fuck to try and clean up.

Not only that, but now, I've got to try and make things right with Deb. How the fuck am I going to do that?

A bouquet of flowers with a card that says, "Sorry for getting your brother turned into a soulless monster. Oh, yeah and sorry for letting him torture you too."

I don't fucking think Hallmark makes those types of cards.

I know Jimmy feels the tension and as I crack one eye, Olivia and Elliot are looking at me the same way. They feel it to. I release the breath I was holding and try just a little not to blow a fucking gasket.

"Has she been conscious at all?" I manage to say without screeching.

"Nope," Elliot answers.

"They had pronounced her D.O.A. when we got here she was on a gurney in the morgue hallway." Olivia starts answering the unasked questions. "She shot up off the gurney and started screaming as we started looking her over. We weren't going to call you in, but once the staff got her stabilized, we collected her clothes and found this," Olivia holds up an evidence bag.

The parchment is distinct and I notice it right away.

I walk over and take the bag from her hand. Jimmy's right behind me and he reads aloud, "A man who won't die for something is not fit to live."

My teeth grind together and I spit, "I'm so fucking tired of this bullshit game."

The other three detectives in the room can only nod.

Elliot's voice is full of understanding as he says, "Us too. Also, we haven't been able to make an I.D. on the vic. She's been down since she woke up screaming and there was no I.D. on her."

I turn in his direction and shake my head. "You don't need to bother. I know her."

Three sets of shocked eyes look at me. "Her names Debra Morgan. She's a detective for the Miami Metro Police Department."

I run my hands through my hair and figure I might as well blow their minds a little more, "Her, her brother and a woman that works for my sister all went missing shortly after her brother's fiancé and step children died in a house fire back in January."

"This is…?" Jimmy asks, shocked.

I can only nod. I really don't know what else to say. This really is all my fault.

Blandly, Olivia says, "Well that solves that piece of the mystery. Would you like to," she asks, putting her hands on her hips, "tell us why you know this?"

I gather the meager amount of patience that I can and answer as honestly as possible, "Last August, Will and I went on vacation to Miami. I met them then. My sister called and told us that they were missing the Friday before Valentine's Day."

I try to relax just a little bit, but fail miserably. Snapping at the accusatory looks coming from everyone in the room that's conscious, I say, "I had no way of knowing these cases were related."

"No," Jimmy says, "you didn't." He places a hand on my shoulder and forces me to face him. "But you need to call Princess and let her know we've got one of her missing people. Her department deserves to know that we've found her at least."

I can only nod. He pushes me towards the hallway and says, "Tell Dawnie I said hello."

I follow his direction and try to ignore the stunned faces that I left in the hospital room. Reaching inside my coat pocket, I hit the four key and send. I'm really really not looking forward to this conversation.

I slump against the wall and wait for my sister to pick up.


Ch. 9 – Spit in the Face

"Nick, I don't care if God, himself, says that it doesn't exist. I need that information. Find the case, let's get the precedent set so I can nail this bastard and put him where he belongs." I press the phone into my ear and listen to him fumble for a second more. I should have just hung up.

I swear I don't know what they're teaching these kids in law school anymore.

"Ms. Cabot, I'll do what I can," the young clerk says finally, resigned to his fate of learning to be an actual attorney.

"Find it." I'm about to cut into him a little more, but the phone beeps to let me know I have another call coming through. "Nick, you've got twenty-four hours. I need to go." I end the call and switch over to my other line. "Cabot."

"Ms. Cabot?" the female voice on the other end of the phone asks.

"Speaking." I stop in front of the bank of elevators that will take me up to my office.

"This is Marie, Mr. McCoy's new aide. He needs to speak with you as soon as you have a minute." I have to feel for the poor girl on the other end of the phone. She sounds downright frightened. Whatever this is, it can't be good. Resigning myself, I say, "Tell him I'll be there in five minutes; I just got out of court."

"I'll let him know. Thank you." She disconnects with nothing further and as the elevator doors open, I step inside and hit the floor number that is home to my boss's office.

When I step off the elevator, Marie is waiting, folio in hand, for me. I think that weekend I had planned with Olivia is going to get interrupted.

"Right this way, Ms. Cabot," she says too full of enthusiasm.

We head down to a bank of conference rooms, the opposite direction of Jack's office. "I thought we were going to see Jack?" I ask.

She doesn't bother turning around as she answers, "We are, but he's in here with the State Attorney General and some other woman. They're waiting on you."

Years of keeping a façade firmly in place is the only thing that keeps me from faltering, stopping the girl and demanding more information. Instead, I hike up the strap on my attaché and take two seconds to prepare myself as we stop in front of the meeting room door.

Marie opens the door for me and I walk through. To my left, Anthony Como, the New York State Attorney General and a woman I don't know sit silently at the head of the table. I plaster a convincing smile on my face and make my way inside.

"Alexandra," my boss greets, stands and holds out his hand. "It's good to see you again." He smiles as I take his hand lightly. He turns me to Como and introduces us, "Anthony, this is Alexandra Cabot, assistant district attorney to Manhattan's Special Victims Unit."

"Pleased to meet you Ms. Cabot." The short, broad shouldered man beams at me. I take his hand and offer a grin of my own.

"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Como," I say sitting my case on the carpet by a chair.

"Please, Anthony. Mr. Como is my father." I laugh lightly and cringe internally. Some jokes need to be put six feet under. He turns to the woman on his left and introduces us, "Alexandra this is Isabel Cohen. She's a Federal Prosecutor out of Washington."

We shake hands and I look between Jack, Anthony and Isabel. Something's up and I know I'm not going to like it.

The U.S. Attorney must sense my confusion. She smiles at me and says, "This is my fault." Laughing a little, she explains, "I didn't just want to show up at your office and upset you." She pulls out a file and slides it over to me. I open it and recognize this being a copy of the case that Liv and El are working on with Buffy and Jimmy. "It would appear that the case your detectives are working on has become a bit more muddled."

"Alex, have you heard from Detective's Stabler or Benson?" Jack asks.

"I've been in court most of the morning." I neglect to say that I had a few missed calls and a voicemail from Olivia. Most likely about the call Olivia got brought in on this morning.

Jack nods and fills in, "There was a body that was dumped at Bellevue last night. Benson and Stabler got called in. The woman whose case they caught is Detective Debra Morgan of the Miami Metro P.D."

Isabel takes over, "Detective Morgan, her brother, Dexter Morgan and a colleague of mine went missing some weeks ago. With Debra's appearance here in New York, we can only assume that the other two are here as well."

"It would be a favor to me and Attorney General Holder, Ms. Cabot," Anthony cuts in, "if you would sit co-chair with Isabel here."

I barely have time to respond as Isabel says, "I didn't want to cut into your case without introducing myself."


The pieces click into place and the chain of command this went through is a little mind boggling. Isabel called the U.S. Attorney General, who called our State Attorney General, who called our D.A., who called me.

And personal favor?

This is great. I need more headaches.

I nod at the other tables occupants and say, "That's very nice of you, Ms. Cohen. Anthony, consider it done."

Isabel nearly looks relieved as she stands. "Great. I was hoping you could take me to see the detectives working the case?"

"That shouldn't be a problem," I answer and stand with everyone else.

Como looks more relieved than anyone here and Jack nods lightly in my direction.

"Alexandra," Como says with his hand outstretched, holding a card. "Take my number, my personal cell and home number are on the back. Isabel, you both will have the full cooperation and support of the state of New York and Manhattan's District Attorney's office. If either of you need anything, please don't hesitate to call."

A quick glance at Jack and if I didn't know any better, I'd say he's paled. A look to Isabel and I see that she doesn't really care, but she says, "Thank you," anyhow. She's already started for the door. I scramble to keep up. I get to the door as she's started towards the elevators.

Jack calls out, "Alexandra."

I look over my shoulder and nod. The look is clear. Don't fuck up. Keep him updated of any major changes.

I rush after my new co-counsel and find her waiting at the elevators, smiling.

"Sorry, but conference rooms just give me the heebie-jeebies," Isabel says and gives a dramatic shudder. I look her over again. She's not tall, maybe five feet-two inches. Cream colored slacks; a royal blue button-up blouse and flat dress shoes make up her ensemble. There's a gold cross nestled at the base of her throat and no rings.

My final analysis tells me she's pretty cut and dry, attractive and young. I don't think she's inexperienced, but age wise, she's maybe twenty-eight.

I can't help but wonder what Olivia and El have gotten themselves into.

We step into the elevator and ride down in silence. As we approach my black, Audi S5 coupe that I bought last year, I key open the locks and pop the trunk. Tossing my bag and hers into the cargo space, I wait for her to take the passenger seat before slipping into the driver's side.

"So," I say as I turn left, heading north towards Canal, "you mentioned the third kidnapping victim as a colleague. She was a federal prosecutor, too?"

Isabel shakes her head. "No, unfortunately, she actually works for a company I do consulting work for."

I expect her to continue, but she offers nothing more. The information Elliot and Olivia dug up on Buffy seems to surface. Knowing that the company Buffy's sister works for has its hands in consulting work, I hedge my bets and fish, "So she works for the Watcher's Council."

The other woman's head snaps in my direction.


She nods slowly and says, "She does. What do you know of the Council?"

I shrug and turn onto DiMaggio Highway. "They deal in antiquities, consultations and for some reason education for gifted children."

"They do. I actually help them with their legal work here in the States." She leans back in her seat and pulls out her phone. Slipping it back into her pocket after reading the screen, she asks, "About how long until we get to the precinct?"

I look at the next exit and say, "Barring major traffic, maybe ten minutes."

She nods. "The other agents should be getting ready to make announcements then."

"Other agents?" I ask.

"Because the case now crosses jurisdictions, two federal agents have also been assigned to assist in the investigation." I stop my mouth from dropping open and she continues, "From what I understand your detectives, Bennet and Stable…"

"Benson and Stabler," I correct.

"Sorry, Benson and Stabler are working with Detectives McAllister and Summers?"

I nod and she asks, "Have you had much time to work with Detective Summers?"

I smile a little and shake my head. "We've had more social interaction than work interaction."

"How so?"

"Through," I decide on the name drop. Isabel seems…the only word that comes to mind is eager. Like she knows of the detective, but has never met her. "Willow."

Her head snaps in my direction. "Willow Rosenberg?"

I nod and her reaction causes me to remember the conversation I had with Liv on Valentine's Day. Isabel's response confirms Liv's theory in so far as there is more to Buffy and her partners than what's on paper.

Finally, we manage to hop off the highway and make it to the station house. I find a parking space reserved for A.D.A.'s and we head to the precinct. Signing in, I lead her up the stairs to SVU's bullpen, half dreading the atmosphere when I get there. No one is going to be happy the federal government's taken an interest in this case.

I take a look around the bull pen and shake my head. We've got Olivia, Elliot, Cabot, Huang and Cragen making up the gang for the one-six. Me, Cupcake and Red here for the two-four and three outsiders. I try not to sneer in their direction, but I have a hard time with feebs. They're usually too green to know how to run an investigation and they need to be in control of every, fucking, little, thing. So much so that you can't even take a piss without getting clearance from them first.

They haven't introduced themselves yet, but I know F.B.I. when I see it. They all stink the same way. I look over at Elliot and nod. He's got the same look I do.

The captain pulls us all together and says, "Team, I'd like to introduce some people. Given the nature of the case and its recent turn of events yesterday, we're getting some federal help."

One of the women steps up next to Cragen. She's pretty. Asian with long hair tied up in what Cupcake would describe as a quirky type of hair do. "Hello," she says, "I'm Federal Agent Satsu Takeda." She points to the taller, gangly girl standing to her right and introduces, "This is my partner, Agent Amanda Kramer." Her hand gestures to the slightly shorter than her woman next to Amanda, "This is Federal Attorney Isabel Cohen."

A collective groan goes through the crowd except for where it should the most. I look over at my partner and see she ain't even batted an eye. She notices me eyein' her and shrugs. I squint. I get pissed.

She knew this was coming.

She couldn't take two and tell her partner that this was coming?

I grumble and turn my attention back to Satsu as she continues. "We've had the chance to glance at the case files and I would like to first off state that we aren't here to take over the investigation." Her hands drop to her side and she tries for none threatening, but there's something there that just doesn't make it happen.

I study both her and Amanda a bit closer. My eyes go to Buffy and then back to the two feebs. There's something there…I just can't…



Well that makes tons of fucking sense. They're slayers. Not the attorney, but these two agents are slayers. They move like Cupcake. Fluid, graceful in that unannounced sorta way that I've only seen her be able to pull off. And Faith. I've seen Faith do it too.

This is Princess' doing. The muscles of my back tighten as my teeth scrape together.

"We aren't here to take away the case you have worked hard on. Given the cross-jurisdictional nature, we have stepped in to assist. I've been given explicit direction to defer to Detective Summers."

Satsu looks to Cupcake to take up the slack, but Buffy just stands there. Like she knew it was coming and couldn't care less. Given that she is Satsu's true boss, the reason she is where she is, I can sorta see it.

I look at the Captain and his cop mask slips a little. There ain't one person from the one-six that ain't got their jaws on the floor.

My partner finally moves and first she smiles at Satsu. A slight tip of Satsu's chin and she steps back, falling in line next to her partner.

"Thanks." Cupcake runs a hand through her hair and looks at Willow. Red shrugs in a 'what are you going to do' look.

"Right, gotta wear the general pants," Buffy mumbles, "I hate general pants. I sucked at it." Red sends her a sour look and Buffy straightens up. "'Kay, Satsu, Amanda and Isabel, it's good to have you on board. Everyone else, we've got leads to follow up on and since Deb's turned up, I think you guys will want to talk to her."

"I need to go see her too," Willow adds.

Buffy nods. She looks at me and knows that we need to talk.

Swallowing, she turns a hopeful eye to the one-six team. "Uh, is anyone free to take these four to the hospital?"

After a few seconds, Olivia steps forward and says, "I can."

"Thanks." Buffy steps back and I watch the group break up.

The silent dispersal of the troops makes me cringe. Everyone's pretty tense and no one's talking much. Olivia ushers the three feebs out of the bullpen and looks at Willow.

Red holds up her finger and says, "Give me a minute." Olivia looks to the three of us and nods.

Buffy takes her hand and leads her towards the entrance, Will turns back and looks at me. "See you at home?"

I nod. "See you tonight," I say, winking. Kid's worried. I should tell her to join the club.

Buffy comes back a moment later and motions me to follow her. I push off the desk I was leaning on and follow her back to a set of interrogation rooms.

She waits for me and as I step inside the first one that's open, she shuts the door. I perch on the corner of the table and fold my arms across my chest.

She turns to me and looks apologetic. She damn well better be. "How mad," she starts, "are you? Scale of one to ten?"

Rolling my eyes, I bark, "Try fucking twelve."

She winces and her shoulders slump. In the massive coat she has on, I nearly loose her. A small pang of sympathy weasels it's way inside and I relent, not much, but enough. "I'm gonna go out on a limb, Cupcake and say you knew this was coming."

Her arms wrap around her and she nods.

"Partner," I say, "first thing, take that coat off. I can't take you seriously with that thing eating you up." She laughs and I crack a small grin, while she does what I say. "Second, it wouldn't have taken you two damn minutes to loop me in. Hell, you could have shot it over via that mind meld you and Red are so fond of."

"I could have," she admits quietly. She steps up to me and takes hold of my hands, placing them on her shoulder. I stand up straighter and she leaves me no personal space. "I'm sorry."

Sighing, I cave like a cheap chair. "You're cookin' dinner all next week."

Pulling her to me, I feel her laugh against my chest. "Alright," she mumbles. "And, I'm really sorry. There really wasn't any time. When I left you at the hospital to go get Will, Dawn called. The team was already on their way and then I was talking with Cragen when you showed up."

I sigh and say, "Bullshit, but I'm gonna let it slide this time." I let her go and we lean side by side on the table. "Next time it happens, Blondie not only are you cookin' dinner, I'm gonna make you do my laundry too." I wrap my left arm around her shoulders and squeeze.


No argument? She must be feeling bad about it.

"So," I say trying to lighten the mood, "I'll say we've got a crazy ass vampire playing with us. You want to do this old man a solid and tell me what you think?"

Sighing, she pushes off the table and starts a slow pace across the room. "Without Deb awake it's kind of hard."

My eyebrow raises and I know she's holding back. "But," I say slowly, knowing that she needs pushing, "you do have a theory."

She confirms with a slight nod. "I do." She stops and leans against the wall. Her head tips back and a leg comes up, bending at the knee; she rests her foot flat against the wall. "Her brother, Dexter, I think he's partly responsible."

I fold my arms across my chest and try to remember all that she and Will told me when they came home from Miami. "So let me try and give a run down, Dexter is a lab rat for Metro. Deb's a detective. Dexter is also a serial killer. From what you said, he kills rapists, thugs, child molesters and other creeps that we can't catch 'cause there's never enough evidence." I wait for her to confirm that I'm doing okay. Once her head tips up and she looks at me, I continue, "So the cat's doing us a favor, not one we should really like, but rationally it's a favor."

Her mouth turns down and she glares at me. I hold my hands up and say, "Look, I'm just statin' the facts. Hell, I may have wanted to take the guy out and buy him a beer." A projectile comes flying from her hand and I have no time to deflect it. The thunk sounds as it hits me in the forehead and drops into my shirt pocket. I rub the spot where it hit and reach into to retrieve the item.

I pull out a tube of Chapstick and frown. "Anyhow, you also said the guy doesn't touch kids. Period."

"He doesn't…or he didn't" She looks over at me and says, "My theory is that he got attacked, over powered and turned. His fiancé's place was torched, with her and her kids inside. Then Siobhan, Deb and him go missing? That stinks." She goes back to staring at the stained acoustic tiled ceiling. "I think they came up here to come after Will and I. I also think that Deb was supposed to be dead. She survived, but barely."

It's a fair guess. Truthfully, I was thinking similar things. I stand and grab her coat. She follows me to the door and we make our way out of the room. My hand goes to the small of her back, guiding her to our desks. Leaning down, I whisper, "Cupcake, you could write a book." She looks back at me confused. I crack a wide grin and say, "You're the only girl I know that can inspire such hatred in people that they wanna track you down even after they're dead."

For my joke, she swats my chest. I snort. Figures.


"El," Olivia says, nearly getting lost in the noise of a busy street. I press the phone harder to my ear as she speaks, "We're getting ready to leave the hospital. Do you want me to swing by and pick you up?"

I look at my computer and note the time. "You could, but are you gonna have time to go question Levine?" It's not that I don't want to go home; I just don't want to go home right now.

"Yeah, that sounds like something we can do." I hear a car door open and figure she has to get off the phone soon.

"Why don't you drop off our new friends and then swing by?" I suggest.

"Yeah sounds good. See you in a few partner." Liv disconnects and I go back to staring at my DD-5. It's the same damn report I've been staring at for the past two hours. Luckily, Fin and Munch are beating the bushes and Cragen hasn't come out of his office or I'd be in it.

Buffy and Jimmy took off about twenty minutes after everyone else left. Having them around, it creeps me out.

The other thing…I mop my face with my hand and sigh. I had to have misheard. There's really no other explanation.

Thinking back, maybe I shouldn't have followed them, but…maybe I can blame it on being around too many girls.

What else could sound like "crazy ass vampire" or "turned"? They were serious when they were talking about it. Like they were talking about a suspect. Maybe it's a partner thing. Buffy could be a one of them girls that's into vampire stories and it could just spill over into her work.

Yeah, that's gotta be it.

Sighing, I stuff the report in the second tray on my desk and look up as Fin and Munch come through the doors.

"El," Munch says, looking at me with a big question mark.

I smile, "How'd tea with 'Ms. Moneypenny' go?" It's become the nickname for Mrs. Leslie Gutierrez.

The woman's a piece of work. Munch and Fin land this case where this eleven year old girl ends up pregnant. The poor kid's been victimized for years. The mother, the bitch, is protecting someone.

Last time Fin went to question the mom, she was combative and monosyllabic. That and I think that she didn't appreciate our forty-dollar loafers and poly-blend suits touching her furniture. Let alone talking to someone that wears clothes like that.

Munch shrugs, Fin fumes, "She's not protecting her daughter."

Munch agrees, "Yeah, the woman gives me the creeps."

"And we all know," Fin comments, "That's nearly impossible to do."

"Odafin, the woman is bordering on impeding a criminal investigation. If I could get Cabot to get the arrest warrant, I would," Munch grumps.

Fin nods. "You really think she's protecting the son of a bitch that did this to her kid?"

"She's refusing to give us access to her staff at the house," he says, ticking the list off on his fingers as he gets wound up, "she refused to have a rape kit done on Laura, she's less than helpful anytime we want to talk to her and in my humble opinion, the woman could care less that someone's been diddling her little girl and has finally gotten her pregnant."

I shake my head and look at Fin. "You just had to get him going?"

Fin smirks. "Hey I agree with the brother. The woman's protecting someone and it sure as hell ain't her daughter." He looks at Munch and says, "We just need to find out who." He then hands his partner a stack of papers. "And seeing as how Cabot went out on a limb and got us her phone records and bank statements, I think we should see if we can find anything."

Munch takes the stack and sits down. I look between the two of them and ask, "You think there's money involved?" Truthfully, hearing about the depravity of the human race isn't something I need; it's a welcome distraction to get rid of the conversation I overheard earlier today.

"Where there's smoke, there's fire, Stabler," Munch answers as he looks up from his stack of papers.

I lean back in my chair and offer, "You guys want some help until Liv comes to get me?"

"Yeah, if you can take the cell phone records?" Fin stands and comes over to hand me a small stack of papers.

I grin up at him and laugh, "How come none of the cop shows tell you that seventy-nine percent of the job is paperwork?"

We all laugh and Munch says, "And take away the glamor that is dealing with the dregs of society? Think of the scandal."

"It must be some type of conspiracy." I grin at Fin and he rolls his eyes.

"Stabler, don't go gettin' him started. You get to leave soon. I'll be stuck listening to him yap for hours." Fin saunters back to his desk and I pick up the stack of papers.

Might as well make myself useful.

A quarter of the way down through the printouts and there's a number that repeats in pattern. Once a week, at exactly six p.m. the call lasts between three to five minutes. There's something about the woman that's off. I know that the numbers and the bank statements are a long shot, but we've all been doing this too long to not start looking where the abuse usually comes from.

More often than not it's closest to home. It's what they teach you in the academy. Most people are victimized by the people that are nearest to them. It's a sick, sad fact. It's also depressing that those of us that have been here and witnessed it aren't shocked by it much anymore.

The little girl's not talking. She didn't want to talk to me, Munch or Fin. Hell, we even called Olivia in and the girl clammed up more around her.

"Hello," Munch says from his desk.

I look up at him and he's looking over my shoulder. I turn around and a girl no older than twenty-five stands in the doorway. I smile my most non-threatening smile and stand. Munch is already out of his seat and asking, "Can I help you?"

She looks down and clutches her purse. "I…My name is Rachel Gutierrez."

Munch ushers her in and sits her at Olivia's desk. "Hi Rachel, I'm John." He points to Fin and then me, saying, "That's my partner, Odafin and this is Elliot." She nods politely in greeting and Munch drops down to one knee to try and maintain eye contact.

"What can we do to help you Rachel?" he asks softly.

A quick glance to Fin and I know we're both anticipating whatever this young woman has to say. I go back to watching her. She looks up and our eyes meet. No one should have eyes that look that sad and that broken.

She draws in a breath and squares her shoulders. "I…talked to my mother. She said that Laura's pregnant." She waits on confirmation from one of us and once she gets it the flood gates open. Her large brown eyes fill with tears and they spill over, down her cheeks. "I…I…ddiddn't…" She heaves and just then Olivia walks again.

There's ascowl on her face as she sends me a 'what did you do?' look. I shake my head and she's on her knees pushing Munch out of the way. The girl falls into her arms and Olivia helps her to her feet. Olivia half carries her into an interrogation room. We stand and watch.

A hand resting on my left shoulder brings me out of my stupor. I look back and Alex is wearing a grim smile. "Who was that?" she asks.

"Rachel Gutierrez. Laura Gutierrez's big sister." Munch answers.

In silent agreement, we all go to the observation room and hit the button to listen. Liv is sitting next to her, holding her hand and offering her new tissues by the handful. All of us listen to the confession of this young girl's victimization. Just like hundreds that have come before her, the walls of the room hold her secrets, their secrets, our secrets.

I fold my arms across my chest and resist the urge to puke. The girl collapses into Olivia as she details how her mother would let men visit her once a week, for an hour, sometimes longer. Rachel cries as she says that her mother would take money from the men so that they would be allowed to spend time with Rachel. Rachel's coming forward now because of Laura. She didn't think her mother would do that to her baby sister.

All of us, Cabot included, remain rooted to our spot for nearly an hour. Eventually the girl cries herself to sleep and I open the door as Olivia carries her out of the room. Offering to take the small girl from my partner, she transfers Rachel to me and I make my way up to the crib. The four of them follow.

Gently, I lay her down, cover her up and make my way out of the crib. I shake my head and look at everyone. We all have the same look in our eyes.

Jumping into action, Alex takes charge, "Elliot, Olivia, Jimmy and Buffy said they would take over watching Debra until she wakes up. We're not needed there which means you can stay here to help wrap this up." She directs a cold gaze to Fin and Munch and says, "This is your case. Call C.P.S. to bring the little girl here." They look at her for a second, Alex clarifies, "Go get that bitch so I can make sure she, and the men she's going to name, rot in Hell."

A small smile forms at the corners of my mouth. It's damn good to have Alex back.


Ch. 10 – Disorder and Disarray

Forgoing the elevators I climb the four flights of stairs, not only to give Jimmy and Debra a chance to talk, but also to give myself some time to cool down. I balance the cups of coffee in my hand and hit the last flight, feeling a little bit crappy because I'm out of time.

Deb finally woke up sometime around three in the morning. The nurses rushing in ruined any chance of sleep that I had. Jimmy was there. He won't leave for some reason.

What irks, and I know it shouldn't irk, but it does, is that she didn't want to be left alone. She didn't want to be left alone with me.

I shouldn't be mad, but I am.

I didn't mean for any of this to happen. I mean how in the hell was I supposed to know?

I mean I…fuck, I don't know.

I should be grateful that she seems to be okay with Jimmy. She has someone here to connect with and that's the important part.

I trudge up the last few steps and use my hip to help open the door that leads to the hallway from the stairwell. At six a.m., this place is quiet.

God, I hate hospitals.

I make a left and head straight for the last room on the left. The door's cracked open but the only sounds I hear are from the heart monitor that's attached to Detective Morgan. Bracing myself, I square my shoulders and walk in to the room.

Jimmy looks up and smiles at me. He looks exhausted. Hell, he looks like I feel, but for some reason, he won't take a break.

I hand him his coffee and he motions me quiet, Deb looks sound asleep. I take the seat opposite her and resume the vigil.

"She talk anymore before she pass out?" I send through our link.

"Not much, Cupcake," he answers as he sips his coffee. I take a sip of mine and nearly gag. I hear him laugh in my head. "Shit's horrible ain't it?"

I send him a sour look and say, "I've had worse."

He tilts his head to the side trying to figure out when that would be.

I help him out, "Remember when we had to go to D.C. for that extradition and we ended up at the Hoover building?"

His face splits in a grin. "Oh God, I'd forgotten about that. You think the feebs know they got the worst coffee known to man or you think they're used to it?"

I shrug. "All I know is that it took a whole bottle of Rolaids to get rid of the heartburn."

We share a small laugh and I watch him sober. He looks at Debra and I know that look. It's probably a lot like the one I'm wearing.

"Hey, Buffy," he sends, "you think she's gonna be okay?"

"God, I wish I knew." I swallow more of the swill and let him in, "Jimmy, I knew when we left what risks there were. I just didn't think…we should have done something different."

"Don't, Cupcake. That road you are headed down ain't gonna help no one. Least of all that woman lying in that bed," he admonishes and points to Debra. "You did what you had to do."

"I can't fix it. I can't take it back. Everything that she told me, this may not have started out with Dexter being turned, but it sure the fuck is ending up that way. We're in trouble; serious, fucking trouble." I take one last drink of the tar and toss it in the trashcan by my chair. "Simpled up, partner, you may not think it, but I know it. This is my fault. Period. So stuff it."

He scowls at me and presses, "So you turned him? You lit the fire that killed his wife and kids?" He stands and comes around the bed. Dropping to one knee, he gently cups my chin with his right hand and whispers, "You don't get that burden. It's not on your shoulders to carry. We'll find the fucker and end it, Summers. Promise me you ain't gonna do that. Keep your head on straight and remember who you are and what you do."

I pull away and hiss, "I'm a damn death sentence."

"You're full of shit." He stands and pulls me up from my chair, gripping me by my biceps. He's lucky he's one of two people that I let get away with that shit. His eyes search mine and he hisses, "You did this before, you don't get to do it again. Pull your head out of your ass and quit feeling sorry for yourself."

A small cough causes our heads to collectively snap to the bed. Debra's looking at us with a funny look on her face. She rasps, "Either kiss and fuck or shut the fuck up so I can get back to sleep."

For some reason that breaks the tension between my partner and me. We both crack genuine smiles and he rumbles a deep type of belly laugh.

I hadn't realized I was on my tiptoes and Jimmy didn't realize that he had such a grip on me. Sheepishly, he smiles and sets me down. I straighten out my jacket before pulling him into a hug.

He's right. I need to quit acting like a self-absorbed asshole. I can't make with the shoulda or coulda's, I need to focus on correcting the mess.

"Sweetcheeks," Jimmy says softly, "I love my partner and I'd do most anything for her. But my pen ain't goin' anywhere near that ink well."

She laughs a little, but the small laugh sends her into a coughing jag. Once she's got her bearings, she looks at me and says, "Fuck Summers. I don't blame you. You need to know that. Who I blame and who I want to get is that bitch that started all of this."

"You've mentioned her, Debra. The vague description, pale, long dark hair, accent and crazier than bat shit on a full moon, don't do much for us," Jimmy says. "Is there anything else that you can remember?"

She sucks in her split, stitched bottom lip and winces when she realizes that was a mistake. "No. When we were nabbed, I was knocked unconscious. The rest is a damn fucking blur." She winces as she takes a deeper breath. "The only things that I can remember right now are a lot of fucking pain."

Jimmy and I both nod. I don't want to press any more. I know she's been through enough. The injuries that Willow went over on her chart all indicate that she should really be dead right now.

Four broken ribs, a cracked skull, a broken left femur, four broken fingers and a thumb on her left hand, a broken wrist, cracked tibia and fibula on her right leg and we won't count the cuts, abrasions and bruises.

The funny…alright not so funny, thing is that if I didn't see the drawing the kids had provided, I'd swear it was a less-crazy version of Drusilla.

I'm just not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I'm not sure if she was ever dusted. I don't think so, but you can never really be sure, and there's where things really get tricky.

Is it her? Could it be her crazy cousin?

I sigh and tune back into the conversation that Jimmy and Debra are having.

"I'll have someone bring me by some clothes." Jimmy takes up a seat next to Debra and folds his arms across his chest.

Okay, what'd I miss?

"Really," Deb manages to rasp, "It's not necessary."

A bushy eyebrow rises in her direction and I take an involuntary step back. I know that face on Jimmy. Deb isn't gonna win this argument.

"And we still got crazy ass vampires running around the streets of New York. They had you captive. They tortured you." His jaw muscles clench a bit and he finishes, "So over my fuckin' dead body are you gonna be left here to fend for yourself when you can barely talk. Can it there, Sweetcheeks. You're stuck with me or someone else from our unit until you get discharged."

I help make her decision and say, "Look, you can have someone that's a cop like you or I post a slayer at your door. Which do you want?"

Deb roles her eyes and tries for grumpy but she can barely move without crying out in pain. My hands go to my hips and I stare her down. She looks at me, then looks at Jimmy. Both of us giving her what Jimmy likes to call "The Eye".

She sighs and says, "Fine, looks like I'm stuck with you. Now would both of you shut the fuck up so I can go to sleep. I have been tortured for Christ's sake."

Jimmy nods and I relax. I motion with my hands that I'm gonna head out, he pantomimes the 'phone me' signal and I nod.

Turning away from the bed, I make my way out of the room and hospital. Might as well see what's going on at headquarters. The two hours I got in that god-awful chair will have to do me for a little while.

I knock the pen in my hand against my knuckle, trying to make sense of the report in front of me I've been staring at Debra Morgan's medical record for an hour trying to make sense of how a person can live through the injuries that this woman has.

The chart of broken bones, cuts, abrasions and pure assault astound me. I don't think I've ever seen anyone take this kind of beating. The report indicates that the torture lasted at least six weeks maybe longer. Considering what we know, I'd say it's been going on since the end of January. I look at my desk calendar and check the date, Saturday, March Seventh, Two-thousand-nine.

The other thing that I don't get is that the federal agents that have come to assist have been all but absent today. I know they left with Buffy from the hospital last night, but that's the last Alex and I have seen of them.

And there's the other thing today that just won't allow me to function like I need to. Like I know I should when lives are on the line.


She's this distraction that…I can't lie, I can't say it's not unwelcome. She's the only person I've ever spent time with that allows me a modicum of release from the hell that is my job. It's not like I don't know most people would run screaming from what I see every day.

Hell, I want to sometimes. Then, something'll just catch me. Something small usually, the way a kid looks at me, thankful and full of hope, or a woman who knows that we've caught her attacker and they aren't going to get away with it.

Those moments let me know I am doing the right thing.

Alex just kind of makes it all bearable and it's so weird.

I expected more resistance from her and from me, but she keeps on doing small things that chip away at my walls. It's totally unexpected and not for the first time I find that I'm falling under her spell. Except it's in such a radically different way. There are the arguments at work. We clash there. It's no secret, but outside of it, it's…I sigh and lean back trying to find the words. She's my knight in shining armor that's coming to rescue this messed up princess. She just doesn't know what this princess is really like.

I've got mommy and daddy issues combined with a need for control and commitment issues as long as the incidents listed in my jacket.

I don't think she deserves it, but I don't know how to show her or if I even can...or really want to.

Sighing, I lean back in my chair and stretch. As I right myself, I see Doctor Rosenberg come trotting into the squad room. I smile at Willow. She's kinda hard not to like.

You look at her and you get the sense that she's the type of woman who will stick by you. You know she's seen her fair share of shit, but she doesn't back down from it.

At the very least, the doc has my respect.

"Hi Olivia," she chirps.

"Hey yourself." I look behind her and expect to see Jimmy or Buffy, but no one else comes in after her. "Where's everyone?" I ask.

"Everyone, who?" she replies, tilting her head.

I stifle the small laugh and look her over again. She has a knee length, pink and brown skirt on with a shirt that may be similar in color covered by a cream colored pea coat. "I just assumed," answering her question, "that your people would be behind you."

"My people?" She thinks on this for a minute and says, "All of my people are either in Cleveland or Londo…oh…you mean Buffy and Jimmy." She blushes a little and pulls a chair up to my desk.

Well make yourself right at home why don't you.

"The last time I talked to either of them, they were both still at the hospital waiting on Deb." She flips open the folder that she was carrying and draws my attention to its contents. "First, let's get through this and then we can play Where in the World is the Slay…uh…"

"The slay…uh…what?" I ask. What in the hell is she talking about?

"The slayer of my heart. Yep, that's Buffy alright. Slayed me the first time I laid eyes on her," she stammers and turns an interesting shade of red, a red I didn't think was possible for a human being to turn. And really, her little over share, I could have lived without.

I try to salvage this, bring it back to a more professional level and tap the folder. "You were showing me what?"

"Some of the reports on the trace evidence that came back from the labs." She flips through a few reports and starts in, "We started with Debra's clothing. For the most part, there wasn't a whole lot to be found on the majority of what was left. They did…she was hurt a lot and over a long period of time."

I scoot closer and read some of what she's got in front of her. Pointing to a graph, she says, "There were significant amounts of particulates that were found on the tattered calves of her jeans and more pulled from her ankles and heels."

I look at Willow and confirm, "That's consistent with her being dragged."

She nods and says, "At the base level we can confirm that given the particulates found, she was kept and tortured in Manhattan which is good…well, not the torture, but that she was kept in one place. I have a girl that's trying to narrow down a more concrete area in terms of where they could have been kept."

"Do you think that will yield anything?" I ask. If the lab rats can find us anything to use, I'll be thrilled.

Willow shrugs. "We'll see. What worries me is the extensiveness of her injuries." She reaches for Debra's medical chart and smirks. "It seems I'm not the only one."

"Do you think she should have survived?" I wheel my chair back around to my desk and await her answer.

"No," she answers bluntly. "There's only a few people I know that could have survived the attack that Debra did."

"She's lucky."

Willow only nods as her pocket starts playing a melody. She slips the Blackberry from her pocket and answers, "Rosenberg." Her face scrunches and then she laughs. "Xander, I'm telling Buffy you said that." I hear a man laugh on the other end of the phone and watch a little, amazed as Willow seems to loosen up a little. "Look, I'm not sure. I know there's been some problems. Dawn talked to me about it." She nods and continues, "Uh-huh, but we've been out of that loop."

I sit back and listen. For some reason, I feel this is important. "Xander, don't. Look you need to protect the girls you and Faith are responsible for. Dawn's taken care of giving us some extra muscle here." Her face goes a little red and her lips purse. "She did what?"

More chatter on the other end and she says, "Well, then it looks like Satsu and I are going to have to have a talk." She shakes her head and says, "Over my Jewish ass. And yes, I know, I've been around Buffy way too long…okay that was all Jimmy. He's a bad influence."

I see Alex step into the pen and smile. She gives me a half smile, half smirk that makes me flush. It's very similar to the one she was wearing the other night, the night I got called to the hospital.

Willow looks behind her and waves at Alex. "Look, Xander, don't worry about that and if anything happens I'll call you. Take care of the school. Take care of those girls. I gotta go." With that she takes the phone from her ear and hits end.

Looking between Alex and myself, she offers, "I'm sorry. That was sort of rude. Olivia, I'm going to leave this here with you and if anything else comes up I'll let you know." She stands and turns to Alex. "Alex, call me later, maybe lunch tomorrow?"

Alex nods and Willow gathers her things to leave. Her phone is at her ear before she's out the door barking the name of the Japanese federal agent as she scurries from the squad room.

Well that was certainly interesting.

I grin at Alex and look around the room. Surprisingly, there isn't anyone here. Munch and Fin are tracking down two of the guys that were named in the bust yesterday. Elliot went to pick up our lunch and everyone else that usually runs around seems to be elsewhere.

Taking advantage of our alone time, I pull Alex's chair around to face mine, leaning in, I capture her lips and give her a soft hello kiss.

This isn't something I would do under normal circumstance. For some reason I don't find these circumstances normal. She smiles back at me and I return her grin.

She hooks a thumb behind her and says, "You ever get the feeling that Willow doesn't play with a full deck?"

I lean back and laugh, wondering if she read my mind. The doctor really is something else. I'm not sure if it's genius or insanity.

In my line of work I find that it's usually both.

Exhaling I reach the bottom of the station house steps. I can't believe I let Olivia hear that much of my conversation with Xander. It takes a second, but the cold finally registers and I secure my scarf around my neck and make sure my coat's buttoned.

The phone goes back to my pocket and I curb the urge to go find Satsu and show her who I really am. I huff and then breathe in a lung full of cold, frosty, winter air.

Not that much better, but the homicidal tendencies are subsiding and that's the important part. Stupid Slayer. Why would go to a known demon bar…a known demon bar that is protected by Buffy and cause a buncha hullabaloo.

Huffing, I turn right outside the doors and stalk towards Eighth Avenue. I need to catch a cab back to the apartment.

It takes a bit longer than I like, but the driver finally, after arguing with him for four minutes, lets me out at Amsterdam and Ninety-Fourth. I'll take the block walk to my apartment. I start west, hang a left on Columbus and my building looms ahead.

I know it's warm in there. My cheeks are stiff and frozen and I can never seem to use enough moisturizer during the winter.

Making it into the lobby, I stamp my feet on the entrance rug and shake some of the snow from my body. Criminey, it's cold.

And did I mention the snow? Yeah, that's always fun. I start towards the lobby when a voice calls out, "Willow!"

I stop mid-step and try to make myself smaller. I really don't need this, not today.

I brace myself for the encounter and pretend like I'm dealing with a really sick patient. I spin on my heal and plaster a smile across my face. "Susan." I wave a gloved hand in her direction and she strides over.

She scowls at me and says, "Dad called wanting to know if I could pick up some clothes for him."

I raise an eyebrow and shrug. "Sure, come on up." I let her follow me to the elevators and we're silent on our ride up.

I look at her out of the corner of my eye and still can't figure it out. Her brother, James, or Junior if you're speaking to Jimmy, is probably one of the sweetest guys you would ever want to meet. His father and him are similar, both loyal, fiercely protective and if they accept you into their inner circle, which is hard, there isn't a thing that either one won't do for you. Both are funny, sarcastic and cute in that guy-type way. Although James is gay. Jimmy's like the anti-gay, not the homophobic gay, but just that…

There was this study done that surveyed an anonymous set of men varying in age, race and the like. The study concluded that of the seventy percent of the men that listed themselves as heterosexual, they would in the course their life; on average have four to seven dreams or fantasies of a sexual nature regarding the same sex. I would bet the entire planet that Jimmy is of the thirty-percent that won't.

But James is great. He's like Xander, but not geeky and very gay. Even James' partner Tim, is like the sweetest guy. On the other hand, Jimmy's daughter, James' sister, Susan has a stick the size of Gandalf's staff shoved up her tush.

And the kicker is she's an elementary school teacher…I feel really really bad for the kids she teaches.

We finally make it to the apartment and I show her around. She hasn't been here since we moved. When she found out that Jimmy was moving in with us and we were moving back to Manhattan she nearly stroked out.

Jimmy wonders why we don't tell her the truth about us. I can see that going well.

"Susan," I say, trying to be polite as possible, "I was actually waiting on someone from work to meet me here and then head over to the hospital. I'd be happy to take the clothes to your dad."

Her eyes narrow and she says, "I told him I would. Where's his bedroom?" I point to the short hallway left of the apartment entrance.

She moves out of the entryway and into her father's room. I slip into Buffy's and mine to quickly change. As I pull a sweater over my head the phone rings. I scramble to pick it up, "Hello?"

"Doctor Rosenberg, this is Nacia from downstairs. There's a woman by the name of Isabel Cohen to see you."

"That's fine. Tell her the doors open and to not bother knocking," I instruct.

"Very well. I'll send her up right away. Have a good day doctor." Nacia says. I wish her the same and disconnect.

A light knock turns my head in the direction of my bedroom door. "Come in," I say.

Susan's head pokes in and she says, "Dad also wanted to know if you had any clothes for Debra? Who's Debra?"

I bite my lower lip and think. She's taller than Buffy or me but maybe I have a coupla t-shirts I can take her and some sweats that won't be too short. Distractedly, I answer, "She's one of the victims from a case Jimmy and Buffy are working."

I shuffle through a few drawers and come up with a few pairs of sweats that don't look twenty years old and some plain t-shirts I use to bum around the house in.

That should work.

I stuff them in a clean gym bag when I hear the front door open.

"Hello," Isabel calls out.

"In here," I call back.

"Willow," Isabel moves around Susan and comes in for a hug.

I return the gesture and smile. "Sorry about not…at the precinct…," I fumble.

She smiles warmly. "It's okay. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I'm glad I'm here."

Susan coughs from the doorway and I swivel my head in her direction. Right. Guest.

"Susan McAllister this is Federal Prosecutor Isabel Cohen, Isabel this is Jimmy's, you know who he is?" At her nod, I say, "This is his daughter."

Isabel lights up, "Wow, it's so nice to meet you." She jumps over to Susan and starts pumping her hand in a firm shake.

I snort and turn away to fix the rest of the bag Jimmy asked for. Behind me I hear, "I've heard a lot about your father, he's such an amazing guy. The things Willow has said, you are just so lucky…"

Isabel continues to gush as I brush past them and move to the living room to find my tennis shoes. They follow me out and right before I know Susan's about to explode, I interrupt, "I'm ready. Susan do you have everything that your dad asked for?"

She glares at me, but holds up the bag and gives it a good rattle for emphasis.

"Well then," I say, grabbing my coat and purse, "Let's boogey."

We all agree on a cab and pile into the backseat. Heading away from my apartment, Isabel cuts into my thoughts, "Does Susan know?"

I reply, "No, and she shouldn't"

"Sorry, Willow. It's just that…," she stammers.

"Isabel, I get it sorta." Sighing out loud, I try for nice and say, "Look, Buffy and I have been out of the game, like the real game for awhile. I can't imagine what the rumors are about us considering, but I'm going to give you piece of advice."

"And that would be what?" she asks eagerly.

I pinch the bridge of my nose and try to say as nicely as possible, "When this is over, Buffy and I are staying where we are at, retired. She isn't some mythical creature and neither am I. Treat us like people and Buffy won't have to rip off important body parts."

I smile brightly and see the color drain from her face. Good.

She knows I'm not kidding.

Part 11

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