DISCLAIMER: The characters of BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, M.E. Production & other suit types I don't know. The original characters in this piece do belong to me. Also, we'll put this at an R rating for language and violence…maybe some sex between Buffy and Willow too…
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I had this thought moons ago about what happened after Sunnydale (this was before the comics). About who Buffy was and the way the Scoobs were left at the end of Season 7; how I really didn't like it. This is a story about reconnection and forming new bonds. Hopefully, it worked. As an FYI…given the canonical comics, this so A.U., but truthfully, I prefer this world as opposed to the one that Joss is painting for us. I at least let the Scoobs find a small amount of peace. This will eventually be part of a series. The second portion of this story arc is completed and will be a crossover with Dexter. The third and final portion is currently being worked on and is not even half way done. I hope that you'll get to read it all. This story was originally published back in '07. Due to some encouragement it has been worked over, steam rolled, red inked and re-edited to bring it up to a livable standard. When I first started writing, I didn't have a beta or a clue as to what the hell I was supposed to be doing. I've learned. I've grown. And I've gotten LOTS of help. I'm also still learning. So… =0) That being said, any mistakes are all my fault. Yell in my direction. Thank You's: Dirk for being my wonderful primary beta. Dennis for the moral support and the humor. Thumper for allowing her minion some alone time. Howard Russell for his spit and polish on the final touches. Lastly, Valyssia, who when this is all said and done, should probably get writing credit on it as well.
FEEDBACKGood, bad, I usually take it all…leave it here or drop me a line: whedonistic.tendencies@gmail.com
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

One Last Shot
By Whedonist


Chapter 4 – Unusual

The last few days of Buffy's vacation were spent with Willow, running around NYU and Columbia. The witch was trying to decide which school had the best choice of classes and who would give her the most flexibility. Giles had phoned and shipped out the rest of Willow's belongings. Giving further thought to the two's situation and relationship, Willow decided to take residence in the guest bedroom. Having her own space seemed like the best idea at the moment. Buffy had run to the store to pick up provisions for a girls' night in and Willow was on the phone with Faith.

"So, Red, how's 'operation: remove the stick from B.'s ass' goin'?"

"Faith, she doesn't have a stick up her ass. She's just, well…she's just all repressy. Like someone I know. Is it a slayer thing?"

"Hey, I'm not nearly as repressy as B. can be. I know how to find the fun and have it occasionally, but you're right. Sorry. Do me a favor and don't tell her I said that."

"I'll keep my mouth shut. How's everything in Ohio?"

"Eh, not bad. I'm wigging out a little, but I think that's to be expected."

"The baby?"

"No…well a little. It's just that X. is so happy—like, 'I think he was floating when I told him' happy—but what are we gonna do? I still have to be a slayer and he's a watcher and then there's the council. It's just like I want to put the brakes on, but can't find the pedal."

"Ah, you're totally having a meltdown. It's okay really. Xander will do good. He's gonna be a good dad and the slaying—well, I know for a fact that you're not the first pregnant slayer. Call Wood, maybe he can give you some suggestions. Oh, you can always get the SIT's to baby sit and help out. Wouldn't that be a laugh and—well, no, it would be scary, but still."

"I'm not melting down, but there's this whole 'I'm gonna be a mom' thing, and my mom, in case you didn't get the memo, sucked at pretty much everything. What if I suck?"

"Well, the way Xander tells it, you already do."

Faith's jaw dropped on her end of the phone. "Red, is that you? Did you get possessed or somethin'?"

"Yes, it's me. What, I'm not allowed to make dirty jokes? I happen to know a few. Anyhow, back to the 'mom' thing. Relax. Go stake something. You'll feel better."

"Ain't that the truth."

"Faith, uhm, I have a favor to ask. I'm not sure how well it's going to go over. I mean, I think you'll be okay with it, but I'm more worried about Xander."

"Spill, Red."

"Uhm, I'm staying in New York. More specifically, I'm staying with Buffy."

"That's cool. How long you gonna stay?"

"Indefinitely. I've started the enrollment process at NYU and Columbia. Giles has sent me my stuff from England and I've moved in with Buff."

"That's cool. Why would Xan freak over that?"

"I'm not one hundred percent sure yet, but I think I'm retiring from the council. You know, try to live like a normal person for a while and see how that works."

"Oh, hey, if it makes you happy than it's five-by-five, y'know? Xander may be a little bit upset, but I think he'll be cool with it."

"There's more."


"Yeah, look, Faith, I know that you and Xander have been together for a while, but before, in Sunnydale, he always had a thing for Buffy. I'm not sure how much that's gone away and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or bring up badness, but I thought I'd tell you and then you can break the news to him."

"You're killing me. Willow, spit it out already."

"Uhm, well, you see, Buffy and I are together."

"Yeah, you just said that. So?"

"No, I mean Buffy officially plays for the home team now. We are together in the naked, groiny way. I just don't want him to freak out."

"Oh! And wow. You actually got her to come clean. Wait, you actually told her? He's not gonna believe this. It's about damn time." Faith whistled.


"Look, Red, Buffy's had a thing for you for as long as I've known her. I asked her about it once and she decked me. I never brought it up again. I always thought you were doing the unrequited love bit. I'm happy to hear you lust bunnies are finally going at it."

"You knew?"

"Anyone with an ounce of common sense could tell. I just figured you both were so repressed that nothing would ever come of it. 'Sides it's not my place to tell you who to hump. Not my style."

"I—no one ever thought to tell either one of us?"

"Well, I thought about it, but decided against it. Didn't you notice how Buffy was extra protective with you and all touchy-feely? How when I came to town, she kept you away. It wasn't 'cause I was keeping her from you, it was 'cause she said, and I quote, 'Willow's too important to go patrolling with me. I need to keep her safe and with you here that means I get extra protection and company so she gets to stay at home where there's locks and no vamps.' Really, I just figured she'd never admit to it."

"Okay, I'm lost. Does Xander know?" Willow propped her feet on the coffee table and sank back into the cushions.

"Know what?" Faith asked.

Willow's hand stroked the crease out of her forehead and tried again, "Know about me and Buffy?"

"No," Faith said, "you just told me he didn't know about the hook up."

Sighing Willow shifted the phone to her other ear. "Focus with me. Did Xander know about how Buffy felt?"

"I think so. He's kinda pointed out some very clear facts, but if you're asking has he admitted it to himself, probably not. He likes to be dumb sometimes."

"You're killing me, Faith. Okay…just let him know please."

"Will do. Hey I've got to motor. Tell B. I said 'don't fuck it up.' And good work, Red."

"Bye, Faith, and give Xander a hug for me."

"'Kay. Later."

Willow sighed and hung up the phone.

Buffy meandered through the video store, looking for movies she and Willow would both enjoy on her last night of freedom. What to watch? What to watch? She scanned the rows of DVDs, hoping that something would catch her eye. Her gaze lingered on one glossy box. Seen it. Then another. Didn't want to see it. She moved down the row with obvious disgust. Can't watch that again or I'll poke myself in the eye with a stake.

She paused in front of the next rack, puzzling. What would Willow want to watch? You know, you would think that Hollywood could come up with some better movies. All the good stuff has been made and we've seen them ten-plus times already because of Xander. There are no good romantic comedies.

Striding down the main aisle of the store, she glanced at the signs as she passed. Action? Bleh! Horror? See the past nine years for my fill of horror. Drama? Do enough of that on my own.

Shit. I can do this. Shaking her head, she moved on to the new releases. Pick two movies that we haven't seen that might set the mood for naked fun…

I'm so not screwed.

Completely aloof to the titles now, she paced across the back of the store. Have to say that, barring a few minor break downs—all courtesy of yours truly—it's been exactly what I needed.

Work. Wonder if I could take another week off? No, Jimmy'd kill me. I can't make him sit at a desk for another week. Oh, well. Movies, back to movies. Oh, Jim Carey…Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Well, it doesn't look that bad. Okay, here's one. What's this? Imagine Me and You. The cover looks decent. I wonder if Will has seen it. Okay, that's two. Mission almost accomplished…kind of. Not sure if any of these will set the mood for sex, but eh, it's worth a shot.

Buffy checked the movies out and went to the market next door. Selecting a varied assortment of junk foods and diet cokes, she was nearly at the register when her phone started ringing.

Shifting the shopping basket to her left hand, she pulled the phone from her pocket and flipped it open, saying, "This is Buffy."

"Hey, Cupcake. Look, I know it's not your official day back and all, but a call came in that was near you. Got a ten twenty-nine with a request for a ten forty-seven. I'm in the area and wanted to know if you want in on it?"

"I—" Buffy replied, cutting off to glance at her watch. Going over timing in her head, she sighed and said, "Yeah. I'm at Gio's on thirty-second. You want to come pick me up?"

"Will do. See you in five."

Jimmy disconnected and Buffy grumbled.

Stupid damn mouth. Should have said 'no.' Although it shouldn't take me that long. About two hours tops, and then I can get back to Willow time. Shit! I'm gonna have to call and tell her. Damn! Double damn!

Punching in her number she waited on Willow to pick up.

"Summers' residence."

"Will, it's me."

"Hey, you. What's up?"

"Uhm, don't hate me, but Jimmy called and there's a scene close by. A ten twenty-nine with a ten forty-seven en route, so…uhm…I'm gonna go take a look at. See what's the what. I should be home in about two hours." Buffy's faced scrunched up waiting on an outburst. When one didn't come, she said, "Will, you still there?"

"Yeah, I'm just trying to figure out what the frilly heck a 'ten twenty-nine' and a 'ten forty-seven' are. Can you clue me in?"

"Oh, sorry. A 'ten twenty-nine' is an unspecified crime, mostly used to report a dead body, and a 'ten forty-seven' is a request for a coroner."

"Oh, see, that helps. Don't you go back tomorrow?"

"Yeah, but Jimmy called and he sounded desperate. So he's coming to pick me up. I should be home in about two hours, if that's okay?"

"Buff, since when do you need my permission to stop evil stuff? Go fight crime. I'll hold down the fort and come up with something interesting to do. Okay?"

"You're the best. I did get the movies and I've got the food. So wait up and, when I get home, I promise fun times."

"I'm holding you to that, Slayer. Be careful."

"I'll try. Bye, Will."

Buffy disconnected and slid the phone in her pocket. Thankful that she always carried her badge with her, she took it out of her pocket and clipped it on to her pants. As she stepped out of the market, Jimmy came to a screeching halt right in front of the entrance. Buffy shook her head and climbed into the passenger seat of the car. Casting a glance at her partner, she noticed his annoyed and impatient expression and rolled her eyes.

"You ready?" he growled as she slammed the door closed.

"I am. Let's go," Buffy chirped, her tone saccharine.

True to his word, the scene was just four blocks up from the grocery store. The techs had closed off the area and the coroner hadn't showed up yet. Ducking under the yellow tape, Buffy put a pair of latex gloves on and took a look around.

Surprised anyone called in anything down here. As a side note, even if you traipse around sewers for most of your adolescence and young adult life, nothing—and I mean nothing—will prepare you for the smell of a rotting corpse. In the sun when it's ninety-five-plus degrees outside, it's got to be one of the worst smells ever.

Secluded. Can't tell if anyone put up a fight.

Hello; alley. Why is that? Why are all of the DBs that we come to in Manhattan in alleys? Is it convenience? Is it the only place people get killed around here? Leads you to think that alleys might be dangerous. You'd think people might clue to that fact. Why do people still walk through them at night? If I weren't a girl that was gifted with the strength and speed of a demon, I would totally stay out of the alleys. Just a thought though. I could be wacky.

"Summers, over here."

"Oh, sorry." Buffy had gone straight to the back instead of following Jimmy.

He was currently hunched over the corpse of what looked like a young female. Sighing, she walked closer and hunched down across from her partner. She didn't immediately look at the face.

Over the past year she had developed a way of looking at a corpse that started with the feet and worked her way up. Noting abrasions on the ankles and calves she worked upwards and patted the girl down for any type of identification. She pressed against the right hip pocket and felt a few pieces of plastic. Fishing them out, she sorted through and saw the California State heading. She looked at the picture then the name and looked back at the face of the dead girl.

It wasn't surprising that she was from out of state, but still the name seemed familiar. She finally studied the face of the body. The girl on her license was young, born 1987, nineteen-years-old. Looking closer at her neck she noticed the abrasions. Wanting to confirm her suspicions, she pulled down the girls lower eye lid and saw the tell tale signs of petechiae. Not found in all cases of strangulation, but regular enough to warrant looking for.

The girls face was bloated and her tongue was swollen. Gathering as much information from the body as she could before turning it over to the ME, she peeled off her gloves and deposited them in the trash. Jimmy had already combed the area and reported no other findings.

"So you want to canvas right now or wait till tomorrow?"

Checking her watch, she said, "Tonight. Just the closest residences. Also, who called it in?"

"A newbie by the name Kindal; first name: Scott. He was walking the area and smelled it. Did a decent job of securing the scene though."

"'Kay, you take Scott and I'll start knockin' on doors."

"Not much of that, Blondie. The neighbors are right there." Jimmy pointed to a group of onlookers just beyond the yellow tape. She squared her shoulders and made her way over.

She flashed her badge and smiled at the group. Going through the list of people one by one, she asked the same questions and all of them came up with nothing. As she finished up with the last interview, Jimmy tapped her on the shoulder.

"You done, Cupcake?"

"Yeah, you got anything?"

"Nada. No purse, no other clues to see why she would be down here. So I'll buy coffee tomorrow if you can answer this question."


"Scene of crime?"

"Not here, old man. Definitely just a dump site."

"Ding, ding, ding. Coffee's on me tomorrow. So you want to go home?"

"You bet. You gonna go back to the office and see if we can pull anything on the vic?"

"Nah, I'll wait for tomorrow."

They exited the alley and made their way back to the car.

"So, how's your girl?" Jimmy asked as he slipped behind the wheel and shut the car door.

"Good, she…uh, moved in and she's enrolling in school."

"That fast?" Whistling, he wiggled his eyebrows up and down at the blonde. "You lezzies move quick. My ex-wife took two years to move her junk in and another three to move it out."

"She's staying in the guest bedroom, which is her room now. Keep your mind out of the gutter, McAllister, or I hurt you."

"Yes, ma'am. Hey, kid, for what it's worth, glad you're not alone. That always bugged me. You shouldn't be. I know we don't talk about you and your old shit, but I'm a cop. These things you pick up on. Just treat her right."

"I'm trying, trust me. It's just weird."

"Weird that she's a chick, or weird that you're involved?"

"Both…or maybe just 'involved.' You get used to being alone."

"Ain't that the truth." Jimmy pulled up to Buffy's apartment and idled. "See you tomorrow, shorty."

"Hey, we were just gonna eat a light dinner and watch movies. You want to join?"

"Nah, go be with the redhead. She's seems like a firecracker. Don't let me screw up the rest of the night."

"Alright, Jimmy. See you bright and early tomorrow. Oh, I want a mocha: non-fat, no whip, extra shot of espresso."

"I'm supposed to remember that?"

"I have faith."

With that, Buffy shut the car door and carried her bags to the door.

"Buff…Buff…Buffy!" Willow watched the blonde hair peek up from below her waist. "That tickles…a lot. Why by the Goddess are you tickling my knee?"

"Seemed like a good spot. Besides it looked…ah…very soft. Which it was. I'm a detective. It's my job to detect things. It says so in the job description."

Both girls were naked and flushed. It was two in the morning and neither one could seem to get in the mood for sleep. Buffy released Willow's leg and moved her way up.

"So I was thinking a patrol? It'll be light and easy and then we can hit up a diner for food type stuff on the way home?"

"Don't you have to be at work tomorrow morning?"

"Yes, I should be there at 7, but let's face it, Will, me and sleep are about on par with me and driving. I'm not good at either. In fact, my sole talent has been my ability to not stay dead."

"That's not true. You're very good at killing things. Then there's that trick you do with your ring finger. Really, where did you learn that?"

"You mean the one where I—?" Buffy began moving lower and slipped a hand between the redhead's thighs.

"Nope…none of that. You do any more of that and I'll combust," Willow said resolutely.

"Aww, but, Will," Buffy whined. Taking the hint only when Willow slapped her thighs together, she grumped, "Fine…fine," and answered the question, "That wonderful gift was bestowed upon me by none other than the king of dark and glowery himself."

"Angel? When did Angel do that to you?"

"Uh…junior year. We may have only had sex once, but there were other things we could do."

"How very naughty of you. So, patrol then?"

"Fine, but you get to buy breakfast."


"Yeah, them's the house rules."

"House rules?"

"Yes there was a mortgage that was signed with clauses attached. I think it was section 4c. The individual in residence who receives the most pleasure for the evening has to buy the giver of said pleasure breakfast. It seems unfair, but I'm bound legally."

"The things I do for great sex," Willow mumbled, "Ken was right. I should have just bought a vibrator and became a hermit."

"Huh?" Buffy gasped. After getting up, she dismissed what she thought she heard as a bad joke.

Knowing that Willow was probably going to have to drop her off at the station in the morning, she dressed for work and holstered her gun.

Willow got up. As she slipped on a pair of jeans and black t-shirt, she explained, "It was an ongoing joke. Even after she became a slayer, she had a hard time keeping up. Personally, I think I may have met my equal in the bedroom tonight though. Tare was close, but as good as she was, I usually made her pass out first."

"And you never told me this why?"

"Buff, besides Anya, how many of us were comfortable discussing our sex lives?"

"Don't forget Faith."

"Or Spike."

"Speaking of the bleached wonder, he called a while back. You didn't give him my number did you?"

"Why did he call?" Willow asked, quickly filling in, "Oh…and I'd rather stake him than talk to him."

"Just to check up. Said that Angel and he were both curious," Buffy grumbled, walking towards the front door.

Jogging to catch up, Willow asked, "I take it you're still pissed at the Wolfram and Hart thing?"

When Willow was beside her, Buffy took her hand and made her way down the hall, explaining as she moved to the front door, "Aren't you? Sure there's the water under the bridge, but jeez, Will, they knowingly got in bed with the enemy and caused an apocalypse because of it. Cordy died. Your friend Fred died. Wesley died. There was badness all around. Nothing good could have come from it and they did it anyway. On top of the fact that no one had the decency to tell me Spike was resurrected."

After opening the door and passing onto the sidewalk, Willow remarked, "Breathe, baby. I'm on the anger train to an extent, but it's not like they aren't doing good now, right?"

"Not the point. I just—they should have called. Phone a friend. Let me know what's going on. Did they? No. Instead they go to Europe trying to what save my honor from the Immortal? I wouldn't have let the Immortal touch me with a ten-foot pole. Christ! They're just so…so…male."

Laughing at the blonde, Willow grabbed her hand and turned her towards the park. "We going through Central, or did you have some other place in mind?"

"Central first and then we hit up the subways. You bring stakes?"

"Only one. I've perfected my sun spell, so I don't need much in the way of tangible protection."

"Really? Do I get to see it in action?" asked Buffy, with a hint of glee in her voice.

"If the dead and fangy comes-a-knockin', then you bet."

The girls set off for the park in the early morning hours. As predicted, the patrol was light. Only one vamp in the entire route. They stopped off at a twenty-four hour diner close to Times Square. Tourists were still out as well as the club people and the diner held a steady stream of customers.

It was nearing dawn and as the sun began to lighten the sky Buffy noticed that she had only about an hour and a half before she had to be at work. She looked at the four stacks of plates and rubbed her belly. Maybe the pancakes were too much. Nah, pancakes are always a good.

"Ugh, I'm going to explode," Willow moaned beside her.

"Will, if you explode, I'm going to have to clean up the mess and I can't move to save my life right now. Don't."

"I'll try not to, but just be warned."

"'Kay, hey what time is it in England right now?"

"Uh, 1:30 I think. Why?" Willow asked.

"Gonna call Dawnie." Buffy took out her cell and dialed the exchange. "Hello?"

"Dawnie?" Buffy questioned.

"Nope, this is Ken. Buffy?"

"Oh hey, Kennedy. Yeah, it's me. Is Dawn there?"

"Nope, went with Andrew on some book hunt. You could try her cell."

"Nah, just tell her I called."

"Will do. Hey, is Willow still there?

"Sitting right here. You want to talk to her?"


Buffy passed the phone over to the witch as she mouthed the name, 'Kennedy.'

"Hey, Ken. How's London?"

"Beats China. How are things going with Buffy?"

"Good. I think."

"Good. I—well, I just wanted to say that I hope you're happy. New York is nice, but if she hurts you, I get to kick her ass."

Laughing, Willow shook her head. "I'll be sure to let her know. Hey, I need to go. Email me, okay?"

"Alright. Bye, Willow."

"Bye." Willow closed the phone and looked over at Buffy.

"You'll let her know what?" Buffy asked, scooting closer to Willow.

"Kennedy says that if you hurt me she's going to kick your ass."

"Eh, I'd like to see the girl try."

"Oh, no," Willow said, passing Buffy's back to her. "There will be no kicking of anyone's ass. You've been waiting far too long for an excuse."

"What? I have not. I never wanted to kick her butt." The blonde began to pout, but stopped when she saw Willow's look.

"You're lying. Buffy, even I've wanted to kick her ass a few times."

"Sure you have." Buffy rolled her eyes. "When?"

"Well, there was the whole kicking you out of the house thing during the First and then there was the Faith thing. Then there was the Dawnie thing."

"'Splain' please."

"Remember when there was the revolt on Buffy Summers of 2003?"

"I haven't forgotten," Buffy snarked.

"What no one seemed to tell you is that that was not how that was supposed to go. I wanted you to understand that we were there for you, but you kept us shut out. You wouldn't let anyone in on the decision-making process and there was a lot that I felt we could contribute." Willow shifted and took Buffy's hand. "Kennedy, however, took the meeting to a big scary place and that ended with you being ousted. I was too shocked and upset to even do anything afterwards. Let's just say, she got a long, long yelling-at from me after everything died down."

"Nothing 'died down' there, though."

"You're right. My rant took place a month after we collapsed Sunnydale. We were lounging by a pool and I just ripped into her. Didn't mean to, but I was thinking about it and it just kinda happened."

Buffy nodded. "Ah, remind me never to make you cranky."

"And here I thought you liked me that way," Willow teased.

"'Kay, the Faith thing?"

"She, uh, went all high and mighty on Faith. They got into it—like, if the Faith of old was still around, Kennedy would have been in pieces. She went and said some un-nice things about Faith being a killer and all. Well, despite our differences, Faith and I have come to an understanding. I got protective and shoved Ken away and was this close" —Willow held up her hand, displaying her barely parted fingers— "to unleashing holy hell on her."

"You are talking figuratively right?"

"Sort of. She backed down when I stepped between them, but it was dicey."

"And Dawnie?"

"That I did kick her ass for. Umm…how much has Dawn told you about her relationship with Kennedy?"

"Will, why do I have the feeling that I've been left out of the loop?"

"It's so not my place to tell you."

"Out with it, witch." Buffy turned in the booth to glare at the redhead.

Crumbling under her girlfriend's gaze, Willow said, "Uh…okay, but you didn't hear this from me. Dawn and Kennedy started seeing each other about eight or nine months ago. Early on in the relationship, Ken got drunk and went home with some girl she met at a bar. There was a ginormous fall out and I...uh...kinda...uh—well, Kennedy got her butt kicked."

"Oh…you mean Dawn's...she's—well, there, that proves the whole 'genetics' thing." Laughing, Buffy grabbed Willow's hand. "It's okay. Thanks for protecting Dawnie."

"Summers, nice of you to join us this morning. How was your vacation?" Patrick Johnson, her boss and supervisor of the precinct, said as she entered building. He was just getting there himself and was glad to see the young detective back at work.

"Heya, Pat. Vacation was good. Even got to see some of the city, in a non-work-related way. It was nice. Now, I kinda get what all the fuss is about."

"Damn straight, Summers. New York is the best of the best. Just like the guys and gals in our squad room. Hey, I hear you and Jimmy already got a case going?"

"Yeah, a body dump. You know if Jimmy's here or not?"

"Can't say. Let's go find out."

They walked to the Robbery-Homicide Unit and saw Jimmy hunched over his computer.

"Ah, it's good to be back," Buffy said as she walked over to her desk.

"Let me know about the case, kid. See you later," Pat said weaving his way back to his office.

"Hey, Cupcake. Nice to see you back in the mix. It's been driving me insane."

Buffy pulled out the chair and there on her desk sat what she assumed was her coffee order. Taking a sip, she smiled. He may come off as a jerk most days, but she really did like her partner. "Thanks for the caffeinated goodness. Did you run our vic through the wires?"

"Yep, look at the printout on your desk. Seems you two had some things in common."

Buffy quirked an eyebrow at him and opened the folder. Scanning the paper, her mouth fell open as she read:

Murillo, Jessica Sara

1433 Topanga Road

Sunnydale, CA 94086


DOB: 06-17-1987

Reading through the list of stats on the girl, it said that she was a student at Sunnydale High School. Considering that the school had been sitting at the bottom of a crater for three years, Buffy was confused. Why was this girl in New York? Her license said city of residence was San Jose, not Sunnydale, but the CA DMV said Sunnydale. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end and the butterflies in her stomach stirred. Uh, spidey sense is all twitchy. Not a good. She's been missing since two-thousand-three and her parents are still in California.

Sure, I've been able to see coincidence in lots since joining New York's Finest, but this… This has the start of badness written in big neon type letters. Looking up over the file, she smiled at Jimmy. No doubt he was trying to see if she had reason to be in the city.

"Hey, she scheduled for a post anytime soon?" Buffy asked as an afterthought.

"Yep, called Nekko at county and he said he could fit her in around two if you want to have a lookey-loo. Why you insist on sittin' in for the slice-and-dice is beyond me. I don't have the constitution for it, personally."

"Part of the job. You buy lunch and I get to watch an autopsy. Seems like a fair trade. Hey, it says she was from Sunnydale, did you find out why she might be here?"

"That's what I'm lookin' for now. I figured we could spend the day running around checking out homeless shelters. See if she knew anyone and then go from there?"

"Sounds like a man with a plan. Let's go," Buffy said. She stood and grabbed her cooling mocha.


Chapter 5 – Fist City

"Dawnie, no, nothing like that, but I needed to tell her. Why haven't you?"

"Because, Willow, the last time I told Buffy anything about my sex life she tried to lock me in the basement."

"With good cause; you were found sucking face with Andrew of all people and you were drunk."

"Okay, okay…so, it wasn't my brightest moment, but Ken and I have worked things out. Oh, speaking of working things out, how are you and Buffy? Have you had sex yet? Tell me."

"Dawn, Buff and I are…it's complicated, but we're gonna be okay. I'm not saying 'yes' or 'no' to the sex question. It's none of your business, young lady."

"But, Willow," Dawn whined, "I want to know. She's lusted after you for a long time. Now that you're paying attention to her, I thought you would be all over each other."

Sighing, Willow shook her head. "Dawnie, I'm hanging up now. I have a meeting with a professor in thirty minutes and I still need to get to campus. I love you, but I need to go."

"Fine don't tell me anything. I'll ask Buffy."

"Bye, Dawn."

"Bye, Willow."

Willow placed the phone on the cradle and grabbed her bag. Making sure to lock everything up, she left for Columbia. Taxis. Buffy warned me about them, but I had to find out for myself. I'm gonna be late. Sheesh. Might I just add 'wow'? If this interview with the department head at Columbia goes well, I'll start school immediately. If that happens, it'll be very, very nifty.

I can set my own schedule and do everything either at home or one-on-one with a professor. I can be done in less than two years and then I can start a career. Although, what to actually do is a whole other ball game. I mean really, I'm twenty-four-years-old. I should have some idea. Just get the schooling out of the way and then I'll figure something out.

Willow rested her head against the cool window of the car and stared out at the buildings. Buffy, Buffy, Buffy…you would think that finally getting to be with Buffy would quiet the thoughts that usually invade my brain about the slayer, but no, that unfortunately is not the case.

It seems finally having her be attainable has done nothing but made the thoughts louder. Criminy. I miss take-charge-Buffy. I miss the Buffy that got that look in her eye. The one that didn't allow you to question her actions. You just got swept up in it—like…umm…something that sweeps you up. She nearly got there last night. 'Nearly' is not the 'there' though. What's it going to take? Why can't I get her back?

"Miss…we're here."

Willow looked out the window and saw the campus. "Oh, thanks." Slipping a ten through the window, she exited the car and made her way to the interview.

"Hey, Nekko, how's life?" asked Buffy as she strolled through the bay doors of the downstairs portion of the morgue.

The young medical examiner looked up and smiled. "Buffy! Hey, it's good to see you. Life, as they say, is good. Got a cooler full of nothing except your girl and this one here. Things are quiet." He walked around the table that held the body he had just done the post-mortem for and began cleaning up.

"For a change. Quiet is a good. Especially for you, 'cause zombies are just a pain to deal with. There's this whole beheading thing you have to do, and it's really hard, especially if you only have an X-Acto knife…" Her voice died as Nekko turned to look at her worriedly. Great. Who knew babbling's a sexually transmitted disease.

"Uhm, right, 'cause we get zombie outbreaks." Nekko raised and eyebrow and let it go. "So." He cocked his head to the side as he studied the young detective. Narrowing his eyes, he asked, "Something's different. You do something with your hair?"

Buffy self consciously moved her hand to her ponytail. "No, why?" I need a new look.

"You look different." Nekko turned and pursed his lips. His right index finger gently tapped against his mouth as he studied his friend.

"I did take a vacation," offered Buffy.

"Ah, well, no that's…well fuck me blind." His face lit up in amusement as he teased, "Summers finally got laid."

Blushing the color of her girlfriend's hair, Buffy bowed her head.

"Who's the lucky dog? Man, I can't believe I missed my chance. Damn. Ah, well. You look happy, Buffy." Merriment danced in his eyes as he walked over and gave Buffy a half hug.

Buffy smiled and squeezed back. Her working relationship with him had involved mild flirting and him asking her out every time they saw each other. He had gotten over the initial rejection well and they had become friends.

"High School best friend," she finally answered.

"Ah, see would never have been able to stand the competition. That's cool. He just come into town for a visit or is this a 'permanent' thing?" He released her from his grip and started back towards the table to rack the dirty instruments for the auto-clave.

"Permanent, hopefully. It was a long time coming."

"What's his name and when can I meet him?"

Gulping Buffy was afraid to answer. She wasn't sure how all of this was going to be handled by her colleagues. And to top it off, she had always tried to keep her home life—or lack-of—separate from her work life.

Opting for honesty, she anxiously replied, "Uh, well, uhm, you can meet Willow anytime. She's starting at Columbia soon."

Looking up at the blonde, Nekko smiled and said, "Ah, see that explains a lot. Cool. We're gonna have to go for drinks sometime. I know this bar in Soho that makes the best martini's on the island. Although, if I had known you were into chicks, I so would have hooked you up with my friend, Beth."

"Not 'women,' Nek, 'woman.' Only Willow."

"See, you gotta talk to me more. So, what you've never…with a girl?" he asked, wiggling his eyebrows.

"Nope, Willow only. She's it."

"Wow, okay that settles it. Drinks tonight, on me. We go celebrate and hopefully you two can help me find a fine young lady to take home tonight to ravage."

Thinking at least part of that wouldn't be such a bad idea, Buffy nodded her agreement.

"Finally she agrees to go out with me somewhere, but she needs to bring her girlfriend. Well, ladies and gentleman, it's just my luck. Stu, what do you think of that?" Nekko picked up the sheet covering the body mimicking talking to the corpse, "Hmm, yeah, that's true. I see your point." He poked his head out from under the sheet and grinned up at the blonde. "Buffy, Stu says you've broken his and my hearts. What do you have to say for yourself?"

"Uh, sorry…?"

"That's all we get. Man, I tell you. Chicks." He placed the sheet back down and laid his hand on Stu's shoulder patting it. "Stu, you'd go out with me wouldn't you?"

"Nekko, if you keep talking to the corpse, I'm gonna fifty-one fifty you."

"Fine, fine…let's go get suited up and then we can start on one Ms. Jessica Murillo."

"Well that was quite possibly the most boring post I've ever done," Nekko drawled as he removed the surgical cap and mask from his head.

Buffy followed his lead and threw away the disposable garments before asking, "Cause of death was strangulation. Nothing else?"

"Well, not until the tox screen comes back, but even then it's a crap shoot. You guys gonna spend some time with this girl?" Nekko threw his garments in the biohazard container and led the detective away from the autopsy table. He went towards the left side of the room to a small refrigerator and pulled two bottles of water out. He handed one off to Buffy and unscrewed the cap on the other to take a drink.

Buffy nodded her thanks and answered, "I don't know. It depends on how Jimmy's search went while I was here. The girl's body was dumped in an alley and, considering she's listed as a transient, I don't think we are going to find much of anything."

"Hmm, good luck on this. Hey, it's about closing time. Call the girl that stole you from me and see if she wants to go out."

Buffy nodded and made her way out to the parking lot. She pulled her phone from her pocket and dialed Willow's cell.

"Howdy," Willow's voice rang through her ear.

"Will, it's me," Buffy replied with a smile.

"I know. Your name popped up on the caller ID. Not that I'm not happy to hear your voice, but aren't you supposed to be at an autopsy?"

"Am, did, done. It's one of the reasons I called. The M.E., Nekko, wants to take us for drinks. Meet you. What do you say?"

Willow looked at the forms she was filling out at the kitchen table. Deciding that a break wouldn't be bad, she answered, "Sure, do you want me to meet you somewhere?"

"Nah, I'll come pick you up. Forty-five minutes good?"

"I'll be ready."

"'Kay, see you soon. Willow?"

"Yeah, Buff?"

"Uh, I love you."

Willow smiled into the receiver as her heart soared. "Love you too, Buff. See you soon."

"Bye." The blonde shut her phone and almost bounced through the receiving doors of the morgue.

It had been two weeks since they had found the girl in the alley. Buffy and Jimmy had moved on to a string of break-ins on the Upper West Side. Willow had quit trying to figure out what she wanted to do and had talked the department chair of the Columbia Med program about getting an M.D. Since she had met Nekko, the witch had decided that an M.E.'s job was something that she could get behind. She understood that it was going to be a grueling task, but in her mind if she could handle the Hellmouth in Sunnydale, med school would be a cakewalk.

"Will, I don't have a reason. It's senseless and it is what it is. Deal," Buffy whined into the witch's shoulder. They were cuddled on the couch in mid-debate.

"Buffy, how can you say that? It totally makes a difference. Isn't that why we agreed on this in the first place? I can't do this if you're gonna be all wishy-washy. I need to know that you're gonna be as gung ho about it as I am."

"I can't. I won't."

"Then I guess that's it then. Let me gather and I'll go."

Willow made to get up, shaking her head. She was disappointed that Buffy could do this. They had talked and talked and talked. Sometimes that's all Willow felt they did was sit and talk. She was tired of talking. She wanted action.

"Will, wait," Buffy pleaded grabbing her hand. "Don't, please. Stay."

Turning around, Willow saw that look in her slayer's eyes and let the corners of her mouth turn up.

"Slayer, let go. I'm going. And if you don't want to, that's fine, but dammit, Buff, you promised. Sushi and sake at Ooka's. I want a salmon roll."

"Fine. I'll go, but don't expect me to like it," Buffy caved.

Clapping her hands, Willow pulled Buffy up and kissed her soundly. Pulling away, she smacked her lips and tried to reassure her girlfriend, "You'll love it. It's a guarantee, a Willow-guarantee and those are a better guarantee than the semi-annual apocalypse in Sunnydale."

"Come on," Buffy said rolling her eyes and dragging Willow to the door.

They made their way down to the street and hailed a cab. The restaurant that Willow wanted to go to was on the other side of Central Park and twenty blocks south. Neither girl felt up to the hike. Entering the restaurant, Willow pointed to the bar that had two open seats. She grabbed Buffy and pulled her to the chairs. She had been working on the blonde for nearly three weeks to try sushi and she was excited that Buffy finally gave in.

"Buff, your phone." Willow pointed to her lover's pocket as the melody finally reached the woman's ears.

"Oh," Buffy gasped, grabbing it and looking at the ID. Local exchange. Work. "This is Buffy."

"Detective Summers?" a male voiced asked.

"Yes, this is."

"This is Detective Ramirez from the seventh. I need you to meet me at York and ninety-second. When can you get here?"

"Is it urgent? I just ordered dinner. Can I meet you in an hour?"

"I'm at a scene. I've already called your partner, McAllister and he's gonna be here in ten."

"Alright." Buffy sighed. "I'm on my way."

"Thank you," Ramirez said and then disconnected.

"What's up, Buff?" Willow asked, appearing worried.

"Jimmy and I were called in. What do you want to do?"

"Can I come with?"

"Sure, but if it's a scene you have to stand around with the rest of the onlookers."

"Fine, let's go." Willow grabbed her purse and followed the blonde back out onto the city streets.

As the girls pulled up in the cab, Buffy noticed the coroner's van and sighed. They got out and walked over to Jimmy and a younger looking guy.

"Hey, Blondie. Heya there, Willow, nice to see you again." Jimmy smiled at the two. They do make a cute couple.

"Hey, what's the up, Jim? I was gonna eat dinner."

"Buffy, this is Detective Pete Ramirez. Detective this is my partner, Buffy Summers, and her…friend, Willow Rosenberg."

"Thanks for coming down, Detective Summers, Ms. Rosenberg." The man cocked his head to the side and withdrew the paper in his pocket. "Willow Rosenberg, from Sunnydale, California?"

Willow and Buffy both stepped back a bit. The witch shot a look at Buffy and then nodded her head.

"How…yeah that's me. How'd you know?"

"Well this just gets more interesting. Let me start at the beginning. My partner, Nate Frazier, and I were called to this scene a half hour ago. There was a young girl found in the alley off to your right. We've got the M.E. out here looking at the vic right now. From what I could see, she was stabbed. Looks like the knife wound cut in to her lung. Can't say for sure, and there's not a whole lotta blood to go on. Upon further examination and search of the girl's body we found three things: the first was her ID, the second and third were a copy of Detective Summers' California ID and a copy of Ms. Rosenberg's. I ran the three immediately and found out you were working here in New York. I called Jimmy here and you shortly after. That's all I got right now."

Jimmy scuffed his heel on the pavement and interrupted, "The M.O.'s slightly off, but it could fit our unsub."

Buffy shot a worried look to her partner and said, "The Sunnydale tie in."

"That'd be it kiddo. Different C.O.D."

Buffy just nodded agreement then looked at Willow. "The vic's name?"

"Jennifer Poulsen, age twenty-four, Caucasian. Did you know her?"

"Name doesn't sound familiar. Willow?"

"Nope. What kind of copy?"

"Xerox. Neither of you can tell me why?"

"Nope," they answered simultaneously.

Both Buffy and Willow remained tight-lipped and cautious as they were led around the crime scene. Jimmy noticed, but decided to talk to the two privately. Whatever this was, he wanted full disclosure from both of the girls.

The need to speak to Buffy outweighed the blonde's possible desire for privacy. Willow opened her thoughts and sent, 'Buff, this has a Hellmouth stench. What's going on? Unsub? C.O.D.? I'm feeling out of the loop.' Willow fidgeted nervously.

'I dunno, but this is the second vic from home in the past two weeks. "Unsub" is a generic term for "Unidentified Subject" and "C.O.D." is "Cause of Death".'

'Okay, but, when was the first?'

'The call I went in on the night before I went back to work. I thought it was a fluke, that the girl was a runaway. I didn't think to mention it.'

'Hmm…alright. You wanna do your thing? We need to talk, but it can wait. Right now I need to get home and start on some research.'

Catching the other detective's attention, Buffy asked, "Pete, can I go look at the girl?"

"Sure, you want to bring Ms. Rosenberg?"

Buffy shot a look at Willow and shrugged. "Will?"

"Yeah, I want to see her."

Pete motioned, prompting, "This way," as he led them deeper into the alley.

They walked into the taped off area where several techs were working. The trip was short and five minutes later all four were walking away from the body. They stood around a squad car answering a few more questions from both Nate and Pete. Setting up a meeting for the next morning, Buffy grabbed Willow and quickly left for home, their appetite forgotten.

As they entered the apartment, Willow didn't let Buffy get to the kitchen before she asked, "Okay, Buff, what's going on? Who was the first?"

"Jessica Murillo," Buffy answered as she kicked off her shoes and went to the refrigerator. "By her age, she would've gone to school with Dawn. She was found in an alley just like the girl tonight." She pulled a bottle of water out and offered one to Willow. The witch declined and Buffy shrugged, continuing, "Like I said, I went and chalked it up to a fluke, but this is just officially weird. Any ideas?"

"Besides that someone is killing girls that are from our hometown and wanting us to get involved? Nope. I got nothin'. Can you get me their info? I need to start searching."

"I'll call and give you the stats tomorrow from the precinct."

Willow's lips pursed in thought. Not really wanting to, but well, it might be a good idea. "Should we get the gang involved?"

"Not yet. I need more to work with. No sense in having people fly halfway around the world for this." Buffy took Willow's hand and led them to the couch. She sat down and pulled Willow into her lap, resting her head on her witch's back as her arms wrapped around Willow's waist.

The next day, Willow started gathering as much information on both girls as she could find. Cracking DMV, IRS, and police databases, she had compiled almost nothing on either girl. Both were extraordinarily average by any standard. The runaway didn't have a lot of info, but the new girl had enough info to go on. She had graduated with Buffy and Willow and went to Virginia Tech. She was working in the city as a waitress.

It had been eight straight hours of computer work and Willow was tired. Stretching, she stood up and went to the kitchen to grab a snack. Halfway there she had an idea and reached for the phone to dial Nekko.

"Hello?" Willow asked as the other line went live.



"Oh, Willow, nice to hear from you."

"Hi, Nekko, how're you?"

"Good. I got two posts done this morning so I get to be a desk jockey and dictate my reports. It's so much fun I'm gonna puke."

"Eww, go to the bathroom if you must. Hey, I was wondering if I could ask a favor of you?"

"Does it involve getting naked with either you or Buffy?"


"Damn, well, then I'll have to say 'it depends'."

"I need a copy of the autopsy you did on Jessica Murillo."

Nekko made an unconscious hissing noise into the receiver before mumbling, "I don't know."

"It's just that there was another girl found and she had Buffy's and mine ID on her. I'm being research gal and need more info." She smiled hoping he was going to take mercy on her.

"Sure. Can I email it to you?"


"Alright give me a half hour and you'll have it in your inbox."

"Thank you. Oh, hey, how did the date with the purple haired girl go?"

"Bombed. She took me to some weird ass Goth club. Not my style."

"We'll find you someone. Promise."

"I'm holding you to that, Willow. And if you don't make good, you and Buffy are mine for a week."

"Oh boy." Willow sighed as she ended the call.

Buffy's day went from bad to worse. She got in and called Willow with the information, then went into a meeting with Pete, Nate, and Jimmy. So far, nobody was getting anywhere. Where Pete was at least tolerable, Nate was down right uncooperative.

"Look, I don't see why we can't work on this together. The unsub obviously wants me involved. We've got the Murillo case. She was first. Right now I don't care who takes point on it, but we need to find out what's going on," Buffy tried for reason as her patience waned.

I'm this close to throwing Nate through the wall. Not only is he being not sharey, he's been giving me looks all damn day. Me, cranky, not a good. They had been in conference room 'A' for an hour going back and forth. She and Jimmy had given the other two all the info on the first victim, but Nate was unwilling to share. The slayer looked at her partner and shrugged.

"Listen you guys, we can even work out of your building, but someone is knocking young girls off and obviously wantin' to get my partner involved, which means that I'm involved so cut the crap and let's get some work done," Jimmy said, obviously fed up. He didn't mind interdepartmental cooperation. It was a perk of the job, getting to work with other people with other views, but these two seemed to not share the same opinion.

"You think that getting more involved in this is smart, Summers?"

"Yes, Nate, I do. I'm practically being begged to at this point. Look at it, the first girl, she was my case. The killer probably made it a point to dump the body where I would get called in. The second was left with my ID. The bad guy wants me involved, so I'm staying involved."

"You born that stupid, or did your brains go away when you started eatin' pussy? Fuck this, Pete. I'm not doin' it," Nate snarked disgustedly. He pushed back from the table and stood to leave expecting his partner to follow.

Buffy's jaw dropped. Before she could register a reaction, Jimmy's chair was against the wall and he had Nate pinned up to the wall she had been fantasizing throwing him through. She was up out of her chair before she knew.

"Listen, you ignorant shitbag. I ever, and I mean ever hear words like that come outta your mouth again, I'll have you pullin' foot patrol out in Battery after I beat the living shit out of you," Jimmy spat out. Taking a second to breathe before demanding, "Now tell the lady you're sorry."

Jimmy tightened his grip on the other detective's neck. Pete and Buffy watched on, slacked-jawed as Nate's face changed from red to purple. Pete tried to step in, but was shoved to the floor by Jimmy. He landed hard on his rear-end as Jimmy held Nate pinned to the wall.

"Jim, for Christ sakes, man, he's turning blue. Let him go," Pete pleaded

Buffy inched closer to the two entangled men. She didn't want Jimmy rounding on her and making her hurt him in the process, so she stepped cautiously across the room, listening to her partner rage.

"Apologize, fuck face," spat the Detective.

"F-f-f-fuck you," Nate got out.

Jimmy pulled back and punched the man square in the face, breaking his nose. Blood spurted out and Jimmy let the man fall. Kicking him in the stomach, Jimmy spat on the curled up man, "Get the fuck out of my precinct. We're takin' the case." Turning on his heel, he left.

Buffy stood there and watched the entire exchange with only a few feet left to cover the distance. She was too slow and too late. Sure, there were a few people she didn't get along with—hell, she'd been friends with Cordelia—but the personal attack from the man had left her a little dazed. She watched it all play out and then watched as Pete went over to his partner and offered him some tissue for his nose. Not knowing what to do, she followed Jimmy out of the room.

She knew where he would be and went out the side door of the building. Jimmy was standing against the wall taking a long pull on a cigarette. She leaned against the wall and put her hand on his arm.

"So, that was…interesting. You okay?"

Jimmy growled and looked just as pissed outside as he did in.

"Jim, it's okay. Really, no big. Not expected, but he's an ass of epic proportions. Just let it go."

"Fuck that, kid, and fuck him. I can't believe it. I've been doin' this job for nearly twenty years and, ya know what? I ain't ever done anything like that. I mean he just…crossed a line. You don't cross lines like that with other cops. It ain't right. 'Sides who gives a flying monkey fuck who you sleep with? It's pure shit and to say sumthin' like that just…I shoulda hit him some more. It just ain't right."

"It may not be right, but what, you breaking his face was smart?"

"Naw, but it had to be done. Right, wrong, just words, Cupcake. The horse's ass is lucky I didn't break anything else."

The side door crashed open and Pat stood there red and fuming. "McAllister, Summers, let's go," he barked, holding the door for them.

Buffy and Jim looked at each other and decided on a story without even speaking a word. They followed the captain in, plopped in the seats in front of Pat's desk and waited.

"Can you tell me what just happened?"

"Well, Captain, it was the damndest thing. Nate went all apeshit on us in there and lunged for me as I was talkin'. I didn't know what else to do but protect myself. I brought my elbow up to defend the attack and he ran right into my elbow. Freaky shit, sir."

"Jimmy don't. I just viewed the tape. What the fuck is wrong with you? I've known you going on fifteen years and you've never pulled shit like that before. Summers, what do you have to say for yourself?"


"You know damn well what. You should have stopped him and you just stood there. I may not like what he said, but it gave McAllister no right to break his nose. Hopefully, I can get you out of most of the trouble."

Knowing what was coming, Jimmy unclipped his badge and slid it over the table.

"Yeah, we know, suspended until further investigation. Shit."

"Jimmy," Patrick warned, "It's more like paid leave pending further investigation. I got no choice. Give me three days tops. I just need to grease some wheels and see how bad you messed up the prick's face. Summers, I need your's as well."


"Cupcake, just give him the sheild. We'll be back at work by the end of the week. It's a, whaddya call it…formality."

Buffy removed her badge and slid it onto the desk in shock.


Chapter 6 – Thin White Line

Buffy dragged herself home. The day had left her drained and, more than anything, it had left her wanting the comfort of her witch. Eh, funny… I haven't wanted to come home to anybody in a while. Now, it's like I need to see her. Guess that's not entirely true either. Always wanted to see her—couldn't ever really bring myself to admit before.

She stepped through her doorway and reached out to sense where Willow was. Setting her duffle bag in the entry way, her slayer senses picked nothing up as she went from the living room to the kitchen. She saw the note underneath a magnet on the refrigerator and read:


I went to get a few things. I'll be back by six at the latest.


Buffy left the note there as she opened the refrigerator. She grabbed a bottle of water and headed for the couch. Suspended? Me and that word…not mixy. Damn. This is unbelievable. I don't get it. He insults me and I get suspended? Jimmy acted like it was no big deal. I don't get in trouble like that. Not anymore at least. What am I gonna do? What's Will gonna say?

The blonde sank further into the couch propping her feet on the coffee table. She sipped at her water and watched the clock. 5:54 p.m. Will'll be home soon. Home? She's gonna be home. I need to get a handle on how my life changes so damn fast. One minute, alone and miserable; the next, coupley and kinda happy. Simple, but not. Guess it's about as normal as I'm ever gonna get.

Her agitation got the better of her. Setting the bottle of water down, she got up and retrieved her duffle bag. Good ol' Jimmy. Copy machines can be dangerous. She pulled two manila files from her bag and sat back down, tossing them on the coffee table. Opening the first one, she read over the report on the first victim.

The report held little information. Name, date of birth, residence, background, and the rest contained crime scene information. All of it proving to be useless to the blonde. Gotta figure something out about these girls. Kind of a sure thing that who- or whatever it is, isn't gonna stop at just two. In fact, I'd bet money. I need to figure out what's going on.

Guess I can fall back on the old standard: what would Giles say? Not that I'd trust his opinion right now, but this is—it's way more Hellmouthy than humany, and let's be honest, Giles knows the hellmouthy way better than the humany side of things. I could call and see if anyone's been poking around about Will or me.

There's the other it. Willow. She's just as involved as I am at this point. Gonna have to do the research thing sooner than later. Calling Xander and the rest wouldn't be a bad idea. If this is gonna get more—well, 'more'—them being here isn't what I really want. But, it might be a necessary thing. Xander and Faith can be here in like three hours if they fly. If I include Dawn and Kennedy too—twelve hours max on flight time. Giles? He could get a flight with Dawn and Ken, unless they take the private jet.

Place isn't that big. Hell, we had a hard time in my mom's house. This place—way smaller. Hotel? We need a Scooby Central. I need everyone here. Scooby Central? I haven't been around one of those in…seems like forever. Guess this slayer's coming out of retirement.

As Buffy pulled open the second file, footsteps in the hallway earned more of her attention. The lock clicked thirty seconds later, then Willow came through with four large shopping bags. Buffy's face lit up at the sight of her lover and the shopping bags. Hopping off the couch, she went to go help her witch. She gave Willow a quick peck on the cheek as she took what looked to be the two heaviest bags.

"Oh, shopping bags. What'd ya get me, witch?" asked Buffy, teasing her lover, "It better be good. Today has sucked in massive proportions."

Willow rolled her eyes as she set her two bags on the coffee table with the others. "No, 'Hello, Will, good to see you home and safe. Missed you. How was your day?' " Willow jutted out her bottom lip and pretended to pout.

Buffy smiled and wrapped her arms around the other woman. Kissing the tip of her nose, she said, "Sorry, let's start over. How was your day? And what's in the bags? Presents?" Buffy wiggled her eyebrows and laughed as Willow struggled out of Buffy's grasp.

"Day was good. Books, some new clothes, and there might be a present in there for you somewhere, but I make no guarantees." Willow smirked as she started going through her purchases.

Rifling through the items being placed on the kitchen table, Buffy didn't see anything she thought looked like a present. "Will, there's nothing here."

"I didn't say it was in any of the bags."

Buffy smiled. "So are you saying it might be on your person?"

"Maybe," Willow said, backing herself up against the kitchen sink. "You wanna try and find it?"

"Is that a challenge?"

"That depends, it might be a suggestion, or just a question," Willow teased.

"Hmmm…" Buffy calmly walked over to the redhead and placed her hands on the taller girl's hips. She pulled Willow to her and said, "Will, don't make me look for it. It will not end well for you. I'm talking 'violence', 'adult content'…it could get ugly."

"Try me, Slayer." Willow pushed back and maneuvered herself out of Buffy's grasp. As soon as she had a clean shot she ran for it. Unfortunately, she was nowhere near as fast as Buffy and was tackled from behind in the living room. Buffy flipped her over and straddled the redhead's stomach. The blonde had Willow's hands pinned above her head with her right hand. Willow noticed the look in Buffy's eyes and a shiver of anticipation danced down her spine.

"Will, prezzies. Hand it over or I get tickley. I know how ticklish you are." Buffy's free hand crept up the sides of the woman pinned beneath her. Willow remained silent and shook her head 'no.' "'Kay, you asked for it."

Buffy began an onslaught of dancing fingers that ended with Willow in tears, in a ball, laughing.

Gasping out, Willow conceded, "Back pocket! Back pocket! Your present is in the back pocket."

Buffy flipped Willow over and saw a small, square shape outlined in the right hip pocket of the redhead's jeans. She pulled it out and looked at the box. Willow turned over and gently plucked it from her hands. "It's…here open it."

Buffy removed the ribbon and opened the package. Inside sat a small silver cross. She looked down at her girlfriend.

"I saw it last week. I never see you wear one anymore and I think they're good to have. Just in case, y'know? I had it engraved. I just wanted to get you something practical and pretty. It was either this or a sequined gun holster. Somehow, I don't think they like cops to be so, uh…glittery, though."

Willow nervously pointed out the designs in the cross, "It's a Celtic Warrior cross. Protection and strength and whatnot. I thought it fit. Even though you aren't killing demons, you're still…well, still fighting things."

Buffy took the cross out and flipped it over. The inscription was in a cursive script but easy to make out. 'To my Slayer. Always, Willow.' Buffy smiled down at her witch. It was a pretty piece of jewelry. Inlaid in the cross were the knotted designs for protection and strength and it had a good weight in her hand.

"I love it. Thank you." She leaned down and gently kissed the redhead. The contact shot a bolt of desire through her. She slipped her tongue in the eager mouth of the redhead and let her hands roam. While making love on the floor was fun, Buffy wanted the bed. She maneuvered herself and picked the other woman up without breaking contact with Willow's lips. Making her way to her room, she forgot about the suspension, the dead girls that were piling up, and calling the rest of the gang. Instead, she focused her full attention on the witch writhing beneath her.

The girls were lying on the bed, entwined in post coital snuggles. Buffy was running her fingers through the long locks of her girl while Willow was dozing in and out.

"Will, you awake?"


"Uh, some stuff happened at work today."

Shifting to give the blonde all of her attention, Willow urged her to continue.

"You remember Pete and Nate from last night? Well, we had a meeting with them today and some stuff happened. Jimmy and I got suspended for a few days until it works itself out."

"What? Why did you get in trouble?" Willow sat up alarmed.

Biting the bullet, Buffy recounted the scene in the conference room, "I didn't know what to do. He just said it so casually that it took a moment for my brain to register. Then Jimmy had him pinned to the wall. It happened way fast. Pat, my captain, is going to try and smooth things over, but it still takes me off the case for at least a few days. Which is not of the good 'cause I don't think that whatever is doing this is going to stop with two, y'know?"

Willow's face remained expressionless through Buffy's tale. Shrugging off Willow's passivity, Buffy voiced her thoughts from earlier, "I was thinking of calling the gang. This is obviously related to Sunnydale and if you and I are involved, then I would bet my bronzed Mr. Pointy on the assumption that the rest of the gang is too."

"Should we start making phone calls?" Willow asked.

"Probably. I'm thinkin' we conference first, then let them decide. Did you dig up anything on either of the two vics?"

"Not really. I called Nekko at the morgue and he was cool enough to send me Jessica Murillo's autopsy report. I haven't studied it, but when I skimmed through nothing exceptionally freaky jumped out at me."

"'Kay." Falling back into a comfortable silence, the girls let their minds wander. The buzzing on the intercom brought them out of it.

"Cupcake, open up. We need to talk." Jimmy's distinctive nickname for Buffy made Willow laugh. The blonde hit the buzzer and granted him access.

"We should get dressed. He's gonna be up here in a minute." Untangling herself from the witch Buffy got dressed and left Willow to do her thing. When she made it to the door, Jimmy was already banging.

"Chill, old man. I'm coming. No need to go all S.W.A.T. team on me," Buffy growled. She let him in and noticed the beer and pizza in his hand. He looked at her and smiled.

"I figured we would be busy most of the night so I brought dinner," Jimmy offered, waving the pie in front of his partner's face.

"Nice. Tell me you got the right toppings this time?" Buffy led him into the kitchen and grabbed some plates and napkins.

"Pepperoni and pineapple." He rolled his eyes and started serving the blonde. "I still can't believe you. Has to be the weirdest shit ever."

"But at least it's tasty." Buffy smiled, taking a bite of her pizza.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah… Hey, where's your girl?"

"Getting dressed," the young detective said around a mouthful of food.

Jimmy blushed and stammered, "Oh, I didn't—"

"Just the post sexy cuddles. It's okay." Buffy winked and watched the blush spread.

"Too much information, kid. No more sharing, please?"


Willow rounded the corner and the smell of pizza hit her nose. Her stomach growled in response and she bounced into the kitchen.

"Hi, Jimmy." Willow waved as she pulled out the empty chair next to Buffy.

"Heya there, Willow. Help yourself." The seasoned detective smiled and motioned towards the beer and pizza. Let's see if they can be straight with me now. Think I've earned it. "Before I left this afternoon, Cupcake, I gave you photocopies of our cases. I've looked over the ones I've made for myself. As I started combing through, nuthin' really stuck, ya know? All we got is their connection to you, which ain't much." He watched their reactions and continued, "I know what you two said on record. Somethin' ain't sittin' right, though. I need you to explain to me why these girls are connected to you? What were you involved in at home?"

Buffy weighed the words of her partner. She glanced at Willow and projected her thoughts, 'Will, he doesn't know anything. What do you want to do?'

'Tell him. It's the least we owe him.'

Buffy nodded and turned to her partner, ""Kay, so…there's stuff—stuff you don't know…"

"No shit, kiddo. I think it's time I know." He tipped his beer towards the blonde and nodded for her to continue.

"Right, the stuff, the things you don't know about—it's…uhm, kinda hard to believe. It'd be easier to show you. Can we, uh, take a walk?"

Buffy and Willow led Jimmy to a subway access tunnel two blocks south of her apartment. Once down inside the main system of tunnels, the blonde led them through to a set of passageways she knew demons to use. It took them five minutes to find a trio of vampires and three minutes for all three vampire's ashes to float to the damp tunnel floor.

Buffy pulled Jimmy out of the sewer and waited on Willow to emerge before covering the manhole back up. She eyeballed her partner carefully as he walked to a bus stop bench and sat down. "Jimmy you look not so good. You want me to grab you some water?"

His head swam and his heart thudded in his chest. Pawing at the constricting tie he wore, the detective was able to loosen the knot and lean forward sucking in the semi-clean city air. Holy fucking shit. I can't…they just…and the faces…demons…Holy Mary Mother of God! What the hell? I need to sit. Sit and process. Right, sitting—I am sitting.

She just, I knew she was fast and strong and— That was surreal. And Willow she just—there were words and then fire—like it was nothing—like she just said 'hey' to 'em and then watched as the one burnt from the inside out.

Why's everything…it's all daaa…

Buffy caught him before his face hit the pavement. She steadied him and pushed him back against the back rest of the bench. "Think he took that about as well as anyone. Don't you, Will?"

Willow shrugged and checked for a pulse. Finding a strong one, she looked between Buffy and Jimmy, then looked at where they'd emerged. They were eight blocks southeast of Buffy's place. "Should we wait for him to wake up or—?"

"I could carry him, but—"

"But having a five-foot blonde carry a six-foot four man that's easily two and a half times her weight eight blocks would be attention worthy," Willow finished.

"That'd be the 'it'." She smiled at her girlfriend as they said in unison, "Cab."

Jimmy had come to halfway to the apartment and turned beet red as he realized what had happened. Shushing him in front of the cabbie, Buffy asked him to wait until they were back at her place before the round of questioning began.

Not even completely into the apartment yet, Jimmy growled behind them, "Cupcake, what the fuck were—? They looked—vampires?"

Willow led the parade into the kitchen and sat down. She opened one of the beers Jimmy had brought and offered it to the struggling detective. It always sorta sucks when you have to disillusion people. Goodbye, comfy existence. Goodbye to the ignorant way I was and hello to the nightmare of reality. Yep. It sucks.

He took the offered beer and aimed his best intimidating stare at the two women sitting before him.

"Jimmy, that look—not gonna work. Will's, is way better…more effective too."

Willow giggled and tried for a more reassuring look as she patted his arm and directed him to sit down. "You have questions. We get it. It's a valid thing and…and—well, who wouldn't after having seen what you just saw. I've been there. We both have. Just try and not pass out again, okay?"

Buffy nodded at her witch's words and launched into the base explanation of slayers and their history. Buffy recapped the past nine years of her life as the slayer. Jimmy listened and sat quiet. "So, Sunnydale didn't get swallowed up by an earthquake. It was an amulet and a vampire that did all that damage." Buffy took a pull on her beer and waited for Jimmy to digest.

"So you want me to sit here and believe that whole story. Magic, vampires, and slayers are real? How the hell did you pass your psych eval? Cupcake, the least you could do is be honest with me."

"Jimmy you just saw it for yourself. You saw their faces. The way they turned to dust as the stake hit home. What more do you want?" Buffy tried for reason even though she knew reason left the building hours ago.

"I'm not too sure. You can't just expect me to believe all of that. I've been around a while and I ain't ever heard a story quite like that." He looked at Buffy then at Willow. Years of being a cop and sitting in on interrogations, on conducting them himself allowed him a decent eye to spot liars and crooks and thieves at a cursory glance and as his gaze settled on his partner, a chill spread through his body. She ain't lyin'. This is true. All of it. She believes it. Willow believes it. I think I've died and woke up in Hell.

"You don't look good again," Buffy stated, the worry evident in her voice.

"You two aren't…I just need more time. I gotta process all of this." Jimmy swallowed hard and asked, "Can we maybe focus on something else?"

Buffy nodded. "What?"

"Do you guys think that, uh, the killer is from Sunnydale?"

"Maybe, but whoever it is, sure knows me and Buff. I just don't get why now?"

"Well there, Willow—man, I got to come up with a nickname for you—anyhow, you and Buffy haven't really been in contact for awhile. My bet would be that whoever, or whatever it is has probably been waiting on this."

"On what?" Buffy asked, trying to latch on to his train of thought.

"You guys to start talkin' or get together again. Why else would this happen right now?"

"Uh, crappy timing?" Buffy asked hopefully.

"Cupcake, don't be naïve. It never looks good on you. Use your brain. When did the first murder happen? The night before you came back to work. Where have the two bodies been found? Near your place. Sure we're a few blocks off, but, Buffy, you can walk to each crime scene in under thirty minutes."

"He's right, babe." Willow resigned to the logic.

Sighing, Buffy got up and paced the length of the living room. She knew what Jimmy said made sense, but she wasn't ready for this. She had spent two years trying to forget the previous eight and had tried to live like a normal person—well, as normal as she could. "Fine. Let's go with the assumption that the killer, whoever or whatever they are, decided that now was an important time to try and bring me out of slayer retirement. Why not come at me directly? Was there a trigger to set them off? And why do I attract all the weirdo's? I swear it's like I'm the human equivalent of the Bat Signal in Gotham for freaks."

Buffy's accusations were met with a round of 'heys.' Buffy shrugged and smiled, embarrassed. "You know what I mean."

"Buff, I'm thinking we should start making the calls to the rest of the gang," Willow said.

"Gang?" Jimmy asked.

"The rest of our family," clarified the witch, "They're kinda spread out over the globe."

"It would be a good time. I'll call Dawn and Giles, you call Xander and Faith?"

"Family reunions are so much fun. Hey, you two, are they anything like either of you?"

"'Either of us in what way?" Buffy looked over at her partner for clarification.

"Ya know, uh, special?"

"Special? Jimmy you're gonna hafta vague that up for me some more."

"What? No, I mean like magical or super strong?"

"Faith's a slayer like me. And if my sister's girlfriend comes then, yeah, she's also a slayer."

"Well, uhm, alright. I'll leave you two to makin' the phone calls. Is there anything that I need to do?"

The women shook their heads and moved to mobilize their family while Jimmy cleaned up. By the time Jimmy had the kitchen cleaned, Dawn, Ken, and Giles had started to ready the council's jet and Willow had been assured by Faith that she and Xander would be there by the next evening.

"I'm callin' it a night, ladies. I'll be by tomorrow. Cupcake, Willow, have a good night," Jimmy said as he gathered his things and made his way to the door.

"Jimmy," Willow called after the man, "Are you gonna be okay?"

He nodded and said, "I'll catch up soon enough. Don't worry your pretty little head about me. Give me a good night's sleep and I'll be good."

Buffy let her partner out and turned around to a fidgety witch. She walked over and wrapped her girl in a hug. "Why do I have worried-Willow?"

"It's just that things for you were doable until I showed up and then there's death. Like, you know, people dying to get our attention and I can't help but feel guilty about it. I'm sorry, Buff."

"Hey, what's to be sorry for? Will, I'll be honest and say that there were brief moments of anger and the irrational thought that you coming here brought whatever is doing this, but then, what if your arrival came when the thing's plans happened and it's all coincidental? You can't say that and I can't either."

Nodding her head in agreement, Willow held tighter to the blonde.

"Now, we've been at this for a while. How about we slip in to some comfy sleep type clothes and get some sleep?"

"Okay, oh, how about we not slip into clothes at all?"

"That's my Willow, always thinking of ways to improve my day."

As the driver pulled their bags from the trunk of the rented Town Car, Giles peered up at the address on the apartment building and checked it against the one he had written down yesterday. He was thankful that the private jet had gotten here faster than he had anticipated. With any luck, we've beaten Xander and Faith here. Although, I'm not quite sure this is the right address. "Dawn, dear, this is the correct building, yes?"

Dawn rolled her eyes at the British man and said, "Yes, Giles…for the fifth time, yes. This is Buffy's building." She turned and grabbed Kennedy's hand, marching them to the doorman. "Hi, we need to get to apartment 7F," Dawn chirped to the serious looking doorman.

"Certainly Miss." He picked up the receiver and dialed the requested apartment number. "Whom shall I say is here?" he asked as the phone rang.


He nodded and started speaking into the phone. A moment later, the doorman had taken the bags from the driver and was escorting the three visitors to the proper floor.

Dawn bounced her way off the elevator and down the hallway to her sister's door as the excitement at seeing two of her favorite people coursed through her. She rapped lightly on the door and was greeted by Willow, smiling broadly.

Dawn squealed and jumped into Willow's arms. "Willow! Oh my god! It's so good to see you. I've missed you so much." Dawn released the witch and barreled past her to get inside. Buffy stood off to the left in the living room, wearing a grin similar to Willow's. Dawn hugged her shorter, but older, sister and wouldn't let go even when Buffy released her grip.

"Dawnie, I'm not going anywhere. Can I have my arms back?" whined Buffy.

Dawn released her grip and stepped back. She wiped away the few tears that had leaked out from her eyes and smiled.

"I've missed you, sis," Buffy said and walked up to Giles.

"Buffy, dear, it's been too long."

"Hi, Giles." Buffy hugged him lightly. She then turned her attention to Kennedy and nodded curtly. "Good to see you, Ken."

"Hi, Buffy." Kennedy smiled as she finished carrying the last of their luggage into the living room.

Willow was about to the shut the door when she saw Jimmy step off the elevator. She smiled at him as he lumbered down the hallway.

"Heya there, Willow." He smiled broadly as the witch ushered him into the apartment. "Whoa, looks like I got good timing." He nodded at Buffy and stuck his hand out to the person closest to him. "Hi, Jim McAllister. Buffy's partner."

"Hi, Jim. Dawn, Buffy's sister. Nice to meet you." Dawn shook his offered hand and turned to point out Kennedy. "This is Kennedy Whitman, and the stuffy, tweedy guy is Rupert Giles."

Jimmy nodded to the other two and looked between Dawn and Buffy. "Uh, sisters. Stranger and stranger."

"Hey," Buffy said indignantly, "What's that supposed to mean?"

The smile played at the corner of his lips as he answered, "Just gonna hafta rethink my stance on you being hatched from an egg, Cupcake."

Buffy dismissed the jibe and started ushering people to their rooms. "Let's get you three settled and then we can talk shop or whatever."

Nate followed his partner to the back of Gumpie's. Sitting with his back to the rear wall, he looked out over the place. He and Pete were the only two that were here at this time of the day. The lunch rush had ended over an hour ago and as Nate looked at his watch, he knew Happy Hour was at least an hour and a half away.

The pub wasn't really a cop bar. Not in the traditional sense. Few blues came in and the only other cops that entered the establishment were D's. The reason it was frequented by his partner and himself was still a mystery to the man. The décor was wood on top of wood and the light available hung from dingy fixtures spaced sporadically throughout the pub. Place is a total dive. Maybe it's the burgers. They've got the best burgers in Midtown. Maybe that's it.

They had placed their orders when the doors to the entrance swung out letting the bright afternoon sun briefly illuminate the grimy interior. Two brunettes and a redhead walked in and Nate's mouth dropped open a little when he recognized the redhead. Stupid cunt's bitch. Why the fuck is she here?

He watched the redhead and the two she had come in with order drinks. His mouth droped open further when the two brunettes sauntered over to the jukebox and began gyrating to a slow R&B song. He ignored the questions his partner was asking and stood to confront the two on the dance floor.

He was halfway there when the redhead stepped in his way. He back-peddled slightly as he looked at Willow. A frisson of fear washed down his spine. Her smile was cruel and predatory. Are her—nah, there's no way someone's eyes can be black.

"Hello, detective," the witch purred.

It was all she said before turning towards the door. She looked over her shoulder, crooked a finger and motioned for him to follow her. It felt as though someone had dumped a bucket of ice water down his back as the terror rolled through his stomach. He tried to not move; struggling against unseen hands that grasped his upper arms, as he was frog-marched outside to the waiting woman.

Where's Pete? He should be coming. Saving me from…whatever the hell is going to happen? Why can't I—

Nate's thoughts ceased when his body slammed untouched against the brick building.

He glanced out of the corner of his eye. The door to the pub swung out and the two that were dancing approached. Not Pete. Oh shit! Oh shit! This is gonna get worse.

Willow's senses danced as Kennedy and Dawn closed the distance between them. She stopped them with a look. "You two stay put. I've got this," Willow said. Least their smart enough to listen. She turned her attention back to the detective.

Nate registered her voice. It was silky, but held an edge. Implications of severe pain were carried with her tone as she chided, "You know who I am. Buffy told me what happened yesterday. Shame on you, detective. You crossed a line—one I don't ignore. You made me cranky. It's not good to make me cranky."

He flinched as her hand came to rest on the right side of his head. Her breath warmed his cheek as she leaned in to continue, "This is my first and only warning. If my lover comes home and has one more bad word to say about you, Jimmy won't have a chance to touch you."

Transfixed he watched arcs of electricity dance across her face. Her hair grew darker, nearly black, as she spoke. I'm gonna die. She's gonna…and no one will—

Our father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name— The prayer was cut short by a sharp slap to his face. Shit! That hurt!

Willow grinned as his eyes refocused. A new wave of panic and terror showed in his expression. She could feel the anger crackling through her system, but was able to control it. She knew her eyes were black and her hair was growing darker by the second, but she didn't care. She was here to make a point and put the fear of any god or goddess that he believed in into this jerk.

As the smile on the woman's face widened, he felt the sweat seep through his undershirt, staining his button up.

"Now you're going to be a good little homophobe and call your boss and get them to drop any and all corrective action against Detective Summers and her partner. If, in the next three hours, Buffy isn't telling me that she and Jimmy can go back to work tomorrow, we'll be having another conversation. Do you understand?"

Nate could only nod as the sweat dripped from his nose and splattered on the front of his shirt. He knew she saw his answer. He tensed as he waited for the other shoe to drop.

When all she did was turn and walk away, his shock increased. The girls she arrived with followed her like dutiful hounds. As they disappeared around the corner, his muscles went slack. He crumpled to the dirty, sunlit alley floor. He couldn't bring himself to care about the wet spot growing on the crotch of his slacks.

Part 7

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