Phoenix, Arizona - November 1997
Mulder sat at a table in the dingy all-night diner nursing his orange juice. His cholesterol special of eggs, hash browns, fried bacon and a side of white toast coated with butter was settling in his stomach. This pretending to be dead stuff was for the birds. He glanced at his watch, five o'clock which meant that it was seven o'clock out east. Arizona did not change from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time, so if he was wrong it was eight in D.C. and Scully should still be at home. He was anxious to get back on the road, only about six more hours to go.
He finished his orange juice followed by the little bit of coffee left in his cup. He placed enough money on the table to cover both the meal and a tip for the waitress before leaving the diner and walking to the phone booth in the parking lot.
He deposited enough coins to cover the call, he could not very well use his Bureau calling card at the moment. He did know Scully's pin number, but it was better not to leave any trail whatsoever. Someone somewhere got a printed, detailed summary of the credit card calls made and they would be looking for a little slip up like Mulder using Scully's number.
"Hello," she said, answering on the third ring.
Placing a handkerchief over the mouthpiece, he did his best to disguise his voice. "Doctor Dana Scully," he said. "It's George Hale."
He could almost hear her hesitation on the other side of the phone. He wanted to shout, "it's me Scully, talk to me," but that would have ruined the attempted disguise. "Yes, Mr. Hale," she said finally and Mulder let out the breath he had been holding.
"I have some information for you. I have arranged for you to meet me in Los Angeles this evening."
"That's short notice, Mr. Hale."
"I think you will find the trip useful, Doctor."
"All right, Mr. Hale, I will be there tonight." He was grateful she asked no further questions and if he timed his call correctly, one of the Gunmen would be delivering her plane ticket any minute now.
He hung up with Scully without further ado and opened the bifolding phone booths doors. He squinted as he stepped out into the Arizona sunlight. He patted his shirt down, but realized his shades were still in the car. He had already refueled his Cutlass Supreme so he was ready to go. If all went well, he would be in Los Angeles before noon. He could find a hotel near the airport and crash until he had to meet Scully at the airport.
Los Angeles, California 19 hours later
Frohike had not given Scully a clue about why she was flying to Los Angeles on such short notice. All she had gotten out of him besides the airplane ticket was his usual harmless flirtation. Even at eight in the morning he was on top of his game enough to flirt with her.
She exited the runway after the nearly six-hour flight, her bag in hand. She had grown proficient at quick less is more packing over the past four plus years as Special Agent Dana Scully, partner to Special Agent Fox Mulder. Flying by the seat of his pants was not abnormal for Mulder, neither were spontaneous trips on a hunch.
She found the first United ticket counter as Frohike's note had indicated she should do and proceeded outside. As far as she knew she was not being followed. She should not be, even if someone had bugged her telephone. George Hale was a name Mulder had used in the past to telephone information into Scully when they had been for whatever reason not working the same case. The name was on record as being an informant, and Scully did currently have some open cases.
She spotted the car sitting at the curb, engine idling with the lights off, the silhouette of a man seated at the wheel visible through the windshield. At close to midnight there were no other cars on the departures level. The trunk was automatically opened and Scully placed her bag inside, entering the passenger seat after she'd closed the trunk.
It had been weeks since she had seen Mulder and she could not help but be relieved at seeing him alive and looking well. She planted a friendly kiss on his cheek. She was a little speechless, unsure of what to say. She had no idea why she was here, why he had risked calling her when he had arranged with the Gunmen to get her here, but it seemed wrong to pump him for answers upon first sight.
"So, how have you been," she asked as she fastened her seatbelt.
"Not bad. I've spent some time down south, New Mexico. You know me."
"Right, let me guess, Roswell was among your stops."
He smirked, she could see it even in the dimly lit car. "You know me too well, Scully."
"Skinner suspects," she said, focusing on her hands in her lap.
"Skinman always was pretty perceptive, Scully. I'll make a deal with you. You don't laugh at me when I tell you why we're here and I'll come back to Washington with you and we can work on getting this mess straightened out once and for all."
"Deal," she said quickly.
"I don't much care for being dead, as much fun as it has been being able to go around and do things. For the first time in years I've felt a sense of freedom that I haven't in a long time."
"I wouldn't be so sure of that, Mulder. If Skinner suspects, others undoubtedly do, too, despite my positive ID." They were quiet as he drove out of the airport area and onto a highway, heading south. She had assumed at this time of night they would be stopping somewhere. "Where are we going, Mulder?"
"A town south of Los Angeles called Sunnydale. Langly passed on some information to me he thought I might be interested in. And I wanted you along."
"I've never heard of it."
"Well, it's small, but University of California has a campus there, so it's not that small. Lots of interesting things have been happening there over the years. One in particular recently got the Gunmen's attention."
"Okay. So what makes you interested in any of this?"
"Well, the Gunmen never told me anything about this town until the day after Halloween. It seems it's a hotbed of unexplainable phenomena, which would have interested me of course. Until now, though, I've always had my hands full with Bureau work and I don't think Skinner would authorize us coming out to Sunnydale, California to investigate some demons."
"No, Mulder, and I'm not sure why exactly I've been invited along."
"I want us both to talk to the people involved in this latest bit of activity. This is the type of thing, believe it or not Scully, I want you with me on. I know no one realizes it, they don't give you credit, but you help keep me grounded. And I know what type of thing I especially need that for."
"So are you going to tell me what we're investigating, or are you going to keep me in the dark entirely, figuratively and literally."
He glanced at her, tossing her his charming Mulder smile, one she knew all too well but it still worked on her. "Would I do that," he quipped lightly as he changed lanes. "I sort of assumed you'd be wanting to get some shuteye since you've been up since early this morning."
"And you haven't?"
"I got into LA at about noon, got myself a nutritious and delicious fast food lunch, checked into a fleabag motel and slept until I had to get you. So I'm fresh as a daisy."
"Great," she said and turned to look out the window.
Sunnydale, California - The Next Day
The next afternoon after spending the day chasing loose ends Mulder drove them to Sunnydale High School. The information the Gunmen had provided him on the actual event was vague at best. The complete file the boys had on the town was set to arrive sometime today. Until then he had to talk to someone who might know what was going on and the Gunmen had said the person to talk to was at the high school.
So far Scully seemed to believe this was another of his wild goose chases, and he was beginning to wonder if it was not himself. Only one parent of a child who had changed into their costume was home and willing to talk to them. The mother of one Bradley Johnson unfortunately had little information to offer them. She had told them something they had not known before, high school students had been responsible for taking the children around trick-or-treating.
"Please tell me we're not going to a high school, Mulder."
"I could tell you that, but it'd be a lie," he said, offering her a heart stopping smile. "Come on, you know you always wanted to go back."
"No, I can't say that I have."
"We need to talk to someone here."
"Talking to a high school principal, Mulder, is not the way to be discreet. You are supposed to be dead, remember?"
"Yeah, I remember, Scully," he said, opening the driver's door of the car and getting out. He buttoned the top button of his suit coat after smoothing down his tie. His eyes scanned the school's exterior. There were some students sitting on the grass outside of the school. He glanced at his watch, it was late enough in the day school should be about letting out. Perhaps it already had and the students visible were stragglers or waiting for rides home. "Is it just me or do some of these high school students look older than we did?"
"It's not just you, Mulder," she said and Mulder could tell he was pushing his luck.
"All right, let's go visit this librarian."
"A librarian? You brought me across the country on a moment's notice to have a conversation with a high school librarian?"
"Ah, Scully, but that's not all he is from what the Gunmen's research indicates."
"A school librarian. You can't possibly think he's behind any of this."
Mulder laughed, running his fingers through his hair, stopping to check in the reflection of the car's paint to make sure he had not mussed it up. "No, I don't think that, Scully. But I do believe he has some information."
"I can't wait to hear it."
Mulder dropped the car keys into his pocket and started walking in the direction of the school's main entrance. "You coming or not, Scully?"
"I guess. I've come this far I might as well. Did Frohike know you were bringing me to a high school?"
"He sure did," Mulder said with a wide smile as he held open a door letting Scully and a couple of students come out before he stepped inside. "He knew I'd get here eventually anyway."
"Excuse me," he asked two girls who were in the hallway. "Could you tell me which way the library is?"
The two girls glanced at each other and Mulder wondered what the look was for. The redhead shrugged and then the blonde spoke. "Sure, I'm headed there so you can just follow me. Is Giles in trouble or something," she asked.
"What would make you think he was in trouble?"
"I don't know, your suit, the way too serious look on her face," the blonde said, gesturing to Scully. "You're cops, right?"
"No, we're not cops," Mulder replied unable to hold back the look he gave Scully at the girl's assessment of her look.
"We don't get too many people coming in here wanting to talk to Giles," the redhead said.
"No big. It's none of my business anyway. But he's not in any trouble, right?"
"I assure you, Miss, he's in no trouble," Mulder said.
"You can just call me Buffy. And you are," she said with a flirtatious smile. She had a sucker in her hand and happened to place it in her mouth at the same time that she smiled.
"Mulder. And my partner here is Scully," he said, gesturing to Scully who was rolling her eyes at the high school girl's flirtations. In truth, Mulder thought it amazing not only was he going to meet Rupert Giles, but the very girl the Gunmen seemed to believe was some sort of demi-god. How many Buffy's could there be at the school?
"I thought you said you weren't the police."
"We're not police, Buffy," he said his smile widening in amusement at her flirtation. "We're FBI agents, but we're here off the record so to speak."
"Oh. And you want to talk to Giles? That's cool. I'm sure you'll make his day. He loves talking to anyone who will listen to what he has to say."
"Great," he said, following her to the library. He pushed the door open, letting her and Scully pass through. The redhead trailed behind. "What," he said to Scully in response to the look she gave him once the redhead had walked past them. "Just being nice, never know where we might get information from."
"Right, Mulder. Do the words jail bait mean anything to you?"
"She's not at all my type, even if she was over eighteen."
"She's so totally your type, Mulder. Petite, perky and blonde with a petite brain."
"Hey, I resent that."
"But you're not arguing with me, so you know I'm right."
"You know you're the only woman for me, Scully. The only reason I go after that type is to try and repress my desire for you," he said his face serious as he looked around the library. It was not difficult to figure out the man in the tweed jacket and glasses with the thinning, graying hair was the librarian. Mulder approached the counter just as the man spoke to the blonde who had identified herself as Buffy.
"Buffy, you're late."
"Sorry, Giles," she said simply. She did not seem too concerned to Mulder about being late. This led Mulder to believe that this girl was, in fact, the girl the file referenced.
"Yes, well, you are here now so we can begin shortly," Giles said and then finally seemed to notice there were others in the library.
Mulder cleared his throat and extended his hand across the counter. "Mr. Rupert Giles?"
"Yes, may I help you?"
"My name is Fox Mulder and this is my partner, Dana Scully. We're with the FBI, but I'm actually here for personal reasons not business. We're not here in any official capacity."
The librarian frowned as he removed his glasses, cleaning them with a handkerchief. "What is this in regards to, Agent Mulder is it?"
"Yes, Mulder. It's about the events on Halloween."
"I'm not sure what you mean."
"I think you do know, Mr. Giles. I have it on good authority that not much preternaturally goes on in this town without you knowing about it. My sources tell me that this town got turned into real ghosts and goblins. They also tell me that you always seem to be nearby when things go down. You and your student here, if I'm not mistaken"
A look passed between librarian and student and Mulder knew he was not off base. Just who and what exactly the girl was, Mulder was not sure. He would have to wait and see what the rest of the Gunmen's file said. But the boys had made it sound like they would want him to get her autograph. From the looks of her, they'd probably want a lipstick print from her rather than a handwritten autograph.
"I'm not sure who your sources are, Agent, but I assure you I had nothing to do with what happened."
"I did not suggest you did, I wanted to talk to you. Get some information. And Buffy if she's available, with you or her parents present of course. Though again, we're here unofficially." He panned to the blonde who was seated at one of the tables with no books in front of her. She was here for a reason, it sounded as though the two had an appointment of some kind yet she just sat there as if she was in no hurry. "As I said, there is no official FBI investigation, but I'm interested in them."
"Well, I suppose I could walk you through the places once I'm done here this afternoon."
"Was anyone hurt during the time that the people became their costumes?"
"Unfortunately, yes, there were a fair number hurt with a few not recovering from their injuries."
"I'll want to see where those life ending injuries occurred."
"And what, Agent, makes you think I know?"
"Call it a hunch, Mr. Giles. Just call it a hunch." He glanced again at the blonde. "Was Buffy one of the students taking children around? Maybe she could show us around as well."
"Buffy," Giles called out.
"Yeah, Giles," she said her eyes darting between the three adults.
"These agents would like to be shown some of the places where the events occurred on Halloween. Perhaps you and Angel could show them, since you were both there." He turned his attention back to Mulder. "I was here at the library, you see. I only heard about the events from Willow here," he said, gesturing to the redhead, "when she came to me for help."
"She did not change into her costume then?"
"Well, she did," Giles said, an amused grin coming to his face. "She was a ghost. Scared the daylights out of me walking through the wall as she did." He pointed to a wall. "That one there."
"And you, Buffy," Mulder asked his attention on the blonde. "What were you that night?"
"I was an eighteenth century lady of station. I've never felt so helpless in my life," she murmured. "It was terrible. I could have died," she added and Mulder saw her visibly shudder. He glanced at Scully who seemed to notice it too.
"Well, the women back then were generally helpless," Scully said, Mulder knew she was trying to comfort the girl.
"Yeah, I guess," she said her eyes not meeting theirs. "Anyway, sure, I can take you around this evening. If you find the Bronze, it's a club, and meet me there about seven o'clock, I'll have the group of us together that were there that night."
"Great Buffy, we appreciate it." Mulder turned to look at Scully. "Any questions, Scully?"
"No, Mulder," she said her arms folded over her chest. "I think you're managing quite well on your own."
"Great. So, seven o'clock at a club called the Bronze. You're not going to stand us up are you?"
Buffy's eyes widened. "No. Not unless I can help it. Giles," she said a note of panic in her voice.
"She works, Agent Mulder, sometimes she's asked last minute to put in extra time."
"I can make sure Xander, Willow and Cordelia are there, so even if I get," she paused and glanced at Giles again which did not escape Mulder's notice, "delayed they can show you. They were all there. Cordelia didn't change. Will," she said, turning her attentions to the redhead. "Can you have Angel meet you there, too? You and Angel are the only two who were yourselves the whole time."
"Well, besides Cordelia, but," Willow said glanced at Mulder and Scully. "You'll find Cordelia thinks only about herself and how traumatic the whole experience was to her."
"Interesting," Mulder said though Scully did not look as though she found any of it interesting.
"Yes," Giles interjected. "We came to the conclusion that those who rented or bought their costumes from a new place this year, Ethan's, were the only ones who changed."
"Is this Ethan still around?"
"No," Giles said and Mulder could not help but pick up on the note of concern and frustration in the man's voice. "No, I'm afraid he's no longer here."
"But the shop is, right? We can take a look at that?"
"Sure, I can take you there. I'll tell you about my end of it."
"Great," Mulder said, wondering why all of the sudden the man seemed more cooperative. "I'm looking forward to it. My friends, the sources I told you about, they've been following you and your town here for quite a while. Lots of unexplained phenomenon going on here, some preternatural in nature, lots of missing persons or deaths."
"Yes, Sunnydale is an interesting town, Agent Mulder. Life here is never dull."
"That's interesting you say that, Mr. Giles. I noticed that you've only recently come to America let alone Sunnydale."
"Yes, you are correct, Agent Mulder. It was time for me to get out of England."
Mulder pursed his lips together and nodded his head. He suspected there was far more to it than that, but it was better not to say anything and risk pissing off the informants. "I understand that. I'm doing a bit of that myself right now. A break from the Bureau I mean. My sources hold Buffy here in high regard. So I hope she's not delayed tonight."
"Um, Giles, if you're going to be a minute, can I go back to my locker?"
"What? Your locker? Oh yes, of course, go on ahead," he said and Buffy and Willow both left the library. Giles turned his attentions to Mulder and Scully. "Agents, you'll find Buffy is not your normal girl. I don't know what your sources have told you about her."
"Well, I don't know much, Mr. Giles, to be honest. The complete file should be waiting for us at the motel when we go back there tonight. But it was implied that your student is rather special."
"She is, very. She still has a lot to learn, but she's exceeded even my expectations so far."
"Mulder has implied that she's something like a superhero, Mr. Giles. Surely you don't expect us to believe that," Scully interjected.
"I suppose, Agent, it might be hard for you to believe. I take it you are the doubting Thomas of the duo?"
"Something like that, but it's more that she's just a girl. In high school no less."
"Well, yes," Giles said with a nod. "If it were up to me she would not be a student, but she can be rather tenacious when it comes to something she wants. Unfortunately, she wants to act like a normal girl her age."
"Yes, I could see where that would be unfortunate," Scully said skeptically. "How dare she want to act her age or want to fit in?"
"Yes, Agent, I suppose it might sound callous or unfeeling, but you're dealing with forces and traditions that are older than civilization as we know it. I grant her more leniency than I am supposed to."
"How nice of you," Scully replied dryly. Mulder placed a hand around her forearm.
"Mr. Giles. Perhaps you could show us that shop now? And tell us what you know about the evening. I'd appreciate it. My partner here is always the skeptic, but before we get her sidetracked on your treatment of the girl I'd like to get onto the facts of the case."
"I thought you said you were here off the record, unofficially, Agent Mulder? I won't help the FBI in an official capacity."
"It is unofficial, Mr. Giles. Nothing we see or hear will be reported to anyone. I'm here to settle my own curiosities, nothing more."
"And your partner? She doesn't seem as open to this type of thing as you are."
"No, she's not, but it's situations like this that I need her most, Mr. Giles. If it weren't for her the past five years I would have flown off half-cocked so many times only to get myself or others killed."
"Very well then," he said, looking at his watch. "I suppose we can go. I'll stop by Buffy's locker on the way and let her know she has the afternoon off."
"She works for you," Scully queried and Mulder was a little surprised at her skepticism toward the man. In fact, if Mulder knew anything about Scully this man was in-line with her type of man. Not that Mulder knew that much about what her type of man was exactly.
"Well, yes, we work together would be a more accurate assessment of our situation."
"At the library?"
"Among other places, yes, Agent. I suggest we go before someone ventures in looking for a book or wanting to study here and delays us further."
"By all means," Scully said uncrossing her arms, dropping them to her sides.
"Better yet," he suggested as he led Mulder and Scully out the doors. "Perhaps, Agent Mulder you would like to accompany Buffy and I can show Agent Scully the shop and answer her questions about my end of things."
"That sounds good," Mulder said and caught the look in Scully's eye that suggested he was playing with fire. He merely shrugged. "Thanks for the offer."
Scully looked around the abandoned store while the librarian told his portion of the evening's events. Remnants of the shattered statue Mr. Giles had mentioned were still present on the floor. Whoever owned the store was not in that big a hurry to rent it out again apparently. Mulder was off to a cemetery with the girl at the librarian's insistence, which Scully was a little curious about. It made her a little nervous, too. Not that she thought Mulder would do anything illegal, but sometimes he was not the most rational person around. Particularly when a cute blonde was in the picture. She could not worry about that now, though, Mulder was counting on her to get information.
"So this Ethan Rayne, did he choose your town because he knew you, Mr. Giles," she asked.
"No. That is to say I do not believe so. He would have known that I would have stopped him."
"And this card," Scully said, running a finger along the business card's edge, "you believe this was for you?"
"Yes. I knew Ethan years ago and I'm afraid he has not outgrown his need for practical jokes. I'm sure he was merely letting me know he would be back again one day with a new scheme."
"And you have no idea where he might have gone?"
"No, I'm afraid not. Back to England perhaps," Giles said with a shrug. "Miss Scully, I've been cooperative with you and I know Buffy will be this evening as well. I'm curious though why exactly this is of interest to you. Sunnydale has been the sight for much unexplained phenomenon since I've been here and our local police department barely notices."
"Agent Mulder and I investigate the unexplainable, Mr. Giles, that's what we do. His sources told him about Halloween, your student and you. I'm here at his request."
"And this is off the record, yes? The principal would be none too happy to know that I've spoken to a federal agency about this. Not that I particularly care what Principal Snyder thinks, but he's hard enough on Buffy as it is."
"I'm not sure really," Giles admitted. He removed his glasses and cleaned them, something Scully noticed the librarian did a lot. "I wish I knew. Sometimes I think that he knows who and what Buffy is and that he's hard on her in an attempt to interfere with her calling." He shrugged as he placed his glasses on once again. "He is not a very good principal, I will tell you that. He does not like children and he has no patience for them. He sees them as no better than cattle if you ask me."
"So," Scully said, retrieving a piece of the statue from the floor. She pocketed it to analyze it later though there did not seem to be anything special about the material. "Why exactly did you send my partner to the cemetery, Mr. Giles?"
"Well, he seems to be a believer, where you do not. I sense he knows more about Buffy than he is telling me. Whoever Agent Mulder's sources are, they are well informed and have prepared him for the extraordinary. I thought it might help him to see Buffy in action, to see what Buffy comes up against day in and day out."
"So you've put my partner in danger," Scully asked not at all liking that idea.
"No, Miss Scully. No more danger than he would be walking around Sunnydale at night as a whole. Buffy will protect him if he happens to get in the way and will bring your partner with her to the Bronze when she's done with her sweep of the area."
"What if I wanted to see her in action?"
"Well, by all means then, Agent, let's go. You wanted to come here and to hear my end of the ordeal. I apologize I am unable to tell you more. I do not know exactly what Ethan hoped to gain, other than complete chaos. Buffy almost died that night," Giles admitted. "That's twice now that I've come close to losing her."
That statement did not make Scully feel better about Mulder being out in a cemetery while this girl was nearby doing whatever it is she did. "She doesn't seem to be worse for wear."
"No, she's not. At least outwardly. She has Angel to help her, I suspect she talks to him more than any of us."
"A boy named Angel," she asked picturing someone who was not at all an angel in her mind. Scully had found over the years, through both personal and work related experiences, that people with names like Faith, Angel, Chastity and Hope usually behaved differently than their names suggested.
"Yes, he is Buffy's boyfriend," Giles said.
Scully could not help but pick up on Mr. Giles' hesitation but chalked it up as perhaps dislike for the boy. Scully smiled slightly remembering what high school boys were like. If Mr. Giles was as fond of his student as he seemed Scully could see where he would feel overprotective.
Scully had no long term relationships to speak of, in high school or since. She had friends and was somewhat popular, but she was always interested in science and data. Two things that combined made for a rather dull social life. Mulder was the closest she had and that was a partnership not a relationship. She had never really thought about Mulder in that way until recently. His time away from her and the Bureau had made her see him in a new light. Mulder did not need Scully with him on this trip, but he had wanted her here and so she came. He had wanted her objectivity, true, and this little probe seemed as good excuse as any to spend some time with him before he rejoined the living and the Bureau again.
"Well, I think I have seen everything I need to see here," Scully said as she looked into one of the boxes that were left behind. Her gaze fell to the wooden dress form near a wall. "Is this the dress form that Buffy's dress was on?"
"I can't say for certain, but I have not seen any others here so I would presume it is the one."
"I suppose I could take it with me, to run some tests on it."
"I don't think you'll find anything, but you're welcome to take it with you Miss Scully. The spell came from the statue not the actual costumes."
"I understand that, Mr. Giles, but still just to be certain I'd like to have a look at it."
"Certainly," Giles said simply and walked to where she stood. "Allow me to carry it out to your car." He glanced at his wristwatch and then at her. "That is if you were ready to go. It's almost time for you to be leaving for the Bronze."
Scully liked his confident tone and took it to mean he had no doubt that his student and her partner would be waiting for her at the Bronze. "You won't be joining us, Mr. Giles?"
"No, I'm afraid not. I stay away from the Bronze as much as possible, too many children most of whom I see enough during the day as it is at school."
Scully laughed lightly. "I can't say that I blame you. Is it the only place for the students to go?" She started for the door and Giles took hold of the wooden form.
"Yes, though I can't say I'm not thankful. I know where to find Buffy if I need her most of the time at any rate. There is a movie house of course, but for dancing and socializing there is nowhere else for those under twenty-one to go. And I don't know in the time I've known Buffy she's gone to many movies, but she does like music, dancing and seeing her friends."
"I think most kids that age do, Mr. Giles," Scully said, holding the store's door open so he could pass through with the dress form. "I guess I need to bring that back to the motel room before going to the club."
"Yes, I would recommend it. I don't know why anyone would want to steal it, but in Sunnydale it's better to be safe than sorry."
Scully helped him put the form in the rental car's trunk and then extended her hand to him. "Thank you, Mr. Giles, for showing me around and for taking us at our word that this is off the record. I'm sure this can't be easy for you, particularly if Mr. Rayne is a friend of yours."
"It's fine, Agent. Have a good evening."
"Thanks, Mr. Giles, you too."
Buffy made her way through the twelfth and last cemetery of the night with Agent Mulder by her side. Two vamps had risen from fresh graves and she had dusted them with little effort on her part. She slid her stake into her coat pocket and gave the FBI agent a slight shrug.
Angel had not shown up tonight, so she hoped Willow had gotten word to him to meet her at the Bronze. Once she thought she had felt him nearby, but he had not shown himself. The feeling was gone almost so quickly she thought she might have imagined it.
"So you do this every night. It's amazing," Mulder said, offering her a smile. She noticed he had left his sport coat off and exchanged it for an overcoat. Buffy noticed because he looked equally good in both, he sure knew how to dress.
"I haven't thought of it as being very amazing, but yeah I do this every night. Twelve cemeteries. Sometimes I spend more time in some or don't get to any if there haven't been any new burials."
"I just can't believe it. You know I was in LA a few years ago to investigate some killings that appeared vampire related. Any evidence was destroyed in a fire, though, so any proof there was burned up with the fire."
"Really," Buffy said, genuinely curious. She wondered how long ago it had been. To think there had been another Slayer then, one who obviously had died.
"Yes, in fact it was three years ago, almost exactly."
"Three years ago," she repeated. She was thirteen, had no idea what a Slayer was or that she would receive the calling when the one at that time died.
"You were probably in middle school then," he said with a slight sigh.
Buffy turned her head and pushed some hair back behind her ear. She felt so young, strangely more than she did around Giles. Probably because Agent Mulder was a hottie where Giles was Giles. Not that Agent Mulder was as old as Angel was, but still it was different. And here he was bringing up her age and what grade she was in when he was here investigating vampires. She hated being made to feel so young. Especially since she had done and seen things that made her feel so much older than sixteen and a half. "Yeah, seventh grade. I don't suppose you have to talk to many high school students."
"No, not normally. You'd be surprised though, Agent Scully and I have talked to a few. Few could compare to you, though. My sources told me you were special, but I had no idea what they meant. I have a feeling they're going to be quite jealous that I not only met you but was able to come along with you tonight. See you in action."
"Well, I just slay vampires and demons. No big. It's what I do."
"But you save lives."
"Not that anyone notices, but yeah, I do. Sometimes I don't save any immediate lives, but every demon or vamp I slay means someone doesn't die at their hands."
"How long have you been doing this, Buffy?"
"About a year or so I guess."
"Well, speaking as a man who has been working on cases for the last five or so years that no one else wanted to touch, you're probably making more of a difference than you know. Obviously Mr. Giles notices that you're making a difference."
"Well, yeah, but Giles doesn't count. I mean, he's Giles. It's his job to notice."
Mulder laughed lightly. "So tell me about the term Hell Mouth. I saw the reference, but don't know exactly what it means."
"Well, basically, it's like this place for everything bad and evil and it's here in Sunnydale. The town was built on top of an Indian burial ground. I don't know if that has anything to do with it or not. But it's a portal to a warped dimension that all the baddies want to unlock. And if they do, they will unleash hell on Earth."
"Well, you can be sure even after Scully and I leave Sunnydale, Buffy, that you have at least one more person who will notice and be thankful."
"There are people who really know about me? Your sources?"
Mulder smiled. Buffy liked Agent Mulder's smile. She normally didn't flirt with old people, but he was cute and he knew who she was. It was kind of nice, she always had to pretend around adults. Even her mom.
"Yes, three of them. They're friends of mine more than they are sources. I go to them for help sometimes and they come to me for help, or pass along things that spur their interest. Like what happened here on Halloween."
"I can't say it's the craziest thing that's happened, but it was pretty crazy. I dressed up as a late seventeen hundreds lady of station and lost all of my ability to fight or god to even think when Ethan's spell took effect. I almost died, literally seconds away."
"Talking about me and your near death experience, Slayer," Spike said from behind them. Buffy spun around instinctively, drawing the stake from her pocket without thought. "Who's the new beau? Didn't realize you and the poof had a falling out."
"Spike, what are you doing here?"
"Just out for a walk, luv."
The two stared one another down until Mulder cleared his throat lightly, his hands in the pockets of his coat. Buffy glanced from Spike to Mulder, her stake still at the ready. He did not look frightened, but he did not look overly confident either. "This is Spike, the one who was seconds away from killing me that night."
"You're a vampire then," Mulder said obviously interested. Buffy had dusted the two they had seen earlier almost before they had made their way out of their graves.
"What are you giving tours now, Slayer? If you're that hard up for cash, I have a few ideas to pass by you."
"I'm just interested in Buffy's work is all. No reason to insult the girl."
Spike scoffed and Buffy cringed. "If you had any idea what this girl has put me through since I've come to town you'd tell me I was too kind."
"Spike," Buffy interjected, not wanting the two to converse. "What do you want?"
"Nothing. I told you, I was just out for a walk, saw you here walking with someone else and thought I'd best check it out. I know how you run sort of hot and cold with Angel at times, so I was curious who was the reason for the coldness today."
Buffy opened her mouth to argue with him and then shut it. What could she say? Spike had not been in town that long, but long enough to know that Buffy and Angel did tend to get close, pull away, get close and pull away again. It was usually Buffy who did the pulling away because she accepted a date from someone else. She could not help it that she got tempted to go out with a human every once in a while.
"You don't strike me as the jailbait type," Spike said, tilting his head as he looked Mulder over. Buffy assessed him as Spike did this. He was dressed nicely in a pair of khakis and a blue dress shirt with a burgundy tie under his navy dress coat. His dark hair was cut nicely, short but not too short. His blue eyes were nice, but Buffy had to admit they were not nearly as nice as Spike's. Where that thought came from she did not know, but she glanced at Spike briefly and had to admit his eyes were nice. Buffy had to agree with Spike's assessment. Mulder was a hottie, but he definitely did not seem the type that would go for a girl Buffy's age.
Mulder chuckled lightly. "Not at all. As I said, I'm just interested in Buffy's work."
"Well, then, I guess I'll leave you to your work, Slayer. Ta," he said, turning away from them, the hem of his leather duster moving with his body.
"You don't stake him?"
"I've tried. Apparently, he wasn't in the mood for a fight tonight, because normally we can't run into one another without exchanging some blows."
"So am I going to get you in trouble with your boyfriend? Angel is it," Mulder asked, regarding her. Buffy felt her face grow warm, a sign that she was blushing. His eyes were nice, even if they were not as blue as Spike's, and he was looking at her. Buffy for a moment could believe he actually saw her, as Buffy Summers the girl, not as the Slayer or anything else.
"No, you won't get me in trouble. Spike just likes to cause problems."
"So he tried to kill you on Halloween? Why?"
"Because I'm the Slayer."
"No other reason?"
"Nope. It's part of the job. But it's in the fine print. He's killed two in the last century, so he's looking to add me to the notch of dead slayer's on his belt."
Buffy wondered if she had said too much, pushed his acceptance of what he had seen that night with the century remark. It was one thing to say he believed in vampires and another to come face to face with facts such as long life. "How nice. Does it ever get to you?"
"Sure it does. Every day. I actually died this year," she admitted coquettishly.
Mulder said something under his breath that sounded to Buffy like, "me too."
"What was that?"
"Oh nothing," he said. "So you died? You look pretty good for a corpse, Buffy."
She smiled brightly at his compliment starting them walking in the direction of the Bronze. "Well, my friend Xander and Angel happened to get there in time and resuscitated me."
"You're not kidding?"
"No, why would I joke about that?"
"I don't know. I just assumed it was a near death experience or something."
"Nope, a vampire killed me. I knew it, too, knew that he was going to kill me, I mean. Giles has all of these books, they tell prophecies and stuff. I overheard Giles and Angel talking about it, that I was going to die. I quit, you know, I mean I'm sixteen and I just wasn't ready to die. What girl my age would be? You're way older than me, right? Would you walk into a situation knowing you were going to die?"
"Well, I take that risk every day as an agent, Buffy, but that's not the same I guess. So you went ahead and faced the vampire anyway then?"
"Yes," she said, retelling him the story of that night. "I couldn't do it, quit and walk away. Maybe no one notices what I do, but they would notice if I didn't do it."
"You're wise beyond your years, Buffy. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not."
Buffy regarded him with a sidelong glance through lowered lashes. "I wonder that every day. Sometimes I get kinda mad at Giles. It's like he forgets I'm a junior in high school. He expects me to be all adult-like. Like going to the Bronze, the place we're meeting your partner at, he just doesn't get that I need to go out and dance sometimes."
"Right, well, we old guys can forget what it's like to be young sometimes."
Buffy giggled. "You're not that old, Agent Mulder. Not as old as Giles is anyway."
"Well, that's good to know, that you don't see me as being that old. I guess that means there's hope for me yet."
"Hope for you yet for what?"
He smiled widely, charmingly and Buffy sensed that he knew exactly what he was doing. Her Slayer senses weren't on alert or anything, but he was definitely working her. "Oh, I don't know, lots of things, Buffy."
"I'll bet you don't even dance," she said now that they were in the alleyway outside the Bronze.
"You would not lose that bet, Buffy. My partner has tried to get me to dance once or twice when we were on assignment that actually called for dancing."
"She's pretty," Buffy said and thought she saw a flash of agreement in his eyes. "Most guys would have taken advantage."
"What can I say? I'm just a nice guy. No advantage taking. Besides, it's Scully, she's been my partner for years now. But you're right, she is pretty."
"Partners could turn into more," she said with a slight smile despite it being none of her business. She paused to reach for money to pay the cover charge. Mulder placed his hand on her forearm. "No, allow me," Mulder said, paying for both of them.
"Thanks," Buffy said smiling coyly, pushing some hair back behind her ear. She glanced at his hand on her forearm and then met his eyes. "That's nice of you."
"My pleasure, Buffy. Thanks for an interesting evening."
"And it's not even over yet."
"I can't wait. Just don't tell Scully or she'll expect me to pay for her cover, too," he said with a wink and Buffy laughed.
They entered the Bronze. Buffy was used to the layout of the club, but she waited for a minute by the door to let Agent Mulder's eyes adjust to the club's dark interior.
"I see your partner," Buffy said, pointing in the direction of Scully. "And Willow, Xander and Cordelia are with her," she said.
Mulder placed a hand at the small of Buffy's back and she jumped slightly at the contact. "Sorry," he whispered. "It's habit."
"No, it's fine. I'm all for a guy acting gentlemanly."
"It'll be our secret," he said, leaning towards her to be heard over the music. "It's not a bad band."
"No, they're usually pretty good here. It's close enough to LA that they can get them to come down here. Since it's the only club in town, the bands are assured some decent money. Some bands are local, too."
"Hey Scully," Mulder said as they got to the table.
"Hey, Wills, Xander," Buffy said smiling. "Hi Miss Scully," she said keeping with how Mulder had told her to address him as Mister instead of Agent. "Cordelia," she said, acknowledging the brunette last.
"Hi Buffy. Mulder," Scully said.
"Can I get you all something to drink," Mulder offered.
"You're buying, Mulder," his redheaded partner asked.
"I'm feeling generous tonight."
"Lucky us," Scully said.
Buffy listened to the partners banter but her eyes scanned the Bronze looking for Angel. Mulder went to the bar to get drinks for everyone.
"He'll be here, Buffy," Willow whispered.
"You got a hold of him?"
"Yes, he said he would be here."
"Was he mad I had you call him?"
"He was a little confused, but he wasn't mad."
"Okay, good. I'm going to help Mr. Mulder carry our drinks," Buffy said, in part hoping to catch sight of Angel before he joined them at the table.
"Need some help," Buffy asked Mulder as she approached the bar.
"Hey there," he said, offering her a genuine smile. "I suppose I could use an extra hand if you're sure you don't mind."
"Just call me extra hand girl. I don't think your partner likes me very much," Buffy said as she turned placing her back against the bar, looking out into the club.
"Scully? She doesn't know you to not like you, Buffy. She's just a skeptic. I'm sure she would come up with some scientific explanation for everything I saw you do tonight."
"So why is she your partner then? Doesn't she get in the way of your work?"
"Actually, just the opposite and it's why I asked her to meet me here. We work out of D.C. and I happened to be nearby when I checked in with my friends and they mentioned your Halloween incident. Sometimes she's frustrating," he said, pausing to order the six drinks. "But overall, she keeps me honest, keeps my out there opinions in check."
"Yeah, but if you say she'd explain away things like what you saw tonight, what's the use in that. I mean, whenever anything on campus happens, the school board always blames it on gangs or drugs or gangs on drugs. I get kind of tired of having my work being swept under a rug."
"Well, Buffy, I think some people just prefer to believe the type of thing you deal with, and what I saw tonight, is just a product of nightmares."
"So you think Scully's pretty, huh," Mulder asked.
"Yeah, I mean, for a girl her age, sure. I love her hair."
"I'll let her know you said that, then I'm sure whatever you're picking up on that tells you she might not like you too much will go away. Your hair is nice, too."
"Thanks." Buffy laughed and turned to face him. She felt her face get warm once again at his compliment. "You're funny. You're nice. You know how to talk to me like I'm a person and not a kid. Thanks."
"You don't act like a kid and I saw evidence tonight that you're not a kid."
Buffy's senses picked up on Angel's presence at the same time the bartender placed the six drinks in front of Mulder. Buffy took two while Mulder paid for the drinks. She turned around again and scanned the room for Angel but did not see him right away. He was there, though, she knew it.
And sure enough as soon as she stepped away from the bar there he was looming large before her. "Who's he," Angel asked, inclining his head in Mulder's direction.
"Mr. Mulder," Buffy said simply. "Here, take these," she said, handing him the two cups she was holding. "Willow, Xander and Cordelia are over there sitting with Miss Scully." She turned back to the bar and grabbed two more cups while Mulder took the last two.
"Angel I guess," Mulder said simply. Buffy could see that the FBI agent was scrutinizing Angel. Not that she blamed him exactly Angel was obviously older than Buffy.
"The jealous type I take it."
"Just a little," Buffy said sardonically. "Doesn't like to admit it though."
"Most of us don't," Mulder said, his eyes following Angel as he made his way to the table where the others were. "He's older than you?"
"Yeah," Buffy said simply, not sure how else to expound on that without telling too much. "But he's not a creepy weird guy or anything," she added as they approached the table.
"Angel," Buffy said to her now brooding and somewhat suspicious boyfriend. It was not her fault that Agent Mulder was cute. "This is Mr. Mulder and Miss Scully, they wanted to talk to us about Halloween."
"Yes," Mulder interjected. "I learned about what happened, people turning into their costumes and came to find out more. I understand you were with Buffy most of the night."
"Yeah, as soon as the craziness started I headed to her house."
"So you weren't dressed as anything?"
Buffy and her three friends snorted softly and Angel just scowled. "No, Mr. Mulder, I was not dressed as anything."
"And you, Cordelia is it," Mulder said, addressing the brunette. "I understand you did not change into your costume either."
"No, but my costume got ruined. I was a cat you see and someone slashed up the arm of my leotard. It was terrible. I mean, I spent a lot of money on that costume and now it's ruined."
"Yes, I can see where that would be traumatic," Mulder said, rolling his eyes and winking at Buffy. At least she thought he winked at her. Oh boy! Angel saw it, too. She was really going to be in for some insaneness now. And this was not even her fault.
"Cordelia got her costume from Party City, though, not Ethan's," Willow offered.
Mulder nodded his head slightly making note of the redhead's comments. "So, Angel, I can imagine it must have been pretty weird for you to have to defend Buffy, worry about her."
Angel arched a brow, stealing a glance at Buffy. The unasked question was obvious, he knows?
"I was with her tonight while she made her rounds and I have to say I was impressed." Mulder turned to Scully. "I have to tell you, Scully, Frohike loves you and your kung-fu, he would be drooling over Buffy and her moves." Scully laughed but Angel did not. In fact, Buffy noticed that he looked furious.
"Let's not tell him about her moves then, Mr. Mulder," Angel said quietly but nonetheless threateningly.
Mulder held up his hands in resignation. "Hey, buddy, it's just a little inside joke is all, Scully and I have accumulated a few of them over the years." He paused realizing his explanation was not calming Angel. "Anyway, it must have been hard."
Angel clasped his hands together, focusing on the tips of his fingers for a minute. Buffy recognized this pose, he was thinking, dwelling on what could have happened. "It was. She had no idea who or what she was, or even when she was. It was frustrating. I'm not used to having to worry about her."
"You helped look after me," Cordelia interjected. "I mean, I could have been killed or, worse, raped. Who knows what some of those people would have been capable of?"
"That's true, Cordelia," Buffy said in a mock soothing tone.
"So had you met this Ethan Rayne fellow before, Angel?"
"No, if I had I would have told him not to sell that dress to Buffy."
"You didn't like it," Mulder said turning an assessing and scrutinizing gaze to Buffy. She glanced between the two men knowing she was blushing deeply. "I think she'd look pretty hot dressed as an eighteenth century lady of station."
"Mulder," Scully said in a cautioning tone. Buffy was glad Scully said something, the last thing she needed was Angel getting any more jealous tonight.
"No, she looked great," Angel said and Buffy smiled happily at the compliment. "But I like the regular Buffy, no hoop skirts, no corsets, no more layers than necessary, and not helpless."
"Angel," Buffy said secretly pleased but embarrassed that he would say that in front of the two adults.
"What? It's true. I mean not that I've seen under the layers or anything," he added with a questioning gaze.
"Hey, I agree with you," Mulder said. "I mean, not about Buffy in particular, but I'm all for today's fashions."
"Exactly," Angel said. Buffy could not help but laugh lightly at that. Agent Mulder could not realize that Angel had first hand knowledge of his fashion preferences. At least those dating back to the mid eighteenth century.
"Now I know why you haven't paid any attention to me since we arrived in this damn town. I need to put on a miniskirt and show off my breasts."
"Scully," Mulder said with a frown. Buffy noticed that the corner of his lips moved as if he was amused. Buffy cocked her head slightly as she regarded Agent Scully. Buffy was not sure how old she was exactly but she was pretty and she was not fat or anything. She could certainly get away with wearing whatever she wanted to wear. She certainly was not as old as Buffy's mom was. "I haven't been ignoring you. We're here to investigate remember. You don't need a miniskirt for me to notice you, but far be it from me to stop you if you'd like to try a new style."
Buffy shot Mulder a warning look. Scully obviously liked him and he liked her, but they weren't admitting it to one another. Buffy knew the symptoms too well from her own experience with Angel. But saying those things was not the way to tell her he liked her. "I think you look real nice, Miss Scully. I mean you're an FBI agent," she said, stressing the job title for Angel's benefit. "You have to dress kind of conservatively."
"Your FBI agents," Angel and Cordelia both asked at the same time.
Oh no, Buffy thought to herself, I forgot about Cordelia. "Yes, they are, but you can't tell anyone they were here. You got that Cordelia?"
"Yes, I understand. Why are you just telling me?"
"Because everyone else knows not to say anything."
Buffy heard the beginning chords of a slow song she loved. She stood from the stool and walked to Angel taking hold of one of his hands. "Want to dance," she said looking up into his brown eyes. She smiled a bit nervous afraid that he might say no.
"Sure," he said his brow furrowed slightly. She glanced at Mulder, giving him an encouraging nod.
She and Angel got out to the dance floor and Buffy smiled when she saw the two agents on the floor as well. "He asked her," Buffy said victoriously.
"What," Angel murmured, brushing his lips against her hair. Angel was not much of a dancer. Really they just sort of stood on the dance floor, held one another and moved a little to the music. It was enough for Buffy though. She got to be in Angel's arms for a few minutes and it was a place she liked to be. The band was smart, playing the wordless intro for a couple of minutes to give any couples that wanted to a chance to get on the dance floor.
Girl, you're looking fine tonight,
and every guy has got you in his sights
What you're doing with a clown like me,
is surely one of life's little mysteries
"Mister Mulder. He asked Miss Scully to dance. We talked about this earlier, dancing, and he said he never danced even when they've been on assignments where it might have been a good idea for them to dance. I think she's pretty, don't you?"
So tonight I'll ask the stars above,
"How did I ever win your love?"
What did I do?
What did I say,
to turn your angel eyes my way?
Angel glanced at the FBI agent in question. "Buffy, I'm not going to answer that question. If I say no you're going to ask me why and if I say yes you're going to get jealous. But they do look good together," he added quietly.
"See, that's what I thought when I saw them today. I don't know what their deal is but they're just partners. Can you believe that? I mean it's so obvious they should be more than that."
"Obvious to you a seventeen year old girl."
Well, I'm the guy who never learned to dance,
never even got one second glance
Across a crowded room was close enough,
I could look but I could never touch
"A seventeen year old girl who happens to be the Slayer."
So tonight I'll ask the stars above,
"How did I ever win your love?"
What did I do?
What did I say,
to turn your angel eyes my way?
"Okay, but still. Things aren't always as easy as that when you're an adult, Buffy."
"It should be," she said pouting slightly.
"Hey, don't pout."
Don't anyone wake me,
if it's just a dream
'Cause she's the best thing,
that's ever happened to me
"Well, it should be. I mean they're both single and attractive. They spend all this time together and they're here in Sunnyhell. Why not?"
"You think he's attractive?"
"Well, sure, in a clean cut FBI agent way," she said softly.
All you fellows, you can look all you like,
but this girl, you see, she's leavin' here with me tonight
"He has sources," she continued due to the foreboding silence that followed her admitting she thought Mulder was cute. He was, Buffy was only seventeen. It was a duty to notice cute boys, no matter how old they were.
"I'll bet he does," Angel said dryly.
"No, I mean he has sources who know who I am. Can you believe that? He says they will be jealous when he tells them he not only met me but went patrolling with me."
"You took him patrolling?"
There's just one more thing that I have to know,
if this is love why does it scare me so?
It must be something only you can see,
'cause girl I feel it when you look at me
She raised her head from his chest to look at his face. She saw a hint of hurt in his eyes, hurt that someone else had patrolled with her. Someone who could have caused Buffy to get hurt. "Giles told me to."
"We ran into Spike. So, if you hear from Spike that I was out with another guy, it was just Agent Mulder."
"I feel better already," Angel said glancing at the pair of FBI agents who were dancing on the floor.
"Anyway, isn't that neat about his sources?"
"Angel, come on. You don't think that's neat? Someone knows about me, someone recognizes what I do. I mean, that's cool right?"
"Sure, I can see why you'd think it's cool."
"But you don't think it is?"
"I don't like people knowing about you. I don't like knowing some FBI agent or his source is going to come in here, human and know who and what you are."
"Angel," she said softly taking a deep breath. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him lightly. "No worries, all right. I thought we were past the whole Ford issue."
So tonight I'll ask the stars above,
"How did I ever win your love?"
What did I do?
What did I say,
to turn your angel eyes my way?
"I know it's just hard. I haven't felt things in so long and now I do I'm afraid I'm going to lose you."
"I'm not going anywhere," she said drawing closer to him as the song was coming to an end. "Maybe they'll play another slow one."
The first song ended and another slow one was played on its heels. Scully could tell Mulder was uncomfortable, but this was the first time in their almost five-year partnership they had danced. She was not ready to relinquish him to the teenaged girls just yet. She had always assumed his lack of desire to dance was due to inability to dance, but at least to ballads he did just fine.
"So have you found whatever information you were hoping to find, Mulder," she said softly resting her head against his shoulder. It was a lover's position, suggesting closeness or intimacy but it seemed right tonight for some reason. Soon they would be back in Washington D.C., dealing with red tape and inquisitions. Tonight she just wanted to enjoy being near him again. And he smelled so good she noticed.
Into the midnight sun
Wheels go round and round
You're on my mind
Sleep alone tonight
Sendin' all my love
Along the wire
"Well, not really. I would love to come here for a year and just follow Buffy around. She's amazing, Scully. You should have seen her. In fact, tomorrow night I'd like you to come with me if she doesn't mind both of us tagging along."
"You're not really going to stay here for a year. Are you?"
"No, Scully, it was just a joke, there's so much stuff here going on. This Halloween bit is just one of many and I sense it's just the beginning. Forget aliens, Scully, Sunnydale is a hotbed for demon activity. And that girl over there," he said inclining his head toward Buffy Summers, "stops the demons from taking over."
"Oh come on, Mulder."
"Scully, see her in action and then scoff. Read what the boys say about her and then doubt. I'm telling you she's the real deal."
They say that the road
Ain't no place to start a family
Right down the line
It's been you and me
And lovin' a music man
Ain't always what it's supposed to be
Oh girl you stand by me
I'm forever yours-faithfully
"And it wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that she is seventeen, petite, blonde, and flirted with you."
"No, not at all. I think her boyfriend would rip my head off if given the chance."
"Yeah, he doesn't seem too sociable."
"That's an understatement. And he didn't seem to like me too well."
Under the big top world
We all need the clowns
To make us smile
Through space and time
Always another show
Wondering where I am
Lost without you
"Probably thought you were honing in on his territory, Mulder. He's older, surely you noticed that."
"Yeah, I did. But the librarian knows about them, so what am I supposed to do about it. Turn him into the local authorities without knowing that anything illegal is going on?"
"No, I wasn't suggesting that. You're right, Mr. Giles seemed to know about Angel and while I sensed he did not necessarily approve he did not mind them together either. As much as it should be, we're not her parents or her teachers; it's not our place to assume they're doing anything they shouldn't be doing. They don't come across as lovers."
"No, they don't. They seem like they're just getting started," Mulder agreed. "What do we come across as I wonder?"
And being apart ain't easy
On this love affair
Two strangers learn to fall
In love again
I get the joy
Of rediscovering you
Oh girl, you stand by me
I'm forever yours-faithfully
"What do you mean," she asked her heart racing a bit at where this conversation seemed to be headed. Once upon a time she would never have considered Mulder as anything more than a partner and perhaps friend. But now that they had been apart for the past couple of months, she realized that he was more than a partner. He was her life, she had given up so much for him and the X-Files. Looking back as she had the past few months at her sacrifices she found that she did not regret many, if any, of them.
"I don't know, Scully. I just wonder what these people here see us as. Two old people trying to stay young or what?"
"Maybe," she laughed. She closed her eyes, and perhaps it was the effect of the dancing, the romantic songs. Or perhaps it was merely having been away from him for so long and seeing him up and knowing he was okay. Whatever the reason she did not dwell on it and went with her gut. Scully leaned towards him her arms encircling his neck and kissed him.
Oh, oh, oh, oh-
Faithfully, I'm still yours
I'm forever yours
Her eyes fell closed unaware that the song had ended, concentrating instead on the tentative but nevertheless full kiss. They drew apart and she cleared her throat slightly embarrassed. Tucking a few strands of hair behind her ear she glanced at her shoes. "I think the song's over."
"Yeah, I guess so. We should go back to the table then," Mulder said softly. Scully saw the look he was giving her and decided it was best not to say anything. She did not want to deal with his teasing her right now, her feelings were too close to the surface and raw.
"Yes, we should. Let's go talk to some more high school kids."
"You don't miss it? High school," he clarified taking her hand as they walked to the table they were sharing with four high school students and the older, jealous, and brooding boyfriend of one of the students.
"No," Scully said without hesitation. "I miss Melissa and Bill but no I don't miss being that age."
"Me either," Mulder admitted and Scully glanced at him curiously. He rarely talked about his youth beyond Samantha.
"So you do know how to dance," Buffy said as soon as they approached the table. Scully took her seat and glanced at Mulder who stood behind her instead of sitting. Scully noticed a tone of smugness in the girl's voice and wondered just what the two of them had talked about while they were together this evening.
"Yeah," Mulder said dryly. Even without seeing his face, Scully could tell he was smiling.
"So what else would you like to know, Mr. Mulder," Xander asked. Clearly, the boy was excited about being involved in the fray. Scully could not help but smile with a low chuckle as she took a sip of her drink.
"Oh right, sorry," Mulder said placing a hand on the table. "Tell me what it was like? Do you remember anything while you were possessed by your costume?"
"Yeah," Xander offered quickly. "I remember everything. It was really weird. I mean I was there, I could hear and see everything going on, but I couldn't do anything. It was like I was inside my own body in a straight jacket and a gag."
"Here you go," Angel said returning to the table with a fresh drink for Buffy. Scully noticed the smile Buffy gave him and she believed her earlier assessment was correct. They were dating, but Scully could tell by their hesitancy that they were still in the early stages of a relationship. She hoped the young man could wait. Scully was not one to pursue statutory rapists, particularly when the victim was classified as a rape victim based solely on her age. Scully knew though the repercussions could be harsh if the wrong person got the idea that more than dating was going on.
"Thanks," Buffy said nestling her head against his chest.
"So you knew what was going on," Scully said.
"Yeah. I saw it all. I was a soldier, my cap gun turned into an M-16 and my camouflage T-shirt and olive cargo pants turned into the real deal military civvies. I knew I had to protect Buffy, though," he said offering Buffy a smile. Scully thought she heard a predatory-like growl emit from Angel but dismissed it. No human could make a noise like that. "And it was kind of funny, she wanted me to protect her not Angel," he said with a wry laugh. She heard the growl again and was not so quick to dismiss it until Mulder placed a hand on her shoulder and squeezed lightly. Angel's eyes were no longer brown, but were yellow.
"Well, you had a gun," Scully said cautiously not sure at all what was going on. But she knew the tone of the growl well enough to know that it was territorial. "It's natural that she would look to a man with a gun to offer her protection." The growling subsided and Mulder's hand at her shoulder loosened somewhat.
Angel's eyes were back to being the brown they had been a minute ago making Scully wonder if she had imagined the whole thing. She would ask Mulder later. He had picked up on something obviously as well.
"Right," Buffy quickly interjected. "That was actually what I was thinking."
"So you remember, too," Scully said.
"Yeah. It was bizarre. Inwardly, I was screaming at the girl I had become to defend herself, but she just wouldn't listen. It was like whoever I was or whatever possessed me didn't hear me. I was wussy girl with brown hair." She tilted her head back so she looked up at Angel and Scully saw her mouth move. Whatever she said, Scully could not hear it, but Angel apparently did because he nodded his head slightly with a grimace. He did not look happy and Xander looked a little frightened Scully noticed. Interesting.
"Mulder," she whispered.
"Later," he said simply.
"Chill, Angel, I'm not making moves on your girl."
"Like her being my girl stopped you before," Angel said dryly. He glanced at Buffy, Scully could pretty well read the silent exchange between the couple. Angel probably would have let the situation go, but Xander had pushed and Angel was pushing back. Scully did not want to be a part of this testosterone exchange so she stood, taking Mulder's hand.
"Where are we going, Scully," Mulder asked her.
"Back to dance."
"Wait, I already gave you two. See what you've gotten me into, Buffy," he said with a faux frown on his face as he let Scully drag him onto the dance floor.
"Their argument has nothing to do with us, and I'd really rather not sit there and listen to it." She stepped into his embrace as his arms went around her. "Besides, I'm afraid you're going to join in, hovering over me like a man staking his claim."
"I was doing no such thing," he denied a little too vehemently. "Not that I'm complaining necessarily that you got us away from there. I just do not dance."
"Well, we've stayed here long enough we could always call it a night."
"What are you suggesting, Scully?"
Scully paused unsure of exactly what she was suggesting. "I don't know. Some Mulder and Scully time. I haven't seen you in months, haven't talked to you beyond cryptic one minute phone calls and just as cryptic email messages. I miss you."
"I've missed you too, Scully," he said grazing her forehead with his lips.
"The librarian mentioned there's a theatre here."
"I don't know that I'm in the mood for dinner and a show, Scully. Just because you got me dancing, three times, don't press it."
"Not that kind of theatre, Mulder. A movie theatre. We could ask the kids where it is."
"Don't call them kids, Scully, but yeah we can do that. Sounds good. Relaxing. I could use that."
"Dancing with me isn't relaxing."
"I have a complex about my performance, what can I say?"
Scully scoffed. "Right."
Mulder graced her with a charming smile. "All right," he said dropping his hand to the small of her back as he guided her off the dance floor. "Let's go find out where a movie theatre or some adult action is."
They returned to the table to find only Xander, Cordelia and Willow still there. "Did Buffy leave," Mulder asked, frowning when Scully looked at her. "What? We bonded, what can I say? She's like a superhero, how could I not be impressed."
"I tell myself that every day, Mr. Mulder," Xander said dryly.
"Can't compete with the older man, huh," Mulder said a hint of compassion in his voice, which was met with another curious look by Scully. "What? I was in high school once too. I remember the girls hooking up with older guys, it was frustrating as hell."
"You got that right," Xander said.
"All right, before you go off on a tangent," Scully interjected.
"Right," Willow agreed. "Because we all know that it's taken too long for Buffy and Angel to actually get to this point, I don't think much can stop them."
"Right, Will, they're so perfect for one another."
"Well," Willow said sounding uncomfortable. Scully saw her eyes lower after she had shot Xander a warning glance and was admittedly curious as to what it was about. It was not her place to worry about a teenaged girl's love life.
"Mulder and I are going to go. Mr. Giles mentioned a movie theatre. Could you tell us where it is?"
"Oh sure," Xander said and gave them directions.
"Thanks," Mulder and Scully said in unison and Mulder grazed the small of her back lightly with the pad of his thumb. She glanced at him a little curiously at the gentle touch.
"It was nice meeting you both," Willow said politely. "Will you be coming by school tomorrow?"
"Not that I know of, no," Mulder replied.
"Oh, too bad, we could use some excitement."
"You don't get enough of it with Buffy, Will," Xander asked and Scully laughed lightly. Whatever she might or might not believe the girl was capable of, it was clear that something was going on in this town.
"Well, yeah, but that's different. It's not every day that we get the FBI here."
Mulder held a finger up to his lips. "But the FBI was never here," he winked.
"I don't get it," Xander said. "Why would you come here unofficially?"
"I heard about what happened and wanted to come check it out. My interest in the unknown extends beyond my work duties and open case files, Xander."
"Okay," the boy said.
"I mean, really, you don't think these people have lives outside of their jobs," Cordelia said in a somewhat condescending tone.
"Hello Cordelia? Of course I do, but they're here outside of their jobs investigating, which is their job."
Buffy and Angel returned to the table, their hands joined. "Done dancing already," Buffy asked.
"Yeah, we're going to go catch a movie or something."
"Oh, the movie thing. Great. Will I see you again," she asked.
"I don't know," Mulder said and Scully glanced at him. "Scully and I will talk tonight and if we have more questions or need more information then you will see us again."
"Great. I'm not really information girl. Giles would be happy to answer any questions though I'm sure." She turned to her friends then. "Angel and I are going to do one last round tonight. So I'll see you guys tomorrow."
"Night Buffy," the three friends said.
"Night Angel," could be heard only from Willow.
"Good night," Angel said quietly. He glanced at Mulder and Scully, his arm draped around Buffy. "Sorry if I was behaving like an ass, I'm not really a people person."
Scully was impressed, though she suspected the apology was more Buffy's idea than the man's. "Don't worry about it," Scully said with a slight smile. "It's been interesting meeting you all."
Mulder held Scully's hand feeling a little giddy at the rightness he felt in doing it. He was walking her through a few of the cemeteries he had accompanied Buffy to earlier in the evening. He was admittedly distracted from Scully's chatter about the movie they had seen together. It was a beautiful night, cool but not overly windy and the sky was brightly lit by a plethora of stars. It sure beat the early November nights he was used to in D.C.
"What was that, Scully," he asked realizing she was waiting for a reply from him.
"I asked if you knew who the bad guy was all along?"
"Oh, no, I didn't. Why? Should I have?"
"Well, you are reputed to be a pretty good tracker of serial killers."
"Oh sure, but when I go see a movie like that I go to be entertained not to work. It was good to let Alex Cross do the investigating and just kick back and watch."
"I think you're taking this respite from the Bureau a little too well, Mulder."
"Maybe you're right, Scully," he said. "It was a pretty good adaptation, though, of the book."
"You've read the book?"
"Sure, I'm a big fan of James Patterson. I'm not sure that I'd have cast Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross," he shrugged. "And I'm not sure why they made a movie out of the second book in the series first."
"Wow," Scully said and Mulder turned to look at her, seeing the look of shock on her face.
"What? Surely you don't think all I do is sit and watch pornos in my free time?"
"Well, Mulder, the evidence suggests," she said glibly.
"Right," he said dryly.
Their conversation turned to the Slayer and the things Mulder had witnessed earlier that evening, her dusting two newly risen vampires, relating the tales Buffy told him of past battles. He did think things over in his mind before saying them, wanting to make sure that he was not betraying some sort of confidence Buffy had instilled in him.
He and Scully were partners, they told one another everything for the most part, but Buffy had taken his card earlier and hopefully when something like the events that occurred on Halloween happened again she would call him. Mulder did not want to jeopardize his contact, surely Mr. Giles would not call Mulder in.
"So you really believe these stories? That she's some sort of superhero?"
"I do, Scully. I mean if you could see for yourself. I mean, she fights like no woman I've ever seen, no man for that matter. She'd kick my ass in a heartbeat."
"Well, you're not exactly Mike Tyson, Mulder."
"No, I realize that, Scully," he said. He sighed a little as they walked past the third cemetery with no signs of Buffy or her boyfriend. "I was hoping since she had said she was making the rounds again we might encounter them and you could see her in action."
"I was wondering why you were walking me past cemeteries," she chuckled lightly. "I just find it hard to believe. I know what Mr. Giles told me and I know what you've related to me, but there has to be some explanation for it. Something logical that we're just not seeing."
"Like what, drugs?"
"Well, it's a possibility."
"I don't think so. Do you honestly think that librarian would drug her up, Scully? Come on."
"No," she sighed and Mulder knew she was running out of arguments. Just as he had given up hope of running into Buffy and giving Scully an up close and personal view of the girl in action he heard sounds coming from across the street.
Mulder practically dragged Scully in the direction of the sounds anxious for her to see the girl perform her duties. "Mulder what are you doing?"
"Sh, Scully," he whispered as he prompted her to crouch behind some headstones once they had made their way into the cemetery and near the fighting.
Mulder all but forgot Scully was there as he watched Buffy and Angel fight an octet of vampires. Lunging, parrying, kicking, punching, and other moves he did not know what to put names to he and Scully were both witness to. This was far more exciting than earlier in the night. Watching her now it was almost as if she had purposely kept Mulder out of harm's way, planning on coming back out all along. He was not sure if he was upset or not, knowing more than likely the girl was not used to having civilians along. As if he would jump for joy at the idea of some guy tagging along while he was making the rounds investigating a case.
"Mulder, I don't believe this," Scully whispered and Mulder did not have to look at her to know that she was trying unsuccessfully to come up with a scientific explanation for the things they were witnessing.
Only three of the eight remained with Buffy dusting three of the five done away with. Angel was no slouch either Mulder could not help but notice. The man moved with such stealth and grace it was rather amazing. The two worked well together, this obviously was not their first time going through this. Neither allowed themselves to be distracted by the other yet it was obvious they were in perfect time, in sync with one another as if the dance they were doing had been choreographed. It could not have been, they would never know night to night, fight to fight how many or what they would encounter.
Buffy dusted two of the remaining three, turning her attention to the last of the eight which currently had an upper hand on Angel. Mulder watched almost like it was playing out in slow motion as the vamp picked up a discarded stake aiming it at Angel's chest. Mulder heard Buffy cry out "no" as Angel fell to the ground clutching his chest where the stake even from the distance was visibly imbedded.
Mulder had to hand it to the young Slayer, despite her boyfriend being on the ground and perhaps dying she went on with business until the last of the vampires was dust. He saw her fall to the ground, kneeling beside Angel. "Come on Scully," Mulder said without thought. Scully was a doctor, she could help while Mulder went and got their rental car and got the man to the hospital.
"What? Mulder," she said a hint of protest in her voice but she followed him. Mulder could tell from the look in her eyes that she was still processing all of the information and was functioning more on auto-pilot than anything else.
The two agents made their way to Buffy and her wounded boyfriend. "I'm sorry, Baby, I know this is going to hurt," Mulder heard her say as she placed her hand over the end of the stake sticking out of the man's chest.
"Buffy," Scully called out. "Don't move it!" Mulder watched as Scully made her way to Angel's side, the medical doctor frame of mind kicking in. "You don't want to move it and do more damage," she said and then stopped short. "You could puncture a lung or pierce his heart," she continued under her breath, but Mulder was familiar enough with her to know she had just finished the thought.
"Scully," Mulder said as he approached her and instantly realized what had drawn his partner to a dead stop. Angel's face had changed from that of the almost angelic looking man appropriate to his namesake to that of one of the vampire's that Buffy was supposed to be fighting against. "He's a," Mulder trailed off certain that this was some sort of trick.
Scully seemed to get over her initial shock, though, either that or she was too focused on the injured man to worry. Mulder watched still somewhat confused by the unfolding events as she knelt at the opposite side of Angel as Buffy, her fingers reaching to his neck to feel for a pulse. "He has no pulse," she murmured.
Buffy looked at her, tears flowing freely along her cheeks. "Have to take it out," Buffy murmured. Recognition and comprehension seemed to come to her as Scully moved her hand to his wrist to seek a pulse in another pulse point. "You won't find a pulse, Agent Scully," she said simply gesturing to Angel lying still on the ground.
"He's a vampire," Mulder said softly. "I don't understand."
"Oh God, you weren't supposed to find out. No one is supposed to find out," Buffy said softly. "Help me take the stake out, Agent Scully. Agent Mulder said you were a doctor, help me get it out. He's still here, so it didn't knick his heart." She took her blood coated hands and cupped Angel's face. "It's okay, Baby, Agent Scully and I are going to help you."
"I'll go get the car," Mulder said and then paused. "Uh, Buffy," he said not wanting to leave his partner in danger. He suspected, somehow, that if Buffy trusted this man, vampire, he corrected, Scully would be safe but he had to be sure. He had to hear those words from the young girl's mouth or he would take Scully with him and leave her here to work this out herself.
She lifted her head, having been whispering words Mulder could not make out into the vampire's ear. "Yes, Agent Mulder," she said and Mulder was surprised by the calm in her voice. The tears were still there, unshed and shed ones evident in her eyes and on her face and yet she was calm.
"He's not going to hurt my partner is he?"
"No, Agent Mulder, he does not harm humans," she said simply. "It's a long story and I'll be happy to tell it to you after I've gotten this stake out of his chest, gotten him home, cleaned him up and into a bed where he can recover." She turned pleading eyes to Agent Scully. "Please help him, if we don't get the stake out soon he will start to heal around it."
"Against my better judgment," Scully said.
"I accept responsibility, Agent Scully. I couldn't sue you anyway. We're in the middle of a cemetery, you're here on unofficial business, and vampires don't exist in the real world. I'm sure even you did not believe in them until tonight. At least not completely." Mulder chuckled lightly.
"All right, I'll be right back with the car then," Mulder said turning away from them. He glanced around the cemetery, gathering his bearings of where he was exactly before jogging in the direction of his rented Oldsmobile.
"Buffy, he's lost a lot of blood," Buffy heard the female agent say.
"I know," she said simply still clutching Angel's face, burying her head against his neck. She was whispering in his ear, telling him it would be all right. She was worried that his game face had not dropped, giving way to his human face. Did that mean something? "I have blood at my house to give him."
"Packets of blood in the freezer," Buffy explained.
"I don't think I want to hear about it," Scully said. "Particularly if it's human blood and obtained illegally."
"Well, it's better than the other ways, Agent Scully."
"Which are what? Your boyfriend goes off and kills people?"
"No," Buffy exclaimed. "It's not like that. He's not like that. Do you think I would be here with him, that I would love him if he was like that?"
"I don't know, Buffy," she heard the agent say. "Love can make people do strange things."
"I've heard that before," Buffy said dryly. "Love makes you do the whacky is what Willow says."
"Keep talking to him, I'll pull the stake out. Do I go slow or fast?"
"Quick and straight. Don't move or jiggle it. If you don't have steady hands, I'll do it."
"I'm a medical doctor, Buffy. I perform autopsies I think I can handle pulling a stake out of a man's chest."
"Yes, but there's a difference here, Agent Scully, Angel is undead not dead. And I'd rather not have to keep my boyfriend's ashes in an urn."
"Isn't it kind of against the rules to have a vampire as a boyfriend? I mean, if what Mulder tells me about you is true, it would seem sort of contradictory."
"Don't get all lectury or preachy on me, Agent Scully. I've heard it all before from Giles, from my friends."
Buffy heard Scully sigh and heard a soft but determined, "get ready." Buffy's eyes fell closed almost of their own accord and she kissed Angel's lips. "Please," she whispered. "Please be okay. I can't lose you. I can't lose you," she repeated over and over again.
Buffy heard the suctioning sound the stake getting pulled from his chest made despite trying to distract herself so she would not have to hear it. "It's done," Scully said. "We need something to put over the wound, though."
"His shirt," Buffy said numbly as she drew away from Angel to begin removing his shirt.
"He'll need it to keep warm or he could go into shock, if he's not already."
"Agent Scully, he's not human. He won't get cold. Don't know about the shock part," Buffy admitted with a frown. "I'll give him my jacket, but unless one of us is going to take off our shirts, it's his shirt."
His shirt removed, Buffy watched as Agent Scully bound the chest wound using his shirt. It was one she had seen him wear frequently over the past months and now it was covered in his blood. Okay, it was not really his blood. "Thank you for your help. I," she stammered, pausing when she saw Angel's game face drop and his human face take shape. "That has to be a good sign," she whispered. "Thanks."
"You're welcome, Buffy. I'm glad I was here to help. Now where's Mulder," she asked glancing at her wristwatch.
"He likes you, you know," Buffy said moving to cradle Angel's head in her lap. She ran her fingers through his well-moussed hair absently. Other than a few whispered "Buffy's" Angel had not made a sound. Buffy was distracting herself, hoping it would prevent her from worrying too much more than anything.
"He told you that?"
"Well, sort of. Okay, no not really. But hello? It's obvious. He doesn't like to dance, right."
"No," Scully said softly. "No, Mulder does not like to dance."
"He danced with you tonight, more than one dance. And he kissed you."
"Buffy, it's not so easy when you work together."
"Why not? I mean, one of the reasons Angel appeals to me is because I have nothing to hide from him."
"I don't hide from Mulder," Scully said. A little too adamantly Buffy noticed and would love to know just what Scully might have to hide from Agent Mulder.
"That's my point, Agent Scully. Angel knows about me, he knows my secret and I know his. He helps me and I don't have to worry about him like I would if Xander or Willow came patrolling with me. We work well together and we love each other," she said realizing she was putting words into Angel's mouth. "But we don't go all whacky on each other when we're in a fight."
"I don't believe a seventeen year old girl is giving me advice."
"Sixteen," Buffy said with a wry smile. "And I don't believe I'm giving it. But it's just, I've tried to date normal boys, humans, high school students, even a college guy and it always goes badly. I worry about them or they think I'm a complete nut job because I stand them up all the time. As if apocalypses and things are my fault!"
"I suppose it is hard," Scully said. Buffy glanced from where she had been focused on Angel's forehead waiting for him to open his eyes to Scully. Buffy sensed somehow that Agent Scully did not accept or believe anything she had seen tonight, but yet seemed to comprehend no matter what her version of the truth was that Buffy's life was not a normal one.
"I hate it sometimes," Buffy admitted. "I wouldn't have my friends or Angel if it weren't for what I do, so I guess it's not all bad." As she spoke Angel's name, her hand caressed his cheek, her fingertips grazing his jaw. "There's Agent Mulder," Buffy said happily.
"Well, he's still not conscious. I'll carry him."
Buffy smirked and proceeded to lift Angel into her arms. It was not the easiest thing she had done, but sheer determination to see to Angel's well being drove her and it helped that she was aided by her Slayer strength. "Just open the door for me," Buffy said as they approached the car Mulder had driven as close to them as he could.
"Where do we take him," Mulder asked once Angel had been positioned in the back seat.
"A hospital would be," Scully started to say but was cut off by Buffy.
"No, they would want to keep him over night. They'd want to know why he heals so quickly. They would want to know how he survived a stabbing to his chest. I'll call Giles when I get there. He'll help. Just take us to my house."
"Scully," Mulder said extending his hand. Buffy frowned until she saw Scully reach into her coat pocket and pull out a cell phone, handing it to Mulder. "Here, Buffy, call Mr. Giles."
"Thanks," Buffy said offering him a wane smile. She crawled into the backseat, kneeling on the floor and placing a hand over Angel's cold one.
"Aren't your parents going to have something to say about us bringing your boyfriend to your house for the night," Mulder asked glancing at Buffy from the front seat.
"Mom's not home. In LA on business for the weekend."
"Divorce," Buffy said simply.
"She lets you stay home alone," Scully asked.
"Giles," Buffy said into the phone. "Can you meet me at the house? Angel's hurt and he's not waking up." As expected, Giles was full of questions. "Giles, please just meet us there." Getting the response she wanted she hung up the phone and handed it to Scully. "Thanks."
"Do you have someone to stay with you, Buffy," Scully asked.
"No. I'd stay at Willow's usually, but not tonight."
"Will you be safe," Mulder asked.
"Usually? She does this often," Scully continued.
"No," Buffy said annoyed. "It's not like that. She runs an art gallery. She's getting some items in or something. I don't know. Can you please just stop with the questions? And yes, Agent Mulder I'll be safe. Angel won't hurt me."
"Sorry," Scully said and Buffy saw the female agent give Mulder a look that Buffy was not sure she liked. Oh well, can't worry about that now, she said clutching Angel's cold, unresponsive hand with hers.
"Let me help," Mulder offered once they were at the Revello Drive house. He stood by the back seat door, holding it open for her.
"Thanks," Buffy said taking hold of Angel's feet while Mulder took the top half of her boyfriend. She normally would have been stubborn, insisted on doing it herself, afraid Mulder might drop him. It had been hard enough to carry him at the cemetery and that did not include having to haul him out of a back seat. She was grateful for the help.
Scully closed the door once Buffy exited the car. "Do you have keys?"
"The door's unlocked," Buffy said. Scully opened the door and Mulder and Buffy carried Angel into the living room. Buffy placed him on the couch. "Thanks," she said not bothering to glance at the agents. Her hand went instantly to Angel's face.
"Mr. Giles isn't here yet and despite your assurances, Buffy I'd rather not leave you alone. So, is there anything we can do while we're waiting," Mulder asked.
"I have to get him some blood," she said glancing at his chest. "Agent Scully?"
"Could you check the wound? You said you're a doctor."
"Yes, I am. I can, I don't know that there's much I can do for him, though, Buffy. I'm sorry, this isn't something I know anything about."
"Just look at it. It should be healing by now," Buffy said as she stood. "I have to go to the basement. I'll be a minute. I've got the bags hidden so Mom won't wonder why I have blood in the house."
"No problem," Scully said already unwrapping the wound. "Wait, Buffy, maybe you have some real bandages."
"Oh yeah. Sure," she said. She took the stairs two at a time and got everything she could think of Scully might need before returning downstairs. "Be right back then," she said again going down to the basement.
It did not take Buffy that long to find the blood. The small refrigerator Giles had bought for her from Sears was well hidden. Unless her mom decided to go through boxes that had been in their old house in LA for some reason she was safe. Just to be safe, the blood was at the very bottom of the freezer with some food on top of it. She took out two packets of blood, examining them both to be sure there were no tears in them before taking them upstairs.
She defrosted them in the microwave before pouring the blood into a large thermal cup she had gotten from a convenience store one day on a trip with Xander and Willow to the beach. The cup even had a straw with it that was bigger than a regular straw. Hopefully, it would make drinking blood easier for Angel.
She snapped the lid in place and made her way back to the living room, almost dropping the cup when she saw that Angel was awake. He was still lying on the couch, but Scully had placed a pillow beneath his head which now rested against the couch's arm. Hazel eyes met brown and she was surprised at seeing the relief she felt mirrored in his eyes.
"Buffy," was all he said, but her name from his lips was all that she needed to hear to know he was going to be okay. "You're all right."
"Hi," she said glancing at Mulder and Scully who were seated in armchairs in the room, both looking from Buffy to Angel. They looked somewhat nervous. "Is everything okay?"
"Nothing that can't be fixed by what I hope you have there in that cup."
"Oh yeah, blood," she said handing it to him. She dropped her hand to his hair, running her fingers through it. He took her hand and kissed the palm of it before releasing it, moving his attentions to the cup of sustenance Buffy knew he needed badly.
"We tried to tell him you were okay, but he wouldn't believe us," Mulder said with a wide grin. "I thought he was going to toss Scully across the room when she tried to restrain him from going to look for you."
"Sorry," she said with a grimace.
"It was a good thing you came upstairs when you did. He heard the basement door close I guess and believed us."
"He wouldn't have hurt you."
"Ordinarily you're right, Buffy," came Giles' voice from the hallway.
"Giles," Buffy said relieved to see him. She would not have to sit watch over Angel tonight alone.
"Glad to see you're all right, Buffy," he said walking into the room. He regarded Angel and then returned his attentions to Buffy. "I was worried when you called me."
"I know. I was wigging out big time, he wouldn't wake up."
"And when he came to you were gone?"
"Yeah, downstairs getting blood."
"Right, well, you're his mate, Buffy, his first instinct when he came to was going to be your protection. So, while ordinarily he would not hurt a human if he perceived them as a threat or that they were hindering him from finding you I am not sure he would be stopped."
"Oh," Buffy said simply. Giles never ceased to amaze her with the information he provided. She had seen Angel go all protective and cavemanish before, but never thought it would happen in a situation like this. Those times had been at the frat house or on Halloween or when she was seriously in trouble.
"At least he knew us, I think it helped quell his suspicions a bit. He just wanted to know you were all right."
"I'm sorry," she said to Angel. His gaze met hers and she smiled slightly at the look on his face. He was paying attention to them, but he was clearly more focused on drinking the blood.
"Well, if there's nothing else Scully and I are going to head back to our room I think."
"You're going to stay here right, Giles," Buffy asked hopefully.
"Yes, of course, I can stay. You need your rest too. Thank you, Agents, for getting both of them to safety."
"I'm just glad we happened upon them," Mulder said. "You were going easy on me earlier tonight, weren't you, Buffy?"
Buffy nodded. "A little, not really intentionally though. It's always slower earlier in the evening for some reason."
Scully stood and Mulder placed his hand at the small of her back. "Well, I'm glad it's not because you didn't think I would get in your way or something."
Buffy laughed lightly. "You weren't in my way, Agent Mulder."
"Good night, Buffy," Scully said.
"Good night, Agent Scully. Thanks for not asking questions."
"Oh, I think we'll be back tomorrow for some answers, Buffy, but now is obviously not the time for them," Mulder said.
"Great," Buffy said taking a seat on the couch by Angel's feet.
"Only if she's up to answering them, Agents. She's had a traumatic evening."
"Understood," Mulder said simply. "Good night then. Get some rest, Buffy."
She smiled no longer paying much attention to the FBI agents. Angel had finished the blood and had taken her hand in his. Her heart skipped a bit at the gentleness and love in his touch.
"Agent Scully said you carried me," he said softly.
"Yeah, I did. I'll probably be sore in the morning."
"Thanks. I don't know how he got that stake."
"One of us dropped it obviously."
He grimaced. "I guess. I'm just glad they went after me with it instead of you. That was what had me scared, I thought they had killed you."
"I'm here, Baby," she said softly grazing the back of his hand with the pad of her thumb.
"You have to answer more questions tomorrow."
She shrugged. "I'll let Giles field the questions. He's answer man, I'm just the Slayer."
"Hey," Giles said. "I did not sign up to talk to FBI agents. It wasn't my idea to get so chummy with them."
"Good," Angel said. Buffy was not sure if he was saying good to her comment or to Giles'.
"Are you feeling better?"
"Other than a pain in my chest, yeah. The blood helped."
"Buffy, perhaps it's time for you to go to bed. You see that Angel is fine, I can keep watch over him for the rest of the night."
Buffy frowned. She did not want Angel to sleep down on here on the couch, but Giles would never allow her to bring him up to her room. She should not have called him, but her instincts had taken over when she saw Angel unconscious and she had reached out to her Watcher.
"Can I have a few minutes alone with him, Giles?"
"Yes, I suppose I can go make myself some coffee. But then to bed with you."
"I know," she said with a shake of her head as Giles walked to the kitchen. "How are you really," she said as she stood. She knelt on the floor and leaned towards him, her hand cupping his face. She stroked his cheek before kissing him.
"I'm better now," he said when they broke the kiss. She needed to break it, not him. It was a little strange sometimes realizing he did not need to breathe, that he could perhaps kiss her to death. There were times she believed he would do just that if she let her emotions take over and went with what she felt.
"Good. Do you need anything? I'll get some blankets and a shirt for you to wear."
"You have something that will fit me?"
"I have a shirt of my dad's."
"Oh," he said and she thought she saw relief in his eyes.
"I'll get those things and then I guess say good night before Giles kicks you out."
"Buffy," he said gripping her hand.
"I don't ever want to lose you."
"Me neither, so that's good. We're on the same page and stuff for once."
He shook his head slightly. "Good."
"Good night," she whispered before leaning down to kiss him again.
"Good night, Buffy," he said softly.
"Good night, Giles," she said with a wave to her Watcher who was now sitting in an armchair, coffee cup in hand. She left the room knowing Angel watched her.
January 1998 - Two Months Later
Mulder ran his hand through his hair and let out a low cry of disbelief as he read and reread the email.
"What's wrong, Mulder," Scully said draping her arms around his neck, kissing the side of it. Mulder reached back with his hand, skimming her bare hip. His fingers focused for a moment on the tattoo he had become very familiar with over the past two months, letting the information he had just read digest and take form in his mind. It was Saturday morning and the two agents had plans to stay in for the morning and most of the afternoon. Dinner out was a possibility, but now Mulder was not sure he was in the mood for that.
"It seems our suspicions were more accurate than we thought, Scully," he said mutely.
"Mulder, what is it? You're scaring me."
"What? What about her?" Mulder smiled slightly, though Buffy was only a - now - seventeen year old girl Scully was still a little jealous of the girl. Buffy had made quite an impression on Fox Mulder. He had gathered what information he could when he had returned to DC on cases she had been involved with that had actually been investigated.
Some, like the fraternity house had made national headlines. Some, though, had not and had been, as Buffy mentioned, buried or dismissed as gangs, drugs or gangs on drugs. He had been enthralled with the unsolved murders and disappearances he was able to pull up that occurred in Sunnydale, California. It was still amazing to him that he and Scully, or any other agents in the Bureau, had never been sent there to investigate.
"Well, remember when we left Sunnydale? You and I just couldn't shake the feeling that she was going to get hurt by Angel. We assumed, I think both of us did, that it would be a broken heart type thing. I mean, he was turned in the middle seventeen hundreds, so it stands to reason that he'd grow bored after a while with a sixteen year old high school student."
"Well, it appears we were wrong as to the type of hurt she would be experiencing."
"Mulder, just tell me already."
"Angel has lost his soul," Mulder said simply, knowing his voice sounded as haunted as he felt.
"What are you talking about?"
"Read for yourself. It's from her friend, Willow, the redhead Wiccan."
"Yes, I remember Willow," Scully said as Mulder stood from the computer chair letting Scully sit and read the lengthy email describing the recent events in Sunnydale.
Mulder walked to the window and glanced outside. It was a beautiful day for the middle of winter. Why did he feel like he had somehow disappointed the girl? She was in no way his responsibility, but he could not help but think he and Scully should have done something more to interfere with the blossoming relationship between the vampire with a soul and a Slayer.
"Mulder," Scully said as she walked to him. Her hands went to his shoulders, her head rested against his back. "This is not your fault. From what Willow writes no one knew, no one could have known."
"I know," Mulder said hoarsely.
"She'll get through this."
"If she gets out of it alive you mean."
"Well, yeah, but Mulder you said it yourself when we left there her job does not come with a lengthy life expectancy. In fact, from what the Gunmen said, it's like a fine print clause in the contract of her calling."
"I know, Scully. I know that. That's not it."
"Then what, Mulder?"
"I just hate that someone she loves was taken from her," he admitted as he turned to face Scully.
Their eyes met and nothing was said for a while. Mulder was aware that Scully knew he was talking about Samantha and his endless search for his sister that still went on today. Sometimes it was the hope of finding Samantha that drove him when nothing else could.
"There are some attachments with the email Willow sent. Did you read them?"
"No," Scully admitted.
"They are scans from some of Mr. Giles' books about Angel's behaviors pre-soul days."
"Is it bad?"
"Yeah," Mulder said softly.
"Mulder, don't do this to yourself. We did not know. We could not have known."
"Don't you think I know that?"
"No, I don't. I think you see another girl who you've failed to save and you're going to punish yourself. Why don't we see what we can do to help her instead of talking about what we should have done or might have prevented two months ago?"
"Of course I am," she said and Mulder laughed, shaking his head slightly.
"I just," he looked away, turning his back to her again and looking out the window of her apartment once more. "I just remember the look in their eyes, both of them."
"I do, too. Maybe he won't be so bad because of that, their feelings," Scully said hopefully.
"No, from what I read in those files, loving him makes it worse."
"Okay, well, let's call Willow and see if we can do anything. Maybe the Gunmen could help them. You know they'd love to."
"Yeah, they would."
"Even from DC, Mulder we could help."
"I'm not sure how. But all right, I'm game."
"And with all this snow on the ground, I can't say I'd be averse to making a trip to sunny LA."
"You'd go," he asked turning to face her once more.
"Yes, Mulder. You care for the girl and I know you've gotten more attached to her during the past couple of months from the emails you've exchanged."
"She hates computers."
Scully leaned forward and kissed him. "Which just proves my point that you care for her and obviously you made some sort of impression on her."
"I think it's just the fact another adult, someone - anyone - knows her secret and thinks it's cool. And I don't want anything from her."
"It might have something to do with that, too. That and your sources," she said teasingly.
"Yeah, she likes the idea I have sources," he said with a wide grin. "Okay, let's call Willow and see what we can do then."
"It will work out, Mulder."
"I just hope it doesn't cost her something huge."
"Me, too," she said simply.