“Senator Richmond?” Scully looked at Skinner, her eyes wide.
Skinner leaned back on his desk, his arms crossed. Scully seemed distressed. Lucille Richmond was a leading contender for her party’s presidential nomination. He realized he hadn’t given much consideration to his agent’s political leanings. Mulder just leaned back in his chair, uncharacteristically disinterested in the details of the case.
“I don’t believe in vampires,” he said.
“Yes you do,” Scully protested. “What about the trailer park?”
“Okay,” he replied. “Let me rephrase that. I’m not interested in vampires, drugged pizzas or obvious cases of political terrorism. This isn’t an X File.”
“I’m not inclined to believe in it either, agent,” Skinner said, “but the son of a leading politician was murdered, buried, seen two days later with irrefutable documentation and seems to have disappeared again. If it’s some sort of attempt to coerce or attack Richmond, then I want to know. If he really did come back to life, which is unlikely but unexplainable, it does fall under your jurisdiction, and I want you out there investigating. Actually, I want you both out there in any case. Find out what happened to Albert Richmond.”
“So,” Mulder asked, “Where are we off to this time?”
“A little town in California. It’s called Sunnydale.”
Buffy stared at the school librarian, wondering if she’d heard him right. “You want me to what?”
“I want you to billet two FBI agents in your home. Keep an eye on them.”
“Keep an eye on the FBI. Hello. Teenager here. Not exactly trained for the KGB. Besides, mom would ask too many questions.”
“Your mother is in Los Angeles for the next two weeks on a buying trip for the gallery. She need never know.”
Buffy shook her head. “My own Mr. Conservative, forcing me to lie to my mom. I mean more than usual. Aren’t you the radical.”
“Buffy, this is important. The last thing we need is the government to start investigating the Hellmouth. Can you think of the repercussions? Good lord, you’re the Slayer. They’d probably want to lock you in a box and dissect you.”
“No way. No slicing and dicing of the me. But mom’s already invited Willow to Fran Fine me while she’s away. Which is pretty pathetic when you think about it. What will the cool kids say?”
“I’ve already told Willow the situation. She knows how important this is. I want you to take this seriously. These agents have been told that they’re staying in your home as a personal favour to Walter Skinner.”
“Their superior. He’s someone I knew, long ago. He came across my name while doing some research on the disappearances in Sunnydale.” Giles took off his glasses and concentrated on cleaning the lenses.
“Oh.” Buffy knew why Giles didn’t want them staying with him. She’d discovered him sleeping on the couch when she came over early one morning for training. She wondered if he’d ever stay in his own room again. “I guess one of them can stay in my room and one in the spare room. I’ll have to clean it out. I’ll stay in mom’s room because I really don’t think she’d want a stranger in there.”
“Thank you, Buffy,” Giles said, relieved.
“But how am I going to train? How am I going to patrol? What if my evil ex decides to play with them?”
“We’ll deal with all that.”
“Deal. Sure. But what exactly do you want me to do with these guys?”
“The FBI agents? That’s simple. Convince them that there’s no such thing as vampires.”
“So, Miss Edith, it’s just you and me. Angelus and Dru off for a road trip to the City of Angels, no pun intended, leaving me in my little chair to rot.” Spike stood up and stretched his arms. “Cepting they don’t know that old Spike doesn’t need his wheels anymore. Okay. I’m talking to a bloody doll. I really need to get outside.
I bet Chuckles would be right ticked off if someone took care of his little Slayer girlfriend before he did.” He patted the doll on the head. “Right then, Miss Edith. I’m off to slay me a Slayer.”
“Wow. You’re a girl.”
“Hi Buffy.” Scully shook her hand, smiling. “I’m Special Agent Dana Scully, and this is Fox Mulder.”
“I’m a boy,” Mulder added. “This is very kind of you, to let us stay here, but we could have stayed in a motel.”
“There’s one motel in Sunnydale,” Buffy replied, “And it’s pretty skeezy. Giles told your boss he wanted you to be comfortable in town.”
“I’m sure we could have stayed in a bed and breakfast,” Scully said.
“There aren’t any.” Buffy took one of Scully’s bags. “It’s a friendly town, don’t get me wrong, but people aren’t that interested in opening their homes to strangers. Besides, we aren’t exactly a tourist trap.”
The agents exchanged a glance.
Buffy started to head up the stairs. “You guys follow me. The bedrooms are upstairs. If you need anything, just let me know.”
“I can take my bag,” Scully said.
“No bother.” Buffy sat it on her shoulder. “I’ve got it.”
Scully looked down on Mulder, stretched out on the spare bed. “Does something seem a little off to you?”
“You mean why you got the nice decorated room and I got a store room?”
“You could go lie down on the couch and feel more at home.” She sat on the edge of the bed. “And at least you don’t have to share your bed with Mr. Gordo.”
“Never mind.” Scully looked at her partner. “Why did Skinner’s friend arrange for us to stay in his student’s house? That doesn’t seem odd? And the way that little girl shifted my bag to her shoulder so easily...”
“I don’t think that’s an X File,” Mulder replied. “Things are weird. It’s California.”
Buffy was coming home from picking up some groceries when she heard a clunk behind the tree in her front yard, followed by a ‘Bloody hell’. Setting the bag on the porch, she ran to investigate. Angered, Buffy pulled the errant vampire from his hiding place. “What are you doing there!”
“Skulking. Would have worked too, if I hadn’t tripped over this root. You need to tend to this tree.”
“You’re supposed to be dead.” She pulled the collar a little tighter.
“Yeah, yeah. Reports, exaggerated, etc.”
Buffy pulled a stake from her back pocket and held it up. “Well, you’re dead now.”
“Not if I dead you first,” he growled, “Um... kill.” He struck out with his left leg and tripped her, the stake flying out of her hand. She spun around and reached for it, a move which somehow left them both in a tangle on the grass.
“Are we interrupting something?” a dry voice asked.
“No!” Buffy extricated herself from Spike. “No, we were just... ah.. This is my boyfriend. Friend! Who is a boy.”
Spike stood and held out a hand to Scully. “Hello, my lovely. Don’t you look delicious.”
Scully blushed. “Special Agent Dana Scully.”
“You can give him his hand back,” Mulder said.
“This is William.” Buffy said. “William Blood.”
“Call me Spike.”
“Hi, Spike,” Dana smiled.
“Great name.” Mulder held out his hand. “Fox Mulder.” He turned to Buffy. “We’re just going out to do a few interviews. Hopefully we won’t be too late. Don’t wait up.”
Spike watched them walk down the driveway and into his car. “What was all that about? Special agents? And more importantly, boyfriend?”
“Friend boy. And I would soooo love to stake you right now, Spike, but now that they’ve met you it might raise some questions. Come on to the back porch and I’ll explain, but don’t tell me you want the FBI poking around Sunnydale looking for vampires.”
“Why the hell would the FBI be looking for vampires? Or believing in them at all. I think you’ve blown a fuse in that pretty head.”
“Do you want anything?” Buffy called from the kitchen.
“Fresh O negative?”
“Yeah, right. Never mind.”
“I’ll have a lemonade if you have any,” Spike answered.
To Buffy’s surprise, he drank the beverage she brought him. “Don’t stare at me,” he said. “Gives me the willies. I’d have asked for something a little stronger, but I figured you proper ladies wouldn’t have it in the house.”
Buffy went back to the fridge and came out with a beer. “Hopefully mom’s not keeping count.”
“So, tell me what’s going on,” Spike asked, twisting off the cap.
“That Senator’s son that died, Albert Richmond...”
“Not much for CNN, love. What happened?”
“There are reports that this Albert guy has been seen here since his burial. And you know what that means.”
“Night of the living undead?”
“Exactly. Mulder and Scully investigate unexplained cases. Aliens, ghosts... vampires. Can you imagine what will happen if they start poking around too much here? And then bring some friends?”
“Bad enough with you around.”
“Exactly.” Buffy thought. “Wait...”
“So,” Spike grinned. “What can your old friend boy do to help?”
Buffy was getting tired of running back and forth into her house. She reluctantly invited Spike inside. She could always stake him later. Spike rewarded his invitation by jumping on the couch and stretching his legs out. “Comfy.”
“Don’t get too comfortable,” Buffy said. She picked up a file from the dining room table. “This is Albert Richmond. Have you seen him, maybe hanging around Willie’s? Maybe in some nest you know?”
Spike sat up and took a good look at the photograph. “I can safely say that I’ve never seen him in my life. You know what I mean.”
“I’m sure I haven’t staked him either,” Buffy said. “I’m trying to picture him with wrinklies, but it still draws a blank.”
“So, in the meantime, you let Mutt and Jeff out and about poking around our fair town. At night.”
“Shit.” Buffy jumped up and grabbed her jacket from the coatstand. She pulled Spike up by the arm. “Come with me. Who knows what could happen. And if they end up eaten, Giles will kill me.”
As she pulled him towards the door, she almost collided with Mulder coming in. Scully was right behind him. And Spike was positioned in front of the hall mirror not looking back at himself. Without hesitation, Buffy pulled Spike away and into a kiss.
Mulder and Scully both politely averted their eyes, and Buffy got Spike back into the living room, where she sat him back down on the couch. “You’re back sooner than I thought,” Buffy said.
“Obviously,” Mulder grinned.
“Any luck with your interview?” Buffy asked.
“Nothing. Dead end. Sounds like she saw Albert Richmond, but the trail ends.”
“Though,” Scully added, “I did find out that people in your town have lower than usual iron levels.”
“Mosquitos,” Spike said. “Very big mosquitos. Suck the iron right out of you.”
“Ye..ah,” Buffy gave Spike an exasperated look. “Big mosquitos.”
“That’s funny,” Mulder said. “We didn’t see any mosquitos.”
“Well, it’s early, isn’t it?” Spike said. “Much too early in the year.”
“Right,” Buffy added. “Much.”
“I’ll just be going then,” Spike said. “Night all.” He kissed Buffy on the cheek as she rolled her eyes. “Night, sweet potato.” He took as wide a berth as he could around the mirror and headed out the door.
Mulder’s cell phone rang. “Mulder.” He listened to the voice on the other end of the line. “You have got to be kidding me. No sir, I don’t mean to say that you’re joking. We’ll fly back to Washington in the morning.” He put the phone back in his pocket.
“What happened?” Scully asked.
“Albert Richmond turned up alive and well, and not in a cemetary. Turns out the SOB faked his own death to collect the insurance money. He could have done a better job of it. He showed up drunk on his girlfriend’s doorstep.”
“Oh my god. What about Senator Richmond?” Scully asked.
“She’s pissed off. Hopefully this won’t put her election chances in the crapper, but scandal and politics. They just go together like peanut butter and bananas.”
“Isn’t that jam?” Buffy asked.
“Not the way the King ate it.” Mulder picked his files off the table and shoved them into his briefcase. “We have an early flight, Scully. We should head to bed.”
“I’ll head up in a second, Mulder.” She sat beside Buffy on the couch. “I know we haven’t known each other long, but you’re a strong young woman, and in many ways you remind me of myself.”
“Spike’s a very attractive man. I know older men can be very compelling. But I’ve had a few relationships like that, and for me, they’ve never ended well. Take that or leave it.”
“Oh, I know,” Buffy said. “Spike’s not nearly as old as my last boyfriend.”
Scully raised an eyebrow.
“But you don’t need to worry about me. I’m about to break up with him.” She remembered the stake she’d left lying in the yard. “Permanently.”
Buffy crept towards Angel’s mansion, stake in her hand. Unfortunately, Dru and Angel picked just that moment to return. “Hey, wheels,” Angel called out, opening the door.
Buffy let it go. There would always be later.
She needed to call Willow to come over for a disinvite spell. And to help her unclean the back room.
“So, it was a wild goose chase, then,” Giles said into his phone.
“Yeah,” Skinner replied. “No vampires.”
“Are you surprised?”
“Of course not. But, senator’s son. Had to be checked out. Listen, Rupert. About how I tracked you down. I was sorry to hear about...”
“Quite.” Giles paused. “And Sharon? How is she?”
“I haven’t spoken to her for months.”
“It was for the best, I guess. I do wonder, sometimes, if I hadn’t come between you...”
“There’s no point in trying to rethink the past, Walter. What’s done is done.”
“Well, you thank the Summers girl for putting up my agents. That was very kind.”
“Oh, don’t mention it. I’m sure they were no bother.”
Mulder sat next to Scully on the plane. She stared out the window at the clouds under them.
“You’re thinking about him, aren’t you. That Spike guy. With the hair, and the eyes, and the cheekbones, and the....”
“I swear, Mulder. You say overbite and I’m going to deck you.”