Spike blinked at him, then at the other police officer. They looked so much alike that it took several go-rounds for the few variations between them to register on him. Dark hair on one; darkish hair on the other. Medium length on one, short but almost medium on the other. “Didn’t we go over this already?”
“Just for our records.”
Spike eyed the video camera skeptically---and cautiously. “Can I get a copy of that when we’re done?”
Yeah, said the cop’s glance. Sure you can. After about forty years. Neither looked away, and Buffy’s head swiveled from one to the other several times before she heaved an enormous sigh and broke the spell. The detective cleared his throat. As if there hadn’t been a staring match, he shrugged and looked down at his blank page. “So….Name?”
Scratch scratch scratch. The detective looked up expectantly. What the bloody fuck is he waiting for? Spike thought. Name, rank, and serial number, mate-----Then he blinked as the full dimensions of his predicament became apparent. Somehow, it was much easier to see how much trouble he was in while he was in this depressing, gray little room. Desperate as it had been, the amnesia angle didn’t leave him a lot of wiggle room after the first go-round. It worked for that short period, and that period was up. It had kept him from being looked at too closely, but it also kept him from disentangling himself as well. He had a mental image of smacking himself in the forehead. Well, Officer, I don’t remember much but I sure remember I didn’t kill those girls!
The silence was too revealing, he saw. He cleared his throat in order to enunciate better. This produced a satisfying croak. “William.”
“Got that already.”
But he noticed the detective wrote that down again. Funny how some blokes get all obsessive-compulsive when they can’t be that effective, Spike thought. “Tell.“ He craned his neck to get another gander at the pad and watched as the detective crooked an arm around it to hide it. “William Tell.”
Detective Jordan managed to write that down, too----at least until Buffy cleared her throat loudly and rolled her eyes. She finished it up with a an amazed and disgusted grimace that expressed clearly the concept of, You inept twit. You’re a Sunnydale cop and now you’re out in the real world without a babysitter. The Olympic sarcasm judges in her head were pointing out the Gilesian influence and reminiscing about how she looked like a promising contender to take up his torch should he retire.
“You said Smith at the hospital,” the detective said accusingly.
“I don’t remember,” Spike said with a shrug. “I could have said Bush for all I bloody know, couldn’t I? I do have amnesia, you know.”
“Seems to come and go, doesn’t it?”
“I dunno,” Spike said slowly. Then he grinned. “Does it now?”
“Been to a doctor for it?”
“I don’t remember,” he repeated. “ What if,” and here he paused dramatically. “What if I never remember who I am? Do you think I’d have a new personality?”
“The new one isn’t going to let you get away with murdering those girls.”
“How do you know they were murdered?” Buffy snapped.
“I can’t tell you that.”
“Come on, Detective. You said it was just a friendly chat. If it’s not going to be friendly, I’ll just call his lawyer----” Or make a virgin sacrifice to his lawyer, she amended----”and we’ll just drop the pretense, okay?” It was depressing to realize that the retainers for human lawyers and for demon lawyers probably weren’t that different when you got right down for it. Some painful fees were going to have to be paid. Either she found a way to sacrifice the Olson twins---in the case of one of Angel’s subordinates----or she coughed up pretty much all the insurance money that she had earmarked for her and Dawn’s future, only to have Angel nobly reject it. Either way, she was going to do some squirming.
“You know, you’re right, Miss Summers. It could very well be that those girls---and Anya Jenkins---somehow fell on their swords and bled out in one location before winding up somewhere---” With a visible effort, he bit back the rest of that sentence. “But I don’t think that’s what I’d call really likely.”
Buffy’s ferocity faltered for a moment. “Bled out? What do you mean, bled out?”
Pleased by this reaction, it was the detective’s turn to lean back and smirk. “All their blood. Bled out. It was gone. It spilled somewhere else, unless maybe it was invisible blood or something. We just found some small stains at the site.”
Buffy bit her lower lip so hard it disappeared entirely. “Yeah, so? That doesn’t mean Sp----that he had anything to do with it.” It’s not like the Sunnydale PD ever placed much emphasis on catching the right criminal for the right crime, she thought. Then the Giles voice popped up in her brain and ordered her to remain calm. Easy for you to say, she responded. “No blood? There was no blood? At all?”
“Not much, no,” Tate said softly. . “And that’s as much as I’m going to tell you.”
“If there was no blood, then why don’t you think Sp---William----was one of the victims?”
Spike shook his head at Buffy’s moxie, then recovered his own. “Yeah, mate, why’s that?”
Tate cleared his throat and looked down at his files, obviously relishing his Big Moment. “Those girls were murdered. Our pal here had just one wound, that weird burn on his hand. Which, interestingly enough, you share, Miss Summers.” Her hand twitched. The detective pretended not to notice, but he had to take his time, sipping his coffee, keeping his eyes down. Seconds ticked by. Buffy could practically see the man counting in his head, waiting for the tension to mount, trying to distract her from a little thought that was nagging at the corner of her mind. When the moment was right, he lifted his gaze to hers. “It might not be just him that we’re looking at. Not by a longshot.”
He’d prepared for a lot of reactions. The one that he’d never imagined was an amused half smile that might have been charming had it lightened the expression in her eyes. That never changed, though; she looked like a woman who could twist him in half without breaking a sweat. She shook her head at him, and this time her eyes did warm as she looked from him to Spike. “You’re funny,“ she said. With a start, the detective realized something had changed. She was no longer curious about what was going on: she’d made up her mind, somehow.
“You’re from Sunnydale, right?” Buffy asked.
“The Sunnydale Police Department, right? Just to make it absolutely clear?”
“Yes,” he said stiffly.
“Well, the fact that you’re so sure William has done it ought to be the biggest sign that he’s innocent that it’s possible to have. I mean, how many murders did your department actually solve? Per decade? Because if I asked you if you solved any for , say, some years, it might be kind of bad. I mean, how many murders is a town like Sunnydale supposed to have in a year? One? No,” she corrected herself. “Not even that. Really, that’s high. It should be one every five years or something. Maybe ten years, right?”
Startled, he nodded before he could stop himself. “But----every town is different. And this is California.”
“Yeah, it’s California all right,” Buffy sighed. She chewed her lower lip a bit as a sneaky idea came to her. She turned it over in her head, as if it were a Rubik’s cube and she were trying to find that tricky pattern. It‘s risky, she thought. It‘s really risky. But it could prove Spike was innocent, it could get him off the hook, and nobody could ever prove she‘d ever said anything like what she was about to say. It was the perfect defense, too-----everyone knew that vampires didn’t exist. Of course, she thought, sizing up the detective, that depended on how stupid he was. She studied him coolly. He didn‘t look unpleasant or pleasant, just sort of…acceptable. At least monsters, she thought, you can spot coming. With mediocre people, there‘s just no warning till they open their mouths. “That could be it. Or, you know, it could be all the vampires.” She watched with some satisfaction as he twitched in his seat. The detective aimed for a sneer, but achieved only a tight lip-pursing maneuver that made him look like he was stifling a burp. “Oh, wait, I’m sorry. Did you not notice them?” She imitated him clearing his throat.
“Vampires,” Jordan said. His voice sounded rather thin. “Really---vampires.” He nodded at Spike. “I suppose your friend is a vampire. And you, too, no doubt.” He leaned back and tried to look relaxed, but a muscle was twitching near the corner of his mouth all of a sudden.
Buffy weighed her options. For some reason, her brain seemed unusually cooperative, and instead of conjuring up, say, the feel of Spike’s hair in her hands, it presented her with a vivid mental image of her holding a set of brass scales. In one scale sat the Sarcasm Option, which consisted of plunging forward gleefully, leaving devastation behind her. On the other hand, there was the ever-present Giles option, consisting of Sarcasm Lite, which was less filling and tasted great. She went instead with the default option, bringing up the rear----the truth. “Oh, I’m not a vampire,” she said helpfully, deciding that if Spike wanted to come out as a former vampire that was his business. “I’m th---a---vampire slayer.”
“A….vampire….slayer?” Jordan’s smile looked a bit more firm now, and it made her nervous. His confidence was increasing----there was no reason for it----and hers wavered. “Is that like the Beastmaster or something?”
Wow, Buffy thought. Somebody can’t afford the good cable package, can they? “Well, the Beastmaster is fictional, you know.”
“And the…what did you call it?”
“Vampire Slayer,” Buffy said helpfully.
“And the Vampire Slayer---Vampire Slayer---isn‘t fictional.” he repeated thoughtfully. “So I take it that you kill vampires, don’t you?” His smile inched wider, and Buffy noticed what an unlovely smile it was. She noticed things about his face that she hadn’t seen before; the way the crow’s feet at the edge of his eyes deepened till he seemed to be staring at her from inside a cavern, the way his laugh lines were particularly harsh and exaggerated. He looked like one of those trick drawings where a twist of perspective was all it took to change a pleasant picture of a lady at her vanity into a grinning skull.
Well, he’s distracted at least, Buffy thought. Of course, he was probably distracted with the notion of blaming her for Sunnydale’s ridiculous murder rate, but still, she’d be willing to bet that Spike had receded in his mind.
“I can’t believe I lived in Sunnydale for all those years and you never noticed.”
“Oh, we noticed, Miss Summers. We just never had enough evidence to do anything about it. About you.”
Good save, she thought, except for it being, like, not good.
“What did you do before I got there? Attend funerals?”
He winced slightly, and she moved in. “And you didn’t notice as many funerals after that, did you?” Class Protector, she thought, and the loss of that one tiny moment of recognition stung anew. Honor Society certificates couldn’t compare with her little Class Protector parasol.
“What I noticed…..”
“What I don’t understand is why, mate,” Spike said quietly. “Town that size, the cops just ignored all the open graves, all the missing persons. I never could figure out what you lot did with your time.” It being California and health-conscious, he’d never seen cops in the all-night donut shops or the bars. Too fattening. He’d never seen them at the Bronze, at Buffy’s house, or any time they actually were needed. He’d heard stories of cops mistreating and pushing around the weaker vampires, the ones who got vamped thinking it’d change them from high school losers into Lestat. They wound up as minions, bullied by humans and vampires alike, never able to learn the skills to move up the ladder, till some cop dusted one with a sharpened stake concealed as a billy club. The cops who grasped something of what went on in Sunnydale---and reacted to it------were almost as bad as the vampires. The walking superstitions that existed in the town seemed to prove that different laws applied, and at least some of the cops had believed, very definitely, in different laws. At least the average Sunnydale cop still believed in some laws, however ineptly they applied them. The other cops believed in making their own.
Spike leaned forward, studying the other man. He was wearing a shirt and tie, he noticed. What was under that collar? It was California and all the other detectives they’d seen in the building had been wearing open-necked shirts without ties. Then, too, with the spotty air-conditioning at Parker Center, ties would be torture. Why would a man wear a tie when everyone else was in shirt sleeves because of the heat?
Riley, he remembered, had taken to keeping his sleeves down once he’d embarked on his own brand of unfaithfulness. He couldn’t handle reality and then he couldn’t handle Buffy, and he’d blamed her for it----more than that, he’d done the one thing that couldn’t have hurt Buffy more. He’d always believed in a sunny world where logic was the ultimate weapon, only to find out that the night was a lot more frightening than he’d ever imagined. And he’d embraced it rather than her.
Riley and this guy, he thought.
Some cops turned bad and went on the take. With Sunnydale cops, it was worse, somehow---the way they went after the minions and the more harmless demons. After all, vampires were demons, and beneath them, the lower orders of demons included things like the Schedkather Gardening Demon, a furry little creature from a dimension afflicted with monster weeds. They were compelled to re-arrange garden furniture when accidentally transplanted to California and when in particularly foul moods they would re-arrange recycling and eat all edible garbage. They were three feet tall, afflicted with toadstool-like acne, and so nearsighted that they had to feel their way around the turf. Some Sunnydale cops had dealt with a recent infestation of them by rounding up the little creatures and using them for target practice.
Must be getting’ soft in my old age, he thought, if this stuff is bugging me.
Vampire, human, he thought. It used to be so simple.
He’d be willing to bet that the guy’s neck looked like Riley‘s arm. Looked like Buffy‘s neck. . Worse than Buffy’s. The voice that heckled his brain sounded rather a bit like Drusilla’s, giving him something of a pang.
Buffy’d had reasons for what she’d done----or allowed others to do. He wasn’t sure what the Master’s bite counted as. But Angel and Dracula had occupied opposite ends of the scale, and he was willing to bet that this guy wasn’t anywhere near to understanding why someone would want to save some vampires even while fighting against others.
And sometimes do both with the same vampire, he thought. He wanted very badly to touch her right then, just to know that she was there. He also knew that the detective would probably interpret such a gesture in the worst way possible.
He cleared his throat, studying the other man, letting the silence tick by, letting the other man become aware of the way he was looking at his throat.
“Maybe I do know,” he said softly. “Do you always wear shirts and ties? Doesn’t it get hot, covering up those scars?”
Jordan’s eyes moved, although his body froze. He stared at Spike. “I---er---don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Spike heard what he wanted to hear, then----the hesitation. He wasn’t like Riley, then, he thought----not enough self-righteousness to carry off blaming someone else. It must bug him at nights, then. “I think we’re done with you, Detective. Somebody’s been walking on the wild side, haven’t they? Gotten bored with all those vampires? I bet you about pissed yourself when you saw all those dead girls. CNN and all being there, what were you going to do.“ The vampire story had another advantage, too-----it was too bizarre to be satisfying to the mainstream news, especially if some enterprising soul named Giles just happened to fax the population figures to various news agencies. “What do you do with ‘em when you’re done? Dust ‘em?” I bet he’s thinking what a shame it is human bodies don’t dust, he thought suddenly.
Buffy might just as well not have existed. The two men measured each other across the table, and she wasn’t a factor at all. Spike saw it in the detective’s eyes: the realization that Spike knew, that the jig was up. More than that, Tate knew that Spike was watching.
“This would be funny,” Tate said finally, “if you didn’t really believe this stuff.”
Buffy cleared her throat suddenly to cover up a laugh. Let’s get Angel in here and see if he believes in the Tooth Fairy.
“Well,” she said. “The thing is, you don‘t know what to believe, do you?” She looked over at Spike. “And it’s really hard to get people to believe stuff if you don’t believe it yourself, isn’t it?” After all those years of unnatural deaths, how do you sell a real murder? she thought. It’s not like the Sunnydale PD even knew how to act like real cops, anyway. He had to nail somebody for those deaths. Once they were solved, Sunnydale and all its secrets could be forgotten. The deaths of the girls had aroused too much attention. “You believe it,” She said quietly. “But nobody else will, so you’re just screwed all the way around.” She leaned really close. “I could tell you right now what happened, but it wouldn’t do you any good, because Sunnydale is gone, isn’t it? The old rules don’t work any more, and you’re in the real world.” He was probably having as much trouble as Spike was, adapting to the changes. They weren’t the only ones hiding something, she realized. He had his secrets too. And he wasn’t smart enough to figure out that if they were forced to reveal theirs, they’d drag him out into the sunlight with them.
She looked at Spike. “You wanna go?”
“Yeah, I’m done, pet.” He rose and glanced down at the detective, bracing his hands on the table. “Next time remember this thing they call evidence in the real world. It can come in handy.”
The door to the interrogation room was still locked. Buffy gave it a contemptuous glance, then matched it with her disdainful look back over her shoulder at the detective. Making sure he was watching, she twisted the metal handle off, and tossed it over her shoulder. Spike jammed his hands in his pockets and grinned at the other man before he sauntered after her. Oh, my God, he thought. We are so bloody fucked now.
Continued in Chapter 17