Life is Change

BY : trudyw
Category: BtVS Crossovers > Misc - Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 8001
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Sentinel, I make no money from the writing of this story.

Author's Note : Thank you to Lydia Monroe, Kayla Kodai, Mayweed and William George for your reviews, they are much appreciated as always.  Here's chapter 12, please read, review and enjoy.

Chapter 12

Late Afternoon / Early Evening in the Major Crimes Bullpen

Jim and Blair sat around their desk going over the new information from the latest crime scene.  In truth there wasn't that much of it, they hadn't been able to contact anyone at Hex, nor had they been able to track down the owners of the nightclub.  They had however, been able to confirm that their four victims had indeed been headed out for a night at the club.  They had spent most of the day talking to families and friends of the victims, Keith Pierson, Lola Schwarz, Erik Smithson and Ellen James. 

The four, it seemed, had known each other forever, Erik and Ellen had been high school sweethearts, while Keith and Lola had only actually been dating for a few months.  Apparently everyone but the two involved had been saying for years that Keith and Lola would be perfect together.  Now, at last, with Keith looking back on a string of meaningless flings and one-night stands and after Lola had finally gotten out of a really bad relationship they'd let their friends talk them into giving it a go and everything had just clicked into place for the young couple.  That had all been destroyed by a psychopath, or group of psychopaths with a penchant for hanging people by their ankles and draining every drop of blood from their bodies.

"I hope you have Spike's contact details, looks like we'll have to cancel tonight."  Blair shook his head as he surveyed the mess of interview notes littering the desktop.

"Leave it to me Chief, dinner's still on."  Jim assured him and pushing back his chair he stood and headed over to Simon's office, closing the door firmly behind himself.

Blair sat for a moment watching his partner through the glass, there were times when he really wished he had Sentinel hearing.

Inside the office Jim stood with his back pressed against the door, waiting for Simon to look up from the paperwork that was occupying all of his attention.

"What's up Jim?" Simon finally asked, throwing his pen down on the desk.

"I needed to speak to you Simon, you see... there's a new Sentinel in town and"

"What!" Simon interrupted with a surprised shout, "tell me you're not kicking the kid out again!"

"What! No! Why would you even think that?" Jim was honestly confused by his superior's assumption.

"Well, isn't that what happened when that Barnes woman showed up?" Simon was relieved by the obvious outrage in Jim's voice at the suggestion that Blair was once again homeless.  Still he was decidedly confused as to why Jim was mentioning it if it wasn't going to split up his best team.

Jim looked slightly sheepish as his friend's words, briefly hanging his head and rubbing at the back of his neck.  "OK, point taken, but that's not what I wanted to talk to you about."

"OK, so there is a new Sentinel in town, why are you telling me about it?"  Suddenly a horrible though hit him, they wouldn't, would they? "Tell me you're not requesting personal leave in the middle of the worst serial killer case in Cascade in Decades?"

"No, nothing like that, this new Sentinel and his Guide have come to Cascade to see if Blair can help them learn how to deal with these new powers.  They're coming over to dinner at the loft tonight so we both need to leave around six."  Jim eventually managed to get out his request without further interruption.

"Oh, is that all, well of course Jim, you and Blair take the night off for your little dinner party, and perhaps you'd like to take tomorrow too, take this Sentinel and his Guide sight seeing, I hear that the Cascade Murder tour has some fascinating new stops on account of the Serial Killer we're trying to catch!"  Simon's voice started out soft and conversational although dripping with sarcasm from every word.  By the end however he was standing, hands planted on the desk as he leaned forward glaring at his top detective shouting his final words.

"Look Simon, we're not doing anything now that we couldn't do just as well at home, the crime scene techs don't expect to have any results for us until the morning, and even when we do get the results the chances are they won't tell us anything more than we've learned from the previous bodies.  We go home for a couple of hours, deal with these guys and by then Hex should be open and we can get down there and try to find out any more information about how the latest victims were taken."

Simon suddenly looked incredibly weary, straightening he pushed up his glasses to rub tired eyes before pinching the bridge of his nose and hanging his head as if it was suddenly too heavy to hold up any longer.  "I'm sorry Jim, you didn't deserve that, take the kid and do what you need to do.  Just make sure that the techs have your cell phone number in case the results do show anything new and update me in the morning."

"No problem,  we're all on edge, when was the last time you got out of this place, and not just to a crime scene?" Jim was genuinely concerned about his boss and friend, he might be driving the task force hard to find this killer, but he was driving himself even harder.

"I'm fine," the tall man slumped back into his chair looking anything but, "it's nearly six, get your stuff together and get out of here, I'll see you bright and early in the morning."

"Thanks boss, get some sleep, yeah?"  Simon just waved him off and Jim left the office.  Crossing the bullpen he began to gather together the papers spread across his desk, "come on Chief, we're out of here, we'll deal with Spike and then we're off to Hex to see if we can get some answers."

"Is everything OK?" Blair asked as he helped straighten up the desk, shoving paperwork into his backpack so he could get some work done at home while dinner was cooking.  "Simon looked pissed."

"It's fine, this case is taking it's toll on everyone, let's just pray for a breakthrough at Hex tonight."  Jim reassured his partner before calling down to the lab to make sure that they had both his and Blair's contact details just in case of anything earth shattering in the test results.

Waiting until Jim had hung up the phone Blair looked both confused and hopeful, "are we expecting a breakthrough?"

"I don't know, we need something."  Jim broke off, this case was wearing them all down.

Two hours later Jim and Blair were sat on either side of the coffee table once more going through all the statements taken earlier that day and from the friends and families of the earlier victims.  Jim had whisked around the apartment as soon as they got home to make sure all was presentable for the evening before settling down to get some work done, Blair had joined him once dinner was underway, just popping to the kitchen occasionally to check on the food.  The apartment was now filled with delicious aromas from the meal which would be ready to eat whenever Spike and the new Sentinel arrived.

Jim looked up from his comparison of the documents before them and stared intently at the door to the loft apartment, after several moments he started gathering up the paperwork, swiftly and efficiently shuffling it into a neat pile.  "They're on the stairs" he said and Blair immediately bustled off to the kitchen to ensure everything was ready.  Two minutes later there was a sharp rap on the door and Jim opened it almost immediately to welcome their guests.

"Spike, hi, come on in both of you."  As Jim greeted the two men at the door he was surprised to see a fleeting look of shock cross the dark haired man's face.

Knowing exactly what had caused the younger man to falter Spike flung back over his shoulder, "hey, you're not in Sunnyhell anymore Dorothy!"

"OK, that was weird."  Blair had come out of the kitchen and seen the exchange between the two men.

"Hi, sorry, it's what passes for Spike's sense of humour." Xander skilfully dodged the shove that the vampire aimed at his shoulder and stepped forward to shake Jim's hand and then Blair's.  "I'm Xander, thank you so much for agreeing to talk to us."

"No problem Xander, I'm Blair, this is Jim, I'm so sorry that you had to drive all this way."  The last was said with a sharp glare at his partner causing the burly detective to drop his gaze for a moment.  Seeing the interchange Xander briefly flashed back to simpler times when the Willow glare was the worst thing he had to worry about in his life.

"Something smells really good," Xander spoke hastily trying to defuse the tense moment.

"Of course! you must be hungry for a decent meal after such a long drive, come, sit down."  Blair ushered the two men over to the kitchen table now set for four with a large pot of stew in the centre of the table, the source of the incredible aroma filling the room, and a basket of fresh baked dinner rolls beside it.  "Tuck in."

Not needing to be asked twice Xander quickly settled at the table and allowed Blair to serve him with a large helping of the stew.  As he placed the first forkful of food into his mouth Xander's eyes closed in bliss as the delicate flavours, perfectly balanced to appeal to Sentinel taste buds exploded across his tongue.

"Oh my God, Spike you have to try this, it's incredible" Xander looked to his friend who was just settling into the seat diagonally opposite him and accepting his own plateful from their host.  Seeing the young man eagerly waiting for him to try the food Spike lifted a forkful to his mouth.  As Spike parted his lips to see what all the fuss was about something niggling at the back of Xander's brain suddenly clicked into place.  Xander's smile disappeared as if flicked off by a switch and his arm shot across the table knocking the fork from Spike's hand.

"Oi!" shouted Spike in surprise as the fork clattered to the table spreading food in a wide arc.

"Garlic!" Xander blurted out at the alarmed looks on Jim and Blair's faces and Spike immediately pushed back from the table wanting to put as much space as possible between himself and the poisonous meal.  While garlic would not kill a vampire it could cause nasty burns.  If ingested it would lead to nasty burns all down the throat and into the stomach making it difficult for the vampire to properly absorb nutrients from the blood it normally fed upon thus making healing a slow and painful process.

Sniffing the air Spike realised that Xander was right, the scent was very subtle and almost masked by the herbs and spices used in the dish but it was there when he thought to check for it.

Initially, stunned by the sudden actions of their guests Blair's first thought was to grab up a cloth and start cleaning up the mess on the table while babbling out his apologies.  "I'm sorry, this was all so last minute it never occurred to me to ask about allergies, I've never heard of a garlic allergy before but..."  His voice trailed off as he looked up at his partner who had been seated beside Spike and was now stood staring in horror at the blond man.  Following the taller man's gaze he found himself staring into golden eyes set beneath a heavily ridged brow, hearing a low growl his vision focussed on the snarling mouth of the creature in front of him and the vicious looking teeth that filled it, especially the extended canines which suddenly resembled nothing so much as fangs.

"What the...." Blair gasped as he took in the predator now facing him across the dinner table.

Hearing his partners shocked words broke Jim out of his own paralysis and moving swiftly around the table he forced his Guide behind him moving them both back away from the two intruders in their home.

Seeing disaster hurtling towards them Xander carefully stood and being sure to make no sudden moves that could be misconstrued by the angry vampire or the startled police officers in the room he edged around the table.  Spike remained frozen, his body vibrating with tension as the deep seated vampiric urge to attack warred with the programming preventing violence against humans enforced by the chip.  Glancing over to Jim and Blair Xander assured himself that neither was reaching for a weapon, yet, and so he concentrated first on calming his Guide.  Locking eyes with Spike he stepped forward slowly and reached up to gently run his fingers over the heavy brow ridges. 

Feeling a slight lessening of tension in the muscles under his fingers he spoke softly, unconsciously using the same calming tones that Spike used on him after a sensory attack.  "Ssh, it's alright, nobody meant you any harm, right?" he flung the last word over his shoulder at the two men watching, one in horror the other in fascination.

"N... No... No, I'm so sorry" Blair stuttered over the words as he desperately tried to make sense of the scene playing out before him.

"See," Xander continued, "vampface really isn't helping, can't you see that you're making the nice Detectives nervous?"

Slowly, under the gentle stroking of Xander's fingers the tension drained out of Spike's body and his features melted back into their usual chiselled perfection, golden eyes faded to their more normal ice blue and the elongated fangs withdrew back up into the gums.  Finally his eyelids fluttered closed as Xander continued to stroke the now smooth skin of his forehead.

"What the hell just happened?"  Jim's words broke the silence and two heads, one dark and one bleached blonde, snapped up and around as the quiet moment between Sentinel and Guide was broken.

"OK, you might want to sit down for this," Xander offered tentatively, shifting slightly to impose his larger form between his vampire and the now angry, ex-special forces ranger across from him.

"Or maybe not." He muttered as nobody moved.

"OK, vampire 101, "  Xander started his explanation only to be interrupted almost immediately.

"Vampire!" The disbelief rang heavy in Jim's tone, "are you saying he thinks he's a vampire?"

"No, I'm saying he is a vampire." Xander stated, realising that he had a hard sell in front of him if they were going to get out of this in one piece, let alone get the help that they'd come to ask for.

Turning to properly face the other Sentinel / Guide pair Xander made sure to keep himself interposed between the vampire and the other men.  "OK, look there are all sorts of stories about vampires, they can fly, they can turn into bats, they have skin like diamond, silver kills them, that's all bull."  Xander was watching his audience as he ran through some of the abilities attributed to vampires, Jim was unmoved but he saw the excitement rising in Blair's eyes as he listed the myths only to be dashed by his final statement.  He realised that if he could convince Blair, awaken the curly haired man's lust for knowledge and understanding then just maybe he'd get them both out of this with what they'd come for, help and friends to call upon when things got rough.

"Spike is a vampire, the undead, his heart doesn't beat, he does not breathe and he has no body temperature, he feeds on blood to survive, mostly pig, some cow it just depends on what we can get hold of through local butchers or abattoirs.  Sunlight, holy water, crosses and garlic are all seriously detrimental to his health.  He has a chip in his head that will not allow him to hurt a human, even accidentally or in self defence.  If he hurts any human being he experiences an incapacitating jolt directly to the pain centres of the brain.  He has been working with the Slayer in Sunnydale for the last few years, he's one of the good guys..." Xander had to break off at this point to quell said vampire's objections with a sharp glare "He's one of the good guys" Xander repeated daring Spike with a glance to object again "and he's saved my sanity, and likely my life over the last week or so since the Sentinel abilities manifested."

Xander examined the two men facing him and could see Blair's eagerness to know more, Jim was more guarded but also looked a little confused, Xander hoped that that meant he was making some headway.  "Look, Jim, you're a Sentinel, you've been using your abilities for years, can you hear his heartbeat, can you see him breathing, can you feel any body heat from him, you've seen the change in his face when the Demon comes to the fore, you've seen his fangs, I'm telling you the truth, he's a vampire but he won't hurt you.  Either of you."  He watched his audience carefully, stepping slightly to the side to allow Jim a clear view of the vampire behind him but he remained alert, ready to defend his friend at any sign of hostility from the big man.

Stepping out from where he had been pushed, slightly behind the larger man, Blair turned the majority of his attention to his Sentinel only darting occasional quick glances across the dinner table to the other two men to make sure nothing changed.  Seeing the tension in Jim's body Blair fell back on their established Sentinel / Guide routines, reaching up with his right hand he gently grasped Jim's upper arm, squeezing slightly and then rubbing up and down in a soothing gesture designed to ground the sense of touch allowing the taller man to crank up sight and sound without risking a zone-out.

"OK Jim, bring up your sight, slowly" Blair spoke softly, directing his Sentinel without distracting him.

Jim met his Guide's eyes for a moment, seeing only calm reassurance there he relaxed into the hold on his bicep.  Bringing up the sensory controls as Blair had taught him so many years ago he mentally reached for the sight dial and eased it up focussing on the blonde man as he did so.  First he examined the man before him, he saw a young man in his mid twenties, slightly built, about 5 foot 10 with bleached blonde, slicked back hair, piercing blue eyes and cheekbones that could cut glass.  But even beyond the physical there was a feeling he got from the blonde man, one he'd only felt from Blair before, something that screamed 'Guide' to the Sentinel within.

Focussing in further he let his eyes rest on Spike's chest expecting to very quickly derail the vampire fantasy.  A slight frown creased his forehead as he realised that the man was standing unnaturally still, there was no sign of movement, dropping his gaze to the abdomen he dialled his sight up a little higher but still saw no sign of respiration.  Turning his attention to hearing he brought up that sense and attempted to focus in on the heartbeat while scanning all the visible pulse points for evidence of blood flow.  Nothing, not a sound of a heartbeat, not a whisper of circulating blood, not a flicker of movement over pulse points at neck or wrists.

Transferring his attention to the other stranger in their midst he performed all the same checks on him, a younger man, slightly taller, well muscled, longish dark hair and deep brown eyes.  Even through the baggy Hawaiian shirt it was easy to see his chest rising and falling with clear indications of normal breathing, he clearly heard a heartbeat, slightly faster than normal, but the tension of the last few minutes could easily account for that.  The whisper of blood being pumped through blood vessels provided a soothing back drop to the other normal sounds of an functioning human body and the flutter of the skin at neck and wrists clearly underlined the rhythmic thud of the heart.

Carefully returning all his dials to their default positions he turned confused eyes to Blair, "he has no heartbeat, he's not breathing and his blood is not circulating, if he wasn't standing there staring at me I'd swear he was dead."

Stunned Blair turned back to study the walking corpse in front of him before addressing his partner, "are you sure your senses aren't playing up? Check me out."

"I'd love to," he shot back, pleased at the slight blush that suffused Blair's face, before returning his attention to the matter at hand, "but I've also scanned Xander and he reads human in every way."

"A vampire," Blair breathed in awe and he tried to step forward to verify Jim's findings for himself, only to find himself stopped by the iron bar across his chest disguised as Jim's arm.  "But Jim, a vampire!"  Blair repeated turning beseeching eyes on his Sentinel.

"Exactly Blair, a vampire, and we have exsanguinated corpses turning up all over Cascade!" Jim countered.

 

"Oh shit!" the words fell simultaneously from three separate pairs of lips as Jim's words registered with each member of his audience.

Xander quickly stepped in front of Spike once more as he saw the curiosity shut out of Blair's eyes and quickly replaced by disgust as the curly haired man stepped back in horror.  "Wait! If you have a vampire problem then we can help, Spike is not your problem, the Initiative put a chip in his head, it even affects his spirit guide, he can't hurt anyone human."

"You have a spirit guide?" Blair's eyes flew to meet Spike's.

"So did Alex Barnes!" Jim stated flatly, refusing to allow his Guide to be taken in by his own innate good nature.  The older Sentinel felt as if he were fighting a battle on two fronts.  Not only did he have to keep his Guide from giving in to his unquenchable thirst for knowledge and his inevitable curiosity about an entire culture hiding in plain sight in the populace at large.  He also had to combat his own Sentinel instincts which were shouting 'Trust the Guide' in direct opposition to his Detective instincts that any being that lived on the blood of others could not be trusted.

"Yes Blair, he has a spirit animal, we both do," Xander latched onto Blair's obvious interest and decided to try and play on that.  "Spike has a white tiger called Trevor and mine is a hyena called Lex, they first appeared four nights ago in Vacaville, scared the living daylights out of me when I woke up to find a Hyena sleeping on the bed behind me.  Then the next night in Eugene they appeared again, but this time they were freaked out by something, their warning saved us from a beating, hell, it might've saved our lives.   Four drug addicts kicked down the door of our motel room and tried to rob us.  Spike couldn't fight them because they were human, the spirit guides helped but when Trevor took down the last one he was zapped just like Spike would've been.  It was horrible, luckily he had recovered and they both disappeared before the police arrived on the scene."

""You named your spirit guide Trevor!" the shock was clear in Jim's face and voice, he found himself wanting more than ever to believe them.  Then it struck him, maybe he could, if they could prove that they had been in Eugene three nights ago then that gave them an alibi for the latest murders.  Then Xander's earlier words sunk in, "you said that the Initiative put a chip in his head so he can't hurt humans?" the intonation in his voice turned the statement into a question and Xander nodded unsure of where this was leading. 

"If this Initiative is working to stop vampires killing then they must be good guys right? can we contact them for confirmation..."  Jim had been so sure of himself at first but the peel of laughter invoked by his assumption about the initiative had him more confused than ever and his words faded out.

Xander's sudden amusement at the thought of the Initiative as good guys quickly passed and he tried to explain the facts of life to the struggling Detective who was seeing the fundamental pillars of his life and his belief system dissolving before his very eyes.  "The Initiative were a bunch of mad scientists working secretly from an installation hidden beneath UC Sunnydale.   They had a unit of soldier boys attached to their command and they sent them out nightly to capture and kill the demons, vampires, anyone they could find.  They were experimenting on the soldiers without their knowledge or consent, injecting them with drug cocktails to turn them into super soldiers.  It worked too, if you can discount the side-effects.  And even with all that their best team couldn't do half the good in a month that the slayer did all on her own every single night." 

By this point both Jim and Blair were fully caught up in what they were being told.  Honesty and integrity poured off of the young man in front of them and they had absolutely no doubt that every word he said was pure, unvarnished truth.

Seeing that he was finally getting through Xander pressed on, "the problem with the Initiative was that they didn't really understand the world that they had stumbled upon.  They didn't discriminate, they upset the natural order of things.  They killed or captured any demon they found, regardless of whether they were good or evil.  Perfectly peaceful demon tribes that were simply struggling to get by on the fringes of society would be targeted by armed soldiers with just as much ferocity as the real, card-carrying, baby-eating monsters.  And that wasn't the worst of it, all those demons they captured, they hacked off the best bits and frankensteined them together to make their own super monster, Adam."  The loathing in Xander's voice at the mention of the name was plain to see, even for the non-Sentinel members of his audience.

"So, the Initiative are not the good guys?"  Blair deadpanned.

"No, the Initiative were not the good guys" Xander replied putting heavy emphasis on the past tense.

"OK, so you mentioned a Slayer, who's that?" asked Blair.

"Buffy Ann Summers" was the succinct reply.

"AKA Slutty the vampire shagger!" Spike interjected.

Xander turned and slapped Spike on the chest, "not helping bleach boy."

Blair just laughed at their antics, "come on and sit down" and he turned to push Jim towards the farthest couch leaving the meal forgotten on the table.

Seeing the bemused Sentinel simply follow his Guide's urgings Xander felt a huge wave of relief as the tension drained from him.  The big man baulked at one point trying to turn back but Blair just pushed him back in the direction he wanted him to go.  “They're good guys Jim, get over it, they may be able to help us.”  The Sentinel  clearly decided to trust his Guide's instincts and Jim sat in the centre of the couch and leaned forward elbows on his knees.  Blair nodded in satisfaction and sat beside his Sentinel, leaning back so that he could place one hand discretely on the small of Jim's back using the connection to keep his Sentinel grounded.

Spike and Xander shared a look, an entire conversation passing between them without words, 'whipped!' and the reply 'totally!'  Then by mutual agreement they moved to take their seats opposite their hosts.  “You mentioned exsanguinated corpses?” Xander asked hoping not to have to do the entire vampire / demon / slayer exposition, really Giles was so much better at that whole speech.

“Not so fast, vampires, slayers, we need more information before we can go any further.”  Blair quickly shot down Xander's hopes of shifting the focus off of himself.

With a resigned sigh Xander started again, “OK, vampire 101 mark 2,” and he scanned his audience to see if there would be any further interruptions.  Seeing nothing but rapt attention on the faces opposite he continued.  “Long, Long ago before humans ever existed demons walked the earth.  When mankind appeared men and demons co-existed for a long time but eventually the demons were pushed out.  As the last demon left this dimension it fed on a human, mingling their blood and creating the first vampire.  Vampires flourished and humankind was in danger of extinction until a group of tribal elders found a solution.  They took a young girl and infused her with special powers, speed, strength, an innate fighting ability, everything she needed to fight the monsters that lurk in the dark.  She was the first slayer, since then whenever one slayer dies another is called, always a girl of around fifteen years old.  Suddenly she finds herself endowed with super human powers and a destiny to fight monsters that most people don't even believe exist.  Most slayers don't live more than 2 or 3 years after they are called.”

Xander paused in his explanation waiting to see if there were any questions but Jim and Blair simply stared at him with twin expressions of horror on their faces.

“The watchers are a race of stuffy, tweed clad, British types who guide and train the slayers.  There is always one watcher assigned to a new slayer to explain to a her about the changes in her life and about her destiny.  The watcher then stays with the slayer to help her train to use her gifts and to try to keep her alive as long as possible.  The watchers council... well to be honest I don't know what they do, other than make the slayer's life as difficult as possible.”  Bitterness twisted Xander's usually handsome features into a harsh expression of loathing before he shook it off and continued his lecture.

“Spike is a vampire, he was turned 150 years ago in Victorian London by Drusilla, wonderful woman but crazy as a loon, her sire was Angel and he was the one who taught Spike all he needed to know to survive.  His sire was Darla and together the four of them were known as the Scourge of Europe.  Together they rampaged across the continent on a killing spree that lasted for the next 50 years, then Darla gave Angel a gift and everything fell apart.  She captured a young Romany girl who she offered to her childe, Angel played with her for a while and then killed her.  Unfortunately for him she was much loved by her tribe and they cursed him.”  Xander paused briefly to see if what he was saying was being accepted by his audience only to find them staring with rapt attention. 

“You have to understand, when a human is turned the soul moves out and a Demon moves in, the vampire may use your body to do terrible things but you're not there any more.  The Gypsies cursed Angel with his soul, they pulled it back out from wherever it had ended up and stuffed it back into his body alongside the Demon.  He still knew all the terrible things  the Demon had done with his body and he suffered agonies of guilt, he suffered for the next 90 or so years living off the blood of rats and other small mammals until he was offered a chance for redemption.  He was shown a small, blonde girl sat on the steps outside of her school, she looked devastated, she had just been told that she was the new slayer and all the dreams that she had had for her life were destroyed.  Angel was offered the choice to help her, he took it and the rest, as they say, is history.”  Xander stopped, lost in the memories of the last seen years since Buffy came in to his life.  He knew that in the occasional moment of weakness he might long for the quiet normal life that might have been but in truth he would never change anything.

Jim  slumped back as Xander finished, he knew that there was surely more to the story but it was obvious that the young man was exhausted by the recital, any more details could wait.  A quick glance assured him that Spike had the young Sentinel well in hand and he turned to survey his own Guide.  Blair was still lost in all the possibilities that had  unfolded before him, a million questions sparkling inside that curly head.  Jim knew that normally Blair was the most compassionate of human beings, however when his intellectual curiosity was as strongly aroused as now he sometimes forgot all else in his thirst for knowledge.

Feeling Blair's intake of breath as he prepared to ask the first of what would surely be several hours worth of questions Jim placed a large hand on the denim clad knee beside him in restraint.  “Thank you Xander, I think it's our turn now.”  Jim leaned forward to open the folder into which all the crime scene photo's and notes had been so hastily stuffed when he'd heard their visitors on the stairs.  Now he pulled out all those pictures and spread them on the table once more.  “Several months ago we were called to a murder scene.  The victim was a young man, he had ligature marks on his  ankles and a small puncture wound on his arm.  Every drop of blood had been drained from his body.  We worked the case hard for the first few days but there were no new leads and eventually it got pushed down the pile by new cases coming in with hotter leads and a better chance of catching the perp.  A month later another body was found, the same ligature marks, the same puncture wound, the same cause of death.”  Jim paused and Blair took up the tale.

“We connected the two cases and after further investigation found several other murders over the last few years, all spread out, four to six months apart.  There have been several more murders since, they're getting more frequent and we're seeing more bodies at each crime scene.  The latest were found today, four young people killed, suspended by their ankles and drained of blood.  We think that they'd been at a local nightclub, we were planning on heading over there after speaking to you guys to see what else we can find out.”  Blair waited, wondering what their guests would make of the case that had baffled Cascade PD for the last few months.

“One small puncture wound you say?” Xander mused and Blair nodded in confirmation.

“Then it isn't vampires.”  Xander stated in absolute confidence.

“Why not?” Jim asked interested to hear the young man's justification.

Xander just gestured towards Spike's mouth, “you've seen his fangs, right?” he asked and Spike helpfully extended his vampire canines in a graphic demonstration.

“A feeding vampire will rip and tear, they would only leave small, neat holes if they were turning their victim.  Have any of your bodies gotten up and walked away?”

A/N : There it is, let me know what you think.  Please review.



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