Title: Blood is Life
Disclaimer: BtVS belongs to Joss Whedon, and Numb3rs belongs to Nicolas Falacci and Cheryl Heuton. Oh! And I didn't come up with the name "ISWC" either.
A/N: So...I finally got over my confidence issues over this fic, and my muse decided to return to me. Also, I guess, when I first started this fic, I was rushing it and didn't give it much thought, so yeah...I'm having a hard time bringing Connor into the story... but still, hopefully this chapter is still enjoyable...(and hopefully I didn't make too much mistakes...I was in a hurry) :(
9TH October 2010,
Providence, Los Angeles
"So, what's on your thought?" a female voice asked. She had on hand propped on the table, with her head rested on it, while the other was placed on top of Don's right hand.
Don, brought back to reality, grimaced and apologized. "I'm sorry for zoning out on you, Robin."
Robin grinned. "It's fine. You looked cute when you're thinking," she teased.
"Cute, never. Handsome, yes," Don corrected her, with a playful smile of his own.
Robin had just returned to Los Angeles from Portland earlier that day, so Don decided to take her out for dinner at a restaurant at Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles. He had not seen his fiancée for nearly two weeks after all.
"You have not answered my question yet," she said. After a pause, she asked, "Are you still thinking about the organization your cousins worked with?" Don mentioned it to her a lot, ever since Joyce's party.
"Yeah," he answered. "It's just, the pieces of clues I gathered made more questions appear rather than answers." He sighed, and ran a hand over his face. "She's my baby cousin, Robin. I—"
"You need to protect her," she cut in, and smiled. "I know." She took Don's hand, and kissed his knuckles lightly. "That's what I love about you." After she let go of Don's hand, she said, "Listen, I'll try to call in favours, and see what I can find out, okay?"
"Thank you. Make sure Dawn wouldn't find out though. She hates to be babied, and if she knows I'm going behind her back…"
They ceased talking about Dawn, and other things related to the young brunette when their food came. They conversation remained light from that point on, filled with teasing, jokes, and laughter.
9th October 2010,
Anya Jenkins Academy, Pasadena
"Hey lil bit, want to patrol some bars downtown, then head to Caritas?" Spike asked as he entered the library on the second floor of the administration building, which also served as HQ building. Unlike the library that the students of the academy have access too, the library at the administration building was where they kept all the valuable books, as well as important books for research during the apocalypse.
"I can't tonight," Dawn, answered without taking her eyes off the book she was reading. "I'm working on my thesis."
"I thought you're on a holiday."
"My thesis doesn't write itself, you know? Just because I'm here instead of Oxford, doesn't mean I can slack off."
Spike took a few strides towards Dawn's table, and sat at the opposite side of her. He then took the indirect approach of annoying Dawn by ignoring the brunette, at the same time tapping his foot on the floor, or his fingers on the table. It lasted for a good ten minutes before Dawn's patience broke. He smirked when Dawn let out a soft scream of frustration.
"Fine, we'll go patrolling, then socializing at Caritas," she rolled her eyes, and closed the book she was reading. She looked at her wristwatch. It was half past ten. She sighed, and stood up, "I'll see you at the lobby when I'm done changing."
It didn't take for Dawn to change into her patrol-suitable clothes, but Spike being his annoying self couldn't resist complaining. "What took you so long, nibblet?"
Dawn rolled her eyes. "It was barely ten minutes." After putting on her leather coat, she said, "Come on, let's get going." Spike passed her his motorcycle helmet once they exited the building, and after it was secured on Dawn's head, they got on the bike, and headed to downtown Los Angeles.
During the twenty minutes ride, Dawn asked, "Have you heard from Connor?"
"You would know if I had, Dawn."
Dawn sighed. When it comes to Connor, no one questioned it whenever he needed to get away. Everyone knew that he needed to disappear for a little while sometimes, to clear his head. After the battle that left all of Angel's team but Spike and Illyria dead, Buffy had took Connor in, welcomed him into their family. He lived with them in Scotland for a while before returning to Los Angeles, and continuing his studies at CalSci. That was one of the reasons why the L.A HQ was in Pasadena instead. It made everyone worried once when he went off for a week without informing anyone. That's why, now, when he needed to get away from the city, or the crowd, he would inform one of the Scoobies first. But this time was different. Connor was supposed to be back by now. He told them that he would surely be home in time for Joyce's birthday.
"Don't worry about it, nibblet. Junior can take care of himself." Although Spike was trying to sound nonchalant, she could hear the worried tone in his voice.
"I thought he was getting better."
"He was but… After losing the only family he has, Buffy filled that void by taking him in. And with Buffy's death…" Spike was driving, so he couldn't see Dawn's reaction, but he knew her enough that he didn't have really see her to know. "Don't start blaming yourself again, Dawn."
"I am such a lousy best friend," she sighed. "I could only think about my own pain and guilt, I forgot about him, how he would have felt. I always get updates from Willow. She told me he went to class regularly, and didn't disappear as much as after Angel's death, so I didn't think to call him often."
"Junior will do whatever he want, with or without your constant calls. So don't try to place another misplaced guilt on your shoulder, nibblet."
There was silence for a moment, before Dawn said softly, "Thank you, Spike."
Spike didn't say anything immediately. After he parked his motorcycle at one of the nightclubs at downtown Los Angeles, and both of them got off the bike, he said, "Now don't go around telling people we have this talk. I have a bloody reputation to keep."
Dawn giggled. "Whatever you say, Spike."
With one last glare at Dawn's direction, both of them went inside the nightclub. Usually, mini-slayers who were still students would be taken for patrolling every few days in a week, with some older mini-slayers, or field watchers. Nightclubs, however, were usually Spike's and sometimes, older slayers who had graduated, and are no longer underage.
11th October 2010
Charlie looked up with a smile when he heard his wife's voice. "Hey yourself," he replied.
Amita walked into Charlie's office, and stopped in front of his table. "Want to head out for lunch?" she asked. "Want to try the pizza at the new pizza parlour near CalSci? A student of mine said that it's good."
"Sure, let me just…" he stood up, and placed the paper he was reading back into its folder before keeping it in his drawer. Then, he wrapped a hand around Amita's waist before walking out of the office.
The walk to the parlour was a short five-minutes walk. They chatted all the way there, but Amita noticed that Charlie's attention wasn't fully there. So, after they were seated, and ordered their food, Amita cut right to the chase.
"What's bothering you?"
He opened his mouth, about to deny it but one look from Amita made him reconsider. After a moment, he said, "Do you remember my grad student, Connor Reilly?" When Amita nodded, he continued, "He took a leave of absence for two weeks more than a week ago. I'm worried"
"Why? Is he in trouble?"
"No, he's not. He's a really promising student. It's just that… Connor, he seemed troubled sometimes. I don't want him to fall in a bad crowd."
Amita placed a hand on Charlie's. "If you're that worried, why don't you visit his home? Check up on him."
Charlie nodded, "Maybe I'll do just that." He smiled when Amita gave him a reassuring squeeze.
They dropped the subject about Charlie's student when their pizza came, and an hour later, they were back in their respective office at CalSci. After contemplating Amita's suggestion one more time, he decided to go with it. He logged onto his computer, and accessed Connor's personal information. He only planned to acquire Connor's home address when something caught his eyes. Apparently, the person listed as Connor's emergency contact is Graham Miller.
Charlie furrowed his eyebrows. He didn't know both men knew each other. He never saw Graham with Connor before, and he lived next door. He wondered how they knew each other. There did not seem to be any blood relations between the two. He also wondered if Dawn knew Connor too. He decided to ask both people in question later while he copied Connor's home address. Then, he kept it at the back of his mind as he prepared for his next class.
11th October 2010
The Craftsman, Pasadena
"How's the rib?" Dawn asked Xander through their video Skype call.
"It's healing," Xander answered nonchalantly.
Dawn was sitting in her room, or the guest room she's residing in, and Xander was at the Cleveland HQ. After the three of them (him, Willow, and Faith) teleported back to ISWC Cleveland Headquarter, Xander didn't feel well enough to teleport back to Scotland, so he decided to stay in Cleveland. Besides, he was supposed to have his downtime. Might as well do it helping out at Cleveland HQ and the academy there.
Dawn raised an eyebrow, and frowned. "Is there something you're not telling me?"
Xander winced, knowing he had no choice but telling Dawn the truth. Her raised eyebrow look is just as bad as Willow's resolved face. "I may or may not have went patrolling with Faith, and we may or may not have stopped by a demons bar for some drinks and was involved in a few fights."
"You were pissed?" she asked incredulously.
"I meant, you were drunk," she amended. "How much did you drink?"
"Well…" Then, his expression changed. "Hey, wait a minute, we were supposed to be talking about you."
Dawn actually pouted at that. "I'm fine, and I'm spending more time with people."
Xander grinned. "Not so fun when the table was turned on you, huh?" Dawn saw him taking a bite of an apple, before continuing, "So, how did the dinner with Don's fiancée went?"
She smiled. "It went well. Don took us all to a steakhouse downtown Los Angeles. Robin was great. She's clever, and funny, but also the no nonsense type."
A small smile appeared on Xander's face. "I'm glad you're having a good time. I was worried about you when you were at Oxford, and refused to come home." When he saw the look on Dawn's face, he waved his hands in front of the computer screen. "Hey, I didn't say that to make you feel bad."
"Yeah, I know," she said softly. "Robin asked me to be her bridesmaid, so I'm extending my stay in Los Angeles."
"That's great," and Xander was genuinely glad about it. He knew Dawn was always reluctant to stay at a place that reminded her of Buffy for a long time, so if her cousins and uncle could heal her, than he wouldn't mind even if Dawn wanted to stay in L.A for months-long. He grinned, and jokingly said, "Need a date?"
"I thought of taking Connor instead, but thanks for the offer." At that time, Dawn was tying up her long hair in a bun; she didn't see the flash of hurt in Xander's eyes. By the time she looked back at the screen, Xander had already schooled his features.
"Talking about Connor, Michael told me that you were concerned about him." Michael Blythe was a newer generation of watcher, and one of the few that didn't perish with the original Watcher's Council. Because he was young, it was easier to change his way of thinking to how the new council operates. Michael also took over as administrator of the Anya Jenkins Academy, and Los Angeles/ Pasadena branch of the council a few years ago.
Dawn nodded. "He never stayed away for a longer duration than what he informed us before. And he didn't answer his phone too."
"Don't worry, he's fine. He still has his tracker on, Willow checked. She said he's somewhere in the desert. Just give him time." The tracker was in the form of a hand bracelet, ankle bracelet, or ring, which was compulsory for all Council members to wear in case they were captured, and needs to be found. As long as they have the tracker on them, Willow would be able to track them through magic. If they activated the device, their location will appear on the Council's computer.
Dawn sighed in relief. "I guess it's time for me to go," she said, after glancing at the time. "I'm helping out at the Academy tomorrow. Goodnight, Xander."
"Goodnight, Dawn," he replied, and the sentence 'I love you' remained unspoken. After a nod, they ended their Skype video call.
14th October 2010
Eppes Craftsman, Pasadena
Dawn groaned when the loud noises woke her up before her alarm even rang. She groaned more when she realized it was only 9 in the morning. She pulled on her robe, and headed down to the source of noise. It came from the kitchen, in the form of three men.
"What the bloody hell is going on?" she almost growled. "Why are you guys shouting?" When no one answered her, impatiently she said, "Well?" It took all her control not to cross her hands over her chest, and tap her foot on the wooden floor.
"Charlie wanted me to use FBI resources to look for his student," Don started.
"He's missing!" Charlie interjected.
"You don't know that, not officially," Don said, his voice starting to rise.
"Anyways, they were arguing about that, and I'm an unfortunate bystander, who got dragged into this whole mess," Alan finished, before his two sons could start another row.
Dawn sighed. 'Men,' she thought, rolling her eyes. She went to the freshly brewed coffee, and poured herself a mug. "Why aren't the three of you at work anyways?"
"Day off," Alan answered.
"I only have evening classes to teach today," Charlie mumbled.
"And I'm here for Charlie's help with a case," Don said.
Charlie's eyes widened. "Why didn't you say so earlier?"
"Because you didn't give me a chance to say anything, not with the argument."
Charlie frowned, but let it slide. "I'll change, and I'll ride to the office with you."
Don nodded. Before his younger brother left, he added, "Hey, buddy. I'm sorry I couldn't help you about your student though."
After Charlie left, Don saw his father's amused grin. "What?"
Alan shook his head. "Both of you can't stay mad at each other for a long time, huh?"
Dawn hid her own grin behind her mug. "Buffy and I used to act that way too," she said softly, as she started reminiscing.
"I remember," Alan, told her, probably reminiscing an old memory of his own.
She blinked away the tears that she felt forming in her eyes, and looked at her cousin. She tried to change the subject. "So, what is your case about this time?"
"I'm sorry, I can't talk about an open case with a civilian," Don answered.
Dawn wanted to say that she has a TS security clearance, but kept her mouth shut. She didn't want to be bombarded by Don's question on how she obtained that level of clearance when she's supposedly only a translator with a PhD.
Charlie chose that moment to walk into the kitchen. "I'm ready."
Don nodded at his brother, and both of them excused themselves before exiting the house. Alan glanced at Dawn. "Do you have anywhere you needed to be, or do you want to have breakfast at someplace fancy with me?" he grinned at his niece.
"Define fancy," she grinned.
14th October 2010
FBI Office, Los Angeles
'Damn it,' Graham cursed, as he made his way to the war room with his coffee. He was looking forward to a peaceful weekend, and this case came up. When he first heard 'dead girls' and 'cemeteries', he thought it might be a vampire. 'A vampire serial killer,' he snorted. Not like he hadn't seen anything weirder. But he was wrong. It was a genuine serial killer, fortunately. He wasn't sure if his team was ready to learn about the supernatural.
Apparently, this killer has killed ten other victims, all female teenagers within the age of fourteen to eighteen, in two other different states before arriving in Los Angeles. They have yet to identify the killer, but they knew the killer was 5'2 male, Caucasian, with dark hair. The killer's MO was to rape his victim, and mark them with cigarette burns at their pulse on the neck, before killing them via strangulation and dumping their body at a cemetery.
When Graham entered the war room, Colby, Nikki, and Liz were already there. The only one missing is Don, who went to retrieve Charlie from the latter's home.
"This man is one sick nutcase," Nikki commented, as she looked at the board that was filled with photos of the killer's victims.
The photos were arranged from the first victim to the last. Despite being from a range of different age, one similarity that the victims shared was their features. Each one of them was skinny and athletic, with blonde hair and blue eyes, although the shade varies from one victim to another.
"I've been on this job for a long time, but all of this still gets to me at times," Liz said.
"That's what make us humans," Colby put in his two cents.
"That's deep, Granger, but true," Don, who just entered the war room with Charlie next to him, said. "What do we have?"
"First victim, identified as Amanda Shay, 17 years old, found in Evergreen Cemetery a week ago, naked, and covered with rose petals. There were multiple cuts and bruises on various parts of her body, and the signature cigarette marks on her pulse point at the side of her neck," Nikki said. "LAPD didn't make a connection to the serial killings until another body was found yesterday."
Colby took over. "Second victim, Cara Grayson, 15 years old, found in Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles early this morning, in the same condition as the first victim. Her mom reported her missing when she didn't return home after her violin lesson yesterday." After a paused, Colby added, "It looks like this perp never dumps the body at the same place."
"This bastard killed ten other victims in Oregon, and Nevada, over the last six months," Graham stated. "Oregon PD, and FBI Las Vegas is sending all the files they have on this serial killer as we speak."
Don nodded. "What did the ME say?"
Again, the members of Don's team began stating facts that they knew. After they were done, Don looked at his brother, and Charlie began telling them about an equation they could use to find the killer's patterns. However, for the equation to work, he would need more data than what they have currently. While Charlie worked on the equation, Colby and Nikki went to interview the first victim's family, and Graham and Liz went to the second victim's house.
Before Don went to attend his meeting, he stopped by Charlie's side. Placing a hand on Charlie's shoulder, he asked, "Hey, are you okay, buddy? You looked a little pale earlier."
Charlie sighed, dropping his hands to his side. He turned to face Don. "It's just… No matter how long I've been a consultant, cases like this," he waved towards the board filled with the victims' photos, "it still makes me sick. How could…it's really unfair…"
"I know, buddy," Don replied. "That's why it is our job to find justice for these girls. But are you still up for it? With you being away for a few months, and when you returned, your schedule is too full to allow you time to do some consultant jobs for us…can you still do this?" Before Charlie could say anything defensive, Don put up his hands, and added, "I'm not trying to coddle you, and take you off this case, but if you can't cope with this, I'll understand. I won't see you as a weak person, Chuck."
Charlie smiled. "It's okay, Don. I'm fine. And don't call me Chuck," he playfully punched Don's shoulder, and the older man laughed. After a short pause, he continued, "Now go on, you have a meeting, don't you?"
Don nodded, and left after giving Charlie a clap on the back. Then, the professor turned back towards the board, and sighed as he looked at the unfinished equation. He hoped the files get here soon. He really needed the datas.
15th October 2010
Lacy Park, San Marino
Connor was exhausted by the time he passed by Lacy Park. He still couldn't believe how careless he was. When he started becoming restless, he decided to drive to Mojave Desert to clear his head. The council owns a cabin there, which he frequently used whenever he was out there. Climbing mountains, and hiking had always calmed him down, other than fighting demons and vampires.
He was on his way home when his car almost ran out of fuel, so he stopped at a petrol station in Victorville. He left his car for a while to use the loo, and when he returned, his car was gone. All his things, his wallet, cell phone, and the key to his apartment were in the car. He could already hear Dawn lecturing him about leaving his wallet, and cell phone in the car, or forgetting to lock said car. With no money, and no cell phone, his only option was to walk. It took him two days, but he finally made it back to Pasadena.
He was too tired to try climbing up to his apartment, since he didn't have his apartment key, so his only option was Graham's house or Anya Jenkins Academy. Since he knew Graham would be working, he opted for the academy. When he passed the park, he perked up when he vaguely hear Joyce's voice with his super hearing abilities. He knew that sometimes, the seniors at Anya Jenkins Academy would take Joyce to the park for a picnic. Because he was too hungry, he decided to head towards where the girls were sitting. They always brought a lot of food to their picnics.
When Connor walked closer, he could see Adisa sitting on the blanket, where the food was laid, and Hana, Kaylee, Allison, and Joyce were playing tag. However, he frowned when he saw a man spying the five girls. Quietly, he sneaked behind the man.
"What do you think you're doing?"
Startled, the man immediately spun around. He tried to run, but Connor managed to grab his arm. He struggled, and the commotion caught the mini-slayers, and Joyce's attention. Kaylee and Allison immediately guarded Joyce, while Adisa, and Hana went towards them.
Unfortunately, the man managed to get out of Connor's hold, and pushed him back. Because he was hungry and slightly weakened, Connor staggered backwards when he was pushed. The man chose that moment to run away. Adisa and Hana wanted to give chase, but Connor stopped them.
"Let him be."
"But," Adisa and Hana protested.
"He's human," Connor told them. "You'll get into trouble if something happened. Let's just report it to Graham, okay?" Both girls nodded.
"Hey, is everyone okay?"
The three of them turned to see Kaylee, Allison and Joyce running towards them. Joyce's eyes widened when she saw Connor, and immediately jumped towards the brunette. "Uncle Connor!"
Connor caught her, and hugged her tight. "Hey, duckling. I missed you."
"I missed you too." She looked at Connor's face. "You didn't come to my birthday," she frowned.
"Sorry, princess, but I had things to do."
"It's okay." She nuzzled back towards Connor's chest.
"What happened?" Allison, fourteen years old from Las Vegas, asked.
"I'd like to know that too," Adisa said. The other minis nodded in agreement.
"I was walking towards the five of you when I saw the man watching Joyce, Kaylee, Allison and Hana," Connor explained. "I snuck up on him, and when he tried to run, I grabbed him. But as you can see, he managed to get away."
Adisa nodded. Then, she gave Connor the once-over. "What happened to you though? You looked like shit."
"Thanks," Connor glared at her. They could practically hear the sarcasm dripping in that one word. "My car was stolen, so I had to walk all the way from Victorville."
"You left your phone, and wallet in the car again, didn't you?" Allison smirked.
"Yes, you smartass."
The four minis laughed. When they realized Joyce was being awfully quiet, they found that she actually fell asleep in Connor's embrace. So, Adisa decided that it was time to head back to the academy.
On their way home, the four minis were becoming carefree once again, but Connor couldn't help thinking about the man from earlier. Why was he watching Joyce and the others? Who was he watching? Was it Joyce, or was it one of the slayers?
A/N: So, what do you think? Please leave a review~ It will be very much appreciated.