I Fall to Pieces
Brooklyn strode into the office, her school satchel over her shoulder and a stack of mail in her hand, "Morning guys." she greeted with a smile. Her hair was slightly curled, falling in waves down her back, and she wore a pink sweater with light colored skinny jeans and tan ankle boots, a pink ribbon in her hair. "I grabbed the mail." she set the small stack on the coffee table in front of the couch.
"Thanks, Brookie." Cordelia smiled at the young blonde. "By the way, you look really cute."
"Thanks." Brooklyn replied, leaning against the small cabinet where the office coffee pot sat.
"Shouldn't you be heading off to school by now?" Doyle questioned, glancing up from reading the newspaper.
The blonde's expression fell, "I know, but I was just checking in, seeing if we've got a new case."
"No visions yet, sorry Slayer." the half-demon informed.
"Damn." Brooklyn cursed under her breath, snapping her fingers.
Cordelia let out a frustrated groan, "Nothing but bills." she shook her head, flipping through the mail stack. "Water, power, and my perennial favorite: the rent. What am I missing?"
Doyle glanced back at the brunette, "Not a thing I can see."
Brooklyn rolled her eyes at the comment. "Doyle, try to pay attention." she scolded with a shake of her head.
"I am paying attention, princess." Doyle replied. "We need the income to pay for the outgo around here."
"Exactly!" Cordelia agreed. "This is a business, and we should be running it like one. We should be charging." She paced back and forth in front of her desk. "I know Angel has been working day and night helping people fight their personal demons, but I need a raise."
Doyle arched his brow, "A raise?" he repeated. "What, you've been working for him for like 20 minutes?"
"A month." Cordelia corrected. "And I have needs. Certain designer things."
"Personally, I don't think you need much in the way of clothes." Doyle stated, casting a quick glance over Cordy's body before meeting her eyes. "But you are right, and I do agree. Angel needs to start charging."
Brooklyn rolled her eyes again, "Yeah, but you know how he hates bringing up the finances with the clients." she reminded, walking over and leaning against the side of Cordelia's desk, her arms folded over her chest. "Honestly, so do I for that matter. I think my calling as the Slayer means more than charging a fee for services rendered."
"Yeah, you like playin' the hero." Doyle continued. "Ya know, you all decked out in leather with yer stakes and knives, and Angel walking off into the dark with his long coat flowing behind him in that mysterious and attractive way."
Both females started in the Irishman's direction, their expressions similar, folded arms and arched eyebrows. "I'm not saying I'm attracted." Doyle stammered in defense, "I'm just saying he-" the half-demon caught the slightly narrowed look in Brooklyn's eyes, "you guys-" he quickly corrected, "are projecting a certain kind of image and asking for money ain't part of it. You're sensitive about that."
The elevator doors opened, and Angel stepped off, walking into the lobby area, "Here he comes." Cordy whispered. "We're going to stand up to him about the money issues." Doyle nodded in agreement.
"Oh, this ought to be good." Brooklyn muttered under her breath. "Morning Angel." she greeted with a smile.
"Morning." Angel echoed, pouring some coffee into a Styrofoam cup, his face scrunching up in disgust. "What is this?"
"Last week's coffee." Cordelia answered, bluntly. "Think of it as Espresso."
Angel coughed and threw the cup in the trash, "I think my esophagus is melting."
"I'll buy some next time I'm out." Brooklyn volunteered.
Doyle cleared his throat, "You and Brooklyn have sure been making us proud these last few weeks fighting the evil and all that." he grinned, draping his arm around the young Slayer's shoulders.
"Yeah, you both have been fantastic." Cordelia added. "Saving people left and right..."
"I'm not comfortable asking people for money." Angel interrupted them, looking in their direction.
"Well, get over it!" Cordy exclaimed, then hunched her shoulders when Angel looked directly at her. "I meant that in a sensitive way."
"Just for clarification, I had no part in this." Brooklyn stated, holding up her hands in defense.
"Look, I know it's not your favorite thing, but you've got to do what's right." Doyle glanced between the vampire and Slayer.
This time, Angel arched his brow, "You think it's right to ask people in trouble for money."
"No." Doyle groaned, his face contorting in pain.
"So, we agree then." the blonde teen sighed.
Doyle repeated the same answer, his hand flying to his head as she bit down a scream and fell into the desk. His friends rushed to his side. "Doyle, you alright?" Brooklyn asked, resting her hand against his back.
"Pen. Paper." the half-demon grunted out. "Single malt scotch."
Cordelia handed him the pen and paper, while Angel poured the shot of scotch, "What did you see?" he asked, setting the glass down on the desk.
"Melissa Burns, works at Pardell Paper products." Doyle answered, writing down the information. Cordy grabbed the phonebook and began flipping through the pages.
"How'd she look?" Brooklyn questioned, still resting her hand on her friend's back.
"Better than me." Doyle chuckled, gulping down the scotch. "This ain't single malt." he recoiled. "More like, polymalt."
"Here's the address for Pardell Paper Products." Cordelia handed the paper with the address to Angel.
"Guess we're going to work." the young blonde beamed, heading towards the elevator.
"I'll talk to Melissa." Angel stopped her, grabbing his coat and shrugging it on. "You're going to school. Better leave now before you're late." He opened the elevator door and stepped inside.
"Fine." Brooklyn huffed, adjusting the strap of her satchel. "See you guys later." She spun on her heels and headed out the office door.
The school day dragged on like quicksand for Brooklyn, who kept tapping her fingers to the ticking clock in every classroom. When cheerleading practice rolled around, the young Slayer knew she was almost clear.
"5! 6! 7! 8!" Kacey called out, leading the team through the routine. Brooklyn kept her eyes on her friend and followed the moves precisely and on beat. When the music ended, she was the only one not panting or catching her breath.
"Alright everyone, that's it for today." Kacey addressed the rest of the squad, turning to face them. "Dismissed."
Brooklyn grabbed her duffle bag and backpack from the bench and slung the straps over her shoulder, heading towards her car. "Hey B, you wanna go grab something to eat and study at my place?" the brunette teen asked, catching up with the blonde.
"As tempting as that sounds, Kace, I can't." the blonde teen admitted. "I've gotta go in to work, a new case came in this morning." Brooklyn tossed her duffle and backpack into the backseat.
"Does your boss ever give you a day off?" Kacey asked, standing on the curb as her friend slid behind the wheel.
"Crime never sleeps." Brooklyn replied, putting on her sunglasses and backing out. She waved before peeling out of the parking lot and heading back to the office.
Brooklyn returned to the office, still wearing her black shorts and white tank top from cheerleading practice. She dropped her sports duffle and school bag by the couch and plopped down next to Doyle. "We got a case?" she asked the half-demon.
Doyle shook his head, "Angel went to talk to her after you left for school." he answered, resting his elbow on the couch's armrest.
"He thinks he scared her or intimidated her in some way." Cordelia added, sitting at her desk and flipping through a magazine.
The young Slayer just shrugged her shoulders, "From her standpoint, I can see that." she muttered, her ponytail draped over her shoulder. "Still, since Doyle had a vision, we're supposed to do something."
The desk phone rang, and everyone looked at it for three seconds before Cordelia answered it, "Angel Investigations. We help the hopeless." she listened to the woman's voice on the other end, glancing to Brooklyn, Doyle, and Angel, who leaned against the doorframe of his office. "Well, I'd say right away." Cordy sighed and hung up the phone, "She's coming in."
Angel glanced over his outfit and straightened up, "I'd better change my shirt." he cleared his throat and ran down to the basement apartment.
"Brookie, you should probably change too." Cordelia noted, pointing out the teen's athletic attire. "But nothing to Slayer-y."
"Don't wanna scare the poor girl." Doyle added with a light chuckle.
"Fine." the blonde rolled her eyes, heading to the basement to change as well. She swapped out her athletic wear for a pair of dark skinny jeans, a white sweater, and black ankle boots.
Melissa sat in the chair opposite Angel's desk, explaining her situation. "It's been going on for about seven months now. It wasn't so bad at first." she nervously tapped the side of the plastic cup of coffee she held.
Sitting on the corner of Angel's desk, Brooklyn crossed her legs, "What's his name?" she asked. Aside from her wardrobe change, Brooklyn also sported a red leather jacket, a black ribbon choker with a magenta-colored stone charm and pulled a portion of her hair back with a clip, letting the rest fall over her shoulders. She also touched up her makeup with some maroon lipstick and light grey eyeshadow.
"Dr. Ronald Meltzer. He's a neurosurgeon." Melissa answered. "I had an infected nerve behind my right eye. He operated, saved my sight. Afterwards he asked me out. I didn't really want to, but..."
"He helped you, so you felt obligated." Cordelia cut in, sitting in the chair beside her and taking notes on everything. "Plus, a doctor."
"So, we had one drink, one time, and afterwards he started calling me, a lot." the young woman shuddered as she continued on. "Then he started showing up at my work, my apartment, saying that we had something special, that we should get married."
"And it got worse from there." Angel deduced, leaning forward.
"I know it sounds stupid, or crazy, but I can feel him watching me. All the time." Melissa took a deep breath and exhaled. "Today at work, he knew I took my Xanitab when I was alone in the bathroom. I mean, how did he see that? He is just everywhere. I don't think I can take much more of this." She bit her lip and sniffled.
Brooklyn handed the distraught woman a tissue and gave her a sympathetic smile, "Don't worry, we're gonna help you." she assured.
"Big time, and all for a reasonable fee." Cordy chimed in, her comment getting a look from both Angel and Brooklyn.
"Doyle will make sure that you get home safely." Angel stated, glancing to the half-demon, who nodded and helped the woman stand.
"Thanks. You've been very kind, listening to me." she took a sip of the coffee, "It's terrible."
"Yeah, we're going to take care of that." Doyle held the door open for her.
"No, I mean the coffee." Melissa shook her head, tossing the cup in the trashcan. She glanced back over her shoulder, "Angel, how did you know that I needed help?"
The vampire leaned back in his chair, "I have a friend in the police department." he answered, albeit it being a lie.
Doyle nodded to his friends and followed Melissa out of the office. Cordelia stood up and shook her head, "Can you imagine?" she questioned, tucking some of her brunette locks behind her ear. "A doctor. I mean, they examine your body. They know every inch of you." she shuddered, sitting in the chair their client was just in.
Angel stood up and paced back and forth. "How is he doing it? How does he see her when she's alone, in private?" he pondered aloud. "Is he invisible? Some kind of ghost? Maybe he can astral project."
"Or maybe he's got an accomplice, or a hidden camera." Cordelia shrugged. "Not everything has to be creepy and supernatural, you know."
"Not everything, but Doyle had a vision." Angel pointed out.
"Which, memory serves, led us to a sex-changing-body-switching-tear-your-innards-out-demon that I killed by setting it on fire." Brooklyn added, a grin crossing her lips. "That was fun."
The brunette quirked her brow, "Careful Brooklyn." she warned. "Have too much fun, you might slip off the ledge."
Angel sat back down at his desk, "He sees her when he is nowhere around. How?" he muttered, not noticing the two girls leaving the office.
That night, Brooklyn stood watch on the apartment building Melissa lived in, sitting on a tree branch in the park across the street. Leaning against the base of the trunk, Doyle was struggling to stay awake, "How much longer?" he asked, glancing up at the Slayer.
"A few more hours, just to make sure Dr. Creepy Stalker doesn't show up for a late-night booty call." she answered, gently tapping the blade of her knife against her thigh.
"And why am I here again?" Doyle took a swig of coffee from his thermos.
"Because Angel is still narrowing down possibilities on how this guy does what he does and Cordy flat out said, 'no way, I need my beauty sleep'." Brooklyn rolled her eyes and focused back on the building, while Doyle leaned against the tree, trying not to stay awake.
The next day during lunch, Brooklyn left the high school campus to meet with Angel at the police precinct. The duo walked through the bullpen and came up to Detective Lockley's desk.
"Hello, Kate." Angel greeted, clearing his throat.
The detective stood up and folded her arms in front of her, "Angel, hi." she replied. "It's good to see you." She nervously tucked some hair behind her ear, glancing to the younger blonde beside him. "Brooklyn."
"Hi, Detective Lockley." the high school senior waved as they all sat down.
Kate folded her hands on her desk, "Judging by your uncomfortableness, I'd say you either about to ask me out on a date, or you need a favor." she glanced to Brooklyn sitting beside Angel, "And since your assistant is with you, I'm going with favor. So ask, and I'll see if I can help."
Brooklyn crossed her legs and made eye contact with the detective, "A client of ours is being stalked and we think it could get ugly here before too long."
"Stalked you say." Kate repeated, nodding her head, "Then it already is ugly. What's her name?"
"Melissa Burns." Angel answered.
"Okay, I'll see what I can find." Kate stood up, "I'll be right back, stay here."
"Thanks." Brooklyn smiled, leaning back in the chair and resting her arm along the back, glancing to Angel who looked very uncomfortable. "She's nice." the Slayer noted, twisting some of her hair around her finger.
"Uh, yeah, she is." the vampire stammered in agreement.
"Dude, you've got to get outta the office more." the teen chuckled, lightly nudging her partner's arm. "You look about as nervous as a demon in church."
"Brooklyn?" Maryanne arched her eyebrow, walking over to her niece. "What're you doing here? Why aren't you at school?" She stood tall with her arms crossed over her chest.
"Seniors get off-campus lunch privileges." the Slayer casually reminded, shooting her aunt/Watcher a grin. "Angel and I are working a case."
The police Sergent shook her head, "A case important enough to warrant leaving school grounds?"
The blonde teen got to her feet, leaning closer to her aunt, "Well, we found this case via a vision from Doyle, so it warrants my involvement." she whispered, resting her hands on her hips.
Maryanne sighed heavily, knowing there was no use in arguing with the young Slayer. "Fine, just make sure you're back in school after lunch. I don't want you making a habit of ditching." She tapped her niece's shoulder and walked back to her office, passing Detective Lockley on the way.
"Your client did file a report two months ago." Kate informed the two private detectives as she sat back down on her desk, going over the file. "The doctor responded and denied everything. A lot of noise from his lawyers." she let out a groan when she saw the lawfim's name. "Wolfram and Hart. You know about them?"
Brooklyn and Angel exchanged a glance, "We've heard it." the blonde nodded, tapping her fingers against her knee.
"They're the law firm that Johnny Cochran is too ethical to join." the detective joked. "They actually filed a restraining order against Melissa. Still no record of violence for the doctor."
"Yet." Angel muttered, interlocking his fingers.
"Well, I'll put a uniform on her building, but I can't spare one for more than a day or two." Kate offered.
"That'll help, thanks detective." Brooklyn smiled. "That should also put our client at ease, for now."
"My advice, you'd better help her get mad, because that is the only way she'll be able to fight him." the detective added.
"Well, hopefully I'll be doing the fighting." Angel stated. "That's why she hired us."
Kate shook her head, "That's not what I meant. This guy could go to jail tomorrow and still kill her in her dreams every night." she went on, "I've put a few of these creeps away and the hardest thing is to know that he is still winning. She's still afraid. He took her power away and no one can get it back for her but her."
"I never thought of it that way." Brooklyn blinked, tucking some hair behind her ear as she stood up. "Thanks for your help, Kate and I'll take your advice to heart." She extended her hand, which the older blonde shook.
After the school day ended, Brooklyn met up with Angel again, this time at Dr. Meltzer's office. They snuck in without incident and searched the office for any kind of lead. The walls of the office had various frames of certificates and diplomas, all with Meltzer's name in bold print. While scanning the bookcase, Brooklyn picked up one titled 'Anything's Possible' and saw a personal dedication from the author written on the first page.
"He's coming." Angel whispered, hearing voices on the other side of the consultation room door.
Brooklyn stashed the book inside her jacket, which she folded over her arms just as Dr. Meltzer, walked out, her sunglasses slipping down from the top of her head to back over her eyes.
"What're you doing in my office?" the doctor questioned, staring at the two intruders.
"Keep the glasses on and follow my lead." Angel whispered to Brooklyn as they both turned around, Angel pulling out a business card from his inside jacket pocket. "Name's Jensen. I need to talk to you." he answered, politely yet sternly.
"Then you make an appointment." Meltzer noted, taking the card. "You don't just barge-"
"I don't have time for appointments." Angel interrupted. "I'm told that you can do things no one else can." He wrapped his arm around Brooklyn's shoulders, pulling her close to his side, "My wife has a malignant tumor that's pressing on her ocular cavity. She's going to die unless someone has the nerve to operate."
"It's true." Brooklyn added, making her voice sound weak and frightful. "We'd all but lost hope until we read an article about you Dr. Meltzer." She leaned in closer to Angel but kept her eyes on Meltzer.
The surgeon glanced between the two, before focusing back on Angel, "What you are talking about is a very difficult and dangerous procedure." he informed. "I could lose my license. Now, I understand your situation, but I can't help you."
Angel grabbed Melissa's picture from Ronald's desk and held it up, "What does she mean to you?" he asked, his eyes narrowed at the doctor. "She your girlfriend? Wife?"
"Fiancée." Ronald corrected. "But I don't see how-"
"I'll tell you." Angel interrupted yet again, setting the picture down and taking Brooklyn's hand and looking directly at her. "Do you know what it's like to be so much a part of someone that you don't know where they end and you begin?" he then motioned to Melissa's picture on the desk, "Would you die for her?"
Ronald stared at the photograph and nodded, "Yes."
"Then you understand that I'm not willing to make any compromises. I'm not willing to watch her suffer and die while the law catches up with science." Angel continued, looking to Brooklyn and squeezing her hand before staring back at the doctor. "What I'm willing to do is pay you whatever it takes." He wrapped his arm around his partner and walked to the door, holding it open for her, glancing over his shoulder "Think about it." he added, before closing the door behind them.
Back at the office, Cordelia paced behind her desk while Brooklyn was researching the lead, she had found at Meltzer's office with Angel sitting beside her. "Nice cover back at Dr. Creepy's, but next time we should come up with a plan beforehand." the Slayer noted.
"Apparently this guy can do anything with a knife." the brunette rattled on. "You so don't want this guy fixated on you. What is stalking now a days, the third most popular sport among men?"
"Fourth, after Luge." Angel corrected.
"I don't get it. This guy has a lot to lose." Cordy sighed. "What is it about Melissa that got him to go all O.J. on her?"
"It's not about Melissa, it's about rage. This guy is too messed up to deal with a real woman and he can't stand that. So, he creates a fantasy about a girl he barely knows." Angel informed, leaning back in the chair and folding his arms over his chest. "But eventually even she fails him. So, he has to hurt her, because when he looks at her all he sees is how useless he is, how damaged."
"What a fun date you must have been in back in your bad vamp days." Cordelia rolled her eyes and leaned against the desk on the other side of Brooklyn. "On the other hand, it should give you some insight into the jerks of the world." she shrugged.
"I know how this guy thinks, I just don't know how he's doing it." the ensouled vampire sighed heavily.
"Well according to Vinpur Natpudan, we are everywhere at once since we are all made up of the same molecules." Brooklyn spoke up, holding the book she swiped from Meltzer's office.
"I remember that guy. He made a big noise a few years ago on public television." Cordelia remembered, skimming over the back cover as she shrugged her shoulders. "Then had a big case of Joe Recluse."
"Not really." the Slayer corrected. "What he had was a nervous breakdown, not long after he conducted an exclusive retreat for a group of well-known yogis and doctors."
"And I'm guessing Dr. Stalker was at this retreat?" Cordy arched her eyebrow. Brooklyn nodded in agreement and pulled up a new window on Vinpur's website. "So, what are you doing Brookie?"
"Sending Mr. Joe Recluse an e-mail." the young Slayer stated, typing up a message.
"I hope you have the 'nerve' to believe that I need help with Ronald Meltzer." the brunette read over the blonde's shoulder, glancing down to the book on the desk, noting a similar wording in the dedication. "Did you steal this?" Cordy held the book up.
"Yep." Brooklyn answered in a nonchalant tone, hitting the send button on the messenger window.
Brooklyn met Dr. Natpudan at his home in the suburbs around Los Angeles. He came into the living room carrying a tray with two cups of tea, setting it down on the table between them. "Thank you." the young blonde smiled, taking the cup and crossing her legs. Her blonde hair was pulled into a low ponytail, and she wore and one shoulder, off-white sweater with black pants decorated with some silver chain links and snaps, and a pair of black ankle boots.
"Miss Decker, before we discuss the e-mail you sent me, what exactly is it that you do?" Natpudan asked, sitting in the large armchair opposite the couch the blonde sat on.
The young Slayer casually sipped her tea, "I work with a private investigator in LA." she answered sweetly, pulling a business card from her wallet. "A client of ours is being stalked by Ronald Meltzer. She's terrified."
The older doctor rested his elbow on the armrest, "And you think he might hurt her?" Brooklyn nodded in confirmation. "What is it that you think I can do about that?"
"You can help me understand him." Brooklyn leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. "I get the feeling Meltzer's not like other people."
"No two people are alike, Miss Decker." Natpudan noted. "God in his infinite variety and wisdom likes to keep it interesting."
Brooklyn scoffed under her breath, cracking her knuckles. "Ain't that the truth." she muttered, taking another sip of her tea. "How'd you meet Meltzer?"
Even though she made the comment under her breath, Vinpur still heard it. He kept his eyes locked with the young teenager's, and could somehow sense that she, too, wasn't like any other girl out there. "He came to one of my lectures." he informed, straightening his posture. "My operating thesis at the time was that the mind is the single most powerful force in the universe. In any average human it regulates billions of cells, and that is with 80% of the brain still untapped."
"Wow." Brooklyn's hazel eyes widened a bit. "So, what are the possibilities if a person could master that 80%?" She mirrored his straightened posture, resting her hands in her lap with her ponytail draped over her shoulder.
"I introduced Dr. Meltzer to psychic surgeons, Yogis that can shut down their somatic system for days at a time. But he eclipsed us all." Dr. Natpudan continued. "Until Dr. Meltzer, my studies had been based on theories and hearsay, but he exploded that all. That's when I stopped teaching."
"Because you stopped believing." Brooklyn narrowed her eyes slightly, reading the changes in the older doctor's demeanor.
"No." he shook his head, nervously biting his nails. "Because I began to believe."
That night, Ronald stood outside the gate around Melissa's apartment building, his hands in his pockets. An LAPD patrol car pulled up to the curb and an officer stepped out, "All right, pal, turn around, nice and easy and put your hands in the air." he ordered calmly as he approached the suspect.
Ronald slowly turned around, keeping his hands in his pockets: "I was just out for a walk." he stated with a shrug of his shoulders.
The officer pulled his gun from the holster when Meltzer took a step closer. "Hands, now!" he ordered again, this time loudly.
With a small smirk, Meltzer did as instructed, holding his arms up, revealing two stumps where hands should be. The officer lowered his weapon and holstered it, stammering out an apology.
"That's quite all right, officer." Ronald replied with a nod of his head. "Just doing your job. I understand."
The patrol officer took a few steps back towards his car, reaching for his radio when all of a sudden, he heard a woman's scream from the building. He smashed the glass of the front door and opened it from the inside, running up the interior stairs.
In her apartment, Melissa practically fell out of bed and hurried to her front door, fumbling with the safety chain, sobbing and gasping. As soon as she opened the door, she was met with the patrol officer, "Ma'am, what's wrong?" he asked, looking at the frantic woman with his gun held low. "Did someone break in?"
Melissa caught her breath and pointed to her bedroom, "In there." she gasped, leaning against the wall, her hand over her racing heart.
The officer slowly walked in, his gun drawn, as he inspected the room. When he saw no signs of a threat, he holstered his weapon and returned to the entryway where Melissa stood, "Everything's okay now." he assured. "Nobody's in your bedroom, or in your bathroom. Now if you want to tell me-"
He was cut off when a severed hand grabbed his shoulder and yanked him back into the wall as another appeared on the other side and began choking him. Melissa screamed again and ran towards the staircase.
Hiding outside in the bushes, Meltzer kept his eyes on Melissa's apartment window, intently focusing his energy on strangling the officer. He heard Melissa's screams and looked in her direction, watching as she ran right into Angel and Brooklyn, and began sobbing into the male's chest while the young female ran inside the building.
Brooklyn took the stairs two at a time, hearing a scuffling noise around the corner. She pulled a stiletto knife from the holster under her leather pants, gripping the hilt as she jumped around the corner. Her free hand flew to her mouth as she laid eyes on the officer's body in the middle of the hallway. She knelt down and saw the distinct indentation of hands around his throat and let out a heavy sigh. She angled the blade of her knife just under the body's nose, checking for breath, her shoulders sinking when she saw no evidence of it.
"Damn." the Slayer shook her head and slipped the knife back into its sheath before rising to her feet.
She ran back to the entrance and tapped Angel's arm. "Cop's dead upstairs." she informed in a low whisper. "I'll use the front desk phone and call Maryanne."
Within minutes, Maryanne and a group of LAPD officers were at the scene. Doyle was also there, comforting Melissa while Angel and Brooklyn talked with Kate and Maryanne.
"She's not making a lot of sense." Kate sighed, recounting her interview with Melissa.
"Well, she has been living in terror for the last 5 months." Brooklyn noted, folding her arms across her chest.
"And you believe it's the doctor she told you about?" Maryanne questioned, her hands on her hips. Both Angel and Brooklyn nodded in confirmation.
Kate shook her head, mirroring her commanding officer's posture, "How'd he do it, though?" she glanced at the building, "She's got bars on her windows. The security cameras in the hallway show our officers going in and nobody suspicious all day." she groaned in frustration, smacking her lips. "I mean, who is this guy, Houdini?"
"Something like that." Angel shrugged, his hands in his coat pockets.
"Well, we'll try to pull prints off the body at the morgue." Maryanne noted, watching as the body was being loaded into the coroner's van. One of the officer's loading the body motioned for the sergeant and detective to come over.
Kate started in that direction, while Maryanne stayed a few seconds longer. "I know this case came to you via, them." she glanced up at the sky, before looking back to her niece, "So, you two are gonna be the ones to finish this. Just be careful."
"Don't worry, we will." Brooklyn reassured, giving her aunt a smile and watching as she left. Once her and Angel were alone, the young blonde dropped her smile and rolled her eyes, tightening her leather jacket around her.
Doyle walked up to the pair. "What'd your Watcher have to say?" he asked Brooklyn.
"She said they'll try to pull prints off the body at the morgue." the Slayer informed, brushing her bangs aside. "But Maryanne knows we were given this case by the Powers That Be, so it's up to us to close it."
Doyle's eyes widened slightly, "Seriously?" he gaped. The blonde teen only nodded.
"He's coming undone." Angel noted. "Out of control, I mean. He's killing now."
"Anyone that comes between him and his obsession." the half-demon added, the trio glancing back at Melissa, who was talking with a uniformed officer. "Wait, don't we stand between him and his obsession?" Doyle looked to Angel and Brooklyn, who's expression answered his question. "Not that I'm a coward or anythin', but if he can't be contained and can't be killed, what can we do about it?"
"Well, if his body parts go long enough without any blood and oxygen, they'll deteriorate." Angel reminded.
"Right." Brooklyn agreed. "And if that happens, he won't be able to put himself back together. No matter how much psychic surgery he knows." She flipped her ponytail off her shoulder.
"So, basically what you're saying is break him down and box him up?" Doyle blinked. "That's the plan?"
"Well, it's a theory." the vampire shrugged. "And in the meantime, we protect Melissa either until we test our theory or come up with something better."
The team brought Melissa back to Angel's apartment and Doyle began taping up any small crevice that Meltzer's body parts could slither through or under. "It's not good for the ventilation, but he's not getting in here." the half-demon noted, admiring his handywork. Cordelia walked up behind him and tried to adjust the collar of his shirt, which startled him.
They walked into the kitchen area where Angel, Brooklyn and Melissa sat at the table. "This can't be happening." she shuddered, trying to sip her tea. "What I saw. You all must think I'm crazy."
"Not at all." Cordelia reassured, placing her hand on Melissa's shoulder.
"But it's not possible." their client shuddered. "I mean, he can really..."
"Yeah." Brooklyn answered with a nod of her head, sitting across from the troubled woman.
Angel sat beside their client, "Remember I told you I sometimes handle things the police can't? Well, this is one of those things." he pushed his chair back and stood up. "I'll take care of him, while Brooklyn's here with you and Doyle and Cordelia. Try to get some rest."
Doyle secured the apartment's trap door entrance to the sewars with the bolt, while Cordy offered another tissue to Melissa, who declined it. "Thank you, but I'm not going to cry anymore." she stated. "At least I hope not. I'm tired of crying and being afraid."
"Well, you don't have to be afraid anymore, Melissa." the Slayer reassured.
"Brooklyn's right." Angel agreed. "You've survived a living hell these last few months and you're still standing, while he's coming unhinged at not being able to control you."
"You should listen to him, Melissa. He knows what he's talking about." Cordelia gave their client a reassuring smile. "He's stalked plen-" Brooklyn elbowed her in the side and shot her a glare.
"Excuse us a moment." Brooklyn politely excused herself, Cordelia and Angel. The trio headed upstairs to the main office, while Doyle prepared another cup of tea for Melissa.
"Okay, why am I staying here while you're going to Meltzer's office alone?" Brooklyn questioned, folding her arms across her chest. Angel just ignored her and flipped through the pages of the phonebook. "Angel?" she quirked her brow in annoyance, semi stomping up to his desk, to which he still ignored.
"What the hell are you doing?" Cordelia snapped her fingers to get the vampire's attention.
"Seeing where I can get some steel boxes at this hour of the night." the immortal being answered.
The brunette female arched her brow, "Why would you want..." she began to ask, but then it clicked in her brain. "Oh, for packing up people parts." she chuckled dryly, walking into the lobby area, rambling on to herself.
Brooklyn slapped her hand down on the phonebook, finally getting Angel's attention, "Again I ask, why am I staying here and you're going solo?" she repeated her earlier question, her hazel eyes locked with his dark brown ones.
"Because Melissa will feel much safer if you're here." Angel answered. "She's been living in fear for a while now. Also, I think you're better suited to help her find the strength she needs to get past everything that's happened to her."
The Slayer blinked, straightening her stance, "You really think I can?" she questioned.
"You're the Slayer." Angel reminded. "You radiate strength. If you tell Melissa that she's gonna be alright at the end of this, she'll believe it." He kept his eyes locked with hers.
Before Brooklyn could say something in response, the phone in the lobby started ringing and Cordelia told them it was the special line, meaning Meltzer was calling for Angel's undercover alias.
"Now, who are we again?" Cordy asked. "Johnson International Holdings?"
"Jensen." Angel corrected.
Cordelia nodded, "Jensen, now does that sound like an international-"
"Cordy." Brooklyn cut her off, looking to the ringing phone.
The brunette held her hands up in defense and sat down, "Jensen International Holdings. How may I direct your call?" she answered in a classic secretarial tone. "Please hold." she put the caller on hold and gave Angel a nod, mouthing "It's him."
Angel sat down at his desk and answered the phone, "Brian Jensen." he answered, leaning back in his chair.
"You're working late." Meltzer's voice noted on the other line.
"Downside of being global." Angel replied. Brooklyn just stood on the other side; her hands braced on her hips.
"If you still want me to, I'll operate on your wife." Ronald agreed. "We'll have to do it out of the country, and I need $100 000 in cash to get things rolling."
"Thank you, I appreciate it, very much." Angel glanced up a Brooklyn, giving a subtle nod to let her know that he'd agreed to their previous offer. "Are you in your office? I'll bring it to you tonight." He hung up the phone and got to his feet.
"What if he comes apart on you while you're over there?" Cordelia asked as Angel shrugged on his long, black coat.
"If he comes apart on me, he's going to stay that way." Angel answered, heading for the door.
"Be careful." Brooklyn muttered under her breath as he left.
The whole time Angel was meeting with Meltzer, Brooklyn paced around the basement apartment, twirling a knife around her hand. Doyle ran up to her, "I think I've gotten everything." he panted, holding up the half-used roll of duct tape.
"Great job, Doyle." the Slayer praised, tapping the blade of her knife against the back of her hand. She cast a glance towards Angel's bedroom, seeing Melissa sound asleep in the bed. "What'd you put in her tea to knock her out so quick?"
"Enough whiskey to drop my Aunt Judy." the half-demon answered, still looking around the basement apartment to make sure it was taped up tight. "Let me tell ya, that woman had some girth."
Brooklyn nodded and checked the clock, "Angel should've been back by now, or at least called if he'd dealt with Meltzer." Her ponytail draped over her bare shoulder as she continued her pacing, the chains on her pants clinking as she walked.
Cordelia sighed heavily as she plopped down on the chair, "What's the point in ever going out with anyone?" she pondered, absentmindedly staring at her two friends.
The Slayer and half-demon shared a look before Doyle cleared his throat and sat down on the chair's armrest, "Well, people need people." he answered. "And people who need people are the luckiest-"
Brooklyn rolled her eyes at the Irishman's attempt at flirting. Cordy shook her head and got to her feet, "Either you like them, and they don't like you. Or you can't stand them which just guarantees that they'll keep on hovering around and never go away. It's just so unfair." the brunette folded her arms across her chest, "I mean, here is this poor girl who hooks up with a doctor." she motioned to Melissa, "That's supposed to be a good thing. I mean you should be able to call home and say: 'Hey, mom, guess what, I've met a doctor!' Not, 'guess what, I met a psycho and he's stalking me and oh, by the way, his hands and feet come off and he's not even in the circus.'"
"Not every relationship leads to disaster." Doyle pointed out, rubbing the back of his neck.
"However, I think we shouldn't hold our breath for a 'normal' relationship." Brooklyn cut in, bracing her hands on her hips, casting a glance in Doyle's direction, "We all have our secrets. Besides, how many guys do you know who would wanna date a girl who can maim or kill them eight ways to Sunday?"
"Don't count yerself out yet, Brook." Doyle patted her shoulder, "I'm sure you'll find someone. Yer a very beautiful girl."
Brooklyn cracked a small smile, "Thanks Doyle." She turned her attention to Cordy, who was anxiously staring at her watch. "Don't look so worried Cor. I'm sure Angel's on his way back."
"But what if Dr. Chopped Salad shows up before he does?" the brunette questioned. "What can we do against him?"
A rattling noise caught the trio's attention, Brooklyn immediately raising her weapon. Doyle moved slow, pulling two weapons from the brick wall and handed one to Cordelia, a small battle axe. "So..." Doyle cleared his throat, "...you ladies wanna play some cards or see what's on the tube?"
Brooklyn flexed her fingers around the hilt of her knife, "I could go for a game." she shrugged, scanning every inch of her surroundings.
"How about a game of Gin?" Cordelia suggested with a gulp. "Penny a point?"
The rattling grew louder, and the trio located the source, the trap door leading to the sewers. Brooklyn glanced back to Cordy and Doyle, giving a subtle nod of her head, before advancing forward, blade ready for a strike.
Doyle crouched down near the trap door, gripping his hatchet tightly to where his knuckles were nearly white. He silently counted to three before opening the trap door, craning his head to peer into the tunnel below. Unknown to them, a hand floated up behind Cordelia, before clamping over her mouth. It slammed her into the wall before throwing her into the closet.
The slamming door caught Brooklyn's attention and she ran into the living room, while another hand pulled Doyle through the trap door and slammed the latch down. The hand that locked the sewer door then grabbed the hatchet Doyle had dropped and floated towards the Slayer.
Brooklyn stood in the living room, looking for any sign of Meltzer or his body parts, her senses screaming at her that the enemy was nearby. Just as the hatchet hovered behind her head, she spun on her heels and blocked it with her knife. She pushed it back and began fighting it, despite it being just a floating hand, it took all the teenager's focus to keep ahead.
The Slayer jumped and landed in the splits to avoid another swipe of the hatchet and she again blocked it with her own weapon. She was focused on the hand in front of her, that she didn't register the second one until a second too late. She registered a sharp pain behind her knee and reflexively reached backward, feeling blood pooling over her fingers.
"I sliced near the femoral artery." Meltzer's voice informed, the doctor coming into view, the hand wilding the hatchet merging with his body. "You'll bleed out in a couple minutes, should be painless."
Brooklyn's eyes began to drift close, and she fell to the side, her hand still clutching the back of her left knee. Through blurry vision, she watched as Meltzer turned around and headed for Angel's bedroom, the door sliding closed behind him. She could hear Ronald yelling at Melissa and her terrified screams.
Brooklyn bit her lip and pushed herself up, ripping the bottom of her top and tying the fabric around her leg, the bleeding already slowing down. She limped over to the closet and opened the door, seeing Cordy slumped against the wall, but visibly breathing.
The elevator door's opened and Angel stepped into the apartment, and Brooklyn met up with him, pointing a finger towards his bedroom. The duo met each other's eyes and nodded in understanding. Angel grabbed the door and slid it open, he and the Slayer standing tall in the threshold.
Ronald's eyes widened, "You...can't be." he gasped, glancing between the vampire and teenager. "You're not human!"
"You should talk." Melissa spat, backing away from her stalker.
His anger finally boiling over, Ronald opened his mouth, and his teeth flew out, biting into Brooklyn's arm when she blocked it. The initial force made the Slayer stumble backwards a few steps, but she quickly regained her footing and smashed the teeth against the brick wall behind her. At the same moment, Ronald covered his mouth in pain and was slammed against the wall by Angel.
Meltzer took his scalpel and stabbed Angel's shoulder, which did next to nothing against the vampire. He dismembered his hand and used it to grip the vampire's throat, throwing him to the floor. Angel pulled the scalpel from his shoulder and stabbed the hand, pinning it to the floor. Brooklyn helped Angel to his feet, and they stood in the doorway.
Ronald turned around to face Melissa, who was bracing herself against the back wall. "We could have been so happy." he told her in a sweet tone, his ear falling off shortly after.
"Oh, Ronald." Brooklyn said in a sing-song voice. The doctor turned his head and was met with the Slayer's right hook. The force of the punch was enough to knock his head clean off. Brooklyn looked to Melissa and walked towards her, "It's okay. It's over now." she assured, slowly reaching for the frightened woman's hand.
Melissa took a few shuddering breaths and took the outstretched hand, stumbling over her feet. Her body relaxed against the teen's as she caught her breath. Brooklyn gently wrapped her arm around Melissa's shoulders.
The following morning, Brooklyn came into the office with a plastic bag full of coffee essentials. "Courtesy of Maryanne Donovan." the blonde chuckled, setting a tin of coffee grounds on the small table and placing a second on the shelf below.
"Finally, we can have fresh coffee." Cordelia grinned, jumping into making the morning brew. She glanced to the teen beside her and flashed a smile, "Cute dress, Brookie." she complimented.
Brooklyn glanced down at the ivory-colored sundress and light pink heels, "Thanks." She leaned against the table and saw Angel walk into the main office space from his office, "Finish burying Dr. Creepy's body parts?" she asked her vampire partner.
"He is now in 12 steel boxes buried in 20 cubic feet of concrete in the floor of LA's newest subway station." Angel informed them.
"That ought to bring in the tourists." Doyle chuckled from his spot on the couch, flipping through the newspaper.
The office door opened and in walked Melissa, carrying a potted plant. "Hey." she greeted the team with a smile. "I brought this for you guys, as a 'thank you.'"
Angel took the plant and set it on the corner of Cordy's desk. "Can we offer you a cup of coffee?" Brooklyn asked, leaning against the side of the mini fridge.
"Oh no." Melissa shook her head. "I can only stay a minute. Places to go, people to see." She smiled at Angel and Brooklyn, "Thanks to you, of course."
"Just doing our job." the Slayer replied, returning the woman's smile.
Cordelia and Doyle exchanged a glance and started to cough. It was their not-so-subtle way to encourage Angel to ask for payment from their client. Angel, catching the hint, cleared his throat, "There's uh...a bill for...services." he stuttered out.
"Oh, of course." Melissa nodded, pulling a check from her purse, "That's the other reason I came." she handed the folded check to Angel, but Cordelia snatched it before he could lift his hand. "I'll take that." she grinned.
"Not that we did it for the money." Brooklyn quickly defended, casting a side-eyed glare at her friend's direction, before turning her attention back to Melissa.
"Oh, please you guys earned it." the woman replied, giving the young Slayer a hug, then reached out to shake Angel's hand, "Well, hope I never see you guys again."
"Me too." Angel agreed, putting on a small smile. "Good luck."
Melissa waved goodbye to the Angel Investigations team and left the office, feeling a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders and she could feel free to enjoy her life again.
"See, you can save damsel and make decent money." Cordelia stated, holding up the check to show her colleagues. "Is this a great country or what?!"
"I say we march down to the bank and deposit this beauty." Doyle suggested, standing beside Cordelia.
Angel leaned against the doorframe of his office, "You guys go ahead." he told them.
I think I'll stay here and not burst into flames."
"And I've gotta get to school." Brooklyn sighed, shrugging on her black leather jacket. "I have a Trig test today and need to do some last-minute cramming with Jensen and Kacy. Later." She blew kisses to the rest of her team and headed to her car parked by the front curb.
Doyle and Cordy followed her out. "We need more of these. Have a vision." she lightly jabbed Doyle's shoulder.
The half-demon shrugged, "I can't just perform on demand, ya know." he reminded.
"If I hit you on the head, will you have a vision?" Cordy asked as they walked out of the office.
Doyle arched his brow, "That money has corrupted you." he stated, pointing to the check.
Brooklyn chuckled and slid behind the wheel of her car, "Please try not to kill each other before I get back." she turned the key in the ignition and waved as she drove off.
A/N: Hope ya'll enjoyed this newest chapter. As always, reviews are appreciated.
Next chapter: Rm w/a Vu