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26 July 2007 @ 12:13 pm
Fic: The Rose Remembers (7/?)  
Author: Eurydice & Pepperlandgirl
Fic Title: The Rose Remembers
Summary: The reverend is missing, tensions rise, and a secret is revealed.
Rating: NC17 Spike/Buffy, Nicholas/Danny
Warnings: Violence and sexual content.
Banner number: 47 by athenamuze
Setting: About 2 1/2 years post-NFA and 6 months after the movie
Disclaimer: Not ours, as much as we would like them to be.
Author Notes: This is a crossover with the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer but honestly, you shouldn't have to be familiar with the show to be able to understand the fic. However, by reading the fic, you *will* get spoiled for the entire series. Just so that you know. Banner by moscowwatcher.
Previously: Buffy had a Slayer dream where Giles was killed, and in an effort to stop it from happening, went with him to Sandford, the town where her dream took place...
Previous chapter: Chapter 6. Crossposted to sandfordpolice pepperlandgirl4.





Chapter 7


The clouds were thick and threatening when Nicholas emerged from the cottage, and he found himself wishing for a big scarf like the one Danny wore wrapped around his neck. But his minor discomfort would have to be seen to later, because he had a long morning ahead of him.

“Are you going to the station?” Danny asked.

“No, I’ve got to go speak to Reverend Harner first. He’s probably going to have some questions about what happened to Gabriel.”

“Right. Right. Are you going to tell him everything?” Danny asked as he followed Nicholas down the walk to the car.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea. We don’t want to cause a panic.”

“I think having a curfew will probably do that a bit.”

“I don’t think there’s much of a choice, do you?” Nicholas said, sliding behind the wheel of his car. “We can’t have people wandering the streets, can we?”

“No, I know. But people are going to want an explanation.”

“I think explaining that it’s because of a crazy vampire will make people more uneasy, not less.”

Danny shrugged and pulled the seatbelt strap over his shoulder. “I’m just saying, you’ve got to come up with some cover story.”

“Yeah. I know.” The problem was, Nicholas didn’t know what excuse he could possibly offer. It was hard enough keeping the villagers’ trust without lying to them. But then, it’d be even harder to keep their trust if the lot of them thought he was crazy. So lying to them was the best of the options.

Danny was uncharacteristically silent on the drive to the church. That was fine with Nicholas for now. But when he noticed Danny was looking at him, he offered what he hoped was a reassuring smile.

“It’s going to be fine, Danny. Mr. Giles and Buffy and….Spike know what they’re doing. We just have to keep everybody safe in the meantime. And that’s what we do, right?”

Danny returned his smile. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Hey, you know, we should get some crosses while we’re here.”

“Yeah. Good idea. Maybe you can get some stakes together for us this afternoon.”

Danny nodded. “I can do that.”

Nicholas stopped outside the church and put the car in park. He knew Reverend Harner would be there. He arrived before dawn and left long after dark. He was a busy man, entirely in charge of organizing and conducting many of the funeral services of the bodies excavated from the catacombs. And that was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to his role in the village. A lot of people who had only been mildly involved in the church became very religious after the murders had been discovered.

But the church was empty. Not just empty. Dark and cold.

“Reverend?” Nicholas’ voice echoed off the walls and pews. “Are you here?”

“Nicholas.”

“What is it?”

Danny pointed at the door. “I think this is a crime scene.”

Nicholas’ gaze was drawn to the broken lock on the door. “Have you touched anything?”

“No. Maybe he’s in the rectory?”

Nicholas crossed the church quickly, careful not to touch or disturb anything. The rectory was empty, as he expected. They were entirely alone in the church. Would a vampire come to a church willingly? Would this vampire—apparently crazy—target the church for victims?

“Danny. Go to the Swan and get Mr. Giles and bring him here. I’m going to call the station.”

Danny nodded. “You think it was Drusilla?”

“I’ve never been told how to investigate a crime scene for clues of a vampire, but it seems likely.”

“Maybe it was just an…accident.”

“Danny.”

He sighed. “I know. I’ll be right back.”

Nicholas had only filled three pages of his notepad with observations when the door swung open again and sunlight cut a swathe across the floor. He looked up from his crouched position in the pulpit to see Mr. Giles follow Danny into the church, a yawning Buffy taking up the rear.

“What’s wrong?” Mr. Giles asked before Danny could say anything. “Has there been another death?”

Nicholas straightened. “I hope not. Watch your step, please. Don’t disturb the evidence.”

“Evidence?” Giles looked down and noticed the broken lock. “Oh.”

As she followed his line of sight, Buffy frowned. “Damn it,” she muttered.

Nicholas didn’t miss the frustration on her face. “What is it?”

“Oh. Nothing.” She tore her gaze away from the door. “That’s evidence, all right.”

“Who the fuck are these people, and what are they doing here?” Detective Wainwright demanded, rudely shouldering his way past Mr. Giles and Buffy, his partner right on his heels.

“They’re here because I need to speak to them,” Nicholas said. He gestured at the door. “Let’s go outside.” He waited until they were some feet away from the church door before asking. “Could this be a vampire attack?”

“Perhaps.” Mr. Giles looked back to the church, and the Andys scowling at them from the doorway. “Drusilla has a…soft spot for the religious. She was turned on the day she was to join the order. If something’s happened to the Reverend, it’s possible she was involved.”

“She was.”

All eyes turned to Buffy. “What was that?” Mr. Giles prompted.

Stuffing her hands into her pockets, Buffy couldn’t quite meet anyone’s eyes. “Spike followed Drusilla’s scent here last night,” she elaborated. “But the trail was a cold one, so we didn’t investigate further.”

“You didn’t investigate further?” Nicholas exclaimed with mingled anger and disgust. “What on earth were you doing?”

“Did you miss the part where the trail was cold? We weren’t going to waste time looking for her here if she wasn’t around.”

“No, I can’t imagine why you’d want to waste your time looking for a vampire who is as dangerous as you claim. If you’re following a cold trail, then you find a new trail to investigate. Christ.”

Her nostrils flared, and the gleam in her eye was nothing less than defiance. Nicholas had certainly seen enough of that in his time to recognize it at a glance.

“We’re going to need a description of the Reverend,” she said. “Spike can track his scent when we go through catacombs tonight.”

“What’ going on, Chief?” Fisher asked, Walker, with his constant canine companion, Saxon, and Thatcher trailing behind him.

“The reverend has gone missing. It looks like a kidnapping. Fisher, I want you to stay here and secure the area. I do not want any of the public within fifteen feet of the church. Walker, call Doctor Jenkins and have him on standby near the castle. Doris, go back to the station and issue a curfew, effective starting tonight. Also, get those floodlights the forensics team used out of storage. Danny, I still want you to get those crosses and stakes. Go back to the cottage and get weapons, too. Meet me at the castle in thirty minutes.”

“Stakes?” Fisher asked. Nicholas ignored him.

“Right.” Danny didn’t wait for further instruction before hurrying back into the church to complete the first part of his task.

He turned back to Buffy and Mr. Giles. “If you actually saw anything last night, then one of the detectives will take your statement.”

Though Mr. Giles opened his mouth to speak, Buffy held up her hand to cut him off. “We’re not your witnesses,” she said archly. “We’re in this together. There is no way you can find Drusilla on your own. Not without getting some lovely new neck decorations to show for it.”

Nicholas took a deep breath. “This isn’t about finding Drusilla. This is about finding an innocent man who was kidnapped from his own church. This is a police matter. That’s what the police service does.” That’s what I do. Nicholas knew there was a better than good chance that Reverend Harner was already dead, and he was really dealing with a murder investigation. But there was no murder until he had a body, and maybe if they moved fast enough, they could stop that from happening.

It was Mr. Giles’ turn to stop his companion from speaking.

“No offense, Inspector, but this is about finding both of them. And you don’t have the same expertise as Buffy or Spike. This should be a collaborative effort, not a combative one.”

At that moment, he could have happily put both of them in custody, if it meant keeping them out of his way and ending this ridiculous conversation, but he buried the impulse to threaten them with just that. He knew his frustration wasn’t directed towards this young woman, her older companion, or her strange vampire friend. It was really directed at himself. Because he had slacked off on the job.

He studied Buffy, noting her posture and the gleam in her eye. And he understood she was not Mr. Giles’ subordinate. That she probably wasn’t anybody’s subordinate.

“It’s against regulations to allow civilians to accompany us on such a mission.” He held up his hand before Buffy could speak. “If I make an exception in this case, it’s with the understanding that we’re going to follow proper procedure and you will follow my lead. I know the catacombs well, and I will not risk anybody getting lost down there.”

“I don’t get—”

“That seems perfectly reasonable,” Mr. Giles interjected. “Though I would hope you’d allow Buffy and Spike the latitude to conduct their own searches at night. Their skills far outweigh yours in that milieu.”

“Yes, well, that remains to be seen, doesn’t it?” He lifted the radio from his shoulder. “Doris? What’s the status on the lights?”

“Found ‘em.”

“Take them to the castle, please.” He glanced at Buffy. “I expect you have your own weapons you’d like to bring along? Meet us outside the castle in ten minutes.”

She looked up at the clouds still hiding away the sky, and then nodded. “Weapons. Ten minutes. Got it.”

Nicholas hesitated a few moments, watching them as they walked away, hoping that he wasn’t making a mistake by letting them accompany him. A sharp wind picked up, the cold slicing through his coat, and even his skin, pulling him from his thoughts. The temperature would be bitter beneath the castle. He made a mental note to make sure they’d have plenty of blankets on hand for Reverend Harner.

* * *


Buffy managed to convince Giles she didn’t need his help retrieving a few weapons and left him at his door, her steps long and sure as she headed for her room. The quicker she got in, the quicker she got out, and the less guilty she felt about spending the night with Spike instead of looking for the Reverend who was now probably Drusilla’s new playtoy.

That was a lie.

The guilt would keep on coming, no matter how soon they found him.

The room was exactly as she had left it when Giles had roused her earlier. The thick duvet lay crumpled on the floor, clothes thrown in every other direction. On the bed was a single sheet, currently tangled tight around Spike’s naked legs, and the thin material did nothing to hide the taut curve of his ass. He was still asleep, and she paused, drinking in the sight of him like a woman gone for days without water.

It was entirely possible Spike could leave Sandford tonight. If they found Drusilla when they found the Reverend, Buffy wouldn’t hesitate to stake her, and then Spike would have no more reason to stick around. He’d go back underground with Angel, and she’d fly back to New York to Dawn, secure in the knowledge that she’d protected Giles, and life would continue on as it had before. Except this time, she’d know he was out there. She’d probably start looking for him, kind of like how she always looked twice when she caught a glimpse of a guy with white-blond hair. And she’d wonder what if.

What if’s always got her into trouble. Like with the Immortal. And she totally didn’t need another of those, even if she was pretty sure Spike wasn’t about to start killing virgins.

Buffy moved when Spike stirred, stepping silently over to her case and crouching down to retrieve a few more stakes. Giles had a crossbow he was going to bring, but she wanted weapons she could use up close and in person. She had a feeling that’s what it was going to come down to.

“Why are you out of bed?” Spike asked, his voice laced with sleep.

She glanced up to see he’d rolled onto his side, propping his head up in his hand to gaze at her through heavy-lidded eyes. “Because it’s not Slayer naptime.” Tucking an extra stake into her boot, she straightened, but the sight of the mark she’d left on his chest right before they’d both crashed for the night kept her from heading automatically to the door. “Why don’t you go back to bed?” she added, more gently. “I’ll bring you some dinner when I get back. You can even root around in my underwear for old times’ sake.”

Spike ignored her suggestion. “If it’s not Slayer naptime, what time is it? Looks like you’re getting ready for a bit of a bash.”

“The Inspector’s heading out to the castle to do some more looking around. I’m going with him to see if I can find any signs of Drusilla around.” She told the half-truth without batting an eyelash. Spike didn’t need to know that someone had been snatched while they’d been messing around. It wasn’t like he could do anything about it now anyway.

“Sounds like a barrel of laughs. Can’t say I fancy strolling through drafty old catacombs. Not really my scene.” He rolled to his back, and the sheet was pulled further down his hips. “It won’t take long, will it?”

Buffy tore her eyes away from his morning erection. Think of the Reverend, not your sex life. “If you go back to sleep, you won’t even notice I’m gone.”

Before he could offer any more protest, she surprised him by brushing a quick kiss over his mouth and darting out of the room, closing the door quickly behind her. She turned in time to almost run headfirst into Giles.

“Oh, sorry,” she rushed. “Ready to go?”

“Yes, quite.” Giles narrowed his eyes. “Are you okay? You look a little flushed. I hope the discussion with Inspector Angel didn’t upset you too much.”

Buffy tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “No, no, I’m good. I just…well, you know how well I mix with authority. Like oil and vinegar.”

“I think you mean oil and water.”

“No, I mean oil and vinegar.” She started down the hall, Giles at her side. “You know how oil and vinegar salad dressing separates if you let it stand too long? And you gotta shake it up in order to get it to mix again?” She grinned. “I’ve been standing for a very long time, Giles. And something tells me, so has the inspector.”

Giles smiled. “Well…that’s very astute.” His smile faded. “I think the inspector believes we’re going to be rescuing the reverend. But I don’t share his optimism.”

“That’s because he doesn’t know Drusilla,” Buffy sighed. “I think this is one time I wish I was on that side of the ignorance fence.”

Neither said another word as they walked the short distance to the castle. It looked different by the light of day, more Freddie Laker than Freddy Krueger, but Buffy knew it wasn’t the exterior she had to worry about. Drusilla could be hiding within its depths, and hopefully, so would an alive Reverend Harner.

She caught the Inspector’s frown and glance at his watch as they approached. “Any luck so far?” she asked.

“We haven’t been inside yet,” Nicholas said, holding out a large flashlight. Giles took it with a small nod. “We have this map of the catacombs, in case we get separated.”

Giles took that as well. “What do these marks mean?”

“It’s the map we used while we were excavating down there. The marks are where we found the bodies.”

Buffy tilted her head to scan it over. “And where did you find Gabriel?”

Nicholas pointed to a small room off a long, narrow corridor. “In here. They were looking for more remains. But the room was empty, besides Gabriel. I feel I should warn you, there could be other rooms like this, and they may not be empty.”

It sounded like a scare tactic, but Buffy had seen too much death in her lifetime to be thrown so easily. “I’d like to check this area out first, if we can.” Remembering Giles’ words, however, gave her the urge to throw the Inspector a bone. “Can you lead the way? This is your expertise, after all.”

“Yes, I planned to.”

“Ready whenever you are,” Danny said, as he walked towards them. “I couldn’t find many stakes, though. It’s harder than you think.”

Buffy smiled at him. “When you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you learn to improvise.”

Beside her, Giles snorted softly. “Yes, I suppose that’s the kind way of phrasing it,” he murmured.

They followed Nicholas into the castle, with Danny behind her, and Giles taking up the rear. The first thing she noticed was the drastic temperature drop from outside to in, a good twenty degrees if not more, Buffy decided. She shivered in spite of her thick coat, and when Nicholas glanced back at her with a frown, she shot him a smile of apology.

“Sorry. California born and raised. Anything below fifty still feels like the North Pole to me.”

“It’s fucking cold,” Danny agreed, burying his hands in his pocket. He picked up his pace until he was walking side by side with Buffy. “What have you improvised with? Nicholas had to use one of those little garden stakes last night.”

She shrugged. “Broken chairs, rakes, shovels. My sister even dusted a vamp once with a pencil.”

“A pencil? Wow. How long have you been staking vampires?”

“Ten years.”

“Ten years? That’s amazing. So is this your job? Why did you start staking vampires?”

When his questions had been harmless, Buffy didn’t mind answering them. But now they were bordering on wanting details that Giles had deliberately withheld. She wasn’t going to be the one to give them to him. They had more important things to worry about.

“For the same reason I’m sure your boss became a cop. You see bad things, and you want to fix them. Isn’t that right, Inspector?”

“Yes,” Nicholas said, without turning his head or slowing his stride.

Danny looked at Nicholas with undisguised adoration for a moment before turning his attention back to Buffy. “Where’s Spike?”

Crap. More half-truths.

“Probably sleeping. It’s day, you know. He’s a little allergic.”

Nicholas passed through a narrow passageway, but when Buffy ducked through, a shower of stone crumbled from overhead. Most of it was light grit, a few loose stones making their presence known. It wasn’t even enough to make her slow.

Until she reached up automatically to brush it out of her hair. That was when the déjà vu made her skin crawl.

This was what had happened in her dream. The catacombs had been falling down around her. The scent wasn’t nearly as bad, and she could see far better with the flashlights Nicholas and Giles had, but there were too many other similarities to ignore.

She glanced back to see Giles’ grim features taking up the rear. What had she done? She’d brought Giles straight to the one place where she knew he was most at risk. What the hell was she thinking?

Nicholas stopped without warning, and Buffy barely avoided walking into his back. He directed the flashlight over the far wall. “This is where we found Gabriel. It looks like a dead end here, except…” His voice trailed off and he shuffled closer to the corner of the room. “I never noticed this before.”

Buffy peered past him to see what it was he was talking about. Nearly hidden in the aged stone was a crack in the wall that arched up barely to five feet before coming down on the other side. A small hook at waist level made it obvious what it was, but even more noticeable was the disturbed dust where the door met the floor.

“Well, someone has,” Buffy commented. “Let’s try this door first.”

Before Buffy could make a step, Nicholas stepped forward to pull the door open. His face was set in a grim frown as he made the first effort, and the tendons on his neck stood out. Danny watched for a moment before stepping beside Nicholas to grasp the hook. Between the two of them, they couldn’t make the door move an inch.

“Maybe it’s locked,” Danny panted.

“Perhaps we should…” Giles started.

“I’ll take care of it,” Buffy said.

Nicholas furrowed his brows. “With all due respect, I don’t think…”

“I got it,” Buffy said. “Stand back.”

Danny shrugged good-naturedly and took a step back, but Nicholas hesitated for another second. It was Danny who pulled him away from the door and allowed Buffy the space she needed. She took the hook and pulled, but something was keeping it in place. If anything, that only convinced her that what they were looking for was waiting for them behind the door. She didn’t want to reveal too much, but they couldn’t risk losing even a second.

Buffy backed up several steps to get a running start, and then jumped into the air. The stones shattered beneath her feet, and what remained of the door swung open on the hinge.

“By the power of Gray Skull,” Danny breathed.

Dust hung in the air, and she heard Giles cough discreetly from the back. Ignoring the bewildered frown Nicholas shot her, Buffy slipped through the open entrance, pausing inside to allow her eyes to adjust to the darkness. She didn’t have to wait long. The cut of illumination from the flashlight as Nicholas came up beside her did the trick even better than blinking.

Huddled in the far corner of the tiny cylindrical room was a man in his late forties. His gray hair was wildly askew, tufts sticking up all around his head, and blood stained his temples. His hands were tied in front of him with what looked like a chain of some sort, the links digging into his soft flesh, but it was the thick gold cross dangling from it that said where exactly it had come from. The man muttered under his breath, and it wasn’t until they had carefully approached that Buffy realized what he was saying.

He was praying.

“Reverend?” Nicholas said softly, moving to kneel beside him.

“Angel?” It was a soft whisper, barely any sound at all.

“Yes,” he said, working on the chain binding Harner’s wrists.

“I’ll go get Dr. Jenkins,” Danny volunteered.

“No,” Nicholas said quickly. “No. We’ll take him out. I don’t want us to get separated.”

Buffy liked that plan. When she crouched down at the Reverend’s other side, though, Nicholas shot her a frown.

“Let me help,” she said softly.

Nicholas nodded. “Can you get this chain off?” He gently ran his hands down Harner’s arms and legs. “It doesn’t feel like anything is broken. But we’ll probably have to carry him out.”

Buffy traced delicate fingers along where the chain cut into the man’s skin. It didn’t have a clasp, and Drusilla had left little give in binding him. Any of his attempts to free himself had only tightened his bonds, and the slick Buffy felt on the underside of his wrists could only be blood.

Slipping in at the loosest point, she curled her finger around the metal. A quick yank severed the link, and she made quick work unwinding the rest of it away. Reverend Harner never said a word. She almost wished he’d start praying again.

Danny soundlessly held out a handkerchief for Nicholas, which he used to wipe blood away from the Reverend’s forehead, and then from his wrists. He kept his head down as he worked, and his voice low. “What do you think she’s done to him?”

Buffy didn’t want to answer that question. “The important thing is…” She slipped an arm around Reverend Harner’s back, waiting for Nicholas to do the same. “She left him alive.”

To be continued in Chapter 8...
 
 
 
The Bearbearfacedcheek on July 27th, 2007 08:22 am (UTC)
Loved this chapter. Like teh Buffy Nicholas interaction very believable
neek_loveneek_love on July 27th, 2007 12:44 pm (UTC)
ditto to bearfacedcheek's comment!
Brilliant character interaction and story, as per usual.