Author: Eurydice & Pepperlandgirl
Fic Title: The Rose Remembers
Summary: Death isn't done with Sandford, but a Slayer and a vampire on the run have something to say about that.
Rating: Eventually NC17
Warnings: Violence and sexual content.
Banner number: 47 by athenamuze
Setting: About 2 1/2 years post-NFA
Disclaimer: Not ours, as much as we would like them to be.
Author Notes: This is a crossover with the movie, Hot Fuzz, but honestly, you shouldn't have to be familiar with the movie to be able to understand the fic. However, by reading the fic, you *will* get spoiled for the entire movie. Just so that you know.
The cloying scent of decay clogged her throat, but Buffy knew it was her only guide, her only means to find whatever it was that was buried in the bowels of the dark caverns. Stone crumbled around her head, showering her head in a fine grit, and the ground was uneven beneath her bare feet. Once, she stepped in something soft, but she refused to look down or think about what it might possibly be.
Something was down there. Something was hiding.
Something. Or someone.
Voices she didn’t recognize echoed from the darkness. It was the first time Buffy dared to stop in her search, and she reached out to grip the wall, holding herself utterly still, in order to listen.
Men. Two of them. English.
Where am I?
Their words were mostly indiscernible, and Buffy resumed her pace, creeping along even slower. She turned a corner, and light she didn’t expect streamed in through a small, high window to slice across the rough wall. It didn’t just illuminate the gray stone. It cast shadows across the bones strewn across the floor, flesh bloated and pale still clinging to the broken shards.
Her eyes never left them, even as she edged past. She rounded another corner, and there were more bones, more bodies, more voices joining the pair she’d already heard.
The light disappeared. She almost stumbled when her heel slipped on an unseen stair leading downward, and her hand shot out to brace from falling.
Down, down, around, and down, and Buffy didn’t know when the staircase was ever going to end. Would she find more bodies? Would she find the men she’d overheard? Why were they here in the first place? Why was she here?
When her foot found flat ground, Buffy stopped and took a deep breath, trying not to retch at the scent of death surrounding her. It was everywhere. In the walls, in the floor, in the pores of her skin. No escape. Was that what had happened to all these victims?
There was only one way to find out.
Her skin crawled, but she made the first step anyway. Something crunched beneath her toes. Please don’t be another bone.
Except it wasn’t. It was too dark to see the item she plucked out from under her arch, but her fingers recognized the shape all too well.
A pair of glasses. Small. Round lenses, though one of those was now shattered.
Buffy felt like running then, but there was nowhere to go, nowhere but forward, deeper into the cavernous maze that already consumed her. Step after step after numbing step, only to stop as soon as she felt a dip in the wall. She traced it upward until she realized it was a door.
Doors led someplace. Doors usually led out.
There was no knob, but it pushed easily against her strength, its creak echoing against the stone. Inside was lighter than the corridor, and Buffy had to blink more than once to adjust to the change.
As soon as she saw the body torn apart on the far wall, she wished she hadn’t.
Buffy sat upright in bed, the sweat dripping down the back of her neck in spite of how cold it was in her bedroom. The image of Giles, bloody and ravaged, still burned on her brain, and nothing she did could erase the revenant of her nightmare. It had been a long time since she’d had such a vivid one. A couple years, at least. But that didn’t mean she didn’t recognize a Slayer dream when she had one.
Reaching over, Buffy turned on the bedside lamp and picked up her cell phone. It was late, and it would be late in England, but she didn’t care. She needed to make the call. She needed to hear his voice.
He picked up on the third ring.
“Giles? It’s me. We need to talk.”
Inspector Nicholas Angel grimaced and discretely covered his nose and mouth with his hand, trying to stop the worse of the stench. The smell of rotting flesh had permeated the stones and dirt and air—permanently, no doubt. All of the decomposing bodies had been excavated from the catacombs, leaving behind a deep pile of bones and the remnants of clothes, but the smell still lingered. It wasn’t something he could get used to, even though he had been down into the mass grave several times since its initial discovery.
“Inspector?” Sergeant Fisher’s voice from the dark cavern stretching out before him. Even in the middle of the day, with all the floodlights blazing, the catacombs still seemed impossibly dark. “We’re over here.”
Over here wasn’t exactly helpful. Fisher’s voice echoed off the walls and low ceiling, sending the words spiraling through the long corridors. Nicholas sighed and picked the most likely direction, turning on his flashlight before venturing further. Fisher had been vague on the details of the newest discovery. Had they found a new room with a new pile of remains to be excavated, sorted, and identified? It wouldn’t be the first time, of course.
Nicholas’ radio crackled. “Chief?”
“What is it, Danny?” he asked without stopping.
“Where are you?”
“Down in the catacombs.” He paused, passing his flashlight over the wall. It was easy to get lost down there, but there were certain landmarks that would keep him on the correct path. Somebody had been tossed down there before they had expired, and they had tried to write a message in their own blood.
“What are you doing down there?”
“Fisher said the forensics team found something they thought I should see. Where are you? I tried to call.”
“Doctor. Wait for me. I’ll come down.”
“Danny, I don’t think that’s….”
“Where are you?”
Nicholas sighed. “Go to the main room and take the left tunnel, then take the first right.”
“Where the message is?”
“Right. Be right there.”
Nicholas replaced his radio, knowing that nothing short of a direct order would keep Sergeant Danny Butterman from joining him. And he had no desire to order Danny around, even if he had every right to. He didn’t understand how Danny could be so willing to venture into the catacombs behind Nicholas, but he always was. Nobody would have blamed him if he didn’t want anything to do with the mass grave, but Danny didn’t shirk responsibility—even if, technically, it wasn’t his responsibility.
It had been six months since the murderous activity of Sandford’s Neighborhood Watch Alliance had been discovered and halted. Nicholas was fully recovered from the minor injuries sustained in the resulting gun battle, but Danny was not. And Sandford was not. Nicholas knew it would be best if Danny took a longer leave of absence to recover from the gun shot wound and burns he had received during the final showdown, but Danny wouldn’t hear of it. And as for Sandford itself?
Well, it would be best if they stopped discovering rooms full of bodies. How could the villagers be expected to come to terms with the horror perpetuated on them by the NWA if the horrors never stopped?
They had only discovered victims in the castle’s catacombs, but Nicholas strongly suspected it was only a matter of time before bones started appearing in other places, like Reaper’s farm, or maybe the late Leslie Tiller’s garden.
“Over here, Danny.”
Danny’s shadow fell over Nicholas’ face, and then he stepped into the light, his mouth pulled into a familiar friendly smile, even though he was obviously short of breath. “I came as fast as I could.”
“You didn’t have to, you know.”
“Doris told me what happened.”
Nicholas shined the flashlight directly into Danny’s face, studying him closely. “Are you sure you’re well enough to be down here?”
Danny batted the light away. “I’m fine, Nicholas.”
Nicholas gestured for Danny to follow him, and together, they moved deeper beneath the castle. Privately, Nicholas was happy Danny was there. He liked having the other man around him, even if a part of Nicholas knew this wasn’t a good place for Danny.
Nicholas found Tony Fisher with Bob Wright, the forensics guy, at the end of the tunnel. The walls were slimy and mossy, and a smell like rotten earth immediately hit them. Danny stopped short behind him, doubling over in a coughing fit. Nicholas didn’t cough, but his gag reflex almost got the better of him.
“Inspector!” Fisher greeted. “Sorry to call you out here, but we thought this might be something you’d want to see?”
“What have you got, Tony?”
The two men stepped aside, and Nicholas didn’t know what he had been expecting, but it wasn’t what he saw.
“Jesus Christ,” he breathed.
“What?” Danny asked at his shoulder. “Oh…oh my god.”
It wasn’t a room full of undiscovered remains, but it was worse. Much, much worse. Gabriel Weaver sat upright, slumped against the wall, almost posed. His chin was on his chest, his longish blond hair obscuring his face, but Nicholas still recognized the boy. His hands were crossed serenely in his lap, and he looked like he could just be sleeping.
Nicholas knew the body was fresh. He had just seen Gabriel and his friends the night before. He had been responding to Mrs. Frost’s report of “hoodlums wrecking her flowers.” Gabriel hadn’t actually been wrecking the older woman’s flowers, but he and his friends had been armed with several cans of spray paint—which Gabriel had surrendered to Nicholas immediately.
“I sent him home,” Nicholas muttered. “I told him to go directly home. Or else I would let him and his group spend the night in jail.”
“What should I…we do?” Fisher asked.
“We’ll call for the ambulance and get him to the coroner’s office. We’ll probably need an autopsy to determine the cause of death…”
“Do you think it could be this?” Danny asked, squatting beside the body and pushing the long hair away.
Nicholas almost snapped at him to get away from the crime scene, but the words died on his lips.
“I don’t understand,” Fisher said.
Big surprise, Nicholas thought.
“Did somebody slit his throat?” Bob asked.
Nicholas hunkered beside Danny, shining his flashlight on the wound. “This is undoubtedly the work of a sharp object, but the weapon probably wasn’t a knife. The wound is too ragged. It almost looks like…”
“Like a bite,” Danny supplied.
“Like a vampire bite.”
“Did you get that horror movie collection we saw on the commercial?”
“Yeah,” Danny said enthusiastically. “And it’s brilliant. Why don’t you come over and watch it?”
“We’ll talk about it later,” Nicholas said. “But I’m pretty sure this isn’t a vampire.”
“How can you know?” Tony asked.
Nicholas looked up, unable to keep his exasperation in check. “Because vampires don’t exist, Sergeant Fisher.”
“Oh. Right. Of course.”
“Then what do you think it was?” Danny asked. “A dog?”
“We won’t know until the coroner is done with him,” Nicholas said, straightening. “Tony, radio in for back up.”
Danny shook his head sadly. “Poor Alistair and Regan. First Mr. Weaver, and now this.”
“Danny…” It was odd to hear such sentiments from Danny, especially since Mr. Weaver was the one who shot Danny, nearly killing him, and sending him to hospital for nearly two full months. Mr. Weaver had nearly killed them all. But Nicholas supposed Weaver’s actions didn’t take away from the pain his family went through as a result of his actions. And it was just like Danny to remember that. “Yeah.”
“What are you going to say to them?”
Nicholas released his breath in a long sigh. “I don’t know. The truth, I suppose.”
“Want to go to the pub? I’ll buy you a pint.”
“It’s the middle of the day, Danny,” Nicholas reminded him automatically.
“I’ll buy you some cranberry juice, then.”
“Okay. But only because I want to hear what the doctor had to say.”
“It weren’t nothing.”
“I expect a full report anyway, Sergeant,” Nicholas said as he led Danny out of the catacombs.
Nicholas couldn’t see him, but heard the easy grin in Danny’s voice. “Yeah, alright. Hey Nicholas…”
He put his hand up, cutting off Danny’s words and bringing them both to a halt. “Wait,” he whispered.
“What is it?” Danny asked, his words a low whisper as well.
“Did you hear that?”
“Rats?” Danny suggested after a short pause. “Maybe it was a hedgehog.”
Nicholas didn’t think it was a rodent. The footstep had sounded much heavier than the mere scampering of a rat. He flashed his light down the tunnel to his right, but he didn’t see anything except smooth walls.
“Maybe you didn’t hear anything at all,” Danny suggested softly.
Nicholas shook his head. He heard something. He knew it. Just because he couldn’t find the source of the noise didn’t mean it wasn’t there.
“Could have just been Tony.”
“Yeah,” Nicholas said absently, “could have been.” He sent one more curious glance down the tunnel, then slapped Danny on the shoulder. “Come on, partner. Let’s get out of here.”
It didn’t make a difference that she was twenty-five, going on twenty-six. Seeing Giles waiting for her as she came out of Heathrow’s customs brought a relieved smile to Buffy’s face and a lighter spring to her step. She was especially glad to see his glasses perched on his nose. That part of the dream still haunted her, over twenty-four hours later.
“Thank god you didn’t send Andrew to pick me up again,” she said. “Last time, it took us two hours to get to your place because he took the Jude Law Lived Here detour.”
Giles sighed with the sort of long-suffering patience only he could muster. “Yes, I’ve been on that tour. It starts and ends with the flat he shared with Ewan McGregor. Whoever that is.”
Buffy grinned, slinging her bag onto her other shoulder so that it wouldn’t bump into Giles as they walked along. “It wasn’t so bad the first time. I mean, that’s a lot of pretty, all in one place. What’s not to love about that? After the third time, though…”
“Yes, well, rest assured that I won’t make you suffer through it again.” The exasperation on his face evaporated, and he looked at her with obvious affection. “How was your flight? Would you like to get some rest?”
“No, no more sleep. I just want to figure out what this dream was all about and stop it before it happens.”
Giles nodded. “That’s quite understandable, Buffy.” He glanced at her again, and this time, all she saw was his concern. “I don’t think I’ve heard you sound that distressed in…well…quite a few years.”
He hadn’t. There were enough Slayers out there for Buffy not to have to shoulder the burden any more. She took the serious jobs when she had to, but she had a life now. She even had a social one. Nothing long-lasting, but considering her track record, she didn’t think there was anything wrong with playing the field a little bit. Besides, it was hard to explain dust and blood stains to guys not in the know. And that was all she dated these days. After the debacle with the Immortal, she was in no hurry to get involved with another supernatural being.
“Well, it’s been a few years since I had a Slayer dream.” She hadn’t told him the details, only the broadest of strokes to get his interest. If she could keep an eye on Giles, she could keep the dream from coming true. “I guess it’s just my turn again.”
Giles nodded. “After your phone call, I expected to hear from a few of the other Slayers. Typically several of the girls will share dreams. But so far, nobody has reported anything. Unless Andrew isn’t giving me my messages. Which is extremely probable.”
He lapsed into silence once they emerged from the airport to a string of waiting taxis. They settled in the cab at the front of the line, and Giles turned back to her once he gave the driver his address. It was the address to his apartment, she noted, and not to the current Counsel headquarters.
“Beyond the Slayer dream, how are you doing? How’s Dawn?”
“Determined to make Willow look like a slacker. She took a double class load this term, she says because she wants to get out sooner. I think it’s because of the hot prof she’s got as an advisor.”
The corner of Giles’ mouth lifted. “Well, if anybody can handle that sort of work load, it’s Dawn.” He sobered, and Buffy knew he meant business when the glasses came off his face. “What happened in your dream that would prompt a journey across the globe?”
She sighed, turning toward the window. The day was gray and somber, but she’d been in London often enough now to know these weren’t necessarily rain clouds. It was just the way it was. But it would’ve been nice if the sun could have been out for this trip. Buffy had a feeling she was going to need every boost she could get.
“A lot of it didn’t make sense,” she said. “But you know how the dreams are. If they don’t meet their cryptic quota, it’s like they’ll get kicked out of the club or something. But this one…I’m not even sure where it was. It was old, and dark, and there were all these hallways, but none of them actually led anywhere. All they had were these bodies. Well, parts of bodies, at least.”
Giles frowned. “Like some sort of mass grave? Were there any clues as to where this place was? Anything at all?”
Buffy blinked. “Old. Dark. Hallways. That’s what I’ve got. Oh, and there were these guys I kept hearing. Two of them. I couldn’t tell what they were saying, but whatever it was, was in English.”
“Old like a castle, and dark hallways like a catacomb?”
She thought about it for a moment and then shrugged. “Sure. Why not.”
“I wish you could be more certain, Buffy. About six months ago, a mass grave was discovered in the catacombs of a castle in a small village in the West Country. Sandford. It’s been in the news since then. Dozens of bodies were discovered, and they think there are dozens more still waiting to be excavated.” Giles shook his head. “But why would you dream about Sandford? As far as anybody knows, that was entirely man’s work.”
Her confusion matched his. “Forget that. It happened months ago. I don’t dream about the past. Why would I dream about this now?”
“Maybe you’re not dreaming about that particular atrocity. Who knows what sort of demons and monsters that grave is attracting. It’s probably surrounded by the darkest sort of energy.”
The thought sickened her, but not quite as much as the thought that she’d led Giles straight to this. Even if she tried backing off on it now, his curiosity would be sparked enough to follow up, to go out to this Sandford and see for himself if there was any validity to Buffy’s dream. And if he went, he’d get killed, of that she was certain.
Why couldn’t these Slayer dreams ever be in Cleveland so it could be Faith’s problem?
“I should go out to this Sandford and check it out then,” she said, hoping she sounded casual. “How far is it by train?”
“About five hours, and another hour after that by taxi. Are you sure you want to make that journey tonight? We could leave first thing in the morning.”
Her mouth was open to argue the we of that statement when Buffy realized what a mistake it would be to leave Giles behind. If he was wrong, she wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to protect him from getting killed. If he was right, well, at least then she’d be there to do something about it.
“Tonight.” Her gaze was steady, her head clearer than it had been since the dream. “The sooner I find out what this is about, the better.”
To be continued in Chapter 2...