Lost in the Darkness


Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or any of her comrades. Let me repeat, I own nothing, Mutant Enemy owns everything. I am nothing, they are greatness;-). I also do not own the characters of  Steven St. Wolf, Randi Jessup, Brian Jessup, or the concept of the Wandererverse. These are the property of Steve Pantovich, and are used with his permission. Steve can be contacted at Steve711@concentric.net.

Nor do I own the characters of Robin Goodfellow and Liam Danahure. They are ‘owned’ (if anyone can actually claim to own ‘them’) by Mike Weyer and are also used with his permission. Mike can be reached at SWERJ321@msn.com.

Erin Conner, Malincar, and Sheri Pendleton are mine. I do share but please contact me at liptonrm@hotmail.com before playing with my toys. Thanks.

Author’s Note: This is more of an interlude in the lives of our heroes then anything else. They deal with what (in their eyes) is a minor problem and then go on with their lives as normal. I’m not as TV show or pop culture literate as most of the authors in the Wandererverse so I’m not even going to try to pull in other shows to cross because all the shows I know have already been done. I might pull in a book or so, but we shall see. Enjoy the trip!

Big Huge Thanks to my Beta Christina Kestrelle. This story would be much less without her invaluable input.

Prologue

 

Sunnydale California

June 28, 1999

9:00 PM

 

Sometimes even the Wanderer has to go out of town for a few days and sometimes, rare as these occasions might actually be, the core Scoobies go out on patrol together. The world didn’t even have to nearly come to an end this time.

“You know, if I narrow my eyes and tilt my head a little, this is almost like the good ol’ days.” the blonde in the lead commented as she led her friends through one of Sunnydale’s popular (and populous) graveyards.

“The good ol’ days.” the dark haired young man repeated slowly, as if he was trying to remember something from a very long time ago. “Oh! You mean the days when we almost bit the big one every single night of the week. Yeah, mind-numbing fear is one of my favorite high school memories too, Buff.”

The red-head beside him reflexively slapped him in the shoulder, studiously ignoring the aggrieved “Hey!” she got in response. “You’re ruining the moment Xander.” she mock-seriously chided her friend. “Don’t tell me you’re still afraid of the things that go bump in the night.” for some reason the Amazon-witch had the irrational urge to stick her tongue out at him when he turned to give her an overly-exaggerated look of wounded dignity.

”Willow, really...” Xander began, and from the tone of his voice Buffy knew that the banter could go on like this all night. She silently grinned to herself as she listened to two of her oldest friends go back and forth. She sometimes felt a kind of melancholy when she thought about the ways in which they had changed, not only since their sophomore year but especially since Steve had shown up and Section 7 had been invented. She wondered how the younger versions of the people behind her would have reacted if they had found out way back then that they would some day become mystical warriors against the darkness. The thought broadened her smile involuntarily.

What she sometimes referred to as her ‘inner Slayer’ brought her out of her deep personal contemplations mere seconds before her heightened senses warned her of a disturbance off to her rights. She picked up the sight of a group hunched over something on the ground and carefully shielded by a well-placed gravestone. ‘The more things change...’

Buffy stiffened slightly and could palpably feel her friends quiet down, focus, and pull out the automatic weapons they always had with them.

‘Vamps?’ Xander silently mouthed to her when she turned her head. Buffy nodded and saw Xander’s eyes narrow into a grim focus.

“The more they stay the same.” Buffy heard Willow finish her own thought in a quiet mumble as she turned to her other friend. Willow gave her a terse, expectant nod. Buffy could see the warrior light gleaming in her eyes.

“Let’s go.” Buffy ordered and the trio silently but quickly closed the distance between them and their prey.

The vampires never even had a chance. Some people might think that the odds against three people going up against twelve vampires would have been so stacked in the vampires’ favor that the three people would have been left good and dead. Of course, idiots like that had never seen these three teenage warriors in action. The looks of sheer panic on the vampires’ faces would have been enough to cause Xander Harris to bust a gut if he had been in any other set of circumstances. Memories both his own and not kept him focused on the opponent in front of him and kept his senses open to what the others were doing around him.

Xander had to admit, these vamps were actually pretty disappointing. Having the three of them there was just a little bit like overkill. He easily took down the vamp in front of him, just as he had taken down the other three vamps before that. He grinned in slight satisfaction at the dust that quietly settled to the ground. The intriguing thought of ‘What could they have possibly found here that was cool enough to die over.’ was quickly dismissed as he heard a sharp intake of breath from Willow’s direction. He quickly turned and sprinted over to the witch’s position. He subconsciously noticed two things as he ran: that Buffy was headed in the same direction and that all the vampires had been dispatched.

“Willow, what is it?” Xander asked as he ran up behind her. He found her hunched over a figure laying on the ground, her shoulders stiff with concentration, one hand checking for a pulse at the figure’s wrist.

“Is she...” Buffy gasped as she came up on Willow’s other side.

Willow shook her head in the negative and stood up. “No, her pulse is steady but weak. It looks like we got to her before the vamps could do anything. She should probably wake up on her own in a little while.”

Buffy and Xander both nodded automatically, trusting their friend. They all had enough experience with unconsciousness and head wounds to make a diagnosis like that. Xander automatically did his own quick visual once over of the figure on the ground. She was pale but obviously breathing. It looked like they could move her.

Buffy had apparently come to the same decision. “Xander, pick her up.” the Slayer commanded “Let’s get her somewhere safe before she wakes up.”

Sunnydale Mall

Same Time

 Contrary to popular belief, Cordelia Chase did not always need to do everything in a crowd. At times, she actually preferred to do most of her own shopping alone. Her personal standards of fashion perfection were difficult to meet and most people just did not have the stamina to wait while said standards were achieved. It was this quest for perfection that had the aforementioned Ms. Chase browsing the racks of the Sunnydale Mall on the night in question. It was an arduous task but someone had to do it.

Nearly an hour, and three purchases, later, Cordelia departed from a shoe store with the glow of a victorious general. She looked for all the world like any other young California woman who had just made a killing at the store. Or course, if she were any other young woman she wouldn’t have noticed the skinny, sandy-haired man who, as she turned down the major causeway of the Sunnydale mall, stepped away from the Victoria’s Secrets huge plate glass window and resumed his stalker-like behavior.

‘What a jerk!’ Cordelia vehemently thought as she hefted her bags and mentally checked for her weapons. Then she grinned again, a feral, bloodthirsty thing that, if the man behind her had seen it he would have simply fallen unconscious to the floor. ‘Let’s see what happens when he catches me.’ Cordelia thought with a warrior’s glee.

With that in mind, Cordelia ran her stalker on a merry little chase as she casually darted between one group of people to the next, from one store to another. It was strangely exhilarating to play this little game of cat and mouse and hilarious too. Cordelia almost ruined the whole thing by breaking down into laughter, to think that the mouse actually thought that it was the cat

            The darkness of the parking lot surprised Cordelia for a moment. Usually, the lot of the Sunnydale mall was as brightly lit as the shops inside. Cordy quickly shrugged off the surprise, it wasn’t as if she really needed the lights anyway. She increased her pace and consciously changed her posture, hoping that she projected the image of a scared little victim. She could hear the footsteps behind her pick up and they nearly broke into a run as she quickly turned a corner and carefully set her shopping bags down.

She didn’t have to wait very long for her prey to come dashing around the corner. She reached out, grabbed him by the throat and had him pinned against the wall before he could even blink.

“All right asshole.” Cordelia said calmly, lethally. She could feel him struggling to breathe through his suddenly narrowed windpipe. “I want to know why the hell you were following me.”

“Paid...to.” Then sandy-haired man rasped out, his face going red with the effort.

“Who.” Cordelia growled, her mind racing through the list of people that could have a grudge against her and her’s. It was a very long list.  She steadily increased the pressure against the jerk’s throat as seconds ticked by. She opened her mouth to continue the diatribe when...

“You know Dan, you really are an idiot.” A woman’s voice pronounced from Cordelia’s right. Before anyone could breathe Cordelia had her gun out, tracking the location of the voice, her eyes never leaving the man’s (Dan’s) increasingly reddening face.

“And who the hell are you, lady?” Cordelia demanded, a steel edge to her voice.

“Wo, wo,” a brown-haired woman walked into the very edge of Cordelia’s line of sight, her hands raised. “There’s been a big misunderstanding here. Let’s just be reasonable.”

“Duh,” Cordelia retorted, “like how you thought I’m the one here being unreasonable.” Cordelia squeezed Dan’s throat a little harder, his face began to go purple and a soft wheeze sounded every time he was able to grab a breath. “Now why don’t you answer my question before your friend here runs out of air.”

“Look, I’m a private-eye from Los Angeles, my name’s Sheri Pendleton.” She practically shoved a badge under Cordelia’s nose, it looked authentic “I hired Dan here to help me find a runaway, her dad’s are payin’ a ton of money to see she gets found safe.” The lady looked over at Dan’s face as it began to take on a blueish tinge and gulped. “I’m telling the truth here!” She yelled a little desperately.

Cordelia nodded tightly in response, her mind quickly running through the evidence she had. With a look at Dan’s face she made her decision.

Sheri heavily sighed in relief as Dan dropped limply to the ground, unconscious but still breathing.

            “So, why was he following me?” Cordelia asked, turning slightly to look more directly at the woman but she also kept an eye on the body lying on the groung. Her gun was still out and ready. “I’m obviously not lost.”

“Like I said, he’s an idiot.” Sheri responded, her eyes flicking from the gun to Cordelia’s cold face. “The girl’s a brunette, just like you. She was tracked as far as Sunnydale. Dan apparently picked the best looking brunette he could find to keep his eyes on.” She pulled a picture out, handing it to Cordelia. The girl it showed looked to be in her early twenties with very short brown hair and hazel eyes.

Cordelia snorted, unconvinced. “She doesn’t look anything like me.”

“I know, I know.” Sheri responded quickly, her eyes locked on Cordelia’s gun and not her face. “I should’ve never hired the moron but I was in hurry. It’s no good excuse, but I never thought he would screw up this bad.”

Cordelia nodded, this certainly was a mess for the PI. Both pairs of eyes shot to the heap on the ground as it hoarsely moaned. Looked like Dan was coming to. Sheri rushed over to her employee’s side. She helped him to his feet, her left arm wrapped tightly around his torso.

“Look, can I get him to a hospital?” Sheri asked uncertainly.

“Sure, fine, go.” Cordelia responded, rolling her eyes, her good mood was definitely gone.

The pair hobbled past her. Just as they were about to turn the corner Sheri stopped and slowly pulled a card out of her back pocket. She carefully turned and handed it over to Cordelia. “Here, give me a call if you have any more questions.”

“You’ll be hearing from me.” Cordelia promised as she took the business card. Sheri nodded and quickly but carefully helped her compatriot around the corner and out of the danger zone.

Cordelia waited another minute or so before putting away her gun and slipping the business card into the pocket of her pants. She leaned down to pick up her shopping bags and growled at the mess she found on the asphalt. Those assholes owed her a new blouse.

 Kingman Bluffs

Same Time

Robin Goodfellow, the Merry Wanderer, knew, after millennia of existence, when to stage a tactical retreat. What he thought was going to be a nice, romantic evening with his girlfriend had been destroyed when Faith and Shaw had shown up out of nowhere to have what they called a ‘Girls Night In’. After strategically observing the situation and calculating his dignity’s chances for survival if he had remained where he was, Robin kissed his girlfriend on the cheek and hurried away from the apartment. He was rather proud of the fact that he hadn’t screamed as he ran.

So, here he was, alone, at night, on the bluffs outside of Sunnydale that overlooked the ocean. Oh, he knew all about the demonic cult that had tried to end the world from this particular spot and he really didn’t care. The view was spectacular, even to the jaded faerie.

Of course, a good thing, especially in Sunnydale, never lasts.

“When did you get into town Malincar?” Robin tiredly asked the figure that had appeared behind him. He didn’t turn around, he didn’t need to be reminded of how that odious little man looked, he remembered all too well.

“Goodfellow! Fancy meeting you here!” the man behind him practically oozed obsequiousness. “What a pleasant surprise.”

He was hoping the mage would just take a hint and go away. Robin should have remembered that Malincar had never been able to ‘just take a hint. “You didn’t answer my question.” Robin responded , still refusing to turn from his vantage overlooking the sea. “There are people in this town who would eat you alive if you’re here to try anything cute.”

“Me, try anything?” Malincar responded, obviously hurt by the suggestion.

“Unlike some people, I remember exactly what happened at Stonehenge.” Robin tiredly warned him.

“Oh, come on Goodfellow, that was over two thousand years ago. Besides, it wasn’t even my fault.”

“It never is.” Robin sarcastically conceded, finally giving up and turned around to face the mage. Malincar hadn’t improved with age, he was still as skinny, pale, and greasy looking as ever. Robin had forgotten what a revolting little toad he was. “So, what’s not your fault this time?”

 “Oh, nothing much.” Malincar responded with a little flick of his hand, a silly little smile quickly crossed his face. “I’m just looking for something I lost. I was doing a tiny little spatial incantation and the object was pulled in completely by accident. Poof!” Malincar shrugged stupidly.

Robin just mentally groaned. Even after two millennia the man hadn’t gained any more intelligence. “Fine, and just in the interest of keeping you from blowing up half of Sunnydale, could you use any help?”

Malincar giggled “Oh no, no, no. I can find it, don’t you worry. I just sensed you were around and thought I’d come and say hi. Nothing worse then a rude visitor.”

“Of course.” Robin responded “Well, it’s been great seeing you again. Hope you find what you’re looking for, quickly.” If the last word was emphasized just a little desperately no one could really blame him.

“Thank you!” Malincar replied happily, completely oblivious to the sarcasm, or the desperation “We’ll have to get together before I leave town.” And, having enough intelligence to recognize the look forming on Robing’s face Malincar raised his hand and disappeared.

Robin took a deep breath, held it for a moment, and then turned and resumed staring at the ocean. Great, just what they needed, that idiot running around loose on the Hellmouth.

 

Chapter One

St. Wolf Mansion

9:30 PM

 

“Well, I suppose this would be the safest place in Sunnydale.” Xander drawled as Buffy entered the living room of the St. Wolf mansion. His comment earned him a quick grin from the Immortal Slayer before a look of concern reappeared on her face.

“How is she?” Xander asked, serious now. He tossed Buffy a soda as she sat down across from him.

“Willow says she’s fine.” Buffy commented before popping the can open a taking a long sip. “We put her in one of the rooms upstairs. I’ve got Randi watching her so we’ll know when she wakes up.

Xander nodded in agreement but then his face twisted in mild confusion. “You’ve gotta admit, the whole situation feels a bit ... off.”

"Yeah," Buffy agreed. "First you've got those push over vamps, but that's not even the strangest part. This girl, there's something weird about her. Sure, she looks all normal and stuff but she had a social security card folded into a tiny little square and she was clutching it in her left hand. I almost didn't even find it. She doesn't have a wallet but she has a social security card."

“What!?” Xander sat up in his seat. “That’s just weird, and strangely convenient.”

“I know.” Buffy rolled her eyes and shrugged. “Anyway, I’ve got Willow tracking down the number. I’m hoping she can find something.”

“Can’t anything in this town be normal?” Xander moaned. “I was hoping this would be a nice, easy rescue operation, you know, like we have about four times a week. Kill the vamps, save the victim, everyone goes on with their lives. But no, things just had to go and suddenly become all mysterious.” Xander threw his hands up in exasperation. “They’re ruining my summer!”

“What, am I interrupting a pity party?” A voice asked from the steps.

Xander jumped up. “Save me Willow.” He pleaded. “Tell me there’s no mystery here. Rescue my summer experience.”

“What's up? Buffy asked the redhead, standing up to join them at the stairs.

“A couple things, actually.” Willow spared a quick look of sympathy for Xander as she pulled out some papers she had brought down with her. “The social security number checks out. It belonged to an Erin Conner born April 19, 1979. And, before you ask.” Willow hurried to add, seeing the questions beginning on her friends faces. “It used to belong to Erin Conner because I also found a death certificate for the same Erin Conner. Apparently she died in a car crash on June 2, 1997.”

“Two years ago.” Xander muttered. “Immortal?” He asked, glancing at Buffy.

“No buzz.” Buffy responded. “And no vamp sense either.”

“Yeah.” Willow agreed. “I went in and did a quick reading. There is something strange about her aura though. I did expect it to be weak since she’s unconscious but there’s something else. I get the feeling the somebody has been using some pretty heavy duty magicks on her for a while now.”

“Can you tell what kind of magic?” Buffy asked, concerned.

Willow shifted uncomfortably. “It doesn’t look like they were evil, per se and it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s anything dangerous to us or anyone else. I don’t think they were beneficial magicks, though. I get the feeling there was something painful about them.” Willow shrugged. “The result left her with a kind of aural buzz, a kind of magical beacon to the supernatural.”

“Hence all the vampires.” Xander concluded.

“Exactly.” Willow agreed. “The wards around the house should keep it all contained. That’s the best I can do while she’s still unconscious.”

“Would Jenny and Amy be able to help you find out some more about whatever was done to her?” Buffy asked.

“Definitely.” Willow agreed. “And Shaw is much better at reading auras then I am, or any of us are. It comes naturally to her.”

“Alright, go and give them all a call, see if you can get them over here. I want to make sure that there’s no danger before we go any further.” Buffy said, the command explicit in her voice.

Willow nodded and headed off to use the phone. Xander just sighed and plopped himself back down on the couch. “Well, well, well, we’ve got a dead person in the house.” He commented wryly. “Not like that’s anything new.”

“Hey!” Xander yelped and rubbed the back of his head as he glared at a very innocent looking Buffy.

 

Randi Jessup sat quietly in the dark room, the sound of soft breathing her only companion. It had all started off as a pretty normal evening. First had been a quick patrol with Kendra and then a little goofing around with her brother. They had been watching some cheesy old sci-fi show on TV, when Buffy had come in and told her to go watch on the newest of Section Seven’s foundlings. So, here she was, sitting in the dark with a stack of clothes on her lap waiting for someone to wake up.

Randi shook her head, mentally berating herself for her own selfishness. After all, she and Brian had once been foundlings just like this girl. Randi had no idea what her story was but had the feeling it had been just as much fun as her own introduction to the world of vampires and immortals had been. It was funny how the details of her life would hit her at the strangest moments, like when she was walking across campus or sitting in a coffee shop. She would see all of the normal people going by without a clue at the hidden darkness the world contained and everything would suddenly feel like some sort of dream. Whether the dream was her normal life before the vampires or her immortal life after them Randi never was sure.

Randi was pulled out of her own deep thoughts by the slight rustling of bed sheets, the first noise she had heard the sleeper make. She could hear the way that the rhythm of the sleeper’s breathing had changed and suddenly the feeling in the room became more and more tense. She could feel the other girl’s eyes staring at her, silently waiting to see what she would do. Randi locked eyes with the girl in the bed and a shiver tingled down her spine. She could see a kind of pain or sorrow or both in the girl’s eyes that was all too familiar, it was a pain that Randi knew they both shared.

Randi carefully stood up and went to crouch down by the bed, silently setting the stack of clothes down as she did so. “Hey.” Randi said softly. “How are you doing?”

The figure in the bed didn’t move, didn’t speak but from where she was crouching Randi could see tears silently streaming down the poor girl’s face. Randi reflexively reached out to comfort the girl before her but she flinched and cowered back to curl up against the wall, her breath coming in shallow pants. Randi had the feeling that she would have backed up through the wall if she had been able to and she suddenly had a vivid memory from her childhood. When she was little there had been a skinny white dog that would slink around her neighborhood. Every time Randi had tried to pet it the dog had reacted in the exact same way.

“Shh.” Randi said softly, slowly putting her hand down. “It’s okay. You’re safe here. Everything's going to be okay. I won’t let anything happen to you, I promise.” Randi whispered. She stayed perfectly still, holding her breath, hoping not to frighten the girl again.

They stayed like that as long minutes ticked by and Randi watched the girl relax, her breathing slowed and she reached out to clutch the pillow. “I’m safe?” The girl rasped out, her words were so quiet that Randi hardly heard them. The fear and desperate hope in her voice made her heart break just a little.

“I promise, you’re safe.” Randi replied, her voice laden with concern. Her heart broke a little more when the girl on the bed started to cry. This wasn’t the unconscious, silent tears of before but rather the racking sobs of someone who had needed to cry for too long and hadn’t been able to. Just as she had always done for Brian, especially during those horrible months after their parents' deaths, Randi  reached up and wrapped the girl in a hug. The girl didn’t cower away this time but instead hugged Randi back, clutching her as if she were afraid Randi would disappear. Randi slowly, tentatively began to rub her back, mumbling soothing noises as she did so. They stayed like that as Erin Conner cried out two years worth of pain.

 

Liam Danahure’s Apartment

Same Time

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” Liam Danahure yelled at the door. He hadn’t been expecting anyone tonight but wasn’t especially concerned. As long as it wasn’t the end of the world again or anything like that then there really wasn’t any reason to get worked up.

“Why lad.” Liam said in amused surprised to the annoyed faerie standing on his doorstep. “Fancy you coming by tonight. I thought you said you’d be...”

“Out of my way Liam.” Robin interrupted, pushing past his friend and barging into the apartment. “I really need a drink.”

“Why ever for?” Liam smirked as he closed the door and then watched Robin pull out some of the best stuff Liam had, open it up and then take a big swig straight from the bottle.

Robin set the bottle down and looked at the leprechaun suspiciously. “You knew.” Robin accused, his eyes narrowing. “You knew the girls were going to come over and interrupt my evening with Amy. Your girlfriend told you.” Robin practically spit the last sentence out.

“The lass may have mentioned her plans to me when I talked to her earlier.” Liam replied with a grin. He was enjoying his little joke, the look on Robin’s face was beautiful.

Robin growled and took another swig. “Just watch it Danahure. If you’re enjoying this you’ll just love my retribution.”

“Promises, promises.” Liam replied, still grinning, and grabbed the bottle to take a drink of his own. “What’s kept ya?”

Robin groaned in response and collapsed into a chair. “Malincar’s in town and paid me a little visit.”

Liam handed the bottle back. “What’s that little toad doing. I thought he was already dead.”

“I wish.” Was Robin’s fervent reply. “He says he’s looking for something. I don’t know. When I saw him it was almost like he was goading me on or challenging me. That’s not usual for him.”

“And not very smart.” Liam laughed. “You sure we’re talking about the same Malincar? You know, the joke, the guy who’s known as the worst mage to claim the title. I have this friend who won’t even admit the toad’s actually a mage, says he’s a disgrace. Liam grabbed the bottle and took a quick gulp. “I heard he was an embarrassment, not insane.”

“It was the same guy and as sane as he ever was. You forget, I’ve had the pleasure of actually meeting him before.” Robin shook his head. “He’s as incompetent as everyone says but there was something about him tonight that made me think about what happened at Stonehenge and I haven’t thought about that in centuries.”

“Stonehenge?” Liam asked, a little confused. “I don’t think I’ve heard of him doing anything at Stonehenge.”

Robin just sighed. “This was a couple millennia ago, two, I think. Malincar, who wasn’t even called Malincar then but Fionn or something like that, anyway, he had delusions about being a Druid. Sure, he had a little power but absolutely no talent so they wouldn’t let him in. Then he tried to buy his way in.”

“That must have been effective.” Liam interrupted with a sarcastic snort.

“Oh yeah, it was so effective they banned him from the community. They told him he wasn’t welcome in that part of Britannia ever again so Malincar or Fionn or whomever goes to the local Roman legion. He convinces the centurion that the Druids are fomenting rebellion in the forests. Then he gets the whole century all riled up, gives them directions and sets them on the Druids during some of the post-Solstice rites. During the chaos the legionnaires are actually able to kill some of the druids but then everything turns against them and the whole century is wiped out. The Romans blamed the Druids and the Druids blamed the Romans but it was really all Malincar’s fault.” Robin shrugged and grabbed the bottle. He took a big gulp, hoping to scour the taste of the story out of his mouth.

“That little fucker.” Liam replied after a moment’s pause. “The question isn’t why he’s not dead but why no one’s killed him yet.”

“Did I say he had no talent?” Robin asked rhetorically. “Sorry, survival is his one and only talent. It’ll be him, Cher, and the cockroaches after that nuclear holocaust everyone is always predicting.” He took another sip. “So, you can see how my night went from bad to unbelievably horrible.”

“I’ll say.” Liam agreed. The two old friends sat in uncharacteristic silence for a few moments. The past suddenly seemed to weigh heavily upon the both of them. Liam broke the silence by chortling incoherently, standing up and snagging the bottle as he went.

“You know what I think? I think we should go find our lovely ladies, interrupt their little party and invite them to finish this bottle with us. What do you think?”

“Now you’re talking.” Robin said, standing with his friend and joining him in a mutual smile.

 

Sunnydale Holiday Inn

9:45 PM

 Sheri Pendleton sat on a single bed in a motel room, her head in her hands, and stared at the figure sleeping in the bed across from her. The doctor in the emergency room had said Dan was fine to go. There had been some slight injury to his throat and he wouldn’t be able to talk for a while but he should heal without any complications. Truth be told, Sheri was kind of glad that woman warrior had put Dan’s voice out of commission, it saved her from having to listen to his idiotic attempts at conversation.

Sheri growled suddenly and stood up. She began pacing the small room like some lion in a cage. Her thoughts would just not shut up tonight. She hated this case. She hated her slimy little client, she hated the fact that all her instincts were yelling at her to get the hell out before anything bad happened. She just hated this fucking case. She sure as hell wouldn’t have taken the case at all if her husband hadn’t just lost his job and they hadn’t needed the money so badly.

Sheri sighed and picked up her phone from the night stand. With a quick glance at Dan to make sure he was still breathing she stepped into the hallway, quietly closing the door behind her. She hit the speed dial and waited for someone on the other end to pick up. An involuntary smile crossed her face at the tired “Hello” she got in reply.

“Hey hon.” Sheri said happily. “Did I wake the girls?” Sheri smiled. “It is so good to hear your voice. You would not believe the weird night I’ve been having.”

St. Wolf Mansion

Same Time

 Randi quietly closed the door on the dark room. Erin had finally calmed down and Randi had been able to talk her into taking a shower. Randi wasn’t quite sure what to think about the whole experience. Truthfully, she wasn’t sure she could think at all. It had been an emotionally draining time for both of them. She wasn’t sure what exactly had happened to Erin but she was positive that it had not been good.

Randi quickly went down the stairs and for a moment she stood on the bottom step and just stared at the people below her. It still amazed her how three normal looking teenagers could really be so much more. Guess you never really knew someone just by looking.

She stepped down the last step. “Hey everyone.” She called out and was immediately the center of attention.

“How’s it going?” Buffy asked, immediately taking control of the situation Randi wryly noticed.

Randi shrugged. “Erin’s taking a shower but she should be done soon.”

“It’ll help that she’s awake.” Willow commented. Randi didn’t know what it would help but didn’t really have the energy to try and find out. “Amy and Shaw should be here soon. I tried Jenny but she’s not answering her phone. It’ll be fine.” Willow ended with a comforting look in Buffy’s direction.

Buffy nodded and turned back to Randi. “Did she say anything?”

“No.” Randi admitted. “But whatever happened to her, it wasn’t pretty."

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