Part 3

FBI Agent Jameson cooled his heels outside Detective Fallbrook’s office while FBI Agent Starkey went in search of some drinkable coffee. Upon entering this country, it seemed like there was a coffee shop on every street corner; Jameson figured this was to accommodate the local police officers, since they didn’t seem to have the facilities to make their own. The other odd thing about Canada was how their citizens treated Americans. Polite, but … standoffish, like they would catch something if they got too close to you. Jameson shook his head. They watch our TV, go to our movies, listen to our music, but they don’t want to have anything to do with us otherwise. Like Detective Fallbrook.

Starkey returned with two white Dixie cups in his hands. Jameson gave his partner a hopeful look.

Starkey grimaced. “I’m not sure I’m doing either of us a favor with this coffee. The sugar was scrambling up the sides of the cups trying to escape.” He handed Jameson a cup and watched him take a sip.

“Oh, that’s lovely. Just lovely.”

Starkey took a sip of his and groaned. “I can feel my insides rotting already.” He nodded at Fallbrook’s door. “He still giving us the cold shoulder?”

“I think he likes the thrill of making Americans wait.”

“Well, they’re not as bad as the French.”

“God, no.”

Fallbrook’s door opened suddenly, and the tall, thin detective beckoned them inside. “Let’s go, boys, my son’s game is in an hour, and I’ve got hockey parents to deal with.”

The FBI agents sat down across from Fallbrook in a couple of metal folding chairs. Nothing but the best for our guests.

“We understand,” began Starkey, “that you’re the primary on the Rocket Killer case.”

“That’s right,” replied Fallbrook. “Any other deductions you can let me in on?”

“Are you aware that we are here with the blessing of your government, the Mounties, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service?” asked Jameson.

Fallbrook smirked. “Yeah, I saw your ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ cards before you came in here.”

“Then perhaps you should know that we aren’t here to help with your Rocket Killer. In fact, we could care less whether you catch him or not.”

Fallbrook leaned forward in his chair. “Really? You’re not looking for Jimmy Hoffa, then, are you? Because he’s part of one of the support columns holding up the CN Tower.”

Starkey sat back in his chair, but his eyes caught Fallbrook by the lapels and held him close. “We are looking for a young girl, seventeen years old, blonde, attractive, and very dangerous to people with less than good intentions. In fact, I’d be very surprised if she wasn’t hunting your Rocket Killer as we speak.”

“A teenage girl hunting a serial killer?”

Jameson’s voice was carefully casual. “Not a serial killer. A vampire.”

Fallbrook laughed. “A vampire? With the fangs and the cape and everything? Hey, do you think we should start stringing garlic inside the subway cars?”

“What do you think is killing these girls?”

Fallbrook’s amusement ended as quickly as it began. “A psycho.”

Starkey was going to continue, but Jameson put a hand on his arm. “Fine. Whatever. Bottom line is, if you find the girl, she belongs to us. She’s an American citizen, wanted for several crimes, and we get her. All right?”

“Sure, no problem. I’ll make sure to ask the Rocket Killer if he’s seen her. Oh, I guess I should have a stake with me first, eh?”

The FBI agents stood. “Her name,” said Starkey, “is Buffy Summers. You catch her, you call us.” He tossed a couple of business cards on Fallbrook’s desk. “You catch her, you let her go, I’ll see to it personally that you’re walking the beat in Tuktoyuktuk by Labor Day.”

Starkey and Jameson slammed the door behind them. Fallbrook let out an explosive sigh, picked up the phone and dialed a familiar number.

“They know it’s a vampire. No, I don’t know how. Just try to keep them out of the way if they try to barge in on our scene. The last thing we need is the Americans thinking we can’t handle our undead.”

*                              *                              *

“What if Buffy isn’t looking for the Rocket Killer? Do you think we can handle him on our own?” Willow asked Giles in a quiet voice.

Giles frowned. “From this description in the Diaries, the kind of vampire he is might be unstoppable past a certain point.”

“Hey,” interrupted Xander. “No keeping secrets over there.”

They were sitting at a couple of tables in a parkside café on the Harbourfront, enjoying the sun and the breeze from Lake Ontario. For a wonder, the café wasn’t all that busy, so they had chosen a couple of tables with some privacy around them. An important thing to consider when discussing the supernatural as if it was an everyday occurrence. Which it is, thought Willow with a sad grin.

“Have anyone seen the Feds recently?” asked Oz. “’Cause I kind of miss them.”

“They seemed to do a disappearing act once we crossed the border. Maybe their stalking license only applies in the States,” said Cordelia.

“It is a good thing that they do not seem to be around,” observed Giles, “because we may have to deal with the Rocket Killer ourselves, and we don’t need any interference.”

“So what’s his deal?” asked Xander.

“I found the drawing in one of the earlier diaries; apparently it’s an old symbol, an evil eye of sorts, which first seemed to originate in Ancient Greece, intended to ward off particular vampires. Our vampire, it seems. He appears to be a rare breed of vampire, a … mutation, if you will. He feeds like any other member of the undead, but if he drinks the blood of a young girl who is, ah, menstruating, his demon has the ability to absorb her soul, thus making him stronger.” Willow nudged Giles in the ribs. “Oh, yes, and it appears that the girl has to be a virgin as well.”

“Wow. This has to be a new Guinness record for wacky. Does it also have to be a full moon that night, too?” marveled Xander.

Giles continued as if Xander hadn’t said a word. “Luckily, vampires with this mutation don’t seem to realize this ability exists, so it only manifests itself through unfortunate luck. There have been only two other vampires like this mentioned in the diaries, but they were all stopped before they could become too powerful to destroy. I fear that after killing the six victims that we know of, the Rocket Killer may be too strong for the usual stake-in-the-heart strategy.”

“This isn’t one of those Judge-type situations requiring a missile launcher and an industrial-sized Shop-Vac, right?” asked Cordelia.

“I think exposure to the sun may still be enough to kill him, but he may need to be weakened by something else first.” Giles sighed. “Still, we need to find him first, and we seem to be no closer to accomplishing that goal.”

“Well,” started Willow, “we know that he only hunts in the subway tunnels, probably to stay out of the sun.”

“He dresses like a 70s biker movie reject,” added Cordelia.

Giles glanced over his notes. “The little girl mentioned something about his boots, now what was it?” He flipped through some pages. “Oh, yes, he had little bits of grass on his boots. What does that mean?”

“He walked through some grass,” noted Xander.

“But freshly cut grass, and wet, if it stuck to his boots,” said Giles thoughtfully.

“Little bits?” asked Oz rhetorically. “Do we have a map of Toronto?”

Willow pulled one out from her handbag. “Here you go, sweetness.”

Xander snickered. “Sweetness?”

Cordelia grabbed his ear and pulled him close. “How come you don’t have a pet name for me, Xander?”

“Uh, well, I do, Cordy, but …”

She pulled harder and he yelped. “But what?”

“This is a family show. I wouldn’t want to offend anybody.”

“Whisper it in my ear, then.”

He whispered something that made her face change an attractive shade of red. She let go of his ear and rubbed it tenderly.

Meanwhile, Oz was spreading the map over the surface of the table. He dragged his finger along a black line. “This is the east-west subway line. There are a couple of places where it comes out of the tunnels …” He studied the map intently.

“What are you looking for, Oz?” asked Giles.

He stabbed the map at a point where the tunnel ends at Victoria Park Station. “Right there. That’s where he goes in.”

“How do you know?” Willow gave her boyfriend a puzzled look.

He shifted his finger slightly, pointing at something right next to the subway station.

Dentonia Park Golf Course.

*                              *                              *

“You know, the best part about being on a stakeout is the constant ingestion of sticky buns.” Xander licked his fingers happily.

“I can do that for you if you want,” suggested Cordelia in a sly voice.

He stopped in mid-lick. “Uh … Maybe we shouldn’t let ourselves get distracted.”

The walkie-talkie at his side crackled, and a tinny voice said, “Team S&M, have you seen him, over?”

Cordelia growled. “I wish she wouldn’t call us that.”

Xander picked up the walkie-talkie and answered, “That’s a big ‘no’ with a cherry on top. How about you, Team Cuddles, over?”

“Dummy, if she’s asking you if we’ve seen him, do you really think they have?”

“You never know, Cordy, Willow can be quite a tease sometimes.”

Willow’s faint voice interrupted them. “Nothing yet, over.”

Xander and Cordelia were sitting at the far end of the subway platform at Victoria Park Station, waiting and watching for the Rocket Killer to make an appearance. It was already a few minutes past 6 a.m., and they had already spent several hours the night before without catching sight of the vampire. The sun would be coming up soon, and Giles had said that if he didn’t show up by sunrise, he probably wouldn’t for the rest of the day. Willow, Oz, and Giles were keeping watch by the subway tunnel entrance a few hundred feet down the line, since the Victoria Park Station is aboveground.

“Would it really be a crime to put padded benches on subway platforms?” asked Cordelia. “I feel like I’m sitting in a pew at church.”

“You’ve been to church?”

“I’ve been to a couple of weddings,” she protested. “And when I was younger, I went to Sunday School,” she continued reluctantly.

“Really? So did I, although I guess I was more interested in the cookies and Kool-Aid than the Bible lessons. Still, those were a lot more fun than piano lessons.”

“You took piano lessons?” Cordelia couldn’t help but laugh. “My little Liberace,” she said with a mix of fondness and teasing.

“Hey, I only wore that wig once, and it was on a dare, so back off!”

A subway train rolled into the station, and Xander glanced down towards the other end of the platform. His eyes widened.

“There he is!” He scrambled to his feet and dashed for the nearest open subway train door, pulling Cordelia along behind him. They jumped into the car just as the doors were closing, and he fumbled for the walkie-talkie.

“Team Cuddles, he just got on the train! We jumped onboard, too! Over!”

Giles responded, “We’ll catch the next one. Make sure to check if he gets off at any stop, but don’t get too close! Over!”

The train started out of the station, and Xander began walking towards the next car. Cordelia tugged on his sleeve.

“Wait, Xander.”


“I think I saw Buffy get on the train the same time we did.”

*                              *                              *

“What do you think Buffy’s plan is?” asked Willow, peering down the tracks, hoping to see the next train.

“She will probably want to face the vampire all alone, to prevent any innocent bystanders from getting involved.” Giles was practically dancing with impatience. Surely they’ve started the rush hour subway schedule by now.

“How is she going to do that on a busy subway car?” wondered Oz. “Even the platforms will have people on them.”

Finally the rumble of the approaching train signaled its approach.

“It’ll be daylight soon, so she probably couldn’t get him to go outside,” noted Willow.

Oz pulled out the map of Toronto again, and the wind from the train’s arrival nearly tore it out of his grasp. The doors opened, and they quickly got inside, sitting together in the corner, Oz still concentrating. He pointed at the approximate halfway point of the east-west subway line.

“This is a valley here. So there’s probably a bridge for the subway.” He moved his finger, and the words ‘Bloor Viaduct’ could be clearly seen.

“Of course,” exclaimed Giles. “She will try to lure him onto the bridge, and then use the sun as an ally if she has difficulty staking him.” He grinned suddenly. “She is getting so much better at slaying. I think she may have even been listening to my lectures on battle strategy.”

“Does the walkie-talkie still work?” asked Oz.

Willow shook her head. “It died as soon as we went underground.”

“I hope Xander and Cordelia don’t do anything stupid,” yawned Oz.

In the conductor’s booth beside them, Chuck Benson was wishing he was still in bed, too.

*                              *                              *

“What are you, stupid? Why would we want to get closer?”

“Cordy, Buffy’s down there somewhere.”

“That’s right, she is, probably fighting the vampire right now, and all we would do is get in the way. Why can’t we wait until we’re sure he’s dead, and then have a group hug?”

Xander pulled on the separating door, yanking it open. The sound of the train wheels clacking on the tracks made his reply inaudible, but his grasp on her wrist was still firm and insistent. They stepped into the next car, which was a little more full than the last one.

“Buffy may need our help. She probably doesn’t know about the soul-sucking thing. This is no time to get all scream queen on me, Cordy.”

“Oh, all right. Which car do we think he’s in?”

“The first one.”

“And we’re in?”

“I think the seventh or eighth one.”

“Well, that’s not so bad.”

The train pulled into the Broadview station, and once the doors opened, Xander stuck his head out.

“Man, I can barely see … Buffy!” Xander stepped out onto the platform and Cordelia followed him. He turned to his girlfriend. “I saw her get out, but I couldn’t see the vampire.” They looked back up the platform. The doors closed, and the train started pulling out of the station. No sign of Buffy or the vampire.

Xander flapped his arms helplessly.

“Where did they go?”

*                              *                              *

“Is this the last station before the viaduct?” Giles asked, peering at the map.

Oz nodded. “Yep, we better get off here.”

Their train came slowly to a stop in Broadview station, and they stepped out, meeting Xander and Cordelia almost immediately.

“They disappeared,” said Xander in frustration.

Willow patted him on the shoulder. “It’s okay, we think we know where they are.” She pointed down the tracks.

“There’s a bridge,” said Oz helpfully. “And the sun is coming up.”

“Let’s roll,” said Xander, and they rushed to the end of the platform. Benson didn’t even notice them climbing over the gate as he started the train out of the station; he was waiting for the Excedrin to work its magic on his headache.

The gang had to wait for the train to go completely by before they could follow it down the tracks, but as soon as it did, they sprinted into the darkness. Willow kept reminding herself not to step anywhere near the third rail. Xander kept wondering when the next train was going to come up behind them. Oz kept thinking about making sure Willow was safe, and to get in the way if the vampire should get close to her. Cordelia kept muttering that this dirt and muck was doing wonders for her shoes. Giles kept hoping that this would be the chance they needed, that they would be in time to catch up to Buffy. Not an impossible hope, surely.

The darkness became lighter, and they could easily see the viaduct ahead of them. There was a catwalk on their left, and they all clambered up onto it. At the other end of the bridge, the train was slowing to a stop. And was that …?

“Buffy!” yelled Giles.

“Buffy!” they all yelled together, but they were still too far away, and their calls were lost to the abysmal acoustics. Their feet pounded on the metal catwalk, calling Buffy’s name over and over again. They were close enough now that they could see Buffy lifting a large, mangled body over the catwalk railing. Behind them, the next train came rumbling onto the viaduct, and their yells were completely drowned out by the noise. They all stopped and pressed themselves against the railing as the train passed by, it, too, slowing to a stop.

Pinned against the railing, they watched helplessly as Buffy tossed the body over the railing and started running towards the next station.

“Buffy,” Giles said quietly, a tear dropping from his left eye. He tried shuffling down the catwalk, but the Slayer was fading from sight so quickly. It was his legs that gave up first, refusing to move, and then his mind followed soon enough. The others kept yelling, but in his heart, Giles knew this would not be their day, and as he glanced back at the teenagers, he could see his despair reflected in their eyes.

So close.

*                              *                              *

Detective Fallbrook was agitated. After hearing the eyewitness account from the conductor, and after sending a couple of hand-picked officers down to the street below the viaduct to find the vampire dust, he was feeling … what? Denied? Robbed? By a teenage girl, no less. Who had promptly disappeared without a trace, thank you very much. He stood in his office watching the videotape from the surveillance camera in the Castle Frank Station, the station on the other side of the Bloor Viaduct. Pause, rewind, play. Pause, rewind, play. On the TV screen, a hazy image of Buffy Summers walked through the turnstiles. Paused. Rewinded. Played. Who the hell is this girl? Maybe the people who had also been on the catwalk this morning would know. They were waiting downstairs. He hit pause on the remote control, and turned to open his door.

The door opened on its own, and the two FBI agents walked in.

“Wonderful, just when I thought my day couldn’t get any better.”

Starkey closed the door, smiling. “We understand you’re holding five people downstairs for trespassing on subway property.”

“That’s right. I’m also hoping they might know something about what happened this morning.” Fallbrook tried to block their view of the television without being obvious about it.

“We want you to let them go,” said Jameson. “I already have a fax from the subway commissioner saying no charges will be laid.”

“What the hell is this? Going over my head?”

“We need those people, detective,” Jameson replied, handing him the fax. “They are our only hope in locating Buffy Summers. You know, the girl on the screen behind you?”

Fallbrook cursed. “Who is she, anyway? Why is she so important?”

“I can’t answer that, detective,” said Starkey. “Classified.”

“Yeah,” continued Jameson. “If we told you, we’d have to let her kill you.”

Their smiles were anything but warm.

“Those people downstairs know something about this, don’t they? Give me ten minutes with them at least.”

Jameson shook his head. “They have their own problems to deal with, detective. You will let them go, and you will leave them be.”

Starkey opened the door, and as the two agents left Fallbrook’s office, the detective couldn’t help feeling that he had let this one get away, that he had held this one in his hands, and wasn’t fast enough to get a grip on it.

Downstairs, five weary, depressed people felt the same way.

So close.


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