Disclaimer: I don't own either BtVS or L&O: SVU. I am not making any money off this story.
This story is set in the same universe as my story "The Muggle Way". You won't need to read that story to know what's happening here. It's set a few months earlier. I just like the way I had the Council set up in that story and I'm too lazy to come up with something new.
BTVS: Set 4 and half years post season seven. Spoilers through "Chosen"
L&O: SVU – Set early season five before the episode "Lost." Spoilers through "Lost"
Chapter One – Victim
The garbage truck moved slowly down the New York street. It was early in the morning and very cold. The two men in the cab were talking.
"I'm telling you Lou, the Knicks will be lucky to even make the playoffs this year. They've already lost to the Clippers twice. Twice. No team that losses twice to the Clippers deserves to go to the playoffs."
"Get off it Charlie," Lou replied. "We just past the halfway point in the season. Everybody knows they were just going through the motions. Now they get serious. They beat Philly to a pulp last night."
The truck pulled to a stop and one of the men jumped out of the cab and began motioning the driver around a tight corner into an alley. Suddenly he motioned for the truck to stop. His hands fell to his sides and he just froze staring at something behind the dumpster. The second man leaned out his window.
"Hey Lou, what's going on? Lou? Lou?"
He got out of the truck and went to see had his partner so rattled. As he approached he got a glimpse of what was behind the dumpster. He pulled up short.
The scene was a bustle of activity. Uniformed police kept the crowd back. The alley was cordoned off behind tape and people with CSU jackets moved around searching for evidence. Detectives Munch and Tutuola arrived and crossed under the tape. Munch spoke first.
"So what do we have?"
The ME looked up from the body and shook her head. "Same as the victim from three nights ago. She was stripped naked, beaten, tortured and raped. There's a cut along the femoral artery. She was bled to death."
"No blood on the ground," Detective Tutuola said. "Looks like another dump job. We got a name yet?"
The ME nodded. "Her clothes were left in a bag just over there," she motioned with her hand. "Victim's name was Emily Gaston. Chicago driver's license."
"New York hospitality at its worst," Munch deadpanned. He motioned for one of the CSU officers to hand him the bagged driver's license. "Emily Gaston, age thirty-four. She was pretty."
Tutuola leaned over the body. "Looks like the same markings cut into abdomen that the other two vics had. I got a bad feeling about this one Munch. We got a serial killer on our hands."
"Were the cuts made pre or post mortem?" Munch asked.
"I'd say pre mortem, just like the last two," replied the ME.
"Time of death."
"Last night. Some time between ten PM and two AM," she replied. "I'll know more after the autopsy."
Munch nodded his head and approached one the officers. "Canvas turn up anything yet."
"Nope. Nobody heard or saw anything out of the ordinary last night."
"Keep at it. Maybe we'll get lucky and somebody saw the victim being dumped."
"All right detective."
"Hey Munch," Tutuola was going through the victims purse. "I don't think our vic was a tourist. I got apartment keys and the slip on the key ring is for a New York address. Looks like she just moved here."
"We'll report back to the Captain and then check out her apartment."
A couple of hours later Munch and Tutuola were searching Emily Gaston's apartment.
"According the building manager Gaston lives alone. Moved in about a month ago," Munch said. "Got a job offer that was too good to pass up."
"Looks like she hasn't settled in yet," Tutuola said. "Still some boxes in the bedroom."
"No sign of forced entry or a struggle," Munch said.
"Who are you people?" came a voice from the door. Munch and Tutuola turned to see two young women standing at the door. The one who spoke was a short blonde woman who didn't look older than twenty-fine. Just behind her was a taller brunette who looked even younger.
"Detectives Munch and Tutuola," Munch replied holding up his badge. "And who are you?"
"What are you doing in Emily's apartment?" the blonde asked. She stated moving into the apartment. Munch felt the urge to back up. This woman was barely half his size and she was intimidating him. He glimpsed back and saw that his partner was having the same reaction.
"Look miss," Munch said. "We're the police. I need to know who you are and why you are at Emily Gaston's apartment."
The younger of the two tapped the blonde on the shoulder and then moved forward. "I'm Dawn Summers. That's my sister Buffy. We're Emily's employers. She didn't come into the office this morning and hasn't been answering her phone or responding to her messages. We came here to find out if anything's wrong. And since two NYPD detectives are searching her apartment I can assume something happened. Where is Emily?"
"Ms Summers I very sorry to have to tell you but Emily Gaston was murdered sometime last night," Munch informed her. "Her body was discovered in an alley this morning."
"What happened?" Buffy asked.
"We're still investigating," Munch replied. "What exactly does she do?" Munch was surprised that these two twenty something women could be Emily Gaston's employers.
"She does appraisal work for museums, auction houses and private collectors," Dawn answered. "She's been doing freelance work for us for the past few years. When we decided to open a New York office I talked her into moving from Chicago to run the place. We just had our grand opening party yesterday. That's why Buffy and I are in town."
"And where is your head office?" Munch asked.
"London," Dawn replied. "That's where I'm based. Buffy runs our Cleveland branch."
""Ms Summers," Munch continued, "we need to locate a family member to identify the body. Do you know how we can get a hold of her family?"
"Her parents died when she was in college," Dawn answered. "Her brother lives in Arizona."
"We can identify the body," Buffy offered.
Munch blinked. Buffy had changed from the intimidating woman who entered the apartment into a typical twenty something. He couldn't mark what had changed and if he hadn't seen Fin's reaction he would have thought he imaged the whole thing. But now he found himself looking at a nice young woman who just wanted to help the police.
"It might be unpleasant."
"I know. But we want to help. How did she die?"
"We can talk about that later," Tutuola said. "Can you tell us the last time you saw Ms Gaston?"
"The party got out about six last night," Dawn said. "Emily left about six thirty."
"And you two."
Buffy answered. "We stayed late. Conference call with our Asian office. I think we got out around eight."
"Sounds about right," Dawn nodded.
"Did Ms Gaston leave with anyone?" Tutuola asked.
"Janice drove her home," Buffy said. "She had a few extra glasses of punch and we wanted to make sure she got back to her apartment ok. We already talked with Janice. She said she dropped Emily off at the door at a quarter after seven and then headed home. She did say she saw Emily go into the building."
"We'll need to speak with this Janice ourselves," Munch said. He was surprised by how thoroughly the two sisters had already checked up on their employee. They had called, checked with the person who saw her last and then come to her apartment. It was almost like a police investigation. Ordinarily he would write it off to overly conscientious employers except for that vide he got off Buffy when she first walked into the apartment.
"Look, can you tell us what happed to Emily?" Buffy asked. "How did she die?"
"Tell you what," Tutuola said, "we'll take you down to the morgue to identify the body and then you can come back the station with us. We still need to ask you a few more questions."
Munch watched as the two sisters shared a look. Then Buffy nodded her head at Dawn and turned her attention back to the officers.
"We'll need to call the office and tell them what happened," Buffy said. "I assume you'll want to talk to them so I'll tell them to stay put until your other detectives arrive. We have our own car so we can follow you to the morgue."
Once again Munch noted that these two seemed very familiar with police procedure.
"Sounds like a plan."