Buffy the Vampire Slayer

in a Fan Fiction by

Lancer47

STFarnham

The Unfortunate Don

Chapter 12

Giles, Lord North, and Xander stayed behind to discuss business while Buffy, Willow and Dawn walked out of the courtroom and down the main hall towards the front of the Wilkins Building. Buffy said, "Huh, I didn't realize this building housed both the new police department and the county courthouse."

Dawn rolled her eyes, "Yeah, like why would you?"

Willow said, "While you were in jail last week, our good friend Mr. Benedetto escaped."

"WHAT!" Buffy was shocked, "why didn't anyone tell me?"

They had just stepped walked though the main hall, passing the police front office, and were joined by Special Agents Robertson and Osbourne, who had overheard the last exchange. "There wasn't any point Ms. Summers. What could you have done from your cell?"

"You couldn't have thought of that before you put me there?"

"Now now, Ms. Summers, that was entirely the effort of the local police. I never believed that you had anything to do with Agent Sisneros' murder, and I was quite vocal in my opposition to the detectives in charge of the case, especially since I would like your help. Apparently, Detective Stein was operating under the orders of your new mayor who found some information left over from the old mayor. Does this make any sense to you?"

Buffy frowned thoughtfully and answered, "Yes, it really does. Mayor Wilkins hated my guts. He was right to do so, since in the end I was the one who barbecued him—with a lot of help from my friends. I don't know what he had to say about me, but whatever it was I'm sure it is not good."

Detective Stein came out of the courtroom and walked over to Buffy. Buffy glared and turned away pointedly. A car with police flashers pulled up to the front of the building, and stopped in front of the main door. 'Sheriff' was written across the car door in big letters. Buffy said to no one in particular, "I didn't know we had a Sheriff's Department."

"We don't," said Dawn, "that would be the Balboa County Sheriff. They're based over in Neptune but we are all in the same county. We don't usually see them because we have our own police, incompetent police, but ours just the same."

"OK, I learn something new everyday," said Buffy, while she watched the Sheriff get out from the driver's seat and a deputy dragged a handcuffed prisoner from back seat. Buffy's eyes opened wide in recognition and she said, "Hey, that's Benedetto!"

They all turned to watch as the Sheriff and his deputy efficiently marched their prisoner along between them, up the steps and down the hall. As they passed the eclectic group, the Sheriff paused and said to Stein, "Hello detective, I believe you lost this," gesturing to the prisoner.

Benedetto spoke up in a ferocious growling tone while staring at Buffy, "I'm gonna get you, you and your family, if it's the last thing I do—you and your sister will die screaming at me while you watch each other bleed to death!" He was nearly foaming at the mouth and his eyes bugged out.

"Lamb, get him outta here!" The Sheriff looked shocked and uncomfortable as Deputy Lamb yanked the prisoner through the door and out of sight.

"I'm so sorry about that, I shouldn't have let the prisoner stand here in the hall with you. But I didn't realize you had a history with him, Miss uh...?"

"Summers, Buffy Summers. And this is my sister, Dawn. And please don't worry Sheriff, we've dealt with him before."

"I'm sure, but it's my job to keep people like that from bothering you."

Cliff McCormack came rushing out of the courtroom with a report in his hands. He stopped in front of Buffy and said, "Excuse me gentleman, but I need some privacy with my client." He stopped and looked up in surprise as he noticed who was standing there, "Sheriff Mars, what brings you here?"

"Well well, if it isn't my favorite shyster. I'm here on a prisoner exchange. It seems the Sunnydale PD let an organized crime figure escape and blacken our serene seaside dale. In the meantime, a certain Loretta Cancun, one of your clients I believe, was picked up here on an outstanding warrant." The sharp eyes of Keith Mars had noticed the logo on the report in Cliff's hands and added, "If you're depending on Vincent Van Lowe for anything, be warned that you might not get what you pay for."

"Why?" asked Willow.

Cliff frowned and said, "Sometimes he gets a bigger offer from the people he's supposed to be investigating to pull the wool over the eyes of his clients. However, Vinnie and I have an understanding—he wouldn't do that to me, not if he wants me to rush down to the jail to bail him out the next time he gets arrested anyway."

"Well," said Keith Mars, "I wish you luck. If you'll excuse me I'll finish my business and be on my way. It was nice to meet you Buffy and Dawn, and again, please accept my apologies for allowing my prisoner to bother you." He turned and went in to the desk sergeant to complete his paperwork.

"Wow," said Dawn, "I think that's the first time I ever heard a policeman of any kind admit to an error in judgment, even a mild error. How come we can't have a sheriff like that here?"

"Because Mayor Wilkins wanted a police department to call his own," said Willow, a little darkly.

--- ---

Finally back at Casa de Summers, Buffy sat comfortably on her front porch sipping iced sun tea with a sprig of mint, and enjoyed the feeling of freedom, sunlight, light breezes, chirping birds, and a pile of reports and research materials. All right, she didn't really enjoy the research, but compared to sitting in a jail cell it was heavenly. Well, not really heaven heavenly, after all, she was familiar with the real thing. But still, with everything in perspective, her front porch felt great.

She read through the mass of material that Dawn, Willow and Giles had managed to amass during the last week and was struck by how often Mayor Wilkins name came up. And also by how often Wilkins was referred to as the 'old mayor Wilkins'. This made sense only if one assumed that was a rationalization made by people who resolutely refused to believe in demons and magic.

Buffy looked up from her lounger when she heard a car stop in front. It was Giles.

"Good afternoon Buffy. I'm glad to see you at home, I am certain you didn't enjoy your sojourn in the gaol."

Buffy looked at him and smiled.

Giles continued, "After you left, I had a chat with Sheriff Mars. He gave me a little background, and some people to look up. Are you ready for a trip to the Sunnydale Gardens Retirement Community?"

"Huh?" Buffy blurted.

Giles smiled and added, "The good Sheriff suggested we talk to a retired Sunnydale detective, by the name of Martinson, who was a fixture here for many decades. He retired long before we came to town. He may well be able to steer us in the right direction to find the goods, as you Americans say, on Mr. Benedetto and his boss."

"What good would that do?" asked Buffy.

"Well, it would appear that the late and unlamented Mayor Wilkins had a finger in every pie, including organized crime. Which is certainly reasonable when you know the Mayor as well as we did."

"But I still don't see what ancient history will do for us."

"Oh Buffy, Buffy, Buffy," Giles said sorrowfully, "those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. After all this time, I can't believe that you still don't know the value of research. Think a minute: we have criminal elements, a criminal mayor, a demon mayor, a demon criminal leader, money floating around, a politician even more corrupt than run-of-the-mill politicians, need I go on?"

"Oh all right. Give me half a mo' to put this stuff away."

"Dare I ask what a 'mo' is? No, never mind, I dare not."

--- ---

Buffy and Giles walked into the entrance foyer of Sunnydale Gardens. They were very impressed. "Wow," said Buffy, "I wouldn't have thought an honest small-town detective could afford to retire to this kind of luxury."

"I dare say you're right. This lends credence to our whole train of thought, doesn't it?"

An assistant manager bustled over and gushed, "Welcome to Sunnydale Gardens! How may I help you? Are you looking for a nice retirement home for your father, dear?" she said, looking at Buffy.

Giles looked puzzled for a brief moment but his expression turned dark as he processed the question. "My dear young lady," he said as if to a retarded student, "I am in the prime of life, it shall be many a year before I am ready to retire to a nursing home!"

Buffy tried hard to keep her laughter unheard, but was unsuccessful.

"Oh, gosh! I am sorry sir, I just assumed... Er, ah, what may I do for you?"

"We'd like to talk to Detective Martinson, Retired."

"Is he expecting you?"

"No. Just tell him that Rupert Giles and Buffy Summers would like a few minutes of his time."

The assistant conferred briefly on her phone and finally said, "Follow me please. By the way, the Detective considers himself to be quite a rakish old fellow, Ms. Summers, so don't be too upset by his, ah, flirtatious ways. He doesn't mean anything by it, and even if he did I don't suppose he could do anything about it."

--- ---

"So, you're Buffy Summers. Would you like a roll in the hay with me?"

"WHAT?" Buffy exclaimed.

"Would you roll my wheelchair through the hay, out back, in the gardens?"

Buffy frowned at him for a moment, then shook her head in amusement, "All right. Which way?"

Buffy pushed the detective along the smooth asphalt paths through the impeccably landscaped grounds. Eventually, they came to a quiet spot overlooking the ocean from the high cliffs. Buffy could see the beach where she and the rest of the scoobies occasionally hung out during the summer. The overlook included some benches, and had nice big trees to provide plenty of shade. Buffy and Giles sat down and all three were silent for a few moments.

Finally, the retired detective said, "Buffy Summers. Although my time on the force was before your time, I've heard of you, of course. I would have welcomed you, or your predecessor. I lost a few good friends, mostly on the night shift, before I understood what we were facing."

"So," said Giles, "you know about vampires and demons?"

"Oh yes, and witches, ghosts, even leprechauns."

"I believe the latter are a myth, and ghosts rarely bother anyone. And witches don't usually cause problems, except under exceptional circumstances."

"Hmmm, yes. Well, I have heard through the grapevine that you have saved the lives of a number of police officers. Enough so that most everyone on the force is aware of your actions. That doesn't go unnoticed, so I will answer as many of your questions as I am able."

"Well," said Buffy, "we aren't really sure because we find ourselves in a situation that has more to do with organized crime than supernatural crime. This is not my usual territory, so I am finding myself a little unsure of what needs to be done next. This all started when the local organized crime family decided to start up a little protection racket. They didn't have enough sense to stay away from the "Magic Box", where I often hang out, and the results were predictable to anyone who knows me."

The detective chuckled appreciatively and said, "I would have liked to have seen that."

"Well," said Buffy, "there are tapes of the original incident. The cops have them so all you have to do is ask your friends. Any way, to cut a long story short, we ended up following the chain of crooks up to a Mr. Bennidetto..."

" 'Don' Bennedetto?"

"Yes, and his boss, Frankie Reichs. He's the one who worries us."

"Yeah, I can see why. Frankie Reichs moved in some forty years ago. He had some dealings with Mayor Wilkins. Oddly enough, I was at a ceremony back in '62, on duty, when Wilkins presented Reichs with some sort of community award—the keys to city or some such thing. That was before I knew what was up, so I was suitably impressed. The thing is, the ceremony was held in mid-morning, outside in full sunlight. But after that, I never again saw Frankie in the sun. Make of that what you will."

Giles said, "It's apparent that he was sired shortly after. I suppose it could have been a reward—one might expect the criminal element to think that way."

"Could be, I am certain many a low-life would happily trade life for the apparent power of the undead. Your average criminal isn't known for his smarts. Good thing too, otherwise we wouldn't catch so many of 'em."

Buffy and Giles both smiled at that.

"So what was the deal between Reichs and the Mayor?" asked Buffy.

"Oh, simple, in order to operate in Sunnydale, organized crime had to pay off Mayor Wilkins."

"And how do you know this detective?" asked Giles.

"Umm," he answered a little hesitantly, "well you see, I handled the payoff myself. At least for my last few years on the force. Once a week I went 'round to one of Frankie Reichs establishments and picked up an envelope. It was always fat, stuffed full of cash. Then I went to City Hall, on official business you see, and delivered the envelope directly to the Mayor. He always used to clean his hands with a handi-wipe after counting the money. After the first year, he had me count the money while he watched, I suppose to save on handi-wipes."

Buffy looked at the detective with narrowed eyes. "So, you were one of Sunnydale's finest, on the take."

"You have to understand something Ms. Summers, if I didn't do what the Mayor and the Chief of Police told me to do, I would either find myself out on the street with no benefits, or dead, or worse than dead. It was work with them, or not work at all."

Buffy nodded her head slowly and said, "OK, I wasn't there, I can see you were between a rock and a hard spot. But if I was you, I would done something else."

"What?"

"Beats me, but I would have found a way to wreck the works."

"Yeah, well, I didn't have anyone on my side. And if it helps, I felt really bad about it."

"No detective, it doesn't help," Buffy looked around at the Sunnydale Gardens Retirement Community and added, "you're living in what most people would consider luxurious retirement, built on the horrible deaths of how many citizens of Sunnydale?"

Martinson had the grace to look embarrassed.

--- ---

Anya sadly tossed out the remains of the broken merchandise, after cataloging and photographing every shard for insurance purposes. She couldn't believe that this ugly old vase survived the explosion. It was right next to the front window and it still didn't break. I can't win. Even though I gave it fancy new name in a language other than English, relabeling it a tekokarestill nobody would pay me for it, she thought angrily. Thinking about it pissed her off so much she dropped it. It bounced and remained intact. "Shit!"

She picked it up and it rattled a little. She looked inside it, saw something, turned it upside down and shook it some more. A small leather pouch, wrapped tightly with leather strings, fell out and thumped on the floor. Anya's eyebrows went up. She tossed the vase aside, noting that it still refused to break, and investigated the pouch.

"Huh." she said out loud as she unwrapped it.

To be continued ...

Author's Notes:

1. To those of you who were looking forward to a lengthy Mars Investigations subplot, sorry, not gonna happen. This takes place at least a year before Lily's death, therefore, Keith Mars is still Sheriff and Veronica is still on the pep squad with Lily. In fact, they might be dancing to the 'Spice Girls' even as we speak.

2. It might be fun to get Dawn and Veronica together in a story, but not in this one. The main reason for the inclusion of Keith Mars is a setup for another story: Veronica on the Cusp of Vegas. I don't think we'll much more of the VM crew in this one. The fit is a little off for anything more than cameo appearances.

3. I played fast and loose with the court scenes, legal lingo, and the timing and all. But sometimes you just have to forget about getting every detail right and move the story along.