A/N: Characters in here are completely fictional to comply with terms. It's all very AU so don't think about canon too much. This was written for a spot of fun so just sit back and enjoy. :)
"Mom, you don't have to go through with this," Buffy told Joyce once again. They had been waiting on edge for the last six hours as soon as they received a phone call from Donna that the crew Joyce had called in was on their way.
"Don't say that, Buffy, I've already called them," Joyce said. "They're on their way as we speak, I can't just tell them I've changed by mind."
"Of course you can," Buffy insisted.
Joyce shook her head. "They're already being so charitable, coming all this way without charge."
"You know that Willow and Giles can help you, mom," Buffy pleaded her case again. "Just give them all a hearty meal and explain that we just don't want them to waste their time here. It's not like they can exorcize the ghosts. Willow and Giles can do that."
"Oh, Buffy, I don't want to exorcize them," Joyce frowned.
Buffy's eyes widened, confused and worried. "You don't?"
"No, dear," Joyce shook her head. "I want them to find evidence of the haunting here. It's just the thing to put my vernissage in the papers. A certified haunted art exhibit adds an air of mystery, don't you think?"
"Mom, that's… manipulative," Buffy said. "We already know there are ghosts here, you shouldn't waste their time."
"Buffy, I know that you and I know there are ghosts here, but look at it this way," Joyce said, clasping Buffy's hands. "Other people genuinely want to know if there are ghosts and otherworldly things out there. They don't get to witness these things everyday like you and your friends. And the crew themselves are devoted to gathering as much evidence as possible. You'll like them, sweetie. Their hearts are in the right place."
"I don't know, some of these guys have no idea what they're up to," Buffy shrugged, folding her arms over her chest. Joyce smile and kissed her daughter on the head.
"They're also plumbers, so maybe they can take a look at my pipes," Joyce commented as she walked away.
"MOM!" Buffy screeched, scandalized.
"What? They've been rattling at odd hours of the night. They'll know how to fix it."
"Oh god," Buffy muttered quietly, covering her face with her hands as her mother left.
"Hey, we're the Northeastern Paranormal Society and we're here to help," a brunette man said when Buffy answered the door. He was definitely older than her and looked a little worn from his work, but was still very handsome. She shook his hand, charmed by his warm brown eyes. "I'm Graham, and this is James," he said, and a transition occurred as he said it where he stopped shaking her hand and James, a tall bald-headed man, took his place greeting her.
"Hey," James said, just as warm and straight-forward as Graham had been. "We heard you've been having some phenomena here. Apparitions, objects moving, voices, that kind of thing."
"Uh, yeah," Buffy said, remembering what she and her mother had been seeing and hearing since they first got the showroom. She took a step back to let them inside, and Joyce was there to greet them and shake their hands when they entered.
"So glad you could make it," Joyce told them. Another member of the team came inside, wearing a hat, and she shook his hand as well.
"This is Stan, the head of our tech department," James explained. "How about you take us on a tour and show us some of the places you've been getting the phenomena?"
"Sounds like a plan," Joyce agreed, and quickly took them off on a tour around the gallery halls.
Buffy was left standing by the doors, then squinted outside where she could see their van and decided to do some investigating of her own.
"This is for EVPs," Darren explained, passing a small black device to Buffy. She had found him and a few other investigators working on the equipment in the vans, and started talking. The investigation had since started, and Buffy and Darren were left in the van to monitor the live video feed. Really, it was a job that Darren and Stan would end up doing later anyway, so there was almost no point to watch the footage unless James or Graham radioed something in for him to check on audio or visual.
Buffy turned the device over and click the button on and off. "This is a tape recorder," she said.
"So you, like, interview ghosts?" Buffy questioned skeptically.
"Sometimes," Darren admitted, his tone of voice telling her that it happened surprisingly often.
Buffy lifted her eyebrows and pressed the button. "I am a ghost! Boo!"
"EVP stands for 'electronic voice phenomena,'" Darren explained to her. "What happens is a pair of investigators will go into a house and ask the spirit a few questions, like what is your name, do you want us to be here, and other things. Later on we play back the tapes, and sometimes we get a voice on the tape that wasn't there while we were asking the question. That's an EVP."
"Do you play them backwards or something?" Buffy wondered.
"No," Darren shook his head. "I could play a few for you, if you want," he offered.
"Sure," Buffy agreed. She waited patiently for him to pull up the sound files on the computer, then went and stood over his shoulder when he finally played the clips. He explained the circumstances of each place, and how some audio with a female voice was captured when no female investigators had been brought on the case. Some of them were unimpressive, but others were downright creepy and it made Buffy wonder exactly what they had run into in the dark.
"What do you think?" Darren asked her.
"I think that you guys have a good grasp on what you're doing," Buffy decided. "What makes you decide if a place is haunted or not?"
"We do a lot of debunking," Darren told her. "If something seems solid with no other explanation, we add that into consideration. Then sometimes we get evidence on audio, like EVPs, or we capture stuff on footage. We've had objects moving before, and solid masses."
"Wow," Buffy folded her arms, actually impressed. "The last group of paranormal buffs I ran into were snapping pictures of fireflies in the cemetery."
Darren gave her a grimacing smile. "Yeah, we don't go for that so much."
She smiled in return. "I can see that now."
"So what did you guys find?" Buffy asked at the end of the night when the crew finally called it quits.
"We had some personal experiences," Graham told her. "We're going to turn in, review the evidence over the next couple of days and then get back to you with the results."
"Do you think you caught anything?" Joyce asked them.
"We might have caught something on audio," Stan told her. "Darren and I will be reviewing the footage and hopefully we'll find something."
"We did find something that could possible debunk a few of the claims," James added.
"What is it?" Buffy asked him.
"We found this lurking around in the basement," James told her, pulling a very startled-looking Spike out of the other room. "We're not sure how he got in, but it doesn't look like you have a nest yet."
"You have to be careful not to let vampires accumulate in your storage spaces," Graham advised her. "They like to eat people and can make spooky noises at night."
"Oh my," Joyce frowned a little. "I thought just one vampire couldn't hurt. He's very sweet."
"Mom," Buffy cried, somewhat disturbed. "You've been hiding Spike in the basement and you never told me?"
"He just looked so hungry," Joyce sighed. She looked at the investigators. "What should I do?"
"Give him a cookie or something," James shrugged. "Vampires aren't really my thing."
"Thank you for your help!" Joyce called after them as they left. "Let's get you something to eat," Joyce told Spike, and then took off to the banquet area where some leftover food from the evening's meal was still sitting.
"What are you doing here?" Buffy hissed at him. "You were supposed to be staying at my house."
Spike looked perturbed, still shell-shocked from his ordeal. "She brought me here, fed me crackers, and locked me in the supply closet. What was I supposed to do?"
Buffy sighed and shook her head, taking pity on him. "Let's get you fed and out of here before my mother decides to keep you."
Spike shuddered. "I think it's too late for that."
A/N: *If Northeastern Paranormal Society is a real organization, trust me, that's NOT who I originally wrote into the fic. If you picked up on where this is from and are a fan of the show, don't hate me for it, lol. If you're curious about the unaltered version, check my profile for the link to my LJ comm and you can find the story there by the same title. (I have more fic for the show over there and it's anon friendly!)
Thank you for reading! ;)