Chapter One:

Buffy sighed deeply, leaning against the light pole. Buffy lifted her foot to relieve the ache that the four inch spiked heels she was wear caused. Then something caught her eye so she glanced up just in time to catch the tail end of a flash of lightening between some buildings. Thunder rolled ominously across the sky just a few seconds later.

"Well, isn't that great?" Buffy grouched.

There was a burst of static in her ear. "Hey Buf, you do know that leather starts to shrink when it gets wet." Her partner who was currently cozy, comfortable, and cool in the surveillance van laughed over the electronic piece in her ear.

Buffy stood, balancing unsteadily. She yanked down the very short leather skirt she wore that barely covered what was legal. "Next time, you get to wear these heels and come out here to shake your ass" she hissed, knowing that her words would be picked up by the tiny receiver hidden in the pitiful excuse for a vest she wore over her breasts.

Detective Riley Finn, her partner for the four years that she'd worked homicide, laughed again. "Oh, but you do it so well, Buffy."

She turned, surreptitiously flipped off the surveillance van, hearing the chuckles of the morons inside.

"Hey, you know that we could have gotten some uniform to do it. You weren't having it, remember? You had to up and volunteer."

Buffy ignored the truth of his words and walked the dirty sidewalk, pretending her feet were bothering her, that her head wasn't buzzing from exhaustion. She was just going to have to close this case or let it kill her.

Buffy caught the glares of others who were walking the same stretch of sidewalk. The people, both males and females, who were out here trying to turn tricks, trying to earn rent money or enough to get something to eat, or for their next fix. She tried to ignore the younger kids that were out here, selling their bodies all the same, some just because being here was better than what they had to go home to ... a life that they would consider worse than one living out on the streets. And no matter how hard the city tried, there just wasn't enough time or money or man power to completely fix a situation that was so overwhelming. But it was still enough to break hearts, seeing how skinny these kids were, or to see the dazed look in their eyes from dugs.

Buffy heard a loud blast of a defective mffler before she saw the car it came from. Loud, raucous music blared out from the open windows. The bass was up so loud that it vibrated against the earpiece. She heard the whine of feedback and swore. One of the three boys from the car put his head out the window. "Hey baby," he yelled as they passed her. "How about a freebie? It's my birthday!:

"I don't do ten year olds, kid," she yelled back. "Go home to your mama huh?"

"Fuck you, bitch!" he yelled at her as they roared off.

"Why wasn't that kid in bed?" she muttered, mostly to herself.

"Well, I think he was trying to get back there..." Riley said with a chuckle.

She ignored him and his comment and glanced down the street. Her eyes caught then focused on an aging hooker who was bent over talking to an older man in a BMW. She looked old enough to be Jesus' grandmother, her skin like a prune and about the same matching color. She had on a skirt that was a bright red that made hers look positively prim in comparison to it. A fake gold lame halter barely contained the breasts that hung down to her waist, swinging with each movement she made. She had a full head of impossibly curly locks that almost hung down to her waist. She let out a laugh, it sounded like a cackle from the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz.

Buffy turned her purse so that the tiny camera that was concealed in its straps caught the image of the old woman. "Ri, I thought you told that girlfriend of yours to stay off the streets." Buffy heard the hoots of laughter from the other two cops in the van down the street over her earpiece.

"Hey," he replied, without any hesitiation. "That is my woman you are talking about. And trust me, you take out those fake teeth and let her go..."

"Yeah, okay. Perv."

"And proud of it."

Buffy turned to walk back to her pole when she felt the first drop of rain splash on her shoulder. The sky flashed and rumbled.

"We should pack this up," Riley told her. "Come on, I'll be nice. I'll buy you a beer and rub those feet for you."

Buffy considered it and started to walk down the street to the motel where they had set up part of this sting when a long black sedan pulled up next to the curb. It kept pace with her for a minute until she looked over. Adrenaline pumped through her system, fast and furious as she recognized the make and the model as being the same as their one and only witness had given them.

The owner of the black sedan was wanted in connection to several murders that had been plaguing the less affluent neighborhoods of her fine cirt. Seven girls so far, all street hookers, had been picked up off the strets. The last girl's body had been found just last week and the damage to her had been severe. She had literally been torn to piece. The cause of death, as far as the medical examiner had been able to deduce, had been blunt force trama. Her skull had been caved in with something like a steel bat. Prior to death though, she had been raped, she had been assaulted and tortured. But, they had caught a break in the case. Her friend and roommate had been with her when she'd been picked up and had identified the car.

This car.

The passenger side window slowly rolled down as she turned to the car. There was a burst of static in her ear. "It looks like the right car, Buf. Same procedure. Get him to go to the motel room and we will take him there."

Buffy smiled, snapping her gum as she strolled over the car's window. She bent at the waist to look in, giving the driver a view of her cleavage. "Hey there honey, how are you doin' tonight?" she drawled out, making the words sound like sex in her throat.

"How much?"

Well, so much for verbal foreplay. "Well, that depends on what you want, sugar." She snapped her gum provocatively.

"I want to fuck you. How much?"

Boy, he sure was a charmer. Buffy sized him up. "Fifty for a half hour. Anything more than that we renegotiate. That sound okay to you?"

The man grunted, tapping a button on the steering wheel. The door she was leaning on unlocked and unlatched.

"Don't you dare get in that car."

Buffy almost rolled her eyes. She was not that stupid. "Sorry baby. I will meet you around the corner." She named off the motel and started backing away.

"Get in." The man turned.

"Sorry sugar, that's just not how I work. You can meet me at my motel and I will give you..."


Shit. Damn. Fuck.

Buffy stood indecisive. He tapped a button and the door closed and latched. The window started to roll up. "Wait a second now baby," she said, reaching for the door handle. She sent a mental apology out to her partner.

"Goddamn it, Buffy. Do not get in that car."

The door swung open and Buffy slid in onto the leather seat. She barely got her feet in before he started closing in on her. She heard the omnious sound of the lock being engaged. Buffy turned, running a hand along the leather, using the move to put her closer to the door and further from him. "Nice car. Now where we going? I can't be away from my corner too long or some bitch will come along and try taking over." She slid her purse onto her lap, feeling inside for her nine millimeter. With its familiar grip in hand, she felt a little steadier.

The man stared straight ahead, ignoring her now that she'd gotten in the car. He drove with one hand, the other one tapping out a rhythm that only he could hear.

"We're behind you, Buffy. And I am personally going to kick that ass of yours when I get you out of this," Riley's voice was in her ear.

Yeah, yeah. As if she hadn't heard that before.

Buffy looked around, noting the changing landscape. The street that they were on now would take her into the city limits in a couple more miles, becoming less populated, more deserted. Right now though, they still had traffic to contend with. They were away from the hotels and motels, quickly leaving fast food places behind, starting toward the warehouse distract on the outside of the city. Se turned to look at him, seeing him now grinning. It was a huge and scary twist of lips.

The man reached out with one of his large hands to grab the red locks on her head, yanking hard.

She had the momentary satisfaction of seeing the look of surprise on his face when the wig came off of her head and stuck in his grip. He stared at it, then back at her, noting the blonde hair that wisped around her face. He threw the wig into the back seat and reached for her again. Buffy pulled out her gun from the purse and aimed it at him. "Police! You son of a bitch! Pull it over!"

He looked at her for just an instant, then his foot slammed down on the accelerator, his hands coming off of the wheel and reaching for her. One hand gripped the gun and turned it towards her. He backhanded her with the other, connecting with a hard blow across her cheek.

Buffy felt like the entire side of her face had exploded. But even stunned by the blow, she managed to retain hold of her weapon. She saw the next hit coming and managed to duck down and under it as he growled out in rage. She struggled with all her might. She strained with everything she had but knew she wasn't going to be strong enough to turn the gun back around or to get it out of his grip. She fought to keep his finger off of the trigger but that wasn't going so well either.

Everything slowed until each movement seemed intricate and separated from everything else. She saw his finger pull the trigger and for an instant, before he did it, her hands shoved upward. The bullet that should have gone into her head instead went through the window next to it, shattering the glass.

Buffy could hear Riley's voice shouting in her ear for back up just above the ringing from the gunshot. But she knew it was going to be too late.

Buffy let go with one hand and smashed the heel of her palm against his nose, hearing and feeling it break. The blood spewed out, the color almost too red to be real. The gun pointed in her direction again, even as he roared out loud in pain and anger.

The bore of the weapon seemed so huge, a big black cavern that she could climb into and hide. Seconds felt like hours as she watched death stalk closer to her.

Buffy heard the shrieking of metal on metal, felt the car shudder before it ricocheted off the bumper of the car in front of them. The jolt pushed her into the dash, her head cracked against the window. Then she was flying over and over inside the car as it rolled.

It stopped in an intersection and she looked out the window, completely dazed. She saw the old SUV right before it rammed them. She heard someone scream. And then everything was black.

Riley heard the gunshots, he heard Buffy scream, and couldn't seem to remember to breath after that. He saw the car she was in flip into the air and come down on its roof, sliding into oncoming traffic in the intersection. He watched in complete horror as the large truck rammed into the passenger side door of the sedan.

"Oh, fuck," he breathed out. Then he was out the door of the van, running to the turned car, yelling into his radio. "Officer down! Officer down!" He could hear the call coming out from the van also, heard the address being relayed. He dropped his radio and tried to yank open the door but it was too caved in.

The driver of the SUV opened his car door and started to step out. He stopped though as he turned, his gun drawn. "Get in your truck!"

Riley ddn't even pay attention to see if the man had obeyed. Instead, he dropped down, ignoring the shards of glass and metal and crawled through the window.

"Buffy!" he shouted. She wasn't in the seat. Their suspect was unconscious, still belted in, hanging upside down in his own seat. The air bag was limp in front of him. Riley felt for a pulse, finding it strong and steady. He grabbed for his cuffs and used them on the suspect before crawling further into the car, sliding between the seats of the backseat.

Riley saw one leg showing beneath the junk from the backseat and he heard her moan. He pushed the debris off of her, careful to not her more. Finally, he was able to uncover her face, hidden by the red wig she'd been wearing earlier. Her cheeks were bloody and there was a gash at her temple that was the cause of most of it. Her green eyes were closed. "Buffy?" Riley pushed her hair from her forehead, scooting closer to her. "Come on, talk to me."

Buffy moaned and he breathed out a heavy sigh of relief. He watched as her eyes fluttered before opening. She jerked and then she moaned out as the pain registered. "Riley?"

"Yeah, it's me partner." Buffy tried to move again but he put a hand down on her shoulder gently. "Don't move. There's people coming for you. You've just got to stay here until we can get out out, okay?"

"Did we get him?"

The question didn't surprise Riley. This woman was a fanatic about the job, and she had been hunting this killer down ever since she'd stood in the first crime scene, the scent of blood and worse in her nose. She stood tough while other cops had been puking their guts out in the bushes near by. She'd put herself in jeopordy without a second thought. This was her job.

"Yeah, you got him. Of course, it took an SUV to finish the job."

"When I get out of this wretched car, I am going to hurt you," she moaned. "He hit me. The bastard. It felt like a goddamn brick. I'm going to kick his ass after yours."

"Hate to burst your bubble here, Buf. But that man is twice, no probably three times, your tiny little size, half pint. I think you might want to wait until you're in better shape." He then laughed as she cursed under her breath. Riley lifted his head at the sounds of sirens coming. It sounded like they'd sent out everything they had. But then again, of course when the call of an officer is down, everyone drops what they're doing and comes running. And this sounded like the enitre east side was on its way.

Riley heard doors slamming then finally saw someone else wiggling around at the driver's side door. "He's cuffed," he said. "And consider him dangerous."

"Is this him?" The man, a paramedic, asked. He'd been at the crime scenes to pick up the dead girls' bodies. "Is this the guy who's been taking out the hookers?"

Riley glared. "Get his ass out of there. I got a cop back here who's hurt. Help her!"

"Well, that told him," Buffy managed to whisper. Her voice was weak and she was starting to shake. "Next time, you get to wear this outfit, Riley. My ass wants to sit in the van."

Riley looked down at her. The outfit in question was ripped and bloody. "Yeah, I don't think either of us are going to be wearing it." He looked her over better and then laughed. "And I do hate to break it to you, Buffy, but those shoes are a loss."

"Well damn," she breathed out. "And here I was wanting to borrow them for my next date."

Riley smiled, shifting out of the way as the paramedic came back with a backboard and big neck collar. "Nice outfit, Detective," he said with a laugh.

"And he's third," Buffy stated.

"Do you have any pain in your neck, in your back? Can you move your feet?"

"She's hurting all over," Riley said. "Get her out of here."

"You know, this would be easier on all of us if you would climb back out of there and wait outside." He kept an eye on Riley as he scooted out, muttering curses under his breath. His attention went back to Buffy, watching her eyelids flutter as he put the collar on her. "Come on now, Detective. Try and stay with me." He lowered her back down after finishing with the collar. "I don't want you to try and move, okay? You just try and relax, let me do all the work."

After some struggling and some curses coming from Buffy, she was strapped to the board and on her way out of the beaten up car. She could hear Riley as he shouted out orders, calling for a crime scene unit. Then he was next to her again, holding her hand. "Hey partner," he said softly. "I need to get one of these set ups for the next time I tell you to do something and you don't." Riley eyed the board, the collar, the braces tying her head down. "Maybe then you might have some respect for orders from a superior officer."

They loaded her onto a hurney and on into an ambulance. When Riley tried to get in with her, the paramedic that he'd bullied got in his face. "You're going to have to follow us." He said the name of the hospital then waved for his own partner, slamming the doors almost in Riley's face.

The trip felt like it took forever. And when the back doors opened, she found Riley there. He had appropriated a black and white from somewhere and had managed to even beat the ambulance there, much to the chagrin of the paramedic who was not on his side tonight. He took her hand as they rushed through the doors. He would have followed her into the curtained off area too, but he'd ran into a brick wall. By that, a nurser who was built like an entire defensive line of a college football team had stopped him. "There's a waiting room. It's down the hall. To the right."

Riley got out his badge, flashing it at her.

The nurse crossed her arms over her massive breasts, staring him down. "Waiting room," she repeated, never once raising her voice. She then pointed. "It's down that hall right there, to the right. There's even a coffee machine inside."

Riley gave up, heaving out a huge sigh. "Could you let the doctor know I'm out here waiting?"

At her nod, he trudged off, checking his pockets for some change to get some coffee.