Salvage. 2

Part 2

Los Angeles County Morgue

Rebecca Maxwell pulled the latex gloves off with an audible snap and tossed them into the wastebasket. Walking across the tiled floor, her heels clicking loudly, Rebecca grabbed her tape recorder.

“It is now 3:11 AM. I have just completed the external evaluation of subject John Doe. After a thorough exam, I have been able to reach several conclusions. First, there are multiple bruises on the victim’s chest and side. These bruises seem consistent with a cattle prod, or some other electrical taser device.

“There is no sign of head trauma, leading me to believe that Doe was approached by someone he was familiar with and was then shocked. Examination of the victim’s fingers and nails reveals injuries consistent with trying to claw his way from some sort of entrapment.

“For the moment, I would have to state that the cause of death is asphyxia due to water inhalation. Evaluation of the victim’s lungs during an internal exam may be able to support my conclusion. It is now 3:16 AM, and I am preparing to begin the autopsy of John Doe.”

Maxwell clicked off her recorder and reached for a fresh pair of gloves. “Time to slice and dice,” she muttered as she snapped on the latex. She walked back to the examination table and tossed aside the blanket covering him.

“This dude didn’t have anything to be ashamed of,” she said, noticing a certain appendage.

Maxwell grabbed a scalpel from her supply table and prepared to make the Y-incision. As the blade near the sternum, the body’s eyes snapped open, and his right hand shot out and grabbed her wrist. Maxwell’s heart literally skipped a beat.

“I don’t think you should do that,” the body said.

***

Greenwood Psychiatric Facility
Los Angeles, California

“He’s coming!” the woman in the flowing robes screamed. “He’s coming to kill them!”

“Nurse! Administer 20 cc’s of Clorazepate!” Doctor Fox yelled

“I already have!” Nurse Crier shouted back.

“Well give her more!” The doctor turned his attention back to the convulsing woman. “Watch out!” Fox jerked back as the woman flicked her arm and sent the male nurse holding her flying. The woman grabbed the nurse holding her other arm and tossed him as well.

“This is bad,” Crier said.

“No shit! Will somebody help detain her?”

Officer Linda Welker and several nurses rushed the woman in an attempt to subdue her. It took six of them, but they finally pinned the woman against the padded wall. “Bare her arm!”

Fox took a syringe and jabbed it into the meat of the woman’s right arm. The woman kicked and screamed for several long moments, but the extra tranquilizer seemed to finally subdue her. She slumped against the orderlies and nurses in a deep, drug induced slumber.

“This is one strong broad,” an orderly commented.

“Too strong,” Fox commented. “Nurse Crier, I want a full blood workup on this woman. Complete toxicology screen, got it?” Fox turned to Officer Welker and led her outside the room. “Where did you find this woman?”

“Santa Monica, Doctor. My partner and I found her walking in the center of a busy highway. We confronted her and asked her to come with us. She seemed vacant, not understanding.”

“I see,” Fox said. “Where is your partner? I’d like to speak with him.”

Welker stopped and stared Fox in the eyes. “He’s at Mercy Cross Hospital. Miss Jane Doe in there didn’t like it when he touched her shoulder. She responded by ripping his arm out of socket. You think she might be one drugs?”

“Possibly,” Fox answered. “Maybe some sort of amphetamine. Any idea who she is?”

“We’re running her prints down at the precinct. Hopefully we can get a match. If you don’t mind, I’d like to head back to the hospital.”

“Of course, Officer. See how your partner is faring.” Welker nodded and walked off, leaving Fox alone to stare at the room containing the Jane Doe.

“Maybe we can figure out who you are.”

***

Hyperion Hotel
Los Angeles, California

“Charles? Did you find that expense report for when we exterminated that nest of Krayock demons a few months back?”

“Yeah, Cordelia had it filed under ‘M’ for some reason.” Gunn tossed the manila folder in Fred’s direction. Fred took the folder and immediately understood Cordelia’s reasoning.

“Oh, remember? Cordelia said the owner of the apartment that they infested was a moron.”

“She filed it under ‘M’ for moron?” Charles asked incredulously. Gunn tossed aside the couple dozen files he was sorting in frustration. “That is it! I’ve had enough trying to organize this Cordy-logic.”

“Angel didn’t have any trouble with it,” Fred pointed out.

“That’s different. Angel’s in love with her. Of course he’ll understand it.”

“You understand my logic.”

“That’s because I’m in lo…” Gunn grinned as he realized what he was about to say, his smile widening even further at Fred’s blushing. “Well, you know.”

“Is anyone here?” a voice cried out from the lobby.

Gunn and Fred bolted up from the floor to find a small blonde flanked by a dark haired man and a young brunette girl.

“Somebody is here,” Gunn answered. “If you’re looking for Angel Investigations, you’ve found it, but where not really taking clients at the time. If you’re needing assistance, check your local police department or another investigative agency, but we can’t help you.”

The blonde was definitely the leader, Gunn realized. She didn’t hesitate to approach him, while the other two hung back. “Actually, we’re here to help you. That’s Xander Harris and my sister Dawn,” she said pointing to her cohorts. “I’m Buffy Summers.”

“Okay,” Gunn said, not realizing what that meant until a moment later. “You mean one half of the twisted Sunnydale production of Romeo and Juliet? That Buffy Summers?”

Buffy stared blankly at Gunn for a moment. “Yeah, and you are?”

“Charles Gunn and Fred Burkle,” he answered. “Can I ask what the hell you are doing here?”

“We came to see if we could help. We saw on the Internet that Cordelia was missing and thought maybe our services were needed.”

“They’re not,” Gunn said coldly. “This is a family matter. It doesn’t concern you.”

“Charles,” Fred pleaded.

“No,” Gunn said, turning back to his girlfriend. “They have no reason to be here. Besides, what would Angel say? You think he would want them here?”

Fred knew the answer to that. In her year at Angel Investigations, she had learned that Angel and Cordelia had little in common with their Sunnydale associates. Neither would really care for them to be here.

“And where is tall, dark, and broody?” Xander quipped.

“He’s right here.”

From the basement emerged a thinner and obviously fatigued Angel. The vampire scuffled across the lobby clad in ill-fitting green hospital scrubs. “Honey, I’m home.”

“Angel!” Fred cried. Both she and Gunn rushed over to the vampire, who collapsed in the floor in a heap of exhaustion. “Where have you been? We’ve been so worried about you.” Fred latched onto Angel and hugged him with all her might.

“I decided to tour the world’s great bodies of water,” Angel joked. “I just never got past the Pacific.” Angel peered around the hotel and found something very important was missing. “Where’s Cor?” he asked.

“You don’t know?” Gunn asked in turn. “That’s bad.”

“What’s bad?” Fear was making itself well known in Angel’s mind. “Where is Cordelia?”

“We hoped that she was with you,” Fred explained. “After all, you two were supposed to meet.”

“That didn’t happen. You mean to tell me that Cordelia has been missing for…?”

“A week,” Gunn finished. “We filed a missing person report with the police, and we’ve talk to all our contacts, but we haven’t found anything. All we know is that her jeep was found on the highway.”

“I’ve tapped into police, hospital, and…morgue databases to let us know when someone of Cordy’s description is found,” Fred told him.

“Angel, what happened when you went to meet Cordelia?” Gunn asked.

“It’s a long story, and not all that important. We need to find Cordelia.”

“Um, which brings us back to why we’re here,” Buffy interjected.

The Fang Gang jumped when she spoke, all having forgotten that they were even in the hotel. “And I’ll appreciate you all so much more if you weren’t here,” Angel snapped. It was then that he noticed Dawn for the first time. “Wow. You’ve grown.”

Everyone snapped to attention as Fred’s laptop began to beep furiously. The girl rushed over and clicked the incoming message. “I’ve got a hit! Greenwood Psychiatric just filed a report on a Jane Doe matching Cordelia’s description.”

“You strong enough to go down there?” Gunn asked. Angel was on his feet long before Gunn finished the sentence.

“Just let me get some real clothes on,” Angel said. “I think the morgue burned mine or something.” Angel used his reservoir of vampire strength to burst up the stairs to change. Gunn hustled off to retrieve the car keys while Fred scribbled down the information.

“Did he say morgue?” Dawn asked.

Part 3

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