instead of one. How's that for an epiphany?
Nothing new on the homefront. Have a doctor's appointment this coming
Friday. Hard to believe it's been about a year since I've actually
left the building. Wish me luck.
Hope you're still enjoying the story - please, as always, any and all
comments are welcome.
“Morning, Buffy,” Chloe greeted her as she sat by the breakfast counter, eating a bowl of cereal. “It’s gonna be a very busy day at work, so if you don’t mind keeping yourself occupied today, I’d appreciate it. Besides,” she added, “you'd be bored hanging around with me at the station.”
“Will Lucifer be there?" Buffy couldn't help but ask around a mouthful of somewhat soggy cereal.
“Probably, if he thinks the case is interesting enough. He's just as likely to leave and do his own thing, if it doesn’t pique his interest.”
“Don’t your bosses have a problem with that?”
Chloe laughed. “Well they don't pay him, he's a civilian consultant. He volunteers his services. As far as they're concerned, we should be happy he's willing to help out at all. Besides, he’s damned good at what he does.”
“I'll be fine," Buffy said. "I'm sure I can find plenty to do. Any chance of borrowing a key in case I decide to go out?”
Chloe looked a bit worried at that. “Are you sure that's wise? Considering you're not familiar with the area?”
“Well I certainly can't get more familiar with it if I stay stuck inside.” This time it was Buffy's turn to laugh. “I'll be fine, Detective. It's not like I was raised in a cloister. I'll figure a way to get around.”
“You've got your phone?” the detective persisted, coming on more like Mom at every moment.
Buffy pulled the phone Maze had given her out of her pocket. It was similar in size to the ones from her own time, only there were no keys to push – the entire face was smooth as glass.
“There's an app on there – Google maps – that you can use to find your way around. And call me if you get lost, all right?”
“Sounds like a plan, Stan,” This time Buffy remembered listening to her mother’s favorite music. She had played Fifty Ways to Leave your Lover incessantly after they had first moved to Sunnydale. She wanted to ask Chloe how everything worked on the phone, but she didn't want Chloe to think she was even more helpless than she already felt.
Buffy sighed, turning the phone over and over in her hands. Even though the technology was more advanced than anything Willow had ever seen, she sure wished her friend was here, now. She'd be able to figure it out. But... a determined Buffy was a successful Buffy, so she'd have to soldier on one way or the other.
“Just be careful, okay?” Chloe asked, handing over a spare key with barely more than a moment’s hesitation.
“Sure, Chloe, I will,” Buffy promised, tucking the precious key to her freedom into her pocket. It’s not like she was a prisoner here, but this would be the first time in a handful of days that she didn’t feel like she was being babysat. She was twenty years old, after all… not some whiny kid.
She watched as Chloe left the apartment without another word, closing the door behind her.
“I will make this phone bend to my will,” Buffy murmured as she sat down on the overstuffed armchair. The first thing she had to do was get the phone to turn on. She pressed on the screen, like she’d seen Maze and Chloe do, but instead of lighting up, it stayed black.
She turned the phone around in her hands before noticing a series of tiny button bars on the side. Trial and error worked; she finally made the phone light up. Only instead of an actual user screen, it was some kind of graphic screensaver. In frustration, she tried to wipe it off the screen, and lo and behold, she finally ended up on a screen with apps.
Ha! That was such a funny little word… apps! Then again, that’s what each of the icons indicated – an application. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, right?
Buffy bet this phone was more powerful than all the computers at Sunnydale High put together. How much stuff did one actually need on a phone, for crying out loud? All it needed to do was make calls. A bit of tapping on one icon after another led her to a game, some kind of calendar, and an email program asking her for her user name and a password. If she were stuck in this time much longer, she supposed she’d have to set one up.
When in Rome, right?
It took her a little while longer to figure out which icon stood for Google, and was grateful when a little keyboard appeared for the search function.
“Gah!” Buffy cried out in frustration. She was never going to get used to tapping on a screen instead of buttons. Her finger acted like it had its own little brain. And was drunk! She threw the phone down on the coffee table and glared at it. Was it possibly possessed by a demon? It could happen, like when Moloch possessed Willow’s computer years ago.
She stood and paced the room. No wonder Giles called computers ‘those infernal machines’. They were truly the work of demons. Or would be the work of demons, depending on where she was in the fabric of time.
“Enough!” Buffy called out to the empty room, tossing her hands up in defeat. “I’ve never been research girl, or computer wizard. I am action girl. I’m gonna do this the old fashioned way… head over to the nearest bus stop and see where it leads.”
It’s only been sixteen years. How much could Los Angeles have changed in all that time?
Buffy gathered up the last of the stash of money she'd been given, took the key from her pocket, and left. She'd figure out her agenda as she went.
Ella turned the folder she had in her hands over, and sighed. “I’d really like to wait until Lucifer was here before discussing the results. I mean, not like you don’t have a right to know, but he has a major stake in it, you know?”
Chloe nodded in agreement, though the wait was making her antsy. Speaking of the devil, Lucifer waltzed into the forensics lab.
He entered the lab with his usual swagger, and Chloe could practically see Ella's face light up as he did. “So,” he grinned, his thousand-watt smile making even Chloe a little weak in the knees. “Do tell me what you’ve managed to discover about my possible kidnapper.”
“Well, I don’t know what it says about you,” Ella conceded. “But… even with the evidence as exposed as it was to the elements, I was able to determine that our Buffy Summers is actually a mom. And what makes it even weirder,” she continued, “is the lack of any substantial amount of paternal DNA.”
Lucifer brought up a fantastical idea. “Are you saying that our little stranger has a clone out there in the multi-verse?”
Ella shook her head, slowly. “No… not exactly. The DNA isn’t quite identical to Buffy’s, but there are barely a quarter of the chromosomes necessary to point to the child’s father. Also, it’s definitely not a sibling, who would have the same parental gene pool of Buffy’s parents.”
“But she’s so young!” Chloe’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Oh, come now, Detective. Surely in your line of work you’ve come across young girls passing off their children as their siblings, to be raised by their mothers.”
“Well we don't know the age of the child. As far as we know, she could have had the baby when she was in her teens,” was Ella’s conclusion.
Chloe shook her head. “She's only twenty. Her teens were barely a year ago.”
“Chloe, teens can have kids as early as twelve or thirteen. It's rare, but not as uncommon as one would hope for any number of reasons.”
Chloe became quiet with that. Thinking of Trixie, and the fact that she was almost 9. She couldn't begin to imagine her being sexually active within the next three years... or being... no, she wasn't going to go there.
“Don't remind me,” Lucifer said, quietly. “They always like to blame me for leading them into temptation.”
Chloe glared at Lucifer, who of course as always had to make it about him.
Ella looked up, as well.
“You know...” Lucifer drawled. "The Devil made me do it, and all that rot?”
Ella just smiled. It seemed she was just indulging his playful side.
Sometimes Chloe wondered how he did it, wearing his arrogance like a custom-made suit… like he was God’s gift to the world. And yet, most women, even the ones that usually knew better, couldn’t help but throw themselves at his feet.
And yes, she knew that his reputation about being good in bed had something to do with it, but still…
He and Ella seemed more like siblings than sexual partners right now. For some reason, that made Chloe relieved. She wasn't sure why. It's not like she wanted Lucifer, it's just...
Okay, that was a lie. She'd always been attracted to him, and at one time it seemed as if they were growing very, very close... until he went away and came back with Candy, as his wife. Lying to oneself was never a good idea. Easy, but never good.
Getting together with Lucifer was just one of those things that seem like a really, really good idea, until it actually happened, and you were left in the wake, regretting it for the rest of your life. And she really didn't want to regret him. They were too good as friends, and partners.
That didn't mean she looked forward to each new conquest of his. It also meant she hated seeing him hook up with every man, woman and agender person with a pulse in the city.
Enough! Chloe shook her head to clear all this nonsense from her mind. “Okay, guys. Why would this be relevant to the business of Lucifer's kidnapping? Also, this makes it imperative to try and get the girl home. Who knows where the baby is... in whose care, or which social service division?”
Maybe Ella was right about the child's age; it might explain some things about why Buffy hadn't mentioned the kid. Then again, if she had such a young child, shouldn't she be more urgently trying to get home?
Especially since her mother had just died, and from what little Buffy had said about her sister, the girl was too young to look after herself.
“Oh my god!” How stupid could she be? Chloe had an epiphany. Buffy had mentioned her ‘sister’, but what Ella had reminded her of struck a chord. Even though these days it was more normal to bear a child out of wedlock, she supposed having the little one raised as her sister would be beneficial to the young woman – take a boatload of responsibility off of her young shoulders.
Now on top of everything Lucifer was worried about, Chloe worried for the separation of a child and her mother. Who was watching over her? Social services? Foster care? Didn't really bode well for the child, as Chloe knew all too well.
They had to find a way to get the girl back where she belonged. Sooner, rather than later.