Link Here:

C Box:

Author's Note: Some of the dialogue is taken from the actual season three episode Fredless.

Special Effects.

"Are you sure we'll be okay?" Fred asked.

"Positive," Buffy assured her.


"No, Fred, we'll be fine. We used to do this every night in Sunnydale. Only when Buffy was sick did we really need more than two."

"You get sick?"

"I'm not your traditional comicbook heroine. I'm just human, with added benefits." The slayer crouched down. "Okay, we're here. Quiet now. Don't wanna wake them all up."

The three girls advanced into the sewers. Previously, their evening had been taken up by a good, old-fashioned chick-flick evening at the cinema not far from the Hyperion. That was until a demon had dashed in front of the screen, surprisingly unnoticed by the rest of the paying customers. The three of them had given chase, and were now entering the sewer network which they had seen the demon run into.

Fred was behind both Buffy and Cordelia. As she followed them, she reflected on the evening, along with everything else that had happened since the former had joined them in Los Angeles. She had expected to hate Buffy. That was required. She had had a crush on Angel ever since he had rescued her, and hating the competition was supposed to be part of the deal. Except when she met Buffy, Fred had not felt hate.

The emotion had never entered her head. Nor had she felt jealousy. Instead, as her eyes caught sight of the unconscious girl in the arms of her champion, Fred had experienced a few revelations. One, her feelings for Angel were nothing more than a mixture of a mild crush and gratitude.

Two, if they had been any stronger, it would not have mattered. For she was no competition. Angel's heart had never been up for grabs in the first place. So, instead of hating the soulmate of her champion, Fred had found herself becoming her friend. And liking that she was.

"So, why do you think it chose the cinema?" She now asked in a whisper.

"I dunno," Buffy answered. "Durslars tend to avoid public notoriety." The slayer chuckled suddenly. "God, I've lived around Wes too long."

"Speaking of which, what do you think the guys are doing?"

"Angel's probably brooding, or training," Buffy guessed. "Either that, or Wesley has conned him as well as Gunn into organising something."

"Yeah, he's into a whole inventory thing lately," Cordy remembered. "So glad we escaped that this evening."

"I'm sure Angel and Gunn managed to as well," Fred decided.

"Hopefully they decided to do a patrol," Buffy remarked, just before catching sight of their prey. "Gotcha. Okay, you guys stay here. I'm going in."


"You wouldn't dare. You were just going to toss in a Prothgarian broadsword with a third-century ceremonial Sancteus dagger?"

"Hmm. Let's see. Long, metal, pointy. Yup."

Wesley shook his head. "Gunn! The purpose of an inventory..."

"Yes, give us that," Gunn paused to affect an English accent, "purpose of an inventory speech, again."

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, former watcher, former rogue demon hunter, now head of Angel Investigations, ignored the mocking in his colleagues' tone. "Three-pronged Scythian death spear, category six. Weapons cabinet, third shelf." He paused as he put it in the weapons cabinet, then reminisced. "You know, back in my days as a rogue demon hunter I once used that very spear to pin down what I thought was a small Rodentius demon. The poodle's owners weren't very happy."


"I know, it was really embarrassing."

"No! Ouch!" Gunn leapt up and turned round to see what had knocked into his shin. "Oh, that thing that Fred was fiddling around with. What do you think it is?"

"I'll say. It almost looks like a spring-loaded decapitation device," Wesley commented, intrigued.

"Are the girls back yet?"

"Angel, man, good to see you!" Gunn turned from the weapon. "I was just helping Wes with his weapons inventory, but if you need me on a demon hunt, I'm sure he won't mind me going."

"No, I just came down to see if the girls are back," Angel said, then gesturing to the book in his hand. "I'll go back to my reading now."

"Actually, Angel, three people on this job would get it done faster."

"Wes, as I said after the girls left, I don't think we need to have the weapons in order. We just tend to grab whichever one looks like it could do some damage."

"Ah. Excuse me! Ah, is this Angel Investigations?"

The trio of men turned round to see a middle-aged couple standing just inside the front doors of the Hyperion Foyer.

"Yes. Can we help you?" Wes asked, the inventory forgotten.

"I sure hope so. I'm Roger, and this is my wife, Trish. Ah, we're sorry to barge in on your... arsenal here, but we really need to talk to you."

"Of course. Please, step into my office."

Once they were all inside his office, Wes sat down and made the introductions. "I'm Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. These are my colleagues, Angel O'Connor and Charles Gunn. What can we do for you?"

"It's our daughter," Trish began. "She's missing."

"Kidnapped?" Angel asked.

Trish shook her head, uncertain. "We're not sure."

"I see," Wes said, jotting down notes. "Was your daughter involved in any kind of demon worship?"

"Of course not!" Roger cried.

"Could be a vampire," Gunn mused. "Hard luck tracking one of those in a city this big, but don't worry. We're detectives. We can find anyone."

"We already hired a detective," Roger said.

"And he couldn't locate her?" Wes guessed.

"He said she was staying here - in your hotel," Roger said.

"Her name is Winifred Burkle. We call her Fred," Trish added helpfully.

Wes looked up from his notes to Angel and Gunn. Like him, they had surprise written on their faces. Outside, unbeknownst to them, Fred had returned just ahead of Cordelia and Buffy. She glanced into the office window, then gasped. Horror took control of her. She never thought to see them again. Quietly she dashed to her room.

"Fred's your daughter?" Gunn queried in surprise.

"Yes. You know her?" Trish asked.

"Is she here? Is she alright?" Roger followed up with.

"She's fine," Wes assured them. "And... out at the moment, with two of our associates. Who are not demons or vampires, because they don't exist. In case you aren't familiar with our LA gumshoe detective slang."

"But what happened to her?" Roger asked. "It's been five years.... has she been with y'all this whole time?"

"No. Ah, we've only known Fred for a few months, really." Wes paused, wondering what to tell them. "You see we found her in......."

"Ah, a fit of depression," Gunn cut in.

"Fred was depressed?" Trish asked "Over what?"

"She had recently relocated and was having trouble adjusting." Wes explained. "So, how did you come to find her again?"

"Oh, about a month ago we got a letter from her in the mail," Trish said.

"But she didn't leave her return address. In fact she said she was fine and we shouldn't bother looking for her, but..." Roger trailed off.

"Five years of not knowing whether your daughter's alive or... Well, how could we just let it go?" Trish asked.

"So we hired the private eye." Roger said.

"And he tracked her down through an unaddressed envelope?" Gunn queried. "We could do that."

"Hi you guys," cried Buffy at that moment as she and Cordelia entered the office. "Wait till you guys hear what happened at the movies! Ordinarily these things don't put up much of a fight, but this one? I think I'm gonna have it..." She caught sight of the visitors in Wes' office. "...mounted. Hello."

"Buffy, Cordy You're.... here," Gunn said in a rapid effort to cover. "And... and you brought ... a prop! From your movie!" He turned to the Burkles. "Buffy Summers and Cordelia Chase are our other associates. They make monster movies in their spare time. Buffy, Cordy, these are Fred's very normal parents."

"Ah. Fred has parents," Cordelia stated, while Buffy put the head behind her back. "Well it sure is nice to meet you both."

"Er.... Your prop is dripping." Roger pointed out.

Buffy laughed nervously. "Oh, yeah. This is so totally fake. You know, a little glue, papier-mache..." She quickly tossed it behind her back into the lobby. A crash some seconds later told her it had landed. "....possibly some lead. So, Fred's parents, we've heard so much... Well, uhm, sure is nice to meet you folks."

"No address anywhere on the envelope?" Gunn asked.

"None," Roger replied. He turned to the girls. "Do you know when Fred will be back?"

"Well, yeah, ah, she was ahead of us, so I'm sure she's up in her room, right now."


The gang entered the room a few minutes, surprised to find it empty and rather tidier than when they had last seen it.

"Fred?" Trish called out.

"She's not here." Roger said, looking around.

"No. But she was," Angel remarked, as he picked up an ice cream cone wrapper.

Trish looked at the walls, her puzzlement increasing. "This - it's her writing. But what does this mean? It's just crazy."

"We might have to call them in sooner than we thought," Roger uttered quietly too her, anxious not to be overheard.

"Guys," Cordy whispered to the rest of them, "when was the last time Fred ever left the hotel by herself?"

"A couple of weeks after never," Gunn answered.

"We want our daughter," Roger said.

"So, what is she running from?" Wes remarked in a low voice to the others. They all turned silently to look at Fred's parents, new suspicions crawling up their respective spines.

Outside meanwhile, with only a backpack to keep her company, a very scared Fred was walking away from the Hyperion as fast as she possibly could.


Back in Wesley's office, the rest of Angel Investigations had managed to secure some time alone to air their suspicions as to why Fred had disappeared.

"There's just something off about them. I can't put my finger on what," Cordelia remarked, glancing surreptitiously out the window at the Burkles.

"Fred must have returned while you were in here," Buffy conjectured, "seen her parents and..."

"Took off." Angel finished. "That's not a good sign."

"They said she sent them a letter," Gunn mused puzzled. "Can you picture Fred sneaking off to send a letter?"

"This could be a ruse, to trick us into letting them get close to her. Making it seem as though she'd initiated contact," Wes pondered.

"On the other hand," Angel added, "if the letter is real and she told them not to look for her, there's got to be a reason for that."

Cordelia nodded. "Fred never talks about her family."

"So, where do we start?" Buffy queried. "Where would Fred go?"

"We could hit all the local taco stands," Gunn suggested, then backed down when they all looked at him. "Joke! Kind of."

"Come on, guys, think! What do we know about Fred?" Angel asked.

"Well, I knew about the tacos."

"All right. She seemed pretty comfortable in the sewers. They're dark, cave-like. She felt safe there. I'll head back down there, see if I can find her." Buffy decided.

"She worked at the Public Library. There may be colleagues there she trusted," Wes decided.

"What about them?" Cordelia asked, gesturing to the Burkles who were quietly chatting amongst themselves. "We can't just leave them there! What if Fred comes back?"

"Then they come with us," Wes decided, and walked out of the office to their visitors. "Mr. and Mrs. Burkle, we're gonna try a few places we think Fred may have gone. Would you like to come along?"

"Ah, all six of us?" Roger queried. "Wouldn't it make more sense to split up, cover more territory?"

"Well, Angel and I are gonna check out some of my, ah, industry contacts. So it'll just be the five of you," Buffy said.

"Industry contacts?" Trish queried, confused. "Why would... Fred's not 'making movies,' is she?"

"Movies?" Angel repeated before he realised what she meant. "Oh, you mean... No! No, no, of course not. It's just some of these contacts they know things sometimes. They're, ah, underground."

"Right. Uh, shall we go?" Wes began, leading the way.


Lorne, smoking a cigarette and wearing a white, terry bathrobe, made his way from his bedroom through a bead curtain to answer the door. "Figures," he commented to himself. "Right when Judge Judy is about to lay the smack down. I'm coming! I'm not deaf you know."

Walking through the bar, he put his cigarette into an ashtray on one of the tables in his deserted bar. The table abruptly collapsed, sending the bottles which were sitting on top of it crashing to the floor. Lorne ignored the destruction that one action had made and continued to the bar, pushing a button down and unlocking the door. "Can't you read the sign on the door? Se habla 'closed.' Oh, Fred, it's you. The bar is closed. Good seeing you. It's been fun. Bye-bye."

Fred did not turn away. Instead she took a deep breath then sang, "row, row, row your boat."

"Ouch!" Lorne said immediately, putting a hand to his head. "Turn the sirens down a notch, would you? All that fear and panic's blowing out my fuses."

Fred stopped singing. "I'm sorry. It's just - something awful has happened."

"Oh really? I wonder what that's like."

For the first time since entering, Fred took a look at Caritas. "Oh, no. Was there another massacre?"

"Oh, no. No. Just the one. But it turns out massacres are a lot like sitting through Godfather three: once is enough."

"I'm not... I mean, I don't wanna sound... Why is it still like this?"

Lorne looked at her, his ability detecting her clear and very still present fear and pulled out a chair from one of the intact tables. "Ah, Fred, honey, I don't think you're here to discuss interior decorating. Am I wrong? Now, what can I do for you?"

"I - I need cash. I don't wanna talk about it, because I think my head might go a little twang and I'll sing if I have to. Row, row, row..."

"Easy! Easy! Forget the singing, sweetheart. Your aura is practically screaming! Yeah, you are in a bad place, aren't you doll? You thought you could outrun them and maybe you were free. But those old monsters hunted you down. I know why you're running away. you know what your problem is?"

Fred sighed. "I'm not strong enough to stay and face my fear."

"No. You haven't run far enough."


"Does Fred come to the library often?" Trish asked.

"Uh, well, this was the first place I ever saw her." Cordy explained.

"She used to love our little community library back home. Every afternoon, I'd pick her up there after my rounds."

"Oh, a doctor! No wonder Fred's so smart!"

"I drive a school bus."

"Oh. Well, I've actually never, ridden in one of those, but I hear they're very nice."

"What exactly does Fred do for you people?" Roger asked. "It strikes me a little odd, a physicist working for a detective agency."

"Uh, well, Fred's ah... gone through some changes."

"And whose fault is that?" Roger asked.

"We've swept all the floors," Wes said at that moment as he and Gunn returned from the elevators. "Nothing."

"So. What's next?" Roger asked.

"Give me one second to confer with my colleagues," Wes began. He pulled the other two out of hearing distance. "So where do we go next? Where would Fred go for help? For guidance?" He paused suddenly realising. "We're idiots sometimes." He took out his cell and dialled. "Buffy. We think we have a location."


"Well, isn't this a lovely surprise." Lorne commented when they all turned up at Caritas a few minutes later.

"He's surprised. I didn't think he owned terry cloth," Cordelia muttered.

"Hmm. Such a small entourage tonight. Hey, Gunn, why didn't you bring your other friends? 'cause they make a party."

"Maybe I should wait outside," Gunn began, looking to the others for agreement.

"You know, I'm not entirely uncomfortable with that suggestion."

"What kind of a place is this?" Trish asked.

"Oh, do you like it? I was kinda going for a Dresden after the bombing sort of feel," Lorne replied, still continuing to deliver digs at the interior designers.

"Ah, is this one of your big industry contacts? Some guy in a bathrobe, wearing makeup and fake horns?"

"They're not fake! And it's only a little eyeliner."

"Lorne, I'd like you to meet Fred's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Burkle." Wes began. "They're here visiting from the country."

"Yeah. You have to forgive us hicks. Down in Texas we don't get a lot of guys who wear eyeliner, not for long anyway," Roger said.

"He's just teasing you," Cordelia rushed to cover. "He probably just got back from a shoot. He and Buffy do monster movies together! Right, Lorne?!"

"Ah, no," Lorne answered, not in the mood to play cover up.

Angel pulled him aside. "Can I talk to you for a second? Look, Lorne, I'm sorry about the bar, but right now Fred is missing and we need your help."

"Oh, really? Yeah, well, I'm not just some mystical vending machine here to spit out answers every time you waltz in with a problem. I have a heart. Granted it's located in my left butt cheek, but it's still a heart. And that heart is broken! I mean, why is it no one ever cares about my destiny? Everyone who walks through that door is all about me, me, me. Well, what about my me? My me's important."

"You know where she is, don't you?" Angel persisted.

"And another thing, how... how do they get the pimentos in the olives, huh? There's a mystery for you. You know, do they stuff each one by hand, 'cause that seems a little time consuming, or do you think they have a little pimento stuffing machine ..." He caught Angel's look and relented. "Fred doesn't want to see her parents. She has a reason for that. I mean, why force a showdown if you don't have to?"

"Because it won't be over. They found her once, they'll do it again. At least this time we can be there to protect her," Buffy answered as she joined them, her tone full of self-experience. "Please. Tell us where Fred is. I know you're not a vending machine. You helped me when I had few else to turn to. And I'll always be grateful for that. As is Angel."

Lorne looked at the two of them, feeling the sympathy and fear for Fred and their own recent happiness coming off them in waves. Sighing he capitulated. "Alright, but play this one delicately. Because it's gonna get messy."


Not too far away, Fred sat waiting for a bus, clutching the ticket in her hand like a security blanket. She had thought that she could escape them. That as long as she stayed in her cave, she would be safe. She would be able to believe the lie. That everything in Pylea was a dream. But they were not going to let her. Which was why she was running again. For she had no desire to face reality yet.

Catching sight suddenly of who she was running from, Fred let her despair finally have a voice. "No, you're not here! Go away!"

"Fred, honey, it's us!" Her Mum tried to assure her.

"No. You're not them. You can't be them, because they don't know."

"Sweetie, it's mom and dad."

"Shh! Stop saying that. You can't be! I was five years and so lost and, and at night I would... I was all by myself and you weren't there!" Tears began to run down her face.

"Fred, I don't understand," her Dad began.

"I got lost. I got lost, and they did terrible things to me, but it was just a storybook. It was just a story with monsters, not real. Not in the world but - but if you're here and you see me then it's real! And it did happen. If you see what they made of me..."

"Oh, honey, it doesn't matter what they did to you," A tearful Trish assured her, taking her into her arms. At last Fred accepted the comfort. "Mommy."

"Oh, we're gonna make it all right."

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I got so lost."

"It don't matter. You're our little girl." Her Dad assured her, wrapping his around her as well. Fred clung to them gratefully. "I missed you so much. I didn't mean to..."


"Everything's okay now. You'll see. You're safe now." Roger paused, then clutched his daughter tightly as something suddenly jumped down from the ceiling. "Whoa! Tell me that's something from the movies!"

"No. That's something that's gonna kill us," Cordelia stated with dead certainty.

"Everybody outside." Angel commanded.

"Angel..." Wes objected.

"Angel's right, Wes," said Buffy. "Get them out of here. We can handle this. Move!"

"Let's go!" Gunn decided.

"What the hell is that?" Roger asked when they were outside.

"All our weapons are back at the hotel!" Cordelia cried.

"Angel said they could handle..." Angel and Buffy came flying through the closed doors, smashing them, coming to rest across the street at Gunn's feet. " Maybe there's something in the trunk."

Angel rose up from the floor and charged at the bug-like demon again. Buffy followed him a second later, turning briefly to the others. "A stake, anything pointy would be preferable to bare hands right now, guys!"

Wesley spotted the luggage nearby and grabbed the golf clubs. Gunn went for the compound sports bow and loosened an arrow. The bug shrieked and punched Angel and Buffy down again, just before Wes and Cordelia rushed in, golf clubs at the ready. Gunn grabbed a club of his own and joined the fray. The bug managed to knock a club out of someone's hand and it slid across the ground to come to rest in front of Fred. She forgot her fears and reacted, wanting to save her new friends, picking it up and rushed forward to where the bug had pinned Buffy to one of the bus wheels. She hit on the bug from behind, turning its attention towards her, giving Buffy a chance to get out of the way. Angel rushed forward to assist his girlfriend, pushing Fred out of the way, but not before the bug managed to slice Fred's arm, before getting hit over the head with a metal cylinder by Roger Burkle. "That's my daughter you damn cockroach!"

Angel and Buffy turned back to the bug, ready to attack again, only to watch it get smashed by a bus.

The vehicle ground to a halt and Trish stepped out. "Did I get it?"


"I almost hate to ask, but you do a lot of bandaging in your line of work?"

They were all back at the Hyperion, tending to wounds, and doling out the truth. Cordelia now turned her attention from Fred's arm to reply to Mrs Burkle. "Mmm. Occupational hazard. I mean, sure there is the occasional demon who tries to kill us with pillows, but, sadly, those cases are few and far between."

"How about this guy? Was he a demon?" Roger asked, pointing to the head brought back earlier.

"I think Buffy called it a Durslar beast. Me, her and Fred tracked it down after it attacked us when we went out for ice cream and a movie."

"You mean you know how to track these things, Fred?" Roger asked.

"No. Mostly I was just there for the ice cream."

"Buffy is a vampire slayer. She sort of has a sixth sense where demons are concerned," Cordelia explained.

"I wish she hadn't brought that thing out again. It gives me the willies," Trish Burkle shuddered and turned her eyes away from the thing. Roger shook his head. "Oh, don't be silly Trish. It's just a severed head."

"I got it. The lady makes bug soup with a ten ton bus, but show her a papier-mache head, she gets the willies. Ha. Women." Gunn set the head down on the reception desk beside Buffy and Angel.

"Uh, Gunn, you do know it's not papier-mache?" Buffy checked.

Gunn took his hands off the head. "We still got that bleach in the bathroom?" He made his escape, leaving the soulmates to look at Fred and her parents.

"I got to say this is not how I pictured this turning out," Angel mused.

"They look happy, don't they?" Wes agreed from his post nearby.

"Voila! That's French for 'I think we stopped the bleeding.'"

Fred checked the bandage and smiled at the seer. "Thanks Cordelia."

"Next up: multiple stab wounds. Angel! Buffy!"

The chosen warriors made their way over to the triage that was the foyer sofa. Fred joined Wesley in their absence. "How does it feel, Fred?" He asked her.

"Kind of like a giant bug tried to rip my arm off and Angel and Buffy saved me."

"They seem to do that a lot, don't they?" Trish queried.

"It's what they do," Fred replied. "Angel's the champion, Buffy's the slayer, Wesley's the brains of the operation, Gunn's the muscle and Cordy's the visions, and I'm..." She trailed off abruptly, suddenly at a loss for a reason as to why she was in the team. And whether or not she should be at all.

"And to think, we were wondering when to call the cops on a bunch of superheroes!" Roger mused.

"Oh, we're not really a heroes." Angel commented.

"You saved my little girl. What else do I call you?"

"Well, I wouldn't of had to if she hadn't gone all Amazonian and whacked that thing with a golf club."

"Well, I tell ya, I hadn't seen a stroke like that since Nicklaus took on Gary Player in the '63..."

"Bob Hope Dessert Classic," Angel finished in unison.

Buffy shook her head and joined Fred at reception. "So how you doing?"

"Oh, ah fizzy. Kinda weird and... fizzy. But excited. And a little sad. Thankful. Sorta cautiously happy. Relieved and worried at the same time. Slightly nauseous while still bein', hopeful?"

"And that about covers it." Buffy smiled. "You're really lucky, Fred. And you're unique among this club which we call guys who save the world on a daily basis. The one who has parents that understand and support, instead of freaking out and taking up denial."

"I know," Fred agreed, a little too quietly. "Which is why I'm wondering; is my place really here?"

"Fred," began Trish, catching her last words, "we only came to find you. Not to take you back home. Not unless you wanted to come."

"Yeah, Fred, your place is here," Buffy assured her. "Trust me. We need three of us girls to keep an eye on these guys."

"And your weapon designing," Wesley agreed. "What does that contraption of your do anyway? I think it's some sort of mechanised weapon, possibly influenced by the medieval catapult, designed for serious to fatal wounding, if not complete decapitation."

"Or it makes toast," Buffy added with a smile.

Fred looked at them carefully. "Are you sure?"

"Let's get a vote," Buffy began, not needing to glance round to see if all hands were raised, she knew they would be. "I think that's what you call unanimous."

Fred smiled. "Thanks." She turned to her parents. "Mamma. Daddy. This, saving the world as it were, is my life now."

Trish smiled at her, holding back the tears at seeing her daughter realise that it was time to leave the nest of family for another kind of home. "We were kinda hoping you wouldn't figure that out."

"Of course we'd have to sick around for another couple of weeks," Roger joked. "Days. You know, just to catch up and get reacquainted, and to make sure that you are positive about your decision."

"Oh, I think I know where I'll end up."


"Now, Spiro Agnew, I know he was..."

Angel turned to Mr Burkle in surprise, finishing his sentence. "A Grathnar demon! You knew that? I thought I was the only one that knew that!"

"What else would he be, but a demon?"

It was the next day. The Burkles had spent the rest of the night before catching up on the characters that had become their daughter's friends and now they were participating in the next project of making Fred feel at home. Decorating her room. Wesley came into Fred's room at that moment, joining them in the painting, carrying another can of paint. "Not horizontally, vertically!" He cried at Gunn. "Otherwise you..."

"Look, I'm telling you, if you do it vertically you're gonna get those ugly drops.." Gun objected.

"Now, boys," Trish admonished. "I don't wanna hear any fighting over there."

"Okay," the boys uttered in unison.

"Did someone here order a pizza?" Cordelia asked, entering with some pizza boxes. "Hey Fred? Pizza?"

"In a minute, I just wanna finish this section." Fred moved over to the section of the wall where her past life story was, featuring a drawing of a figure on a horse, rescuing her. She turned and looked round at the group, remembering how much they had done to help her feel that this was where she belonged. It was time to stop playing the role of a damsel in distress, and become one of the champions. She turned back to the wall and put the roller on the sketch, painting over it.

The End.
To Be Continued In....

Pieces Of The Puzzle.