March 15, 2003
Angel pulled the waffles from the toaster and plopped them on the plate. Grabbing the syrup, he squeezed until the waffles were coated. Just the way she liked them. He quickly poured a cup of coffee and waited for Cordelia to come down.
She finally stumbled down the stairs around nine, her freshly colored brown hair tied back in a short ponytail. She’d complained some when she came home about being forced to color it. But Angel preferred it to the blonde. However, he wasn’t stupid enough to say that aloud. He’d like to keep all his appendages.
“Good morning” he said cheerily as she sat down.
“Gdmrng,” Cordelia mumbled back. Shooting had gone on past one, and it was nearly another hour before she made it home. Who knew acting could be so tiring? Cordelia dutifully began to pick at her waffles, even though she wasn’t in the mood
“You ready for your second day at work?” Cordy mumbled something that sounded like an obscenity. “Oh, c’mon. It was your first day. Can’t expect it to be perfect. Keep your head up and things will look better.”
“Yeah, I guess,” Cordy agreed. “Just not used to having a bunch of strangers yelling at me.”
“As opposed to your family yelling at you?” Angel grinned.
Cordelia smiled back despite herself. “At least when you guys yell at me, I know I can’t be replaced by Alyssa Milano.”
“That ‘Charmed’ chick?” Angel asked. “She’s cute.”
Cordelia wanted to stake him, but that would take time. “I need to go. They want me in hair and makeup by ten.”
“Another long day?”
“It’s shaping up to be that way.”
Water matted Cordelia’s hair to her head, and made her eyeliner run just a bit. Agent Laura Crane, wearing a respectable, but drenched suit, knelt in the alleyway just off the Fox Studio grounds. Sprinklers attached to water pipes overhead let loose a light rainfall as Cordelia pulled back the blue tarp to examine the prosthetic body.
“What do you see, Agent Crane?” Agent Jack Parker asked, otherwise known as George Coney.
Cordelia pretended to study hard as the camera slowly panned closer to her face. The boom operator was right behind the cameraman, holding the microphone near Cordy, but out of view.
“A single cut to the throat,” Cordelia said. “The carotid artery looks to be severed. The grating on the skin surrounding the wound would indicate a serrated blade.”
“Yes,” Parker agreed. “What else?”
“As cold as it’s been, it probably took several hours for her to bleed out.” Cordelia turned to look at Parker, as a second camera pulled closer to the older agent. “She’s been here quite a while. Maybe two days.”
“Just like the body found in Hatfield Park last week,” Parker said grimly. “We need to go to the station and make the police understand what is going on here. They have a serial killer on their hands.”
Agent Crane nodded and turned back to the fake body of a seventeen year old girl. The camera closed in on Cordelia’s sorrow filled face as the director yelled…
“Cut! Print that section!”
The sprinklers shut off instantly and assistants hurried into the alley and handed George and Cordelia coats to warm up. Cordelia wasn’t upset in the least when she saw George’s coat was much heavier, and that he got a cup of coffee. She was upset, however, when one of the producers made a beeline to her.
Charles Fincher was a Fox producer, not one of the production company’s producers. Which Cordelia learned very quickly meant all he really did was yell at people. This was his job, it seemed, and for it he was given the title Supervising Producer and a primo salary. And guess who he loved to yell at?
“I hope he makes it quick,” Cordelia muttered. “I want to get some lunch.”
Cordelia once again sat alone at a lunch table while munching on a ham sandwich. She was beginning to wonder what the hell was ever so appealing about acting. Because if this was what it was all about, she’d seriously have to reconsider things.
Fincher had found yet more inane reasons to chew her ass out. Something about her onscreen posture, her costume, and overacting. Cordelia stopped listening after the first twenty minutes. The other twenty were spent nodding at appropriate times until Fincher had enough and walked away with a slight smirk.
“What a jackass,” Cordelia said aloud.
“Who’s t-t-that, Miss Chase?”
Cordelia was so wrapped up in her thoughts she hadn’t heard the old man from the previous day approach her. “Francis, is it?” The old man nodded, pleased that she would remember his name. “That Fincher guy that’s a producer for Fox. He’s always finding an excuse to yell at me.”
“T-that’s not v-very nice of him,” Francis commented. “You d-don’t deserve that.”
Cordelia smiled. “What don’t you sit with me? I’ve got half an hour before I need to be on set. You mind keeping a lonely girl company?”
“S-sure, M-miss Chase.” Francis sat down in one of the metal folding chairs, mindful not to invade Cordelia’s personal space.
“Please, just call me Cordy. You say Miss Chase and I want to look around for my mother.”
“Yes, M-miss Chase,” Francis smiled happily.
Cordelia shook her head in amusement and munched on her sandwich. And for the next half-hour, she discussed the finer points of copper wiring and the advantages of oak over cedar. It was by far the highlight of her day.
The day’s production had ended nearly thirty minutes earlier, but Charles Fincher was still on set supervising the carpenters that were furiously building a set resembling a suburban living room.
“C’mon people!” Fincher snapped. “This thing needs to be done by eleven! You!” he pointed at one of the carpenters. “I don’t like the color of that wallpaper! Change it to blue!”
The carpenter grumbled but did as he was told. Grabbing a brush and the desired wallpaper, he set about to do dickhead’s bidding. “Lousy bastard,” the carpenter muttered. “I’d rather be working on ‘Gilmore Girls’.”
“I heard that!” Fincher shouted. The producer stormed away to make a phone call. Once he found a secluded spot, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed.
“Hey Philip? Yeah, it’s Charlie. Just wanted you to know I got all hands working on the living room set. Yeah, everything should go fine. It’d be better if that Chase girl could read her lines right. Well, you hired her. What kind of name is Cordelia anyway?” The sound of metal clanking snapped Fincher’s attention back to his surroundings.
“Philip? I gotta go. I think one of the fucking carpenters dropped something. Talk to you later.” Fincher snapped the phone shut before meandering around the darkened sound stage. “Hey! Is somebody back here?”
Fincher weaved his way through the series of backdrops and FBI sets. He stopped in the center of what was used as AD Douglas’s office when he heard scuffling behind him. Fincher turned quickly to face the intruder.
“Oh, it’s you,” Fincher sighed heavily. “You scared me half to death. Hey, what the hell are you doing? Put that down. Oh, shit!” The hammer impacted with a loud thud as it connected with the top of Fincher’s skull. The 33-year-old Supervising Producer for Fox Studios dropped like a sack of potatoes. Blood pooled on the concrete as the life drained from Fincher’s body.
His attacker slipped the hammer back into his pocket and walked away.
Cordelia Chase pulled her jeep into Parking Area B, only to be greeted by a dozen police cruisers and an ambulance blocking the entrance to the sound stage. Locking her door, she jogged over and found Alex Baker, one of the few actors on the show who seemed to respect her.
“Alex?” Cordy asked. “What happened? What’s with all the cops?”
“You didn’t hear?” Alex asked surprised. At Cordy’s confused shake of the head he explained. “About an hour and a half ago, an writer’s assistant found that Fincher bastard laying in a pool of his own blood.”
“Oh my God,” a horrified Cordelia whispered. “Is he dead?”
Alex shrugged. “If that body bag they took in a few minutes ago is any indication, I’d say yes.” Like Cordelia, Alex wasn’t a huge fan of Charles Fincher. Didn’t mean he wanted the son of a bitch dead, but he wouldn’t be crying over it. “You okay Cordy?” he asked. He noticed the color drain from the young girl’s face.
“Yeah,” Cordy said. “Do they have any idea who it is that did it?”
“If they do, they’re keeping quiet.”
Cordelia nodded and pulled out her cell phone. Walking back to her jeep, she dialed the number to the Hyperion. “Fred? Is Angel around? Put him on, please.” Cordelia waited a minute before Angel picked up. “Have you seen the news today? Because one of the producers on the show was attacked. I think he’s dead, Angel. I don’t know, somebody found him on set nearly two hours ago. I’m going to see if I can found out what’s going on. I may be home shortly. I’ll be careful, I promise. I love you, bye.”
Cordelia ended the call. Fincher was dead? She didn’t like the man, but this was horrible. With a grim determination, Cordelia strode back towards the sound stage, resolved to found out what the hell was going on.