I know I should be working on other things... but I'm not. I wrote everyday (over 300 words) but I didn't have internet so I couldn't compete. It was fun anyway. Instead of a whole bunch of little stories, I wrote one novella length story, in little story parts. It's a little dry, but it's done.
Edit: thanks to draconis for one of the words I misused. *blushes and looks around for a beta* and thanks to BeatriceOtter for letting me know I was spelling Jareau wrong... hopefully I got them all. Also, thanks to Copper for pointing out that I hadn't made it clear that Buffy was sent away to Vegas, because her parents (The movie style, rather than TV Joyce) but did the whole wealthy... 'nothing but the best... far away from here' thing. So, Buffy was in Vegas, rather than Diana Reid being in L.A. In excitement over being nominated for a CoA, I took another pass at editing. Despite word failing me, I managed some changes that should help. And some of the stupid mistakes were deeply shaming.
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing (saying that makes me feel better) and all the non Buffy characters are Criminal Minds characters. And all the ones that are neither are names that walk around.
"I am sorry, Mr. Reid." The doctor said stiffly, his condolences muted by the fact that he had more patients to attend to them time to attend to them. "I know you've come a long way, but she is not up for visitors at the moment. Perhaps you could leave a letter…"
Spencer frowned slightly, but nodded his acceptance. It had been too long since he'd actually spoken with his mother, but the doctors here were serious about patient care, which was why he’d arranged for her to be cared for here in here in the first place. If they said she was unable to see him, she was. They wouldn’t let anything jeopardize her condition, even if that ‘anything’ was her son.
The doctor patted Reid’s shoulder awkwardly. As little time as physician had, he was still a kind man; another reason the facility had been Spencer's first choice. "Perhaps next time,” he offered.
Spencer tried smiling, but it felt tight and strained on his face. "Thank you."
The doctor nodded, and walked swiftly away, towards the sound of barely muffled screams that drifted down from one of the wings.
Spencer made his way to the common area, found an empty couch, and pulled his notepaper and a pen out of his satchel to start writing a letter.
He paused, pen poised, and thought. Quotations filled his brain, thousands of exactly the right things to say, but they were all someone else’s words. He had always been awkward at speaking to his mother, and although writing it down rather than saying it aloud usually afforded him some comfortable distance from the interaction, sitting in the hospital, knowing that she was so close even if he could not see her, was impeding his attempts.
He looked up in surprise, noting someone had sat down across from him while he was focused on the paper. She was young, appearing barely halfway through her teens, with pale blond hair draw up hastily, and deep purple circles under her eyes that contrasted almost flatteringly with the green of the iris. And the set of her, the way she held herself, was very sad, and very tired.
He smiled, and this time it wasn't quite so painful. "Trying to write a letter."
"Oh. To who?"
He quashed the automatic gramatic correction, and answered the question. "My mother... she's a patient here."
She frowned in puzzlement. "And you're writing her a letter?"
"She's not up for visitors right now, and I can have to be on a plane home early tomorrow morning."
He shrugged. It did, but it was simply how it was.
She didn’t continue, and he returned to his attempt at constructing something meaningful to leave behind. She spent half a minute filling the silence with the staccato of her nails on the arms hard backed wooden chair where she was perched and then blurted; "You wanna play cards?"
He looked up again, from his yet unmarked paper, and caught the note of hope in her eyes.
And he could hear the relief in his own voice as he replied "Sure."
"You are the worst bluffer I’ve ever met!" She laughed as she scooped up the cards from the secondary deck they were using as chips. He watched her sort it quickly into her pile, now about three quarters of the deck, and had to admit, based on the empirical evidence, that he was indeed terrible at bluffing.
Spencer paused in laying down his cards, his smug grin dying at the obvious note of pity in the attendant’s voice.
Buffy looked up slowly, asking before the attendant could speak again; "The secretary called again?"
The man flushed and cleared his throat awkwardly, but nodded. "She said they were sorry but they had something they couldn't miss."
Buffy frowned and folded her hand. "Thanks." She said shortly, and after a brief hesitation the man gratefully scurried away.
She pushed the pot pile his way, and started dealing again, but paused before checking her hand, regarding him seriously. "Aren't you going to ask what I'm here for?"
He picked up his own cards without glancing down, keeping his gaze on her. "No. If you want to tell me though..."
She shook her head quickly and busied herself with her cards, relief easing the tension out of her features, and leaving her looking young.
She was drawing back the next hand's winnings when they were approached again, this time by the same doctor who oversaw his mother’s care. "Buffy. It's time to go back to your room."
"Can I stay a little bit longer?" She asked, looking up hopefully.
The doctor shook his head, but the set of his jaw indicated he regretted the inability to make exception. She stood, abandoning her cards as they were, her eyes shuttering, becoming sad and dull again quickly enough that he almost wondered if he’d been imagining the lighter mood. "Thanks." She said, her voice, at least, still light. "'Was fun."
And she was gone before he could reply.
The doctor watched her exit and turned back to him, consideringly. "I hated to interrupt." He confessed, "That was the first bit of life I've seen since she was placed here."
Spencer hesitated, curiosity warring with tact. "Why. I mean, is she here? Was that just a good day? She doesn't seem..."
The doctor interrupted, face grim. "'She doesn’t seem'" He echoed, "-but her parents had to put her here after the arson at her school.
"Arson?" Spencer asked in surprise, knowing the statistics on that kind of crime and that the girl he had just played cards with was about as far from the typical arsonist a person could get.
The doctor cleared his throat, belatedly recalling with whom he spoke, and the confidentiality clause that should have inhibited him from saying even as much as he had. "Come back soon and see your mother." He said, and turned, striding quickly away.
After the brief visit with his mother, which had gone better than usual thanks to her newest medication, Spencer paused in the common area, waiting without meaning too. It took him a moment for it to even occur to him what he was doing, and why, but it all slipped into place suddenly as he realised he was scanning among the patients for blond hair, and small frames. The room wasn't very large, and there were no places in which to hide, so it didn't take long to conclude she wasn't there.
Although not everyone left their rooms during visitation periods; his mother being a prime example of that.
Spencer shook his head at himself. One game of cards didn't obligate him to check up on her. But none the less, his feet began to take him across the room before he could rationalize himself out of it. Spencer reached the monitoring station, where the doctor was flipping through charts, and cleared his throat.
"Ah," The doctor smiled, but didn't take his focus completely away from the papers. "This was a good day, for a visit, wasn't it?"
"Yes. I, uh, actually... was looking to see if the girl I played cards with was around. Buffy?"
"Looking for a game?" The doctor asked, and shook his head, sympathy creasing his face. "No, I'm sorry Spencer. She was released."
"Yes, a few months ago. We did a two month check up, and found that she was fine, no signs of her previous delusion."
The doctor frowned, and shook his head slightly, seemly at himself. "Conversing with you is a dangerous thing." He muttered, but the tone was half serious, and the accompanying smile was entirely forced.
"What kind of delusions?" Spencer asked, and seeing the doctors reluctance, he hurried on before the man could respond, "I just... she seemed like a good kid.”
The doctor sighed. "She had a way about her, of making people care. The young ones, especially the pretty ones, often do." He frowned slightly, lips pursing whether at the memory of her, or at himself, was unclear, but he continued anyway. "She had delusions of being a savour. A God chosen hero that was suppose to save the people from ‘darkness’."
"Really?" Spencer asked, surprised that he hadn’t seen any signs of such a deep psychosis, "She never tried to convert me while we were chatting."
"She didn't do that. She just... tried to save people from imaginary dangers. And please, Mr. Reid. Let's not talk about this again." The doctor said firmly.
Spencer was disappointed, feeling like he'd stopped reading halfway through a mystery he hadn't quite figured out, but nodded his compliance.
"You'll let me know if anything changes with my mother?" He said, but it was a formality, and the doctor's attention was already back with his paperwork as he nodded in reply.
Spencer paused, the newest case file laid open on the desk before him. The sound of the briefing, which he had been carefully following a moment before, eager to prove his worth to the team, faded away. The notes, the stuff he usually focused on during a case, had slipped aside, uncovering the photos underneath. His fingers were curled around the edge of one, halfway through pushing it back into place.
Pale green eyes, which would have been brighter before they had filmed over, stared up at him from the photo on the table. Long strands of blond hair splayed about, wrapping half her face, and beneath them, half visible was a single playing card. The queen of hearts.
He looked up, forcing himself to pay attention as his hand finished the motion, tucking the image out of sight, and noticed agent Gideon watching him rather than J.J, eyes assessing. Spencer forced himself not to react, and focused on listening to the second half of the briefing. When it ended, he walked out without speaking to the others, reading the pages of the folder as he went, trying to catch up on what he had missed, the photos firmly tucked away.
"What is it about this case?" Gideon asked.
He looked up in surprise, pulled from his thoughts. "Excuse me, sir?"
"What is it that unsettles you?" Gideon clarified.
Spencer had known this would be a downside to working with people so shrewd; the inability to keep a reaction private, but so far it hadn't been an issue. If a little less tolerant of death than some of his colleagues, he managed to keep his analysis mostly academic without much trouble.
Gideon waited, watching him patiently as if he would hold the plane until he recieved an answer.
Spencer cleared his throat, buying only a few seconds, and then forced himself to speak. "This girl... the victim… reminds me of someone."
Gideon frowned. "Is it going to be a problem?"
Spencer shook his head. "No sir."
"If you need to sit this one out…" Gideon offer, "It's better than offsetting our profile because you’re too emotionally involved and miss something."
"No sir." Spencer repeated, more to the lingering question than the statement. "It was just someone I knew, briefly, and seeing the picture... made me realise I didn't know what happened to her."
Gideon stared for a moment longer, and then nodded slowly, and when he spoke his voice was tired. "This job does that a lot."
"Hey Kid!" Derek yelled, "Are you coming or what?"
Spencer slipped the pages back into the folder, never opening it wide enough to see the photos, and frowned pointedly at Morgan, who laughed, and continued on ahead.
Gideon laid a hand on his shoulder as he went past. "If you need a break, or you need someone to talk to..."
"Thank you sir." Spencer said, as he fell into step behind. "I'm fine. Although I'd take a chess game, if you were offering."
Gideon laughed slightly, and dropped the subject, although for the rest of the flight, Spencer could feel his mettle measured, each time Gideon’s gaze returned to where he sat.
"Newest case," Jennifer started, tossing down the briefing dossiers and clicking her pointer at the screen. Reid ignored the package for a moment, focused upwards, as an image of an old, slightly dilapidated motel appeared.
"Hyperion hotel. Spent forty years abandoned." She clicked through a few slides quickly, showing distance shots that gave a general idea of the location. "Then this man-," Another click and a man appeared, dressed in a black overcoat, half of his face in shadow and his bangs gelled stiffly up. He was a fairly young, fairly attractive and a little bit grim. "- Purchased it. He was close on his mortgage most of the time, and then all of sudden, despite not having worked for them before, he was made CEO of the law firm Wolfram and Hart." Another click showed a tall glass and steel building.
"Haven't we investigated them before?" Derek asked.
"A few cases, mostly about employees who turned out to be serial killers. Generally it's held in the law community that they are scum, but that they’re smart scum, and stuff on them is hard to find." she clicked again and the motel reappeared. "Four months ago, when the man, who in the reports is only called 'Angel' left it, another group moved in. Several young adults, one older man and a fair number of young girls. They then checked half their number into the local hospital. The injuries are varied and frankly, terrifying." She clicked through a fast set of police shots of the injuries, most of which involved ragged tears to the skin, and horribly broken bones.
"Excuse me." Read flipped open his folder, but kept his eyes on Jennifer. "What was ... ‘Angel’ using the hotel for?"
"It was listed as a detective agency. He had a small staff, and all but one, who was in an unexplained coma at the time, made the move with him, despite the fact that none of them had any legal background. Although it should be noted that, one of his staff, uh… Charles Gunn, who has not completed any secondary education past the ninth grade, took over the legal department, and mowed through a series of complex cases with serious legal know how."
Jennifer shrugged slightly, and continued.
"This group, who were all survivors of the Sunnydale crater, then appeared to... establish a cult. Which is why we were called in."
"A cult?" Emily asked.
J.J. nodded. "It appears so. Although no one has a handle on what the basis of it is, we know that since they moved into the hotel, there has been a steady influx of young girls, from the ages of fifteen to twenty one, from all parts of the world, who suddenly pick up and move into the Hyperion. The Los Angelus Police had asked for our help determining the purpose, and methods of this group as well as assist in a plan to shut them down."
"Do you know what they do with the girls?" Prentiss asked.
"The reports were vague. The girls do move around freely; the majority attend a nearby public school, although it's said that they keep to themselves, they do not appear injured, or upset, nor do they ever attempt to convert or bully any of the other students. As far as cults go... this one seems fairly harmless for the time being, but that said, it's a unsettling number of young girls, some of whom have parents who want them back."
"Girls who were previously homeless or runaways. It should also be noted though, that this group appears to have ties to several hundred other young women across the world, seemingly picked at random, although no moves have been made to resettle most of the ones they are in contact with."
"How are they funded?" Rossi asked.
She clicked forward through a few images at high speeds, until she reached a two panel shot of a tall stone building on the left, and it’s charred remaindered on the right. Spencer didn’t hear the beginning of J.J’s reply, brain stuck at the quick flash he'd seen in-between.
"... former employee, but no ones sure why they inherited the bulk of the funds, given that they're Americans for the most part, and-"
"-Can you go back?" Reid interrupted.
Jennifer blinked in surprise, and he clarified. "The images of the people, can you go back through them?"
"See someone you know, Reid?" Derek asked, tone mostly joking, with only a pinch of worry thrown in.
Spencer didn't answer, focused as J.J. slowly backtracked. A squinting young man, barely over twenty, with thick black hair, the build of a day labourer, and an eye patch over one eye. A slim brunette, dressed in plaid, and holding a stack of books, halfway through tucking her long hair behind her shoulder. A redhead woman, looking down, frowning slightly at mud across the toes of her brightly coloured sneakers. He processed that they were all oddly candid, in the way surveillance photos are, when it finally settled back to what had originally caught his attention.
Young woman, blond hair pulled back, arms crossed tightly around her waist, a faded tan, and angry green eyes. She was older, and looked tired, more drawn and pale, but it was the same girl. "Stop." He said, when J.J. clicked again, sending it to an image of an older man, patches on his sleeves, gray hair and square glasses, "Go back."
Jennifer did, confused. "This one?"
"Okay, um... she is either the one in charge, or second in command, depending on who's writing the report. Part of the original group, twenty two years old, name-"
Reid could feel them all watching him, but kept his eyes on the picture.
He looked away from the projection, to Hotchner, who was waiting expectantly.
"I knew her."
"We got that kid. But how?" Derek asked, concern furrowing his brows. "You look like you've been punched in the gut."
"No. It's just... uh, I met her when she was fifteen. I went to visit my mom, and she was in the waiting room. We played cards."
"I guess, you just never know." He offered, and they relaxed a little, but Hotchner still stared a little too closely, and Spencer’s brain clicked into gear as he figured out something that would distract him. "I remember the doctor saying she had a hero complex. Trying to save the world through acts of violence."
He nearly hit himself for adding that last bit, watching everyone get a little bit tenser.
"Everyone, grab your bags. We'll finish this on the plane." Rossi said.
J.J. looked at her half finished presentation with a bit of a frown, but pulled herself out of it as they stood. "Uh, we should probably take Garcia."
"Why?" Hotchner asked.
"On of their members; part of the briefing I didn't get to, is an expert hacker. If we need to find anything on this group, it might be better if she was onsite."
Hotch nodded. "Derek?"
"See you on the plane."
Spencer settled into his seat, with a brief glance at the spot where he'd played chess with Gideon after his last thoughts of Buffy, and a pang that reminded him how much he still missed the senior agent. In another second, both memories were buried as he focused on the present, on the others taking their seats, and J.J. settling up a laptop so that the screen was as visible as possible given their scattered locations. Hands on the mouse, she waited as everyone had finished stowing their gear and settling into place, and then asked. "Ready?"
"Feel like I should have popcorn." Garcia said, wiggling in her seat.
"The feeling will pass in a moment." Hotchner said flatly, "Agent Jareau."
J.J. clicked the mouse, and the images picked up where they had left off.
"Rupert Giles. He is the priority, according to the senior L.A.P.D. officers. He is a immigrant from Britain, with degrees from Oxford. He switched suddenly from working at the British museum, to a position as librarian of a high school in Sunnydale in the autumn of ’97… the year that Buffy Summers moved there from L.A. In the scraps of existing work files we have found, there were a few notes about him spending unusual amounts of time with Miss Summers, as well as Willow Rosenberg, who we will discuss in a moment and Faith Lehane, a runaway from Boston that eventually ended up on tract to spend life in an L.A. prison, but is now out on a pardon no one can explain, and is back among the group. There was also a note about a Cordelia Chase, who was the person I mentioned earlier as the currently comatose member of Angel’s investigation team. Because of his history of fraternization with young woman, including runaways, we suspect that he is at the head of this new cult."
"But." She clicked and the screen returned to an image of Buffy, "Most of the lower ranked investigating officers insist that this is the person in charge. Buffy Summers. It is possible that it is combination of the two: With Mr. Giles controlling Buffy, and Buffy bringing in the others. Certainly before meeting her in Sunnydale, Mr. Giles never had any indications of this sort of behaviour. Buffy's records are full of violence, and criminal charges that were never fully proven. She has a younger sister, Dawn summers." She clicked. "Who lives with her and the others at the Hyperion, and attends classes with the other girls, and earns fairly impressive marks."
"Their parents?" Derek asked.
"Joyce Summers died in 2000 of a brain aneurism, leaving custody to Buffy, since according to what we could find, Hank Summers has been living in Spain with his former secretary, since 1999."
She tapped the mouse again, flicking the image of the redhead. "Willow Rosenberg-"
"Hold on a moment." Rossi stopped her. "Reid, why don't you tell us what else you know?"
"I skimmed the file, and there is more in there than what I know. I don't actually know that much." He looked away from Garcia's curiosity, and stared at the laptop screen. "In the summer of 1997, I was visiting my mother. She wasn’t able to see me that day, and I was trying to write a letter to leave for her, when Miss Summers, Buffy, walked over. She was waiting for her parents, who's secretary eventually called to say they were too busy to come. While she waited she asked me to play cards. We did until it was time for her to go back to her room. The doctor commented how pleased he was to see her responsive… although I'm not sure why she chose to talk to me, and I asked him why she was there. He briefly mentioned about the arson, and her hero complex, and then realised he overstepped his bounds, and left for his rounds. That's about all of it."
"I think I know why she talked to you." Derek held up one of the small glossies that had been attached inside the folder. "Merrick. British nationalist. Spent too much time with high school girls, especially one Buffy Summers in 1996. Looks a lot like an earlier picture of this Giles guy." He held up another photo, one where the man had round glasses and a three piece tweed suit. "Both of them look a little bit like you. Tweed wearing book readers." He smiled to let Reid know he meant it fondly.
"I don't think I looked like a book reader." Reid commented, but could see what Derek had noticed in the photos.
"We might be able to use this. Clearly Merrick was the starting point. Whatever it was he did, he did it to Buffy, who brought it to Giles, or possibly Merrick and Giles knew each other and he tipped Giles off about Buffy when she moved. Giles need for younger females grew steadily in the timeline, culminating in this cult, but still, it started with Merrick, and you, Reid, reminded her of this man. You might be able to reach her, and if the officers are right about her being the draw for the other girls, than we might be able to dismantle this without too much chaos." Hotchner suggested.
"She's been with this man nearly eight years." Rossi pointed out, and then turned back to the laptop, "What concerns me, was the young man… Alexander Harris."
Jennifer clicked through. "Carpenter. Born and raised in Sunnydale, and sporatically attended the same schools as Willow Rosenburg and Cordelia Chase. His records indicate an alternately abusive and neglectful home life. A few years ago he was engaged to a woman named Anya Jenkins, who has no discernable records, before the point at which she began attending senior year at their high school; so she was probably another runaway. She died during the Sunnydale incident, around the time he lost his eye."
"But that’s a new happening, right?" Prentiss pointed out. "And he's an anomaly. Rupert is amassing young girls, and this one young man?"
"There is another; Andrew Wells, who came in with the recent influx, as well as a Robin Wood, principal of the Sunnydale High school."
"Oh." Garcia sat back, pale, and Jennifer shot her a reassuring smile.
"Back to Rosenberg..." Jareau said, "She is extremely intelligent. There was record of a major electronic company courting her in her junior year. Despite this, she went to Sunnydale University, where her record become spotty. Recently she's signed up to U.L.A where she is doing very well. Her father, Ira Rosenberg, is a renown psychologist, and both of her parents spent most of her childhood on the speaking circuit. In this group there is a very clear pattern of absentee or abusive parents. Mrs. Summers is the best case, and from a few interviews of detectives looking into a few of Buffy's early offenses, it can be deduced that before the move to Sunnydale, she had minimal impute into her children’s lives. According to their notes she was very socially active, and as one stated; she’d had three drinks by the end of their noon hour interview."
"Next we have Miss Lehane..." Jennifer clicked, and a mug shot of a young woman with brown hair and a vaguely tribal tattoo on her upper arm appeared on the screen, but she was cut off by the intercom crackling to life.
"We are entered a patch of storm." The pilot announced. "Will everyone please belt themselves in, and turn off all electronics. We should be able to get through it without any trouble, and we should pass through completely within half an hour."
Jennifer sighed slightly, and hit the power switch, turning the screen back. "Most of the information is in the package. Ask me if you have any other questions." She said, and took her seat.
Reid flicked his folder open, turning to the page that detailed, as best they knew, what Buffy Summers had been doing for the past eight years.
"This is Agent Hotchner, of the BAU…"
The other man grabbed his hand and shook it as they walked. "Thank you for coming. I'm Roberson Garrett, Police chief. On hand will be the chief of this sector, Albert Munn," He pointed to a glass walled office where a balding man was seated at a desk buried in paperwork. "We are in the middle of a man hunt right now, so I'm afraid we won't be able to give you our full attention, but ask for anything, and we should be able to scrape it up. Ah." He nodded to two officers who approached, both in street clothes with badges at their hips. "These will be your liaisons. They are the most familiar with the case, and should be able to answer any questions you have. Dt. Kate Lockley, who worked most of the original cases that involved Angel Investigations, and Anthony Weir, her partner. They've both been on this one since the beginning. The first parent to ask for our help dropped down at Weir's desk, and it's snowballed from there." He looked up as someone hailed him from across the bull pen, and when he glanced back he was distracted. "Feel free to claim a space and contact me if there are any problems. Again, thank you for being here, and I'm very sorry, but I have to run."
"What's going on?" Emily asked, looking at the uniforms rushing to the same direction.
"Gang war." Weir explained, "It's gotten a little out of hand, and most of the force is trying to deal with the fall out. We're all hoping it ends soon." He held out his hand to Rossi. "Pleased to have you, as the chief said."
Kate stood back, and didn't offer her hand, as Weir continued on to the others, making quiet secondary introductions. After Weir had passed Derek, Morgan turned his focus to Kate. "What is it about Angel investigations' that bothers you?"
She almost flinched, allowing only a brief tightening of her lips, and a half blink as her partner went silent. The rest of them, who'd seen the equally slight reaction to the name the first time it was mentioned, waited expectantly.
"As the chief said, I was on the first cases. They were a mess. Full of things that never made sense. I ended up hunting down ghosts until I earned myself a dismissal from the force."
"Obviously it didn't stick." Prentiss commented.
"I worked my ass off and learned to keep my initial conclusions to myself." Kate said shortly.
"Most of the time." Weir said, but the slight smile to his lips, was fond rather than malicious.
When Rossi turned to look at him, he explained. "She's one of the ones that thinks Buffy is at the heart of this, and that there's an explanation to it all that would make it reasonable if we knew it."
"I never said that." Kate said sharply. "But I'd like to point out that every person wearing blue and walking a beat would say that. It's the rest of us, in neck ties, that are trying to blame Giles."
Seeing Hotcher about to move to request their space in the pause after her comment, Reid jumped in; fascinated with the way the two of them were interacting and trying to keep them going. "Could you tell me about the first case?" He asked. He'd read a general summery of it in the file: a young girl ran away from her typical happy home, and left no forwarding address. Dad hires a PI who tracks her to the Hotel. Watches just under 60 girls walking daily through the front door. Reports that to dad as suspicious. Dad calls cops to bring his baby home, only she's over sixteen, and her story of her home life doesn't quite match up.
Weir started to explain, and Reid didn't even mind when Hotcher cut him off after a few sentences, way-laying the explanation until they had settled a command center. Derek fell into step beside him at the end of the procession as they made way for a half empty glass conference room. "That information was in the file." Despite the way he phrased it, Reid knew it was a question.
"Detective Lockley knows more than she's saying. Something here isn't right... isn't what we think it is, and I think she’s got eyes on whatever it is that we're all missing."
Derek considered it for a moment. "You sure it this isn't about you wanting to see the best in some girl you met once, and ended up feeling responsible for in some way?"
"No. I want there to be a mistake, but..." He chose his words carefully, "Something more than just wishing is telling me there’s something else to this."
Derek nodded and they hung back as the others continued in to the room. "Okay, kid. We'll keep an eye on her. But don't get your hopes up."
Kate looked up from the file stamped BAU as he walked in, eyes assessing. "Lot of information in here."
He paused, a little startled, unsure if he should be reprimanding her for looking at confidential files, reclaiming the file, or jumping at the chance to hear what she had to say. Finally, he nodded.
"Some that didn't make the print." She tipped the folder over and he could see that it was Prentiss’, and that’s she’d scrawled everything he’d said in the margin by the bio of Buffy.
Kate slid the file closed and laid it on the nearest desk, leaning back, arms crossed. "I met her once."
"About four years ago. Faith came to L.A. after a rampage through Sunnydale, and through circumstances I don't fully understand, ended up turning herself in here, Buffy at one shoulder, Angel at the other, all three of them bruised and pissed off. I listened to her confess her crimes."
"Faith's. Buffy was only here for a few minutes. Wasn't the most lasting impression. Meeting her at least. You talk to Faith for five minutes; you get a different picture of Buffy Summers. Had I not just seen her, I would have expected solid gold armour, Amazon build and eyes bleeding tears like a miracle stature of the Virgin Mary."
Spencer blinked in surprise. "That's not quite how I remember her."
Kate half smiled. "You spent only a little more time with her than I did."
"Are you saying that the idea that this cult is built around Buffy has merit?"
"I'm saying that if you'd asked Faith to join the cult of Buffy, she would have stepped over your dead body on the way. At least, four years ago. Apparently she's reformed now."
"You don't believe it."
Kate shrugged. "No bodies piling up. I guess I have to. She's not a bad candidate. Came in here voluntarily, confessed quietly, and felt bad about it. Still, I would have felt better if she'd been feeling bad for another twenty years."
"How much danger do you think these girls are in?"
"I don't know. Moderate, maybe, although not from what you’d expect. I also think you might need to be more concerned about the danger from these girls, but even that might be above even your pay scale. Mostly I think this is none of our business, and poking around in it isn't going to end well."
"More likely, we'll get shut down hard." She flipped the file open again and pointed to the part that described the 'council' that employed all the key members. "I did some research. The council is old and connected high up. Rupert Giles inherited it in an explosion that took out the rest of their senior staff. And rumour is, they had a direct line to the ear of the Queen, and the Pope and basically every other person who could possibly muck up diplomacy for the states, if they were convinced to have a go at it."
"You think they would?"
"I think that these people don't take being investigated well. They don't like being accused of unproven things. And they don't like authority messing in their play pen. And if you want to know why, I suggest you have your tech look a little bit deeper, and search for anything she can find about 'the Initiative.'"
Kate threw the file down again, and strode away before he could clarify that Garcia wasn't a tech.