Disclaimer: See Chapter one.
A/N: I don't really have time to say more than thanks so much to everyone who reviewed and rec'ed. And to go check out the amazing art that is now up on the first chapter. Many thanks.
I'll come back and add it later here with proper thanks.
She knew that the doctors were going to keep Dawn unconscious for at least another twenty hours but she hadn't been able to help it, she'd had Agents Hotchner and Rossi drop her off at the hospital rather than go with them back to the Police Station. She knew why she'd done it too. She'd needed to see Dawn. To know her baby sister was alive and breathing and that she hadn't lost Dawn to some deranged human psychopath.
To see the wounds, the bruises and all the gut wrenching damage that had been done so that she could memorize every detail. Memorize it and remember so that it could never happen to her sister again. Because she wouldn't let it. Demons were one thing, their war wasn't one where words did any good unless it was a spell, but humans were another. She'd long gotten past sheltering Dawn from all the demonic and its dangers.
But this was human evil. Human. She'd spent most of her life protecting humans and so had Dawn. And to have a human do something so evil just made her want to put who ever had hurt her sister in a room with the real monsters that were out there and see how fast they ripped him into teeny tiny pieces.
“Ms. Summers.” she looked up and found a nurse standing at the doorway. “Is there anything I can get you?” the woman looked like she sympathized, cared. That was a good thing.
A shake of the head and then she turned away from standing at the end of Dawn's bed. “No, well, yes. I've got to go to the Police Station for a while.” she pulled a card from her jacket pocket. “I'm not sure if I'll make it back before she wakes up. Could you call me when she does?”
The nurse took the card. “Of course.”
She hated snow, absolutely hated it. Sure it was pretty but she and snow just weren't mixy things, never had been and never would be. And her feet still hadn't warmed up completely from having to spend half an hour cleaning the snow off her rental car just to get from the hospital to the police station. Which had taken almost an hour because the blizzard that everyone had been worrying about was starting to rear its ugly cold head.
Which didn't help her mood any after speaking with Agent Rossi and finding out that Dawn hadn't been the second or third girl taken but the sixteenth. And not because Dawn fit some random physical requirements but because she was smart, incredibly smart. The faces over over a dozen girls stared back at her from their pictures mounted on the board. Five years and taken from all over the country. Five years! How could someone not have known?
“Buffy.” she turned her attention in the direction of the voice and found a kind face. The woman looked about five years her senior with kind blue eyes and blonde hair. “My name is Jennifer Jereau. I work with Hotch, Agent Hotchner. You looked like you could use this.” she held out a steaming mug.
One inhaled breath and her lips moved on their own. It wasn't coffee but hot chocolate. She reached out a hand and took the offered mug. “Thank you.”
“Would you like to sit?”
“Sure.” she followed Jennifer over to the table and sat, the feel of the mug in her hands and the smell of the hot chocolate making some of the tense feeling in her loosen.
She lifted the mug and inhaled to sweet smell before taking a drink with her eyes closed. So many memories came to her. “My mother used to do this for us when we were upset.”
“That sounds wonderful.”
She opened her eyes and looked down at the mug. “She was. Its been almost ten years and I still miss her every day.”
“It had to be hard, losing your mother so young and having to take care of your sister.” there was so much empathy in her voice, so much understanding. It reminded her of Tara, that kindness. It was something that she'd seen far too little of since they'd lost the two most kind hearted members of their hodge podge family.
“It was. For a while there were days when I just wanted to give up. But I couldn't. I told mom I'd take care of Dawn. Guess I failed at that.”
“You didn't fail.” Jennifer touched her arm and she looked up from her mug. “Dawn's strong, resourceful. She managed to escape and find help. You taught her that.”
“Maybe.” Dawn was all those things. But not because Dawn had ever wanted to be but because it had become a necessity just to survive the lives they led.
“Everyone its late. Go get some rest.” she and Jennifer looked over to where Agent Hotchner stood just inside the doorway.
“Go rest?” he couldn't possibly be serious.
“I understand that you want to keep working Ms. Summers but we're all tired and we have the profile. We'll give it to the police tomorrow with the morning roll.”
Jennifer put her hand on her arm again. “He's right. None of us will be any good at finding the Unsub if we're exhausted.”
She didn't want to admit it but Jennifer was right. And she was tired, but then going over seventy two hours without sleep could wear out even a slayer. “Fine.” she stood up and set the mug on the table. “Thanks for the hot chocolate Jennifer.”
“You're welcome and call me J.J.” that warmth, kindness again. It emanated from her like a glow. How she managed to keep that while dealing with human monsters every day was a miracle all its own.
“What's your impression of her?” he glanced over at J.J as they watched Ms. Summers' retreating back disappear out the front doors of the police station and into the snow.
“She's had a hard life. She wasn't even twenty when she became responsible for a teenage girl.”
“Anything else?” he had his own assessments of Buffy Summers but he wanted J.J's opinion. She had a gift for revealing parts of people he lacked.
“She's blaming herself for Dawn being abducted.” guilt wasn't uncommon in cases like this but it surprised him that J.J had found evidence of it where he or Rossi hadn't managed to.
“Do you think she's stable enough to allow her to continue?” it was a valid question.
“I watched her look at the board. She didn't focus on the pictures of Dawn, she focused on the other girls that have been abducted. It was like she was memorizing everything about them Hotch, names and faces and locations. Its almost like she's seen something like this before.”
Her hotel room wasn't actually a room but a cabin meant for a family but she hadn't picked it, Audrey, the soon to be Dean of the new LA based Council school had. Not that she cared, it didn't matter what kind of hotel, motel or shack she'd ended up in as long as it had heat and a wireless connection. Besides she'd spent time in some of the best and worst places in the world over the years.
“Ok Wills what have you got for me?” she was sitting at the dining table the cabin had, laptop open in front of her.
Willow's head filled the screen. “I started with where Dawn was found.” A map showed up on the screen, a blinking red dot telling her the location. “This is the problem. Based on the medical reports that I got from the hospital Dawn had a severe case of hypothermia despite having on four layers of clothing. Now based on what Dr. Jackson was able to tell me, given that Dawn was moving the whole time and the average of snow and her clothes that gives us over a thousand acres for where she could have come from.”
“Well that's not helpful.” damn. She'd been hoping for something better.
“So I started looking for places within that area that Dawn could have been held in. I found twenty three. All old abandoned mines from before the area was made a National Forest.”
“Twenty three?” ok so now she was a parrot but twenty three?
“Yeah, but its worse than that Buffy. She could have been held in a cave too.” Willow looked upset, worry all over her best friend's face. But under that, Willow was not happy in the way that usually ended with crispy fried demons. And to be honest she was surprised that the witch and pretty much the entirety of the Council had listened to her order to stay where they were to keep from arousing undue suspicion about Dawn's connection to the IWC and the IWC in general.
She took a breath, let her mind work over the pieces. The arrow had been a custom made thing, expensive and very high tech. And mines, caves and sewers she knew only too well. To hold just one girl wouldn't take much, just rope. But to hold more than one would take something more. Cells maybe. And that meant that the person who had taken Dawn wasn't just smart about tech stuff but good with his hands in general. Add to it that he had to know the area and travel enough to actually find the other girls all over the country and that narrowed things down from just some sort of average Joe on the street.
But that wasn't enough. Dawn had told the paramedics that there were 'others' and that meant that those girls needed to be found. Which meant that the places that Willow had found needed to be checked. She turned her gaze to the window and watched the steadily falling snow outside. There was already over two feet of it in some places and by morning that was expected to double. And that was before the worst of the storm hit. She had two options then. One was to have Willow send one of the gear sets they had set up for winter weather slay missions to her immediately and to head out to check the locations while she was tired and it was the middle of the night. Or two was to still have Willow send several of the gear sets and then go out in the morning after she'd gotten some sleep and could get the FBI and police to help her.
There was a third option. One that involved pulling in every available field slayer she could get and having them go with her but nothing good would come of that and she knew it. There would be too many things to explain and knowing her girls and how protective they were of Dawn there was a pretty even chance that they'd beat the baddie within an inch of his life before they got him to the FBI. They wouldn't kill him, they knew the rules. Faith of all people more or less beat the rules into their heads while training them but you could do a whole lot of damage to a person without actually killing them. And everyone in the Council knew it. So pulling her own people in was out.
But by then the snow would be deeper and the blizzard would be worse. “Willow, can you get me six sets of the mission packs from the op in the Himalayas two years ago? Three male, about Xander's size and three female, one my size and two that would fit Molly. Make sure all the ones but mine have got the 'don't notice' spell on them and all the magical gear has been pulled from them.”
“You're going to equip the FBI Agents?'
“There's already a good chance we're going to find bodies, I don't want to add them to the count.” she didn't. Their lives involved enough danger, she wouldn't make it easier for them to end up dead if they went with her. Even if the BAU members didn't know Rule One didn't mean she was going to make it easy for them to break it around her.
The red head gave a nod “Give me an hour.”
“I'm also going to need detailed maps and for you to keep digging. Something else has to connect all these girls.”
*****Please review. I had a crappy weekend that included not being able to use my left hand and doctors. I need the pick me up.