Chapter Five - Hotch
graphic depictions of violence, murder involving minorsDisclaimer:
I have no rights to or within the Criminal Minds or Harry Potter franchises, copyrights, characters or trademarks. This is for fun, not profit.Summary:
When the B.A.U. is called in regarding a string of murders at a high school in Los Angeles, all the signs point to one Buffy Summers. Years later, while investigating a string of murdered teenagers in Cleveland, the B.A.U. runs across Buffy Summers again. This time, the B.A.U. is determined to get their UnSub.Additional Notes:
This fic fills moodiful819
's prompt for Wishlist 2012 which was "Fandom: BtVS/Criminal Minds Crossover (I couldn't resist); Pairings: Spuffy/ReidxJJ; Prompt: Buffy and JJ get pulled into each other's universe via wormhole and must rely on the help of Spike and Reid to return home. Difficulties, of course, arise. (Difficulties being the skepticism of both Reid and JJ, vampires, etc.)" It went sideways. (Again.) Also fills the "falsely imprisoned" square on my Hurt/Comfort Bingo card and the "psychological turmoil" on my Dark Fantasy Bingo card.
When they get back from the L.A. case, Hotch knows from Garcia's involuntary cues that she has already chosen the team's next assignment but she waits a few days to spring it on him. Hotch appreciates that. He needs that time to visit his son, catch up on his sleep, do his laundry and a few other chores around his little apartment, and catch up on his administrative work.
When Garcia toddles into his office on neon pink platforms, a case file clutched in her arms, and a nervous expression on her face, Hotch carefully puts his pen down and leans back in his chair.
"Don't be mad," Garcia pleads. "I know that things were tense between you when she left but this is really serious stuff. And she's the one who saw the case and made the connections and pulled the strings to --""She
who, Garcia?" Hotch asks, even though he strongly suspects that he already knows.
"Elle," Garcia says breathlessly. "She's found a serial killer and a pack in Cleveland. The serial killer's been operating there continuously for over a century. And she says that the pack is --"
"Give me the files, Garcia," Hotch orders, resigned.
Hotch has not yet forgiven Elle for taking the law into her own hands. Even if she fooled a review board, a prosecutor, and the courts, Hotch knows the truth. He puts all of that aside in favor of doing his job.
Hotch reviews the file, approves Garcia's choice, and, rather than immediately informing her and then the rest of the team of his decision, sits back in his seat. He props his elbows on the arms of his chair, steeples his fingers together in front of his chin, and muses on Buffy Summers.
Hotch has never forgotten her.
The first time that he had set eyes on Buffy Summers, she had been small, fragile looking, and utterly, aggressively defiant. And she had been exhausted, no matter how brave a face she put on for Dave.
To Hotch, the most important moment of the interrogation had been when Dave had said, "I've never killed a man."
And Buffy Summers had replied, "Neither have I."
For a split second, her tone, expression, and body language had all been utterly sincere. She had been real. In that moment had been the key to everything. Summers had pulled her masks back into place a heartbeat later, though.
They -- he and Dave and the rest of nascent group that would someday become the first incarnation of the B.A.U. -- had missed something important. And, judging by her jagged, half-mad laughter, Buffy Summers had not only known it but also known what it was.
In the intervening years, Hotch has occasionally wondered what a teenage girl had known that a trained group of state and federal investigators had not.
A pop on her name about, oh, a little more than a decade ago had brought the B.A.U. to Sunnydale, before the entire town had become a giant sinkhole. Back then, Reid had been an agent-in-training on loan from the academy, Gideon had taken a sabbatical to teach and promote his first book, and Rossi had been in retirement. Garcia had not yet been assigned to the B.A.U. as a technical analyst so they were a group of individuals struggling to work together instead of a cohesive team, much less a family.
Buffy Summers had been accused of the murder of a Jamaican national, who turned out to be a girl of about the same age as Summers. It was not the B.A.U.'s usual sort of case, not even back then, but someone with political clout had insisted. Hotch had never found out who or even why.
What Hotch had discovered in Sunnydale was that Buffy Summers and the dead girl had been by all accounts close friends, that Summers had found the body, and that Summers had escaped police custody. When Hotch had inquired how, exactly, trained and armed officers had misplaced a single teenage girl, he had gotten blank, hostile looks and shifty, sideways glances in response.
It eventually became clear, mostly through eye witness testimony, that Kendra Young had been killed by one of the local gangs. Buffy Summers had apparently been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Back then, Sunnydale had had one of the highest murder rates in the entire country. It had not seemed like a far-fetched solution.
Hotch has always wondered what Buffy Summers would have said if they could have found her or if she would have contented herself with laughing at them again.
The last time that Hotch had seen Summers had been a few years ago in a tiny western town during that mess with the serial killer known only as Frank. Hotch has forgotten the name of the place. (Mostly, he remembers the scope of Frank's activities, wind chimes made of human ribs, and the horror of Frank's killing van.) He still has no idea when Summers had arrived in that dusty little town or why she was there or how she had ended up in that particular diner when there had been other places to eat in that town.
Hotch only knows that at one point in their conversation, Gideon had nodded at something behind Frank. When Hotch had followed Frank's line of sight, he had seen a handful of people.
Frank, who had twisted around in his seat to look at whatever Gideon had motioned towards, stared at it for a long, long time. He had only turned around to face Gideon when everyone in town's cell phones rang out with text notifications. They had all been texted pictures of the town's kidnapped children.
When Morgan and Gideon had escorted Frank out of the diner, the sheriff's husband and a blonde woman had trailed behind them. Frank had trusted Morgan and Gideon to lead him as he been half-twisted around, as if to keep an eye on the sheriff's husband... or the blonde.
"Turn around," Morgan had snapped, giving Frank's arm a hard shove. "Face what you've done."
Frank ignored Morgan until it was time to negotiate with the local authorities: the children's locations in exchange for going directly to the nearest jail and having a twenty-four hour guard. When the bemused and bloodied sheriff had agreed to his terms, Frank had tilted his head to the side, his eyes sliding towards where the mysterious blonde had been standing. When Hotch had glanced in the same direction, the blonde woman had been gone.
A few days later, Hotch had asked Morgan what had happened in that diner.
"You've got my report," Morgan said shortly. He was suddenly very tense.
"And I've read it. Is there anything that's not in your report?" Hotch had persisted. "Some little detail."
"In my report, I said that Gideon didn't seem to notice the blonde on our way in. And I didn't notice her until Gideon nodded at her but when I did notice her, she was staring daggers at Frank's back. And that's all true." Morgan hesitated then said, "What I didn't write was this: When Frank turned around... Hotch, I would've sworn that he was genuinely frightened. I know that's impossible. I know that he doesn't feel emotions like that. But Hotch... he was scared of her."
Remembering the terms of Frank's surrender, Hotch pressed his lips together and nodded.
The tension in Morgan's shoulders eased.
"And another thing, Hotch?" Morgan added, tilting his head to the side. "When he asked to go to jail, he looked towards that blonde woman. And everyone except
Gideon followed his lead. Hotch, I think that he already knew who and what Frank was avoiding."
Hotch's breath escaped him in a hiss. "I think so too."
"I've asked Garcia to do what she can about identifying the woman," Morgan admitted.
"Keep me posted."
A few weeks later, after the B.A.U. had winged its way back to Quantico from an unrelated case, Morgan had tapped on Hotch's door and announced. "Garcia's found a potential match for Gideon's blonde."
Hotch had abandoned what he was doing and followed Morgan down to their technical analyst's office.
"It's only a sixty-seven percent match," Garcia said, beginning to fret as soon as she saw them. "Because the footage from that parking lot camera was really
"Who was the match to?" Hotch asked impatiently.
"Buffy Summers, age 25," Garcia said proudly. Hotch's breath had caught in his throat. He had immediately recognized the name. "She's currently attending the National University of Singapore for a graduate degree in psychology as well as undergraduate degrees in Chinese language and Asian literature, which is pretty -- Hey, Hotch, are you okay?"
"Fine," he said tightly. "What was Summers doing in the states, then?" Why did she interfere in our case?
"Search me," Garcia said cheerfully. "Do you want me to do some more digging?"
Hotch had hesitated, tempted by her offer. In the end, though, he had regretfully determined that it would be an abuse of both his power and his resources. Her involvement with the case had been tangential at best.
But it had haunted him. That exhausted child had grown up into the sort of person that terrified the likes of Frank.
It grieved Hotch. Somehow, somewhere, he had failed to either stop Buffy Summers when she had been a young, relatively inexperienced offender or to prevent her from becoming a monster that even other monsters feared.
About fourteen months after the Frank case, Gideon had retired. (Reid had been crushed by what he had viewed as Gideon's abandonment of him and the team. Hotch, who had understood Gideon's motivations even if his timing had been awful, had left it to the others to comfort Reid. Mostly, Hotch had worked hard to cover both positions and hidden out in either his office or Garcia's lair.)
And now, Buffy Summers was not only back but involved in a case with a horrifyingly high mortality rate. This is Hotch's second, and perhaps only, chance to get to the bottom of things.
This time, he is going to stop Buffy Summers.
In the present, Hotch reviews Elle's case files, the previous cases involving Buffy Summers, and his personal notes on her. Hotch tries to see something that he had missed before. He fails.
Instead, he calls Garcia, arranges the conference time, and the calls to arrange for the jet. When he has a rough take off time lined up, Hotch abandons his desk and goes to get a fresh cup of coffee. Hopefully, the team's fresher eyes will see new things when they look at Buffy Summers.Maybe I'll finally know what she was laughing about in L.A.,
he thinks as he walks down the hall to the conference room, cup of coffee in hand.
When Garcia briefs the others about the (supposedly) interconnecting cases in Cleveland, everyone looks skeptical about the possibility of a connection. Hotch understands. He would be skeptical himself. But, despite Elle's missteps, he trusts her eye. If Elle says that there is a connection, there probably is.
"Bank robberies?" asks Rossi, surprised. "You talked about those but I don't see how they, or the more mundane murders of three professors and a gun store clerk, tie into a hundred and fifty or so years of ritualistic abductions and murders."
"Elle swears that there's some connection between all the cases," Garcia insists.
At Elle's name, the tension in the room eases. The others look excited at the promise of a reunion with her. (Or in Rossi and Prentiss' cases mildly interested at the prospect of meeting a friend of a friend of theirs.) Rather than raining on their (undeserved) parade for Elle, Hotch leans over and mutters to Rossi, "Buffy Summers. Remember her?"
"How could I forget?" Rossi murmurs under the cover of Reid's detailed questions to Garcia regarding Elle's original search parameters. "I assume she's involved in this mess. What do we tell the others?"
"Nothing, until they've had a chance to form their own opinions off of the new information."
The team skims the files and bounces ideas off of each other until Morgan says, "Hold up. Buffy Summers is a name that this office has run across before."
"Buffy Summers..." Reid mutters. "The name's familiar. Wasn't she connected to the murder of the Jamaican national, Kendra Young?"
"Yes, and tangentially," replied Garcia. "Although for awhile, she was apparently the main suspect in Kendra Young's murder. I don't know much more than that. It was before my time."
"Mine too but at the time I was on loan to the B.A.U. from the academy," Reid interjected. "Gideon -- Gideon was trying to lure me into joining the team when I graduated. Not, not that we were really much of a team back then. I interviewed her best friend, Willow Rosenberg, who swore up and down that Summers hadn't killed Kendra Young, despite the police having found her crouched over the dead girl's body and holding the murder weapon. She was literally caught red-handed."
"Who was this Kendra Young?" asked Prentiss. "Someone important, I assume."
"Important to someone but not in herself," Morgan replied. "I remember there was a lot of heat from the higher ups to find out what happened to her. As far as I know, they lost interest in the case when the locals concluded that Summers wasn't the murderer."
"She was also connected to an even earlier serial killer case centered around a high school in L.A. and the Frank investigation," Garcia said, driving the conversation back on track. "Everywhere Buffy Summers turns up, there's a body count; usually a huge one."
"Buffy Summers was fifteen in L.A.," Dave says. "She's got to be closer to thirty now but I remember her as a pretty, blonde cheerleader with the Joker's laugh. Interrogating her made my hair stand on end."
"That sounds..." Reid begins and then trails off, as if searching his enormous brain for the correct description. He settles on, "remarkably unsettling."
Rossi replies. "I thought that we had her for sure but she kept her mouth shut and lawyered up. I still don't know where we went wrong with her."
"Well, now we've got another crack at her," Hotch said grimly. "Let's get it right this time. Wheels up in three hours."