Potential Problem - V
A Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel / CSI crossover. This story is the fourth in a series, the earlier parts are Should Have Gone To Vegas..., Manhunters, and Slayer, Las Vegas. They should ideally be read in that order, since the events of previous stories are mentioned. This story is set immediately after the Angel season 4 story "Orpheus", and contains spoilers for BtVS up to "Lies My Parents Told Me" and Angel up to "Orpheus". I've no idea where it fits in CSI continuity, if there is such a thing.
All characters are the intellectual property of their respective creators, film companies, etc.; this story may not be sold or distributed on a profit-making basis.
I'm British, so's my spelling. Live with it.
By Marcus L. Rowland
It was early evening when, back at headquarters, Nick said "I've got her. Prints match Patricia Craig, aged eighteen, been on the run for the last four years. Homicide, attempted murder, assaults, theft, grand theft auto, arson. She's not quite on the ten most wanted list, but it isn't for want of trying."
"Any pictures?" asked Catherine.
"Nothing recent, apart from some blurry security camera pictures. I'd say it's the same girl, but I couldn't prove it. I think the prints are proof enough."
"Proof that she was in the bar, but we've nothing for Dugan's murder. We didn't find any good prints at the car lot. It could possibly be a coincidence."
"Okay, let's just call it a working assumption for now."
"I think she matches the profile you suggested," Grissom said, nodding towards Faith. "Born in New York, ran away from home four years ago, when she was fourteen. Her home was burned down a year later and both her parents were killed. Her fingerprints were found on a can of kerosene used to start the fire. After that she was on the run, and is known to have committed assaults and robberies up and down the East coast. Prints found on a stolen car in San Francisco last year, escaped from an FBI sting operation against car thieves at the end of the year. She shot her way out, wounding two agents. After that nothing, I'd assume she kept a low profile until the Bringers found her."
"Were her parents abusive?" asked Willow.
"I'm still waiting on more detailed reports," said Grissom, "reading between the lines I'd say no, they seem to have made a good impression on the police when she first disappeared."
"I'd guess a minimum of a year's training for her to be ready with moves like that, more likely two," said Faith, "probably a Watcher started training her while she was still living with her parents, then they decided she'd do better if she was with the Watcher full-time. They must have made it seem like joining them was an adventure, or found some way to pry her away from her parents. Talked her into thinking that they were against her."
"Now that you've got me thinking about it there are other possibilities," contributed Willow, "Worse things. The Watchers... some of them, the hard liners, thought that the end justified the means. Any means. They had drugs and magic. They could have brainwashed her, had her believing that she was an orphan, or that her parents had abused her."
"That's a hell of a thought," said Faith, ashen faced. "You mean that they could have done something like that to me?"
"Not for long, not once you became a Slayer. Buffy kinda shakes off spells that affect her mind, she was the first to spot Jonathan... never mind, it's a long story. I'm betting you do too. You could be fooled for a day or two, but not in the long run. In fact, thinking about it, I don't think that they would work quite that way, in case their Potential became a Slayer and it all fell apart. But what they might have done is influenced some decisions, without tampering with your memory. Say you had an argument with your mother, and you might have said something that helped you get back together or forced you further apart, they could have influenced that. Or influenced your mother, of course."
"No way I'll ever know now, I guess, last I heard my mother was dead and everyone who trained me, but it's a hell of a thought," Faith repeated. "Suddenly I'm even more glad that they're out of it."
"If they had that much power, why isn't Craig a loyal Potential?" asked Catherine.
"Something must have split her from her Watcher," said Faith. "If I had to guess... about two years after I started training, before I became a Slayer, my Watcher took me to the cemetary and made me help him kill a vampire. Think they do it as soon as they think a Potential is ready. I nearly freaked out, maybe this girl took it worse. Made her understand that she'd left her parents to buy into a good chance of an early ugly death. Maybe she was bit, or her Watcher was killed."
"That's plausible," said Grissom. "Why kill her parents?"
"Damned if I know. You'll need a shrink for that one. And if Willow is right, you might need to know how the Watchers messed with her head."
"How the hell did they get away with it?" asked Nick. "Why didn't anyone catch on?"
"People don't want to know," said Willow. "They really don't. They don't want to believe that Slayers are needed, they try to forget that the dark is there. And the Watchers had magic and enormous influence to help them stay out of sight. That's one of the reasons why Sunnydale hardly ever made the news. It's falling apart now, people are starting to notice that there's something wrong about the place, a lot worse than gangs on PCP."
"This is fascinating," said Grissom, "but we need to find her before someone else is hurt or killed. Any thoughts? Catherine?"
"We've been working on the assumption that she's hiding somewhere relatively close to the crime scenes and the Strip. It could be any of the hotels, or someone's home, or maybe she's just sleeping rough. What I don't understand is why she's staying in Las Vegas. She has to know that the Bringers are on her trail, why isn't she running? She knows how to steal cars."
"I think they chased her here," said Faith. "Or maybe she's just tired of running. The police have been after her for years, add in the Bringers and she has to be getting worn down. Maybe she wants to get rid of them before she moves on."
"She's more likely to get herself killed," said Nick.
"Do we have anything to go on?" asked Grissom. "Something that might resemble useful evidence?"
"Squat," said Nick. "We think we know who she is, and Brass has every patrolman and car in Vegas looking for her and the Bringers, but as far as actually locating her goes... squat."
"How about you, Willow?"
"I don't know... I could try to reach her telepathically. Now we know more about her it might work, if I was pretty close."
"Let's save that until we know a little more about her whereabouts. Faith, any suggestions?"
"Not unless you've got someone I can pound on. Willow's the girl for deep thought, I'm more action babe."
"I'll tell you one thing," said Willow thoughtfully, leafing through some of the case reports, "either the barman was lying this morning, or there's something he hasn't told us."
"What makes you say that?" asked Grissom.
"I should have realised when I talked to him. He said that the Bringers ordered mineral water. I've never heard them talk, not sure they can speak, or at any rate speak English, so how did they ask?"
* * * * *
"I can't believe this was in an evidence bag and we didn't spot it," said Nick.
"Why should we?" asked Catherine reasonably. "It's a drinks order, it's in the trash in a bar."
"Most people don't need to write down an order for five bottles of mineral water."
"Okay, so we blew it. Happy now?"
"You have something?" asked Grissom, looking at the pile of garbage that the team had been sifting in one of the labs.
"It was actually bagged in the bar this afternoon," said Catherine, "nobody got around to looking at it properly. The Bringers' drinks order."
"Half a sheet of low quality writing paper... and there's a phone number at the bottom. Checked it on the computer yet?"
"Hamrax Hotels. It's the number for their centralised reservations system, not an individual hotel, but there are only four in Las Vegas."
"Get cars to all of them, right away."
* * * * *
"So what have we got?" asked Grissom about ten minutes later.
"The Hamrax Hotel west of the strip," said Brass over the radio, "another massacre. Four more of those demons dead, plus the bodies of two maids."
"Any sign of the girl?"
"Yeah. She's still here, she's got hostages. Get the Sunnydale people over here, we're probably going to need them."
To Be Continued