Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland

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New story - Unfinished Business

Here's a new story in my BtVS / CSI crossover series. It's a sequel to some of the other stories, and it helps if you've read them first, but I think all the information that's needed is in this one.

This is the fifth in a series of short BtVS / Angel / CSI crossover stories. The setting is post season 7 for Buffy, post season 4 for Angel, and indeterminate for CSI, and will probably become AU as events post season 7 BtVS are mentioned in Angel. Spoilers for BtVS seasons 1-7 and Angel 1-5 to date. I'm publishing them as separate stories since the rating will probably vary widely from story to story.

These stories follow four longer pieces set within BtVS season 5-7 continuity, and mention their events. In Should Have Gone To Vegas... CSI received their wakeup call about the supernatural courtesy of Angel, learning more in Manhunters and Slayer, Las Vegas. Finally, Potential Problem was set at the end of BtVS season 7 and introduced an important character. Events of these stories are mentioned and they help to explain why the Slayers are now based in Las Vegas. This story ties up loose ends from Slayer, Las Vegas and Potential Problem.

All characters are the intellectual property of their respective creators, film companies, etc. and there is no intention to infringe copyright; this story may not be sold or distributed on a profit-making basis.

I'm British, so's my spelling. Live with it.

Slayers / CSI


Unfinished Business

By Marcus L. Rowland

Catherine Willows was examining some pollen samples when Gil Grissom looked up from his own work and said "How the hell did we end up like this?"

"Like what?"

"Do you know what I'm doing here?"

"Nope. Enlighten me."

"I'm analysing a specimen of demon slime, trying to find a match for it with the samples Willow dropped off earlier today."


"And this specimen comes from the body that was found last night. Third in two weeks. What are we going to do about it if I get a match?"

"Pass the info back to whoever's on duty at the school, I guess, then the Watchers and Slayers will try to find it."

"And what happens then?"

"They slay it, I guess."

"And what's missing from that little sequence?"

"Mmm... not sure. What?"

"Due process. Whatever happened to examining the evidence, evaluating it, submitting reports, trials? When did we decide that we weren't going to bother with that, and what gave us the right? When did we become adjuncts to execution without trial? And although it isn't officially part of our job, what happens to closure for the families and friends of the victims?"

"It's a good question," Catherine said slowly, "not sure I have a good answer."

"We're supposed to work within the legal system, Catherine, not in this... grey area we seem to have drifted into. I know all the reasons why they don't want to publicise the existence of demons, why the state is going along with it, but I sometimes worry that we've thrown out the baby with the bathwater, that what we're doing is as morally objectionable as the death squads in South America."

"I don't think that's true," said Catherine, "not while we're questioning things. Not like that CSI in Miami..."

"Horatio Caine?"

"That's right. You heard he applied to join the Watchers, become a full-time demon hunter? Get himself assigned to a Slayer?"

"You're kidding."

"That one didn't get to you? You want to talk to Willow more."

"First I'd heard of it... although come to think of it, Giles did ask me about his competence as a criminalist. He gave me the impression they were worried about a case."

"Then you haven't heard the best part... they turned him down."


"They got the idea that he was a little too judgemental. Apparently Willow sat in on the interview, said he'd have been burning witches if he'd been around in Salem. Buffy was there too, she said he'd be 'worse than Travers', whatever that means."

"Nothing good, I suspect. He's a gifted criminalist," said Gil, "one of the best, but I think I know what you mean. The times we've met I found myself wondering if he ever cracked a smile or told a joke."

"Same here. A Puritan. Anyway, they managed to persuade him that he could do the most good by staying where he was and continuing to help them with cases in and around Miami."

"And he bought that?"

"Apparently he lapped it up."

"Amazing the blind spots we all have. Do I have one?"

"You think that bugs are cute."

"That's a blind spot?"

"Ask Xander to tell you about his substitute science teacher."

"He did. Fascinating story."

"You don't feel just the slightest bit... oh... worried about a giant bug that mates with virgin teenage boys and eats their heads?"

"I'm no virgin teenager and if one of these creatures comes to Vegas we'll deal with it. Okay, I can eliminate the Slufgor demon because this stuff isn't fluorescent, it isn't acidic enough to be H'tulka, no chloroplasts so it isn't a C'ccicinccilit plant hybrid, doesn't smell like a F'pok and it's the wrong colour to be Jipotkit or Polgara. Six down, eleven to go. You ever wonder who makes those names up?"

"According to Willow some are in demon languages, some ancient human languages, there's a committee for the rest."

"Figures. Wait a minute..." He dipped a platinum wire in nitric acid, briefly held it in a Bunsen burner flame to burn off any chemical residues, dipped it in the slime sample, then held it in the flame again. The flame turned green above the wire. Grissom cleaned the wire and tried each of the specimens; only two of them gave the same result.

"High copper content," said Catherine, who was watching him while waiting for a mechanical shaker to complete its cycle.

"Looks like it. Narrows it down to Chk'k'k'ftg or Vod." He clicked his tongue for each of the k' sounds in Chk'k'k'ftg.

"I'd go for Vod."


"Because I can pronounce it."

"According to the key Willow gave me the Chk'k'k'ftg are mostly aquatic, she calls them lobster demons. The Vod are like - and I quote - 'the spider creature from Predator'. The body was found in the desert so you're probably right."

"Doesn't necessarily follow."

"I know, but I'm rapidly running out of tests."

"Any unusual nutritional needs for either of them, things that might show up in their body secretions? Willow told me about a demon that liked salt."

"Let's see... nothing unusual for the Chk'k'k'ftg but the Vod like traces of uranium salts. Might mean the slime is radioactive." He got out a Geiger counter and stopwatch, testing the air then similarly-sized samples of the slime from the victim and Willow's specimens. "Let's see... background count is forty, about average for Vegas. Chk'k'k'ftg gives us forty-one, Vod seventy-eight, and the sample from the body is... hmmm... thirty-eight, close to background. Better tell Willow it's probably Chk'k'k'ftg, I suppose." He picked up the 'phone and made the call. "Have to run more tests to be absolutely sure, but it gives them a starting point."

"Chk'k'k'ftg slime turns bright yellow if exposed to ammonia vapour," said a voice from the doorway. They looked around, startled, and saw a stranger, an attractive woman in her late twenties wearing a visitor's badge, who spoke with a strong Texan accent. Captain Brass was standing next to her.


"Burkle, Winifred Burkle. Call me Fred." Grissom took another small blob of slime and held it over an open bottle of ammonia; as Fred had predicted it turned yellow, as did the sample Willow had provided. The Vod slime stayed clear.

"Miss Burkle works with Angel," said Brass, "she thinks we've mislaid some vampires. And unfortunately it looks like she's right."

* * * * *

"As you probably know," said Fred, once they'd moved to Grissom's office, "Angel Investigations now owns Wolfram and Hart's Los Angeles branch, and we're trying to piece together the details of their operations prior to our takeover, make sure that the worst excesses are dealt with."

"I've heard enough about Wolfram and Hart to know that you have a huge job on your hands," said Grissom, pouring coffee.

"Tell me about it... well, you can't because it's our problem but you know what I mean. Anyway, it looks like you lost one of their vampire clients a couple of years ago."

"We lost..?" began Catherine, then remembered. "Do you mean when the vampires tried to sacrifice Buffy Summers?"

"That's right. As I understand it you arrested three vampires," she checked a slim file she was carrying "Harold Croft, William Fong, and Damon Roberts, is that correct?"

"That's right," said Grissom. "They were collected by men claiming to be from the Centre for Disease Control. Except that they had forged prisoner transfer papers and CDC had never heard of them. It started as a local investigation, got taken over by the FBI once it was established that they'd impersonated federal officers. As far as I know nobody ever got to the bottom of it."

"According to the files Damon Roberts was a Wolfram and Hart client, a fairly wealthy one who was turned while vacationing in Las Vegas. The attorney he used here was one of their affiliates, and they had him make a full report on Roberts' disappearance. They didn't make much of an effort to find him, since they had full access to his bank accounts and businesses which as far as I can tell were effectively gutted, but they reached some interesting conclusions, especially in the light of previous and later events."


"Wolfram and Hart believed that they'd been taken to a secret government facility similar to the Initiative." They looked at her blankly, eventually Catherine said "I think I've heard the name..."

"It was a covert government research facility in Sunnydale. They were capturing demons for scientific study, unfortunately they just grabbed everything that looked the least bit odd, regardless of its nature. Dozens of innocuous and even friendly creatures were taken and killed. I believe you've met one of their former agents."

"Riley Finn," said Grissom.

"Exactly," said Fred, "and that's why we're worried. They came close to releasing a whole new race of unstoppable demon cyborgs before Buffy intervened. We don't think that Finn is stupid enough to get involved in something like that again, but it's possible that we're wrong. And since these days Finn and his new group are working hand in glove with the Slayers and Watchers, we can't really approach them about this either."

"But surely that was two years ago," said Grissom, "why are you concerned now?"

"Because there have been five similar incidents since then," said Brass, "the last two weeks ago in Reno." He gave Grissom a list of case numbers. "Demons or vampires are caught and held by the police, before the questioning gets very far someone shows up with forged orders transferring them to a Federal secure facility that never heard of them. They've posed as the CDC twice, INS twice, and once each as the CIA and DEA, maybe others we never heard about. There's also been an attempt which failed in Montana, the local sheriff got suspicious and called the FBI. Unfortunately the perps got wise somehow and escaped. The vampire in question escaped a week or so later, killing a deputy, and dropped out of sight."

"Here's an oddity," said Grissom, calling up the files on his computer. "The Montana attempt failed because the sheriff noticed something about the voice of one of the impostors. They were posing as military police, but he thought one of them had a British accent."

"That doesn't sound right," said Fred. "Not for the Initiative anyway. That was a home-grown operation."

"I can think of three main possibilities," said Grissom. "The first is that you're right and something like the Initiative is taking demons from custody. Maybe they've recruited some British help. The problem I have with that is that for every demon in custody there must be dozens at large."

"More like hundreds," said Fred. "It's a good point. Why would they go after the ones that are going to make waves and bring down a Federal investigation, when they could just work the way they did in Sunnydale and snatch them from the streets?"

"Exactly. The second possibility is that it's demons rescuing their friends."

"Vampires don't usually have friends, and as far as I've been able to determine none of the missing prisoners are back on the streets."

"I thought that might be the case. The third possibility is that it's a death squad."

"Killing them before they get to trial?" asked Catherine. "It's certainly possible. But why not let them go to trial?"

"Someone doesn't want their existence publicised?" suggested Brass.

"Mmm...." said Grissom. "Sounds familiar, doesn't it."

"I don't understand," said Fred.

"The Watchers, Miss Burkle. It sounds a lot like the way they used to work. And as I understand it they were predominantly a British organisation."

"Which makes the people most likely to know about this our prime suspects," said Catherine. "It's awkward."

"I don't really know a lot about the Watchers," said Fred, "but I know a man that does. I'd better give him a call."

"Use the conference phone," said Grissom, "we'll probably need to hear what he says."

* * * * *

"You're right," said Wesley Wyndham-Price, "it does sound a lot like the old Watchers organisation. They had a wetworks squad. They lost part of it in LA about four years ago, I haven't heard anything of the rest since the Council was destroyed."

"Let me get this right," said Brass, "you were a Watcher yourself?"

"That's right. They gave me a job that I couldn't handle and fired me when I screwed up." The bitterness in his voice was obvious.

"What was the job?" asked Catherine.

"Watcher to Buffy and Faith."

"Both of them?" asked Brass, raising his eyebrows.

"The Council, who had their heads firmly up their arses, thought that Rupert Giles wasn't doing a good job. So they fired him and assigned me to take his place. I was pig-ignorant, straight out of training and unfit to do the job. Worse, I didn't know how incompetent I was. They both ignored more or less everything I told them to do. My triumphs included nearly getting Buffy killed on several occasions and screwing up so badly with Faith that she turned to evil."

"What was the 'wetworks squad' used for?" asked Brass.

"They were supposed to be used against creatures too powerful for the Slayer to handle on her own. In practice they were mostly used to keep the Slayer under control. I don't know of one instance of them actually being useful to the Slayer. The team they lost in LA was sent after Faith, they'd previously tried to capture her in Sunnydale and came close to killing Buffy. In the event Faith, Buffy, Angel and I worked together to capture them and hand them over to the authorities, then Faith turned herself in."

"How would you describe them?"

"Thugs. Completely ruthless, mostly recruited from the SAS."

Brass whistled tunelessly and said "Special forces. Great."

"Nothing but the best for the Watchers Council. They're killers. They came after Faith with guns, drugs, ultimately a helicopter and machine guns."

"What happened to them? Where are they being held?"

"Just a second..." In the background was the noise of someone typing and murmured voices. A couple of minutes passed, then he returned. "According to our records all of them made bail a few days after Faith gave herself up, then absconded before they could be tried."

"They made bail after flying a helicopter gunship attack in Los Angeles?" Grissom asked incredulously.

"Well, they did have a leading law firm representing them. Us, apparently."

"Can you follow their trail, see what happened to them?"

"I can certainly try. I'll e-mail everything I have on them to Fred right away. One thing... you'd better talk to Giles about this."

"Why Giles? Couldn't he be involved?"

"I don't think so. Not him, not Buffy, Faith or any of their friends. They nearly killed Buffy and Faith. Giles wouldn't lift a finger for them."

"I'm not entirely convinced," said Brass. "Giles worked for the Watchers, he must have known that they had this squad. Could he be ruthless enough to activate it again when he took over?"

"I really... I don't think so, but I suppose it's possible. Good lord."

"Always assuming that it is them and not Finn and his friends," said Grissom.

"I must admit that I'd prefer it to be Finn," said Wesley, "Giles seems to be doing a fine job of rebuilding the Watchers as a genuinely useful aid to the Slayers, if there are still vestiges of the old organisation in action then something's gone horribly wrong. But the methods used do sound much more like the old Watchers Council."

"Whoever it is," said Catherine, "we need a way to smoke them out into the open."

"Something like a high-profile arrest?" suggested Grissom.


"Can't be Angel," mused Wesley, "they'd never fall for that. Spike, perhaps..."

"Spike?" asked Catherine, "Wasn't he a vampire in Sunnydale? The one with a chip in his head, that Dawn liked?"

"Yes and no. It's a long story, but he regained his soul and lost the chip, was killed and came back as a ghost, finally became corporeal again a few months ago."

"There was a time," said Catherine, "when a story like that would have phased me a little."

"The problem is that he's reasonably well known. He was helping Buffy in Sunnydale for a couple of years before he was killed, word is bound to have got out that he's been helping Angel. The Initiative and the old Watchers both knew that he was helping Buffy, so they're not likely to fall for a trap with him as bait."

"Does it have to be a vampire?" asked Brass.

"Any demon might lure them into the open," said Wesley. "Why?"

"Not a demon, exactly, but you gave me an idea. You said that they also went after Slayers that went bad."

"That's right."

"Well, we're going to be trying a Slayer for murder. If they're still in that line of work my guess is they'll make a try for her. She'll be arriving in Vegas next week. It wouldn't be hard to drum up some media interest, make sure that they know that she's coming."

"Who is she?"

"Her name is Patricia Craig," said Brass, "she was a Potential Slayer, by the time she got here she was wanted for theft, grand theft auto and wounding a Federal officer, before that we're reasonably sure that she killed her parents. In Vegas she killed a police officer and took hostages. Willow and Faith caught her a week or so before Sunnydale was destroyed. Unfortunately we weren't really ready for a prisoner with Slayer strength, she escaped when Willow activated the Potentials."

"And now you've caught her again?"

"Craig's proof that you don't have to be particularly bright to be a Slayer. She tried to rob a bar in Quantico, didn't realise that most of the customers were marines and special forces from the base there. Took fourteen of them to stop her but they did it. She ended up with concussion, that slowed her enough for the police there to lock her up and get identification and advice on keeping her under control. There was a long argument about jurisdiction, we ended up the winners, if you can call it that. Now we've got first shot at her, if we can't get her for murder she'll be standing trial for her Federal offences. After that there's always her parents..."

"Does she have an attorney?" asked Fred.

"She's refusing to talk to anyone. Were you planning to offer your services?"

"I'm not an attorney, I'm a scientist, but you said that Wolfram and Hart have contacts here. Not sure that I'd trust them though. Does Giles know she's coming back?"

"I'd imagine so. Willow advised us on keeping her under control."

"Then Willow and at least one Slayer will probably be keeping an eye on her. Willow knows me, and I've met Buffy, Faith, and Kennedy. I'd better not get too close."

"You think that Willow might be working with our mystery men?"

"No, but if this does turn out to be something to do with Giles we don't want to tip him off."

"You may have a point. Okay, then this is what we'll do..."

* * * * *

"Let's hope this isn't a waste of time," said Brass, sitting in the back of the van he was using as a mobile command centre and switching from one camera view to another. Grissom sat beside him, watching the screens and wondering if his skills would be needed. Outside he could hear the roar of jets as aircraft took off and landed at the airport.

"You'd be taking most of these precautions for any prisoner as dangerous as Craig. Okay, so we're being extra paranoid, but it isn't going to hurt to be careful."

The radio crackled, and a voice said "Mobile four-seven to mobile six-three, we have Rosenberg, Kennedy and Harris in Rosenberg's car, looks like they're heading for the airport. Harris is driving."

"Mobile six-three acknowledging. Keep well back and report any change of destination. Brass out."

"They're cutting it fine," said Grissom, "takes fifteen minutes to get here from the school."

"They've got nearly thirty, that'll give them time to park."

"What do you think Willow's up to?"

"My guess, she just wants to make sure that Craig doesn't escape. It'll be embarrassing if she's here to free her."

"Or kill her."

"Do you think that's possible?" asked Brass.

"You weren't in the room when the First Evil showed up and accused her of murdering the man that shot her lover. I was. I saw her reaction, she's capable of it."

"And there's no way that you'll ever prove it. Even if you could, I know enough of that story to be sure that no jury would ever convict."

"I know. I'm not doubting that she's more than paid for what she did, I'm just saying that the capacity for murder might be there. I doubt that's what she had in mind, she was willing to let us have Craig when she was a Potential, but it can't be ruled out completely."

There was a long pause, then the radio said "Four-seven, arriving at airport."

"They've made good time," said Grissom. "How long until the plane arrives?"

"About ten minutes."

"Do we have someone watching for them in the terminal?"

"Only the usual security. I've got someone in the auxiliary control room there, he's keeping tabs on her through the closed circuit cameras." He gestured towards one of the screens, which showed Willow, Xander and Kennedy crossing the terminal floor towards the observation deck.

"Why the auxiliary control room?"

"There's a duty Slayer in the main one."

"Oh, of course. Who is it today?"

"One of the new ones, not sure of her name."

"We need to keep better tabs on them," said Grissom. "If Craig could go bad as a Potential, who's to say that there won't be another like her."

"You feeling unusually paranoid today?"

"I was remembering a conversation I had with Catherine just before you introduced miss Burkle. If we're going to work with the Slayers there needs to be some accountability, some equivalent of due process. It's starting to worry me a little, I'm afraid that I might be losing my objectivity. And I'm certain that there are things they haven't told us about."

"Such as?"

"Take Angel. We know part of the story, but nobody's ever told us why he and Buffy had to be apart, except that it's something to do with magic. Faith has knife scars I've never heard explained. Dawn.."

"Leave Dawn out of this," Brass interrupted.


"Because I know some of the answers there, there's nothing that we need to worry about but talking about it to the wrong person could get her killed."

"Okay," Grissom said slowly, "I was actually about to say that she's the closest-lipped kid of that age I've ever met. She rarely tells you more than you need to know, and I'm willing to bet than nobody she goes to school with has a clue what she does with her spare time."

"Sorry. Guess I over-reacted. Can we change the subject?"

"What happened?"


"What happened to make you so protective of a girl you barely know?"

"I nearly got her killed. Can we leave it?"


"Plane's landing."

"Do you think that they'd make a try for her here?"

"Craig was under heavy guard in Quantico, nobody in their right minds would try anything there. My guess is that if anything goes down it'll be in Vegas, probably on the freeway."

"Why not another scam?"

"They've already pulled one here, they're bound to guess we've tightened our security since then."

"Aircraft taxiing on apron, LVPD units stand by," said the radio. On one of the screens a private jet was taxiing towards a waiting police car and truck. Another showed Willow, Xander and Kennedy on the observation deck, looking out towards the runway; Willow had binoculars, the others didn't.

"Have the guards been warned?" asked Grissom.

"They're from the SWAT team, they're well-armed and the truck is armored."

On the apron a flight of steps was being wheeled to the jet. The door was opened, and a plain-clothes detective looked around then went back inside. He came out a minute later with a woman wearing orange coveralls, thick manacles, and heavy steel leg irons. Two other detectives were covering her with heavy batons.

"Okay," said Grissom. A few seconds later things went to hell.

The first sign of trouble was a series of explosions, and white gas began to drift across the apron. The detectives in the jet hustled the woman towards the waiting truck, whose drivers were pulling on respirators, their eyes streaming from the tear gas. A helicopter appeared from behind one of the buildings, hovering about twenty feet up as black-clad men rappelled down towards the apron.

"Shit!" said Brass, turning to the radio. "All units, all units, case red, repeat case red. Hostiles at the airport, repeat hostiles at the airport."

"What is this?" asked Grissom, "A rescue mission?"

"Looks like that, which means that Willow..."

"She's gone." Willow and Kennedy had vanished from the observation deck, leaving Xander at the window, watching the mayhem across the airport.

On the apron the black-clad men were firing shotguns at the police, and seemed to be trying to get to the prisoner. Grissom couldn't see much blood, and guessed that they were firing baton rounds.

Above the apron the helicopter lurched and rocked, then began to lose altitude. A black-clad figure fell from an open door.

"What the hell's happening?" asked Brass. The helicopter touched down, and a body hurtled out through the windscreen, landing on the concrete twenty feet away. The rotor blades began to slow.

"My guess," Grissom said, "there's a witch and a Slayer in there making sure that the helicopter isn't going anywhere."

"You could be right." Two of the men in black were down, the others reached the prisoner and were trying to hustle her towards the helicopter. Suddenly her hands were free of the cuffs and they were engulfed in lightning. After ten seconds or so she was the only one standing.

* * * * *

"So where's the real Patricia?" asked Willow, "and who are you anyway? And how did you do that?"

"Damned if I know," said the woman who had impersonated her, tidying her blonde-streaked hair. "My name's Gwen, and I've got a knack for electricity. Gunn got me this decoy gig, it sounded like it could be risky and fun, and Wolfram and Hart are paying well. You're the witch, right?"

"Right. Pleased to meet you."

"Craig'll be arriving in a couple of days," said Brass. "This was a setup to lure those guys out into the open, of course."

"So what brought you here?" asked Grissom.

Willow blushed. "Well, pretty much the same thing as you, I guess. We've been hearing about these guys for a while, we think they're leftovers from the old Watchers Council, trying to start it up again. Whoever they are, there's money behind them, we think at least twenty million dollars went missing after the Watchers Council was blown up. I've been trying to track it for a while, one of the things I found was a big money transfer to a Nevada bank a few weeks ago. We guessed that they were setting up for an operation here, and with Craig about to arrive it seemed a possibility."

"Do you know any of them?"

"No. Faith might, she's on her way here with Giles. Didn't think it'd be a good idea for them to see either of them before they made their move, they know who she is and it would have given the game away."

"We already know five," said Brass. "Weatherby, Hoskins, Collins, Peters and Smith, jumped bail in Los Angeles after trying to kill Faith. The others are new to us, but I'm sure that between Giles and Price we'll identify more. British military records may also be helpful."

"Don't forget the guy with the tear-gas launcher in the parking lot," said Willow, "he'll probably be out for a while, Kennedy hit him pretty hard, but it'd be silly to let him get away."

"We've got him. So what did they want to do with Craig? Kill her?"

"Our guess was that they wanted a Slayer of their own, one they could control. I've been inside Patricia's mind, know how she thinks a little, if they approached her the right way, treated her as the real Slayer and pretended that the rest are inferior copies I guess they'd get her to go along with it."

"So you decided to come here and catch them without warning us?"

"Well, we kinda thought there might be a leak somewhere," Willow said uncomfortably. "I guess we should have told you, at least, but it kinda didn't happen. Maybe you should have talked to us too. When I realised that it wasn't Patricia on the plane it was kinda late."

"When did you know?" Grissom asked, curious.

"The second I saw her. Gwen looks a little like her, and the makeup they used was pretty good, but I didn't get the same vibes, or any hint of a Slayer."

"We're going to have to co-operate more if we're going to continue to work together," said Brass. "And we'd better start by putting our heads together on this, there's a lot of interest in these guys, Federal as well as local."

"Yeah, I guess so. International too, we think they've been operating in Europe. Maybe based there."

"Wonderful," said Brass. "Okay, let's get to work..."


"...and reports are still coming in of the arrest of members of an unidentified paramilitary organisation in Nevada, New York, and Florida. The arrests are believed to be related to others in Britain and Europe..."

Charles Gunn switched off the radio as he parked his car. It took some time to get through security and into the interview room, but he was learning to be patient. Finally he was allowed to see his client.

"Miss Craig? You don't know me, but I'm an attorney with Wolfram and Hart. I'm normally based in Los Angeles but I'm accredited in Nevada."

She sat silently, wary, on the far side of a pane of heavy armored glass.

"Miss Craig, I've been asked to defend you. I can try to do that, with or without your help, but it would be easier if you co-operate."

"And if I don't?"

"We'll still try to defend you, but it won't be easy."

"Why should I care?"

"You won't be tried in an open court, but with your help we may be able to prove that the former Watchers Council programmed you as a killer, and that you were not responsible for your actions at the time of the death of Officer Ralph Dugan. If that defence succeeds we may be able to do something about the Federal offences you're likely to be charged with and the death of your parents. It's likely that even if we succeed you will be required to spend some time in an approved institution for the criminally insane, but I think that it may be preferable to the alternative. Nevada has the death penalty for murder, Miss Craig, and you're charged with murdering a police officer. The method used is a lethal injection, I doubt even a Slayer would survive."

"You know about the Watchers and the Slayer?"

"You've been out of the loop. There are at least a hundred Slayers now, the old 'one girl in all the world' thing is over. You're a complication, one that they really don't need while they're rebuilding their organisation, but if you have any idea of escaping, now or in the future, you might want to bear that in mind. There plenty of people out there, as strong or stronger than you and most of them a lot more experienced, they're working with the police, and they're ready to hunt you down if necessary."

"A hundred?"

"At least. You're not the one girl in the world, Miss Craig, you never were. Damned if I know how you come to be one in a hundred or so, but there you are. You're special, but nowhere near unique."

She seemed to slump in her chair and somehow Gunn knew that he'd finally made a real impression. "So... You want to talk about your defence?"

Eventually Patricia nodded, and they began to discuss the case.


Author's Note: Some time ago someone contacted me asking permission to use Patricia Craig in a story. At the time I wasn't planning this story and said yes; since then I've had a catastrophic computer failure and can no longer find the messages, or remember who sent them. Apologies for using her after all, but she seemed perfect for this story; I hope you won't be put off writing yours.

For the benefit of one or two recent critics there's some wholly gratuitous knocking of Horatio Caine, hope you'll be amused.


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