Wow, this was close. This chapter is definitely the longest in the story, by far. I actually had to plan it out and start writing a couple of weeks in advance. And yet, I was still up 'til almost midnight finishing it on the planned day of posting. I gotta say, writing the characters from 'Criminal Minds' was hard. This is why I usually don't write for this fandom.
Also, keep in mind that writing actions scenes is not my forte. And I'm not too thrilled about the last couple of scenes, but I was pressed for time, okay?
DISCLAIMER: I don't own 'Criminal Minds' or 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', or any of the characters therein. Jessica Taylor, Hannah Taylor, Taika Nurmi, Samantha Lee, Sarah Phillips, Ashley Williams, Mike Smith, Chris Clark, Matt Clark, and Piers Oliver are all my OCs.
WORD COUNT: 4246
Thursday, August 20th, 2020
The ransom demand came at noon sharp via email. Neither one of the parents could bring themselves to read it aloud, so Rossi did so:
'Deliver two million dollars in unmarked bills to the Alexandria Union Station. Place the money in the trash can closest to the entrance to the side platform. No dye packs in the money, no trackers hidden in the money. No cops. You have until six o'clock this evening. If you don't deliver the full million, your daughters will die.'
Mrs. Taylor was dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief in one shaky hand, but otherwise remained composed, whereas Mr. Taylor was rapidly growing angrier and more panicked. As soon as the first sentence was finished, he grabbed his cell phone and called up his bank to arrange the ransom.
Meanwhile, Hotch was talking with his team. Due to the fact that they were short-handed with both JJ and Kate away on maternity leave, the BAU agents were feeling a bit stretched thin, but that didn't dampen their drive one bit. "Alright, what do we know?"
Morgan got the obvious bit out of the way. "We know from Hannah's nine-one-one call that there were at least two men involved in the kidnapping. She said 'these guys', not 'this guy'."
"I'm also pretty sure that the original plan wasn't to take both of them," Reid stated, "According to the club's bartender, Jessica only came to the club to pick up her sister, and never ordered a drink, whereas Hannah had already been given a tainted drink by the time Jessica came in. Also, there's a discrepancy in the ransom demand. At the beginning of the note, the kidnappers ask for two million dollars. Yet, in the last sentence…"
"It mentions 'the full million'," Rossi finished, "So, the original demand was going to be one million, but when they ended up with twice as many hostages, they changed it to twice as much money."
"Are they gonna have enough people to manage two hostages?" Morgan wondered, "If they were only planning to hold one girl, they might only have enough manpower for just the one girl."
"That could be to our advantage," Hotch murmured, making the others look at him questioningly, "If they're distracted by the additional hostage, they could make a mistake. The real question is, will that mistake help the girls, or kill them?"
"Are you sure about this?" Kevin fretted, "You know the police tape's still up, right? What if an officer or one of the agents comes by?"
The short witch sitting in front of him blew a stray strand of chestnut-coloured hair out of her face and smirked. "Rentouta," she told him in Finnish, before switching over to English, "I've already put up a ward that'll deflect anyone who tries to come within ten feet of us, and an illusion ward to fool anyone further away into thinking they're looking at an empty lot. Nobody's going to bother us. Now, hush, and let me work my magic."
Xander smirked and tugged his cousin a few steps back, knowing from experience that it was best to give witches their space when they carried out their spells and rituals. This wasn't a dangerous spell, per se, but delicate, and any interference could cause it to just not work. Since this spell was also a one-time deal, and couldn't be performed again with the results they needed, that meant there was a lot riding on making sure it went right.
Taika Nurmi knelt on the ground, right next to the spot where police had found Hannah Taylor's dropped cell phone (identified courtesy of copies of the crime scene photos Kevin had made for them), a map on either side of her (one of the Garrisonville area, and one of the entire State of Virginia). She had an open drawstring bag in one hand, and pulled a fistful of something out of it with her other hand. Carefully, Taika dropped a faintly purple-red-brown powder directly onto the very spot where the phone had been, making sure to completely cover the few remaining tiny bits of glass from the broken screen.
"How will this help us find the Taylor girls, anyway?" Kevin asked. He knew about the existence of the supernatural world, the Slayers, and his cousin's involvement, but not much more beyond the basic rules of 'how not to invite a vampire into your home'.
"Technically," Xander corrected, "It'll only find Hannah. According to magic, everyone leaves a unique energy trace wherever they go, and Taika's tracking the traces of Hannah's energy that was clinging to the cell phone that was lying there last night, and finding out where the main source of that energy – Hannah herself – is, now. I know, it sounds like something a writer pressed for time pulled out of their ass, but hopefully it works."
"Hush, you," Taika chastised them lightly, before whispering something that caused the little pile of powder to spontaneously burst into green flames. A pale green plume of smoke rose up to meet her face, and instead of leaning back, she actually leaned forward and inhaled it, her mouth gaping open to catch as much as she could.
"Uh… is that safe?" Kevin murmured.
Taika ignored him, her eyes flashing green as she looked down at the two maps. She gazed at the Virginia State map for a couple of seconds, as if in a trance, then dismissed it and went for the second.
"Hannah's close by, then," Xander whispered to his cousin, "if Taika's going for the more specific map. If she was favouring the state map, that would mean Hannah wasn't anywhere on the Garrisonville map."
Taika stared at the map for several tense seconds, still trance-like, then she slowly reached out and placed a finger on it. Xander was immediately at her side, a notepad and pen in hand (magic and electronics were an unpredictable mix). He jotted down the coordinates that she was indicating, then backed off as the green left Taika's eyes and she shook her head as if to clear it.
"Wow…" she gasped, "That was… what do you Americans say? A… rushing head?"
"A head rush," Xander corrected her gently, "What else did you pick up?"
Taika frowned. "She's frightened. She's somewhat far away from most people. Only four are close enough to hear her scream."
Kevin frowned as he pulled his tablet out of his bag. "That doesn't sound very comforting." His eyes narrowed. "But it could narrow things down for us. At the very least, having only four people nearby means a maximum of four guards, right?"
"Could be," Xander agreed.
Kevin punched in the coordinates that Xander had noted and began looking at what was in the area. "Okay, this area is mostly industrial. Lots of warehouses around."
"Any of them look promising?" Taika asked, standing up and brushing the alleyway grime off her long skirt.
After a few seconds of reading and tapping, Kevin finally chose one. "Here. This one's owned by a shipping company that was bought out a few months ago; they had to downsize, but haven't sold that place off, yet, so no one's using it for any legitimate purpose."
Taika snorted. "An unused warehouse. How original."
Xander grinned, an expression that reminded Kevin more of a shark than anything else and reminded him of just how much his cousin had changed from that kid he knew from family get-togethers growing up. "Gotcha."
It was humiliating, Jessica thought. She was a goddamn Slayer; she should be able to handle a couple of normal-human thugs! The zip ties holding her hands behind her back were pathetic; she could probably break free of them in a second. But she couldn't, right now. She had no idea where Hannah was in this damn place, and that Chris guy had threatened her sister's life if she tried any 'funny business'. Even with her Slayer powers, the odds that she could find Hannah before the men had her killed, especially if one of them was watching her.
She should have taken those first two guys down. She should have fought harder, but she'd been scared and maybe a little bit arrogant; Jessica had been taught how to kill demons, along with the importance of not going overboard against humans. She'd been scared for her safety and Hannah's, but she'd also been terrified of going overboard and accidentally killing the men. It had been impressed on her that killing humans was a no-no for Slayers. Even if they were the scum of the Earth. The Slayers had Great Power, and they already had the Great Responsibility of keeping humanity safe from demons. Human evils were someone else's responsibility. The Council did, of course, provide some leeway regarding accidents, but control and responsible use of her powers had been drilled into Jess as high priority.
Between her fear of accidentally going too far, and the idea that she was a Slayer and therefore shouldn't need to expend that much effort fending off a pair of normal humans, she'd been holding back too much. She should have knocked them out instead of assuming that Hannah would be safe with them occupied by Jess. Sure, it wouldn't have stopped the third guy from grabbing Hannah, but at least then she would have only had to focus on him, instead of splitting her attention (badly) between them.
And that Taser… Jess winced, and would have been rubbing the area where she was zapped if her hands hadn't been bound. That couldn't have been a normal Taser. The closest thing she could think of was one of those amped-up stun weapons that had been mentioned when she'd been debriefed about the Initiative. If those things could take down a vampire, they could probably down her, too. But what were those guys doing with one?
Were they working for the government? If so, why would they go after her? Jess thought that they had long since learned their lesson about messing with the Slayers.
Except… They hadn't gone after her. It was Hannah's drink that had been spiked, before Jess had even shown up. And those men hadn't looked like government agents or soldiers, not to mention the idea of any of those types coming after her sister was even more ludicrous than the idea of them coming after her.
The sound of footsteps outside her door drew Jess out of her thoughts. She wriggled around so that she was directly facing the door, so when the man – Chris – entered, he jumped at the sight of her staring back at him. He recovered quickly, though. "Your folks have three hours to pay the ransom. After that, your life and your sister's life are worth nothing." He leaned in, a sneer on his face as he held up his left arm. He had ditched the jacket he'd been wearing in the alley, so now she had a clear view of his crudely-bandaged forearm, right where she'd cut into it. "Hannah's gonna die first. She's been whiny and annoying, but at least she was easy to catch." That sneer turned into a scowl. "Or at least she would have been, if you hadn't gotten in the way. Your sister's death'll be quick, but you… You're gonna suffer."
Derek Morgan wasn't all that impressed with the location the kidnappers had chosen. Sure, it was remote; there was no one around to hear any cries for help, no one the girls could find for assistance if they managed to escape. But, really? A disused warehouse? Zero points for creativity. Nearly everything the kidnappers had done could have been copied from any police procedural TV show.
Still, they hadn't proven to be completely intelligent; the Taylors had complied with the demand of there being no dye packs or trackers hidden within the money, but they had consented to a tracker being sewn into the lining of the duffel bag containing the money. And that tracker had led them there.
The police – including SWAT – and the FBI all had their vehicles parked just around the corner, waiting for the all-clear before they went in, and it would be soon. The man who'd picked up the ransom had drove onto the property about five minutes ago, and there was a chance that the girls might still be killed to avoid being identified. That was the last thing their parents and the authorities wanted.
"All teams, prepare for entry."
Morgan readied his weapon; they would be going in on foot, not wanting sirens or even engine sounds to give them away. All the cops and agents around him did the same. They were ready.
"All teams, hold."
Hold? Morgan grabbed his radio. "What's going on?"
Hotch came on the line. He was with the command team. "SWAT's infra-red scans show five additional people inside the building. From the way they're moving, I don't think they're with the kidnappers."
Morgan frowned, and it appeared that he wasn't the only one confused. "How they're moving?" Rossi questioned. He was with the team positioned to hit the rear entrance of the warehouse.
Reid, who was also with Hotch, was the one who answered. "They're moving slowly, checking around corners, and they appear to be holding some kind of weapons, but not typical firearms."
Morgan felt his frown deepen. "Are you telling me we're not the only ones coming after these guys?"
"It's possible," Hotch responded, "I count three other heat signatures who are walking around like they aren't worried about being spotted, and two more sitting in rooms on opposite ends of the warehouse; that could be the girls."
The SWAT team leader added his own opinion. "Well, we need to move in, soon, before these unknowns are in a position to cause any-" The man paused for half a second before letting out a very loud expletive. "They've engaged!"
"All teams, go, go, go!"
Morgan suppressed a curse of his own and rushed ahead with the cops and his fellow agents. They went in through the main entrance, reports of the unknown heat signatures engaging in combat with the suspects ringing in his ear. When a bunch of gunshots sounded, everyone picked up the pace.
The front room and hallways were clear, but then one man (fit, brunette, mid-twenties) came around the corner and nearly ran into Morgan's gun, backpedalling at the last second and ending up on his ass.
"DON'T MOVE!" Morgan – and a few others – shouted at him, causing him to immediately put his hands up in surrender.
Morgan left a few officers behind to handcuff the man and escort him out, while he and the rest moved on. It wasn't long before the sound of shouting and fighting reached their ears, and they soon turned a corner and came across a sight that Morgan wouldn't be forgetting anytime soon.
Ng Chao-Ahn had been hesitant about travelling back from Shanghai, her hometown and the most populous city in the world (and therefore the biggest non-Hellmouth demon magnet in the world), to return to America. Her English skills were still quite thin, as Mr. Giles would say, and she was also the most experienced Slayer in her cell. But right now, she was glad that she had come to DC for a 'Sunnydale Survivors' reunion.
She had never met Jessica Taylor. But the mass Calling of all the Slayers had instilled a deep bond of sisterhood between them; anyone who dared to harm one Slayer was in big trouble with the others. So, she was more than happy to join up with her fellow Survivor, Caridad, for a rescue mission.
They'd brought two of Caridad's other DC Slayers with them, the ones with the most self-control. The last thing they needed was a dead human, regardless of what said human had done. They were also accompanied by one Watcher, Piers Oliver, a man who'd flunked out of the Watcher's Academy because he'd been deemed 'too sentimental' by the old guard, despite his phenomenal scores in all other areas – in other words, the perfect candidate for the new regime.
Getting into the kidnappers' base of operations was laughably easy, and so was creeping deep inside without any of them noticing. Unfortunately, there was only so much good luck they would be handed before everything inevitably went to shit. Twelve years of being a Slayer had taught her and Cari that.
Chao-Ahn's Slayer hearing had picked up on the sound of sniffling and crying through the thin walls, and so had the other girls', so they'd followed it. Unfortunately, it'd led them to a door that was being guarded by stocky blonde man. Caridad smacked the gun out of his hand before he could fully raise it, and then Piers darted forward and dragged him away from the door while simultaneously putting him in a sleeper hold. Chao-Ahn kicked the door in, and was greeted by a scream from the girl on the other side.
Hannah Taylor looked like a mess; her hair and her sequined dress were rumpled, her makeup was streaked from all her crying, and she had a bruise on her left cheekbone. "Wh-wh-who are you?!" she cried, "P-p-p-p-please do-don't hurt me!"
Caridad, whose English was much better, moved forward. "It's okay," she said soothingly, keeping her rattan bastons lowered to avoid looking threatening, "We're here to get you out." She moved around behind Hannah before taking out her dagger and cutting her bonds.
Hannah shook off the remnants of the zip ties, shaking like a leaf. "A-are you the police?"
Chao-Ahn smiled at her. "Something like that."
The group continued onward, with Hannah kept safely in the middle of the group. Hannah said that she and Jessica had been put in separate rooms, so that if one tried to escape, the other would be killed. Her own rescue had nearly sent her into hysterics; she was positive that her sister was already dead. Piers was having a hell of a hard time keeping her calm.
The sound of doors being kicked in let them know that things had gotten even more complicated. Xander's cousin had warned them that the FBI was on the case, but they hadn't expected the authorities to arrive so soon. They picked up the pace, and soon came across a pair of arguing men. The scrawny blonde noticed first and pulled his gun and started shooting. The Slayers, Watcher, and civilian were forced to duck and take cover behind the corner. Experience told the senior Slayers and Piers that they couldn't get close enough to take him down without getting shot.
Jess knew her time to act had come when a bunch of gunshots sounded from outside her pathetic excuse for a cell. She immediately pulled on her zip tie restraints, and a second later, they snapped. Her knife had been taken from her, but her hands and feet were more than good enough.
She didn't even slow down as she charged the door; the flimsy piece of wood flew off its hinges with a well-timed running kick. The first thing she saw, when she got out of the room and looked around, was a disgustingly familiar blonde-haired man: Chris.
She grabbed the arm holding the gun as he swung around to face her, and slammed her elbow down onto his. Jess could clearly recall the time one of her fellow trainee Slayers had fallen and dislocated her elbow after landing badly. At the time, the 'popping' noise had freaked her out. Now, she was actually enjoying the sound of Chris's elbow joint breaking apart.
The sound he made when she took out his right knee with a well-placed kick was pretty nice, too. He and his friends had targeted her little sister, and he'd personally threatened to torture (and probably rape) Jess herself. She was pissed.
The shouts made her look up, and her Inner Slayer almost went into full-on Attack Mode when she saw all the big-ass guns pointed her way (it didn't help that she was already halfway there).
Chris had fallen to the floor when she busted his knee, and had gone still when he heard the shouting, so Jess tamped down on her fight instinct and slowly raised her hands. "Don't shoot!" she called back to them.
The FBI agents – and obvious SWAT guys – moved forward cautiously, and the man at the front took a good look at her. "Jessica Taylor?"
She nodded and slowly lowered her hands. "Yes. You gotta help me find Hannah, she's-"
Jessica whipped around at the sound of a new voice. She knew that voice, and she didn't hate it.
One of her trainers, Caridad, came around the corner, also with her hands up. Her favourite bastons were holstered to her legs, and Jess would be surprised if she didn't have some other form of weaponry on her.
Caridad took one cautious step forward. "Hannah is safe, we found her."
It was then that Hannah stepped out. She looked scared as hell, but uninjured. She froze like a frightened bunny rabbit when she spotted Chris on the floor, so Jess came to her. She was at the other end of the hall in only a few strides, and she grabbed her sister tightly. Hannah flinched at first, then she wrapped her arms around her older sister before completely breaking down and sobbing.
Jess looked over at Caridad over Hannah's shoulder. "Thank you."
Caridad smiled at her. "You're welcome, Miss Taylor."
Jess frowned at the formal address. The only member of the Council – at least of those based in the DC area – who stuck to such formality was Mr. Oliver, and to a lesser extent Mr. Wood. Then, as the other Slayers and Mr. Oliver himself came out of hiding and the cops advanced on them, she got it.
The Council had a bunch of protocols when it came to interacting with law enforcement, but the general rule of thumb was to try and avoid it as best as you could. And clearly, that was no longer an option. So, it was best that Jess stay out of the upcoming mess, which was just as well, because she couldn't remember any of those protocols, anyway.
Kevin Lynch did his best to hide his relief when he saw the four Slayers and Mr. Oliver walk out of the police station. His fellow agents had wanted to question them about why they had decided to mount a rescue for the Taylor sisters without bothering to involve the authorities – as well as how they had managed to get inside the warehouse despite the police surveillance. They had no idea that Taika and a couple other witches had basically teleported them in before the cops had even arrived. Their unconventional weaponry had drawn a lot of questions, as well. All the Council personnel had kept silent, and then Robin Wood had swooped in with documentation from the Pentagon, ordering his colleagues' immediate release.
Agent Hotchner was watching them all leave with a suspicious glare; Agents Morgan and Rossi didn't look too happy, either, while Dr. Reid looked more confused than anything.
Kevin said nothing. One of the last things he wanted to do was endanger his position as the Council's contact in the FBI, and he also had no desire to be the target of Penelope's friends' anger (yes, he got along with them well enough that they called him by his first name, but they were definitely Penelope's friends, first).
Across the station, a far more easy-to-smile-at scenario was unfolding: Jess and her sister being reunited with their parents. Hannah had broken down a second time in her mother's arms, while Mr. Taylor clung to Jess like he was afraid she would disappear if he let go. Hovering off to the side were the three friends Hannah had been out with that night: Samantha Lee, Sarah Phillips, and Ashley Williams. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor weren't exactly happy to see them, but that was to be expected.
As for the three kidnappers, Mike Smith had already been processed and was now sitting in a cell. He was the one who'd practically run right into Derek when everything had gone down. Matt Clark had joined him once he'd been woken up from an apparent sleeper hold, and the paramedics had released him.
Matt's younger brother Chris, on the other hand, had been sent straight to the hospital. A few of the SWAT officers were still giving Jess sideways glances, having a difficult time processing the idea that the slim girl just barely out of high school had dislocated his elbow and shatter his kneecap with such ease.
Smith had spilled the story relatively quickly; how they had worked as labourers for the shipping company that was bought out by another – more specifically, a bigger shipping company owned by Mr. Taylor. The buyout had caused a lot of workers to be laid off, including the three, so they had conspired to kidnap his youngest daughter and demand a ransom as retribution. Fortunately, aside from managing to pick up an Initiative-grade Taser that had somehow ended up on the black market, Smith and the Clark brothers had no criminal experience, and it was that inexperience that had led to their downfall.
Well, that, and the exceedingly poor luck of kidnapping a Slayer. Kevin almost pitied them.
Before anyone asks, no, I am NOT making a sequel. There are plenty of other crossover fics that explore the Slayers' relationship with law enforcement, and you are welcome to check those out, since some are pretty good. As it stands, I already have nearly EIGHTY planned or half-written fics of my own invention (that is, not requested by readers). Some will probably never get off the ground, and a few are already doomed to be 'Evil Author Day' material, but my point is that I have enough on my plate without reviewers begging me to add to the pile.
Some of you may remember Taika as a very minor OC character from my earliest BtVS fic, 'Corruption'. I hadn't been planning on using her again, but I brought her back for this one on a whim. I don't know if I'll ever use her again, but I may use Piers for the last chapter of 'Emily the Vampire Slayer'.
I admit that I have some experience with a dislocated elbow, even if it was only a partial one. I was fourteen, and I slipped on some melted snow that my dad and brother had tracked onto the tile floor of our kitchen. I landed and 'broke' my fall with a locked left arm, but I didn't realise how bad it was at the time. I thought the pain would go away on its own (like when you bang your elbow on something) and was more concerned with the Pop-Tart I'd dropped. I remember calling out to my mom – who was in another room – that I was okay, but an hour later: "Mom, I can't move my arm." At least I got to sit out of gym class for the following two weeks or so.
Next up in Whumptober 2019 is a 'Kamen Rider Fourze' fic, based on the Prompt 'Beaten'. I haven't come up with a name, yet, but it should be up on Sunday, August 30th. The next – and last – Buffyverse entry is the last chapter of 'Emily the Vampire Slayer', and that's looking to be the end of September.