Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Criminal Minds. Buffy belongs to Whedon, and Criminal Minds belongs to CBS channel and its creator (ie, not me). No money made.
A/N: Second time—ever—writing for CM. This isn't set in any particular episode for CM, but it is set Post S7 of Buffy. Also, although I only hint at it, this would have to be set any time after you find out about Morgan's past. This, as you can also see, is a belated prompt from last year's Wishlist. I'll forgo mentioning the prompt, since it'll give away a bit of the story, but I hope my prompter likes what I've done with it! Anyhow, please enjoy!
Marked for Death
Morgan pulled to a stop in front of the café, hearing the sound of his rain-soaked tires squeaking just ever so. He took a deep breath, staring down at the manila folder in the otherwise empty passenger seat of his government issued SUV. This was work related, after all. Sure, it was not a current case, but it was one that Morgan had been working on for years. It had started back when the BAU had taken a case in Knoxville, Tennessee. In doing the research necessary for their case there, he had stumbled across the name of a girl. Her name had been Mary Hatter, and she was a choir girl at her church. She was found murdered, stabbed several times in the gut—particularly tearing the ovaries apart, brutally, and the coroner's report had indicated that that knife had been serrated. Burned into the side of her face, however, had been a mark. A very peculiar thing, with three marks raised up in an equally raised circle. It had looked like some sort of mark, come straight out of Hell. Morgan had done more research, discovering another girl several states away with a similar mark, killed very much in the same fashion.
It turned out that these murders were not related to the case the team had been working in Knoxville at the time, but Morgan had kept it with him. Since he could prove the two crimes connected over several states' lines, the BAU had opened a file for it. Something about it had bothered him, though. Maybe it had been the way that no one seemed to be investigating these murders at a local level. Maybe it was just basic human morality, his insides wanting justice for what he knew was a terrible wrong. He had kept on researching, on his spare time. Turns out, the symbol was religious. Old, one not used by modern Christianity. In fact, it had belonged to a supposedly extinct sect of Christianity, right out of the Dark Ages, one that believed that women were the source that was all that was unclean and evil in the world. That seemed to fit with the brutality of the stabbing.
But then the murders stopped. Most would assume that the killer was put away for another crime, or perhaps had died himself. But it was like an itch Morgan just couldn't scratch. Something, deep down in his gut, told him that that bastard who had done this to these girls was still out there. So he kept searching, looking for anything that could give him a head start—before another victim turned up. He finally found it in the form of another girl. Actually, truth be told, the girl had found him.
She had contacted him over the phone, and Morgan was more than a little suspicious about how she had gained his number—his personal number. But she had claimed that she knew more about the The Priest—as Morgan had taken to calling him—than anyone. Morgan offered to meet her. If she had been hiding anything, she would turn him down, he knew that. But she accepted, so now, as Morgan got out of the SUV with file in hand, his eyes scanned the scattered tables outside the downtown café.
The smell of the recent rain was still in the air, even though the sun was now shining brightly. The outdoors tables seemed dry enough, as they had umbrellas covering them. He had asked her how he would know her, what could he recognize her by. She had been rather uncomfortable about this, and instead asked if there was something she could spot him with. After making sure it was safe for her, he said he would wear his badge in plain sight.
Now, Morgan turned, putting his left hip deliberately into a ray of sunshine that had peeked out from behind a gray, sad little cloud. His eyes were locked on the café. After a moment, he spotted a girl with long brown hair—the waves of it cascading over her shoulders—waving him over. He was at her table and seated within moments.
"I'm Derek Morgan," he said, offering her his hand.
Her eyes were hidden behind large, dark sunglasses, and although it was quite warm enough for a light jacket and nothing more, she was dressed in a heavy corduroy one—plum—with an olive green scarf wrapping around her neck. The jacket was buttoned up as far as it could go. She smiled at him—her lips painted a pale, glossy pink—and leaned back in chair, crossing her denim-covered legs.
"I know. I called you, remember?" she said.
Her tone didn't seem accusatory, actually rather light-hearted. Maybe a little breathless. Morgan smiled and pulled off his own sunglasses, folding them and sliding one of the arms into his shirt's neckline.
"About that. How did you know I was researching The Priest?" he asked.
"We've known about it for a while."
She smiled wider. "My organization and I. Don't worry, SSA Morgan. We're the good guys, trust me."
Morgan eyed her, finding her fairly unreadable through her dark glasses. The eyes gave away so much. It was true that no matter how much you covered them, you couldn't hide everything. But it was still a lot. After a long moment, Morgan leaned back and smiled. He gave a short laugh and shook his head.
"Now, this is a little unfair. You know my name, but I don't know yours."
"Shannon. My name is Shannon."
"Well, it's nice to meet you, Shannon. How do you know so much about The Priest?"
"That doesn't matter. What does matter is that my boss sent me to tell you that you don't have to worry about him anymore. He won't be hurting any more girls."
Morgan arched a brow. "And how do you know that?"
"Because he's dead."
"No body, no crime."
Shannon removed her glasses—slowly, hesitatingly, like she was fighting whether she should or shouldn't. Her eyes locked on his, a brilliant green that seemed to shine in even in the shadow.
"His body is in the crater that is now Sunnydale, California," she said.
Her voice was firm, a definite tone of finality. Morgan was not supposed to argue. But something was eating at him. This wasn't enough. His job had taught him to trust his instincts, and right now they were saying not take this girl at her word. He needed something more.
"How can I trust you? How do you even know about him?" he asked.
"I just do."
"That's not enough. Not for my line of work."
"My boss was there when he died."
"Did your boss kill him?"
A pause. A stare down. There was more to this story. It was all over Shannon's face. She juggled her sunglasses in her hands. After a moment, she began to raise them, about to slip them back onto her face. Morgan reached across the table, laying a gentle—but firm—grip on her wrist, stopping her. Her face seemed to contort, and for a brief moment a girl who looked as if she had faced the deepest misery was seated across from him. He knew then.
"You're a victim. You're someone who survived."
Shannon pressed her lips together, dropping her arm back down to the table. She looked away, and Morgan sat there, waiting. Finally, when she looked back at Morgan, there was the unmistakable beginnings of tears in her eyes. He'd seen that look much too often. She reached up, pulling the scarf from around her neck and draping it over the back of her chair. Then, she began to unbutton her plum jacket.
"My boss sent me here because of that. But I didn't want to come."
Shannon was midway up the jacket now, and Morgan's brow furrowed.
"How did you get away?"
"He let me. Pushed me out of a moving truck," she said, the ghost of a sniffle in her voice. "You know, I'm strong. I know I am. I wasn't then, but I am now."
"Of course you are," Morgan said softly.
She laughed, a single, short laugh. Like Morgan hadn't understood the true meaning of those words. She shook her head, undoing the final button on her jacket.
"He let me go so I could deliver a message, and, I'm sorry, but that's all I can say about that. He's dead."
Her hands fell from the jacket, each landing on their respective armrest. She took a deep breath, like she was trying to decide what she should do neck. Finally, she turned her head to the right, leaning back so that the left side of her neck was clearly visible. Morgan's eyes widened. There, clear as day, was the mark. The one The Priest had left on his other victims.
Morgan let his eyes trail down the girl's body, catching a glimpse of what looked like folder—much like the one he had brought with him—inside the folds of Shannon's jacket. She turned back to face him, tears now rolling down.
"I fought back. Not then. Not when he had me. But I beat it, the evil that he was. Until two years ago… when it reared its ugly head again," she said.
She took a shuddering breath. Morgan leaned forward.
"What happened?" he asked, his voice almost a whisper.
Hands shaking, Shannon gingerly lifted the cotton blouse she had worn underneath her jacket. She stopped just a little bit about her navel, but Morgan had seen it before she had stopped. The scar was unmistakable. A knife wound. Right where The Priest liked to leave it.
"I was happy. I was doing my destin—my job. I had a guy. I loved him like crazy. We were gonna get married, have a family," Shannon said, shaking her head. "But I can't. Or maybe I can't. You see, when The Priest stabbed me, he tore apart one of my ovaries. No greater damage, thank God… but… I might never get pregnant. It's possible. But not probable."
Morgan nodded. "I'm sorry."
"My guy… after a while, he couldn't even look at me. And then… I couldn't look at myself."
She was crying now, openly and fully. Morgan wished he had a tissue to offer her, but instead, he gave her his hand.
"That's why you wear all these clothes, even when they aren't necessary. So you don't run the risk of seeing the damage The Priest caused."
Shannon's breath caught, and she didn't say anything. No indication that Morgan was right or wrong. But he didn't need it. She was a beautiful young woman. She had no reason to hide herself the way she did.
Finally, seeming to compose herself—almost like she remembered something—she stood. She pulled the folder Morgan had spied out of her jacket and laid it on the table.
"His name was Caleb. He was a defrocked priest. He thought women were dirty, filthy creatures. And now he's dead. My boss gave this to me, to give to you, to take to your superiors. It'll be enough evidence to close the case."
She had her jacket buttoned once more, pulling the scarf from her seat and wrapping it about her neck. Finally, she put her glasses back into place.
"I hope that gives you some rest, SSA Morgan."
She moved past him, ready to disappear into the crowd on the sidewalk beside the café, when Morgan stood. He stopped her with another gentle touch to the wrist, and she whirled, almost striking him. He caught her other hand, surprised at the strength she held.
"You are strong," he said. "Don't let that monster steal your life. He's not worth it."
Shannon pulled out of his grip. Shaking her head, she huffed.
"Thanks for your concern, but I really don't think you know about it."
"I do. Believe me. My childhood was… traumatic, to say the least. But if you let that stay with you, to hurt you instead of help you… then they win."
Shannon stood there, statue-still. Her tongue snaked out, wetting her lips. Finally, she sighed, nodding.
"Yeah…. Yeah. Goodbye, Morgan."
She turned, melding into the crowd. Morgan didn't try to follow her. He stared down at the files on the table, specifically on the file she had left him. Grabbing it, he flipped it open, leafing idly through it. She was right. It would be enough. He closed it, looking off in the direction she had departed.
"At least he can't hurt anyone anymore," he muttered, making his way back to the SUV.
End Notes: Okay, one, I hope that was all IC for Morgan. Two, I totally took some fictional liberties here. I didn't bother to research the whole "one ovary" thing, I just assumed. Seemed right. Only half the equipment should make it harder, right? Right? Also, I took some liberties with Shannon the Slayer since all I can honestly remember of her from S7 is the scene in the truck. So I hope this was good. Also, I threw in where Caleb aimed to stab because it seemed to fit. Please review! Reviews are love, after all.