OVERALL DISCLAIMER: We all know that none of us own these stories, otherwise the site wouldn't be called fanfiction. That's all I have to say about that! Happy reading, and please review.
"Evil is not something superhuman, it is something less than human."
Chapter 1: Of Invitation and Intrigue
Penelope Garcia was three quarters through her recap of the BAU's last case when an agitated young FBI agent knocked tentatively on the door.
Hotch turned towards the apprehensive inquiry. It was not often that his unit of the BAU was interrupted when they were in the office.
"A representative from ASIO is on the phone. They're requesting to speak to you personally."
Hotch looked briefly surprised, before shaking his head at the young man.
"We're almost finished in here; ask them if they could possibly wait for ten more minutes?"
The young agent fidgeted in obvious discomfort, stammering his next sentence to his impeccably shined shoes.
"I-I'm sorry Sir, they said it was important to talk as soon as possible."
Hotch frowned, wondering as the rest of the room did, what would be so important. He rose from his chair and followed the young agent out of the room, sparing a look of intrigued curiosity for Rossi. The second the door closed behind him, the team turned to Rossi. It was just over a week ago that they had heard a news report on a serial killer in Australia.
It had been an increasingly busy time and in the lull that had followed a trip to Minnesota, Reid had overheard some agents in the bullpen discussing the 'Canberra Carver'. He had immediately asked Garcia to investigate and the team had been astounded that they hadn't heard of the case before. Rossi had suggested, casually, that if this continued, then they may be getting a call from overseas.
None of them had seriously considered the possibility that it might happen.
"It's got to be about a new victim. I wonder what made them to call us."
Reid looked at Morgan in surprise;
"This victim makes six victims total. I'm surprised they didn't call us in sooner."
"No, Spencer, Morgan's right.' Emily said slowly. 'This doesn't just cross federal borders, this crosses international. They must have been organising this for a while."
The door opened, silencing the debate. Everyone at the table looked expectantly at Hotch, awaiting the news. Hotch gazed around, thankful he needed to explain only a little – it was obvious his team already knew what the call was about.
"The sixth victim was found about two hours ago." He confirmed. The mood fell slightly as Hotch's words squashed what little hope was left that they were wrong. "ASIO has requested our team in particular, and we're to leave as soon as possible. This case is not, however, official. Those that go assist only in advisory roles. The government doesn't want any panic."
There was an incredulous scoff that Hotch ignored; making sure that his team had understood the message. There was a nod and a quiet shuffle of clothes as the team rose to make their way to the plane for the briefing. Garcia stayed seated, tapping away at her computer. Morgan stuck his head back inside the door.
"I don't like to pry Baby Girl, but is there a reason you aren't coming?"
Garcia looked up with a smile.
Morgan smiled broadly;
"Where would we be without our beautiful teach analyst?"
She leapt up from her seat, rushing to the door before stopping abruptly.
"What do I take? I can't remember the last time I went on a trip with you!"
Morgan smiled again;
"It's hardly a holiday – and don't bring anything, Hotch said they're ready to supply us with whatever we need."
She beamed, then ran towards the others waiting outside the door for her decision.
"Count me in my fine furry friends!"
FLORESCO IN THE GARDENS
Ron gave the sign a cursory, detached glance, apparently unimpressed at his current location. He looked behind him again and sighed. Why did Harry and Hermione walk so slowly? Ron knew, at this moment, an important decision was before him.
Go in and order food? Or wait for his friends?
The smell of fish and chips drifted on the light breeze and Ron's decision was made.
"Where else can they be Harry? We've visited all the dentists within this city and every tourist location. No one has seen them! There's only one more major city left on this side of the country, and somehow, I don't think our chances of finding them are increasing with every city they leave behind."
Harry patted her on the back sympathetically, looking around for Ron. He had become exasperated with their slow walk, apparently misunderstanding the entire intent of their visit to the Botanic Gardens. As they rounded a corner he saw a building amidst the trees. Surely not….
Harry and Hermione walked closer until a sign came into focus.
Floresco in the gardens
Harry exhaled lightly. Trust Ron to find a restaurant. Beside him, Hermione remarked;
"Let's get out of this sun before we're all burnt to a crisp. This heat is inhumane."
"I'm surprised you haven't produced a parasol. I admit, I'm disappointed - I was starting to wonder if that bag was simply endless."
Hermione smiled, 'Actually, I forgot my parasol today."
Harry's eyes widened before realizing that Hermione was joking.
They walked inside the restaurant, looking for Ron.
"Arry! Mione! Um here!"
Harry and Hermione turned to see Ron waving at them with a chicken leg, his mouth full. Plates of food were spread across the table, though none that Hermione would consider eating. Hermione shook her head at Harry, who had sat down and began wolfing food down at a rate that challenged Ron.
She walked up the counter, looking quickly at the newspapers and menus. She picked one of each up and walked back to the table. It was only as she took a seat that she saw a figure in the corner of her eye.
When Hermione turned to look, the ghost smiled and disappeared.