Fandom: Criminal Minds
Prompt for 10iloveyou: #7 Hours
Rating: T, basically for content
Disclaimer: Neither the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to CBS. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time.
Summary: Part 7/10 of the
AN: I’m getting better, aren’t I? :) I wanted to thank everyone who recently reviewed my stories or put them on the alert/favorites list. It’s amazing that I still get reviews for stories I have written more than a year ago. It’s a great compliment that people seem to like what I’m writing and even take their time to tell me. :)
At the moment, my life isn’t that crazy anymore. However, I am stuck with some of the stories. :/ But I’m working on them anyway.
Also, a special thanks to my beta-reader Jenny for her great suggestions and for making it look like I actually learned something during my English studies. LOL
Now, enjoy this chapter. Only three more to go. ;) And once again thank you for keeping writing so much fun for me!
“So, you really want to talk to him, huh?” the detective asked derogatorily.
“Is something wrong about that?” Penelope asked, trying to sound polite.
The man snorted. “Well, he didn’t talk to one of us; why would he talk to you?!”
“Maybe you just didn’t ask the right questions,” she shrugged.
“And you think you can do our job better than we can,” he mumbled.
Derek drew in a sharp breath. This so wasn’t going to end well.
Fortunately, Penelope wasn’t in the mood to argue with the deputy. She’d planned on letting Buford enjoy the whole force that was Penelope Garcia. So she just smiled sweetly at the small, stubby man. “Watch and learn!”
“You know you don’t have to do this,” Derek whispered, just before Penelope entered the interrogation room.
“I know, hon,” she smiled at him. “And you know there’s no way I’m gonna let you talk to him.”
“I know,” he nodded. “I love you.”
Her heart skipped a beat at his words. He obviously didn’t plan on keeping their newly-developed relationship a secret. For a moment, she asked herself if he was really going to shout it from the rooftops.
“I love you, too,” she whispered, and softly pecked his lips. Then she entered the room, ready to kick Buford’s butt.
“Where is Derek?” Buford wanted to know as two guards let him into the room.
“He’s not coming,” was Penelope’s simple reply. “You’ll have to settle for me.”
“I will only talk to Derek,” he stated, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
“Fine,” Penelope shrugged, “then I’ll do the talking.” She opened the file she had brought with her, and placed the pictures of three older men in front of Buford on the table. She waited for him to look at the pictures before asking, “Do these men look familiar?”
Buford just swallowed.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” A somewhat triumphant smile crossed her lips. “They’re all prisoners here, so I’m guessing you’ve probably met them before. I bet you don’t know why they are here, though, do you? They’ve all been sentenced for murder, much like yourself, only they each killed the man who molested their son.”
Buford swallowed again.
“You know, I like this man best.” Penelope pointed at the picture in the middle. “Robert Baxter. When he found out his neighbor had molested his son, Baxter cut off the guy’s genitals and waited for him to bleed to death.”
There was a long pause. From his behavior, she could tell Buford was starting to get nervous. He was fidgeting with the sleeves of the prisoner uniform he wore. She almost had him.
“He’s in solitary confinement right now, because he attacked a fellow prisoner. Guess what the other man was sentenced for?” She paused again before continuing. “Molesting a child.” She gave Buford another moment to let her words sink in.
“Now, imagine what will happen when one of these three men, maybe even Baxter, receives an email, let’s say by you, where you rant about what you used to do to thirteen-year-old boys, and how much you miss doing it. What do you think Baxter would do the next time you both cross paths?”
“You can’t do this,” he snorted.
“What, you think I can’t hack your email account and read or write emails in your name?” She smirked at him, clearly showing him how ridiculous this thought was. “I can, because that’s what I do for a living. See, I’m an FBI Technical Analyst. Your account wasn’t even a challenge. ‘Youth center’ isn’t the most creative password for someone like you.”
Buford’s eyes widened.
Penelope leaned forward, clasping her hands on the table. “All right, now that we’ve laid it on the line, here’s the deal. You tell me everything you know about this case, and I might reconsider sending the email.”
“I… I don’t believe you,” he stuttered. “I… want to talk to Derek!”
“Well, that’s a pity,” Penelope sighed, standing up. She started to gather the pictures. “The locals think you have some important information about the case they’re working. To be honest, I don’t think you know anything.”
She shrugged as she turned towards the door, and said over her shoulder, “Unfortunately, you’re not going to live long enough anymore for us to find out who’s right.”
“You… You won’t find him if I’m dead,” he tried.
Penelope slowly turned around and gave him a pitiful look. “We’ve caught dozens of guys like him, and we’re going to catch him, too. We have your emails, and one of our best and fastest graphologists and cryptographers is working on them right now. Since you don’t write letters, you two certainly communicate via email – if you communicate at all, and you didn’t just use this case to try and get in contact with Derek.
“I’m gonna track all the addresses for anyone who has ever received an email from your account, and I’ll look for encrypted messages in the signatures – and before you ask, yes, I can do this. Trust me, we’ll find him with or without you. Have a nice life, Mr. Buford.” Again, Penelope turned to leave.
“Wait!” Buford called after her. “Please!”
She turned her head slightly towards the mirror and winked. Gotcha!
Slowly, Penelope turned back towards Buford and tried to give him a bored look. “Yes?”
“Okay, it’s… it’s true, I communicate with him,” he told her.
Penelope sat back down at the table. “I’m listening.”
“He wrote me some fan emails,” he went on. “At first, I didn’t think anything of it. I get a lot of stuff like this, you know?”
“Yeah, I know.” It wasn’t even a lie. She’d sorted through tons of emails appreciating what Buford did. This was one of the hardest parts of this job. Penelope would never understand why creeps like Buford got almost more groupies than David Archuleta.
“Right, so… he started to ask questions. He… He invented the encryption. You know, I’m not allowed to talk about details.” Penelope sighed. When she’d wanted to make him talk, she hadn’t imagined him telling her everything. Hopefully, he would get to the important parts quickly.
“The code is rather simple.” He pointed at the paper, and Penelope handed it over to him. He wrote down a few words, and then handed the sheet back to Penelope.
Frowning, she looked at the email address he’d written down.
“The numbers tell you which words are important. When you put them together, you get the message. That’s the way we communicate,” he told her. “I told him how I chose the boys, how I approached them, and… well, he wanted to know everything. At first, I really thought he was just another fan.”
“And when he started to abduct and kill little boys, you thought it was your chance to talk to Derek again.” It took all of Penelope’s self-discipline to not clench her fists in front of him.
Buford nodded. “You have to understand. I… I love him.”
“No, you have to understand something, Mr. Buford,” Penelope mumbled, leaning closer again. “I told you what I can do. It won’t help if you change your password or open a new account. I can hack any account with any password, and send this email I told you about, and it wouldn’t even burden my conscience. So here’s what I ask of you. You will leave Derek alone, once and for all. This is over, and you lost.”
He thought about it for a moment.
“I’ll count to three. If you can’t promise me to leave him alone, I can’t promise not to send the email.” She leaned back again. “One.”
“Okay, I promise,” he quickly said.
Penelope stood up and turned to leave.
“You… You won’t send this email, right?” Buford asked.
Penelope turned back to him, and an almost devious smile appeared on her lips. She leaned over the table again and whispered, “Always watch your back, Mr. Buford!”
Then she left him alone.
Outside the door, Penelope took a deep breath. A moment later, she felt two strong arms being wrapped around her.
“I’m so proud of you, Baby Girl,” he whispered. “You did great in there.”
“It was easy,” she replied, and turned her head to look at him. “I really hate him.”
Nodding, he kissed the top of her head and wrapped his arms closer around her.
“Now, we only have to track this guy down and hope he doesn’t know more about computers than Buford does,” Penelope sighed.
“I’m sure you’ll find him,” Derek said confidently. “You definitely are my Goddess of all brilliance and beauty.”
Penelope grinned at him. “And suddenly, my day is so much brighter.”