Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Dollhouse.
“Leave it alone, Mr. Ballard,” his boss advised him for the hundredth time. “You’re chasing ghosts.”
Paul glared at the man. “I will not let this go. I cannot
let this go – I have to get to the bottom of this. The Dollhouse is not just a myth – I know it is real!”
“The case doesn’t lie with the FBI any longer,” his boss reminded him. “And just as well. It’s been ruining your career, Ballard.”
“What is this ‘Council’ anyway?” Paul demanded to know. “And what makes them believe they can do better?”
His boss sighed, rubbing his forehead. “You have truly been living under a rock for the last few months, Paul,” he said. “To not know what the Council is…” He shook his head in exasperation.
“Well, maybe you’d care to enlighten me,” Paul said sarcastically.
“The Council is a privately founded organization, with a lot of money, a lot of power, with ties to both Wolfram and Hart, and the American Military. It used to have its powerbase in Britain, but their old building and administration…well, it blew up, and they’ve built everything up from scratch, here, instead.”
“What does it do? What business do they deal with? Crimes? Trading?”
His boss sighed. “To be honest, Paul, no one rightly knows. All sorts. They have a lot of connections. A lot
of them,” he emphasized.
“Well, do you know a way to contact them? Maybe we could collaborate?” Paul suggested. “I have dug up a lot of information on the Dollhouse…”
His boss groaned. “Fine…” He rummaged in his pocket, and, after awhile, handed over a white business-card. “Just know this, Paul – this ends now. Hand over the information you have to the Council. And then make a clean break. I can have you on a new case stat. If not…if not, I’m afraid you’ve dug your own grave, and I will have no choice but pull your gun and badge.”
Paul wasn’t listening. He was already dialing the number to one Buffy Summers. (What kind of name was Buffy, anyway?)
His boss shook his head, before leaving the man’s office, knowing anything he said would be fruitless.
Buffy massaged her forehead tiredly and leaned back in her chair. Faith had been missing for so long now…and Fred as well.
It had supposed to be a simple, albeit long-term, mission. Signs of a demonic cult made up of students at Los Angeles University had the Council send Faith in undercover as a student, under the name of Caroline Farrell: Fake background, fake family, fake friends, even video material to go with it...the works.
For awhile, everything seemed to be going fine. Faith checked in everyday – as she was supposed to. She became ‘friends’ with the suspected group – as she was supposed to. One of the members, Leo, even fell in love with her, and Faith…well, she was Faith – she didn’t exactly protest against the attention…especially not after the bad break-up between her and Robin.
And then she found the ‘demonic cult’ were nothing else but activists for animal rights. Boy, had she been pissed when she called to report that in… Not to mention the chew-out Andrew had gotten for not getting the facts straight and sending Faith into a baseless mission in the first place.
Faith had told Buffy during that phone-call that the group was planning to expose the likely animal abuse that was going on in the research lab for the Rossum Corporation on campus. And that since Faith had been all for it – she had believed, at the time, they were talking about demon summon – she couldn’t back out. And she’d admitted she had fallen for Leo.
Buffy had sighed, but had agreed to let her do it.
That was the last they’d heard from Faith…until now. Fred and Willow had found signs of her being part of something called ‘The Dollhouse.’ And what they’d found out the place did…that was just plain creepy. Reprogramming people? Eew.
After weeks of digging, Fred and Willow had managed to set up a meeting with someone that seemingly knew more about the Dollhouse. Fred had gone, in the company of three Slayers. When they didn’t return, Buffy and Willow went to investigate, found three dead Slayers, lots of blood, and no Fred. Like a missing Faith wasn’t enough to deal with.
With the help of Wolfram and Hart, Riley and Sam Finn, and some monetary exchanges, it had been simple to ‘steal’ the case from the FBI – after all, the more hands, the worse soup. Having the FBI butt in on their own investigation was just spelling trouble.
The phone rang. After a quick look at the caller-ID (it said ‘Unknown’), Buffy picked up. “Buffy Summers, Council Headquarters, how can I help you?” She said, slightly bored.
“Hello. My name is Paul Ballard…”
Buffy sat slightly straighter in her chair. Ballard? Hadn’t that been the name of the guy in charge of the Dollhouse case in the FBI? And sure enough…
“I’m an agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and I believe we have something in common.”
“Oh? And what’s that?” Buffy said, trying to still her nervously beating heart.
“An interest in the Dollhouse.”
“And what makes you believe you can help us?” Buffy said coldly. “You’ve been on this case for over a year, and what do you have to show for it? Nothing.”
There was a long silence on the other side of the phone. “Look, lady,” Paul finally said, and there was something in his voice that made Buffy pay attention. “I may not have made a lot of progress on the case, but that doesn’t mean anything. The Dollhouse exists, I’m sure of it. All I’m offering is information, maybe a conversation, and if you still don’t want my help, fine. Either way, I’m going to bring the Dollhouse down, with or without you and the FBI.”
“That’s pretty big words,” Buffy commented. “Why do you care so much? From what we’ve dug up on the case from the FBI, the Dollhouse is ruining your career.”
More silence. “Some things are more important,” Ballard said fiercely. “Innocent lives, for example! The Dollhouse has stolen her life, and I’m going to make sure she gets it back. She deserves better than that!”
Buffy’s eyebrow rose at the minor rant. “Who?”
“Caroline Farrell,” Buffy’s breath got caught in her throat. Faith. “She’s a missing person, and I believe the Dollhouse is connected to her disappearance, somehow. I believe that – “
“ – When do you want to meet?” Buffy interrupted.
“Could you be here in, say, an hour? I assume you know where the Council building is.”
“…Uh…sure,” Ballard sounded slightly confused, and who wouldn’t be, by Buffy’s sudden turn-around. “I have the address on your card.”
“I’ll be waiting.” Buffy hung up the phone. After a few seconds, she pushed the button to the intercom. “Guys, the guy from the FBI in charge of the Dollhouse case will be here in an hour.” She made a slight pause. “He has information on Faith. Or rather, Caroline. Maybe he knows something we don’t, maybe not. Either way, we should at least hear him out.”
After all, she thought as she leaned back in her seat, they had nothing left to lose.FIN.