Prompt: 570 - Court
Word Count: 1035
Kris Mansfield woke in a room that was meant to suggest, but not convince her, that she was in a hospital. Lucas Miller watched her through five of the cameras pervading the facility. Before she could do it herself, a nurse, male, just old enough to give him an air of authority, entered the room to remove the IV in her arm.
She had to know the nurse wouldn't answer her, but Miller had known she wouldn't be able to stop herself from questioning him. “When can I leave?” It was a smarter question than “Who are you?”. The nurse obviously didn't have power here. It was smarter even than “Where am I?” If Miller had wanted her to know, he wouldn't be playing these games.
When the nurse left the room, she followed but not quickly enough. The drug in the IV slowed her reactions, not enough for her to notice but enough to delay her long enough for the nurse to disappear behind a door before she made it to the hallway. Predictably, Miss Mansfield tried all eight closed – and locked, naturally – doors before approaching the open door at the far end of the hallway from the room she'd woken in.
She stopped at the edge of the doorway to stare at a replica, sans windows, of her Watcher's study. Every detail had been carefully duplicated: on the floor a kilim weaving together reds, browns, and greens against a gold background, depicting the tree of life; occult books lining the walls; the antique cabinet used to store ancient scrolls; even the scent, a mix of myrrh, frankincense, amber, and patchouli. When her eyes lit on the room's sole occupant, she visibly flinched. The man wasn't her Watcher but a distant cousin of the man who'd trained her as a Potential. Their facial features were remarkably similar but the cousin was shorter and more inclined to chubbiness. The differences underneath the similarities were important. They'd increase Miss Mansfield's sense of uncertainty, keep her feeling as if she were on unstable ground, and thereby make her more vulnerable to manipulation.
“Defunct Kristin Shae Mansfield.”
She winced when he referred to her as a Defunct. Miller had expected her to. Most ex-Potentials felt as if they'd failed when it became clear they'd never be Called. The pseudo-Watcher gestured toward a chair, the one Miss Mansfield had sat on when in the study with her Watcher. More of a tall, wooden stool than a chair, it stood in stark contrast to the leather wingback her Watcher had favored for himself. In her uncertainty, she seemed an inexperienced noble of a minor line lost in the court of a king.
“What do you want?”
Miller grinned. She hadn't asked the obvious question: who are you. What do you want went to the heart of the matter.
The pseudo-Watcher didn't attack her vulnerability, her lack of faith in her own abilities, immediately. He came at her from a right angle. “I understand you've met Mr. Rupert Giles.”
Like a rabbit under the eye of a fox, she froze.
“We'd like you to tell us what you know of him.”
“I don't understand. I thought he was one of your Watchers.” Interesting. She'd moved herself to a Hellmouth but didn't think of herself as part of the Council.
“What he is to us is hardly your concern, Defunct.”
“I'm afraid I'm not comfortable discussing Mr. Giles.” She was twisting on the hook, trying to evade the questions, but that was of no matter. She didn't have the skills to evade an expert interrogator.
At the knock on his door, Miller muted the sound on his monitor. No one would interrupt him here if it wasn't important. “Enter.”
Edmund Wyndham was descended from a line that had left the Council in a scandal so extreme that the loyal cousins who'd stayed had hyphenated their name to Wyndham-Pryce. Edmund was certainly more experienced than the current heirs to the name. Oh, not Alan, that lad was as cunning as a fox and twice as devious. He'd go far in the Council. But Wesley was wet behind the ears, not so much inexperienced as gullible, so much so that Miller'd be surprised if the lad survived his first assignment.
“Sir, Fitzsimmons is dead, killed by a demon.”
Miller turned off the camera feed. He could review a transcript of the interrogation later, and he could count on his man to ensure that Miss Mansfield never darkened Giles' door. Miller couldn't risk Giles learning that she'd been interviewed. He'd know the Council was getting close and he'd bolt. Miller would track him down, of course, but letting prey escape, that was a rookie mistake, one he wasn't about to have on his record.
“Has the demon been captured?”
Edmund surprised him. “The demon is dead, killed by the Slayer. The remains vanished before the demon could be identified.”
“No suggestion that it was Eyghon?” Giles, in his youth, had been associated with Eyghon. That was old news, forgiven by the Council, but if the man had taken up with the demon again, that was something that Miller could take to Antonia Ashworth.
“We can't tell. The young man, Tucker Wells, left the scene and immediately cleared away any evidence. He spilled paint across the floor of a storeroom. If there had been a demon Mark painted on the floor, it's lost to us.”
Mr. Wells had removed any evidence. That was surprising. Miller had pegged the lad as a weak reed, someone Giles couldn't rely on.
“We believe Mr. Giles must have threatened the lad, terrified him in fact, for the lad to have been so thorough.”
They couldn't interrogate Tucker Wells, not directly. If the lad vanished, Giles would grow suspicious and bolt. If they interrogated the lad and let him go, he'd tell Giles he'd been questioned and, again, Giles would bolt.
“We could bring in Miss Kim, see if she could get the information out of him.”
“A geeky teen who's never had a girl look at him suddenly lucky? Giles isn't stupid. He'd know she was one of ours. Leave it for now. Giles will make another mistake.”