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Hope

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Joyce traced the smiling images in the photograph. It had been almost a year since their daughter had last spoken to them. Six months since even what was left was taken. It had been painful, every time they went to visit, to see nothing staring back, but even that was better than having nothing to even visit. The hospital couldn't even find the doctor who authorized the transfer to a long-term care facility. He disappeared at the same time Buffy had.

The police, the FBI, no one had been able to track her whereabouts.

The phone rang, causing her to scramble for it. Six months and she still couldn't stop help it.

"Hello?"

"Joyce Summers?"

"Yes?"

"My name is Lieutenant Colonel Paul Davis, US Air Force. During a recent incident involving the rescue of an officer, we also found a young woman we've tentatively identified as your daughter."

"Buffy? Is she ok?"

"She doesn't respond to anything and our doctor says she's underweight, but otherwise seems healthy."

Joyce sat down (wasn't she already sitting?) as she listened to the voice on the other end of the phone. Most of it didn't fully register, just that there was a good chance her daughter had been found and that she was currently at an Air Force base in Colorado Springs.

She answered when he asked for an email he could send a picture, and her shaking hand wrote out contact information for the doctor and a few other people who could escort her through the base.

Joyce felt Hank behind her. She let him take the phone, ask his own questions and double check the information she'd taken.

She didn't bother wiping her tears as her husband hung up and pulled her into an embrace.

"I'll have to call in to work and see when we can get a flight to Colorado."

Joyce nodded with a sobbing laugh. Unresponsive and underweight might not be much, but it was still enough to rekindle hope.