a/n: chapter 3, my loves, and the plot thickens. In this chapter you'll see Jack use her ability about as much as she does in the entire story, so if you can handle it, you're home free. Like I said, she's not Super woman.
Everybody neat and pretty? Then on with the show!
Chapter 3: It's Freakin' Cold in Detroit
We are bits of stellar matter that got cold by accident, bits of a star gone wrong.
-Sir Arthur Eddington
Morgan had been right: it was freakin' cold in Detroit. Jackson pulled her dark turquoise wool coat around her more tightly and wished she were wearing a hat, like the locals. Maybe a scarf, too. The flight in the cushy FBI jet had been quick, and they had come straight from the airport to the crime scene. Now the BAU team, along with the Detroit P.D., stood near the entrance to the alley in a freezing wind and studied the surrounding area before stepping into the scene proper.
"We think he picked her up over there," Mike Jurczak, the lead detective, said, pointing to a well-lit corner just across the street. "It's a common corner for prostitutes, but no one works it regular. He brought her over here, into the alley." He started to walk that way, but Gideon stopped him.
"Not yet. Walk us through it first."
The detective looked a bit puzzled, but he nodded. "He pushed her against the wall, face first, and cut her throat from behind, left to right."
"A clean cut?" Hotch asked.
"Yep, no hesitation at all. Deep, too, almost decapitated her with that one slice. This guy knew what he was doing, and he wanted it done fast. It woulda been damn dark in there. This street is pretty deserted at night, but still he worked fast."
"He must have had a change of clothes with him," Jackson suggested.
"What makes you say that?" Gideon asked her.
She gave him an odd look. "He's going to approach a prostitute in a HAZMAT suit? He had to have been dressed normally or she wouldn't have gone with him, but he exited the alley immediately after killing and dismembering her. That's a bloody job. While I doubt he brought a full change, he probably had a new overcoat or at least a shirt; something he could quickly exchange for his bloody clothes."
The rest of the team nodded agreement. "He probably had a bag with him, something in which he could carry the parts he took away," Reid said. "He could easily have stashed the bloody clothes in there along with the packages."
Gideon smiled at the detective. "I think we're ready to see the alley now."
"Right this way. We estimate the time of death at around three night before last. We got the packages in the first mail run yesterday. That's when I contacted Agent Jareau." He pointed to a spot along the brick wall marked with arterial blood spray, then at a dark, dried puddle on the ground. "He cut her throat there, then she fell here."
Gideon nodded, studying the spray pattern. "Jack," he said quietly.
Looking a bit pale, she stepped forward to join him, standing almost exactly where Lacey Middleton had stood with her killer. She swallowed. "Hamlet?" she muttered, brow creasing as she frowned.
"I'm sorry?" Detective Jurczak asked.
"Er. How soon can we see the newspapers that came with the body parts, Detective?" she asked.
"As soon as we're done here, Dr. Jackson. I thought you wanted to see the scene first?"
"Yes." Her eyes, a green the shade of glass, scanned the dingy alley with care.
"He never stabbed her," Morgan observed. "He slit her throat, watched her bleed out, and then immediately began the dismemberment." He knelt by the black, dried pool, his well-made face scrunched in a scowl of concentration as he studied the blood patterns and began working out the sequence of events.
"Is that significant?" the detective wanted to know.
"With sexual sadists, stabbing is a substitute for the sex act," Reid explained. "He can't perform sexually, so he stabs his victims instead. The fact that he's preying on prostitutes points to sexual frustration, but the lack of thrusting stab wounds is strange. There doesn't appear to be any sadism involved here; he killed her very quickly, and all the mutilation occurred post-mortem."
"In other words, this guy is all over the map," Morgan summarized.
"And it looks more and more like his motive isn't sexual," Hotch added.
"I thought these guys were all about sex, impotent rage and all that, like the kid said," Jurczak said with a gesture in Reid's direction.
"Many are," Reid told him, "but not all. This UnSub is probably motivated more by a need to dominate his victims than a need for sexual satisfaction."
"Jack, are you done here?" Gideon asked.
"Yes. There's nothing else to see."
Reid and Morgan, rising, shared a glance, confused, but said nothing.
"Alright. Reid, Jackson, go back to the station with Detective Jurczak and J.J. Get started on the newspapers, and keep Garcia in the loop. Morgan, Gideon, let's start canvassing. We need to talk to some of the girls around here; they might have seen the UnSub hanging around before he chose Lacey," Hotch ordered.
The team split up, and Reid and Jackson joined J.J. in one of the large, black SUVs reserved for their use. "Wow," Jackson observed, "between that plane and these cars, our carbon footprint must be impressive."
J.J. grinned. "All in the name of catching the bad guys."
"Hey, so, are you a medical doctor, or...?" Reid asked, leaning forward from the backseat.
"What?" Jackson asked, blinking. "Oh. No. Like you, I've devoted a lot of energy to getting a few letters after my name," she said wryly.
He smiled. "Psychology?"
It had seemed a safe bet. "Sociology?"
"You won't guess," she told him.
He frowned. "I bet I can."
"Oh really? Care to make it interesting?"
"She seems pretty confident, Spence," J.J. cautioned with a laugh.
"How about this? If you can answer the question correctly by the time we've solved this case, I'll buy you lunch every day for a week. If not, you'll do the same for me. Deal?" Jackson proposed, looking over her shoulder at him with a raised brow.
His frown deepened, light brows drawing together over deep-set hazel eyes shaded brown by the hue of his coat. "You didn't spend large amounts of time dissecting earthworms, did you?"
"No earthworms were harmed during the course of my higher education," she assured him. "And no peeking at my file!"
"Maybe this isn't such a good idea," he hedged, jaw working and eyes darting as he considered all the possible outcomes of the proposed bet. At her look, he held up his hands. "Ok, you're on. I'll know by the time this case is over."
"It's a bet," she agreed, grinning. He didn't, she noticed, offer to seal their bet with a handshake like so many people would have done. It was the second time he had decline to shake hands in a social situation that called for it. Food for thought, she reflected, turning around in her seat again.
They rode in silence for a short time, until Reid said, "You seem really fixated on those newspapers. I admit it'll be helpful to know if his kills are speeding up, but other than that..."
Jackson glanced at his reflection in the rearview mirror. "You're good with patterns, aren't you?" she asked.
"Ye-es," he answered slowly, wondering.
"I'll need you to look for any common occurrences among those newspapers, no matter how trivial they may seem. He could have chosen plain butcher paper; he picked newspapers for a reason. He included the dates for a reason. And I think he's subtle enough that the dates aren't the only reason. Look carefully; there's a lot of important information on those papers."
"Is that what you did for the CIA? Codes, patterns?"
Her generous mouth curved. "No. And we're not making a bet about that."
Morgan and Hotch walked the cold Detroit streets, chatting with witnesses and waiting for the few surrounding shops to open. The air was bitter, the sidewalks gray, and Morgan felt like he would never be warm again. Something about this case...the sight of those neat, impersonal little packages...that pool of blood in that nasty, forgotten alley. The pretty little blond girl in J.J.'s picture hadn't deserved such an end. No one did.
He thrust his hands deeper into the pockets of his well-tailored wool trench coat and gave Hotch a look from the corner of his chocolate brown eyes. "So...new girl," he began, keeping his voice deceptively casual.
"She has a name, Morgan," Hotch replied steadily.
"Right. I guess she's here to replace Elle?"
"If it works out."
Morgan considered, scanning the street with a furrowed brow as his mind worked. "What was going on back at the scene? Why is Gideon so set on having her here? Special Liaison from the CIA? Hotch, that's fuckin' weird."
Hotch let out a slow breath and turned to face his agent, his dark eyes hooded by even darker brows. "There are things about Dr. Jackson that only Gideon knows. He believes she'll be an excellent addition to the team. I have reservations, which I've discussed with both Gideon and Dr. Jackson."
"She's smart," Morgan conceded after a moment. "Reminds me a bit of the kid. That why Gideon's so hot on her?"
Hotch almost smiled. "I don't think 'hot on her' is an accurate description, but I'm sure it's part of his reasoning."
"I think we're dead-ending here," Morgan said, switching back to the case. "No one was around last night. No one saw a damn thing. It's too early for any of the girls to be out yet, or too late."
"Morgan," Hotch said, "you don't have to like her. I'm not sure I like her. You just have to work with her, at least for now. Her methods will probably seem unorthodox, but remember she's coming from a completely different background than any of us."
Morgan raised a skeptical brow so high it almost disappeared beneath the knit cap protecting his smoothly shaved head from the elements. "It sounds like you're on her side. I thought you had 'reservations.'"
He sighed again, turning away. "I do. But I made a deal with Gideon, and I'm not going to back out on it. If she does her job and doesn't flake out, she's in. So far I can't complain on that score, can I?"
"No," Morgan allowed grudgingly.
"Elle made her choice. Maybe Dr. Jackson is her replacement, maybe not, but that fact remains. Elle's gone, and she's not coming back."
Morgan wrestled with it a few moments longer, the muscle in his jaw twitching. At last he nodded. "Yeah. I guess we'll just see."
"That's all I ask. Now can we focus on the case, please?"
Detective Jurczak set a brown evidence box on the folding table in front of them and shook his sandy head. "What a damn mess," he said. Then, sighing, "It's all here. They've all been tested for prints, and all the blood's been sampled. We've ID'd six different blood types, but so far we've only gotten hits on a couple."
"Thank you, Detective," J.J. said. "We'll let you know if we find anything."
Jackson began distributing the sheets of newsprint. Each one had been carefully flattened and placed in protective plastic, eliminating the need to wear gloves. She hated those stupid gloves. Jackson picked one at random, examining it closely, while Reid chose the most recent.
"What are we looking for?" J.J. asked, studying her own sheet.
"I don't know," Jackson admitted.
"Guys," Reid interrupted, "I think I just found it."
The two women looked up, each wearing an identical frown. "That was fast, even for you," J.J. told him, her pretty face set in delicate lines of disbelief.
"Jack," Reid said, ignoring J.J. and easily slipping into the nickname Gideon used, "at the scene you said something about Hamlet. Why?"
"Um...why do you ask?" she deflected.
"Look," he told her, pointing to a prominent ad in the newspaper that had been used to wrap Lacey Middleton's left leg.
"Hamlet," Jackson whispered. "Closing night was the night of the murder. Detective," she called, "where is this theatre? Is it near the scene?"
He joined them and stared down at the ad, frowning. "Yeah, like three or four blocks over. Do you think this is significant?"
She shook her head. "I don't know yet. Grab a sheet and search it. Now we know what to look for."
It didn't take long. Every paper featured an ad for a theatre production, and each production had its closing night the same date on the newspaper - the date of a murder.
"So he's an actor," Detective Jurczak concluded.
"Not necessarily," Reid contradicted, his brow creased in concentration as he plotted the theatre locations on a map. "He could be a tech, an usher, a critic, or just an avid theatre-goer."
"'Avid' would be accurate," Jackson remarked. "These shows run the gambit from community theatre to Broadway quality touring companies. We have everything from A Chorus Line to Waiting for Godot." She wrinkled her nose. "Beckett. If I were going to kill someone after taking in a little Theatre of the Absurd, it'd be myself."
J.J. tried to smother a laugh, her dark blue eyes dancing. "Not a fan, I take it?"
Jackson shrugged. "Maybe I m just not smart enough."
"Now that's a scary thought."
"You weren't a theatre major, were you?" Reid asked, barely looking up from his map and list of addresses.
"I'll start picking restaurants."
"I put my money on you," J.J. told her.
"Safe bet," she said smugly.
"Look at this," Reid said, indicating the map. "All the previous locations have been in the northwestern quadrant of the city, but the most recent site is down here, on the southeast side."
"He was forced to relocate," Jackson said. "That fits the theory. It would explain the escalation."
"His relocation can't be very recent, though; he knew where in this part of the city to find a prostitute in an area that wasn't highly trafficked," Reid pointed out.
Jackson shook her head. "He might have visited this part of town before, just not to kill. BTK frequently visited prostitutes he didn't kill."
"How long was the run of Hamlet?" J.J. asked.
"Three weeks," Reid told her without consulting the ad.
"Ok, so if he was involved with the production he had been visiting this part of town for at least nine weeks or so for rehearsals."
"Good point. But if he is an actor - which I doubt, actually, since these ads include national touring companies - why is he suddenly working so far from home? That's a long commute."
"I vote fan," Reid said. "A critic would have already been visiting theatres all over the city. An actor or technician wouldn't be working such a wide range of productions. A theatre fan might stick to theatres in his neighborhood, and only venture outside of it if he had been forced to move."
"I agree," Jackson said.
Reid sat back in his chair, clicking his pen and frowning in concentration. "We should call Gideon. I think we're ready for the profile."
Some of you may have observed, as Morgan did, that my character and Reid are really similar in a lot of ways. I assure you it's a funny coincidence. I actually created the character Elliot Jackson about 7 or 8 years ago for another story I was writing, and when I starting thinking of ideas for Criminal Minds fic, she kept popping into my head as someone who would fit into the team quite well. Strange, but true