Chapter 6: A Poacher with a Temper
Rage cannot be hidden, it can only be dissembled. This dissembling deludes the thoughtless, and strengthens rage...
"All hail the Queen of Information! Grovel before her greatness and might!" Penelope Garcia sing-songed over the speakerphone less than fifteen minutes later.
"Give us what you got, baby girl," Morgan said, grinning broadly.
"Joshua Brady, forty-three, served six months just before the Henrys were married for...guess!"
"Aggravated assault," Reid offered.
"A big no to the boy genius in the front row. Better! Deer poaching out of season."
"Penelope Garcia," Morgan said, "you tell dirty, dirty lies."
"I caaan," she replied in a teasing purr, "but the second 'dirty' costs extra. Strangely, that's the only charge that ever stuck. He's been arrested on assault charges a couple of times, once with a deadly weapon, but the charges were always dismissed. I guess that's why the judge threw the book at him on the poaching thing."
"Deer poaching," Jackson mused, drumming her nails against the tabletop. "Do you have a current address?"
"Do I ever!" She rattled off a Detroit address and a current phone number before signing off with the team's thanks.
"A poacher with a temper," Morgan said.
"You don't think Brady isn't the type more likely to just come after Henry directly? This all seems very elaborate for a poacher with a temper," Jackson observed, flipping through the information Garcia had sent them.
"It's your theory, Jack," Gideon reminded her.
"Exactly. I want to be right this time."
"Look at this," Hotch said suddenly, pointing out a line in Brady's file. "He was arrested in '02 for assault; the victim was a prostitute."
"He threatened her with a knife," Reid read. "He kept asking if she were one of 'Lloyd's girls.'" He looked up, hazel eyes wide with discovery. "The charges were dropped when the woman didn't show up to testify. Guys, her name was Janet Dorsey."
"They had him," Jackson said, stunned. "He killed Janet before she could testify, but they had him!"
"We have to get this son of a bitch off the street before he realizes we're on to him," Morgan said. "If he figures out we know Henry isn't the UnSub, shit'll hit the fan."
"Get protection on Henry, and let's go after Brady hard," Hotch said, rising from the table and checking his holstered weapon out of long-ingrained habit.
Reid was studying the map, shaking his head. "I don't think he's still at that address. Look: it's in the old area. He's moved since then."
"It's what we've got for now," Gideon said. "Let's move."
Reid was right, of course: Brady's place was empty, cleaned out. The team, first through the door, holstered their weapons in frustration as the sweep of the small space proved clean. "He followed Henry," Reid said, managing to keep the "I told you so" out of his voice.
"There's no way he killed those women here," Morgan said, frowning. "The walls are thin; anyone would have heard."
"Anything?" Gideon asked Jackson, studying her with intense dark eyes and a furrowed brow.
She slowly shook her head, short brown hair swinging. "No. I don't think so." She rubbed the back of her neck warily and closed her eyes a moment, trying to concentrate. "I'm sorry. I'm tired; it's very muddled."
He shrugged a little, smiling. "It's ok. We'll just do it the old fashioned way."
Morgan watched this exchange incredulously, but when neither Hotch nor Reid seemed perturbed, he merely snorted in disgust, shook his head, and walked away.
"Dr. Jackson, come with me. Let's go do a quick canvass of the neighbors," Hotch told her.
She nodded, trying not to let his continuing formality irk her. "Lead on, Agent Hotchner," she replied. If he noticed the irony in her tone, nothing in his face gave it away. He would make one hell of a poker player.
As they walked the hall, knocking on door after door to no avail, Hotch eyed her. "I take it Reid knows?" he finally said.
"Yes. After we interviewed Henry the first time. I haven't said anything to anyone else."
They spoke to a woman who vaguely remembered "the young man from down the hall." She could offer little detail, and she never remembered him bringing home any girlfriends.
"We would have made the connection about the theatre ads and the dates. Reid's very good at that sort of thing," Hotch told her, opening the door to the building's stairs and gesturing her in.
"I know," she replied steadily as they climbed.
"Having said that, you're better at this than I expected. I apologize if I judged you too harshly before. Maybe Gideon was right about you." His voice was even, almost expressionless, but Jackson understood that was just his way.
She stopped and turned to him, her face solemn. "I truly hope I can prove Agent Gideon's faith in me to be well-placed, Agent Hotchner."
"Hotch," he replied.
She raised a brow.
"My team calls me Hotch," he told her, the barest hint of a smile lifting a corner of his mouth.
Her face transformed as she smiled back. "Hotch. Well now I feel much bet--" She broke off abruptly, and as suddenly as the smile had come it was gone, replaced by a deep, thoughtful frown. "Wait a minute," she muttered, looking down the hall one way, then the other.
"Jackson?" he called after her as she took off down the hall, running for the stairs. "Jackson, what's going on?"
She took the stairs more quickly than he would have thought possible for someone so short wearing heels and a skirt. "There's something wrong with the doors," she told him over her shoulder. "I'm not sure..." Her next words were lost as she disappeared into the second floor hallway.
Jackson's sudden appearance in the small apartment startled everyone, especially when combined with her babbling. "I think there's an extra room here," she was trying to explain. "The doors don't add up. There are too many upstairs. Just come with me, ok? We can look at the windows." She grabbed Reid's arm, tugging insistently, and he followed her, his face scrunched in confusion.
"Look," she explained more carefully as they descended to the first floor. "Hotch and I canvassed this floor, and there were fifteen doors. Upstairs there are sixteen."
"There could just be a two bedroom on the second floor and not on the third," Reid reasoned.
"Yes, hence the windows." They stopped on the sidewalk across from the building and she gestured upwards. "Count them; you're faster than me. Are they the same on every floor?"
He stared up at the building, trying not to notice that she hadn't let go of his arm, and did a quick count. Frowning, he shook his head and counted again. "I don't understand. How did nobody notice a random bricked-up window?"
She pointed up and over, and his eyes followed her finger until they were both gazing at the square of bricks. "It's not a very good neighborhood," she said quietly. "Windows get broken. Better it's replaced with brick than plywood, I suppose?"
The rest of the team had joined them by this time, and they were all staring up at the blank wall. "Son of a bitch," Morgan swore.
"Get on the horn to Garcia. I want blueprints to this building. I want into that room as quickly as possible, and I want to do as little damage as possible getting in," Gideon said.
It hardly took any time at all, and they quickly discovered that once-upon-a-time the two apartments had been connected. Brady had carefully sealed the hall door and the window, soundproofed the space, hid the door in his own apartment, and created the perfect kill chamber.
The space was divided in two. The room they walked into from Brady's apartment was where he had done the killing. It was spotlessly clean, but empty of any weapons.
"He took his tools with him when he cleared out," Gideon said, walking the room slowly, rubbing his hands.
Hotch opened a cabinet. "Twine and regular butcher paper. It looks like he didn't just use newspaper."
Jackson stood in the center of the room, her face pale, the skin tight over her high cheekbones. Reid watched her in concern, remembering what she'd said about certain places absorbing emotion. If the alley had absorbed something from Lacey's murder, then this place must be a rattrap of pain from six other women's sufferings.
"Jack," Gideon prompted gently, apparently thinking thoughts similar to Reid's.
She started, turning toward the older agent, but before she could say anything, Detective Jurczak emerged from the other room. "Agents, you're gonna wanna see this," he said tilting his head in a "come here" gesture.
They followed the lanky, sandy-haired detective into the small space, and Jackson couldn't stifle her gasp. "Jiminy Cricket," she muttered, wide-eyed.
Reid managed to turn his attention from the room long enough to blink at her. "Did you just say 'Jiminy Cricket'...?"
Her only reply was to raise a brow in his direction before stepping through the doorway. "He's got copies of each paper he sent us," she said, studying the sheets tacked to every inch of the walls.
"Plus some," Reid confirmed, joining her. "I guess from the other...pieces?"
"Yes," she agreed. "And, look, I think those are the originals. Oh, for pity's..." She turned away, momentarily overcome.
"Elliot?" Gideon said. "If you need to step out, it's perfectly alright."
"I just need a minute," she told him. She closed her eyes, blocking out the sight of the bloodstained headlines, and tried to breathe. She would not walk out of this room; it was a matter of pride.
"She's right," Morgan confirmed as he studied the newspapers, realizing he'd been saying that a lot lately. "There're blood stains on some of these sheets. They must be the originals he used to wrap the body parts. The others are copies; he sent the P.D. the originals of those."
Opening her eyes, Jackson was about to turn back to the rest of the team when something on the wall opposite caught her attention. Narrowing glass-green eyes, she stepped closer, tilting her head to better study the ad so prominently displayed. "He didn't send us this one," she said, pulling a latex glove out of her pocket and carefully lifting the sheet away from the wall.
Hotch cast a quick glance over his shoulder at her, his expression impassive. "He didn't send all of them. Morgan just said--"
"No," she interrupted. "He sent the ads. The ads were what mattered. He didn't send this one. Henry said there were seven victims, counting Lacey. So...?"
Frowning, Reid moved to stand with her. "Endgame by Samuel Beckett. Like chess?"
"Yes," she said distractedly. "Sort of. Fin de partie in the original French, and there's no direct translation. The French title can refer to games other than chess; though Beckett was an avid chess player, he was never really content with the English translation."
Morgan let out a low whistle. "Now we've got two of them," he said to no one in particular. "Maybe he collected the paper but didn't kill a girl that night? Maybe Henry didn't go see the play after all?"
"Check the dates," Gideon said.
"There's no date on the paper, strangely enough," Reid told him.
"He means the dates of the play," Hotch said, stepping forward and pulling the ad off the wall. "It's running this week. Closing night is tomorrow."
"Doesn't make sense," Morgan said. "Henry doesn't have a girl right now. Brady killed Lacey."
"Maybe he just likes to keep track of the shows around town, to help keep tabs on Henry," Gideon offered, frowning thoughtfully.
"Maybe," Jackson and Reid both said as though they didn't really think so.
Morgan cocked a brow in Gideon's direction. "Are you kidding me with the Wonder Twins here?"
"Cool," Jackson said with a sudden grin. "I'd look good in purple spandex."
Blinking away the instant mental image her words conjured, Reid shook his head. "No way. The guy Wonder Twin always turned into lame stuff like a sponge or a bucket of water," he complained.
"Actually, Zan can transform into water in any form, including a hurricane or a blizzard, or, in later versions, an ice golem," Jackson told him.
"Or a bucket of water," Morgan stressed.
"Yes. Though Gleek usually provided the bucket." She shrugged. "Guess you'll just have to avoid the really lame forms, like Ice Cube of Doom," she said to Reid, green eyes glinting.
"Ice Cube of Doom?" he repeated incredulously.
"It takes practice to reach the rank of ice golem," she replied gravely.
Hotch cleared his throat. "Could we focus? If Henry has a ticket to Endgame then it gives us a chance of getting Brady. Let's let the CSU team get in here, and we'll come back tomorrow to analyze the clippings he left. We're all exhausted, and we're not going to accomplish much more tonight. Get some rest; meet back at the station at eight tomorrow morning."
Here's a problem I discovered while writing Criminal Minds fanfic: it's hard to get good "hours of the day" continuity, because you have the show in your mind. There's no real moment when they say, "Now is the time when we sleep. Let's meet again in the morning" as Hotch just did. I kind of had to force myself to make them go to bed. Everyone has to sleep, and I needed a break from the constant investigating. Holy Hannah; see, I wrote that...then watched "Cradle to Grave" and Hotch said that very thing. :shaking my fist a la Stephen Colbert: HOTCHNER!!