Chapter 11: Discoveries and Plans
And now and again,
You find yourself in over your head.
In a cynical time,
In you I find a reason to live.
-Better Than Ezra, "Everything in 2's"
She had noticed the sweats, the shakes. Already. So soon. But, of course, she had no real idea of how much time had passed. All she knew - all they both knew - was that it couldn't get as bad as it had the first time. She'd already told him: I need you here. It was even truer now than when she'd first said it.
He reached for his kit quickly, furtively, but she just turned her head. An intervention could wait for less dire circumstances. She heard the zipper, then the muffled clinks...then a quiet, pained gasp. Something was different. Her head whipped around. "Reid, what's wrong?" she asked sharply.
He had the kit in his hands and was staring into it with a horrified expression on his finely-made face. He didn't answer, so she moved closer and gave his shoulder a quick, darting touch. "Spencer, talk to me."
He shook his head as though to clear it. "They're empty," he whispered in a hollow, shocked voice.
"What's empty?" She leaned closer and peered into the small bag.
"The bottles." He pulled one out and held it up to the light. "They're all empty."
She blinked. Bit her lower lip. "Did you...um...I mean..."
He gave her a withering look. "Do you honestly think I'd come to Florida with less than half a bottle? There were two full vials in here this morning...or, I mean, you know. Before. Whenever that was."
She took the empty container from him, her face creasing in consternation. "He must've emptied them. He gave you just enough for one dose."
He looked up at her from his position on the concrete floor. The deep-set hazel eyes were wide, rimmed in darkness. "Jack, I don't—"
"No!" She dropped the empty bottle. It shattered, and she knelt, heedless, among the glass. "No, Spencer. He's not winning here."
He leaned closer, lowering his voice to a bare whisper. "He'll wait until it gets bad. Worse than before."
"He should've given us more than one bullet," she whispered back with a wry twist to her full, slightly top-heavy mouth.
"It's not funny, Jack!"
She shrugged a little, face going still. "It's either laugh or lose my mind, kiddo."
He let out a short, strangled breath. Leaned back against the wall. Their gazes locked and held for a few heartbeats before she looked away. For want of something to do with her hands, she used his discarded sweater vest to begin sweeping up the glass.
"I really don't want to shoot you, Jack," he said to her bowed head.
"Ditto. Squared," she replied without looking up. She stopped gathering the tiny, glittering shards, afraid that her shaking hands would slip and she would slice herself open. Sat back on her heels and pressed her palms against her thighs.
"We'll only get one chance," he murmured, reaching out to take one of her small hands in his long-fingered one. "I won't be completely with it."
She nodded slowly, her gaze drifting down to rest on their linked fingers. "He's big," she whispered.
A smile flickered and died across his face. "You're tough. And quick."
"We don't have any weapons besides the gun. He won't come in here if I have it."
"We have something else." He squeezed her hand, and an image flashed from his mind into hers.
She gasped, green eyes flicking back up to meet his. Suddenly her smile bloomed, brightening the bleak dungeon, and she laughed a low, rippling little chuckle. "Ok, boy genius, gimme your plan."
He grinned and began thinking it through, step by step.
"So he didn't get to watch Jamal and Amanda destroy each other," Gideon mused after hearing Hotch and Morgan's report.
"Assuming he was telling the truth - and I think he was - it was random chance that had him pulling the trigger," Hotch said.
"How awful," J.J. murmured.
"He described a cell that jibes with what the M.E. said," Morgan told them. "They don't have basements in Florida, so we're looking for someone with a large outbuilding or garage."
"He'd need to live in an isolated area, too; otherwise neighbors might see him moving the bodies."
Detective Rodriguez stuck his head in the room. "Got the fax from Jacksonville P.D. Looks like this's our boy." He held up the drawing that depicted a man with the same vague features Jamal had described. The most striking thing was his big, dark glasses.
"No mask," Morgan said, "but those glasses are just as good. That's all someone's really gonna notice."
"I'll put it out there anyway," J.J. said, taking the faxed sketch from Rodriguez. "We might get lucky."
"Luck hasn't been our friend on this one so far," Morgan remarked grimly.
Gideon rubbed his hands together, a thoughtful frown creasing his face. "Call Garcia. Get her the sketch and ask her to do a property check. I imagine our UnSub owns a sizeable chunk of land, probably something he inherited."
"Do you think it's on the island?" Hotch asked.
"No," Gideon said with a shake of his head, "the island is densely populated, except for the park. But if you take Highway 1 south a few miles, you run into absolutely nothing." He indicated the roadway on the state map. "Between St. Augustine and 95 is a lot of empty land. Tell her to start with college employees, or with anyone employed by the school's outsourced firms."
"We need names that overlap those records and park volunteer records. That should narrow it down some," Hotch said as Morgan began relaying instructions to Garcia.
Back in Virginia, Garcia's brightly tipped fingers flew over the keyboard. She threw the neon pink, feather-topped pen aside when it got in her way, and in moments she was searching database after database. "Ok, gorgeous," she told Morgan, "I've got three men who are listed as employees of the school and park volunteers. Of those, one is in his sixties, one lives on campus and seems to own no other residence, and the third..."
"The third?" Hotch prompted.
"He doesn't seem to own much of anything," she said in confusion. "Hang on, I'm checking family members." They heard the clack of the keyboard for a moment, accompanied by Garcia's muttering. Then, "Here we go, kids, pay dirt."
"Fortune five-hundred CEO pay, or lowly civil servant pay?" Morgan asked.
"Pure gold bullion, sweetness. One Daniel Burns, age thirty-seven, was widowed April 2005. He inherited property owned by his late wife; it's still listed in her name."
"April. His wife died two springs ago," Gideon remarked, eyebrows raised.
"The stressor," Hotch agreed.
"Give us an address, beautiful, and I'll love you forever."
"I hope you'd do that anyway, but an address you shall have. GPS coordinates are being uploaded to you as we speak."
"You're the queen of my world, baby girl. Good work."
"Just find them, guys. Bring them home safe," she said in a soft, serious voice.
"We will, Garcia," Gideon assured her.
Morgan ended the call and Hotch showed his phone to Rodriguez. "Can you show me where this is on the map?"
The detective considered for a moment. "About here, looks like," he said, sticking a red tack into a spot on the map off of Highway 1. "Between the city and 95, just like Agent Gideon guessed. That's the middle of damn nowhere; B.F. FL if it ever existed."
"Here comes a picture," Morgan said. He compared the photo on his phone to the sketch. "Looks pretty much like our guy. Hard to tell with those damn glasses."
"Detective, let's assemble a team. I want to go in soft, but we need to be prepared if things go bad. If he sees a lot of firepower at first, he might cut his losses and kill them. We can't let that happen," Hotch said.
Rodriguez nodded. "Can your tech get us satellite images of that property? It would be nice to know the layout. If the house is set off the road a bit it'd help us a lot."
"No problem," J.J. said, shooting off a quick email. "Garcia can get you just about anything, up to and maybe including Jimmy Hoffa."
A few minutes later Morgan was pulling the image up on the laptop. They all leaned close, peering at it, as he scrolled around. "Look," he pointed out, "that could be our outbuilding. That's where he's holding them."
"Alright," Hotch said as he straightened. "Let's not waste any more time. J.J., get us a warrant. Rodriguez, have your team armed and ready to go within the half hour. Let's hit it."