Chapter 5: Doubts
I saw pictures in my head;
And I swear I saw you opening up again.
I would be heavenly if
You would just rescue me now.
-Matt Nathanson, "I Saw"
Spencer Reid was sprawled on his living room couch staring at the ceiling. He was currently taking careful stock of his physical condition. He still felt a bit sick and shaky, a bit weak, but overall he was much improved. It had been several days since he last used, all the way back to the cell with Jack, and he felt…good. Exhausted. Smelly. But good.
He was contemplating solid food (worth the risk or not?) when his phone rang. Again. He checked the Caller ID and saw that it was J.J. Again. He sighed. He was supposed to be out until Wednesday, but he knew two calls in a few hours meant that the case was high priority. Hotch would want him back as soon as possible.
“J.J., what’s up?” he said into the phone.
“Spence, hi, I’m sorry to bother you again. It’s about the case.”
“Of course it is. What’s going on?”
“We’ve got some information about an old case Jack worked at the CIA. It might be connected to these shootings, and Hotch really wants you on this. If you’re up to it, of course.”
He sighed again. Ran a hand through his short, tangled curls. “Yeah, ok. Give me an hour.”
“Are you sure, Spence? We’ve got a detective from the DCPD assisting us, so—”
“It’s fine, J.J. Just…just make sure there’s fresh coffee.”
“Will do. See you soon.”
He said his goodbyes and ended the call. He had gathered from his last conversation with J.J. that the most recent victim was the man Jack had been on her way to see after leaving him last night. She’d said they’d worked together at the Agency; had been involved before. Reid imagined she was taking the man’s death fairly hard, but she wasn’t showing it. She’d be concentrating on the case – since apparently Hotch hadn’t summarily sent her home – and keeping the emotions it dredged up buried.
Sometimes they were too much alike for Reid’s comfort.
He had reached the bathroom by this time, and he stared at his own reflection for several long heartbeats. His face was drawn and pale, and his hazel eyes seemed sunken into the sockets. His hair looked like he’d stuck his hand in a wall socket. With a resigned frown, he reached behind him and turned the shower on as hot as it would go; stripped off his dirty sweats; deposited them in the hamper for the first time in weeks. In a tiny effort to straighten up, he shoved some of the clothes lying around his bedroom and bathroom in after his recently discarded ones. It was a good thing he got his work clothes dry-cleaned, or he’d have nothing to wear.
He stepped under the scorching, stinging spray and gave a little sigh of relief. The water felt amazing sloughing over his skin, and for the first time in months he felt…glad to be alive. Glad Henkel hadn’t killed him. Free. He shampooed his hair twice; scoured his entire body with the loofa Garcia had given him for Christmas. (That had been an interesting surprise – “What, um…what is it?” “A loofa, silly, to use in the shower.” “Why would I use something like this in the shower? It’s rough.” She’d just blinked at him.)
He chuckled at the memory as he stepped out of the shower and dried his thin frame. Now, clean in more ways than one, he set about preparing for his fresh start.
Less than an hour after receiving Hotch’s marching orders, Jackson stuck her head into the conference room. “The files are on their way. They won’t risk faxing them, so they’re sending them by courier. Hotch has to sign for them. Probably has to give a DNA sample and promise his second born, too.”
Her irony was lost on the small group gathered around the table. Gideon stared at her over his reading glasses with intense eyes. “That was fast,” he commented.
A dark brow rose. “I called a friend,” she explained.
“Must’ve been a good one,” Morgan said. “You made it sound like it would be practically impossible to get those files.”
She hesitated; stepped into the room and closed the door behind her. “I called my former partner. I was a bit surprised by how easily he was able to get his hands on them, but, like I told you before, his wife was the first victim. I guess that gives him a bit more pull.”
“And they know where the files are going?” Prentiss asked.
“Yes. Hence the signing and the DNA.” She waved a hand. “It seems like we got a break this time, guys; let’s not question it.”
“Good point,” Prentiss agreed.
Gideon was still frowning. “Jack, can I see you in my office?” Though his inflection made it a question, his tone turned it into an order.
“Um. Of course, Gideon,” she said, stepping aside to let him go past her out the door. She and Morgan exchanged a worried glance before she hurried to follow the older agent.
Prentiss watched them go with a frown. “What’s up there?”
Morgan shrugged; shook his head. “I don’t know. They have some past CIA connection, and Gideon’s the one who got her on this team. I don’t know why he’s acting so weird now.”
“I hope he’s not going to let whatever personal issues he has interfere with the investigation,” she remarked.
Morgan hesitated. The team (namely, Hotch) knew his past reservations about Gideon, but he wasn’t sure he should share them with an outsider. He’d encouraged Jack to talk to Gideon about Reid; she’d been reluctant, she’d said, due to their history. He knew little detail, just what she’d mentioned to him in passing over the past few months, but he was gradually realizing that whatever problems Gideon had with their newest team member all went back to the Silar Creek case. Gideon felt like Jack was holding out on him about it, and Morgan knew that burned the seasoned profiler. He sighed; flashed Prentiss a blinding smile. “He’s a professional; I wouldn’t worry about that.”
Emily Prentiss had known her share of charmers, and Derek Morgan was definitely one. He tried to get around her with those quick, easy smiles and smooth lines, but she wasn’t fooled; she had never been an easy woman to get around. She studied him for several long moments before nodding slowly. “Whatever you say, Morgan. You’ve known him longer than I have.” Her tone let him know she wasn't fooled for a minute, but she was letting him slide this time.
“This is the entirety of Peter McCall’s CIA file?” an incredulous Aaron Hotchner asked a rather mortified Penelope Garcia.
“I’m so sorry, sir. Nothing else is available. I mean, I could try hacking into the CIA database…” She trailed off, and Hotch didn’t like the excited gleam in her eyes.
“No, Garcia, that’s out of the question. I should have known, based on E.J.’s file, that we’d get the dummy version. I’ll put in a formal request for the full contents.” He rifled through the slender file with a frown of consternation. “This is ridiculous,” he muttered.
“I agree, sir. And if you want my opinion, I seriously doubt the CIA’s going to cough up any more than that.”
“They’re naturally secretive, of course, but I’m sure they want the murders of two of their agents solved as soon as possible.”
She frowned; looked away.
“What is it, Garcia?” he asked, glancing up from the file.
“I got the run around for nearly two hours before I even got that much, and they acted like I was requesting the combination to that weird man-size safe Cheney keeps in his office.”
Hotch spared a brief smile for the technical analyst’s color commentary. “I’m sure you did your best, Garcia. They probably just want a request from higher up; that’s how they know you’re really serious. Tell me what you have on the other victims.”
She turned back to the computer, and a moment later six pictures flashed up on the various screens. “The first two victims were both male, late 20’s. They were employees of the locations targeted: a small restaurant and an antiques boutique, both in DC. David Coventry, 28, had been working at Tippy Taco for two years. Anthony Birch, 26, had only been employed at Second Chances for six months.”
Hotch nodded as he absorbed the information. “It doesn’t seem as though the businesses themselves are the targets.”
“No,” Garcia agreed. “All four attacks occurred at off hours when only one or two people were at the location. Alyssa Horton was a customer and John Dempsey an employee at the Kwik Stop in Arlington, VA; that was the first double murder.”
“Any information from the Agency about Alyssa?”
She shook her head. “Like getting blood from a stone, sir. The only reason I got that poor excuse for McCall’s file is because he’s retired.”
“Retired?” He flipped a few pages. “It says that specifically. He retired from the CIA at age 30 and joined the DCPD six months later.”
“Who retires at 30?” she asked rhetorically.
“I don’t know,” Hotch said with a deeply furrowed brow. “But I’m betting E.J. does.”