Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for mature content.
I: A Briefing Like Any Other
“Hey, ladies, briefing in five.” Just the words a girl doesn’t want to hear.
“Morgan! I was just thinking about you,” I teased archly, since all poor Agent Morgan had gotten for his trouble was two groans.
All three of us appeared to begrudge moving… anything that involved preparing for this new case. Of course, by preparing I meant being there in person to hear the brief. Other than that it was pretty much a case of anything goes.
Next to me Grace began to giggle, putting a delicate hand to her mouth, but not hiding the adorable crinkling of her nose. “Maybe not quite what you had in mind… eh, Penelope?”
My young colleague winked – I was unsure whether to me, Derek, or both. The satisfaction I’d sought came from their expressions just then. Mission accomplished!
“Sorry for interrupting your little chat, baby girl,” said Derek as he stepped back, about to leave.
“Well, duty calls us back together again in about three minutes anyway,” I pointed out, shooing him away with a coy smile.
Once Derek had departed, there was just time for a detour through the cave, as Grace and I called our shared office, to retrieve our coffees and a laptop – briefing essentials. I could hear the contrast between the footsteps made by my heels and those of her biker boots as we made our way across the bullpen to the BAU meeting room, where the round table and the rest of the team beckoned.
“There you go. We get the honour of being last this time,” remarked Grace.
The laptop was starting to feel heavy, and I could do nothing about it with a mug of coffee in my other hand. Thankfully, I made it to the table before the laptop all but jumped out from under my arm. I put my coffee down beside it and pulled out a chair, feeling a small draught of air as the door swung closed. One touch of my shimmering pink fingernail, and the now open PC started booting up with a whir.
“Quick, Grace. Sit,” offered Prentiss, who sat to my right. She motioned to the vacant seat next to me on the left. Grace sat down as I finished logging on.
JJ waited by the projector screen, turning the little remote over in her hands. After a quick glance around, to see we were all set up, supervisor Hotchner nodded the go-ahead.
“This one looks like a real piece of work,” began JJ. No one here said that without due cause.
With a click of the remote, the crime scene photos came up on screen. That was it. The blonde’s deduction needed no further explanation.
“So far three bodies have been found, all of them girls between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. Obvious signs of sexual assault.” JJ spoke in bullet points, trying to stumble through the details without paying them too much attention. “They’ve connected these three victims in the Quantico area, but the bodies are several months old, and the ME determined that they couldn’t have been killed much more than a fortnight apart. The reality is we’re missing victims.”
“I concur, especially if this guy has devolved into killing more regularly since then,” said Hotch. As if anyone had needed to hear the words.
So far, I couldn’t help thinking. The words people dread in any murder investigation, especially one grisly enough to warrant calling in the FBI.
“Here?” Grace spoke with an unsettled falter. “Now there’s a pleasant thought. Not.”
“Was there anything else in common, apart from the level of brutality?” enquired Rossi. “And basic victimology of course.”
“Yes, actually,” replied JJ, and presto! Like that, everyone sat up a little straighter and slacked biro pens were re-poised. “That’s the next thing. They each had the same wounds on their back, and I think you’ll want to take a look…” Three new photos appeared – almost perfectly identical – showing three bare backs sporting the same five semi-healed gashes.
“It’s his signature alright, but what does this pattern of lines mean to our unsub?” Reid wondered aloud, pointing his finger at the images and tracing downwards.
“It looks –” Grace trailed off, as if afraid her response would be deemed incorrect. “Like a hand, curled around something. A hold – could link to the need for control, or dominance.”
“Interesting interpretation,” Hotch commented. “Later we can look into this further.”
Meanwhile, I clutched the kitten mug I was drinking from tighter, engrossed in the pictures. Not by fascination or voyeurism, but recognition. I was startled from my trance by the sound of my name.
“Garcia, sending you the files for this case now.” As I looked up to acknowledge JJ, I noticed Grace squirming a little in her seat, just in my peripheral vision.
I thanked JJ and clicked the attachment on the new email, playing out various scenarios in my head with an internal sigh. Oh, Grace… what am I supposed to do now?