Category: Crossover (CSI:NY, Criminal Minds)
Summary: When a serial killer brings the BAU team to New York, an old acquaintance is renewed and a new relationship emerges.
The following morning the joint task force--comprised of members of the BAU, the NYPD, the NYPD Crime Scene Unit, and the Jersey City Police Department--assembled at Police Headquarters for an update. Mac and Stella were the first to arrive. They met briefly with the head of the Mayor's Office for Intergovernmental Affairs before Hotch arrived with his team. Shortly afterward, Don arrived with the Chief of Detectives, followed by the Jersey City contingent.
"I want to thank you all for coming down this morning," Hotch said. "We've had a tough few days so far and things are about to get tougher. The New York City Police found another body last night. We've yet to determine that it's part of the same case but until that has been positively established, we're going to operate under the assumption that this murder is connected to the other three we're investigating. I'll let Lieutenant Taylor give you the details," he said before he stepped back to give Mac the floor.
"The body was found in Alley Pond Park, right here," Mac said grimly, pointing to the map on the screen behind him. "That's approximately two miles from where the other Queens victim was found. The body was that of a 20 to 25 year old female Caucasian, who'd been bound, gagged, sexually assaulted, and dumped in a manner reminiscent of the previous three murders. But as Special Agent Hotchner said, there is as yet no definitive proof that this case is connected to the others, so I've got a team heading out to the crime scene to do a daylight search and another back at the lab analyzing the evidence already collected."
Hotch took the floor again and began to give the assembled group a preliminary profile of their unsub. Derek took the opportunity to observe Don Flack, who was standing just a few feet away. When the detective lowered his head to listen to something Stella said in his ear, Derek noticed what appeared to be a small red mark at the base of his neck. It completely disappeared when he straightened up, leaving Derek to wonder if his eyes hadn't deceived him. He was so intrigued by what he'd seen that it took him a moment to realize that Don was speaking--and challenging Hotch's profile.
"I know I'm not the expert here, but I have to question that conclusion," Don said. "We don't know anything about this guy."
"Don?" Mac said in a tone that was clearly a warning.
"Hear me out, Mac," Don said coming forward to confront Hotch and Spencer. "You just presented a profile of your suspect based upon your vast experience with serial killers, right?" Hotch nodded warily. "From what I understand, serial killers generally go for a type. They pick a specific type of victim and stick with it--hookers, blondes of a certain age, cruising guys--."
"That's true," Hotch conceded. But Spencer sensed what was coming and tried to cut him off.
"There is a basic serial killer profile, detective and it's fairly accurate a majority of the time. But no two killers are alike. Each one is, in fact, unique and many of them stray from their preferred type for some reason or another, such as--."
"How can you know if this guy is straying from his type if you haven't even established his type yet?" Don persisted. Spencer tried again to defend his profile as Don shook his head impatiently. Derek folded his arms and studied him with growing interest.
"Look at these women," Don said gesturing at the screen. "Caroline Jeffers, 26, white female, blonde, attractive, liked to party. Second victim, Jane Doe, approximately same age, but African-American, dreadlocks, relatively plain. Third victim, same age range, but a brunette."
"We get the idea," Mac interrupted sharply. "What's your point, detective?"
"My point, Mac, is that if by definition a serial killer goes for a type, this guy's type is mid-twenties," Don replied. "That's way too broad a category."
"The detective makes a valid point," Hotch acknowledged. "The only apparent connection between these women is their age. The victimology is usually more specific in cases such as these." The Jersey City detectives smiled, obviously enjoying the fact that one of the locals seemed to be a step ahead of the federal agents.
Spencer took up Hotch's cause, simultaneously conceding Don's point and stressing the fact that not all serial killers stick to a type. Derek carefully observed Don throughout the discussion and was forced to make a concession of his own. He'd initially assumed (like the Jersey City police) that Don was simply making a fuss as a means of showing up the FBI team. But such was not the case; the detective was clearly onto something and was forcing the FBI agents to reconsider their conclusions.
"Maybe there's another connection," Don said. "Something else links these four women that we don't know about yet. I don't think that we're dealing with your average run of the mill serial killer here."
"There's no such thing," Spencer said irritably. He launched into another mini-lecture. Don all but rolled his eyes and Derek empathized. He felt exactly the same as Don by that point; there had to be a missing link and they had yet to find it.
"I respectfully disagree, Dr. Reid," Don said. "I don't think that this guy is just picking off young women at random. I think he deliberately chose these four women. I think that there's something that connects them to one another and that's what's driving these killings."
"I have to agree with Detective Flack on this," Derek declared, speaking for the first time during the meeting. "At the very least, we have to allow that in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, his conclusions are as valid as our own. Finding the common thread that ties all the victims may be our best way of identifying our unsub."
Hotch nodded crisply and ended the meeting with two words.
"He's an interesting character," Spencer said fifteen minutes later as Derek drove them to the latest crime scene.
"What's his story?"
"Aside from the fact that he apparently hates my guts?"
"I'd noticed that," Spencer said thoughtfully. "I'm still trying to figure out why."
"Well, if you do, clue me in, will you?"
"This should be very interesting," Spencer replied as the pulled up behind Don's car. Up ahead, Don got out and spoke briefly with the uniformed officer on the scene. He turned to wait for Spencer and Derek to join him and gestured for them to precede him as the officer raised the tape.
"Morning detectives," Don said grandly as he led the two agents over to where Danny and Lindsay were collecting evidence. "What have we got?" Lindsay responded to the question and Reid's follow-up questions. Danny continued to work, speaking only when directly addressed. In spite of his own issues with the federal agents, Don seemed to be pissed about Danny's petulant attitude, Derek noted with mild amusement. He once again became lost in studying Don's behavior, until someone spoke to him, very close and in a rather disapproving tone.
"See something you like, special agent?" Danny snorted and brushed past him to retrieve more evidence bags.
Sheldon yawned for the third time in a half hour and Stella couldn't hold back her curiosity any longer.
"Someone didn't get enough sleep," she said teasingly. "Rough night?"
"You do realize that although yawning is the universal sign of boredom or sleepiness it can actually be read as an autonomic response to a build up of carbon dioxide or an extremely contagious reaction to seeing others do it, or a vasovagal reaction symptomatic of an undiagnosed heart problem. The fact is that people yawn all the time for countless reasons, none of which have been satisfactorily explained by modern science."
Stella folded her arms and smiled smugly.
"Rough night?" she repeated. Sheldon rolled his eyes, but before he could speak his phone distracted him. He pulled it off his belt and read the text message.
"Sid's got the preliminary autopsy report," he announced. Stella followed him down to the morgue, where they learned that the cause of death was consistent with the previous three cases.
"But there is bruising here and here," Sid said, pointing to the victim's temple, "that wasn't seen on the previous victims."
"That could easily have resulted from a struggle," Stella replied. Sid agreed, but there was more. He asked Sheldon to help him roll the victim onto her side and pointed to an impression on her back.
"This appears to be perimortem. I can't quite figure out what made it," Sid said as Sheldon lightly ran his fingers over the spot. He exchanged a glance with Stella and reached for his phone.
"Hey, Danny," he said when his colleague answered. "I'm going send you a picture of an impression we found in the victim's back. It was made perimortem so it's possible that the object that made the impression is somewhere on the scene. Take a look around and see if you can locate it."
"Sure thing, Doc," Danny said before ending the call. He waited a few seconds for the picture to come through and then rejoined the group. "Hey, Hawkes just sent this photo from autopsy," he said showing the camera around. "He said that the impression on the vic's back was made around the time of death and wants to see if we can find it."
"If it's here that means that the murder may have taken place on site," Spencer surmised aloud.
"Thank you, Captain Obvious," Danny replied as he stormed away. "I had no idea why the doc was asking. Good thing you feds showed up when you did to help."
"Danno," Don said, following him across the lot where the body had been found. "Put a lid on it, will you?"
"Hey, you're no more happy about them being here than I am," he replied. "So don't tell me how to behave."
"Hey, Messer," Don said, moving into his personal space and lowering his voice. "You're right--I don't like it any more than you. But I'm not acting like a complete jerk, am I?"
"Hey if you want to brown nose with the feds, be my guest. I got work to do," Danny replied tersely, moving away from him. Don started to follow him again when he spotted something.
"Hey, Danny!" Don called. Danny didn't respond, so he called Lindsay instead. "Detective Monroe! I think I found something." That got everyone's attention and the group trailed Don as he crossed under the tape and walked over to the curb. Squatting, he pointed to an object under a parked car. "Give me a glove." Lindsay handed one to him and he carefully retrieved the object.
"It's a wallet," Spencer said. Derek shot him a look.
"You really are Captain Obvious, aren't you?" he said lightly. "Anything inside?" he asked Don, who'd flipped it open and was using a pen to peruse its contents.
"Oh yeah," Don said, smiling. He turned the wallet so that Derek and Spencer could see what he'd found. It was a picture of the four murdered women.
Hotch and JJ stared at the blown-up image of four women, sitting side by side on a banquette holding drinks and laughing.
"I'm thinking college," she said thoughtfully.
"Or coworkers," Hotch suggested. "In any event, we've found the connection the detective asked for. Get the sister back in here."
"Already on her way. As I recall, Detective Flack said she wasn't able to identify any of the other Jane Does."
"It's often hard for someone to identify a corpse, especially when she's already distraught. Maybe seeing this photo will jog a memory. She'd see the others in a context she might recognize. At the very least, she may be able to tell us when the picture was taken and that will give us a starting point for our search."
"So we've finally got something solid to work from," Emily said as she joined the pair.
"The detective was right," JJ said, smiling. Hotch nodded in agreement.
"He was," he agreed. "This really isn't your run of the mill serial killer."
"I wish I'd been at that meeting this morning," Danny was saying a few doors away. "I'd be all over those guys about their so-called profile."
"Because you aren't the least bit juvenile," Sheldon said blandly as he closely examined the object in his hands.
"Poor Flack; he's stuck out there with the feds," Danny said snickering.
"He's the detective of record, Danny," Lindsay said. "It's his case."
"It stopped being 'his' case the moment the BAU showed up. Mark my words," Danny replied. "They'll grab all the glory when we find the suspect. Flack will have spent weeks working his tail off for a big fat nothing."
"Nonetheless, he'll be working it nonstop until it's solved," Stella revealed. "Sinclair announced at the meeting that this case will be Flack's only responsibility until then."
"Poor Flack," Danny repeated maliciously. Sheldon rolled his eyes.
"I don't think this wallet belongs to our killer," he said, turning back to the business at hand. "It's more likely the victim's."
"You found no sign of a bag out there?" Stella asked.
"Nah," Danny replied. "The killer probably took it with him. Maybe the wallet dropped out of the purse as he fled."
"Or, knowing that she was doomed, she dropped it, hoping it would help the police to find her," Lindsay suggested.
"Or it was in the car used by the suspect and it fell out when he pulled the body out to dump it. What have you got?" Stella asked Hawkes.
"A few smudged prints, one or two partials and two very clean ones," he reported. "Hopefully none of them belong to Flack."
"He wore gloves," Lindsay assured him.
"Good," Sheldon replied. "I'm running the prints and we should have a result any moment now." A minute later the machine pinged and Sheldon turned to the screen. "We've got a match."
"Sit down," Don said, pushing an angry young thug into a chair before he shut the door. Outside the room, Emily looked up at Hotch.
"They don't really think this guy is our killer, do they?"
"No," he replied. "But he did have the victim's wallet. It's possible he saw something. He may even be able to give us a description of our unsub. Have you interviewed Ms. Jeffers yet?"
"She just arrived. I was looking for Derek. He was in on the first interview with her."
"Derek's busy with this guy. Why don't you contact Detective Bonasera?"
Hotch went to the door of the interview room and peered through the window. He caught Spencer's eye and nodded before he pulled out his phone to call JJ. Things were slowly beginning to fall into place.
"Juanito Lopez," Don said in full snark. "It's been a while."
"You know this loser?" Derek asked.
"Oh, yeah; he was my first arrest when I was a beat cop. I hooked him up so many times over the next year my training officer used to accuse me of using Juanito to practice slapping on the cuffs. I see you've graduated from juvenile offenses to major crimes, Lopez."
"I didn't do nuthin'," Juanito insisted. "You brought me in here to pin something on me. I didn't kill nobody."
"Would you mind speaking proper English?" Don said archly. "We've got a couple of feds here and I'm trying to give them a good impression of our low life." Derek smiled in spite of himself and took a seat.
"Talk to us, Juanito," he said. "If you didn't kill that woman, how did you come to be in possession of her wallet?"
"I found that wallet," Juanito declared. "I found it on the street, that's all."
"Where did you find it?"
"On the street," Juanito replied angrily. "You hard of hearing?"
"Any particular street?" Derek persisted. Juanito proceeded to dodge every attempt to get a direct answer out of him. Don sat back and endured it for a few minutes but his patience grew thin.
"You know, Juanito," he said. "I just assumed that all that time you've spent with those court-appointed lawyers trying to keep your sorry ass out of jail would have taught you something. These guys are the real deal, Juanito--FBI. They aren't here to play games. They're looking to put a cold, hard serial killer behind bars and right now, they've got you pegged as their lead suspect. Me? I know you're too stupid to pull off four murders. But you aren’t going to convince these guys unless you stop mouthing off and answer their questions. I've got no time for this bullshit. But Morgan and Reid here? They got all day. Have at him, boys." Don rose and walked to the door. Not surprisingly, the nervous suspect called him back.
"All right, all right," Juanito cried. "I'll tell you what you want to know."
Don sat down and pulled up his chair. He turned a smug smile to Spencer and Derek and gestured for them to proceed. Just as they finished their interview, there was a knock on the door. Don rose to open it and was surprised to see Sheldon.
"Your suspect needs to be processed," he said crisply as he entered the room and set his kit down on the table. Juanito eyed it suspiciously.
"He's not our unsub," Derek replied bluntly. He felt Don's glare pierce his back, but when he turned to look, Don's eyes were on Juanito's nervous hands.
"Standard procedure," Sheldon explained calmly. "He was at the crime scene, he's got to be processed, if only for exclusionary purposes. Besides," he added as he drew on a pair of gloves, "Special Agent Hotchner wants to make sure we don't miss anything." He glanced up at Derek briefly, before asking Juanito to stand.
Don leaned against the wall, a tiny smile playing at his lips. Spencer observed the three men curiously. After a few moments, he pulled out his laptop and booted up. He logged into the BAU and asked Garcia about a file he'd asked her to send earlier.
"It's already in your inbox, sugar," she replied. "I also forwarded the information you asked about on all deaths in the tri-state area with a similar MO. You're not going to like it."
"Why not?" Spencer asked as Don passed behind him and reached for the folder containing the crime scene photos.
"It's virtually empty and the suspect in one of the cases has already been in police custody for months. Who's the eye candy?" she asked in a stage whisper. Spencer put his finger to his lips to keep her from speaking. He switched to silent communication. Turning off the sound, he typed a response.
That's Detective Flack.
Why did you want to review his service record?
He's the lead detective on this case and that's highly unusual. The chief of detectives personally designated him at this morning's meeting. He's just a detective first grade and a little young to be given that kind of responsibility.
Unlike some other young law enforcement officers of our acquaintance…
I've never been put in charge of a case. And I would certainly never be put in charge of one with such a high profile.
Maybe it's genetics. When I looked him up I found two Donald Flacks. His father is apparently one of the most decorated officers ever to serve in the NYPD.
That could have put his career on the fast track.
Maybe, but junior's no slouch, either. Tall, dark and handsome has a rather impressive record of his own. Either that or he's trading on his looks.
Sheldon finished processing Juanito and Don called out to a uniformed officer to take him to a holding cell. Spencer quickly ended his chat with Garcia and was ready to leave when Derek suggested that they all return to the lab.
"Just got a call from Prentiss," JJ announced as she entered Mac's office, where the BAU team had set up a temporary base of operations at Mac's insistence. The FBI's New York office was located in Lower Manhattan, some distance from the lab. "We've identified two of the remaining victims." Hotch looked up.
"Three of them went to school together." JJ pointed to the picture that had been taped up on the wall behind Hotch. "From right to left: Caroline Jeffers, Regina Brown and Misty Brandon. They all attended Marist College together. The fourth is still a mystery. She may have attended college with the others. Emily and Stella are looking into that now."
"If they're trying to find her through the school they may hit a stone wall. New York law prohibits the college from releasing any information on its students without a warrant."
"I'll get one," JJ replied, turning to leave. "Oh; Derek called. He and Spencer are on their way back from the precinct." Hotch nodded and returned his attention to the picture. Mac entered the office and came to stand beside him. Together they studied it in silence. Mac suddenly frowned and leaned in closer. After a moment, he went to his desk and came back with a magnifying glass.
"We've got to get this picture enhanced," he said peering at the image closely. "See that?" He pointed at the little drink card. "It may have the name of the restaurant on it."
"Good thinking," Hotch said. He followed Mac to the photography lab. They spoke with the tech there and worked to capture an image of the drink card. They were just about done when Sheldon, Derek, Don and Spencer arrived at the lab. Sheldon headed straight for his bench in the lab and Don followed him. Spencer watched them through the glass walls of Mac's office.
"Hey, genius," Derek said. Spencer turned to look at him. "Welcome back. Where were you just now?"
"I was observing Detective Flack," he replied, turning back to the glass. Don had disappeared from view. Spencer slid into a chair and pulled out the laptop. "He's a very interesting character." Derek frowned but Spencer pressed on. "According to Garcia, he's the son of a highly decorated police officer and has amassed an impressive record of his own." He opened the file Garcia had sent him and scanned it as Derek walked over to him, a wary expression on his face.
"According to Garcia?" he said, glancing up to make sure no one could overhear their conversation. "What's Garcia doing looking at his record?"
"I asked her to," Spencer replied easily. "I'm trying to develop a profile on him."
"You're profiling Flack? Why?"
"You're profiling him; why shouldn't I?"
"I'm not--. All right, but I'm not digging into his background," Derek said defensively.
"We each have our own methods," Spencer concluded with an elegant shrug. "He's completely besotted with Sheldon Hawkes," he said, almost as an afterthought.
"What?" Derek blurted out. Hotch's return prevented him from pursuing Spencer's revelation.
"You eat yet?" Don asked as he watched Sheldon unload his kit.
"No; Danny said something about ordering in when I spoke with him earlier," Sheldon replied. He wondered aloud as to Danny's whereabouts and one of the lab techs informed him that Danny was just sent out on a case. "I guess if we want to eat anytime soon, we'd better order now."
"Dominic's?" Don suggested without hesitation. He pulled out his pad. "What'll you have?"
"I'll have my usual; number 6 and a seltzer."
"You got it," Don said, pulling out his phone.
"Hey, what about everyone else?"
Don looked up and saw that Sheldon was gesturing toward the door. Don looked none too pleased, but he went down the hall to Mac's office, where Hotch, Derek and Spencer were discussing the case. He collected their orders and money and called in the order before leaving to pick it up. When he was gone, Derek teasingly asked Mac if the junior officer was always sent to pick up lunch. Mac soberly informed him that due to stringent security guidelines, it was virtually impossible to get anyone in the neighborhood to deliver to the lab.
"Someone usually volunteers to go and pick it up," Mac concluded.
"A police detective?" Derek persisted. "Picking up lunch for the lab boys?"
"Flack's a good guy," Mac said easily. "We've worked with him a lot; he's got a healthy respect for us 'lab boys.'"
"He respects us lab girls, too," Stella said as she entered the room with Emily and JJ. "We ran into him downstairs and he's getting our lunch, too. But what Mac's not saying is why Flack has such a healthy respect for him. Mac saved Don's life two years ago."
"I just provided first aid until they could get to us," Mac said self-effacingly. The others wouldn't let that bit of information pass without an explanation. Mac insisted that he hadn't done anything special, but Stella gave the group a detailed account of how Mac repaired Don's ruptured artery with a shoelace while they were awaiting search and rescue to reach them at the site of a bombing. She pointed out the citation and medal hanging on Mac's wall, even as Mac tried to brush aside the whole incident. Sheldon entered the office and listened to the group for a moment, a look of consternation on his face, before he spoke.
"Flack will be back in a minute," he said softly. Stella nodded and moved away from the wall. Mac also became mute for a second. When they spoke again, it was to ask about the case. The members of the BAU understood completely; Don Flack would not be made to relive those harrowing minutes he'd spent hovering on the edge of death.
Derek sat back and wondered, in light of Sheldon's quiet intervention, if he was aware of Flack's interest. Everything Derek knew about Sheldon said yes; not much got past the Sheldon Hawkes he knew back in Boston. Sheldon didn't seem to show any particular interest in Don, beyond the fact that the two spoke often, usually in hushed tones. That was hardly probative of anything, but it at least told Derek that the two men were friends and that, at least on some level, Flack had reason to hope.
The more Derek thought about it, the more Spencer's revelation made sense, and he wondered why he hadn't figured it out for himself earlier. Everything about the detective's behavior was consistent with that of a jealous suitor. Derek smiled at the thought just as the detective returned. Don took one look at Derek smiling in Sheldon's direction and glared. Derek could almost feel the heat radiating from the piercing look.
"Why don't we all adjourn to the conference room downstairs and have a working lunch?" Mac suggested. Don, Stella and Sheldon took the stairs, but the others opted for the elevator, so that when they arrived they found the three New Yorkers already settled into seats at one end of the table.
Noticing that Sheldon and Don were seated opposite each other, Derek took the seat beside Sheldon and watched the ensuing fireworks in Don's eyes. He was certain that Sheldon also saw them, noting his neighbor's quiet amusement. Stella also noticed Don's intense look of disapproval and smiled openly, which only resulted in having Don glare at her as well.
"Curiouser and curiouser," Spencer said softly as he turned to join the conversation going on at the far end of the table. Derek forced himself to join the conversation as well. But when Sheldon's contribution brought the discussion back to that end of the room, Derek noted that Don was still displeased.
Feeling mischievous, Derek did as much as he could in a room full of law enforcement officials to feed Don's anger. It probably wasn't wise, and Stella seemed to know precisely what he was about, but he couldn't help himself. He hung on Sheldon's every word and slyly stole his potato chips, laughing flirtatiously when Sheldon protested as Don did a slow burn. It took less than five minutes for Derek to confirm Spencer's theory. By then, Derek was certain that Don was within minutes of completely losing it, so he toned down his behavior. But Don had seen enough.
"I've got to get back to the precinct," he announced as he gathered up the remains of his lunch. Hotch and Mac also rose, signaling the end of the break.
"I'll give you a call when that warrant comes through," Hotch said. Don nodded curtly, and took his garbage over to the basket. He returned to the table to collect the folder he'd left there. As he bent to pick up the folder, Sheldon frowned.
"Flack?" he said puckishly. "Am I seeing things or is that a hickey?"
Don looked up sharply and met Sheldon's steady gaze. Derek saw the heated look that passed between them and knew in an instant that Sheldon was fully aware of his power over the frustrated detective. He glanced over at Stella, who was watching Don and smiled. She was clearly trying to solve the same mystery, but she was looking in the wrong direction. The answer was written in Sheldon's eyes, not Don's.
End Part 3
On to Part 4