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.
Author's Note: I want to take this opportunity to do something I should have done in the first post of this story. I would like to thank summerstar who inspired me to write this story. I'd been thinking about a crossover for some time, but a brief chat with her brought everything into focus and gave me the impetus to start this tale. Thank you!
"Mac is going to flip when he sees you here, Sheldon," Stella said as she drew her kit out of the back of the van. "There's no need for you to come to the crime scene in your condition. We've got plenty of people here. Let me--."
"Stella," he said peevishly. "The sooner we do this, the sooner I'll be out of here. Let's get to work." He pulled his own kit from the van and crossed the tape. Stella spotted Mac and went to speak with him as Sheldon headed toward the corpse lying against the wall of the garbage-strewn lot.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Sid Hammerback asked bluntly when he looked up and saw Sheldon approaching. "You aren't fit to be in the field."
"I'm fit enough to collect blood samples," Sheldon replied tersely. He looked across the lot and saw Stella having a heated conversation with Mac and Don. He turned his attention to the body and studied it for a moment, taking in the body's position, the marks on the victim's throat, indications of lividity and other details. "Have you fixed the time of death?" he asked Sid as he knelt at his side.
"Judging from the color of his bruises, lividity, liver temp, and his numerous perimortem injuries, I'd say about 24 hours," Sid replied. "His hyoid bone has been crushed, indicating that cause of death was likely due to strangulation. But look here," he said, carefully rolling the body onto its side. "See that puncture wound?" He lifted the back of the victim's shirt to reveal a small round hole.
"It looks as though he might have been impaled on something," Sheldon said.
"My thoughts exactly. I can't say whether it was intentional or accidental. If he was in the process of being strangled he could have been pressed up against something that pierced his kidney."
"If that's the case, we can't rule that out as the cause of death."
"No," Sid replied thoughtfully. "Although with the small amount of bleeding it may have been postmortem. I'm holding off on a COD until I can do a full autopsy."
"Yeah," Sheldon said. He carefully collected trace evidence from the victim's body before he collected blood samples from the ground and the black plastic bag the body had been wrapped in. As he worked, he heard voices behind him and struggled to focus on the task at hand as Sid spoke with Mac, Don and Hotch. Sheldon sealed the last of the evidence bags and slowly climbed to his feet. A hand reached out to steady him.
"Thanks," he said.
"You shouldn't be here," Mac said, releasing his grip on Sheldon's arm. "I thought we agreed that you would do the blood analysis back at the lab and then go home."
"There was more blood to collect," Sheldon reasoned, gesturing toward the body.
"And you know damn well we could have brought it to you," he replied.
"I'm fine, Mac."
"You look like hell. I want you to go home, Sheldon."
"As soon as I get these back to the lab," he said. Mac shook his head. He knew Sheldon's expertise could be crucial in such a high profile case, but he realized that any mistake could cost them a conviction.
"I'm sorry, Sheldon," Mac said grimly. "Stella will take the samples back to the lab. I'm taking you off the case until you get medical clearance to return to work." Sheldon opened his mouth to protest but Mac wasn't listening. "We can't afford to have our case compromised for any reason. The analysis will keep for a day or two."
"One of the uniforms will take you home," Mac said, gesturing to the nearest officer. "I should have listened to Don in the first place," he said, mostly to himself. Sheldon glared at him for a moment and then turned to leave. He spotted Don a short distance away and pointedly ignored him as he walked past.
"Hey," Don called. When Sheldon refused to acknowledge him he called Sheldon's escort, who stopped and turned to speak with the detective. Sheldon continued walking and left the scene. He made his way past the crime scene tape and down the block, managing to reach the corner before Officer Jackson spotted him. Sheldon tried to hail a cab, but there were none to be had. He heard Don and the officer calling his name but he stubbornly refused to turn back. He continued to walk down the street, aware that they were chasing him.
"Hey, Doc!" a new voice called, following by a honking horn. Sheldon wanted to ignore it, too, but the driver was insistent. He stopped and turned to look at Derek, whose black SUV was at the curb. "I thought the crime scene was back there," he gestured with his head. "Where are you going?"
"Home," Sheldon said as he started to turn away.
"Want a ride?"
Sheldon hesitated only for the second it took for Derek to unlock the door; he put his kit in the back and got in. Derek started the car just as the police officer drew up alongside and called Sheldon's name. Sheldon glanced at the side mirror as they pulled away and caught a glimpse of Don running down the block in his direction.
"You want to tell me where I'm going?" Derek asked when they were a few blocks away.
"You can let me out on the corner," Sheldon said. "I'll grab a cab."
"What's the address?" Derek replied in a tone that brooked no argument. Sheldon was silent for a moment, but he relented and gave it to him. "So what's going on?"
"I've been thrown off the case," Sheldon replied dully.
"Why?" Derek asked, his voice registering his surprise.
"I've apparently been declared unfit to be in the field."
"Well, you did suffer a head trauma yesterday," Derek reasoned.
"A mild one. I get worse headaches when my allergies kick up a fuss."
"I've had concussions, Sheldon. They're nothing to sneeze at--no pun intended."
"All I wanted to do was collect a few samples and get them back to the lab to run along with the ones I started earlier. I figure it would give us a head start on finding out if this death was connected to the others. Mac thinks I'm incompetent."
"He's just covering his ass and yours," Derek replied easily. "If there's a problem down the line--."
"There wouldn't be if everyone would just let me do my job."
Derek strongly suspected that there was more to Sheldon's mood than being kicked off a crime scene. He'd seen Don chasing after Sheldon and suspected that the young detective was at the heart of whatever was bothering him. Sheldon's phone rang and he looked at the caller ID before shutting it again and turning it off. A moment later, Derek's phone rang. He did the same.
"He's second guessing me like I was some sort of rookie," Sheldon said, glowering at the traffic up ahead. Derek knew he wasn't talking about Mac.
"Aren’t you being a little harsh?"
Sheldon didn't answer so Derek let it drop and they rode the rest of the way uptown in silence, broken only when Sheldon thought to ask if Derek's absence would be noticed by his supervisor.
"I was out on an errand when I got the call. It shouldn't faze him that I'm a little late getting there," Derek said.
"You do realize that they probably saw you pull up to the scene," Sheldon replied. Derek shrugged. He'd actually driven right past when he saw Sheldon and caught up to him down the block, but he didn’t mention it aloud.
"Let me worry about that," he said as they reached Sheldon's apartment building. Sheldon got out of the car and thanked Derek for the lift. "Take it easy," he advised. "There's usually no point in fighting these things."
Sheldon gave him a little wave and turned to enter the building. Derek put the car in drive and moved a few feet before he realized that Sheldon had left his kit on the backseat. He stopped and turned but it was too late. Sheldon had just disappeared into the building. Derek backed up and double-parked the car. He leapt out and entered the lobby in time to see the elevator doors close behind Sheldon. Derek flashed his badge at the doorman and asked for Sheldon's apartment number. When he stepped off the elevator thirty seconds later, he saw Sheldon standing at his door. He'd apparently just taken something for pain and was throwing back the pill with a gulp of water.
"You left this in the car," Derek said, holding up the kit.
"Thanks," Sheldon replied sheepishly. "Guess I'm not at the top of my game, after all."
"Or maybe you're just a bit preoccupied." Derek gestured at the glass in Sheldon's hand. "That going to knock you out?"
"With any luck," Sheldon replied, looking into the empty glass.
"You should rest."
The pain in Sheldon's voice clearly had nothing to do with his concussion. Derek reached out, willing his hand to clamp onto Sheldon's shoulder when it would have found Sheldon's cheek. Sheldon looked into his eyes and for a moment the two men just stared. Memories of opportunities lost flooded back unbidden and--despite every ounce of Derek's brain screaming that it was a bad idea--his hand moved of its own accord.
Derek swallowed hard when Sheldon slowly raised his hand and grasped his. But Sheldon gently removed the hand from where it was caressing his face. Sheldon looked at the hand in his for a moment and then released it. Derek shoved it into his pocket and cleared his throat.
"Feel better," he said awkwardly. He turned and walked toward the elevators, refusing to look back until the doors opened. Sheldon was gone.
By the time Derek returned to the crime scene the body had been removed and the FBI team had also left, save for Emily, who was tailing Stella and Danny as they gathered evidence. He saw no sign of Don, either, so he went over and spoke to the trio, who quickly brought them up to speed. Derek offered Emily a ride back to the lab, pausing to check his phone as he walked over to his vehicle. Don hadn't left a voicemail message. He shut the phone and headed for the lab.
"How's Spencer?" Emily asked when they were on the road.
"Better; in fact he said he'd probably be released tomorrow."
"Really? From what Hotch said--."
"He was half asleep when Hotch visited," Derek replied, covering for his friend. "He's always like that in the morning."
"That's a relief. I was really worried that he'd be stuck there for a while."
"Yeah," Derek replied guiltily. His recent encounter with Sheldon had occupied his mind since he'd left Sheldon's place. Now the cold hard reality of what had almost happened struck him anew and his thoughts turned to Spencer.
"…This evening after work," Emily said. Derek stole a glance at her. He'd missed her comment almost completely, but he was saved the problem of answering her when the lab came into view. He spent the next three minutes complaining about the parking situation until Emily located a space. They parked and went up to the lab.
They headed for Mac's office, but Mac emerged as they approached with a few folders and a paper bag in his hands and gestured for them to follow him to the conference room down the hall. Don was with Mac and he glared at Derek as he spoke with someone on the phone. The others were waiting for Mac in the conference room. Hotch nodded curtly at Derek and he walked over.
"How's Spencer?" he asked.
"Better," Derek replied as Mac began to speak.
"I've got the draft of Sid's autopsy report," he began, holding up a slim folder. "Michael Sparks died as the result of strangulation and preliminary analysis suggests a high probability that his murderer was the same man who killed the four women. Additional tests are underway to confirm that, but every indication is that Ed Bingley murdered Sparks."
"Why?" JJ asked.
"Only Ed Bingley can answer that for certain, but this may shed some light on the case," Mac continued as he opened a brown paper bag and withdrew a bloodstained butcher knife in a sealed evidence bag. "The team I sent back to the loft found this concealed inside a light fixture. Bingley's prints are on the knife," he said as he set it down. "I believe that we now have enough pieces of the puzzle to close the case."
"But we haven’t identified the victim in the loft murder," Emily said.
"Yes," JJ agreed. "This morning you said that you'd need that to close the case."
"That was before this came back," he said, picking up the next folder. "It's the blood analysis Sheldon completed this morning. The results of this analysis prove conclusively that Ed Bingley and Michael Sparks were both present in the loft at the time of the murder. We had Sparks' DNA on file from a prior run-in with the law."
"So Sparks was a loose end Bingley had to tie up," Hotch concluded.
"I suspect they all were," Mac said grimly. "Those four women very likely saw something and died because of it."
"But what did they see? And why didn't they go to the police?" JJ asked. "The murder at the loft occurred at least a month before the first of the victims was killed."
"They may not have known what they'd seen," Hotch answered. "That's probably why they didn't come forward. Bingley probably would never have been able to find them had they not showed up at the Spider Bar."
"And Sparks was next on the list," Don said. "Either he knew about the four murders and got cold feet or Bingley was afraid Sparks would put two and two together and decided to take him out."
"Can we prove any of this?" Derek asked. "It seems awfully shaky."
"We don't have to," Mac said, wielding the folder. "The evidence will speak for itself. The blood evidence, Bingley's fingerprints on the knife--oh, and there are prints on it from another donor as well. They don't belong to Sparks. They might help us to identify Bingley's first victim."
"So we're done here," Emily said.
"Well, we have a few loose ends to tie up," Hotch said, stepping forward and extending his hand to Mac, "but good work." They shook hands as Don turned his eyes to Derek. They glared at each other until Stella's arrival broke the tension.
"Am I too late?" she asked as she entered with Danny.
"I'm afraid so," Mac said, smiling.
"Well, don't keep us in suspense, Mac," Danny said. "Give!"
"We have enough evidence to try Bingley for all six murders."
"Including the one at the loft?" Stella replied. "How?"
"Sheldon's blood analysis," Mac replied. "He connected all the dots." Stella shot him a look that made Mac color slightly. She turned to Don, who refused to meet her eyes.
"Good," Danny said puckishly. "So now you feds can all go home and let us get back to--."
"Not so fast, Danny," Mac said. "It'll be another day or two until we tie up all the loose ends."
"But then they'll leave, right?"
Hotch laughed at his tone. He slapped Danny on the shoulder as he followed Mac out of the room.
"I, for one, am looking forward to going home," he said. JJ and Emily followed him out of the room, leaving Derek with Don and the two CSIs.
"Why don't you call Sheldon and tell him the good news?" Stella suggested to Don.
"He's supposed to be home resting," Don replied evenly as he leveled his gaze on Derek.
"I'm sure he wouldn't mind a brief call with good news."
"Then why don't you give him a call, Stella?" Don suggested as he headed for the door. "I've got to see the chief."
Stella watched him go, utterly confused by his behavior. She followed him a few steps but she stopped when she realized that although she could tease him about his crush or egg him on, she couldn't confront him about whatever was apparently causing tension between the two men.
She'd noticed Sheldon's apprehension in the car on the way to the crime scene and the look of defiance he'd given Don when they arrived on scene. It troubled her; she really believed that the two suited one another and she was determined to get to the bottom of whatever was going on. But that would have to wait until later. She collected the materials Mac had brought to the conference room and headed for the lab.
Derek accompanied Hotch and Mac to the Manhattan House of Detention to interview Bingley, who refused to answer a single question despite the evidence rapidly mounting against him. The feds were confident of a conviction, nonetheless, and left the suspect to visit with the US attorney. Hotch surprised Derek by recommending that Bingley be tried in state court where convictions in at least four of the six murders, plus the two assaults on New York law enforcement officers would result in tougher sentences than the federal charges. The attorney argued, but Hotch prevailed in the end and he relented, reserving the right to bring charges at a later date.
It was well after seven o'clock when they were finally done. Hotch suggested that they stop somewhere and eat before heading back to their hotel. But Derek had other ideas.
"I told Spencer I'd be back," he said. "Our visit was cut short when you called."
"Visiting hours will be almost over by time you get there," Hotch replied, glancing at his watch.
"Then I'd better hurry," Derek replied. Hotch returned the smile.
"Give him my regards."
Derek slid into the driver's seat of his car. Hotch got into his own vehicle, but before he could take off, someone knocked on his window. He looked up and rolled it down.
"I need a favor," Derek said.
Sheldon stared, unseeing, at the television as the sports score rolled by. He started when the intercom buzzed and slowly rose to answer it. The doorman told him the name of his visitor and he turned off the television and turned on a lamp before he went to the door. He pasted on a smile but it faded by the time his visitor stepped off the elevator.
"I brought some takeout. Thought you might be hungry."
Sheldon suppressed a sigh and stepped back.
"Thanks." He locked the door and returned to the living room, not bothering to hide his lack enthusiasm for the intruder's company.
"We caught a break and solved the case. Actually, it wasn't a break. It was you, Sheldon. You solved the case."
"Your blood analysis connected all the dots. Bingley killed Sparks and all the others. His hands strangled six people, including Officer Donner, the only one of his victims who lived to identify him. You did the analysis of the marks on the victims' throats that we were able to match to Bingley's hand casts."
"You're giving me too much credit," Sheldon said, flopping onto the sofa and shaking his head.
"The evidence speaks for itself."
"I wouldn't know," Sheldon said, averting his eyes. "I was thrown off the case before I could see it all."
"Sheldon, you know that pulling you off that scene was the right thing to do."
"I know no such thing," Sheldon replied, sitting up. "And if that's why you came--."
"Relax, Sheldon," Mac replied. "That's not why I'm here." He set the bag down on the dining table and went over to sit opposite Sheldon. "I came here to let you know that we'd solved the case and that your contributions were critical."
"You could have phoned," Sheldon replied flatly. Mac tilted his head and frowned at him. He knew that Sheldon was justifiably angry, but he knew that there was more on his mind than being kicked off the case. Mac was reluctant to pry so he held his tongue for a moment.
"Would you like me to go?" he asked finally. Sheldon shook his head and rose to his feet.
"Sorry, Mac. I'm not really good company tonight," he said as he headed for the kitchen. "Maybe you should take a rain check and come back some other time."
"Or maybe you need an unbiased ear," Mac suggested. Sheldon raised a dubious eyebrow. "Look, I don't pretend to be an expert on relationships, but--."
"Why don't we just eat," Sheldon suggested, smiling for the first time. "You can tell me about the case."
The intercom buzzed as they were serving up the food and Sheldon frowned as he rose to answer it.
"That'll be Stella," Mac said. Sheldon sighed surreptitiously and told the doorman to let her up. She arrived a few minutes later and enveloped him in a warm hug at the door. She followed Mac into the dining area and they sat down to a meal of Chinese food from a takeout near the lab. Sheldon offered Stella and Mac beer and served himself bottled water. Sheldon's attitude improved and he became eager to discuss the case. Stella had other ideas but Mac's presence prevented her from broaching the subject uppermost in her mind.
When they finished eating, Mac and Stella cleaned up the mess and loaded the dishwasher before they prepared to leave. Sheldon apologized to Mac for his foul mood as they walked to the door. Stella looked at Mac quizzically, but he shook his head.
"Get some rest, Sheldon," he said. "I don't want to see you back in the lab for another two days."
"You won't get an argument from me," Sheldon replied. Stella hugged him once again and made him promise to call if he needed anything. Sheldon assured her that he would and unlocked the door. He drew it back to reveal Don, who lowered the key in his hand and stared at Sheldon, blue eyes wide and questioning. Stella's mouth dropped open, but before she could speak, Mac took hold of her arm.
"Goodnight, Sheldon," Mac said as he slipped by the detective. "Don."
He had to practically drag Stella down the corridor to the elevator.
Derek cajoled his way into Spencer's room a few minutes after visiting hours ended. His roommate was asleep, but Spencer was wide awake and reading a book. Derek frowned at the cover and smiled.
"Danielle Steele?" he said incredulously.
"I ran out of everything else," Spencer replied defiantly. "I was going out of my mind. One of the nurses lent it to me."
"I see," Derek said, pulling up a chair. He noticed a small stack of romance novels on the floor. "You must have been really bored."
"They aren't as bad as I thought they'd be," Spencer admitted, "although they're rather formulaic and completely irrelevant."
"So you closed the case," Spencer said, turning through the last ten pages of the book, determined to finish it in spite of his companion's amusement.
"Yeah; how did you know?"
"I watched the news. Detective Flack missed his calling. He should have been an actor. The camera loves him," Spencer deadpanned. "Or maybe it was just the camera man." He reached the last page and closed the book. "So tell me everything they didn't say on the news."
"I don't know what they said on the news," Derek replied puckishly before growing serious. "And there isn't much to tell. Even with a mountain of damning evidence, Bingley refused to say a word. We may never know what prompted the first murder or any of the others, for that matter," he admitted with a sign of frustration.
"That's too bad," Spencer replied. "I suspect that Bingley would have made for a fascinating study."
"Yeah," Derek said glumly. He recounted everything he'd learned to the best of his ability. Not unexpectedly, Spencer peppered him with questions, most of which he couldn't answer.
"So when do we leave?" he asked finally.
"Tomorrow, if you're ready," Derek replied, reaching out to touch Spencer's arm. "I got permission from Hotch before I came to the hospital." Spencer looked up, clearly surprised. "I'll pack the rest of your things and come pick you up tomorrow. Then we'll take off--just the two of us."
"Take off? What did you say to Hotch?"
"I told him that I was tired of watching you moon over him and decided to make my move," Derek teased.
"Have you gone mad?"
"All right, so maybe I just told him we both needed a little personal time."
"You told him we needed personal time…together?" Spencer asked suspiciously.
"I didn't say that, exactly," Derek said tentatively. But the implication was clear and Hotch didn't seem all that surprised, Derek realized, bemusedly. Perhaps that explained his questioning looks that morning. "We can head straight for home or we can stop somewhere and hang out for a day or two," Derek continued. "You and I are due for a few days off. We can spend them together… Maybe talk."
There was a sparkle in Derek's eye and a resoluteness that Spencer hadn't seen in some time. He frowned and peered more deeply, looking for the answer to the question he was afraid to ask. Derek gave his arm a squeeze and slid his hand down to entwine his fingers with Spencer's.
"So, are you up for that, or what?" he asked softly. Spencer swallowed hard and nodded. "Are you sure?" Derek asked, suddenly afraid that he'd misread Spencer's earlier behavior. But Spencer nodded and smiled. Derek returned the smile and leaned in to kiss him briefly. "I promised I'd only stay a few minutes," he said. "I'd better go before I wear out my welcome." He leaned in and kissed Spencer again, deepening the kiss when Spencer reached up with his free hand to hold him close.
"May I come in?" Don asked, suddenly unsure of his welcome. Sheldon stepped back to allow him access. "So, Mac and Stella…" he prompted after a few seconds when Sheldon seemed unwilling to speak first. He'd returned to his place on the sofa, lounging against a large pillow.
"What about them?" he replied laconically.
"What were they doing here?" Don asked evenly.
"They brought dinner and gave me an update on the case," Sheldon said, settling deeper into the cushions.
"We're busted." Don ran a hand through his hair.
"You should have called," Sheldon replied dully.
"I did call. I called three times. You didn't answer," Don replied sharply. Sheldon raised his eyes to glance at him and sat up. "Look--."
"Just drop it, will you?" Sheldon said, rising to his feet.
"Drop it?" Don repeated. "You walked away from an active crime scene--."
"I was kicked off the case and escorted off the crime scene," Sheldon corrected.
"You skipped out on your escort and--."
"My escort left me when you called him. I just kept walking."
"So you went off with Morgan," Don finished accusingly. But the anger he'd been carrying all afternoon suddenly abandoned him and he sat down, deflated and confused.
"I don't believe this," Sheldon muttered as he rose and went into the kitchen to start the dishwasher. He returned to he living room and began to pace. "We went through this just a few days ago."
"Don," Sheldon spat, cutting him off before he had the chance to say more. "I am so tired of this," he said. Don opened his mouth and shut it again when Sheldon shot him a venomous glare and walked over to the window.
"One last time," he said, his back to Don. He spoke with characteristic intensity, his voice soft and yet menacing as he stared out over the city below. "If you can't learn to trust me…to trust this," he said, gesturing vaguely with one hand, "then we're done. I know you love me. I know you're worried about me," Sheldon continued. "But if you can't maintain some sort of perspective--."
"I was out of line back at the lab," Don admitted. "I had no right to question your judgment or interfere when Mac told Jackson to take you home. I guess I was just--." Don paused when Sheldon turned around, grinning from ear to ear. "Doc?"
"I just had a thought," he said.
"I hope you plan to share," Don said curiously. Sheldon chuckled as he walked over to him.
"I was just thinking that it would be a shame for us to break up on the same day that Stella found out about us," Sheldon said grinning. A smile played on Don's lips.
"She was totally freaked, wasn't she?"
"Mac had to pry her out of here," Sheldon agreed. "She's been trying to fix us up for ages." He put a hand to his chest, heaving with laughter. Don took the opportunity to move closer.
"I don't know about you, but I think explaining a break up to her would be even harder than explaining why we've been lying to her for a year."
"Hey, you're the one who lied," Sheldon said lightly. "I've just been vague."
"Yes," Sheldon said as Don moved into his personal space. "So what are you suggesting? We should resolve this because you're afraid of Stella?" he teased. But Don shook his head and grew serious.
"Facing Stella I could handle. Losing you--that's something I'm not prepared to confront," he said sincerely. He leaned in to kiss Sheldon, but a firm palm to his chest stayed him.
"Whatever it takes. Whip me, beat me, write me bad checks--I'm here for the long haul," Don promised, crossing his heart. Sheldon rolled his eyes and allowed him his prize.
An hour later they were curled up together in Sheldon's bed, laughing as Stella left her third voicemail message.
"She's going to kill us tomorrow," Don said.
"Not us, you--I'm off the next two days," Sheldon replied.