Written for the NFA Original Character Challenge
Warnings: Disturbing imagery and violence. My muse decided to get in touch with her inner Dexter today.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters are the property of their respective copyright holders. No infringement intended. The original characters and places mentioned are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to those living, dead, or undead is completely coincidental.
Summary: For Frank Bailey, the hunt was almost as satisfying as the kill.
If someone had told his acquaintances that Frank Bailey was a serial murderer, none of them would have believed it. Frank was the epitome of ordinary: just a shade over six feet tall, muddy brown hair, unremarkable hazel eyes, neither too pale nor noticeably tan, and possessing no features which immediately caught the eye or stirred the memory. It was this outward appearance, however, that allowed Frank to glide through the crowds, disregarded, hiding his true nature.
Beneath his mild-mannered exterior was an accomplished, vicious killer who selected and stalked his prey with cold-blooded precision. Unlike most serial killers, Frank didn't have a 'type'. If a victim caught his eye, regardless of age, sex, or race, Frank would turn his ambitions to bringing their life to a tortuous end. It was yet another reason why he hadn't been caught. Investigators looked for patterns, and he didn't leave any to discover.
To Frank, the hunt was just as satisfying as the final kill. He was frighteningly adept at following someone unnoticed. Not one person had ever connected him with the disappearance or death of his many victims, the fact of which amused Frank greatly. He was almost a ghost, slipping unseen in and out of the lives of his targets, many of whom had not even realized they were being hunted. The shock on their faces when he finally moved in for the kill was one of the many pleasures he gained from his gruesome hobby.
Frank liked to take his time in his hunts. The slow build was infinitely more satisfying than a rushed attack, and he had pursued many of his victims for months before he had snatched them from their obliviousness and cast them into the reality of his bloodlust. The hours he spent inflicting pain in a variety of ways were just icing on the cake, a delicacy he craved more and more as the years passed and the body count grew.
Frank's current target had caught his eye when he had spotted the man as he worked behind the bright yellow barrier of crime scene tape, diligently photographing the detritus from one of Frank's own escapades. The young features and beautiful green eyes had drawn his attention and stirred within him delightfully ardent sensations as he imagined the terror he could coax out of such a lovely specimen and the wonderfully intricate patterns he could create with the man's blood. He stopped to listen to the group around his new object of interest, hoping to hear a name and gain a starting point for his next hunt.
Frank shivered at the subservient tone emanating from this 'McGee'. He would be so much fun…
He took note of the information on the truck parked near the scene and hurried home, eager to start his search. He discovered that his target's name was Special Agent Timothy McGee, AKA Thom E. Gemcity, best-selling author. The fact that someone with a creative talent would willingly chain himself to the banality of police work intrigued Frank even further, and he extended his search with almost giddy anticipation. He soon discovered that tracking McGee would be more of a challenge than he expected. His personal information was well protected, but with the right skills and an untraceable source of funds, Frank was able to get the bare minimum to prepare his hunt.
For the next several weeks, he shadowed McGee, tracking him from a safe distance. He learned that McGee was a creature of habit, and soon he knew the young agent's routine better than McGee probably knew himself. It would have been tempting to wait until he was isolated and take him quickly, but Frank was enjoying himself to much to let it all be over so swiftly. He savored each moment of the surveillance, dreaming of the acts he would commit against the hapless victim once he had him strapped to the table in his own private dungeon, far from the prying eyes of polite society.
Every once in awhile, Frank got the distinct feeling that McGee was becoming suspicious of his activities. While out for his evening run, McGee would sometimes pause and take in his surroundings more carefully than he had before. A few of these surveys had nearly brought his gaze to where Frank watched, well hidden, and Frank became even more cautious. He forced himself to back off a bit, temporarily quelling his desires in favor of safety and discretion, but these reprieves never lasted and soon he was solidifying his final plans for McGee's capture and demise.
After nearly three months of watching Frank finally made his move. He waited until he was absolutely certain McGee was alone and lured him into a blind corner where he knocked him unconscious with a single blow to the back of the head. A car stolen just for the occasion was parked nearby and Frank carried McGee to the trunk before dumping him inside and securing his hands and feet with zip-ties. A piece of duct tape over the agent's mouth assured Frank that he wouldn't be able to call for help, and he carefully and quietly closed the trunk lid before climbing into the driver's seat and steering the car towards their destination.
Much to Frank's delight McGee was still unconscious when they arrived at the hideaway, an abandoned farmhouse far from the prying eyes of McGee's colleagues aboard the Navy Yard. Frank dragged the limp body of his victim down to the cellar, where he stripped the man to his underwear—the initial act of violation for the victim and the beginnings of foreplay for Frank—removed the tape from his mouth and tied him spread-eagle to a large, stained table that Frank had used for many of his conquests.
Once he had McGee in place, Frank arranged his tools on a second table and carefully checked the edge of each blade. He selected a few that did not meet his standards for sharpness and began to hone them against an old strop, the back and forth motion both soothing and energizing him as he waited for McGee to awaken.
Finally, after his anticipation had reached an almost frenzied peak, McGee's eyes fluttered open, widening as he took in his surroundings.
"So nice of you to join me, Timothy. I think it's time we got to know one another."
McGee's attention locked on his abductor and Frank drank in the look of fear in the young man's eyes.
"What…what do you want with me?"
"Everything, Timothy. We're going to have such a good time…" Frank took the knife he had been sharpening and laid it against McGee's cheek, carefully dragging it down his neck with just enough pressure to avoid cutting the skin, but still letting McGee know that injury was still a distinct possibility. McGee shivered and Frank smiled. "Perfect."
McGee just stared at him, obviously trying to remain stoic, even though Frank could see the beads of sweat starting to form on his forehead and the rapid pulse of his heartbeat in the veins in his neck. Frank carefully ran the blade down past the hollow of McGee's throat and when it reached the spot just above the collar bone, he added just enough pressure to penetrate the skin, eliciting a startled yelp of pain from the agent.
"Shall I make the Y-incision for Dr. Mallard? Save him the trouble?" He eased up on the pressure again and slowly drew the blade over towards McGee's shoulder, leaving a thin trail of red. The contrast to McGee's pale skin was breathtaking and Frank yearned to see more.
"Why what, dear Timothy?"
"Why are you doing this?"
Frank smiled. "Everyone needs a hobby. Some people paint. Some write." He chuckled. "Some build boats in their basement. I hunt and kill people. There's no rush like it, believe me." He moved the blade down toward the center of McGee's chest, easing on and off the pressure on the skin, slicing through in one or two places before he reached McGee's breastbone.
Frank just smiled as he felt the heat of his arousal grow. "I so love to hear them beg, did you know that? They cry, and they plead, and in the end…well, it doesn't really help. But don't let that stop you. I certainly enjoy it." In a flash he drew the knife down McGee's chest, delighting in the bloom of scarlet that flowed from the wound and reveling in the howl of pain that erupted from McGee's throat.
"Yes, scream. Scream for me, Timothy." He slashed the knife across McGee's ribs, leaving a shallow wound that still bled freely. "I could do this all night…"
"How many what, Timothy? How many times will I cut you? Well, that depends…"
"How many have you killed?"
Frank threw back his head and laughed. "Still the investigator, I see. Well, let me think…"
"Petty Officer Linda McClellan."
Frank froze for a brief moment before returning his attention to the man on the table. "Yes, she was the latest. Before you, that is."
Frank's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "How did you…?"
"Richard King…Maureen Blake…Kim Yukimara…George Brown…Lacey Edwards…"
Frank drew back, unable to believe what he was hearing. "How…?"
"Figured it out. Found the pattern. We've been hunting you, you son-of-a-bitch."
Frank grabbed a larger knife and held it to McGee's throat. "Tell me how!"
McGee smiled, even though his face was pinched with pain and anxiety. "You made a mistake. You killed a Marine, and you killed a Petty Officer. Both under NCIS jurisdiction. Compared the wound patterns. Searched for other cases…"
Suddenly Frank heard the sound of vehicles approaching, followed by the slamming of doors and running footsteps. He paused, unsure of what to do.
"How in the hell did they find me?"
"Sub-dermal tracking device. Knew I was being followed. Family of a couple of your other victims reported that they thought they were being followed. Suspected it was you…"
Frank swore. "You bastard!"
With a cry of fury, Frank brought the knife down and buried it in McGee's stomach. He screamed in agony just as the door at the top of the step exploded inward.
Frank ran to the far corner of the basement and pried loose a piece of wood that covered his escape route – a tunnel that led to the barn. He ducked into the corridor, but not before he caught a glimpse of the silver-haired man who reached the bottom of the stairs first. Those cold blue eyes were alight with fury, promising a swift death to the man who had hurt his agent, so Frank did the only thing he could: he ran for his life.
The hunter had become the hunted.