It was late. They called New York the City that Never Sleeps, but the back-alley areas—the ones Karl knew; the ones that still serviced public pay phones and always always had a place for him to park the van because they were far enough away from the main roads—where there were only streetlights that bore witness as he unhurriedly depressed the keys in the pay phone—9-1-1. No surveillance cameras, here. The buildings were abandoned, under permanent construction, or condemned.
"911, what's your emergency?"
"I've done it again," Karl said, and then dropped the phone, ignoring the questions the voice was asking, trying to get more information.
Only the streetlights bore witness as he walked away. The streetlights, and perhaps the bleeding, mostly dead man in the van he was abandoning. Avoiding anywhere with a camera for at least three blocks before deeming it safe enough to hail a taxi home.
The van had already been wiped clean. It wasn't connected to him at all. Hospitals had dozens—hundreds—of vehicles used to transport prone patients. It attracted too much attention to try and get his hands on an ambulance. But the kinds of vans regularly used to taxi hospice patients? Karl hadn't even had to try hard to get one. They kept the ones they "retired" in a special lot, and he knew which one. Knew where the keys were, too.
This one had been forever working out, too. He oughtn't have done it, really. It was…a special case. In more than one way. File appropriation had been the hardest part; lots of red tape. Because he was a mutant. Karl had never done a mutant, before.
Then had been his own deductions. The files were more than five years old. He had to determine which were useful and which…weren't. That part hadn't been hard. He had public record to help him, there, though it had been annoying appropriating them from the original location, which was hundreds of miles and several time zones away.
He'd done it, though. And all legit. Nothing suspicious would be linked to him. He'd been careful.
He'd appropriated a special drug. Worked like a charm. His supplier had said it was poison to mutants—even through skin-contact—but harmless to anyone else. (The supplier had never seen his face. Karl had been careful, with this one.)
Karl had diluted it, experimented with it. Because the bastard in the van? Deserved everything he got. And being offed by poison would have been too easy.
Karl had just used enough of it to keep him disoriented. While Karl did his work.
In the taxi, giving his address to the driver, Karl saw the flashing lights of the police cars. An ambulance passed them by, siren blaring.
He'd done it. If they got there soon, the man in the van might even survive.
Karl put it from his mind.
In truth, he'd stopped worrying at all before he'd even dialed the phone.
Scott awakened with his alarm, not before, sporting a headache; he was initially grateful for the distraction from his wrist, which he'd recently broken, but tugged on a pair of shoes awkwardly, leaving the confines of the Institute as quickly as humanly possible, opening his day with a run. This served several purposes: One: it made Jean stop nagging him. She worried that he would pine for her while she was at school, and she worried less when he told her he'd taken up running, again.
Two: it honestly did help the headaches. Keeping his eyes shut for long periods of time (say, for a solid 6 hours of sleep?) had been…harder on him, lately, than usual. His mutation ('concussive optic blasts,' the Professor called them, even as Scott still fondly referred to them as 'eyeball bazookas') drew energy from sunlight. The Professor and Mr. McCoy had theorized ad nauseum about the particulars, but Scott just knew his body. He'd never been one to sleep for long. He'd been waking up to headaches since he was…about thirteen years old.
Three: If he timed it right, Scott could avoid Logan's perpetual offer for Scott to help him with Danger Room Maintenance.
And most importantly, Four: If he timed it even better, Scott would arrive back from running as Jean was leaving for class, and she'd admitted to him that seeing him all exhausted and sweaty was a tiny bit sexy.
That accomplished, Scott proceeded to cool down, doing some stretches as he made his way slowly back to his room. When they'd turned eighteen and graduated, Professor Xavier had offered them jobs with him. This had included and not been limited to new rooms, in the 'Staff' wing of the mansion. Where Scott's room was next to Logan's and Mr. McCoy's, and Jean's was a few doors down, next to Ororo's.
It had been…interesting. The Professor explained that it was just…nicer. Legally. To do this. Since by and large the façade of the Institute was that of a 'campus.' Even if they attended public school, the students had always been subjected to Institute rules. Boys in one wing, girls in another. (And the 'headmaster' was a telepath. See how often those boundaries were breached.) Turning eighteen, being legally considered adults, it was…less appropriate for them to remain in the student wings.
Scott, who had always been very 'grown up' and responsible in his time at the Institute, had noticed the shift. It was…small things. Mr. McCoy had been commenting, lately, that they were colleagues, now, and that Scott could call him 'Hank,' as such. (Scott still struggled with this, though Logan and Ororo had long since stopped being 'Ms. Munroe and Mr. Logan' to him.) Scott and Jean were included in Staff rotation of things like fire safety, student progress planning, and Danger Room demos (though Scott remained unclear if Logan actually meant demo as in 'demonstration' or demo as in 'demolition,' and he'd been here for going on 3 years.)
Jean noticed it, too, but in her own way. She said she felt less presence in her mind. The Professor had always kept a lowkey tab on all of his students. (In enabled him to know if and when they were in trouble, or even communicate directly with their minds, as he'd had to do over the years.) But with his Staff, he allowed them the freedom to…exist without his presence.
Scott didn't feel any difference, but Jean insisted it was there. And he was likely to trust her, these days, because her powers had been growing, and had only been stronger since the Apocalypse fiasco.
It was Wednesday, so Jean had her class at NYU and Scott usually taught at the Institute after school got out for the students. He'd had careful stacks of lesson plans to follow, but had decided last night to be a little lax—Professor Xavier had mentioned that Jubilation Lee was returning to school, and would be arriving a little later. Ororo and the Professor were picking her up from the airport, and Logan was subbing Ororo's outdoor obstacle course training. The kids didn't need a physics quiz on top of that.
An awkward shower later, his disgusting cast shoved into a plastic bag over his left wrist as he performed the already complicated mechanics of showering with his eyes closed, Scott opted for clothing with as few buttons as possible, getting to breakfast with still-damp hair, thanking Bobby for his iced orange juice and downing the anti-inflammatories he'd been stuck with since his stupid wrist had broken.
The nurse had said the break was at risk for developing bone-spurs, which sucked, because he'd broken this same wrist before. That had been a fun conversation. Trying to tell the nurse details about the last time he'd broken this wrist, five years ago. Another of the injuries he'd gotten because of the unfortunate case of 'living with an abusive asshole' he'd contracted when he was thirteen.
Jean hadn't thought that was funny. Scott's humor was wasted on these people. It wasn't like his 'condition' had proved fatal.
Logan turned up the volume on the television; a special report about a serial killer still on the loose over in the city. The media called him the "Good Samaritan," because he didn't kill his victims. He always called 911. Allowed first responders the chance to save their lives.
"We've just received word that the latest victim died early this morning. He was admitted to Bellevue Hospital Center with multiple broken bones and evidence of blunt force trauma to his liver and kidneys. The victim is fifty-six-year-old John Smith, according to his Driver's License, a tourist visiting from Anchorage, Alaska. No next-of-kin has been found to inform…"
How might the course of his day been changed, had Scott not glanced up, then? Maybe not much. Especially considering what ended up happening later.
But he did.
The news reporter was sharing a corner of her screen for the driver's license photo of the victim.
The kids didn't notice Scott's reaction. Didn't bat an eye. It was the beauty of wearing sunglasses all the Goddamn time. Kurt called for anyone who needed a ride to meet him by the X-van. Kitty grabbed an apple for the road.
Rogue saw. And Logan.
"Oh, shit," Rogue said, because Scott's memories had lived in her head, before.
She knew who he was. Who he…had been?
'John Smith,' as his ID called him, was actually one of the many aliases used by Jack Winters.
Scott's former foster father.
The building was poorly lit and in dire need of an upgrade. It smelled fine, considering…well. There were no "patients" in the mortuary. Just…cadavers.
Ressler had ridden along with Elizabeth, keeping remarkable pace with her, despite his pronounced limp and the cane he carried. They didn't talk…the mole. They didn't talk betrayal, or Raymond Reddington, or the emergency surgery Ressler had undergone at his hands, a few weeks ago. They didn't talk about Tom, or their personal lives.
God, it was nice. Ressler was good, like that. They could talk personal lives, but he also knew when to just…keep it about work.
They talked Good Samaritan, though. Quite a bit about him. And there was a bit to talk about, even without the most recent case file in front of her. The way Ressler had led the manhunt on Reddington was the same way Liz had been about the Good Samaritan.
"So you've been there since the beginning?" Ressler asked, and it wasn't trite, with him. It wasn't making chitchat. (It might have been, a little, because they both knew the gigantic Goddamn elephant in the room they were dancing around, but if he could do it, so could she, damnit.)
"Nearly. I rode lead on the case after the…third victim, I think." She didn't think. She knew. They had only started to recognize the pattern after the third victim. The one who'd died in Liz's arms.
"So. Tell me. Our guy. What do you got on the victims?" he asked. He was actually setting the pace, now. Trying to prove he was the job. Even now. God, she loved Ressler. He was a great partner.
"Seven, so far," she answered immediately. "All different ages, incomes. He always acted unpredictably. We could never figure out his trigger, only that he's trying to make a statement." This was what they were sure about. What made it serial. A lot of the markers didn't hit. He was methodical, but the victims' injuries were never…identical. Just..precise.
"What kind of a statement?" Ressler asked. He was playing into her hands. Letting her show off. What had she done to deserve how nice he was being, today? Maybe he was just in a good mood.
"He never kills his victims. He always calls 911, allows first responders a chance to save their lives. That's why the papers call him The Good Samaritan."
They were silent as they spoke with the mortician. They looked over the body of the latest victim, who still hadn't been identified. They were looking for a next-of-kin to claim him.
What did make this one different—and this was what hadn't made it to the papers—was that the man had been a mutant. The gene had been verified. It was hard to identify powers; nothing in the bloodwork to give any hints. Not postmortem. But the blood alone told them a fair bit.
There were several kinds of mutants, and several kinds of mutations, of course. And this man had been a rarer type; an 'Alpha' mutant. It was clear, from his gene, that he had been given—in potential, at least—two powers. It might have been that he wasn't aware of both of them, or that one of them had been dormant. That wasn't something they could tell by blood and DNA alone. Most mutants who exhibited a power were low-to-high level 'Beta' mutants. Still others had different classifications. Those whose powers weren't awakened until later in life, or those whose powers were awakened by strange means—Liz had read about a group of astronauts caught in some kind of cosmic storm in space, and all had miraculously manifested powers as a result; they might have gone their whole lives with that dormant x-gene, had this event not occurred.
Liz was still thinking about it when she got home, later that night. Tom wasn't there—of course he wasn't there. He'd said he was leaving to go to Nebraska, for that job interview.
She took a call from an unknown number, when she felt it vibrating in the pocket of her jacket. She did it because in her line of work…it could be anyone. The President. Mr. Kaplan. Reddington himself.
Ah. Reddington himself. Think of the Devil and he will appear.
"Where are you?" she asked sharply.
"I read about that gentleman they found in New York. Sounded awfully familiar." He didn't answer her question. He claimed he didn't lie to her, but this was how he managed that. He avoided questions. "The Good Samaritan," he continued. "Are you back on the case, I hope?"
"They're going to find you," Liz said. She could avoid his questions, too.
"This one's important to you, isn't he?" Red asked. Because of course he did. "Why? What on earth happened?"
Liz breathed into the phone, rolling her eyes.
"I only ask on the chance that I may be able to help," Red said. Like he could see her frustration.
Liz bit. She put down her purse. Settled into her couch. "One of the earliest victims…She died in my arms," Liz said. Facts. Methodical. Stoic. She was putting on her 'cold bitch' face for this, because she couldn't be emotional. "There was nothing I could do to stop it."
"You missed something, didn't you?" Red never missed a trick. His voice was smooth. Low and confident. He knew this answer already. The bastard.
"Serial killers escalate. This one doesn't," Liz replied, almost defensively. "The victims and methods vary. I could never see the pattern…The profile. Still can't."
"I don't know about serial killers," Red said to that—it was the tone of voice he used when scolding her for thinking too much like a cop, and not enough like a criminal. To catch a criminal, she had to think like a criminal. "But I do know about torture," he continued. "And there is no one-size-fits-all. If you really want to hurt someone, you need to tailor your attack specifically to that person."
It was like he was in her brain with her. She'd been thinking this. Because the victim was a mutant. The attacks on him would had to have taken that into account.
"This victim was a mutant," Liz blurted. "None of the other victims was one. What does that mean?"
Red, as ever, was evasive. "Perhaps the killer's methods, the injuries he inflicts, tell you less about him and more about his victims."
Liz stewed with that thought in her head.
"I got to go," Red said then, with no fanfare.
The phone didn't click. He didn't hang up on her. But there was a loud clack that came over the speaker, and she suspected he'd just thrown the phone out, somewhere.
Liz didn't think well without resources. She didn't even bother taking her jacket off. She just picked up her purse and her keys, and left. She had research to do about some victims.
And here we go. I've always liked this episode of the Blacklist. And wondered what lovely applications it would have on certain other fandoms. As always, I'm mostly writing this for me. I'm the one who wants to read it, so I have to write it. Anyone else have that problem? I might even take requests, if you make your case interesting enough. :) This was a thing where I was mostly like, 'I don't even go here,' for the Blacklist fandom. Because I don't. I'm not caught up, I'm still sauntering through season 3 at a leisurely pace, uncaring of the drama that happens later. But hey. Even if I don't even go here, I wanted to read this. So I wrote it. You never know.