Safest Place to Hide

Summary: Death at a culinary school leads Eames and Goren on a confusing case that is not as it appears to be. Twists, turns and confusing clues lie around every corner as danger builds in the shroud of the journey.

Pairing: Alex/Bobby eventually.

Disclaimer: I don't own them unfortunately. I write as wishful thinking.

Author's Note: I'm so glad Kathryn Erbe's bio is back on NBC! I was so scared that she wasn't coming back or something… thanks to EveLGW for pointing out that it was back! You made my day!

The body lay on the sidewalk, bruised and bloody. Detective Alexandra Eames looked over the wreckage with slightly sympathetic eyes. The ground was bloody around the body and it had gathered a lot of eyes around. Alex looked up at the old buildings around then to the broken windows around. They came from the school behind the body.

"Four gunshots to the head and upper chest," her partner, Detective Robert Goren, supplied. Alex jotted this down in her notes, only half of her attention on Bobby. Of course, it wasn't as if this was something new. Alex Eames and Bobby Goren had a connection that allowed them the security of half attention. One picked up some of the clues, the other filled in the blanks. Thus, the other half of Alex's attention was on the rest of the scenery. It was difficult because something else was eating at the back of her mind. She'd felt eyes on her from the instant she'd stepped into the crowd and it wasn't from the general watchers. Someone, it felt, was watching only her.

It didn't seem to matter to anyone else. Regardless, Alex kept the corner of her eye on the crowd, noticing any suspicious people. As she turned her head, something caught her eyes. It was another set of eyes, these ones less threatening and more curious. It gave Alex shivers to hold his gaze. It didn't matter. Alex continued, moving away from the body and her partner, counting the random shells that littered the ground. Mentally counting in her head, Alex let out a hiss. All of shells added to an entire clip.

"Someone was angry." Alex resisted the urge to jump and spin to rip him a new one. She was on edge already, jumpy from the hairs on the back of her neck and how they were standing on end. Instead she turned slowly, facing Bobby. A slight raise of the eyebrow indicated to him he needed to fill in at least a few of the blanks.

"The shots are scattered. Not only that, but look at how many shots were fired? Four hits, none of which were close together. There was nothing calm or collected about this." Bobby had noticed Alex's jumpy disposition. It worried him. Alex was an unshakable rock and he didn't like that she was so unsteady now. Vaguely, he wondered what was going through her head, why she was so afraid. He watched her carefully as she picked up one of the shell casings with a gloved hand.

"The shells are .38 calibre."

"We've got rookies looking for the gun," he assured her, his hand on her back steering her towards the crowd. "We've got to talk to the guy who found him."

The man who found him turned out to be the same guy that Alex's eyes had met across the crowd. As she met his eyes again, the feeling of shivers didn't go away. It felt like he was watching her.

"Detective Eames and Detective Goren, Major Case," Bobby said. "You found our victim?"

"Horace Mitchell. He runs the school, Art of Cuisine. I work with him."

"And you are…?"

"Patrick Sparks. Horace and I had been friends since I started teaching with him seven years ago."

"He didn't have any enemies?" His eyes hadn't left Alex's face from the moment they started talking. Something about him seemed familiar and left her unsettled.

"Not that any of us knew. Every one in the school loved him." Both absorbed the information carefully. Bobby could feel Alex's nerves. He knew that it was time to end the conversation. With a quick thank you and another comforting hand on Alex's back, they returned to their work.

"Someone had to have the motive to kill him. Jealousy? Greed? Maybe the school was flourishing and someone didn't like that," Alex suggested, immersing her mind in the case and trying to keep her thoughts away from the eyes that she was sure were still following her every move. Bobby nodded, absorbing the theories and linking them with the other thoughts racing through his head.

"We'll check into employees and see if anyone had a problem." Alex nodded as they walked towards the car, turning one last time to survey the scene. Her eyes met Patrick Sparks' again, and this time she really shivered.

It was difficult for them to track down the employees of the school seeing as with the murder the day's classes had been cancelled. None of the employees had left home and those that did, turned around as soon as they were in sight of the school. They eventually managed to track down a pastry chef. They knocked on the door for the apartment of Marty Edmonds.

"Can I help you?" The man was portly, short and chubby. He was grey and balding, something Alex was currently relating to a grandfather.

"We're from the NYPD, Detectives Eames and Goren. We just wanted to ask you a few questions about Horace Mitchell." Edmonds took a seat on one of the apartment's armchairs. He looked rather upset with the name.

"Were you close?" Alex asked, beginning to feel sorry for putting the man through the questioning.

"I wouldn't say we were close but I had infinite respect for him. He worked hard to keep everything fair in the school, regardless of threats and complaints. He balanced everything quickly and easily, always dispelling conflicts before they could get out of hand. I can't think of anyone who wanted him dead."

"No one came around the school with threats?" Bobby inquired. Edmonds considered a minute.

"We get a lot of applicants every semester and we can't take them all. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the people that didn't get accepted were upset about it. We can only fit so many students in the dormitories so we can only take that many. Our school is a lot like a university in that respect. The process is picky.

"And what is this process?" Alex asked. Edmonds took a deep breath.

"A resume, interview and cooking. If we think they have potential, we let them in."

"You keep saying we… this wasn't an individual decision?" Edmonds shook his head at Bobby's question.

"Since we all basically have to teach the person, we all get input. It was another way Horace kept things fair."

"We're going to need a copy of all of those complaints."