Disclaimer: They aren't mine; they belong to Dick Wolf. Thanks, Mr. Wolf. The Ten Commandments belong to God.
The phone rang…and rang…and rang. Alex Eames swore under her breath. Why tonight? That had been a damn good dream! She rolled over and picked up the receiver. "Hello?"
"Who the hell did you expect to answer my phone?"
"Sorry to wake you."
"This had better be good, Goren."
"Deakins seems to think it is. Body in the Village."
"That sounds like the name of a bad horror movie. All right. I'll pick you up."
She dropped the receiver into its cradle and rolled out of bed. Thirty minutes later she was in front of her partner's building. He came right out, as he usually did. That was one thing she did appreciate about him. He never kept her waiting when she picked him up. He slid into the car. "It's still dark, Goren."
"I'll have you know you interrupted a good dream."
"Sorry." He looked over at her. "Want to talk about it?"
"No thanks." She wasn't going there with him. The fact that he had been part of that dream would make discussing it with him more disquieting than comforting. The last thing she wanted was her partner in her head…at least not any more than he already was. "We're stopping for coffee on the way." She looked at him. She hadn't missed the fatigue in his eyes when he got into the car. "Have you even been to sleep?"
"You tried? What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong. You should know me by now."
"Don't give me that crap."
He shrugged. "I haven't…been sleeping very well."
She glanced at him, but his face was in shadows, and she suspected it would tell her nothing if she could see it. If she knew him, he was going to change the subject, like he usually tried to when the conversation got too personal. "The body was found on the steps of St. Mary's."
She let him get away with it for the moment. "A church? Geez. What else?"
"I don't know anything else."
She was quiet for a minute before she tried to steer the conversation back to his sleeping patterns. "Well, then, tell me what's going on. Have you been having bad dreams?"
His dreams…he wasn't about to go into that with her. He cared little what others thought about him. With Eames, though, it was different, because he did care what she thought. Every little piece of the puzzle he let her see frightened him. He was always afraid that the next piece would be the one to frighten her off. But she hadn't gone yet. And she had seen some pretty frightening pieces. In the beginning, he had tried to push her away, keep her at a distance. Now all he wanted to do was draw her closer. But he didn't know what she wanted, and that was what mattered to him. So he kept his distance. "Forget it, Eames. It's not important."
She glanced at him, sensing he was disturbed. "Goren…"
"Forget it," he said softly.
So she let the matter drop…for now.
They pulled up to the church and were approached by the police sergeant who was in charge of the scene. "You guys Major Case?"
Eames nodded. "I'm Detective Eames. My partner is Detective Goren."
"Body's over here."
They followed him to the steps of the church, pulling on their latex gloves as they went. Goren squatted beside the body, beginning his examination. Eames took in the surrounding area. At four o'clock in the morning there wasn't much in the way of traffic, vehicle or pedestrian. This church was off the beaten path. "Eames."
She returned to the body, where Goren had pulled the victim's shirt back from his abdomen. The number five was written on his skin. "Please tell me that's red paint."
"He appears to have been tortured. See these marks on his wrists and those on his ankles? They're electrical burns."
"This just gets better."
He looked up at her, arms resting on his knees. His face was troubled. "There may be more to this than there seems."
"And what makes you say that?"
"The number five." He pointed to the victim's torso. "Where are the first four?"