TITLE: Into the Abyss
KEYWORDS: Martin POV, MS, Martin angst
SPOILERS/TIMELINE: Set Post 3x16 "Manhunt"
ARCHIVE: It will be posting simultaneously at DestinedTo and fanfictionnet
SPECIAL THANKS: To everyone who reads my fics and more so to the ones who take time to review. I know I am horrible at saying thanks but each one truly makes my day a little brighter. Thank you!!
EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS: to Stephell for agreeing to beta. So if there is anything you don't like, blame her, she made me do it! But to be fair, if you do like it, it's because she made me think, work and try harder. Seriously, I'm exhausted.
DISCLAIMER: Hank and Co. own everything Without a Trace. No copyright infringement is intended. I write so I can make them do what I want if only for a little while.
SUMMARY: He wants the one who got away…
Your memory is a monster, you forget – it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you – and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!
"A Prayer for Owen Meany" – John Irving
"Jump! Jump! Jump!"
Martin moved closer to the edge, carefully making his way over the rocky terrain in his Converse sneakers. He stood at the cliff and looked down to see his friends sitting in their canoes as they stared up at him, chanting "Jump!" over and over. He gave them a half-hearted wave and wondered how he ended up here.
Actually, he knew exactly how he ended up in this predicament and it was all thanks to his big mouth.
The night before he and a bunch of his friends were talking about the legend surrounding Cayuga Cliff and Martin made the mistake of saying that he could do the jump if he wanted. Unfortunately, this little comment led to other kids challenging his statement and before he even knew how it happened, he had been challenged to make the jump the following afternoon. Which was why he was now standing on the cliff, preparing to leap over the side into the water below and quite possibly his own death.
Resolved he took a deep breath and turned around, walking back to safer ground. He removed his baseball cap, tossed it onto the ground near a bush before pulling off his t-shirt and toeing off his sneakers, tossing them in the same general area.
He slowly shuffled back towards the edge, the rocks digging into the soles of his bare feet. The ground was hot from the sun and it burned the bottoms of his feet. He remembered reading in National Geographic about young boys in tribes who had to walk across a bed of hot coals as a rite of passage into manhood. He wondered if they felt as nervous as he did right now or if they just knew they had to do it and didn't think twice – because he was having second thoughts and third and fourth…
He reached the edge and sighed heavily, the sun directly above him and beating down its fiery hot rays that made the back of his neck feel like it was on fire. It also made the world around him impossibly bright white so that even the water below didn't look blue. The sun's rays were bouncing off the water's waves making it sparkle like fireworks.
He squinted down at his friends, their faces obscured against the sunlight.
He wondered why on earth he agreed to this dare. It was a documented camp legend that only the bravest boys jumped off the cliff and while he always considered himself brave he couldn't help but wonder if it was more suicidal than bravery. After all, every other kid who tried was either killed, severely disabled or was never seen or heard from again. At least that was what he was told. No one could quite recall having actually met someone who made the jump.
Of course, legend also told that the boys who survived the jump bragged about seeing things deep in those watery depths. The abyss is what they called it, claiming to see fish that were bigger than them, with big buggy eyes and long elegant fins. There was also talk of a mermaid who lived in an underwater lair. No accounts could be verified, however, and now it was up to him to prove them or discredit it all as rumor and myth.
He inched closer to the ledge, the tips of his toes clutching onto the dirt and rock that hung over the side. He could feel his heart thundering in his chest and hear his blood roaring in his ears. Using his hand he wiped the sweat from his brow and rubbed it against his shorts.
"You can do this, Martin," he mumbled to himself as he held out his arms, bent his knees and…
In the moonlit shadows of the bedroom Martin shifted trying to seek out some warmth. He reached down to pull up the blanket but without luck. He cracked open an eye to see that he was lying in the bed without so much as a wisp of a sheet covering his boxer clad body. He propped himself up on his elbows and looked over to see that Sam was still the reigning queen as stealer of covers.
He sighed as he carefully reached over and tried to pull some of the covers back over to his side without waking her up. While he was enjoying getting to sleep with her every night, sleeping next to her was an entirely different matter. She would inevitably hog all the blankets, leaving him to fend for himself. He glanced at her slumbering face, nestled peacefully in the bundle of sheets and blankets before he gently tugged on one end of the sheet trying hard not to disturb her.
And then his cell phone rang.
"Shit," he mumbled as he maneuvered back over to his side of the bed and grabbed the phone off the nightstand. He glanced at the clock; the digital numbers illuminated a bright red: 1:05 am. He felt Sam stir and roll over behind him. He turned to look at her, her eyes blinking as they tried to focus in the darkness. He flipped open his cell phone, the bright blue light from the keypad stung his eyes and answered, "Fitzgerald."
"Hi, Martin, sorry to wake you," Jack's gruff voice greeted him.
"It's alright," he replied, casting a quick glance at Sam who was watching him quizzically. "What's up, Jack?"
"I need you to come down to the office," he directed, skipping any pleasantries.
"I'm on my way," he replied before clicking off his cell phone. He rubbed his weary eyes and yawned, tilting his head side to side, shaking the cobwebs of sleep from his mind.
Sam sat up, holding the sheet over her bare chest. "Do we have a case?" she asked; her voice husky from sleep.
"I guess so but unless he calls you directly you should just stay in bed." He stood up and walked to the chair in the corner of the bedroom to pick up his discarded trousers and shirt. "You're not on call tonight so you might as well get some rest before hitting the case tomorrow morning."
"You're probably right." She lay back down, her head resting on the pillow her eyes still watching him.
He grabbed his jacket and shoes and moved to the side of the bed, leaning over to kiss her. "I love it when you think I am actually right."
She smiled, her body looking soft and languid beneath him and whispered, "Well, don't let it go to you head, it doesn't happen very often."
He smiled and moved the final few inches to kiss her squarely on the mouth. "See you later."
"Later," she replied before closing her eyes and rolling back over to go to sleep, pulling all the covers with her in the process.
He shook his head and smiled down at her before stepping into the bathroom to get ready before heading to work.
A short while later he was on the elevator up to the office. He watched the numbers light up marking each level as the elevator ascended to the twelfth floor. He yawned between sips of the large coffee he picked up on his way, hoping the caffeine would start taking effect very soon.
The elevator finally stopped and he stepped out. He didn't see Jack in his office so he continued down the hall to the bullpen. He glanced around and there was still no sign of him or anyone else from the team. He decided to wander over to see if someone was in an interview room. As he turned the corner he saw Jack talking with Kyle Saracen who was an SAC in Violent Crimes. The two men were talking as they stood in front of one of the interview room windows. Engrossed in their conversation neither man noticed him approach.
"Do you think he's for real?" Jack asked as he stared into the two-way mirror.
"He knows details about all the cases that were never released to the press, things he couldn't have known otherwise. Plus, he said he can produce the souvenirs as evidence if we can grant his request," Kyle replied as he sipped the last of his coffee from the paper cup before tossing it into a nearby trashcan. "Jack, if he is the guy we need him to talk. Do you really think that he can handle it?"
Jack shrugged as he stared darkly into the room. "I hope so."
"I want to know where those other bodies are buried but I also don't want to give this guy a chance to fuck with his mind either. He has enough victims stacked up; I don't want to give him another." Kyle folded his arms across his chest and shook his head. "I can't imagine how I would react if I were in his shoes."
"Whose shoes?" Martin asked, announcing his presence. He glanced into the interview room and saw an elderly man seated there.
"Good, you're here," Jack said as he stepped away from the window. "Let's go talk in my office."
He started to lead him down the hall when Martin asked, "Who's he?" He kept his eyes on the man sitting at the table looking relaxed and unconcerned about his surroundings. It was as if he were in a café waiting on his meal to be served instead of a federal interview room at two in the morning.
"I'll tell you in my office," Jack replied as he walked down the hall, not giving Martin a chance to ask another question. Once the three men were in his office Jack closed the door and told Martin and Kyle to sit down on the sofa.
Martin wasn't sure why, but there was something in the way Jack was acting that set him on edge. His eyes darted between the two men before he finally asked, "What's going on? You called me in the middle of the night to come down right away. I do, you're here with Kyle from VCU and there's a guy in the interview room, what's up?"
Jack sat down on the chair across from the sofa and answered first, "Kyle called me earlier this evening to tell me that Richard Dodson," he paused and clarified, "the man in the interview room, has confessed to a series of murders of young teenage boys going as far back as the late 70s to the mid-90s." A pained look crossed his face and he grimly finished, "Thirteen boys total."
"Why is he confessing now?"
"He won't say," Kyle answered as he stood up and picked up a large stack of case files that were sitting on Jack's desk. He sat back down and handed him the files. "He gave us just enough information so we could confirm that he is who he says he is; details from cases that he could never have known if he wasn't the killer."
Martin put his cup of coffee down on the table so he could flip through the files. Inside were pictures of young, cheerful boys in school photos juxtaposed with grisly crime scene photos of their young mutilated bodies in shallow graves. His heart clenched at all of these boys' lives cut tragically short.
"As you can see according to the initial report, the boys were all drugged. Our best guess is that he doped them up so he could move them to a second location with little resistance," Kyle contributed as Martin looked through the files. "They were also operating under the assumption that they were originally taken for sexual purposes but because of the lack of sexual trauma that the killer was most likely impotent. Realizing that he couldn't…rise to the occasion he would fly into a rage and torture the boys with cigarettes before finally slitting their throats."
For every file he closed he opened up another to see the same gruesome images repeated over and over. "Why would he keep taking boys knowing that he couldn't ever get the satisfaction he wanted?"
"But he did," Kyle corrected. "For some serial murderers killing is a form of sexual release."
Martin just shook his head disgusted by the senselessness of it all.
"What do we know about Dodson?" he asked, his eyes focused on the file. When he didn't get any immediate answer he looked up to see Kyle and Jack exchange a worried look. "Is there any history connecting him to the boys?"
There was a long pause when Jack finally answered, "Tech is cross referencing his name and photograph against all the databases but so far no luck." He rubbed his chin and added, "Since the victims were from several different states it's going to take some time."
"Okay," Martin replied, closing the file but book marking it with his index finger. "I still don't get why I am here. If he confessed to all the crimes, why do you need me?"
Kyle glanced at Jack before explaining, "Dodson not only confessed to killing the thirteen that we know about, he also claims that he killed three more that we haven't found."
Martin nodded his head, puzzled. "So do you want me to work the case? See if I can learn any more facts about the other boys?"
"Actually, Martin we need a lot more than that," Jack said, his words careful and deliberate. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, his gaze trained on Martin's face. "Dodson said he is willing to reveal where we can find the remaining three bodies but he won't tell us – at least not directly."
"You lost me."
"He said he wants to talk to the boy that got away," Jack quietly breathed out.
"Got away?" Martin repeated.
Kyle shifted in his seat and explained, "He claims that one of the boys taken was by accident, that he meant to get his friend but there was some confusion and he ended up snagging the wrong kid."
Perplexed, he furrowed his brow and asked, "So, you want me to look for the boy he meant to take?"
Jack shook his head. "No, we know who the boy is." He took a deep breath and finished, "Martin, you were that boy."