Disclaimer: I do not own anything Criminal Minds related. Characters are merely borrowed and will be put back later. ;)
A/N:This is rated T at the moment, but note that there are some gory images in this text. I'm going along with the idea that you've all seen the show and this is nowhere near as bad as some of the stuff on there. In your reviews, please tell me if you think the rating is adequate. And also, please review and we'll see where we can take this. :)
Fair and Foul
Chapter One- The Shakespeare Killer
"Fair is foul, and foul is fair;
Hover through the fog and filthy air."-
The walls were daubed with reddened letters, proud and remorseless. Emily Prentiss had seen many things in her time. What she had never seen before, was such an outwardly calm protest against humanity. The words were ones she knew well.
It wasn't the words that bothered her. What bothered her, though she would never let it show, was that the unsub had stabbed the woman now slumped on the floor, pulled her intestines out with a ferocious and fatally accurate twist of his blade, and then pinned them to the wall around the words he had callously already drawn using her crudely amputated hand- which, judging by the calling from the bathroom, Reid had just found in the sink.
Emily sighed and looked away. It was the third one of the same pattern. Same MO, same victimology, same profoundly disgusting smell in the room. And still, no clues. No connections between the three girls that Garcia could find. What seemed plain was that they were all in their early to mid 30s, all brunette, all outgoing with no personal issues- and all dead.
Morgan came up behind her and nudged her, his bloody latex gloves still on his hands. This time, he had gotten the job of checking the body out, while Prentiss got to stand by and contemplate. "Any thoughts?" he muttered to her, watching Reid place the severed hand into an evidence bag out of the corner of his eye.
"Nothing stable. What strikes me as odd is that with no sexual assault, he kidnaps these girls and keeps them for three days before killing them. Why bother? He leaves messages that make no sense- this one is a perfect example- and he leaves no clue of who he is or what he is, where he might be or why he's doing this."
Rossi walked in holding a file as she finished and added more to the conversation. "I can't decide whether he's a sadist or not. Did the intestines fall out, and did he then use them? Or did he go about it to make it that way? We still don't know."
Emily's cell phone rang and she picked it up. "Prentiss." She excused herself and left the two men studying the scene.
Derek continued on: "He was exceptionally clean. It looks as though he at very least tidied up after himself. He took the time to daub the letters on the wall- but he didn't do it with his own hand. Why that?"
Prentiss came back into the room. "That was Hotch. He's on his way. He said that the mortician called. According to Dr. Malone, each of the girls was alive when the intestines were removed from their bodies. Cause of death in each was bleeding from the superior mesenteric artery."
Reid approached and explained to them as he walked that that particular artery supplied the blood to the intestines, and then he simply kept talking, as per usual- "He has a type. That much is clear. Ashley Moore, Jackie Ramone and Tina Gray were all brunette, all in their thirties and all lead workers at their respective companies", he finished.
Derek looked at the wall. The long text was written in small letters, but Reid couldn't establish any handwriting analysis, because it wasn't accurate; a different hand had been used to write the words.
"So what do those words mean?" he asked softly, recalling them from memory as every one of the team could-
"Out, Out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player.
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage.
And then is heard no more...."
"Shakespeare. Act Five, Scene Five, Macbeth. When he says those words, Macbeth is thinking about the death of his wife; her lost life is the candle burning out. She and Macbeth are both players on the stage, but the curtains have closed on her. They've lied their way to the top throughout the story- deceit and ambition got them there. Interestingly, Lady Macbeth is a very noteworthy villain. She manipulated, was attached to the supernatural and lost all confidence in the face of her various treacherous deeds. Also-"
"Reid. Enough." Said the quiet but familiar voice of Aaron Hotchner. Without stopping to say hello, he kept talking as he came into the room. "If he's talking Shakespeare, then we have to go to the original crime scenes. I'm willing to bet that he left other messages- albeit more subtle ones- tat those too."
"Hotch" muttered Reid, "Maybe there's something else about this quote. If he's using it in the way it's meant to be used, he's making a commentary about life in general. We all have our moment on the stage. But this quotes infers it to be meaningless, hopeless and worthless. That might be the message he's passing on."
"Makes sense", said Emily. "It means he's not so much a sadist as a mission based killer. He sees life as worthless and is determined to prove that. But he only proves it with brunette women in their 30s. Maybe he was ditched by one and feels that her life is worthless?"
Hotch nodded in agreement. "Let's take the crime scenes. Dave, go with Morgan to the Ramone House. Prentiss and I will go to Tina Gray's apartment and Reid, head back to JJ and stay near the line to Garcia. I have a feeling we'll need you guys before too long."
The team split up and headed their opposite directions. Emily and Hotch headed down the stairs of the apartment block while Morgan and Rossi took the elevator. Hotch hated elevators, always had. What he didn't know was that Emily hated them too.
They were moving fast because they knew that this guy could have another girl chosen already. They had to find her, and find him, within three days. With nothing to go on and no profile made just yet, they needed more information. And fast.
"Do you think he's using the quote as a theatrical aspect? Or does it really mean something? Maybe he's just trying to catch our eye and taunt us?" she suggested.
"It's a possibility. It depends on what we find at the other homes. There's no way of knowing until then. This guy is highly intelligent and clearly very motivated. He cleans, he makes a point and he leaves again. Noone hears the woman scream and there are no forced entries. Yet Garcia can't find a connection. We have nothing to go on to find him."
"One thing's for sure- he won't stop until we stop him", Emily intoned.
They were just at the top of the last flight, still moving fast, when she slipped. Her heel simply slipped on the industrial iron step and her foot crashed against the side of it. She yelled ever so slightly as she went down, hitting Hotch in the back as he instinctively reached to grab her.
It was too late though. She went crashing down the entire flight of stairs. Emily knew nothing other than that her head was banging against the steps and her leg was twisted the wrong way. She could see nothing of interest as she flew past, but she smelled something coppery and tangy. She hit every part of her body against the steps as she went down and even though she tried to stop once or twice, she couldn't. For twenty steps she fell, and it felt like a lifetime. She made no noise, and her head seemed to note the odd silence other than the clanking of her falling.
She landed suddenly, harshly, on the cement ground of the rundown apartment complex's ground floor. She kept her eyes open and tried to not think about the throbbing pain she felt pretty much everywhere. She wasn't sure where Aaron was but she knew that he had to be around here somewhere. There was an odd ringing in her ears and she couldn't hear anything else. Her head was sore already.
Within a few seconds, something slid along next to her as her hearing returned. "Emily! Emily! Emily! Can you hear me?" Hotch called.
She opened her eyes very slowly and looked at him. His brow was crinkled with concern-an expression she rarely saw him wear when he thought about the team- and he was calling her. His hands, she noticed, were running along her legs, then her stomach and breastbone, her shoulders and her arms. When he reached her hand, she closed her fingers suddenly and his eyes, once scanning her for injury, flew back to her face, wide and worried. Her eyes were closed again.
She said nothing for a second and they stayed in silence, his right hand and her left clasped together. She bit her lip as it tried to tremble and then she inhaled quickly, wrenching her eyes open and grasping his hand tightly. "I'm fine."
She began to stumble to her feet, still holding his hand tightly. She was disorientated, almost drunk with dizziness, and he helped her more and more until she was on her feet. He was still holding her hand, and much to her embarrassment, was also holding her gently at the hip, keeping her upright and steady. She was shaking, embarrassed and dizzy, and she felt like throwing up as the room spun around her.
"I have to sit down."
He helped her to the steps again, and lowered her onto the second from the bottom. "Put your head between your legs", he said softly, and she did what she was told. Her world stopped spinning after a few seconds, but she was breathing heavily. She was out of sorts and disorientated- and would be, he suspected, for another few hours at least. He rested his shoulder against the banister. She let out a very sudden noise and he was hunched on his knees in front of her within a moment. "Emily. What hurts?" he asked as she raised her head. She was pale and looked troubled, so he rested his hand gently against the side of her face.
She grabbed his hand and exhaled. "Aaron, what is that?" she asked, mildly disgusted. He followed her eye line down to the shadows underneath the steps in the simply lit corridor. She stood up, her mind instantly back on the case, and pulled a single glove out of her pocket. She handed it to Hotch as he crept under the steps and a moment later he emerged with a small, shiny, blood stained necklace with the letter "A" dangling from it.
"There's blood on it. He must have dropped it on his way out, so this is the way he left," Emily noted. She dialled a number on her cell and told Reid, on the other end of the phone, to check the stairwell with a Crime Scene team for any clues as to the killer's identity. "If he left the necklace, maybe he left something else too", she murmured as she hung up. "Exactly." Said Hotch, "But it still doesn't answer how he was so careless. He takes trophies. This was his first mistake. We have to work out what happened here- and we have to find out what he took from both Tina and Jackie that we haven't found yet."
"Okay, let's go." Emily said and turned to leave. Aaron caught her arm and the steely glint in his eye from their most recent discovery was gone, replaced with the gentle support of a friend. "Are you sure? Reid can come with me if you'd prefer. You had a bad shock, and I-"
"I'm fine Hotch. Really, honestly, I'm fine. Let's go, before this son of a bitch gets some other girl."
As they moved to the SUV, they were both silent. Emily knew that she had hurt her head and that she had been dizzy and scared for a moment, but she was determined to get back to work. She wasn't going to be a victim and she already regretted him having to help her get up after she fell. It wasn't professional and it stung that she needed to depend on someone to be alright again. And even if she did need someone- did it have to be Aaron Hotchner?
They pulled into the driveway outside of Tina Gray's house. It was a pretty house, she had made the most of her success and they knew that the crime scene was as it had been- the children had not been in the house on that night and Tina's husband had refused to stay in the house once the crime was done.
Hotch opened the front door after tearing away the CSI tape and stepped inside. He had never been at this crime scene before and he was determined to be as professional and capable as he could about it- even in the knowledge that Emily was right next to him and he was worried about her. He knew from the photographs where the crime had been committed and instantly headed upstairs. He talked as he went.
"So he somehow managed to get inside this house, where he walked up the stairs and killed Tina. Again, nobody heard her scream and there were no complaints of noise registered. The dog was asleep outside and didn't make a sound. How did he creep up on her in the middle of the day in a pleasant upper middle class residential area?" he thought aloud.
The stepped into the room and Emily immediately began searching- though neither was sure of what they were looking for, or even if they would find it, it only took a few seconds for Emily to find the message she needed to see.
"Hotch, over here," she said from the window sill. "Why did nobody mention this?"
He walked toward her while still thinking and immediately saw what she saw. "Obviously nobody looked", he said softly. He thought it was negligent of whoever had searched the room that they'd not noticed the steady line of blood trickling from the jewellery box. The unsub had taken a piece of jewellery- and left a message in its place in the box.
"Hotch, this is ridiculous. It's printed so we can't do any handwriting analysis and it's another quote. Reid will be able to tell us what it's from."
Within a minute, they were on the phone and had sent pictures to Garcia. "Looks like our unsub did a cleanup job, but obviously had blood on his hands when he took whatever piece of jewellery he took. He couldn't get the blood off of the jewellery box- or maybe he didn't want to? He might have thought that when they saw it, the police and crime scene guys would have thought to look in there. Might be why he got more obvious the next time- he needs the recognition, the local media are calling him the Shakespeare Killer. JJ's trying to work that out with them right now."
"Okay Reid, so can you tell us what the quote is from?," Emily asked.
"Yes, it's from Othello, another Shakespeare play.
"For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart..
I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am."
The character speaking here is Iago, the deceiver of men and women alike who destroys as he sees fit with no remorse and no pity. Iago is known as one of the greatest villains in the literary world. He notes here that he will eventually show his true colours for all the world to see and he will lay his deeds bare. He says that he's not what he seems- honest, loyal, truthful and just."
When he stopped talking, Hotch inhaled slowly. "Reid, have we any idea what any of this means?"
"Not really. I'd prefer to wait to see if Rossi and Morgan come up with anything at the Ramone house. It's hard to see where this unsub is going with these messages. Either he's highly intelligent and has them worked into something stronger or he just wants our attention."
"Fine. I'll head back to the base with Prentiss. We'll see you soon. Call when the others check in."