May This Song Reach You
Chapter One: Detail Oriented
Something was wrong. Something was irrevocably wrong with this scene, further than the very nature of the crime.
There had to have been some mistake; someone must have erred along the investigation, missed the minutest piece of evidence, overlooked suspects, or messed up the test results from the lab. Yet none of that could be reasonably true, not when the entire police force from the morgue to the detectives had double and triple checked every aspect of this case. The crime had played foul to begin with, even with five bodies in the records and numerous sleepless nights spent pining over the details they must have missed. One body usually held an entire novel's worth of evidence, and there shouldn't have been any other result this time.
They had entered a different man's garden now, where there was no evidence to be had. The man had ensured that he pruned his foliage with the utmost care and swept every stray bit of debris with him as he shut the perfectly oiled gate. The team had intruded upon this picturesque image and though they had picked apart every finely printed detail, there had been nothing to find that the criminal had not wished for them to find. It might have appeared to be negligence on behalf of the CSI, but this time the bodies did not tell the entire story.
Had this been a normal case, they would have solved it five weeks ago with the first body. Now another young man was dead, another life that would never breathe in order to laugh or cry again. A sixth flame had been whisked away from beneath their fingers, and another week had passed. There was no deviation in the crime scene from what had become the norm. Unless the criminal slipped and made a fatal mistake, he would continue unmolested.
Nicholas Stokes withheld a scoff as he knelt down to examine the deep lacerations for the records. He could predict the width, consistency, and length of those wounds without seeing the victim. The only particulars he did not already know about this crime was the young man's identity, and that was easily remedied by the driver's license propped against the body, which had already fallen into the late stages of rigor mortis. Extensive examinations of each body always yielded plentiful information, but none of which was useful to apprehend the serial murderer.
There was bruising around the wrists and ankles from both bindings and human hands, as well as throughout the rest of the body, notably around the neck and hips. The chest wounds were numerous and deep, caused by a common kitchen knife, particularly one of the carbon steel varieties, which were inexpensive and easily sharpened. Test results from the lab concluded that a fresh, unmarked blade was used each time. The wounds lacked pattern, though they were precise and clean cuts executed with the utmost expertise. These lacerations extended to the legs where many tendons and muscles had been severed.
The cause of death: blood loss. The young men had also been subjected to brutal rape before their deaths, though the criminal had left no traces of fluids behind. He had redressed each young man, closed their prone eyelids, and folded their bruised hands over their chests before he placed them in an alleyway to be found.
Nick would not stand to see this case be shoved away in a 'cold case' box on the shelves in the basement to collect dust for decades. He set his kit down beside the body, his coworkers at his side, and they prepared themselves for another long, fruitless night of searching. The dark dankness of the alleyway was their only company, and the golden bands familiar to residents of Las Vegas enclosed them in a cage that contained a story it refused to release. The bird had perished long ago, the cat retired to its creature comforts with its secrets for another week, waiting for an accusation that would not come.
He must not have slept for over twenty-four hours, most of which had been voluntary and obsessive work. He was not known for a calm, collected composure, but this case had worn down most of the team's reserves, so they were each forgiving of the others' sharp tempers and moods. When he returned home, he returned to work three hours later with a resolve to find something, anything, to deliver peace to those victims and their mourning family and friends. Despite the obvious answer in front of their faces, he convinced himself that they were just not trying hard enough.
Somewhere among these six bodies was a sliver of evidence, just enough to point the investigation in the right direction. Humans were not perfect. The criminal had to have made a mistake, a simple oversight perhaps, even if the team could not yet find it. He was almost certain of that. It was the only truth he could believe in now.
The labs had yielded a couple of leads in the first two weeks, but those trails had been bled dry after the local police pushed the investigation. All evidence pointed to people the victims had interacted with before their abductions and deaths, but those who should have been suspects were confirmed to have solid alibis. The cycles were so infuriating that Nick often cursed whenever he found identifiable hairs or fibers. He knew where they would take him: straight into unforgiving, repetitive brick walls. All they needed was one tiny crack in the cement, a crack made by time and patience.
Despite his hopeful and reasonable thoughts, three more tiresome days passed in the labs hunched over microscopes yielding no further results than the norm. Nick wanted to scream and yank his hair out from frustration. Time was running thin; they couldn't wait forever. The criminal had maintained a fairly accurate schedule of one kill per week. All the warnings in the world could not keep another victim from the murderer's hands. Warnings meant nothing to the young, who were not about to stop their lives because of a wild vagrant, even if that vagrant might emerge from stories and into reality.
"Drop what you're doing. We're having a conference in five," called the gruff voice of Gil Grissom from the hallway. Nick lifted his head from the microscope containing red blood cells and blinked away the strain from his eyes. A wide yawn escaped him as he stretched his back, the vertebrae progressively creaking down his spine. Everyone around him shared similar pains. There was little he could object to about the conference. The team was at their wits end, so even if this led them nowhere, they all needed a break from the labs.
Nick had no idea as to what Gil planned for them today, but he could hardly think straight as it was. Gil had taken a break last night and crashed for a few hours at home, so he seemed a much more trustworthy source than anyone else here. Maybe, and this was wishing beyond the realm of all possible wishes, he had formed an idea during that time. When the team had all assembled in the chairs surrounding the rounded conference table in varying levels of exhaustion, Gil commenced his speech.
"After these five weeks of work on this case, I've combed the matter thoroughly and came to a conclusion we all know is true: this has advanced beyond our control. We're pushing six weeks with absolutely no useful evidence and short, dead leads as our limits. There are too many lives in danger the longer we sit here picking at sand. I brought up the case with some colleagues, and some of them suggested we take the case up to the FBI.
"To be specific, some recommended that we hand the case over to the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI. This unit specializes in analyzing the criminal and crime scene rather than just the material evidence alone. From what I've heard, the BAU explores the minds of the criminals as told by the scene and evidence in order to predict their motives. If there aren't any objections, I'll call them at their headquarters in Quantico, Virginia today." Gil stood steady at the front of the room, each person around the table muttering in equal amounts.
There were doubts among them, of course. The BAU sounded like a rather peculiar section of the FBI. No one had ever heard about it before, but they admitted it was impossible to object with so little progress in the past five weeks. There were even doubts about the feds in general. Nick rubbed his temples in an attempt to ease the pain behind his eyes, figuring that the case couldn't get any worse if they handed it off to another jurisdiction. Personal beliefs aside, they unanimously agreed to vote 'yes' by the end of it.
Satisfied and solemn, Gil dismissed the team with the order to freshen up and catch some well-needed sleep. With any luck, the BAU would arrive later that day. It wouldn't do to meet the feds half-dead and exhausted, looking much like corpses themselves.
Nick yawned a second time and reluctantly rose from his seat, staggering as he walked away from the conference room. He and Catherine headed back towards the room near the end of the hall, sharing tired waves with each other. The cold, stark lab filled with the mechanical hum he had grown accustomed towards echoed in his ears and eyes. It was a sound and sight that replayed in even his sleep nowadays. Though he didn't dream, he always fell asleep and woke with them invading his senses. He sighed and flicked the microscope's switch off. Under its scrutiny, the red blood cells of the newest victim shone as a tiny speck of blood on the slide.
Nick slid the glass out and went to tidy the place up. Reports were stacked every which way, and he and Catherine would have to gather them for the FBI agents before they got to rest. As far as he knew, that the first three victims' reports were near Catherine, the rest near his workspace. Someone would have to inform the medical examiners who were conducting the new autopsy.
Sara might do that, Nick figured, as he saw her head towards the direction of the stairs and elevators, and he was glad. He would rather not visit the corpses again, as he had done for weeks. The earliest bodies had already been sent to their graves, but that didn't matter so much when they had pictures and other corpses with identical causes of death. Only the latest three remained in the cold shelves below the floors where he stood. They had about four days until the seventh victim ended up down there, found in a random alleyway in Las Vegas.
Whatever the BAU was and however skilled they were, Nick hoped that they could do the job quickly and efficiently. If they could see something the CSI team had not in the evidence, it would be a miracle.
The team rushed around for a good part of the day after the conference, gathering data and collecting their files in one spot. They had been a little disorganized running from victim to victim, autopsy report to autopsy report. Gil had phoned the personnel in Virginia shortly after they adjourned and received a response saying that the BAU had accepted and would arrive as soon as they could. Virginia seemed a century away from Nevada, but Nick supposed that airplanes were invented for a reason. The rough thousand or so miles still made him edgy, though.
The minutes were ticking down until the criminal scoured the streets for another victim. For a time, it had never struck him that these murders were the work of a serial killer. At the very least, they could call the criminal a serial killer now. Over three murders on this level certainly allowed the murderer to be called such.
Nick locked the door to the labs as he left down the hallway. Sara had returned and requested everyone meet up at the new crime scene to greet the FBI agents. Nick didn't know where the time went, but the afternoon was winding down and their day had just started. Greg drove the car, since he had also taken a break sometime last night. Even he, with his strange ways, was worn from this case. No one spoke to him as he concentrated on the road, but they hardly spoke anyways.
There were mostly soft murmurs wondering about the agents that would take over their investigation. Nick was not the only person with doubts and he was not the only person who had given up hope of finding hard evidence from this case. Still, it was hard to convince people who placed their beliefs in forensics alone that people who based their investigation off subjective material that didn't even have an existing form could solve what they could not.
The car pulled up to the alley where Gil was waiting for them, leaning indiscriminately against the grimy brick wall. Further down a large, dried pool of blood had crusted over the ground with various signs propped besides the little evidence left behind. The team climbed out from the car and stood at the entrance of the alley to wait. Even though three days had passed, a few civilians had gathered to observe the crime scene. Nick thought that it should serve as a warning.
If people were just more careful...no, he corrected himself after a moment. Horrible things like this would happen anyways. Criminals always found a way to fulfill their desires, whether or not they were diverted a few times along their path, and it was their duty to catch them. It was someone else's duty to prevent these crimes. There was nothing else to it.
For the hundredth time he checked his watch and tapped its glassy surface. Traffic might be holding the agents up, but they were set to arrive soon. Las Vegas roads were known for being crowded. In such a big city it was unavoidable, but they day was nearing rush-hour, which made it worse. While they waited Greg cracked a few jokes and lightened up the mood. It had worked for the most part. Eventually, Nick volunteered to grab coffee for the team, unable to remain stationary any longer. With all the coffee they had consumed lately it was a wonder they hadn't crashed yet. Coffee wasn't a reliable energy source. It definitely had its adverse side effects.
Both the manager and cashier were surprised at the amount of coffee he ordered until they realized that they were talking to a member of the team investigating the murders. They even offered a discount, which he had been forced to accept due to their persistence. It wasn't like the money was out of his pocket, but it was a nice offer. Nick thanked the pair and quickly left the bakery. People had started to stare, and while he was used to it, the whispers were always awkward. At the best of times he felt as if he actually deserved their attention, but not now. He should probably return in case the FBI agents had arrived.
Leaving the sore with bags of strong, dark coffee, Nick noticed that people muttered an awful lot about the case. The media withheld many vital details, refusing to plunge the city into a state of panic, but Nick understood the citizens' agitation. Ironically, there wasn't much to tell. All of the supposed secrecy was had nothing to do with the media's reluctance to release information. The media simply kept the city from knowing the extent of the hopelessness Nick experienced in the labs. People were still nervous.
They all wondered who would be next. Still, they could not believe that they could become a victim until it happened to them or someone dear to them. No one was truly safe, even if the criminal had his preference for males. Nick had worked too many cases to believe that everyone was always safe. Should someone get in the way, some criminals wouldn't hesitate to end their lives to meet their goals.
When Nick returned to the alleyway surrounded by yellow tape, new cars had arrived on scene. The nerves in his stomach twisted as he saw hope for the first time in weeks. He had to resist the urge to jog over, to immediately determine what team had been sent to take their case. They were FBI, elite, so he didn't know what to expect. There were not many FBI agents he could recall seeing in his life. He knocked the silly notion of the SWAT teams in full gear out of his head. They would be sent in some other time, when the serial killer was caught.
He did not even want to cross the idea of 'if' the serial killer was caught. He refused to consider such an option. Now that they had gone to such measures, progress would pick up again.
Nick got most of the image he expected when he saw the agents talking to Gil and Sara. Two agents were serious in their demeanors; one was a woman, and two other men were laughing with her as they departed from the car. Nick could not find much that was funny about the crime scene, but they looked professional enough. Gil was briefing them on the case already and introducing the CSI as Nick hurried over, coffee in tow. In turn, a solemn man with dark hair introduced his agents. Somehow, Nick had a feeling that this case would take an interesting turn.
The agents had taken on pensive faces in an instant as Gil ran through the locations where the bodies were found and the work previously done on this case. The FBI Unit Chief was the solemn man, Aaron Hotchner, and his Supervisory Special Agents David Rossi, Derek Morgan, Emily Prentiss, and Spencer Reid. A blonde woman named Jennifer Jareau was their 'media liaison', a job Nick had never heard too much about in detail. The team seemed like a rather alright one, but the CSI would soon see if they could succeed where their predecessors could not. The new view on the case would be a refreshing one, at least.
"It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between." (Diane Ackerman)
• EDIT of the original chapter so that I can get back into the flow of this story. Mostly unchanged, I just added more details and separated paragraphs. Sorry for the long wait everyone!
• This was written as a response to the challenge/plotbunny posed by Crushed-And-Broken-Rose. This is a crossover, of course, however I am not very familiar with the cast of CSI, so please tell me if I got anything off about their characters. As it is, their role will be limited. From here on out, the cast of Criminal Minds will be taking over. Chapters may or may not be short/long.
• The title May This Song Reach You is from a song called Shine, which was sung by a Japanese voice program called Vocaloid (the Vocaloid was Kaito) and it was composed by a man called Shigoshite-P.