Spencer tipped a beer back and let the somewhat bitter liquid slosh into his mouth. He had gone for the seasonal ale at a local brewery, and now was somewhat regretting this local business supporting choice. He was with the BAU in Orono, Maine trying to discover the killer of four undergrads that had left the University campus and surrounding areas frozen from fear rather than weather. The others were with him- somewhere. They had gone to a local party bar, The Dime he vaguely recalled the name. It was a rundown and horrible looking bar with barely any clean anything to speak of.
It was then that he saw her, sitting in the corner, obviously there against her own will and obviously miserably uncomfortable, but with a resigned look that only came from situations where friends try to do something great for friends. He felt within him something surge, a sense of comradery and kindred that struck him like nothing he had ever felt before. How many times had he been in a similar situation before he had learned to tolerate, if somewhat enjoy these outings with his colleagues and friends. Taking out a pocket mirror- you never know when you might need one- Spencer subtly flashed the lens back and forth in an attempt to catch any of the dim light and reflect it back at her.
This strange form of Morse code seemed to do the trick and she looked up. Suddenly nervous Spencer gave his best, 'I'm a nice guy- truly!' smile. The girl, from what he could tell a small boned yet slightly plump brunet with frizzy hair and an average way of dress, looked up at him before glancing at the table of her companions out of the corner of her eye. Excusing herself she stood and made her way to him, placing her clutch, a reasonably sized teal faux leather case, on the counter next to him she sat. "You have no idea how grateful I am to you right now."
Spencer grinned and something inside of his chest loosened, "Oh, I have an idea." They smiled at one another and then turned back to the counter a bartender, also female with dark hair and a slender build came over. The young woman- an undergrad most likely- placed something that looked strangely like lightly coloured coffee milk in front of the woman before walking away to check on other patrons. "Regular?"
She grimaced, "Regular enough, I suppose." 'She's English.' Spencer noticed dimly in the back of his mind. "I'm often dragged here by wishers of do wellers," She cast a slight look of despair and frustration back to her table. "I wish they would just let me stay in, however I am doomed to be forever be taken upon by their kind wishes and best intentions." She picked up the glass and took a sip.
"I'm Spencer, Spencer Reid." Spencer went to stick out his hand and then retracted it mid movement. "And you are?" He felt nervous again and took a sip of his ill tasting beer.
"Jane Erman." Jane ignored his awkward movement, for that he was grateful. "What are you doing here, Mr. Reid."
"I'm here for work, investigating the recent deaths of the students." A shadow overwhelmed her face and his heart clenched for her in an unusual sign and show of empathy.
"They were good kids. I knew two of them personally." Spencer's ears perked up with interest, so far there hadn't been any connection made between the students.
"Gone on," He prompted.
Jane looked embarrassed. "It's nothing really. I had one of the girls in my class, and the other introduced himself to me one day after a guest lecture I had done."
"That you had attended?"
Jane shook her head, "That I had done. I'm a professor at the University."
Spencer paused for a second and his mind went through a list of names of classes that were attributed to each victim. "Jane Erman, the Honors College professor."
She nodded and took another small sip of her drink, "Rather than calling us 'professors' in this small classroom settings we call ourselves 'Preceptors' and our classes, 'Preceptorials'. They are small classroom settings with no more than twelve or thirteen students to a group. As preceptors it is our job, and most of the time our privilege and joy to facilitate conversations and learning, rather than teach."
"But you're so young." He blurted out the statement before his brain could process and filter.
She laughed, thankfully and he internally remarked on how he liked the laugh, "I'm thirty-two I'll have you know."
There was no way that this creature was thirty-two. There was no way she was older than twenty-seven or twenty-eight. Spencer took a closer look at her and was still unable to believe that this woman was as old as she said she was. She laughed again at his silence and scrutiny.
"Yes, truly. The big three four- I know! It's hard to believe, however I will show you my vehicle card if I must."
"No, no there's no need for that." Spencer said quickly and took another swing of his liquid encouragement. "If you wouldn't mind, would you please tell me about the victims? As you knew them of course."
She nodded slowly, "I will, but this is not how I expected to spend my time when I walked over here." She laughed when he opened his mouth to try to change the subject and held up her hand. "The girl, Maira Sanchez, eighteen headstrong, passionate in some areas, absolute rubbish in others. Last semester I had her for honors one-eleven, that is the first of a four class, four semester sequence called Civilizations: Past, Present, and Future." She paused, collecting her thoughts,
"We read ten books? Eleven books? I per week." She paused again to think, "In addition we had a week studying art. She was fascinated by the art, Roman and Greek sculptures and other various artistic items from that period of time. I believe she only read, maybe, four books out of the rest of the class. Not that I blame her, some of them are dreadful, we try to change the curriculum, really we do, but who is to way what books are to go and what books are to stay without stepping on toes?"
She read, let me think. Fragments of Sappho, a translation of the works of the poet Sappho as they were found and restored from their previous burned and deformed sources. She read The Symposium, which is a Greek play type work that was the scene of great thinking and reflections on love and whatnot. Surprisingly she read the Dao De Jing, the book of the way, it just seemed so serious and so not her. She liked more frilly things you see, things with love and light. She also read the parts of the Bible that were selected for reading." Jane paused,
"She was an avid Catholic, you know. Very devout, but with a good head on her shoulders. I believe she was in the CCC." At his questioning look she explained, "That's the Campus Crusade for Christ. They aren't my cup of tea. Most of them are nice, but my lot is in with the gays and a few years back, before my time of course, some members of the CCC destroyed the LGBTQA rooms. Things have changed since then, but I guess old wounds are hard to heal especially when someone who is overzealous comes along." She paused again. "I believe she was dating one of them."
Spencer's ears perked, they hadn't been able to find a boyfriend yet, but the girl had a single so it was not a surprise that not much was known about her. "He's in that group, he's a bit weird but I get a good vibe from him. His name I believe is Duncan, Duncan Fletcher."
Spencer spoke up, "How do you know so much about your students?"
Jane blushed slightly, or at least he thought so since it was moderately dark in the bar, "Staff, faculty, and students from this school are known for having personal relationships with one another. I guess it's because we're locked up in a big cold tin can for seven months out of the year, if we don't bond we'll just hack each other to death from boredom and desperation for action."
Spencer frowned slightly; he didn't like the analogy of death so close to the latest killing but there was not much he could do about that. She spoke again.
"Maira was nice, quiet. She spoke quite harshly though against the heavy criticizers of her religion, but she wasn't a fool about it. I liked her."
"And the boy?" He questioned, there was only one boy out of the four killings. "How well did you know him?"
Jane took a drink, larger this time than what he had observed her to normally take. This, of course, was a flag to him that this person had meant a great deal more to her. "Regi, Reginald Yiswic." She sighed and swished her drink inside the glass, a soothing motion. "Regi was a character. Smart, funny, sharp as whip really. He didn't have the greatest people skills, but then again I can't really say anything about that."
"You were lovers." Spencer inferred and was shocked at her violent reaction, the quiet and yet barely controlled slamming down of the glass onto the counter.
"Absolutely not." Her tone was so flat, so earnest, and so absolutely pissed that he believed her hands down. "I was over ten years his senior." The anger abated over a few seconds of silence. "If I had been younger, or he older- maybe, possibly." She paused, "Definitely. But I would never, and neither would he. We were simply two people born too far apart from each other for it to work out. But we were friends you see. Good friends. I lectured in his anthropology class, a-n-t one- twenty, World Religions. I lectured about mythology and the older religions of the world. He was fascinated. We," He saw how sad she was, his heart clenched again, "We clicked."
"He went to Egypt with me last year as my research assistant, we did work on studies about the Venus statues. It was a paid internship and we did quite well. His thirst for knowledge about classics and mythology and ancient religions matched no ones, but my own. His passion was my passion. We could have become lovers, but we didn't. A part of my now wonders if maybe my judgment on age had been too rash and too soon. But then again, my mind was made up."
He had a bit of a gambling problem. He never played with real money, of course, but he was always on his computer playing this poker game or that poker game. He would go to Texas Hold'em nights on campus. Even the campus recreation supported Bingo games."
"How can you be so sure he didn't gamble using money?" Spencer was curious and an idea was forming in his mind.
"Because, I know- I knew him very well Mr. Reid and I would appreciate it if you would trust my judgment. This has nothing to do with his murder, if you spent your efforts looking there you are wasting valuable time."
They paused, both tense. "Tell me more," Spencer at last instructed her.
"What else is there to say? Regi loved school, loved campus and hardly ever ventured outside the school grounds. He had a roommate, some horrible young man who hardly ever went to classes and spent his time playing World of Warcraft. He dominated their living space. I can't tell you how many times I have come into my office, small as it may be, to find Regi sleeping on my floor in a sleeping bag." She paused again, "I wouldn't look there either."
Spencer grew somewhat frustrated, "Then what should we look for?"
"The first killing was four months ago, a girl. Two weeks later, it was another girl, time passes, Maira showed up during finals week. And finally, "He voice shook, "Regi was found four days ago. It must be a student, there was no killing over Thanksgiving break, and then there was two weeks between Thanksgiving break and finals week. He or she must have been busy with classes, and then he must have gone home over the winter holiday break. He just got back into the swing of things with new classes and now that he is comfortable again he killed."
"You went from gender neutral he/she to a definite male pronoun. You think that the unsub is male?"
"Unsub?" Jane questioned.
"Unknown subject." Jane made an 'ah' expression and then replied.
"This just screams male to me. The first crime was passion, maybe an accident. The second crime was maybe, I don't know, a distraction from the first. Then he started to enjoy killing, he enjoys the rush he gets and the feeling of power he has over the campus. He chose his dump areas very specifically. Outside the ROTC office in the memorial gym, where athletes and military men could see her, so he was probably bullied as a youth. The second was in the middle of the union, some place where everyone goes to congregate. The third was hidden; I don't know how he hid the body on the sound panels that hang from the roof of room one hundred Neville. But that is our biggest classroom with nearly four hundred seats."
Regi was left cooking" Her voice choked and broke. "Cooking in ovens that had been mysteriously turned on in the Hilltop eating commons."
"How did you know that? That information wasn't released." Jane gave Spencer a look.
"This is an institution built on gossip, Mr. Reid. If word didn't get around about things and everyone stopped talking buildings would collapse, as there would be not hot air keeping them up. As it is, the workers at Hilltop who found his body spread the word around. He's going for places where he can instill the most fear and dominance. Places that are highly frequented and are hubs of activity."
Spencer studied this woman intently as she spoke. She sounded like one of them, not some professor. "What is your degree in?" Jane blushed hotly, enough for him to notice in the poorly lit room.
"I have a few. My undergraduate degrees are English, Philosophy, and European thought and literature. I have two masters, one again in English and another in Psychology. I have two doctorates in Classics and Behavioral Psychology."
"And you are thirty-two."
"And I'm thirty-two. And I don't like being scrutinized." They met eyes for a moment.
"I'm thirty. And I have three PhDs, one in Engineering, another in Chemistry, and one in Mathematics. I have bachelors in psychology and sociology." Jane grinned at him.
"Anything else in that head of yours?"
Spencer found himself grinning back, "I'm working on a bachelors in Philosophy."
The tension that had arisen during their somewhat informal interview dissipated and they spent the rest of the night talking in a way that Spencer didn't talk to many people, let alone women. The part of him that truly respected this incredible young woman didn't wan to analyze her, but with every glance, every touch of his sleeve Spencer was working his mental magic.
'She likes me!' He thought incredulously, though he was careful to school his facial expressions away from that knowledge. He studied his own unadulterated body reactions and behaviors and was surprised to find himself liking her as well. He would leave his ideas of whether or not this was a good thing for later and simply just enjoyed her company.
"I think I should get going," She finally stood, Spencer stood with her, though he couldn't really explain why.
"You've been drinking, maybe you shouldn't drive." She seemed completely sober to him, but Spencer was nearly desperate to continue talking to her. Jane smiled at him and his heart stopped momentarily.
Holding up her glass to him she replied, "My sole drink of the night had a half a tea spoon of Bailey's Irish Crème. The rest is milk." Finishing the last sip she grabbed her clutch and looked around at the closing bar. Her friends had left sometime earlier, though neither of them had noticed. "I bet I have less alcohol in my system than you do." She paused and looked him over before reaching into her clutch; a brief glance inside showed a meticulously kept interior. Jane pulled out a business card and handed it to Spencer. He studied it briefly and noted various contact information's were available such as email, that he had no use for, phone, and a physical address of her office on campus: 210 Little Hall.
"Come visit me, if you'd like. I enjoyed our little conversation." Spencer's head pounded with extreme emotion and he nodded.
"I'd like that."