Chapter 1

Sometimes, Bobby Goren liked to sit and think about words. He was doing it now, sitting in the booth by the window, coffee and the remnants of a bacon & egg plate in front of him. A light snow was falling outside, slowly blanketing the streets in white.

Snow. "He snowed me," people would say, meaning they didn't see it coming. It made sense. Anybody who'd ever been in a blizzard knew how the huge, fluffy flakes could render a person blind. He wondered if there were more to the meaning than that.

Snow was quiet, stealthy. A snowfall could turn into a blizzard in seconds, taking one by surprise. It was also beautiful. People never expect beauty to be deadly.

He was shaken out of his thoughts by the ring of his cell. He dug it out of the pocket of his winter coat, folded on the booth seat next to him. He was too late to answer, but saw the call was from Eames.

Bobby had learned not to overthink communication with Alex. She might call about anything from the case they were working on, to remind him of an appointment, or just to tell him she was thinking of him. When he tried to predict the nature of her calls, he was almost always wrong. He dialed her back.

"Alex?" he said when she answered.

"Just wanted you to enjoy your morning off," she said. "Since I didn't see you before I left this morning."

He smiled. Alex had let him sleep in, a rare treat. "Thanks," he breathed. "I'll see you later." Bobby hung up and gathered up his things. It was almost time for his appointment.

The paperwork was overwhelming sometimes. Eames rubbed her eyes, sipped her coffee, and resumed typing. She overheard some other detectives discussing the forecast. She hoped the snow would slow down the criminals. That was the good thing about this kind of weather. Even killers didn't like to go out in it.

At last, she finished her report and clicked the 'print' button. She got up and walked over to the printer kiosk to pick it up. Instead of returning to her desk, she grabbed a pen off the nearest one and signed it. "Thanks for the pen," she told Logan, who was hunched over his own computer, finishing his own reports.

"I'll send you a bill," he said. They shared a smile and she went back to her desk.

Bobby bought a ham & swiss on rye and two sodas and brought them with him to the office. He greeted Alex and they spread out their lunches on their desks. As he gave her half of the sandwich, he saw the anticipation in her eyes.

"Doing great," he said. "Cholesterol's down, Blood pressure's down…" he peeked up at her. "Weight's down."

She smiled at him proudly, then changed the subject. "I got that McKinstry report finished," she said.

"That's been hanging over your head for a while," he noted. "I'm behind, too. I might need to stay late tonight."

She shook her head. "Not tonight, Bobby. They're predicting 8 inches by midnight." It wasn't that he couldn't manage it; it was just common sense.

He cocked his head and considered what she said, then nodded and took another bite of his sandwich. "Well, I'll just have to have a productive afternoon, then."

The only way Bobby could do that was to use a laptop in one of the interview rooms, with all the blinds shut and the door locked. He simply couldn't focus long enough on his writing when he was out in the bullpen. Too many distractions.

Alex rooted around in her drawer. She'd been saving this little joke for a long time, waiting for the right moment. She pulled out a hotel door hanger that said "Do not disturb" and handed it to him. "Have fun," she said.

He grinned.

The phone rang at 3 a.m. "Goren," he said. He hadn't been sleeping anyway, just staring at the shadows in the darkened bedroom, listening to her light snoring. He tapped her shoulder as he listened. "We'll be right there," he said, and hung up.

"Alex," he said, nudging her again. "We've got work to do."

Slowly, she pulled herself up out of the bed. "Coffee," she stated.

"I'm on it," he said, pulling on his pants.

The apartment was no longer in darkness since the police had brought in a generator to get the electric going again. The shabby apartment building was teeming with officers of one kind or another. So far, they had 13 victims, most dead from the cold, but two had been murdered. The survivors were being interviewed and transported to the hospital.

Goren and Eames stepped through the chaos into the apartment where the murders had taken place. It seemed quieter there, and they could feel death's presence. Their breath was visible in the icy cold. The first body was sprawled on the living room floor. "Female," Eames said. "About 40, home for the night in her pajamas."

Goren glanced at the corpse and continued walking. In the master bathroom, he found the other body. "Male, adolescent," he said. The boy's body was hunched over the side of the bathtub. His face was in the water, which had grown a layer of ice since the killing. "Drowned."

"Strangulation," Eames called from over the female body. The two detectives stepped carefully back into a more central location and stood together.

They verbally walked through what appeared to have happened. "Killer strangled the mom," Goren said. "The kid heard or saw, tried to stop him. Then he killed the boy."

Eames agreed. "She put up a fight. There are scratches and bruises up and down her arms. Feet, too, she tried to kick him."

Bobby wandered back into the bathroom. He could not move the body until the ice melted in order to preserve any evidence. He bent over and looked carefully. "Some cuts on his back, probably that broken lamp in the other room. One of the boy's hands was not in the water. Bobby scrutinized it. "I think there's flesh in his nails."

Bobby moved out of the way while the CSU team set up a space heater in the bathroom. He went back into the living room, looked closely at the pieces of the broken lamp on the floor; the layout of the room. He moved behind Eames, asking permission with his body language. She allowed him to grab her from behind. In slow motion, he acted out what he thought happened.

"The killer wrapped something around her neck and strangled her from behind." He let Eames go. She moved around Bobby, now taking the role of the second victim. "The boy jumped on the killer's back, trying to stop him." Eames didn't jump on, but did put her hands on his shoulders. Bobby took two steps slowly backward. "He moved back, knocking the boy into the lamp," Eames let go. "Then he manhandled him into the bathroom and drowned him."

Eames wandered the room. "In and out through the window," she commented. "Low fire escape." The cold wind blew in the still-open window.

A squeaky wheel drew their attention the other way. They watched as a gurney went down the hallway outside the apartment. "And all these other victims," Alex shook her head.

"He cut the power. On the coldest night of the year."

They went outside to examine that aspect of the crime scene.