it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken
matociquala

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FIC: Lucky (1 of 2)

Yeah, I can't get up an ounce of ambition for real work, but I can scribble 10K of fanfic in two days. Yes, I'm ridiculous.

Title: Lucky, Part 1 of 2
Author: bear (matociquala)
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Rating: FRM (a little swearing, some serious squick factor)
Genre: Gen
Pairing: No.
Spoilers: yes (this takes place towards the end of the current season.)
Disclaimer: Not for profit, strictly for entertainment, and completely and totally not mine.
Summary: It was Sunday night, and Emily was in an awkward position when the phone rang.

For a loser, Vegas is the meanest town on earth.
--Hunter S. Thompson




It was Sunday night, and Emily was in an awkward position when the phone rang.

It was not too far from her hand, but she still had to juggle nail polish, polish brush, polish-remover-soaked-Qtip, television remote, and her work cellphone with only two hands to get to it in time. She got a dab of "Frankly Scarlet" on the mute button, but of all the possible outcomes, it was hardly a worst-case scenario.

The ring was J.J.'s, so Emily was anticipating real worst-case scenarios as she thumbed the talk button. She stretched her feet out, keeping her toes flexed wide, and contemplated their knobbiness as she said, "Hey, J.J."

"Hey," the liaison answered. "Battlestations."

"I'm on my way. Oh... sugar."

"What? Hot date?"

"Don't I wish. I'm in my P.J.s. And my toenails are wet."

A pause, and then J.J.'s conspiratorial chuckle. "Wear a skirt. Drive barefoot. Stick your pantyhose in your purse. I'll distract Hotch while you dash to the lady's room."

"I owe you," Emily said.

"I know," was the cheerful answer. "You're lucky to have me. I've got to call Morgan. Drive carefully, Em."

Lucky, Emily thought, as she disconnected. Every morning, she woke up thinking about exactly how lucky she was.

***

The security guard gave her an eyebrow as she limped past barefoot, but she winked and he shrugged, nodding at her ID. She stopped by the ladies' room outside the cafeteria, tugged on her pantyhose, stomped into her shoes, and still made it to the BAU bullpen in under forty minutes. Gideon and Garcia were already there, Hotch visible through the open door of his office, moving with efficient concentration.

As she slid behind her desk, pulling open the bottom drawer to drop her bag inside, Gideon glanced over and asked, "Prentiss, have you been drinking?"

"No?" As soon as it was out of her mouth, she winced. That was not the question to answer with a question, Em.

But Garcia grinned at her and said, "Channeling Reid, then? Come on. Hotch and JJ want us in the round table room in ten minutes."

"Good," Emily said. "Then I have time to get coffee."

Reid was in the kitchen, measuring coffee from the grinder into the coffeemaker. Emily paused in the doorway, watching him work.

She was reasonably sure that the BAU bullpen had the best coffee in Quantico, and it had everything to do with Reid. He took his caffeine habit seriously. He'd explained it to her once, squeaking with enthusiasm over the elegance of the process, when they had still been on more comfortable terms. When she'd been thinking of him as her first friend at the new job.

She observed as his bony fingers shook the grounds down into the filter and poured water into the reservoir, and could almost hear his voice: "It's important to grind the beans fresh, because the oils volatize fast. They're in the Tupperware in the cabinet. It's also important to keep them out of light...."

"Not in the freezer?" she'd asked.

"No, no, that's a common mistake. If you freeze them, every time you take them in and out, you get condensation on the beans, which reduces freshness...."

At the time, his love of knowing things--and sharing what he knew--had been intoxicating, familiar. It had reminded her of herself.

Now, he knew too much. And he wasn't sharing it.

Now she watched him, flat-footed, sad-shouldered, moving by rote, and felt an ache under her breastbone she had too many names for. Grief, loss, frustration, anger. Her head echoed with the ugly little voice that wondered, What if it had been me? and wanted her to turn away, to pretend she didn't see. And the uglier voice still, that moved her to pity and overprotect.

But the rest of the team was already on that, weren't they?

If he hadn't heard her come up, she didn't want to startle him, so she said, "Thank you for making coffee. I need it."

He half-turned his head, to catch her out of his peripheral vision. He was wearing his glasses: he'd probably been down for the night as well when J.J. called. "We should buy stock," he said, as rich-smelling fluid dripped into the pot.

It brewed fast, and while he fixed himself a cup--black, two sugars--she came up beside him. He looked her up and down, his brow furrowing.

"Is there something on my face?"

"Not that I noticed," he said. He reached a blue BAU mug down from the high shelf--the ones that would have been easy for her to reach were all in the dishwasher--and left it on the counter for her, and walked away without another word.

No help there.

She caught up with the team in the round table room, the mug warm against her palm. Garcia and Gideon took chairs, but Emily stood against the wall, arms folded, and waited for the team to arrive. She was one of them now, unremarkable. And if she told herself that often enough, she might even start to believe it.

Take the job for granted.

Did she want to take the job for granted?

Morgan slid into his chair fifteen seconds before Reid returned from a brief visit to his desk, and Emily didn't miss Morgan's glance at her and the eye contact between him and Reid. One of them. Unremarkable. Except for whatever it is that nobody is telling me.

Hotch and JJ, side by side, almost clipped Reid's heels. JJ lifted the remote off the round table as Hotch shut the door. And shot one of his patent sidelong glances at Emily. "Prentiss, did you know your shoes don't match?"

"Excuse me? Uh, sir?" She glanced down, and winced. On the left foot, a navy blue low-heeled pump. On the right, an identical shoe... in black. She shook her head sheepishly, shrugged, and said, "I have another pair just like it at home."

Garcia took pity on her enough to laugh, and Hotch smiled, that quirk of his lips you could miss if you weren't looking for it. "Well, I hope you have a matching pair in your luggage, because we're traveling tonight. Get comfortable, Emily. This one is complicated."

Relieved, she sat down next to where JJ stood. The blonde shot her an apologetic look; Emily shrugged. After thirty-odd years, she had gotten used to being Calamity Jane.

JJ looked at Hotch and cleared her throat. He nodded. She began.

"This case is unusual," she said, "in that we have almost no physical evidence. No bodies. No crime scenes. No dump sites. Just a handful of missing persons reports that seem to be linked by a common victimology. And an emergency request for help from the Las Vegas Metro P.D., linked to what at first glance appeared to be a garden-variety burglary collar."

"Burglary is not our normal line of work," Morgan said.

Gideon leaned forward on his elbows, interlacing his hands. "Collar. They have a suspect in custody?"

"They have a burglar in custody. Evidence recovered in that case has alerted Metro to the possibility that they are looking for a serial killer."

"Missing persons aren't exactly uncommon in Vegas," Reid said. "People go there to vanish."

J.J. licked her lips, a nervousness tell that didn't often emerge in the briefing room. Emily's hand tightened on her mug, and she consciously braced herself. This is going to be bad. She could take a little pity on J.J., though, and be the one to ask the stupid question that would give her a push. "So in the absence of victims, why do they suspect they have a serial killer?"

J.J. clicked her remote. An image of an attractive redhead, mid-twenties, appeared on the screen. She wore a striped halter top, white shorts, and sandals, one foot kicked up on the rail of the fence she leaned against. "Melanie Underhill," she said. "Of Columbus, Ohio. Failed to return from a vacation in Las Vegas in August 2003." Click. Another petite redhead, maybe twenty-nine or thirty. "Patricia Kruger. Burlington, Vermont. Failed to return from a vacation in Las Vegas in May, 2004." Click. Darker hair, this time, more auburn, but still unmistakably red. "Samantha Atkinson. Austin, Texas. September, 2004." Click. "Elizabeth Bruce. Edinburgh, Scotland. June, 2005."

Click. Click. While Emily bit her cheek and Gideon's fingertips whitened on his coffee mug and Reid let his hair fall across his eyes.

Click.

"Another woman of similar appearance has been reported missing as of three days ago. She never checked out of her hotel, and she never got on her flight. Jennifer Preston. Age 22. Manchester, England."



"Two United Kingdom citizens," Emily said. "Is the British Consulate interested?"

Hotch, without looking away from the screen, nodded. "This could make somebody somewhere look extremely bad."

Click.

Emily held her breath, waiting for the next victim, the next slide. But the eighth image was a police evidence photo, items of women's jewelry, a camcorder, a leather wallet of the sort that women use to protect jewelry in their luggage. "These items were among those recovered when a search warrant for burglary was executed on the home of one Alvin Murchison of Pahrump, Nevada."

"Pahrump?" Morgan said.

Reid shot him a dirty look. "A town on the other side of the Spring Mountains from Las Vegas," he said. "'Just over the hump, in Pahrump.'" He glanced around. "Hey, I didn't make it up."

"I take it the jewelry was identified as belonging to one or more of the missing women?" Emily asked.

Hotch rubbed his chin with the heel of his hand. "Yes. And there's DNA evidence linking the wallet to Patricia Kruger."

"They recovered hair? ...blood?"

"No," Hotch said. "It's made of her skin."

***

Penelope stood in the center aisle of bullpen watching Derek and Reid and Emily shuffle through their desks, trying to anticipate anything they might need for a potentially long trip. J.J. and the supervisory agents were in their offices, stuffing things into their own briefcases.

Penelope hated it when they left, hated it more since Chicago and Georgia. Here, they were safe, real, where she could see them. These days, every time the six of them walked out the door, she imagined five coming back, or four.

And so she stood and watched them, stretching out their safety a little longer, as if by watching she could also guard them.

They were all so quiet, lost in their own thoughts.

Eventually, she couldn't take the quiet any longer. She needed to hear their voices, and didn't care if they knew it. "Guys. A wallet made of human skin? Isn't that a little... Silence of the Lambs?"

The three field agents traded glances, but it was Reid who answered her. "Actually, while the psychology behind the Lechter character is questionable, 'Buffalo Bill' was based on a real case."

Emily, one desk closer, nodded and picked up the thread. "Ed Gein. Who not only made a vest and panties out of the skin of his victims, but also used their skulls for bowls, and made lampshades and other home... decorations out of human skin. He also served as a source of inspiration for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Incidentally."

Derek laid a hand on Penelope's shoulder as he came up beside her, and said to Emily, "Geek."

She grinned. "You know it. Geek."

It was the only way any of them could deal with the job, of course. But Penelope still winced. "This is like Jeopardy. In Hell."

She was unprepared for the voice from just behind her that cut in, "I'm sorry. Can you state that in the form of a question?" and probably would have jumped right out of her shoes if Derek hadn't held her down.

"Hotch! You scared me."

"Sorry," he said. "Everybody ready?"

Silent nods, and the banter of a moment before replaced by white-faced strain.

"Right. Let's roll," he said, stepping forward as Gideon came down the stairs.

"Just don't call me 'Dano,'" Derek said, giving Penelope's shoulder one more squeeze before he walked away. Reid--looked completely baffled--trailed them toward the door, where J.J. waited already.

Emily slowed her headlong pace to match Gideon's, and fell into step beside him, bringing up the rear.

Once none of them were looking at her anymore, Penelope kissed her fingers at their backs, and prayed the only prayer she cared to recite, anymore.

Come home. Come home. Come home.

***

"Victimology is likely to be crucial on this one," Hotch said. "It's all we have to go on, unless we can crack Alvin Murchison and find out where he stole what he stole."

"I'll take Murchison," Gideon said, as J.J. had known he would. "If the UnSub is literally tanning his victim's hides, that implies knowledge and equipment. Chemicals. A workshop. Supplies. There can't be that many suppliers for tanning equipment in Clark County."

Hotch said, "I'll put Garcia on it."

"Jennifer Preston is out there somewhere," Spence put in. "She might be alive. I'll take the victimology."

"After at least three days, I hate to think what he's done to her, if she is alive." J.J. leafed through the slim folder in her lap, feeling the smoothness of the manila cardstock against her fingertips. "Somebody knows something, even if they don't know they know it. Do we want to take a chance on alerting the UnSub that we're looking for him? I can saturate the media with a missing person report."

"He knows something is wrong already." Gideon didn't look up from his yellow legal pad. "Somebody broke into his sanctuary and absconded with his trophies, his most prized possession. He's going to be angry. Furious. Perhaps we can use that to force him to act carelessly."

"What if we use Murchison as bait?" Emily put her elbows on her knees. "The UnSub is not going to be hunting, not if his cool-down period is on the order of months, and he's just taken a victim."

"You're right," Spence said, his voice completely neutral. "He's going to want to... play with her. He's got what he needs for now."

"Like an addict who has his fix," Morgan said, and Hotch shot him a sharp glance, but Morgan was--predictably--looking at Spence.

Spence, who with apparently perfect lack of self-consciousness, said, "Exactly like that. Addiction rewires the brain's dopamine system. Normally, the neurotransmitter rewards positive choices--obtaining food, safety, sex, shelter, companionship. Problem-solving. In other words, adaptive behaviors. But in addicts, that positive signal is perverted to rewarding the next fix. If we assume for a moment that the UnSub is a sexually sadistic psychopath--which is an assumption, given the absolute void of information we're operating in--then the sexual and endorphin fix he gets from vicious torture and brutality is as important to him as the pleasure a normal person obtains from a, a good meal and a comfortable bed. As long as he's got what he needs, his reward, he's not going to go looking for more."

"Right," Emily said. "Morgan, do you want some help with the hotels?"

"Any help you can give me, I want," he answered. "It figures. All-expenses paid trip to Vegas, and the only way I'm going to see the inside of a club is if we chase an UnSub through one. Hey, Reid?"

"Yeah, man?"

"You gonna visit your mom?"

Oh, don't push him so hard, Morgan, J.J. thought.

But Spence just shrugged and reached for the next manila folder. A fat one: he always bore the brunt of the research, and he never complained about it. "Maybe if we get the victim back," he said. "Otherwise I won't have time."

***

Even in the early morning, the powder-blue sky over Las Vegas was blinding. It was only mid-May, J.J. could feel the heat through the Gulfstream's windows when she held her palm near them, and they weren't even on the ground. "How hot is it out there?"

"The average temperature in May is seventy-four degrees Fahrenheit," Spence said, looking up from his current victim file. "That's figuring in night-time temperatures too. The record daily high is one hundred and seven, which is ten degrees lower than the all-time Las Vegas high." He paused. "Of course, they measure the official temperature in the shade. And not in the hottest part of the valley."

"So, hot."

"Yeah."

He said it with such relieved pleasure that she laughed. "Glad to be home?"

"Tired of being cold all the time. Did you learn anything from the files?" He tapped the pile between them.

"Just what you'd expect. Young, single, white women who came to Las Vegas to relax, have fun, gamble, go see Cirque du Soleil, and get married by Elvis in a drive-through chapel. Or maybe not that last part...." She sighed. "You have more, of course."

"Well, redheaded. Between five foot one and five foot five. Which might tend to indicate that our UnSub isn't a big guy: serial killers like to target people they can physically control. They were each traveling alone, which indicates a certain amount of independence. None of them were what I would call wealthy, but they could all afford a vacation in Las Vegas and a stay in a reasonably nice hotel. There's no consistency on the hotels, though: no help there either. All of the victims were single. All heterosexual, at least as far as their families are aware. All of them liked a good time, but all of them were from good families, well-spoken, educated. According to friends and family, none of them were heavy drinkers, beyond typical college binge drinking. They're all in their mid twenties. Which means he's probably somewhere around thirty himself. I wonder about the redheaded thing--that could be a personal issue of some kind, something triggered by a conditioning experience, or childhood exposure. Or somebody he hated or wanted."

She knew how they did it, of course--it was patterns and statistics, which was part of why Spence was good at it. But it was still impressive. "Like your thing for blondes," she teased. And she almost said like your mom, but then remembered her own furious thought at Morgan, and bit her tongue.

"I do not have a thing for blondes."

"Mmm." J.J. said, noncommittally. She winked at him when he stared at her.

And he wrinkled his nose and laughed. "Maybe a small one."

"A small blonde? What's her name?"

"J.J! Stoppit."

She sighed, put-upon. "All right. And the other thing we know about him is that he can make a grown woman vanish into thin air, even when her relatives back home are pressuring the local police for a search."

"Well, that's the easiest way to get away with serial murder. Make sure nobody ever finds the bodies. Ever. It's even better than making sure the murders are never connected to each other."

"So where do you hide them?"

His elbows stayed tucked in tight to his sides, but he dropped the file in his lap and his hands waved back and forth, as if trying to brush away the horrors he described. "Burying them in the basement or crawlspace is traditional, but people tend to run out of room. And there can be odor issues. Um, incineration. Feeding the remains to animals. Disposing of the skull and teeth is often a problem. Richard Crafts probably would have gotten away with the murder of his wife if he hadn't been seen using a woodchipper on the bank of the Housatonic River shortly after his neighbors noticed him replacing some of the carpeting in his house. And H.H. Holmes built an entire apartment building and rented rooms to young single women. He had access to every room. And many of them never left--" His voice trailed off. He stared at his own hands, unblinking, and shook it off just as J.J. was reaching to touch his arm. "Sort of Hotel California, when you think about it."

"And you think our guy is doing something like that?"

"There's a lot of remote country around Las Vegas," he said. "There's deep water at Lake Mead and abandoned silver mines all over the place. There are trackless mountains and millions of acres of Federal land. I don't know if we'll ever find those other women. If we do track him down, I think we'll find he has an off-road vehicle. I think we'll find he has a..." He swallowed. She watched him as he turned away, watching the city stream past the tip of the Gulfstream's wing on the opposite side. "Playroom."

"Torture chamber."

"Yes. Like David Ray. Like..."

...Frank.

"...It could be a soundproofed trailer, a cargo container. Maybe underground. It might be someplace remote, but not necessarily. Depending on what he likes, it will have a table or chair with restraints. He chooses low-risk victims, which means our UnSub is probably attractive, well-spoken, educated or can pass for it. He'll be white. He'll dress well, but casually. A leather jacket maybe. Jeans. An oxford or polo shirt. Cowboy boots. He may have a female accomplice. He doesn't care about glamour or media attention or fame, but somewhere--possibly in his torture chamber or his home, he has another cache of trophies: the videotapes and still images of the women he's brutalized. And somewhere, there might be a woman or women who escaped him before he perfected his technique. An early victim. One who lived."

She wondered if he knew how much like Gideon he sounded when he did that. She wondered if he would want to know.

Probably not as much as he might have six months ago, she guessed. "All that from seven dead girls? You suck."

"One," he said. He turned back, met her gaze, did not look down. "One dead girl. Six missing. Some of these guys... they keep their captives for years, J.J. Chained up. As sex slaves."

She shook her head, still trying to dispel whatever it was that was staring back at her from the bottom of his gaze. Whatever it was. How comforting a generality. She knew what it was. Exactly what it was.

She'd watched it happen.

She punched him in the arm and said again, "You suck."

"We have different skills. Don't put me in front of a TV camera."

"Wouldn't dream of it, Spence."

Lightly, he punched her back.

***

They were met on the runway of the North Las Vegas airport by a fiftyish homicide cop--Detective Henry--with frosted hair, whom Emily despised reflexively. She hung back, behind Hotch, while Henry guided them toward a black SUV, chatting amiably with J.J., steering her by one elbow while J.J. introduced the rest of the team. She kept looking at Reid, though, and once they were in the vehicle and underway, she spoke over her shoulder. "Doctor Reid, you're from Las Vegas, aren't you?"

"Yes," he said. "How did you know?"

"You pronounced Nevada right," she said, giving it a hard, nasal a in the second syllable rather than the soft ah Emily would have used. "Also, there was an article on you in the Review-Journal when you graduated college."

"Channel 13 did a thing too," Reid said. "I was hoping everybody had forgotten."

"Just your curse to be as handsome as you are intelligent," she said, weaving through traffic southbound on Decatur. "We're all very proud of you. And glad to have you and your team here to help us in our hour of need."

Emily winced, in the back seat, and caught one corner of a three-way eyeroll with J.J. and Morgan. Reid didn't answer Detective Henry. But he did clear his throat and train his attention firmly out the window, on the marquee of the Texas Station casino as it slid by to the left.

He walked ahead with J.J. and the detective as the rest of the team was piling out of the car. As they vanished inside, out of the heat, another officer arrived--apparently detailed to take charge of their luggage and bring it to the hotel. They would be staying at the Monte Carlo, which made Emily want to laugh, and she hadn't even seen the place yet. In any case, it meant that she needed to rummage in her suitcase for a pair of shoes that wouldn't make her look like her mommy let her dress herself for school today, and while she was crouched on the hot asphalt beside the running car, Gideon and Hotch came around the back, talking in low tones.

And what Gideon said almost made Emily herniate herself. "...catch Mrs. Robinson over there?

Hotch snorted. "Reid doesn't seem to mind."

"If only she looked like Kathleen Turner..."

"Jason. Don't be shallow. I'm sure she's a fine officer."

Emily stuffed the mismatched shoes into her bag and zipped it hastily, making a great deal of noise. Then she stuffed her scarlet toenails into the new shoes, stood up, and hastily smoothed her skirt.

Hotch stepped past her to heave her rolling bag back into the SUV.

"Thank you, ah, sir," she said, half-surprised, half-flattered, and stepping hard on a vague sense of feminist offense.

"Watch your back," he said, low and in her ear, his lips barely moving. "There's a definite whiff of divide and conquer in the air, and I don't like it."

"Roger, wilco, sir," she said, and as he moved away she put a hand on the windowframe to steady herself, dizzy with relief. And, if she were honest, with gratitude. Hotch had placed her inside the line when he drew it. Us, not them.

Even if it was temporary, she meant to enjoy it.

***

It was still too early to canvass the hotels--Emily was always surprised to remember that the world was full of people who worked eight to six--and she had been about to volunteer to make an Egg McMuffin run when Gideon stopped her with a hand on her elbow. "Come into the interview room with me."

"Sir?"

"I want you to observe. Carry in this file box, would you?"

You want to see how he reacts with a woman in the room. "Yes, sir." She glanced over her shoulder apologetically, at Derek. "Sorry, Morgan. Looks like the food run is all you."

"I'll pick you up a breakfast taco," he promised. She shuddered, took the box, and followed Gideon into the interview room.

Alvin Murchison was a slender balding Caucasian of medium height, his forearms muscular below rolled-up shirt sleeves. The bridge of his nose peeled with sunburn (Emily made a mental note to apply sunscreen before leaving the cop shop) and he looked up alertly as Gideon entered. The furrow between his brows deepened as he looked from Gideon's face to Emily's, and Gideon pulled out a chair and sat. Emily stood next to him, behind the third chair, and balanced her burden on the table-top, pushed to the right.

"I have a right to have my lawyer present," Murchison said. He moved to fold his arms, but handcuffs prevented the gesture.

Emily wanted to kick him.

"I'm not going to question you, Mr. Murchison," Gideon answered. "In fact, I expect you'll be out on bond before lunchtime. I'm Supervisory Special Agent Jason Gideon--"

"Hey, they named a bible after you," Murchison interrupted, but Gideon kept going as if he hadn't heard a word.

"-- and this is Special Agent Emily Prentiss, and if you'll let us, we're here to save your life."

Emily could recognize a cue when Gideon slow-pitched it. She pulled the file box in front of her and reached inside, removing seven thick manila folders.

One by one, precisely spaced in a double line, she laid them on the table so that Murchison could read the names. Melanie Underhill. Patricia Kruger. Samantha Atkinson. Elizabeth Bruce. Caitlin Burgess. Micaela Harris. Jennifer Preston.

And then she reached into the box again, and began extracting evidence bags. A pair of diamond earrings in the first one, and Gideon opened up Elizabeth Bruce's folder so Emily could lay them down on her smiling photograph. A silver claddagh in the second, placed upon Micaela Harris' image. An emerald pendant in gold. It clicked when she put it on Caitlin Burgess' photo.

The fourth bag contained a gold cross on a slender chain, nearly the twin to the one Emily herself wore. Her fingers shook, and it clicked slightly when she laid it on Melanie Underhill.

It was the necklace Melanie was wearing in the photograph, carefree and smiling in her flipflops.

It made Emily want to vomit, but she kept her face placid, expressionless, as she'd learned so well as a child. Never give them an advantage. Never give anything away. Never let them see you sweat.

Murchison was sweating now.

And Emily was shaking, as she reached into the box again and again, and laid each item of jewelry down, until she got to the bottom.

And her shaking fingers touched the last clear plastic bag.

She pulled it out, knowing what it had to be from the weight and the soft texture through the plastic. A leather wallet, pale in color, expertly machine-stitched.

Gideon didn't even have to tell her to lay it down on Kruger's file. She was eager to have it out of her hands.

"We know these things aren't yours, Mr. Murchison," Gideon said. "The thing is, we don't know who had them between the owners, and you. And when you are released on that bond we talked about, he's no doubt going to come looking for you. And then--" that deadly shrug of Gideon's, the one that said it's all the same to me if you live or die "--he'll probably want to replace his wallet, don't you think?"

Murchison would rather take his chances with a serial killer than with the F.B.I., Emily thought. She imagined that she would have cracked in half a second, but he bit his lip and didn't look at Gideon, or the evidence on the table. Or her, for that matter.

He just looked at his hands.

"I don't care about you. I don't care about pressing a burglary rap, Mr. Murchison. Help me," Gideon said. "Help me help you. Help me catch the man who murdered these seven young women, Mr. Murchison. Help me."

Tags: fanfiction, geeks with guns
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