Criminal Minds: Of Gods and Heroes
BILLY IDOL'S "REBEL YELL" CAN BE HEARD AS WE ZOOM IN ON A STRIP CLUB SCENE, LOCATED IN VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA
Many men were oogling the beautiful women that gracefully danced and strutted their stuff in high heels and barely anything else across a dimly neon-lit stage. A few were pole dancing on the left and right, and in the center was a brunette with doe eyes and a mega-watt smile dancing like no one was watching. And of course as usual, many men were also hoping to get their paws on some of the goods as they threw their money and stuffed dollar bills in thongs.
Of course the women, even though they were disgraced by this behavior, batted their hands away and wagged their fingers at them like little naughty school boys with their pouty red lips and fake stern-but-not-stern eyes. Especially the girl with the doe-eyes.
After she came off stage that night and was dressed in her regular attire, a man who's face cannot be seen but by her, approaches her and apparently sways her. He manages to buy her a drink from the bar, then another. They talk and she seems happy, laughing a lot. The men who recognized her from stage stared at this stranger with a certain sense of awe. He was able to get one of those beautiful girls to come to him...
The next day...
Pictures of the doe-eyed beauty covered in blood with her eyes wide open in horror upon her coming death, her throat slit, were plastered on the wall and handed out to the agents of the Behavioral Analysis Unit branch of the FBI in Quantico, Virginia.
"What've we got, JJ?" Agent Derek Morgan asked the blonde agent passing out the photographs and case files.
"A series of killings of young strippers in strip clubs in Virginia Beach and so have some strippers from other parts of Virginia nearby, no bodies found. She's the last one that was found. Apparently they've been disappearing for months, these first bodies the unsub has left are fresh."
Aaron Hotchner came down from his office to view their most recent case, "They're all strippers, you say?"
"Exotic dancers, strippers, you name it. Most men, and I don't say all, but most men would consider themselves lucky to just talk to one of these girls, let alone to get them all to themselves to kill them," David Rossi replied, tossing the case file he'd been handed onto the desk in front of him.
"It would have to be a very charismatic individual," stated Dr. Spencer Reid, "perhaps a crime of passion? Maybe they were able to get alone, but she wouldn't give him what he wanted?"
"Don't know... you wouldn't think that he would kill them all if they wouldn't sleep with him," Agent Emily Prentiss inputted.
"Either way, no young woman who's in this line of work in Virginia Beach is safe until he's caught," was Hotchner's reply to them all.
"Right; let's go," Rossi affirmed, getting up and putting on his suit jacket as the others followed suit.
Dr. Reid, Rossi, and Emily went to the club that the young stripper that had been killed the night before was employed at. A gruff old man with balding brown hair and crinkly eyes was there to greet them.
"Thank you guys for coming; this's got my girls scared and all torn up. Ashley was a sweet girl..." he chuckled a little, "her stage name was Honey for that exact reason."
"There wouldn't have been anyone wanting to hurt Ashley, would there?" Rossi asked immediately.
"Of course not," the owner replied, "like I said, she was a sweet girl. And there have been other murders, haven't there?"
"Yeah, we're just trying to see if they're related," was Dr. Reid's reply.
"That's the part that's got the girls so worried," the owner looked over his shoulder where one of the girls was practicing in shorts and a tank top, red-blonde tendrils running down her back and eyes so green a meadow would be put to shame, "they're wondering which one of them is next..."
Meanwhile, JJ, Hotchner, and Morgan were at the scene of the crime, a dingy old hotel, confering with police officers.
Suddenly the police chief, a tall black man, came up, "Police Chief Gaines, Agent Hotchner?"
"Yes," Hotch replied, extending his hand and shaking the Police Chief's hand as he introduced the others, "Agent Morgan, Agent Jareau."
"We're glad you guys are here; this is getting a bit ridiculous. Three dead and several more reported missing in the last few months," Police Chief Gaines shook his head.
"Yeah. The three dead have been the most recent cases, but several have gone missing within the last few months."
"His technique is getting sloppy," was Morgan's reply.
"What do you mean?" Gaines inquired.
"Well, he managed to hide all the other bodies; these last three he just left laying," Morgan answered.
"Like common garbage," JJ said out of nowhere, shaking her head. "Take it, use it, leave it."
"We're gonna need police escorts to make sure these girls at these clubs get home safe," Hotch said to Gaines.
"Are you insane? I ain't got enough men to spare, and besides, how do we know that he'll attack again?" Gaines questioned heatedly.
"Until we get this guy locked up, there's no guarantee that these attacks will stop, Chief," Hotch replied seriously.
Gaines sighed, "I'll do what I can, but I know we're gonna be spreading it real thin. Lots of folks 'round here don't even care that these girls are being targeted."
"Well of course not," Morgan said sarcastically, "after all, they're just common garbage, right?"
"Hey, I never said I didn't care! Why do you think I called the FBI in the first place?!" Gaines stepped closer to Morgan and asked forcefully.
"We know, Chief," Hotch said, giving Morgan a warning glance, "but the town's people are going to have to realize that these women are people too, despite how unsavory they think they are for their lines of work."
Gaines nodded and stalked off.
"Did either one of you talk to the hotel owner?" JJ asked.
"Yeah - said that Ashley got the room. He never saw a man with her," Rossi replied.
"Wow... this man definitely does NOT want to be found," JJ remarked.
"He doesn't want to be... but he will be," Rossi said finally.
JJ, Hotchner, and Morgan then made their way to the other club in which a girl employed there had been murdered, while Rossi, Reid, and Emily stayed at the club of the recently slain woman.
Rossi and Emily were off interviewing different girls that had been working that night; Reid was looking for a girl who had been there the night before with Ashley when suddenly he heard a clearing of a throat behind him.
"Um, you're FBI, right?" the girl asked in a quiet, almost child-like voice.
"Yeah, Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid," he extended his hand to shake hers when he noticed that she had been the copper curly haired girl practicing on stage earlier.
"I'm Tracy; my stage name is Sunny. I was here last night, when Ashley got..." she choked on the last word and couldn't finish her sentence.
"Well, come over here and tell me anything you saw," Reid said soothingly, gesturing toward one of the tables.
Tracy nodded and sat down, as did he. "So, Special Agent Doctor Reid?" she said with surprise, but then smiled, "You don't look much older than me."
"Well I uh, I graduated high school early," Reid replied, adjusting his collar, then smiling somewhat added, "then of course... earned my Doctorates a bit early, too."
Tracy giggled and patted his arm, "Being smart isn't a bad thing... I'm working my way through college right now. Not getting any Doctorates or anything like that, but..."
Reid chuckled a bit, "Uh, we'd better..."
"Oh yeah, sorry," Tracy looked up at him sheepishly.
He looked into her soft green eyes and almost found he couldn't look away. Blushingly he opened up his case file and shuffled through his papers, "Um, so you say you were here last night?"
"Yeah... last night was quite memorable. And then I found out about Ashley this morning... All the horn dogs in Virginia were here last night, it seemed..."
"Did you notice anyone or anything out of place? Notice Ashley with anyone?" Reid asked.
"I did... he seemed to come out of nowhere, but he sure was able to sweep Ashley off her feet in a hurry. Came up to her after the show, keeping his back turned to the rest of us girls at the table. I remember he had a light scar across his left jawbone. Blonde, curly-ish hair hidden under a straw cowboy hat. The other girls went to the bathroom and Ashley excused herself from the table and went up with him to the bar. After that I figured I'd just call it a night and head home."
"Blonde curly hair and a scar? That's actually gonna help more than you know," Reid replied, recording what she said.
"What, you think that's the guy that killed her?" Tracy's eyes went wide with horror.
"It's possible. How big of a coincidence is it that he sweet-talked her then she's dead the next day," Reid said to seemingly no one. "And the fact that he had his back turned to the rest of you except her. That's something. He definitely didn't want to be recognized."
"Dr. Reid? Is it true that this guy is the same guy who killed and kidnapped all those other girls?" Tracy asked in a whisper, eyes wide with fright.
"Call me Spencer," he suddenly said, unable to catch himself, but then continued, "it's possible. We're comparing notes on how the crimes were committed and how they match up. Then we can come up with a profile for the UnSub... or, Unknown Subject."
Tracy bit her lip, "What about us? What if he comes back?" she asked in a sudden panic.
"Hey, don't worry about that right now, Hotch, that's my boss, he's taking care of everything," Reid replied, putting a reassuring hand on her shoulder. It lingered there a little too long and he pulled it away as if it were a hot iron. "He's gonna make sure all of you ladies are safe."
"Are you gonna be here?" she asked all of a sudden.
"In and out more than likely," Reid replied, "after all, there were other clubs..."
"I know... I just, it's kinda weird. I feel safe around you," Tracy said sincerely. "Just something about you..."
Reid couldn't help but smile a little, "Wow, that's a first," he then got up and gathered his paperwork neatly back in its folder.
"Well... we're really glad you all came. I definitely feel safer knowing you guys are here," Tracy smiled, "but knowing you'll be somewhere in the shadows is somehow reassuring as well. Normally something like that would scare the shit out of me, but not with you."
Reid smiled again, "Well, thank you, Tracy, I'm gonna get this information over to the rest of the team and start working on a profile."
"Thank you, Spencer," Tracy smiled a genuine smile. "I'll let you get back to your FBI work... I gotta go start getting ready for tonight..."
She then got up and walked back toward the backstage area, a light blush to her cheeks that hadn't been there before as she didn't turn back.
Reid shook his head and sighed. She had to be one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen, but he had to keep his head. He was here on a case.
With that resolve, he took a deep breath and walked back over to Rossi and Emily. Emily had a slight smirk on her face that Reid didn't notice as he told Rossi what Tracy had just told him.
The whole team met up at the Virginia Beach Police Department and set up their small 'headquarters' where Reid told the rest of the team what Tracy had told him in the club.
Morgan's phone rang in the middle of everything and he looked at it, noticed it was Penelope Garcia, and picked up, putting it on speaker mode, "Talk to me, Angel."
"Well, found all the missing persons reports filed on the other girls surrounding Virginia Beach - you would not believe... Baby, I'm talking at least ten," Garcia replied into her headphones.
"Ten? So on top of finding this bastard we've also got ten bodies out there missing. Oh well, at least we know we're closer to catching him than we would have been months ago."
"How so, Pumpkin?"
"Well, the fact that these last three killings have been just left for dead, no attempt to bury or hide the bodies or anything," Morgan explained, "he's getting sloppy. So it'll make it that much easier to find him."
"I wish you guys the best of luck, you know where I am if you need anything."
"I know, Baby Girl, talk soon."
He disconnected with her and the team compared notes of what kind of details they had gotten from their various visits to locations. It turned out that Tracy's was the most valuable visual, seeing as everyone else claimed to never have seen the mysterious man.
"Guys, you think we've got a profile?" Morgan asked.
"You bet we do," Rossi replied, "let's talk to the police and JJ, get a press conference together."
"You got it," JJ replied, going off in her own direction while the rest of the team headed out to talk to the police officers.
Morgan caught Reid before he could get out the door and nudged him with a teasing smile, "So I hear one of the girls from the club's got it bad for our FBI man here."
"Psh," was Reid's reply, "doubt it."
"Hey, you never know. From what I heard she felt really safe with you around... all that smiling and blushing she was doing... heard you had your fair share of blushing, too."
Reid looked to Emily, who quickly looked away with a smirk she was trying to hide.
He sighed, "No chance, Morgan."
"I dunno... we'll see what happens when we go back there tonight," Morgan smiled, almost evilly.
"Wh-what?! - " but Reid was broken off mid-sentence when Rossi began calling all the officers together to start the profile.
"Alright, we've got a profile for the unsub," Rossi stated once all the police officers and other personel had gathered around, "we're looking for a man with conviction; evidently he's got a motive for just luring these young women away from these places only to slit their throats."
"Most serial killers in their mind are killing the same person over and over again," Hotch added, "but we think we may have a different type of serial killer here."
"He has to be very charismatic and appealing to the women he's luring out. He would stand out among a crowd of... visually stimulated men," Reid interjected.
Flash to JJ's press conference...
"...So we're looking for a white male, anywhere between his mid twenties to his early forties; he would have a scar on his left jawbone and somewhat curly, dirty-blonde shaded hair. He may also be wearing a straw cowboy hat. If anyone has any information, please call in to our tip line, thanks."
Reporters flooded JJ with questions about the recent killings and what they were doing with the strippers and dancers with the murderer still out there. One reporter's statement stood out and made the others go silent:
"Agent Jereau, what if the public didn't really think that this man was a threat? There are many people here in the state of Virginia who think these women had it coming to them with their choice of careers," a male reporter asked JJ.
"Sir, these women are human beings despite what they do for a living. We all know how the economy is right now and if you can't get a decent job, you just do what you have to do," was her clipped reply.
"So you're defending these women, saying that they have as much of a right for police protection, taking our cops off the streets, to keep them safe?"
JJ looked horrified at the words, "Of course I do. Like I said, these women are humans as much as any of us, regardless. No more questions."
Meanwhile, in an unknown location, this broadcast is on the television. A man's fist balls around the beer can he was also holding and he gets up and paces, shown only from the shoulders down. He is then seen getting a coat and a bloody knife from a drawer.
Of course a flood of voices she pretended not to hear came pouring through when she stepped off of the podeum and back into the central part of the police station where they had their 'headquarters' set up.
"Guys, I think I may have another piece to the puzzle," she said to the others, who were now sitting around a long table, once again comparing all the notes they had gotten.
"Oh?" Hotch said, turning toward her.
"This may be a crime of morals, of religion. Some people think of these girls as nothing but trash and many of them think they deserve what they got."
"How did you come to this conclusion?" Rossi wondered.
"One of the reporters outside was talking like that. Evidently local town's people have been speaking out and saying these women aren't ordinary people, that they're asking to be killed."
"Well a crime of religion or strong moral belief isn't uncommon. If he believes strongly enough that these women are nothing but trash or less than human, maybe he thinks he's doing the world a favor by ridding it of one of them," Reid surmised.
"Right; we may have some self-righteous bastard out there who thinks he's god," Rossi said without looking at anyone, then got up and went into the next room to undoubtedly tell the police officers this new, potentially important piece of the profile.
"Wouldn't a crime like this also be considered a hate crime?" Emily asked out of nowhere.
"You've got a good point. If some sick vigilante is out there thinking he's ridding the world of unwanted garbage, then it could definitely qualify as a hate crime... this as well as the murders months back could have been him evolving from smaller, pettier hate crimes," Morgan replied, then dialed furiously on the telephone.
"Thanks for calling Penelope Garcia's house of insanity, how may I be of assistance?"
Morgan chuckled, "Garcia, run a check on white males between twenty and forty-five from Virginia Beach with a record for a hate crime."
"You got it, Baby Cakes," Garcia replied, fingers flying over the keys of her computer as she searched avidly. "Okay, in that age range, I've come up with one hundred and fifty."
"Alright, now narrow that down to men with dirty blonde hair," Morgan said into the speaker phone.
"Okay, now we're down to ten," Garcia reported back with a tone less than enthusiasm.
"Okay, what were their hate crimes specifically?" he asked, then looked at the clock, "Okay, Garcia, talk to JJ; Hotch, Reid, Rossi, Em, and I are going back to the clubs to help keep up the surveilance. Hotch, send us a photo of the guy when we get it narrowed down, will ya?"
"Sure, no problem," JJ replied, taking over talking to Garcia.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team sans JJ all went their separate ways to the three clubs the man had been haunting of late.
Morgan and Reid went to the club where Ashley had been seduced by the unsub; a look of relief and slight panic rushed over Reid's face.
"You okay, man?" Morgan asked from the driver's seat.
"Yeah, I'm fine," was Reid's reply.
Morgan then smiled, "Oooooh, that's right, your new woman works here."
"She's not my woman... we merely talked about the case," Reid replied, trying to stay calm.
Morgan shook his head with a chuckle, "Man, you're blushing. She must really be hot."
He could tell that Reid was getting flustered and he didn't want to really start a fight so he stopped nit-picking.
"So what does she look like, anyway, maybe I'd be interested," Morgan non-chalantly inquired.
A slightly defensive look crossed Reid's face, but he erased it and replied, "Well, she's maybe about five foot seven with long, curly copper hair, green eyes..."
"Whoo, sounds like a hottie to me," Morgan grinned, "and to think, she's working tonight."
"I don't really wanna think about it like that, Morgan, thanks," Reid replied, shifting uncomfortably.
"So you're tellin' me that you got NOTHIN' from this girl? From what I heard, you both were pretty into each other."
"Well you heard wrong. She's pretty, she's part of the investigation. She's a key witness," as soon as Reid said those last few words, he had a thought and called Hotch on his cell.
"Hey Hotch, I need you to talk to Chief Gaines and have him send an extra man over to our club."
"Well, there's a key witness, Tracy Murray, here and she needs extra protection. A law enforcement agent taking her home and staying with her until we get this wrapped up might be a good thing."
"Good point... we've found our man, name's Gary Schaffer. We're about to head out with SWAT to his house here in a few."
"Great, maybe we'll catch him before any of these girls need escorts."
"Let's hope. Talk soon."
They hung up and Reid breathed out a heavy breath as they pulled into the club.
"Good call; I didn't think about that earlier when you said she was a key witness and actually saw defining features on him," Morgan said to his partner. The two men pulled out their cell phones at the same time to recieve a picture of the man called Gary Schaffer.
"Right, well now we know who to look for," Reid replied affirmatively, the two heading into the club.
It was a smoky atmosphere despite that no one was smoking; the music was loud and danceable. Morgan was clearly enjoying himself; Reid felt very uncomfortable.
"Who's ready for some Sunshine?!" the owner called out in what had to be the cheesiest game-show voice ever.
Reid instinctively looked up when he heard Tracy's stage name called. He saw her scantily clad in a short Japanese-style kimono; it was a lavender color with deeper purple thread details. Her eyes met his for a moment briefly and she looked relieved, happy, and a bit embarassed.
Reid smiled a small smile back but when her routine began, he found himself heading toward the mens room.
"Reid!" Morgan called out after him, but realized he couldn't hear him anymore and sighed, then continued watching the show as well as the people around him. Surely this son of a bitch would show up... especially if he knew Tracy was able to help get part of a physical description to go with the profile.
A Virginia Beach policeman in his patrol car sat close to where the dancers parked, making sure to keep a vigilant eye out for the red-haired one called Tracy Murray. He had teh police scanner on, listening for any potential updates and such, when all of a sudden he felt someone jerk him out of his car. He could only let out a gasp before he was drug backward with a cool metal blade sitting on his throat. "Make one sound and you're dead," the warning came from the person who had him held hostage.
The other policemen were inside looking out for the girls personally to escort them out to their cars. He had been assigned the special project of the key witness.
Next thing he knew, he was back in the woods, stripping his uniform off with hope that his life would be spared seeing as the man was in a ski mask and there was no way he would be able to identify his face.
"Now, can I please go?... Go home to my wife and children?..." he pleaded with the masked man.
The masked man advanced toward him, "Sorry, can't take any more chances," was his cold reply before seizing the cop from behind and slitting his throat, letting him drop and leaving him deep in the woods for scavengers to find, or for the police to find too late.
He took off his mask after putting on the policeman's uniform, then put on the police helmet, which conveniently hid his scar as well as his hair. A wicked smile spread across his face as he went back toward the car and climbed in, waiting for his moment...
Reid was in the men's room, leaning over the sink spashing cold water on his face. Sure, he liked Tracy. She was different from other girls somehow... his every moment he wasn't spending on the case he was thinking about her and how she had touched him, how she had taken an interest in him. He shook his head and stood straight up. He had to stop this and get his head back into the game.
He went back out where Morgan was sitting and sat in a chair himself with a heavy sigh, "Sorry about that a minute ago... just..."
Morgan thumped his arm, "It's cool, man. She's over on the other side of the stage right now. Wanna go check the perimiter and make sure that scumbag ain't in here waiting to ambush her or someone else?"
Reid nodded, he and Morgan getting up from their places and walking around the club's entirety seeking out anyone that matched the description that Tracy had been able to give.
At the other clubs...
"Well, no sign of him and the club's about to close for the night," Emily said to Hotch as they continued scanning the club.
"Yeah... meaning one of two things. Either he's laying low or he's decided to hit one of the other clubs," Hotch replied, "possibly the one that has our girl Tracy."
"It makes sense that he would go there, especially after JJ's press conference this evening; but that's part of our job - expecting the unexpected."
So Hotch and Emily stayed put, seeking out the man who could be the murderer.
In the meantime, Rossi was thinking the same thing that Hotch and Emily was at the club he was 'patroling.' He sighed and called Hotch.
"You guys seen him?" Rossi asked, hopeful.
"Nope; we were about to call Morgan and Reid and ask them the same thing. They've already started ushering some of the girls out home here," Hotch replied as the club's lights began to go down. "Em and I are going to go back to the police station soon as these ladies are home safe. Meet us there once your club closes, too."
"Right. Want me to call Morgan and Reid or do you want to?"
"You can go ahead; we're gonna keep an eye on these girls on their way out."
"'Kay, see you downtown."
Morgan's cell phone rang and he took it out of his pocket, flipped it open, and found that it was Rossi.
"Anything from you two?"
"Nope, we ain't seen the asshole anywhere," was Morgan's reply.
"Well, they're about to close up Emily and Hotch's club, so it's just us now. Mine hasn't got much longer, so just as soon as you guys are done come on back to the police station. Meanwhile, if anything happens, give either one of us a call."
"You got it."
Morgan clicked the phone closed and looked to Reid, "Well, nothing's happened at either of the other clubs. For all we know he's laying low tonight," he shrugged lightly.
"Maybe... but I doubt it. Especially since the press knows what he looks like now. He's gonna want to exterminate the one person who could identify him in a line-up," Reid replied gravely.
Morgan nodded, then they continued watching around the club.
After an hour or two, some of the girls were beginning to be ushered out by policemen.
"Spencer!" a female voice suddenly called out.
Reid's head snapped automatically in the direction where the voice was coming from, "Tracy."
This time instead of her slinky stage kimono she was in regular jeans and a green tank top, "Hey... somehow I knew you would be here tonight... thanks."
They stood in an awkward silence for a moment, Reid taking a sudden interest in a scuff in the floor.
"I'm sorry about the show... I saw you take off... I didn't mean to make you feel awkward on the job."
"Oh no, it's fine, just... yeah. I knew what to expect coming here, but at the same time... How do you do it? I mean, to just basically let the world see you?"
Tracy laughed, "I was scared to death when I started this job. Believe me, I did not have any of the confidence that I have now..."
Reid smiled, looking into her eyes for a brief instant.
"You know it takes a lot of bravery to do your job, too," Tracy suddenly said, "it's not quite the same as this, but... you have to go into some pretty dangerous situations with nothing more than a gun, a bullet-proof vest, and your knowledge of how a criminal behaves."
Reid nodded, "I guess you're right. It's just become routine now - I don't think about it so much."
The two once again fell into an awkward silence.
"Well, I've gotta get going home; got laundry to do and a hungry cat waiting for me."
Reid shook his head, "Cats..."
"What, you don't like cats?" Tracy asked teasingly.
"Oh no, I like cats... I'm allergic."
"Why does that not surprise me?" she teased him some more before offering him a wide, sincere smile, "Gotta go... if you catch him tonight, maybe we'll see each other under better circumstances someday?"
"Yeah... I'd like that," Reid replied with a smile of his own.
"Bye," Tracy waved and turned to walk away, a policeman immediately going to her side and escorting her out.
Morgan walked up behind Reid and put a hand on his shoulder as they watched her walk away, "I see what you mean now... kinda hard to resist."
Reid looked at Morgan with a warning look, but then broke out into a smile, "She treated me like a normal human being. She wasn't all ga-ga over the fact that I'm FBI... she just... we just..."
Morgan nodded, "It's all good, man. C'mon, it's almost closing time and we gotta get back to the station."
"Thanks, officer," Tracy said to the kindly older cop who had escorted her to her car.
"You're very welcome, Miss Tracy; this officer behind you is going to follow you home and make sure you get in safely, then patrol outside your house," he replied, indicating the lone police car in back of the parking lot.
"Wonderful," Tracy smiled, putting the car into gear, "thanks again."
She took off, and the police car in back of the lot followed quietly with no lights or siren.
Reid and Morgan watched this all happen from the windows above and when all of the girls had been escorted out, they reported back to the police station.
"So he didn't show up at any of the clubs? Doesn't mean he's not still out there somewhere waiting..." Morgan said uneasily.
"My men are patrolling all over the place watching out for these women," Gaines replied, "especially the witness."
"Sir, can I speak to you for a moment; it's an emergency..." a woman in official-looking dress said in a very serious tone to Gaines.
"Sure, folks, gimmie just a minute here."
Rossi nodded, "Sure thing."
Reid in particular watched the exchange going on outside between the woman and Chief Gaines, unable to hear anything. Judging by the body language, something was terribly wrong. He stood quickly, almost knocking his chair backward as Gaines turned back to walk back inside.
"Reid, what's - " Hotch was cut off when Gaines walked in with a grim face.
"The cop that was supposed to follow Tracy Murray home was found with his throat slit and his uniform missing in the woods several yards from where his car was parked waiting for her this evening," Gaines said somberly.
"What?!" Reid exclaimed, "That means Gary's the one following her home!"
"Now Reid, we don't know that for sure..." Rossi said, trying to calm Reid down as the other agents got up and began to file out.
"I know it for sure!" Reid turned back to Rossi and said with force.
"Reid, stand down," Hotch commanded his agent.
Reid stepped back, but grabbed his coat and ran out ahead of them all.
"Reid! I'm goin' with him, guys," Morgan said in a rush, running after him, "REID!"
"JJ, call Tracy's house just to make sure we're not on a wild goose chase. She should be home by now so if she answers the phone we know she's safe," Hotch said to her as the other agents went out to their vehicles, "Em and Rossi, head over to Schaffer's and see if he's there. I assume Morgan and Reid are heading to Tracy's. I'll follow them. They're gonna need backup if he is holding her there."
Gaines rounded the corner, "Where do you need my men?"
"Equal parts follow Em and Rossi, and Morgan and Reid. if we have no luck at either sites, we'll keep going til we find them," Hotch replied, hurrying out to his vehicle to follow Morgan and Reid.
Morgan and Reid drove wordlessly as their sirens sounded loud and commanding in the otherwise quiet, still night.
"You know you didn't have to give Rossi attitude like that, he's just as worried as you are," Morgan dared to break the ice.
"I know," was Reid's quiet reply.
The two got to Tracy's house to find her car there.
Hotch saw the same just as JJ called him.
"Hotch, she's not there; there was no answer."
"Her car's here, though..."
"Oh my... I hope..."
"Yeah, me, too."
Hotch clicked his phone shut and got out to follow Morgan and Reid, both with guns brandished, to check and see if Tracy was either a hostage or worse...
Morgan pounded on the door, "Tracy? Tracy Murray, open the door!"
He pounded again, "TRACY?!"
Reid breathed out heavily and tried the knob. Finding it was locked, he suddenly kicked the door in and ran in before the others, keeping his gun held up and ready to shoot. He headed to the left, where he wound up in a kitchen, "Clear!"
"Clear!" Morgan shouted from the other end of the house.
Hotch had taken the stairs and checked every room, "Clear!"
Other policemen were checking around the perimiter of the house to make sure there weren't any other places.
"She's not here..." Morgan trailed.
All of a sudden, Hotch's phone rang again as he made his way back downstair, "Hotchner."
"Hotch, there's a police car that matches the identiy of the dead police officer's in Schaffer's driveway," Emily said gravely.
"We'll be right there."
He hung up and looked at the others, "She's a Schaffer's."
Reid ran as fast as he could, Morgan following behind, the other officers and Hotch following suit and climbing back into their vehicles, engines roaring and sirens blaring.
When they got to Schaffer's, officers were out of their cars and ready to shoot at any time. Rossi and Emily had waited for the others to get there. All of the BAU team members present gathered around the door.
"On my count, one, two, THREE!" Morgan called out, kicking the door down, going in first and checking the perimiter, everyone else, as well as the Virginia Beach police officers doing the same.
Reid heard these calls coming from everywhere; he went toward the basement, where he knew no one had gone yet. He opened the door with a creak, his gun brandished and ready to fire if necessary. He walked slowly down the stairs, turning the flashlight clipped to his belt on and aiming it outward, calling out, "Tracy?! Schaffer?!"
Morgan heard Reid calling out from the basement and went to follow him quietly.
Reid suddenly heard muffled, anguished sounds and turned to aim his flashlight when he heard a simultaneous crash of breaking glass.
He turned and found Tracy bound and gagged by duct tape in a corner and ran to her. He took the tape off of her mouth and the sobs she had, had muffled for so long came out loud and anguished.
"God, Tracy, are you alright?" he asked.
Tracy slumped onto his shoulder and cried as he took a knife and unbound her wrists an ankles.
When she was free, her arms automatically went around him and squoze like her life depended on it.
"Tracy, did he hurt you?" he asked her, brushing the stray hairs from her mascara-tear stained face.
"N-no," Tracy replied, "but he thr-reatened to. Told me he was gonna kill me like all those other sinner bitches... that they, and I deserved, what we were getting..."
Morgan got downstairs and to them at this time, "Is she okay? Where's Schaffer?"
"He took off out a window; take care of Tracy, I'm goin' after him," Reid replied with a certain finality in his voice.
"No! Spencer, please, he has a knife and a gun! He's dressed like a cop, except he left the helmet here. Let the police go after him!" Tracy begged.
"No, he's mine," was Reid's reply as he took off running, raking the rest of the dangerous glass away and climbing out the window.
Tracy began bawling again and Morgan took her into his arms, carrying her up the steps, "We've got her. Reid's took off out the basement window after Schaffer."
"What?!" Rossi exclaimed, running out and around the house, Hotchner doing the same.
"Em, call for a paramedic and stay with Tracy," Morgan looked into Tracy's horrified eyes, "don't worry; Reid's gonna be fine, and we're gonna get that scumbag; 'kay?"
Tracy nodded, but continued to cry as Emily called the paramedics and pulled her into a hug.
"Schaffer! Schaffer?!" Reid called out with an unusual edge in his voice.
Keeping his gun ready to shoot any time, he continued scanning everywhere; he suddenly heard some tree branches crack and he looked to his left. They were still moving. He took off running in that direction.
"Schaffer! If that's you, come on out!"
All of a sudden he heard footsteps coming fast from behind. He turned on his heel quickly and found himself at least six feet from Gary Schaffer.
"Schaffer, get down on the ground and put your hands up!" Reid commanded, holding his gun a little higher.
Schaffer chuckled, "I don't think so, Bones," his reply sounded like he had swallowed gravel his voice was so rough.
"I'm telling you right now," Reid said as he swallowed and clutched his gun tighter as he dared move closer, "get down on your knees, hands on your head!"
"Or what? You'll kill me for messing with your little girlfriend in there?" he taunted Reid, stepping in a semi-circle. "All of those women were sinners. You hear me? Sinners! A woman's body is for one man and one man only. They expose them for eye candy and for what? A few dollars here and there. If they were smart they'd get real jobs."
"Whether they are sinning or not, you are NOT God and you have no right playing the part," Reid replied, stepping opposite Schaffer's semi-circle.
"Lemme tell you something, kid. That little bitch in there..." he mumbled aloud as the other officers crowded in behind trees, as well as the other BAU agents sans Emily, "she's the one who exposed me. My one defining feature. You know where I got this scar?? My mother. Yeah, my mother was just like those little filthy whores. Showing off her body to take care of me... couldn't get a respectable job, my dad always said. That's the reason they got divorced. He beat her a good deal to try and make her stay home, but she went out anyway. She eventually served the papers and got sole custody of me. She even had men sleep OVER to make extra money. In the NEXT room. I started acting like Dad, telling her that I thought she was a whore, and she slapped me in the jaw with a big ring one of those... men had given her. Eight stitches, but it still left this," he pointed and gestured along his scar.
"Schaffer, your mother was wrong to do those things with you in the house, she was wrong to hit you... but all she was trying to do was take care of you. Maybe she couldn't - "
"Don't you DARE defend her! If I had it my way and you assholes hadn't shown up, that bitch would've been dead."
"Stop CALLING her that!" Reid exclaimed.
"Whacha gonna do if I don't? Shoot me? C'mon, Scarecrow, gimmie your best shot," Schaffer taunted once more. "Not gonna? Fine, then you'll just have to take her place!"
He drew the gun from the policeman's belt that he had stolen and aimed it at Reid, but not before Reid could get a shot in and knocked the wind out of him, thus knocking him to his back in ten seconds flat.
The other officers and the rest of the team came rushing in.
"You okay, kid?" Rossi asked, placing a hand on Reid's shoulder.
"Yeah, I'm fine..." Reid replied shakily, putting his gun back in its holster. "How's Tracy?"
"Em said she's gonna be fine. Just a few minor cuts and bruises. She was more worried about you than anything," was Rossi's reply. "Go on back to the house; we'll take care of the rest from here."
"Is he?..." Reid asked, nodding toward Schaffer.
"No; but he'll be going to prison for a very long time," Rossi replied reassuringly.
Reid nodded, heading back toward Schaffer's house, running faster and faster as he thought of Tracy more and more.
By the time he got back to the house, it was raining. Tracy was sitting in the back of an ambulance getting checked out; when she saw Reid approaching, her eyes lit up and a look of relief washed over her face.
"Spencer, you're okay!" she jumped off the back of the ambulance and ran in her bare feet through the puddles that were slowly forming from the rain to hug him close.
His arms instinctively went around her and when he felt her squeeze a little more, he did as well, resting his cheek against the top of her head, "I'm so sorry, Tracy, this should have never happened..."
"Don't you dare apologize, Agent Reid," Tracy regarded him very seriously. "I knew I was safe when I was with you..."
She tip-toed up in their embrace and captured his surprised lips with her own in a gentle, sweet kiss.
She wiped at her cheeks, "I must look like a mess..."
Reid shook his head, "No..." he said shyly.
Tracy supressed a giggle as she added, "Poor thing, you're soaked," she ran her fingers through his long wet hair for a moment in utter silence.
"Dr. Reid, we heard what happened, are you alright?" Chief Gaines asked as he approached them.
Reid pulled out of the embrace and crossed his arms, "Yeah, I'm fine. He just pulled his gun on me. I shot in defense. Got him in the stomach... he should live according to the others."
And right at that moment the paramedics were bringing Schaffer from the woods on a stretcher, then loaded him into another ambulance to be taken care of.
The other BAU agents came out of the woods at that moment as well to check on Reid, then left him alone with Tracy for the moment.
"Spencer... you saved my life in there. Your whole team did. It's amazing, the work you do," she said in true admiration.
"It's nothing... just simple deduction and process of elimination. As well as studying behavioral patterns and - "
Tracy placed a finger to his lips and kissed him sweetly once more.
"Hey, lovebirds!" Morgan called out teasingly, "You two can talk more at the police station! We gotta get Tracy's full report as well as yours, Reid."
"Right," Reid replied with a nod, knowing Morgan couldn't hear him.
Chief Gaines then came back, "Tracy, come with me, please, we're all heading to the station."
Tracy unwrapped herself from Reid and followed the big black cop to his car and they took off ahead of the BAU, stealing one last glance back as they pulled away.
Reid stared after the car until Hotch pulled him from his reverie.
"Come on, Reid, we gotta get down there too and file the final report before we head back to Quantico."
Reid then broke himself away from his spot, biting his upper lip and stuffing his hands in his pockets as he walked toward their vehicles.
He sat in silence the entire ride, and almost throughout the entire report, until he had to tell everything that happened from his side so all sides were accounted for.
"So, our baby Doctor's a hero now," Morgan grinned, loving teasing Reid about this.
"Not just me," Reid smiled a small smile in reply.
"According to that girl over there," Morgan pointed to where Tracy was giving her report, "there's no one BUT you on this team, buddy."
He smiled a crooked smile as he stared at her. Even with most of her makeup washed away, she had to have had one of the prettiest faces he had ever seen...
Tracy happened to look up and caught his stare, matching it with her own. Then she smiled a shy smile and continued her report.
As the BAU team is heading back to Quantico in their trademark black SUV's, in Reid's voice, this quote is read:
“If everybody was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes," Mark Twain.
Emily listened to her MP3 player in the back, Morgan drove, and Reid sat in the passenger seat, reading the piece of paper that Tracy had given him when he left Virginia Beach's Police Department.
Don't forget me... I know I will never forget you... my hero.
Call me sometime. Remember, I'm not in this business forever.
Please know you mean the world to me.
She'd also given him a sweet professional photo taken of her in a green sweater and jeans leaning against an old oak tree that he couldn't stop looking at.
Morgan noticed what he was doing and sighed, "Reid becoming a lady's man... never thought I'd see the day..."
Reid paused for a moment then smiled, "I'm not. I'm someone's hero... There's a difference, I think."
Morgan chuckled, "That's true, my friend. Very true. Maybe after all the case stuff is over, this girl and you could really have something."
Reid hadn't thought of those implications and blinked, but then asked, "What until then?"
"Well, I don't see no harm in talkin' to the girl," Morgan replied, flipping his hand a little away from the steering wheel, "just no official stuff or anything... you get what I'm sayin'?"
Reid nodded, then continued looking over the letter over and over again, flipping back and forth between it and Tracy's sweet smile. He leaned back in his seat and breathed deep, smiling and closing his eyes.
Amy L. Reynolds
***I DO NOT OWN CRIMINAL MINDS, NOR THE CHARACTERS, NOR THE PEOPLE THAT PORTRAY THE CHARACTERS - I ONLY OWN THOSE I MADE UP, AND THIS STORYLINE.***