Two Teams for Profiler xover:
John - SVU
Jim - Sentinel
Sam - Profiler
Blair - Sentinel
Amanda Reardon - played by Angie Harmon
Stanely/Ray K. - Due South
Mark -doesn't give out last name, ever
Monica DuChamps - Secondary ME
Mary McCairn - Profiler
Maria Rasto - Computer
Grace Alverez- Primary ME - moved because of pressure of work in Atlanta
Getting Everything Settled Into Its Proper Place
Sam looked up at the knock on her office door, giving her teammate a small smile and a wave of invitation. "Hey, Blair, what's going on?"
"Not much. I have to find an apartment while Jim packs up the loft." He sat across from her. "I was thinking we could go together since you have to house shop too."
"We could, but I'm looking at big, old places," she told him, still smiling. "What are you and Jim looking for?"
"Someplace like Scott had. A nice place near the ocean, maybe with more than one floor. It needs to have a perch for Jim to look over the city. It needs at least three bedrooms, that way I can have an office and library space. We basically need to be as close to nature as possible."
"Ah." She leaned back in her chair. "Well, we could ask Amanda Reardon to help us, she's been here for a few years. Or some of our second team's native to the area also." She smiled at the man standing at her door. "Hi, John. How goes the apartment search?"
"Good, if we could afford to live in the city I've found some great places." He frowned. "Our salaries aren't enough to live close enough for emergency call ins. I've been looking but there's nothing that's not in the bad part of town, and even that's sometimes out of the range of our paychecks."
Sam looked at the paperwork sitting in front of her. "How do you know what your yearly salary will be?"
"I asked Reardon."
"Ah." She shook her head. "VCTF gets paid better than most of the other special units, we get more for hazard pay because sometimes the killers we're tracking come home with us." She pushed a form across. "I'm working on time sheets now, want to look?"
"Please." John looked it over and nodded. "Okay, so we're making enough to barely live outside of a slum." He handed it back but still didn't look too pleased. "How long is our call in leeway? Half an hour?"
"Yeah," Blair said, tipping his head up. "You could live in the Valley. Excluding rush times, it's close enough and you'd usually be going the opposite direction of the traffic."
"I looked out there, Blair, it's still too expensive for my wallet." He handed Sam a bunch of papers. "This is what the real estate agent found for me."
"Hmm." She looked them over and shook her head. "Those are very expensive." She handed them back. "That's what I'm planning on paying to rent a house, what my agent said that I should expect to pay."
"What's her name?"
"His, and it's Michals. He's the one the Bureau recommends us to." She pulled out the card and handed it to him. "Here, go call. Let's see if we can't solve the housing problem soon for all of us. Blair?"
"I'd like to go with your agent too," Blair told her. "Though I can usually find the most interesting places when I look alone."
"Well, if you find something for me, Chloe, and Angel, tell me," Sam said, standing up. "We'll get it all sorted out in the next week or so. John, meeting with the newest team," she called as she walked out, followed by Blair. She walked into the meeting area, smiling at the new people in there.
There was an almost stereotypical California blonde sitting at the end of the meeting table cleaning her nails, her jacket barely covering the sports bra she was wearing over her jeans. From the dossiers she had been given, this was Circlet Ivy, one of the better Vice Cops LA had ever gotten hold of. Her experience with the city's sex industry would come in useful.
There was a very stiff looking man sitting on her right, his brown hair in a regulation buzz cut. Sherman Davis had just been through the police academy, but he had ten years in as an MP in the Marines before leaving them to join the civilian world.
There was a man sitting with his back to the corner, watching everyone else. His pale skin set off his features perfectly, almost making him look like a very realistic statue. His name was Anthony Johnson, a very dangerous man to have against you, but his speciality was in bodyguarding. He had been assigned to Las Vegas' special envoy team, the ones who guarded the special people that came to the City of Lights. According to his commander only one assassin had ever gotten through him, and that was when he had had a fever of over a hundred degrees and wasn't supposed to be on shift.
There was also a former Agent that had been brought back, he was busy trying to figure out his team mates. She knew his first name was Mark, but not even his file had his last name anymore. Apparently he had dropped it after some traumatic incident, and had bribed someone in records into making it a permanent change. The same incident led to him being bald except for one jet black lock behind his left ear. He had been working undercover with the mafia and had apparently been caught. His dark skin showed many places where they had tortured him but he never mentioned it to anyone else. The man was a wall of silence about his life and about what he thought. A very good second in command if she was any judge of character. Mark had taken and passed the Profiler certification but had never applied to use it.
Grace Alvarez was sitting and talking quietly with her helper in the morgue. Monica DuChamps was the essence of a cool and professional fashion plate but she was one of the best Medical Examiners the FBI had. It had taken Grace a long time to get her to LA and not to New York or Atlanta. Today, Monica's waist-length hair was pulled back tightly from one side and cascaded down the other in ringlets, smaller ones framing her light skinned face. Her personal history wasn't included in her file and Sam had called to check why. The Agent in charge of her background check had been very informative but he had said it wasn't anything that should be put in her file. All that was in there was that her mother had gotten a lot of modeling contracts due to her flawless skin and her biracial history, both of which had been passed down to her daughter
Grace looked a little tired, but she was here to rest from the stresses of Atlanta. Her marriage was now over with, had been for almost a year and a half, and her two children were happier out here. She had managed to find a nice house in a good neighborhood and her nanny was a doll about taking care of them when she had to work.
Maria Rasto, the unit's computer manipulator that George had hand-picked for her, was looking around nervously. It was her second week in such a prestigious position and Sam guessed that she had stayed in the lower levels of Computer Management so that she didn't have to deal with the stress that she felt at that moment. She and Sam were getting along fine, and truth be told, everyone liked the shy, young Hispanic woman. Now if Sam could get her to speak up with her opinions in meetings and to make her quit being so scared of them.
The back up Profiler, Mary McCairn, was sitting and reading a book by one of the older Profilers, someone she intended to learn from probably. Not very long out of the Academy, she was willing to work for her spot, and she was willing to learn from Sam but not lean on her. That's why she was here.
Sam cleared her throat and sat at the head of the table, after John and Blair had taken their seats. "Okay, we're not all here, but Agent Reardon had some personal business and Agent Ellison is back at home packing up his and Agent Sandburg's apartment so let's get down to business. Guys, the new people here are the second team we're authorized to have. For those of you on the second team, your team leader will be back in tomorrow. Agent Amanda Reardon is from the area and is the one with seniority at the moment." She smiled at the grunts of acknowledgment. "Good. Then let's get down to business. How many of you on the second team have dealt with a serial killer?" Two hands were raised. "Hmm. Trial by fire for the rest of you then." She slid a folder down the table. "Maria, will you please get with them this afternoon after they've had a chance to look over the case file?" The computer person nodded from her corner. "Good. I'll do your briefing myself this afternoon. John, you and Blair are working on a second case, this one out of Chicago." She passed a file over to John. "It's ritual in nature. The name of the detective in charge of the case is in there. I want to know your progress and the best guesses out of all of you this afternoon." John nodded, and he and Blair got up, leaving her alone with the new members of the unit. "Anthony, you're going to work with them," she said, checking the sheet in her hands. "Go let John fill you in on the case please." He got up and walked out, giving her a respectful nod before the door closed. "All right, people, let's get down to work. You were all chosen because you have skills we need, or have needed in the past in the home unit."
Anthony walked up to where the two Agents were talking over cups of coffee, giving the older one a smile as he looked up. "So," he said softly, "what's our case?"
"You ours permanently?" John asked, shoving the folder over. "I'm John, he's Blair. Jim's in Cascade and expect the boss to look over our shoulder since we're her team."
Anthony smiled. "Of course she will." He read over the file. "Hmm. School girl?" he suggested, passing it back. "What sort of ritual is it?"
Blair looked at the folder. "Um, an appeasement from what I can tell. I'll have to do some research to make sure though." He looked over their newest team member. "Do you do this often?"
"No. I'm the muscle in the bodyguard units for special people." He coughed lightly. "I worked in Vegas until our Doctor Waters came for me."
"Ah." John nodded. "I worked Homicide and Sex Crimes."
"I worked Major Crimes, both before and after becoming a detective," Blair noted, fiddling with the file. "We need to see where the girl was from and if she was into the occult. The ceremony I'm thinking of needs to be a self-sacrifice."
"That's not this then," Sam said as she walked over to them. "The detective in charge had a few notes on her background. He says he has a clue about who it is but he can't prove it. His boss agreed to hand it over to us because this was the *second* body."
"Then I'm wrong and I need to figure out which ceremony this is," Blair said, standing up. "Give me an hour to work through my research database. We'll conference call with the detective then?" John and Anthony nodded. "Great. You guys give me a hard list of details for reference please?" he called as he jogged over to his desk.
"I never thought I'd work with someone as well known as he is," Anthony said, his voice still soft and mellow. Sam and John gave him hard looks. "As soon as his diss was announced, Las Vegas went looking for people like his friend in their own ranks. Mostly to protect them, but also to move them to units where their...special skills would best be used. Especially after he lied to cover it up. Our department's shrink watched the news conference and she said he was scared spitless, that made the higher up's freeze with worry." He stood up, getting his own cup of coffee. "May I ask if that's who Agent Ellison is?"
"Yes," Blair called. "They found how many?"
"Three with more than two senses but no one with all of them," he said, giving him a smile. "One in Forensics and one in Homicide. The other was on my team. He ran into the desert one night to get away from the bosses and got picked up by our most special, secret, undercover Vice unit to work for them." He saluted Blair with his cup. "You saved them from a long life of being questioned." He sat back down. "What do we know about this detective?"
"He's a good guy," John told him. "Very cautious. My department back in Baltimore needed to liaison with him a few years back. They had nothing but praise for the guy. I met him once but it was only for a few hours, I doubt he remembers me." He put his arms on the table. "Is he back to being himself again? They said that he was covering by being someone that was on assignment for the feds at the time."
"As far as I know," Sam said, reaching over to pat his hand. "Detective Kowalski's one of the better detectives in their program, if you can get him to settle down and focus that is, at least according to the notes that we have on him from past federal joint operations. I'm sure we'll have everything we'll need from him today. If we have to, we can travel out there tonight."
Mary stuck her head out of the meeting room. "Phone, Sam."
"Thanks, Mary," Sam called, reaching behind her for the phone sitting on John's desk. "Samantha Waters?" She nodded. "Detective Kowalski, we were getting ready to call you. Is there a problem?" Her expression turned grim. "We'll be out there by tonight. No, three of our team."
"Four," Blair reminded her. "Unless you're not going."
"Four," she corrected, tossing a pencil at him. "What? Of course. We should also have some idea of the ritual to give you when we get there." She nodded and hung up. "Bodies number three and four were found this morning in the same place."
John stood up and dumped out his coffee. "I have a bag packed in the car. I can leave whenever."
"I'll need about half an hour," Blair said, looking up. "I have the ritual, should I fax it to him?"
"No, we'll give it to him in person so you can explain it." Sam stood up, heading for her office. "Blair, go pack. Anthony, you too." She closed the door and picked up the phone on her desk, calling her home.
Blair stepped off the plane and put on his jacket, shivering because of the brisk wind coming through the cracks in the gangway connecting the plane to the terminal. He stepped out of John's way, letting him lead the way down the tunnel, walking side by side with Sam. "So, any other clues? Other than what we've gotten so far?"
"Not until I can see the bodies in person," Sam admitted. "And the site usually." She smiled at the man letting them into the terminal, giving him a subtle nod when she recognized him as another federal agent. "Ah, Bailey, you worry too much," she sighed quietly.
"He should," Blair muttered. "You get into more trouble than I do."
"No trouble magnets in this team," John said harshly.
"Sure, man. You just keep all the psychos from coming for me and Jim'll love you forever."
John turned to glare at him. "Why didn't you tell me this before, kid?"
"Because I thought maybe, by the actions of some benevolent force, I had managed to escape all the psychos that inhabit Cascade."
John shook his head and walked toward the man holding up a sign with their names. "I'm going to start carrying extra weapons, Sam."
"That would be good," the young man in front of them said. "I carry extra handcuffs too, my partner gets me inta trouble all the time and there's never just one." He grinned. "As you live and breathe, John, you *promised* you'd never come back ta Chicago after that last conference."
"Yeah, well, business is like that sometimes," John said, wrapping an arm around the young man's neck. "This, I do believe, if my memory serves me correct, is Detective Ray Kowalski. Let me introduce Doctor Samantha Waters, Anthony Johnson, and apparently our resident trouble magnet Blair Sandburg."
Blair shook the outstretched hand. "Good to meet you. I have the ritual all figured out. All we need to do is to correlate the victims to it so we can figure out exactly who's doing it."
The native detective smiled. "Good, 'cause I don't have a clue." He nodded toward the exit ramp. "Let's go, my Lieutenant's gonna be *real* happy ta see you guys."
"The press or the higher ups starting to nibble on him?" John asked as he walked out beside Ray.
Sam snorted. "It never stops at this level. At least at the Federal level we can make the press leave us alone during an investigation." She smiled at Blair. "Or to hide people who are being investigated."
"Yeah, well, don't tell Jim that, he's still pissed at that Ford guy that showed up and ran roughshod over him last time," Blair told her gently. "It's a really good thing he left before Simon had to cover up a murder."
"Oh, we know about him," Ray called back. "He comes to bug us every now and again." He shot a smile at Blair. "Are ya the one I'm gonna have ta drag around with me?"
Ray led the way into his Lieutenant's office, waving the Federal Agents inside. "This is them. And they've already got some answers for the people bitin' ya on the ass."
Blair smiled as he put a long piece of taped together paper down on the desk. "Okay, this is the ritual and the probable time line from what we know already. I put in probable characteristics of the victims but we need to know if they match or if anything's not right with it."
The Lieutenant looked at the paper then up at Blair. "Do you want to sit down and breathe?" he suggested dryly. "Please?"
Ray snickered. "See, I'm not the only one."
"No, you're the only hyper person that vexes me daily." The Lieutenant looked over the paper and shook his head. "So our fruitcake's following a pattern already?"
"One that's been going on now for over a thousand years," Blair noted. "Do the victims match?"
"More or less. Some of the physical characteristics don't go. This male one for instance, we didn't see that one yet."
Sam leaned down to look at it. "That one's marked as optional. The person doing this ritual would only do that one if he *really* wanted the forgiveness."
The Lieutenant nodded. "Good job. Kowalski, I want you to show these nice people anything they want, except that one room downstairs that's blocked off due to water damage. I won't even say anything if you take the wolf with you."
"Wolf?" Blair asked, sitting up straighter. "Like a real one?"
"Oh, very real," the Lieutenant sighed. "And his owner's away on an assignment for his Consulate so we're babysitting the mooch." He waved at the door. "Go do your thing, I don't understand it. Just give me the good news when you catch him."
"Yes, sir," Ray said, opening the door. "We're gonna take up one of the interrogation rooms." He led the way out and down a narrow hallway, opening a door after knocking on it. "Huey, we need this room. Can ya beat him some other time?"
"No!" the prisoner said. "Just get me away from them and I'll tell you everything! Don't let 'em sic that wolf on me! Please!" He ran over, falling at Ray's feet and hugging his knees. "I won't steal checks from the mail no more. Just don't let the wolf eat me."
"He won't," Ray sighed, patting him on the head. "Take him outta the room. Leave Dief with us." He pried the prisoner off his legs and handed him over with a grimace.
John walked in, glancing at the animal lying in the corner. "Well, it's certainly hairy."
Blair walked in and knelt beside the wolf, touching his forehead to it's snout after looking into its eyes. "We won't try to take over your territory," he told it as he gently scratched under it's chin. "You're the alpha here." He looked into the eyes again, seeing the intelligence in them. "Thank you. Tell me if you need anything." He stood up, frowning at the people staring at him. "It's my Spirit Guide, I'm supposed to be respectful."
Only Anthony nodded.
Blair looked around the site of the murders, frowning as he examined the surrounding buildings. "Okay, where's the nearest school?"
"Um," Ray said, looking around before pointing. "There. Catholic school. Nearest public high school is a few blocks past that."
"Do we know who the girls are?" Sam asked, "or whether they came from that school or not?"
"As far as we know, we've identified one girl from the missing persons reports. I got the pictures though."
"Then let's go find a secretary and ask her," Blair said, heading for the car. "You drive, Ray, Sam won't let me."
"Jim ordered me not to let you drive yourself," Sam called after him. "Ray, I'm going to stay here with the forensics team. Watch over Blair?"
"Sure. From what I've heard, I don't want to mess with this Jim person." He got into the car, smiling at the man sitting next to him. "Are you two..."
"Nope. Jim's straight and I don't like women anymore." Blair sighed. "Just don't ask, man, please?"
"Of course not." Ray stared the car. "Why a secretary?"
"Because they actually do all the work in any organization. They'll probably know who these girls are. If not, a teacher would and the secretary would know which ones to talk to." Blair pulled down his sunglasses, looking out the window. "Are you?"
"Gay? Yeah, but it's a carefully ignored thing around my department." He turned a corner a little sharply. "They aren't cool with the idea but they aren't gonna make anything of it unless I bring someone around."
"Ah. I remember those days." Blair glanced over at him. "Don't worry, I'm still not really sure where I fit, but I'm pro-anything-as-long-as-it's-not-rape-and-it's-not-kids."
"That's cool." Ray parked in front of a large, featureless brick building. "Here we are, home of people who think their kids are good little angels."
Blair snickered. "Truly." They walked through the door, showing their badges to the guard standing in their way. They were led to the office, Blair sitting on the edge of the secretary's desk. "Hi, can we talk to you for a minute?"
"I'm not sure," the secretary said softly, one hand against her neck. "Am I in trouble?"
"No, but we've had a series of young girls murdered nearby and we need ta know if you recognize them," Ray told her.
"We all know that secretaries really do *all* the work in any school." Blair gave her his best smile. "Please? Just to look at the pictures?"
"Of course." She held a hand out and Ray handed over an envelope. "Oh, my," she sighed, laying them on her desk. "I know most of these girls. All but that one." She pointed at the next to last one. "I know she's not from here but she's been around here a few times. A friend of a student I think." She pushed a button on her phone. "Monsignor? There's a police officer and a federal agent here to see you about some of our missing students?" She smiled at the grunt and picked up the pictures, walking into the office behind her desk and coming back after a second. "He said he'd call their parents but you could have their records." She sat back down. "We'll give you a copy of their schedules and access to the students that you'll probably want to talk to about them when you're ready to do those things. Do you know who's doing these horrible things?"
"No, all we know is that it's a man," Blair told her, sliding gracefully back onto his feet. "That would be most helpful." He took the folders. "We'll come talk to them tomorrow, but if you wouldn't mind spreading the news around the gossip network here in the school?" She nodded. "Good, we don't want any more girls to be killed. If we're right, the next girl will be like the first one," he tapped a picture, "so maybe you should have someone pull the girl aside for a warning?"
"Of course, Agent..."
"Sandburg." He nodded at her. "Call Ray if you need anything, he's our local liaison." He walked out, letting Ray hand over a card and follow.
"How'd ya do that?" Ray asked once they were in the car. "They're never that nice to us."
"Secretaries rule the world," Blair reminded him. "I'm sure her boss didn't tell her to be that open, but from her face, I'd say she knew one of those kids personally." He opened the first folder, reading over the girl's life. "Besides, I used to teach at a college, most secretaries are like that if they like you."
Sam put down the last folder and shook her head. "Okay. He's going to pick a girl tomorrow night, right?"
"By the chart, yeah," Ray said, looking down at it. "For some reason, he won't do one tonight."
"It's a pause to see if the person he's asking forgiveness from will answer and tell him it's okay again," Blair told him, pulling the chart over. "Okay, we need to get a girl that fits this description, but we know what sort of girl he's going for so we need to add that into the profile."
"I'm doing that," Sam told him. "Relax, we'll catch this guy." She reached over to pat his hand but he withdrew it. "Guys, go back to the hotel. We'll do this after supper."
John yawned. "Suits me. Where's the hotel?"
"Down the street," Ray said, nodding his head at the door. "I can show ya where. Blair?"
"Great," he said, hopping up. "John, I'll check us in, you can help Sam get there safely." He waved and walked out of the interrogation room.
John looked at Sam, who shook her head. "Compensation?"
"He can't stand women," Sam reminded him. "It's a trauma induced reaction. He's working on it so we shouldn't say anything unless it gets extreme."
"Okay, I won't say anything unless he comes in wearing a collar some day." John stood up, starting to gather their things. "Shall we?"
"Yes, we should." Sam pulled an envelope out of her purse and handed it over. "Our reservations."
"Good. We may even get there before they do." He led her out of the room, making sure she was guarded all the way down to the cab.
Blair shifted to look at the man beside him in the small sports car. "So," he said softly. "Do you have any dinner plans? I really don't want to eat with John tonight."
"I was gonna get a pizza and feed the wolf," he pointed a thumb in the backseat at Dief. "Other'n that? Not a thing." He gave the other man a small smile. "Why? Did ya have some ideas?"
"I'm not sure," Blair admitted. He turned back around. "I... I don't know...."
"Hey," Ray said, leaning over to brush a thumb down Blair's cheek. "I kinda figured out that somethin' happened to ya. It's all okay with me. Are ya swingin' the other way now?"
"I don't know," Blair admitted. "I feel like I am, I mean, I'm attracted to you and all that good stuff but I'm not sure if I can do that to you or not." He started to turn his head but the warm lips clamping onto his stopped him from moving. "Wow," he sighed, relaxing. "Would you mind?"
"As long as it doesn't get more personal, nah. I'm good ta go with the casual stuff."
"Who is he?" Blair asked gently, turning to look at his new friend. "The one you really want?" Ray sent a pointed look toward the back seat. "Ah." He nodded. "As long as you don't call me by his name."
"Nope, I won't do that. I'm real good with names." Ray gave him his best pick-up smile and opened his door. "Come on. Let's get you checked in and we'll lounge in your room. I don't got cable right now." He let the wolf out, not seeming to care if the animal was following them or not.
"He's really well trained," Blair noted, checking behind them.
"No, he's got his human very well trained," Ray countered. "The Mountie and the wolf. An obnoxious pair, but they get the job done. Give me tons'o grief, but we get the job done."
"That's what really matters," Blair said as they walked up to the check-in desk. "Sandburg, VCTF?" he asked the woman behind the computer.
"Yes, sir," she said, pulling out an envelope. "We've had a message for you too." She handed it over with a form. "Sign at the bottom please." He did and she took it back, handing him a key. "Thank you, sir, have a nice day." She smiled at him but he was already moving. "What a waste of man," she sighed softly. "Gay and taken."
Blair led the way up to his room, letting Ray walk in first, bowing at the wolf as it walked past him. "What do you usually feed him?"
"Hamburgers. Though he's been inta sausage a lot recently." He smiled at the frown. "His owner gets the same look when he sees him trackin' a happy meal."
Blair snorted. "I can imagine." He sat on the bed, looking at the other man. "So," he said after a few minutes.
"Yup, that's usually the start of the awkwardness." He leaned down, giving the hurting man a light kiss. "Whatever you want, I'm not gonna push here."
"That is *so* cool," Blair sighed, giving him a relieved smile. "I have no idea some days."
"Does that mean that..." Blair nodded. "Okay then," Ray said, clapping his hands together. "This isn't gonna be as casual as you would've liked. First times are always a little odd."
"Ray, I do odd daily."
"You too huh?"
They both started to laugh.
Sam checked them in, smiling at John. "Blair's checked in, looks like we're eating together. Anthony?" she called, bringing their other team member over. "Would you like to eat with us?"
"No, ma'am, thank you anyway," he said. He turned his head to wink at the woman he had been talking to. "I think I have plans."
"As long as you have your pager," Sam admonished. "And you make it to work in the morning."
"Yes, ma'am. Eight am sharp." He waved and jogged back to her, leading her out of the hotel.
"Ah, to be that young and horny," John sighed over-dramatically. He let Sam get into the elevator first and punched their button. "Where would you like to eat?"
"We could order up or we could go out," she offered.
"Hmm. To work over dinner or to forget work for an hour and go eat? That's a good question." He looked at her.
"Go eat," they said together.
Blair looked at the note, and groaned. "I've got to call Jim."
"Ah, the mysterious Jim person," Ray said with a grin. "Tell him I said hi."
Blair nodded. "Okay. I'm sure he'll know anyway." He picked up and the phone and dialed his old home number, humming along with the music Ray had chosen until Jim picked up. "Hey. You wanted me to yell at you for something?" He grinned. "We identified the girls for the most part. We know the school. We have to find the guy still." He nodded, rolling his eyes. "Yes, Jim, I'm being good. No, I'm sitting here with our liaison detective. We're figuring out dinner now. Yes, Jim, I'm being careful." He rolled his eyes again. "No, I've been looking. I think I may have found a spot, but I'm not sure."
Ray coughed. "Want me to give ya some privacy?"
"Nope, it's okay," Blair said, giving him a smile. "He's my roommate and we're moving to LA in a week for the unit." He turned his attention back to the conversation. "No, but how about water?" He grinned. "Good. I didn't think you'd mind." He nodded and hung up. "Jim said you were to make sure I ate something tonight." He slid around, hesitantly giving Ray a kiss. "Was that okay?" he asked.
"Yeah, it was good," Ray said, licking his lips. "You still feelin' okay with it?"
"Fine actually," Blair admitted with a smile. "This feels good, really." He gave the other man another kiss, quickly getting absorbed in his mouth. He even allowed himself to ignore the knocking on the door.
"Food," Ray mumbled, breaking free and getting up to answer the summons. He came back in with a tray, which made it's way onto the table as Blair got up and pulled off his shirt. "Oh, wow, you're a hairy guy." He ran his fingers through the dense hair, teasing the sensitive chest.
"Tickles," Blair protested with a smile. He picked up the fingers, kissing each one. "Do you really want to eat?"
"No, I'm fine," Ray said, leaning down to lick across a sweaty nipple.
"Good," Blair squeaked, walking backwards until he fell onto the bed, bringing his new friend with him.
Ray looked up and grinned. "We still okay?"
"Don't worry, I'll tell you if I'm not," Blair said, running his fingers through the blond hair. "You're doing good."
"Just as long as you tell me," Ray reminded, going back to playing with the hair and the nipples it was hiding. As he tugged on the hair with his lips, he reached a hand down, rubbing across the hardness. Blair moaned and arched up him, pushing his head down forcefully. "Easy, guy," Ray murmured. "I'm not gonna stop."
"You'd better not," Blair whispered, eyes squeezed tightly shut. He felt Ray chuckle and looked down at him. "Oh, come on, I've been good. I didn't even try to cop a feel."
"Which is a really good thing," Ray reminded him. "I doubt my boss woulda been very cool with you doing that. No matter how many answers you came with."
Blair chuckled. "I grow on people, Ray, don't worry about it. He'll come to love me in a few days too."
"You'd better hope so. He doesn't like Feds too much." Ray slid lower, playing with the hair on his new friend's stomach, making Blair giggle.
"Oh, stop!" Blair shrieked as Ray took advantage of him by tickling him.
"Okay," Ray said, pulling back, hands raised. "Whatever you say."
Blair frowned at him. "I meant the tickling."
"Hey, I can do that too." Ray lay down on the bed beside him, giving him a kiss, pulling Blair into his arms so they could press against each other, giving them some room to tease themselves before they finished up.
John had jumped up at Blair's yell, but Sam put a hand on his arm. "You sure?" he asked.
"That was a happy sound," she said with a sad smile. "He's changing over so that he can't be hurt again." She let John go. "You've seen it before."
"Yeah, and those people were always sad," John protested. "We should at least talk to him."
"When we get home," Sam sighed. "I can't do that here. Not with a case in front of us. I can't actually protest as long as he's able to do his job."
John nodded, sitting back down. "If you say so. Want me to do it?"
"No, I think it's time that I do it. He's going to have to face down women eventually. It's better for him to see one that's not threatening but who can help him work it out." She pushed a strand of hair back behind her ear. "He'll be fine, just give him some time, John."
"Sure." He picked up the folder. "So, guy or not?" he asked, going back to work.
"I'm starting to think not, but that she thinks that she committed a man's crime. That's what this ceremony was for," she said, pulling out Blair's earlier research. "I really do think it's a woman. A trusted woman. One that's in the school."
"Possibly, but there are other women in schools beside teachers," she reminded him. "Why not a secretary?"
"Or the lunch lady," John asked. "Which is a good point. So she's a refuge for the girls? Someone they can go talk to, maybe find a strong parental influence in?" Sam nodded. "Does that mean that she committed this whatever with one of them?"
"No, her crime is probably with another student. If we look, these girls are probably not friends with the girl that she committed the crime with. Maybe they're even at odds with this girl."
"We're talking sexual?"
"Possibly," Sam agreed, giving him a small smile. "See, I knew you'd do this job well."
"Yeah, but I was looking forward to retiring to a quiet life."
"So do it," Sam suggested. "You've always wanted one of those conspiracists compounds. Buy one. Rent an apartment for when you have to work with the unit. No one said that you had to partner with LAPD like everyone else."
"If I can afford it," John reminded her.
"John, part of your background check was your retirement account. You're old enough to touch it in three years or to borrow against it now. Buy yourself an out-of-the way compound somewhere and feel safe from people trying to get you."
"Yeah, I could do that," John agreed, relaxing. "Actually, if I use my pension from Baltimore, I won't have to borrow very much. I'll be able to barely afford both." He looked her over. "You sure that won't screw up with Bailey's plans?"
"Not really. If you noticed, most of our second team is from LA. You ducking out on that part of the job won't hurt anyone. Of course, you'll make less."
"Yeah, but I can deal with that. I could even rent one of those motel efficiencies for when I have to be in town."
"That would work. And you'd have maid service," Sam said with a smile. "Any word on Blair and Jim's apartment hunt?"
"Blair was doing a search online while we were flying. He had saved down some apartment listings and was looking through them." John shifted slightly. "You think Jim's going to be okay with this?"
"If he isn't, I'm sure we can make him see what's going on and enlist his help for Blair's sake." She pushed over a folder. "Look over this stuff. Let's see if we can't formulate questions for tomorrow."
"Yes, bosslady," John said, flipping it open.
Ray looked up at Blair as he flipped open the tube of lubricant. "You're sure," he asked one last time. Blair nodded, giving him a shaky smile. "We can go the other way."
"No, I'm good," Blair murmured, reaching down to run his fingers through the spiky blond hair. "Keep going, Ray."
"Your wish and all that." Ray slid some of the tube's contents out onto his thumb and slowly caressed the silky skin back toward the virginal hole. He watched the deep blue eyes as he slid his thumb in, pausing when he saw the flinch. "Still okay?" he asked.
"Yeah, fine," Blair said, pushing backward. "Please?"
Ray withdrew his finger and slid up the hairy body, giving Blair a hug. "It's all right," he whispered into his new friend's ear. "We can stop or we can go the other way, I'm not going to force you."
"You're not," Blair soothed, stroking down the flawless back. "You're not forcing me, trust me, I'd know force."
"Oh." Ray pushed himself up and looked down at the other man. "Is that what this is?"
"That's why I'm going towards men, but otherwise, no." He grinned. "I find you fascinating, and that's my major thing in lovers. I want to be able to talk with them and have fun with them." He pinched the pale rear. "Okay again?"
"Very okay," Ray said with a grin. "As long as I'm not..."
"You're not," Blair soothed, sitting up and pulling Ray into his lap to cuddle. "I can't let myself be used and I can't use another, it would be doing the same things she did to me. You never have to worry about that with me." He smoothed some of the unruly hair off the pale forehead. "Better now?"
"Much," Ray sighed, leaning into him. "Want to cuddle and see what happens? I've lost it."
"Hey, cuddling is one of the greatest things and I miss it." Blair scooted back until he was leaning against the headboard and they cuddled.
Blair tossed his copy of the folder on the table as he walked into the interrogation room. "Okay, I'm going to change my predictions. John, just listen first." John sat back, waving him to go on. "I know it's a woman. She..." He sat down. "What term should we use? She twisted the girl somehow, tarnished her maybe. I believe that either the original girl's dead or she's changed so much that the older woman thinks that she's dead to her. But," he held up a finger, "there's one flaw in this idea of mine. And John, if you say projection, I'm going to beat you. Sam, what's the third girl like?"
"She's by all appearances quiet. Studious. One of the people that get assignments done weeks in advance. Why?"
"Because, the third victim was supposed to reflect the original girl, a sacrifice to say that this woman knew what she had tainted."
"Okay, you keep saying tainted. Are you thinking non-sexual?" Anthony asked.
"Actually, I'm thinking that the woman was the girl's last hope before she had to change, and the change wasn't one that she wanted. She's trying to get this girl to forgive her for letting her change."
Ray raised a hand. "Why isn't that sexual?"
"It may have had sexual overtones," Sam admitted. "Maybe a talk about sexuality or something of that nature." She patted Blair's arm. "I got the woman part last night, but I never thought about it that way. Who would she be?"
"Our friendly, helpful teacher type person?" Ray suggested. "The one the girls went to when they weren't sure?"
Sam smiled at him. "That's a very good guess. Do we know if this school has a formal counselor or other support network?"
"Nope, not a one," Ray said quietly, looking out the window.
Blair tapped him on the side of the face. "It wasn't that she was dismissing your idea, she was trying to find a reasonable counter to it. Only the right answer wouldn't have one."
"Oh." Ray brightened a little. "Okay. There's one thing, what if the girl's all go to someone that they think they can trust, but it's a more personal thing."
"Whoever this person is," Sam said, "is well known for caring about the students. There's probably not too many of the upperclassmen that won't be able to tell us who she is."
"You think she's changed since this happened?" Blair asked.
"Maybe. She could feel that she messed up so bad that she couldn't help anyone. This ...guilt, for lack of a better word, is eating at her. Every moment of every day would be spent trying to figure out what went wrong. Why she couldn't save this one girl. Why she was the one the girl had picked to have help her."
John cleared his throat. "Would this person be overly helpful? Maybe wanting to get caught?"
"No," Sam said, shaking her head. "Getting caught means that she can't atone."
"Making it right would be the biggest thing in this woman's life," Blair told him. "This is guilt, and that would be the best word, for what happened. This is the opposite of recreating to try and change circumstances. This is pleading and begging for forgiveness that no one but this girl can give."
"What about God?" Ray asked. "This is a Catholic school and all."
"Yes, but this girl has to forgive her before God ever can. She has to atone on a mortal level to be worthy to get God's approval again," Sam said, giving him a smile. "I'm pretty sure that when we find her, she'll have tried talking to God but it didn't help. Maybe she feels abandoned until she clears up this mess. Maybe she feels that he disapproves of her now so she's trying to atone for both sins at the same time. This is all about her wanting to make it right, to make amends, to go back and change whatever happened, but she's not able to do that because she doesn't have a time machine."
"Okay, so what can I do?" Ray asked.
"We need a list of kids who have died that went to that school," John told him. "Like Sam said, either she's dead or she's changed so much that the sweet, innocent girl that used to be is gone for good."
"Okay," Ray said with a shrug as he got up. "I'll go start that search. Be right back."
Sam waited until they were alone to look at the male members of her team. "Gentlemen, we need to have a discussion about protocol. There is nothing more important than the case, especially not personal relations." Blair glared at her. "It wasn't just you, Sandburg. Anthony, from now on, you have to wait until after the case is solved. We need you with us in case something happens in the middle of the night. I know, it's a pain," she said with a slight smile, "trust me, I know about that rule being a pain, but that's how it is. If we're working out of the home office, then everything's cool. If we're out of town on assignment, we're supposed to be asexual creatures of rules. Otherwise, the Bureau comes to watch over us from a microscopic level."
Anthony nodded. "Fine. I can restrain myself."
"Me too," Blair said, looking at John. "Did you have problems sleeping last night?"
"Not really," John admitted with a smirk.
"No, not because of that," Blair sighed in exasperation, "because you kept dreaming about those girls."
"I don't get those any more," John said evenly. "I've learned how to pull myself away from the victim."
"People are fascinating but you don't want to be one of them anymore?" Sam asked, grinning openly now.
"Basically," he agreed. "If you look at humans on the base levels of life, we're a horrible species. We pollute everything, we ruin everything; we should be locked in cages and sold to the animal kingdom so they might live through some of our contamination of the world."
"That would solve some of it," Blair said with a smirk of his own, "but most tigers don't carry money. We could put some of the worst offenders in a hunting reserve though. Make them the game of the day."
"No," Sam said, shaking her head. "We don't want to harm other humans, Blair. Not even if they deserve it." She patted him on the arm. "Don't worry, I feel the same way some days. Just don't tell anyone else. They'll start testing you to make sure that you're normal."
"Yeah, but you can lie your way through those," Blair snorted. "That's really easy to do."
"Point," Sam said with a smile. "Just remember, the FBI will have profiler trainees come in to do ours."
"Okay, point," Blair said. "They could screw up majorly." He looked over at John. "So?"
"I think your theory has merit but only if we find the person who may have been the confidant. Or even a girl who would remember them."
"Why couldn't she have been a confidant to boys?" Sam asked.
"Girls and boys go to different people."
"Not always," Blair reminded him. "If there's only one person in that whole school that might understand sexual questioning, then they're the only option."
"Which is good, but I doubt we're going to find anyone that the boys and girls go to. It's not the natural way of high schools."
"I guess college spoiled me," Blair said with a shrug. "I went to the same personal advisor as a lot of girls did."
"Yes, but you probably did it to *get* those girls," Anthony reminded him, to which Blair only smiled. "High school's a little different. There's still that awkwardness back then. None of the self-confidence that would allow boys to do that."
"I started college at sixteen," Blair told him with a grin. "It was all about hormones."
"Yes, but that means you weren't the average either," John pointed out. "Lets you off the hook statistically."
"Okay, guys," Ray said, walking back in while reading a list. "We have three deaths outside of our present problem. And one of them might fit." He handed the list to Sam, reaching past Blair but brushing him on the arm.
Sam gave him one of her enigmatic smiles. "Thanks." She looked it over and shook her head. "No, I don't think it's this kid."
"Maybe a transfer?" John suggested. "That would still be a loss."
"Or maybe she's still there, just too different," Blair reminded them all, standing up. "Come on, we're supposed to go interview today." Ray followed him out of the office.
John looked at Sam and Anthony. "Think we should offer a job to the kid? He's a great cop, if you can keep him calmed down."
Sam nodded. "Let's see how this goes first," she said. "I want to see him under pressure first. The rest of the new people are all used to stress."
"Yeah, but I'm more used to the stress of whiny people," Anthony said as he got up and followed Blair's example.
Sam shrugged, gathering her things and walking away, John walking right behind her to make sure she was going to be fine.
Sam smiled at the young girl walking toward the table where she had set up. "Hi, Doctor Samantha Waters," she said, holding out a hand, using her other one to wave at the chair.
"Tenny," the girl said softly, sitting down but not shaking her hand. "Why did you need to talk to me? I didn't know those girls."
"Yes, but we think that you might know the person who did it." The girl went pale. "As a matter of fact, we think that those girls were all a group and that the person who did this was trying to get the attention of some girl that they're opposed to, or maybe just one that they don't like."
"So, their clique is being decimated because the whacko likes this other girl that they don't?" she asked, grinning when she got a surprised nod. "Okay, so you want to know who's opposite those girls, right?"
"Well, that and if there's an adult around here that a girl like that may have went to. Maybe a counselor or a teacher that's been helpful to a lot of you?"
"Oh, sure, that's Mrs. Henderson. She helps all of us." She pulled out her notebook, opening it to write something out. "She was here until she retired last year. This is where she lives. She still invites a bunch of us over every weekend." She stopped writing and looked up. "You don't think she's the whacko, right?"
"No, I think that she might know who is," Sam told her. "We think that the person doing this knew these girls." She took stock of the girl in front of her, measuring her up to what they knew the next victim should be like, and what she saw made her sick. "Tenny, I want you to do me a favor, all right?"
The girl went pale. "The secretary said that I might be on the list. Am I?"
"It's possible," Sam agreed, reaching over to touch her hand. "I want you to go straight home tonight. Even if you have some sort of practice, we'll write you an excuse. If possible, I want someone to come pick you up as soon as school's out. We need you to be safe tonight."
Tenny swallowed and pulled her hand back, handing over the piece of paper. "I will. I'm staying with a friend tonight. I'll have my cellphone with me and everything, and my mace." She looked away. "My parents are out of town."
"Okay. As long as you think you'll be safe. Does this girl know what's going on?"
"Yeah, I told her. She called her mom and she begged me to come over." Tenny shook herself and turned back to face Sam. "What's really going on? I'm not going to tell anyone or anything, but I think I should know. I might be able to help," she said when Sam started to shake her head. "I think I deserve to know," she said coldly.
Blair walked over and sat next to Sam. "Tenny, right?" She nodded. "Okay." He leaned over to whisper in Sam's ear and she smiled. "You're staying with a cop tonight, right?"
"Yeah, my friend's mother is a detective on the night shift in the same precinct as Detective Kowalski." She sighed. "Can I know now?"
"Sure," Sam said, pushing out a chair for Blair. "What we know is that someone is trying to atone for hurting one of you. We're pretty sure that the girls who are being killed are ones that used to pick on this other girl."
Blair cleared his throat. "Tenny, I've got to be honest with you, you're outside of that loop. You're going to be picked because you look like one of the other girls that got killed." She nodded slowly. "We think that you might have known this girl, that's important to this person's work."
"So it's a pagan thing?"
"Well, he's following an ancient ceremony, a very ancient one, we're not even sure when it started," Blair temporized. "It's not necessarily from any religion."
"Okay." She shrugged. "So I know the girl that this guy's supposed to be appealing to?"
"This person is trying to apologize for hurting this girl," Sam told her.
"By killing the people she didn't like?"
"Basically," Blair agreed. "It's a little more complicated. It's got timing and victim profiles built into the ceremony, but he's picking on these girls because they didn't like the original girl."
"Gee, that sounds like Mr. Mathans. He's been really down for a few months now, but he used to be special to us. He used to be the guy we all went to talk to. Until this girl named Laura showed up. She was really screwed up. Her parents were trying to 'cure' her and everything by sending her here. One day, she just kinda snapped and became herself. Her parents committed her shortly afterwards, but she fought and gained independence from them because they were hurting her." She shrugged. "Can I go?"
"Go right to this woman's house," Sam said.
"She's picking us up tonight." She picked up her things and hopped up, heading for the door. "I hope I helped."
"You did," Blair called after her. "A lot." He looked at Sam. "Male?"
"Maybe," Sam agreed, shrugging. "It won't hurt to look."
"True. I'll call John, let him do it." He pulled out his cellphone, pushing over the notebook he had carried over. "Here's what I got from my interview." He hit the last button and put the phone up to his ear. "John? Hey. Check out one of the teachers. Mathens." He hummed and hung up. "Jim's back in LA. John told him to stay there."
Sam snorted. "I'm sure he'll listen." She passed the notebook back. "That's what she said. Though, she did give me the name of a recently retired teacher, one that's very tight with the kids."
"Which one do you want to take?" Blair asked quietly, looking around the library.
"I want to talk to the retired teacher," Sam said. "I'll take Ray with me. I want you to go back to the station and help John look things up." She stood up, putting everything back in her briefcase. "At least one of the interviews turned up something," she said when she saw his sad look.
"I was thinking about Ray," he admitted.
"I was thinking about him too," she said, patting him on the shoulder as she left. "If it's Mathens, let's arrest him after school, there will be less innocents in the path then."
Blair went to gather his things. He could always call a cab since Ray was going to be driving Sam around. He pulled out his phone and dialed John's cellphone. "Hey, it's me. We think we have him and a time for the raid."
Sam smiled at the older woman that had invited them in for tea. "Mrs. Henderson, we were hoping you could help us find the person who's killing these girls."
"Yes, such a terrible tragedy," she said, putting down her coffeecup. "But what can I do to help? I've been gone all year."
"This may have started last year," Sam said, handing over an abbreviated version of their profile, something she had written out specifically for this meeting. "I need to find this person, before he kills Tenny tonight."
"Oh, my," she sighed, handing it back. "Mr. Mathens always seemed like such a nice man." She looked Sam over. "He's very gentle with the children. Always such a good teacher too. I would have expected him to be sitting where I am in twenty years."
"There was this girl, Laura, who was very confused. She was going against God's will, you know, and he tried to help her. But she just wouldn't straighten out."
"So she was gay?" Ray asked bluntly.
"Yes, or so she thought. When her parents tried to help her, she did the unforgivable, she had the courts sever their rights."
"We'd heard about her," Sam said, shooting a glance at Ray, who went back to his tea. "Do you know what happened to her?"
"She's living downtown now, with a seemingly nice woman. If only she had been able to get past that little fault," she said, shaking her head.
Sam nudged Ray with her foot when she saw him getting more tense. "Thank you." She stood up, taking back the paperwork. "You've helped us greatly, Mrs. Henderson." She let Ray proceed her out to the car, waiting until they were inside to say anything to him. "I know it hurts and you wanted to shoot her," she said quietly, "but it wouldn't have changed her mind."
"Yeah, and by now she's probably cleanin' the couch with Lysol." Ray started the car and pulled out onto the street. "I have problems with people like that," he admitted with a shrug as he turned a corner. "Shoot me."
"You just need to take a different perspective," Sam told him with a pat to the arm. "You have to realize that they are so set in their ways that nothing we say or do will ever change that. Especially not at her age. It's a lot harder to change your strongly held beliefs when you're eighty, they're more firmly entrenched."
"Yeah. Okay. Now what about this freak?"
"He's going to be arrested tonight as school ends. I think that should be safest considering the environment."
"John planning that?"
"With Blair. They're both cops, they know how to plan it best." She looked up as they parked in front of the school. "That's John's rental," she said, pointing. "With Blair chained to the inside."
Ray snorted. "So he really is a trouble magnet?" he suggested, opening his door.
John leaned against the car door, looking down. "Hey," he said, nodding at them. "Mathens is inside, school ends in ten minutes. Security's been alerted." He let Ray out, stepping back. "Jim called, he said I had to lock Blair in the car. I'll let him out before we go in," he told Sam, who was glaring at him. "Seems Sandburg really is a trouble magnet, he attracts serial killers."
"Yeah, I knew that, that's why he's here," Sam said, giving him a smile. "Go release him."
"Yes, ma'am," John said, going over to release their other team mate.
"So, why when everyone's been saying female, are we sure it's this guy?"
"Nurturing and caring traits are usually feminine, or at least considered that way," Sam told him. "Think about how Mrs. Henderson described him. Tender, caring, the perfect teacher."
"Which sounds like a woman," Ray finished for her, getting a nod. "Okay then. Now what?"
"We have nine minutes before school ends," John said, leaning against Ray's car. "We wait or we go in and we wait."
"We should go in and wait," Sam decided. "Blair, I want you to stay out here." He glared at her. "Hey, if he's going to run, you're going to be the one to catch him."
"Yeah, sure. Jim got to you too, huh."
"No, just a realization, kid. He's going to head for you, no matter where you are. This way, you'll be outside when he makes it out here. You can also manage to keep the kids away from him."
"Point," Blair said, heading for the side of the school. "His classroom's on this side, I'll be over here."
John patted Sam on the back. "Good job," he whispered. He got upright again and started for the front door. "Sam?"
"Ray, I want you at the other exit. The most popular one. He's a city person, he'll head the same place you would."
"Okay," he said, heading off for the side opposite Blair. "That leaves the back."
"I think the school's security team can get that one. They have it blocked off to monitor the students anyway," Sam said as she followed John. "Where's Anthony?" she asked once they got inside.
"He's with the security people," John told her. "Having Jim here would be nice though."
"True, we could use the body." She smiled at their remaining team member. "All ready?"
"All go," he said, waving down the hall. "He's got a small study hall this period." He led the way to the classroom, taking up his position in front of the door, checking his watch as he leaned against the wall. "Ten," he said, looking at Sam and John, who were standing in front of some lockers. "Where's the duo?"
"Outside waiting on him," John said. He looked up as the fire drill alarm went off. "Was this planned?" he yelled over the noise and the students running past them.
"No. But that's okay," Anthony said, grabbing the man they wanted as he walked out of the classroom. "Tony Mathens, you're under arrest," he said, cuffing him and passing him to John. "We'll take the back way."
"Lead on," John said, getting a tight grip on the man's arm.
Blair looked at the man in the interrogation room and shook his head. "It wasn't him," he told Sam, who was watching John and Anthony question him.
"It has to be him," she said.
"Not really," Blair sighed, turning to look at her. "It could be this girl Laura."
"Trying to atone for what?" Ray asked as he walked in. "He didn't do it, he has an alibi for one of the nights."
"For not living up to his standards," Blair suggested. "Or maybe because she disappointed him so much."
"Do we have her address?"
"Yeah, my partner went to pick her up." Ray pushed a folder over to Sam. "This is her history. It was faxed over."
Blair picked it up to look at it, then looked at the man in the next room. "It wasn't his idea," he said, turning cold. He walked out of the room and into the interrogation room, giving Mr. Mathens a pleasant smile. "So, who was Trinity Taylor?" he asked, sitting across from him.
Sam looked down at the folder and smiled. "He's good," she said in appreciation, handing the folder over to John as he walked in. "He caught the one thing we missed."
"That Laura wasn't the victim?" John asked as he read, shaking his head. "Why wasn't this found earlier?"
"You have to know the right questions to ask."
"So," Blair was saying. "You weren't going to tell us about Laura, but about Trinty and you were going to be honest? Then that's who this is all about?"
"It's not!" Mr. Mathens said. "Nothing is about Trinity."
"Yeah, so you keep saying," Blair said dryly. "But, you see, I'm here because I have a strong background in rituals. I found yours. I know what it stands for. And I doubt that you'll make Trinity forgive you by killing her sister, Tenny."
"We weren't," Mathens spluttered.
John walked back in. "Of course not," he said smoothly. "You were going to offer her to her sister's spirit with the hopes that she'd forgive you and save the girl this time, right?"
Mathens looked up. "It's already being done."
"We have Laura," John told him. "Tenny's safe. From everyone."
Ray leaned closer to Sam's ear. "The fax just spit this out," he admitted. "No return number on the caller id."
She stared at him and he nodded. "It came," she said finally. "That's what matters. Not who sent it." She headed into the interrogation room too, smiling at Blair. "Do you think that Trinity would forgive you for killing all those girls?"
Blair snorted. "He'd have to do another ritual to get forgiveness."
"The cycle would never end," John reminded him. "On and on, all those girls, all the blood."
"Never getting forgiveness," Sam added.
"Not even from God," Blair said finally.
Mathens stared at him. "He always forgives. Even people like me."
"He hasn't talked to you recently though, right?" Blair probed. "You haven't felt forgiven. I bet you don't even remember what pure feels like, do you?" Blair almost crowed at the pained look that came across the suspect's face.
"No," he moaned. "I don't." He put his head down. "Laura found out how to beg Trinity," he whispered into the fake wood. "She's the one who suggested it." He looked up. "I didn't want to, but she said it was the only way to be forgiven."
Ray looked down a the last of the paperwork, then up at Blair. "Hey, at least you get to miss all this stuff," he said cheerfully.
"You could too," Sam told him, handing over a letter. "Whenever you're ready," she said, walking away.
Blair held out a hand. "We'll be leaving tomorrow," he offered. "Want to have dinner?"
"Sure." Ray stood up. "But I gotta ask. How did you go from that note about Trinity being one of his advisees with plans to become a nun to him doing it with Laura?"
"Things like that just look brighter to me, they stand out in the paragraph," Blair said with a shrug. "I learned to pay attention to the brighter looking things a long time ago." He started for the door. "Meet you at the hotel or are you done now?"
"I'll meet ya there, give myself time to take a shower." He shuddered. "I feel slimy now."
"Being around people like him do that to the good ones," Blair said from the doorway, giving him a smile. "Don't keep me waiting, Ray." He left the station, going to get himself ready.
Ray smiled to himself. "Keeping you waiting would definitely be a mistake." He straightened up his desk and left, going to get himself ready for dinner.
Sam waved Blair into her office, pointing at one of the chairs in front of her desk. "We need to talk," she told him gently, giving him a smile. He sat down with a sigh and gave her a bland look. "Blair, I know that you're hurting, but you can't endanger cases by having personal relations with the other cops." He shifted uncomfortably. "Not because they're other cops, but because there are people out there that wouldn't hesitate to kill you and Ray for the crime of being together, and that would affect the case even more." She looked down at her desk calendar. "Cases can be hard enough on their own without adding the stress of a personal relationship gone bad, or even one that's just beginning. We need to be able to focus on what's important at that moment, the victim and catching the people who hurt them." She looked back up. "You have to keep it on your own time."
"Yes, Sam," Blair sighed, looking over her shoulder. "I will from now on."
Her smile got brighter. "I'm glad to hear that, and I have some good news for you on that front. Ray's agreed to come join us within the month, after he settles things in Chicago." Blair perked up. "Do I need to warn you about office relationships?"
He shook his head, giving her a smile, but still unable to look at her face. "We won't be like that. He's a balancing influence for me. The morning after we cuddled, it was almost like I had a new start on life. I felt energized and balanced and in control again." She nodded, so he went on. "Ray and I could never become exclusive, but we will become very close friends. Ones that may sleep together sometimes."
"As long as it doesn't start to interfere with your work, it's all good," Sam said gently. "Got me?"
"Yeah, I do," Blair agreed.
"Then look at me, Blair, not out the window at the smog."
He forced himself to look in her face. "Sorry, Sam, but it's hard right now, you know?"
"Yeah, I do. You aren't the first to go through these problems, but I'd like to think that you can trust me to help you. I may be a woman, but I'd like to be a friend too."
"Sure," Blair said, giving her a weak smile. "Anything else?"
Sam got a bright idea and decided to act on it, knowing that she actually had two willing accomplices to fixing Blair, her daughter and Blair himself. "Chloe wanted to go riding but I don't have time. Want to take that over?"
"Hey, I would love to get out into the woods again," Blair said as he stood up. "When and where?"
"I'll have her email you tonight after she makes her appointment."
"Cool. I've got to do a final look at a place with Jim. Can I go?"
"Have fun. Be safe." Sam relaxed as Blair walked away, knowing that she could handle this case. Blair wanted to heal, he just needed shown the path to do it on. He could do the rest if she could do some traffic direction.
Ray walked into the VCTF-LA unit, waving a file. "I was gifted with your next case by your boss this morning," he called out, grinning at Sam. He swatted Blair on the top of the head as he walked past him. "And it's a sicko of grand proportions."
"Ah, but we can't call them that."
"Humanity and morally challenged?" Blair put in.
"No," Sam sighed as she walked out of her office, giving her last team member a bright smile. "They're mentally ill, gentlemen, not sickos, not challenged. These are human beings who have problems and are taking them out on everyone else. Call them sanity deficient."
Everyone laughed and Ray handed over the folder, getting a handshake and pointed at his new desk.
"Briefing in twenty for team one," Sam called as she walked toward the meeting room. "Give me enough time to read the file first, guys."
To Be Continued...