Bailey Malone, head of the VCTF-Atlanta, sat down
beside the pretty blonde woman at the bar, nodding at the
bartender to get him a drink. "Scotch, neat," he said, putting down
some money, "and I'm getting her's too." He turned to the woman,
smiling. "Sammy," he said warmly, hugging her.
"Knew it," she said with a small smile. "You only call me that when
you desperately need me to do something." She pushed back her
hair, tossing the shoulderblade length back over her shoulder.
"What is it? What do you so desperately need me to come out of
He put a paper down in front of her, sipping his Scotch as he
watched her read it. She started to shake her head. "It's a done deal.
They did it without my knowledge or input, and it was either you or
John to head this new division." He patted her hand. "Don't worry,
I'll back you on this. You get to recruit whomever you want, as
long as they have Quantico level of experience." She glared at him.
"Hey, you won't be doing more than I do, Sam; you'll have a
Profiler under you and everything." He smiled at her again, easing
her frown. "I'm sorry, but it had to be you. Can you image John
putting together the new West Coast VCTF team?"
Doctor Samantha Waters shook her head. "No, I can't image that at
all. His management style is very..."
"Bullish?" the Federal Agent suggested with a slight hint of
"In a China shop," she said with a small smile. "Whomever I want?"
He nodded. "No going to Virginia to be checked out?"
"Not a single one. I made them give you concessions as soon as
they told me it was going to be you. They'll have to pass
background checks but otherwise they're free of us. You'll be doing
it part time and working with the LAPD part time." He looked
around them then back at her. "Sam, listen, I know this will be hard
for you, but you're walking into a partial team already together.
C-16 is dismantling, their necessity is almost gone. And I know that
you're going to have a hard time at first, doing all the peacemaking
to create the teams." He opened his briefcase, handing her a folder.
"Here's everything you'll need to know. Your first meeting is
in twenty days. There are pass cards in there. You are mandated
up to two full teams of whoever you like." He finished his drink,
standing up. "Just read about the people you have, pick your
favorite agents or cops, and assemble them. You're the head now."
He patted her shoulder. "There are a few minor details that are
going to be talked about for another month or so, but the rest is
already done, whether or not we want it to be real."
"Angel is going to kill me," she said quietly, "and I don't even want
to think about Chloe."
He bent down next to her ear. "I had a talk with them two days
ago. Angel was upset but she's dealing and Chloe, well, she's
almost excited to move to a real city." He kissed her cheek.
"Welcome back, Sam. Call if you need my help." And he
disappeared into the crowd.
Sam sipped her brandy, opening the file to read the data she would
need to pick the thirteen people she could have.
Samantha Waters walked into New York's Special Victim's Unit,
smiling at the two or three officers she knew, heading for one that
had his back turned to her. "John," she said quietly, leaning over his
shoulder to get next to his ear. "I need to talk to you, alone." She
smiled at the Captain as he came out. "Don," she said warmly,
walking over to shake his hand. "I need to talk to you and John.
Can we use your office?" He nodded, letting her in, frowning at his
Detective, just imagining what he'd done.
Captain Cragen closed the door behind them, looking at the woman
on his couch. "So, Doctor Waters, what brings you to our humble
abode of darkness?"
She smiled brightly at him. "John does." She handed over the paper
that Bailey had given her, pulling the Detective down beside her. "I
need your knowledge, John, your special insight into the dark." He
just looked at her, his eyes very large. "No going to Quantico for
induction, just straight there." He handed the paper back, shaking
his head. "No, just show up for the meeting in two weeks," she
said, handing him out the pass. "Give me one case to let you try the
unit. I'm sure they can arrange for you to be on loan to me." She
smiled at the Captain. "I was forced into starting a VCTF branch in
Los Angeles and I want to steal John from you."
Captain Cragen nodded slowly, leaning back in his chair. "I can see
why. I can loan you him for a while, up to six months. That should
give John enough time to make his decision. That is, if he
John Munch shook his head. "Not really but it's basically what I do
here." He looked at the woman he had gotten to know fairly well
from cases he had worked with her, both in Baltimore and
here in New York. "I'll show up for the meeting," he said, taking
the card and sliding it into his shirt pocket. "Otherwise, we'll see."
She nodded so he got up, nodding at his Captain before leaving.
"I'm going to take the afternoon off," he said, walking out.
"So, anyone else you want to poach?"
"Yes, but not right now," she said with a small smile. "When I get
more people authorized to me, I'm stealing two more of your
people if I can." She stood up, pushing her ponytail back over her
shoulder. "I'll watch out for him, but I really can use his ...unique
outlook, Don. I don't want to steal your whole department."
"Good," he said, with a small smile. "Just give me some warning
next time you come poaching." He waved as she walked out.
"Hell, how am I going to replace him," he muttered, picking up the
file on his desk.
Sam caught up to John outside the building, touching his arm. "Tell
me where to find someone with your knowledge and outlook and
I'll take him instead," she told him quietly. "Or stay until you can
"I'll think about it," he promised her, kissing her cheek. "Travel
safe, if I remember right, you have a teenaged daughter who would
kill me if you didn't."
"Oh, yes, Chloe is still very over-protective of me," she admitted
with a small smile. "I'm going to Washington State next for two of
your co-workers. Both of which I think you'll end up having an
interesting relationship with." She walked over to her rental car,
sliding into the driver's side gracefully.
Sam looked up as a handsome young man joined her at her table,
smiling at him. "You're not that late," she noted, patting the note
he'd sent ahead. She quietly handed over the paper explaining why
they were having lunch before going back to her menu.
"I can't come by myself," he warned her, putting it down, "but I'd
love to do it." She nodded. "Um, what do you know?" he asked,
trying to gauge how panicked he should be by her expression.
"I've read it, Doctor Sandburg, and I think we can help you clear up
a few things." She smiled at the waiter. "I'll take the baked fish
with white sauce and the steamed rice."
"No, she'll have the pilaf, it's much better," he told her. He smiled
up at the waiter. "I'll have the Chicken Cesar salad and an order of
the garlic bread with mushrooms and swiss." He handed off their
menus, looking at her once they were alone. "I don't see how you
can do that," he said quietly, "I royally screwed myself when I lied
She smiled again, patting his hand. "Oh, but you didn't. And I have
a few strings to pull too." She sipped some of her water. "As for
that other concern, I'm going to see him next. I wanted you both,
for different reasons. Even if you weren't still together." He nodded
slowly. "Let's face it, Blair, you two will have more experience than
anyone else on the team but me." He grimaced. "Oh, don't do that,
it's not your fault. Same as it wasn't mine." He grabbed her hand,
squeezing it lightly. "Thanks, but it wasn't."
"No," he said quietly, "it wasn't. And yes, if we can convince Jim,
I'll gladly go. Actually, even if I can't convince him, I'd like to
go if it's possible."
"You're the expert here," she told him, making room for the waiter
to put down her plate. "So, how have you been?" she asked, taking
her first bite of lunch.
"Oh, fine. Hate being a cop but that's all that was left to me." She
nodded. "How have you been? I've not seen you since that
conference right after I lied." She laughed lightly. "Well, it was. A
lie to cover the truth then recanted the lie when it was classified by
your bosses." He shrugged, taking a bite of lettuce. "When and
She pulled the passcard out from under her placemat, sliding it
over. "LA, one week from tomorrow." He nodded, slipping it into
his pocket. "I'll be talking to your boss and your partner tonight."
"Fine, but you need to know something." He looked around as he
took a sip of his water. "I'm under professional care."
"If you want, I can take it over or help you find someone down
there," she offered calmly. "That doesn't matter as long as you can
function and you don't develop problems." He nodded, relaxing.
"Would you like to talk about it?"
"Not really," he admitted. He ate some more of his lunch.
"No," Jim Ellison said, standing up to walk out of his boss's office.
"I'm not a Fed and I don't want to be a Fed." He glared at his
partner. "How could you go to them when they wouldn't help you?"
"Easy man, they're taking the scum off the planet before they come
up here to get me," Blair said, crossing his legs, staying cold at the
wince. "We could both do very good work down there and I want
to go. She asked me independently and I'm prepared to leave." He
patted his pocket with the card in it.
"There's a meeting in a week, and we'd like you to show up for it
before you make a decision, Jim," Sam said, sighing and holding
out the passcard. "All we're asking is for you to come hear us out.
We'll work it out so you're on loan for the first case, you can decide
after that if you're still unsure." He glared at her, snatching it from
her hand. "Detective, I assure you, I'm no more thrilled at being
called out of retirement to head this unit than you are to be called
but let's see if we can't stop some of these people before they go
after those we love and hold dear again." She picked up her
briefcase, standing up. "One week," she said, nodding at the
assembled men. "Good day." She walked out.
Blair cleared his throat, getting the glares turned on him. "Jim,
this is a great opportunity to protect the whole tribe, not just this
town. You could stop some very bad predators from hurting a lot
of people. Including me." He stood up, nodding at their boss. "I'm
going to go, you can yell later." He walked out, waving over his
shoulder as he walked out of the bullpen.
Jim sighed, sitting back down. "What do I do, Simon?" he asked
"We'll arrange it like she said," he told him, "just make your
Sam looked up as her new Profiler walked in, nodding at the chair.
"Don't feel bad, I got lost too. Has the accident outside cleared up
any?" The younger woman shook her head. "Have to leave early
then so I can get home for supper." She put down her pen, looking
at the young woman sitting across from her. "So, Mary McCairn.
You're how old?"
The short, plump redhead grinned nervously. "Um, almost thirty
ma'am." She winced at the shudder. "Sorry, Doctor Waters."
"Much better." She looked at the file in front of her. "I see you
passed your certification recently?"
"Eighteen months, but I'm sure I can do the job," she said quickly.
"I want this job, Sam, so bad I can taste it. I want to catch these
sick people and make the world safe and I know that I'm going to
be good at it." She took a deep breath. "I also know that I'm going
to have to live up to your shadow until I can prove myself and I can
handle that as long as you don't second-guess me all the time." Sam
nodded for her to go on. "I'm considering this as an internship
under one of the most brilliant profilers of all time. I expect to learn
tons from you and I expect to be able to come to you when I'm
stuck, but I do expect to do my own work and to work damn hard
to see that no one gets past our team."
"Okay," Sam said, holding out her hand. "I've called in some special
people to the meeting, cops mostly. One of them is Blair Sandburg
though." She saw the small smile. "You know him?"
"I've seen his earlier work. Studied it actually. My Master's thesis
was on people who lie to cover the truth, using him as an example.
Is whomever it was that he was covering for coming?" That earned
her a small smile. "Really, anyone who studied people at all could
tell he was lying."
"Which is why Bailey intervened and had his research classified.
Actually, I think he'd make an excellent profiler." She closed the
folder. "How are the rest coming?"
"Well, the computer person your friend George sent over, Maria
Rasto, called today to set up a time to get her credentials
transferred out here. Agent Grant is talking with the Agents already
here about the work load, and his briefings have been most
unstimulating." She rolled her eyes. "If I have to hear him complain
about the statistics again, I'm going to yawn."
Sam laughed. "Well, you might try to get used to him. I'm only here
to help set the unit on it's feet then you'll be handed off to someone
else and he has the experience." She stood up. "Come on, lets leave
for the day. My daughter made me promise to be home for the
dinner she's cooking."
They walked out together, chatting about the day and the plans for
the new unit.
New Home Teams
Sam looked at the people around her table, sighing as she walked
into the newly remodeled meeting area. "Good morning," she said,
setting down her files, "and welcome to VCTF-LA." She looked at
the unhappy faces, seeing the people she had pulled in all there,
except one. "Jim, where's Blair?"
"He'll be back in a few minutes," he said quietly. "VCTF?"
"Yes, you're all prospective members of the Violent Crimes Task
Force, West Coast division." She looked around the room, noting
that the woman behind the computer had put the graphic up on the
large screen at the end of the table. "This is a two team operation.
We'll be rotating people on the teams to get the best fit for a while,
or we'll do some of those cheesy exercises that the FBI likes you to
do to make the trust grow." She smiled at Blair as he walked in and
nodded before taking his seat. "Good, now to the real work.
You're here to catch serial killers and serial rapists. We do branch
out into other violent crimes occasionally, but that is the basis of
our funding." She started to pace. "I've read your dossiers and I
know that some of you have more experience than others with this
but by the end of your first case, you'll feel like a pro." She smiled
at Blair as he coughed. "Now, I do believe we should do some
introductions. I'm Samantha Waters, Profiler and your boss. Scott?"
"Scott Stoddard, FBI, C-16, formerly." He looked at the long
haired man across from him. "Are you the other Profiler?"
"Only if I can convince him. Blair? Since you were asked and all."
"Blair Sandburg, Anthropologist and Detective, Major Crimes,
Cascade Washington." He shrugged. "Not a chance, Sam, we've
had this discussion." He smiled up at her at her snort.
"Have you dealt with a serial killer?" the silver haired man in black
asked from his end of the table. "Oh, John Munch, SVU, New
York, and Homicide, Baltimore."
"Cool, you know a friend of mine," Blair said with a small grin.
"And yes, I, and Jim, have. Sixteen in my first year as an
*observer*." That got a small hiss from everyone. He looked at
Sam, who nodded for him to go on if he wanted. "There's
something you should know."
"Um, that diss thing?" John asked with a small sigh. "Let me guess,
you lied until it was classified?"
"Yeah, then I tried to take it back but my case of panic had went
too far." He looked the older man over. "I want to try working with
you, I think we'll bounce well off the other."
Jim cleared his throat. "Jim Ellison, Blair's partner on the force in
Cascade." He turned to the woman next to him.
"Oh, don't look at me, I'm just a temp," she said, waving to the next
person. "I'm only here until Grace comes out to fill in."
"Grace Alvarez is the ME at Atlanta, I've asked for her to be
here because we have our first three cases. You still may be with
us though, Monica." Sam patted the files she had brought in.
"Why?" John asked.
"LA has a few yearly occurrences of murder and they've handed
them over to us as a small beginning step." She passed one to him,
one to Blair, and one to Scott. "Blair, since you claimed John, I'll
let you three start. Scott, I'd like to keep you and the three from
your old unit together for right now since you are already used to
working together. We'll begin to add people in and mix and
match as needed after this case."
Jim held up a hand. "Two teams?"
"Yes, two teams. We were started because Atlanta had seventeen
teams going and they were overworked. As we need more people I
can ask to hire more, I was only given the okay for thirteen to
start." She waved around at the people assembled. "Some of these
people are being swallowed from a disabled unit called C-16 that
used to live here until their boss and steamhead got moved to DC
and the Rapid Strike Force Team." She smiled gently, sitting down.
"This is a sharing organization, Ellison. We all have specific
knowledge. You're here because you're an excellent detective and
because you have some insight into the military background that
many of our criminals seem to have or want to emulate at some
point. Blair is here because he knows people. Scott and his
co-workers are here because they were basically doing the same job
you were at home, and are very good at it. We'll be getting our own
ME in the next few weeks, based on Grace's recommendations.
Anything else?" He shook his head. "Okay, so get into your groups,
as they stand. Monica, can you be ready to brief on the bodies this
afternoon?" She nodded, pushing her tightly curled hair off her
forehead. "All right, go to your desks, which are marked, and I
want notes for the meetings." She saw a raised hand. "Yes, um..."
She frowned. "I'm sorry, I've forgotten your name."
"Maria , ma'am." That got her another frown. "Sam, sorry.
What do you want me to do?"
"You have the files on record, I want you to start gathering
pertinent information about them. Type of victim, that sort of stuff.
Categorize basically. That's ninety percent of what you do." She
nodded, brushing down her plaid sweater's sleeve. "Anything else
and I'll be in my office." She stood up and smiled. "Go work." She
walked out, closing her office door and leaning against the wall just
out of sight as she sighed in relief of that being over.
Scott looked across the desk gap, combing his light brown hair with
his fingers. "So, John, right?" The silver haired man nodded.
"What's your speciality?"
"I see the dark side very clearly." He turned to look at him. "If you
need something explained, just ask. I'm usually not vicious." He
turned back to Blair and Jim, looking at their folders, then
exchanging them. "I want to see this one." He hummed, leaning
back in his chair. Then he nodded. "Not sexual, it's a power thing,"
he said, putting it down. "Not victimization reversal but to proclaim
he has it, that he's the king." Jim held a hand out so he passed over
the folder, leaning closer to Blair. "So, Doctor," he tapped the
folder in front of him. "What do you think of this?"
"Clearly a power crime but this one is role reversal. The victim
making himself the victimizer to gain the power he lost." He flipped
through the pictures, frowning. "I'm not up to date on my posing, is
this sexual?" He pointed at the figure and John nodded. "So, are we
looking at absolute stripping of power here?" He shuddered,
sipping his water to regain control.
"Blair, come on, I want to talk to you," John said, pulling the
younger man up and out into the hall, the only private place they
had. "Do you need to talk about it? That's my background and I do a
mean impersonation of understanding."
"No, but thanks." He glanced around nervously. "It is that then,
"Yeah, and you're wound too tightly. You gonna snap?"
"Not if I can help it," he sighed, leaning against the wall. "Do I
look that bad?" John nodded. "Damn, and I thought I was getting
"There is no better, Sandburg, only a return to a new life." He
patted the shoulder. "I'm here, so's Sam. Just yell." He got a nod so
walked back inside, letting the door close behind him. He felt Jim's
glare as he went for the coffeepot, nodding at the woman sitting in
there, mostly recognizing their computer manipulator on sight. He
handed Jim the pot, stepping out of his way. "I'm sorry, I just
noticed it and had to offer," he said quietly, walking back to his
desk. He sat down, looking at the folder. "What do you see?" he
"I see someone so hurt that they had to get their lives back," Blair
said. "And please use my name. I hate my title and my last name is
highly overused by everyone else." He looked up. "It was a her and
probably no one believed him either." John nodded. "You sure you
don't want this one?"
"No, I'd like to get back to the normal sick people again. I deal
better with them. This guy's hurting and taking it out on people."
He leaned back, smiling at Sam as she walked over to them.
"We've got a good start."
"Good." She looked at the folders. "Can you three handle the team
by yourself until we get thing settled?" They all nodded so she
patted Blair's shoulder. "Okay, let's go do the briefing. Scott,
prepare yours, your team is next."
They followed her in, shutting the meeting room's door behind
them. "Guys truth," she said quietly, taking her seat. "Bailey just
called and I'm here to stay and I'm getting one team. We're dividing
up the country. We get over to St. Louis then up to Chicago since
we have less cities. New York's getting those guys as a newly
christened unit under their boss, and I have to hire more people. Can
you handle this as a team?"
"We may need more players," John said, looking at Jim. "He needs
someone to do the actual brutality stuff while Blair and I think and
plan." That got a small smile from Sandburg. "Is the Profiler going
"We have that option but only if Blair and I team up." He looked
up, startled. "I need to talk to you after this is over, Blair, so stay."
She looked at Jim. "Do you have a suggestion?"
"We get the computer person?" Sam nodded. "And will we get a
"We'll have a mandate and a budget for two more people than we can
presently have eventually. We're getting the majority of the country
because we have less cities in this part and statistically," Blair snorted,
"less need for us here. New York and Atlanta will be splitting the rest
of the country up. Actually, New York will be in the same situation
we'll be in, partially under NYPD's thumb, they're going to be under
your old boss, John." He rolled his eyes, tipping his head back and
she smiled at him. "From what I hear, he had to be taken out of the
Commissioner's office by ambulance."
"Should send him a card to share the misery then," he muttered,
making a note. "Okay, so we have two cases?"
"Yup," Blair said, nodding at the computer operator that had come
in. "Want first or me?"
"Okay," he tossed Maria the file so she could call it up. "This is
purely sexual in background. He's a rape victim," Jim winced and he
patted his hand, "that's taking the power back. I'd say there's no
report of it because no one believed him." He picked up the laser
pointer, flashing it at an image. "The...instrument that he puts on
the women proves that, as does the anger he has, hence the
posing." He cleared his throat, sipping the water John handed him.
"I'd say it happened where he leaves them in the park or the officer
disbelieved him there."
"So, how do we find him?" Jim asked. "We'd go through the
reports and the like, but if there's not one that leaves us no trace."
"Well, the murders have happened three years running so I'm
guessing it was four years ago," Blair said and Sam nodded. "I'd say
go ask the people that worked there back then." He looked over his
shoulder as the door was tapped on. "Yeah?" he asked Scott as he
walked in. "Need help?"
"No, phone call for the boss from Atlanta." He looked at the
screen. "Wow, that's sick. Couldn't he fight back?" He blanched as
gun appeared in his face.
Blair had moved so fast no one had seen him, drawing Jim's gun
from his side and getting right in the young agent's face. "No,
sometimes it's not about strength," he said quietly.
"Blair," Jim warned, getting up to try and take the gun back. "Give
it back before you kill him. He's not those people."
"Blair," John said, taking the direct approach, walking up
behind him and grabbing the barrel of the gun with one hand,
lowering it, as he touched the younger man's opposite shoulder. He
pried the gun loose, handing it back to it's owner. "Sam, we're
going to go talk in the hall. Scott, I'm sure you're going to have
much fun in the SVU." He glared icily as he walked the younger
man past the other agents, settling him on the floor in the hall.
"Hey, kid, you okay?" Blair looked up and shook his head, crawling
to his hands and knees to stand up and run to the bathroom.
John turned, stopping Jim before he could go after him. "Friends
are good but you need to relax about this. It was an automatic
reaction, same as this is." The Detective nodded, walking around
him. "Don't yell at him," he called after him, walking into the unit
and pulling the narrow-minded agent out onto the smoker's
balcony, right out of Sam's lecture. "Are you really that stupid or
was it a Freudian slip?" he asked coldly, blocking the way back in.
"He's right, it's not always about strength. It's about power and
consent. Same as it is with women." He stepped closer, menacing
now. "You will apologize to him, honestly, for your stupidity then
you will be talking with me about what rape is about *before* you
go dirty my former unit with your attitude problem." He felt the
hand on his arm so stopped, looking down at Blair. "You okay,
"Call me that again and I'll force you to drive me back to my
motel," he said weakly. He glared at the young agent, a man almost
his own age, very well built, very tough and physical looking. "I
hope like hell you never have to go through what that man went
through and then have everyone laugh at you because people like
you think it can't happen. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, not even
you." He looked back at John. "Come on, I want to help this guy."
He walked back inside, brushing past Sam, who was still staring at
them. "Meeting, Sam, they'll be in in a few." He winced as the back
of his neck was grabbed, allowing himself to be dragged into her
office. "I'm sorry," he said quietly, "it was an instantaneous
reaction." He looked up to see that she understood. "It won't
happen again. I just had a bad meeting with my new shrink."
"Let me find you one," she said, sitting down, waving at the other
chair. "Or let me help you, Blair. It's obvious that you're not
finding anyone to do that."
"If you say you're fine, I'm going to treat you like I do my fourteen
year old daughter," she said, smiling slightly. "Nice move by the
way. I didn't see you pull it at all." She looked at the door, waving
Scott and John in. "Gentlemen," she said coldly. "I will have a talk
with both of you by the end of the day." They nodded. "John, I
want you to instruct Scott in his new duties. And if Blair feels like
talking to either of you, then I'll allow that. Until such a time, Blair,
you are to consider yourself my shadow. We'll be talking a lot." He
nodded, hanging his head. "It could be worse, I'm supposed to
suspend you and put you in front of a fitness board." All the men
blanched. "Good, I see the point's made. Scott, you and your team
are being moved to New York. *John* will be instructing you in
your new duties." She waited until she and her old friend were
alone. "Hey, talk to me," she said quietly. "There's not much I
haven't seen or heard of."
"He laughed, Sam, told me I had delusions." He looked up,
grimacing. "Said I needed to be hospitalized for them."
"Then he was an idiot and an ass," John said, coming back in. He
handed over a slip of paper. "I've talked with the SVU people out
here and gotten their list of recommended people, as an incase, and
this guy was on there." Blair took it, nodding. "And I'm still here.
You're still part of my team. You move faster than I would've
given a little guy like you credit for." That got a small grin.
"Good. Sam, I'll send a head's up to my old crew." He walked back
out, closing the door.
"See, VCTF is a family, Blair, and now you're a part of it. We didn't
abandon John in Atlanta when he had problems. They didn't
abandon me when Jack went after them. And we're not letting you
go either." She looked at her calendar. "As a matter of fact, come
to supper tonight. You, Jim, and John." She growled as the door
opened again. "Yes...Reardon, right?"
The brunette woman nodded. "I want to stay." She stepped in,
closing the door. "LA is my hometown and you'll need someone
really familiar with the area to be here." Sam nodded. "And I think I
can work better here than I can in New York." She looked out the
window that faced the meeting room, over her shoulder, then back
at her new boss. "I was going to leave C-16 if we hadn't been
dismantled. Just give me a chance."
"Okay, we'll try it," Sam said. She leaned back in her chair. "We'll
host a unit party after the other guys leave next week so you can all
get to know everybody and everything." Blair nodded, standing up.
"Oh, no, sit. Chloe heard I had picked you and she invited you over
tonight." He smiled slightly at that. "Good. You're following me
home." She looked at Amanda. "Anything else?"
"Is he here?"
"He's staying," Sam agreed.
"Good. Let's hope John can straighten Scott out before he
becomes a problem in New York." She patted Blair's shoulder. "I've
heard a lot of good things about your work in Cascade. I have a
friend from the academy up there." She opened the door, walking
"Wow," Blair said, looking out at the unit's main room. "This is
better than at home." He turned back to Sam. "You sure?"
"Do I look unsure?" she asked, holding out her arms. He shook his
head. "Good, go find that guy, we'll go back to your briefing after I
give them the official word Bailey sent me earlier." She made a
face. "Some politician decided that this was to be and it had to be
done now. They made some major changes to the plans I had."
He shook his head. "'Tis the way of the power hungry," he noted,
walking out to his desk. He patted Jim's arm as he walked past him,
sitting down. He smiled weakly at the person that had just set the
cup of coffee down in front of him, trying hard not to wince when
he saw it was the man he almost shot. "I'm sorry..."
"No, it was my arrogance and stupidity, Sandburg. You had every
right to shoot me for it." He pulled a chair over, sitting next to him.
"I'm sorry, man, I didn't realize.... I've never even heard of rape going
that way." The hurting man nodded. "I'm really sorry."
"Just learn better," Blair said quietly, glancing around. "You're
going to be doing this all the time. Learn from John, he was sucked
up to New York's SVU from Baltimore because he knows the dark
side of people, same reason he was pulled here." He got a small nod
and the agent left him alone.
"Chloe," Sam called as she walked into her new home. "I brought
visitors." A happy blonde teen came out, hair in a trendy short cut,
crop top and a pair of bike shorts on. She bounced into her mother,
hugging her. "Clo, you remember Blair and this is Jim and John,
three of the members of my new unit." She stepped aside so they
could get in. "Angel back yet?"
"Yup, but she's resting. She got a call from the 'it monster' and he
was really gross and mean to her again about leaving him." She
looked up at Jim. "Hi, Chloe, weight on my mother's shoulders."
She laughed as she ducked the hand trying to mess up her hair.
"Hey, watch the do! It took many minutes of proper technique to
get this right." She shook Jim's hand then smiled at Blair, hugging
him. "Gee, you've shrunk," she said, kissing his cheek. She looked
at John, then up and down him. "Uh-huh. Let me guess, you're the
dark and brooding guy?"
John took off his coat. "No, I just see the dark when others refuse
"Hey, poetic," she said, taking his coat and hanging it up for
him. "Go relax guys, I've still got to shower and change from dance
class." She headed for a door, closing it behind her.
Sam sighed, sitting down. "Sit guys, or she'll wear you out." She
patted the seat beside her. "Blair, sit," she commanded.
"Gee, I thought I was Jim's retriever," he said brightly. "I see
she's not been slowed down much."
"No, she's still on that exercise high. Angel, people," she called.
A light skinned woman walked out, smiling at them. "Okay." She
headed for the kitchen. "Anyone want something to drink?"
"Some water please," Jim said, looking around the room. "Nice
pictures." Sam smiled at him. "Yours?" She nodded. He sat down
on the other side of her. "We're going to be honest now, right?"
"Yup," she said, shifting to look at him. "My former boss, Bailey,
was the one that classified Blair's work. I had to read it and give
my opinion before that could happen, so I know. And I won't break
you two up as a pair because I looked over your records before I
approached you." He nodded. "You're safe Jim, I'm
post-cognitive," she admitted quietly. "But I feel sure that you
didn't want to share this with everyone. John has this empathy with
the dark side, as he put it so blandly when we first met. Blair's
always been on the special side." She pinched his arm when he
snorted. "You are."
"Whatever." He smiled up at Angel. "I'm Blair, this is Jim, and the
wise one is John," he said, making room so she could sit down.
"Were you at that conference that I met Sam at?"
"Probably but I was on vacation," she said, smiling at them. "So,
Sam, did Bailey call you?" She frowned at her. "I'll take that as a
yes." She sipped her own water, watching as Chloe came back out,
redressed in more respectable clothes. "Want help?" Angel asked.
"Not really," she said.
Blair got up, wandering in to help her. "You sure? I cook all the
time." She looked over her shoulder at him. "Hey, we all have
special things, I take my frustration out in cooking." He shrugged.
"And I have to be careful of what Jim eats."
"Are you two..." He shook his head. "Then why?" She hopped up
on the counter, looking at him. "I knew there was something special
but not what."
"Tell her," Jim called. "Sam said it was fine."
"Well, Jim has these senses..." he started.
Chloe giggled as Blair got her with some of the crepe batter,
dodging him as she flipped it over. "Ooops, way brown."
"Ah, but the secret to those dark ones is to make them a special treat."
He turned, heading for the freezer to pull out some ice cream and
the bottle of toppings from the shelf. "See, those make an excellent
dessert." He popped the latest crepe out onto a plate, scooping
some ice cream out with a spoon she handed him, then rolled it and
spread the caramel over it. He handed her the spoon. "You do
dessert and I'll do the supper ones, how's that?" She nodded, pulling
the next crepe down to start on it.
Blair smiled at Sam as she walked in to see what they were doing,
smacking her hand for stealing a piece of stir fry. "Wait for twenty
more minutes," he chided. He flipped the crepe over, showing it to
her. "See, perfect french fry color." She smiled up at him. "Very
nicely done," he told Chloe, licking a drop of caramel off his finger
that he caught before it could drip off the decoration on the edge of
the plate. "We'll make you a gourmet yet." He ruffled her hair,
handing Sam the plate of rolled crepes. "Go put those on the table,
I'll finish making the ones for later." He poured another ladle of
batter, spreading it gently. "The key, Chloe, is to always respect the
food for what it is and what it's going to give you." He flipped it,
setting it into the mold. "Here, make one for yourself for making
dinner," he said, handing her the press mold, watching her fill it.
She nodded, carrying the tray of plates carefully over to the freezer
and sliding it inside. "Unless Mom scarfs them, yeah." She came
over to see what he was doing. "Making more?"
"Just to snack on like bread," he told her, flipping the thicker
crepe. "It's the same batter, just poured deeper into the pan."
"Oh, a pan bread," she said. "Angel makes those sometimes but it's
in the oven."
"Kinda like that, but this is what you do with the last little bit of
the batter that won't quite make enough for two crepes." He pulled
it off, sliding it onto a plate she handed him. "Put some cheese on
that and pop it into the microwave for fifteen seconds to melt it."
He turned off the stove, watching her do as he had said, then helped
her carry the rest of the food out to the table. "Food!" he yelled.
Jim looked up from looking at pictures on the couch, smiling
slightly. "About time, Chief," he said, putting the sheets down
carefully and getting up to walk over to where they were. "Why
don't you cook American?" he asked, sitting down and dishing up
"Because you eat like one," Blair told him, taking the plate of stir
fry and handing it to Sam. "Here, before he eats it all."
Blair walked in behind Sam a week later, looking around at the
newly opened space. "Gee, the FBI fairies came to steal the
furniture," he quipped.
"Good, I don't know how they ever got along with so many people
in such a tiny space anyway," she said, heading for her office.
"Meeting in five guys, bring your homework."
Amanda Reardon leaned back, brushing her hair off the side of her
face. "So, why does he do this?"
"He's trying to reclaim what he lost," Blair explained. "He
was...raped by a woman from what Jim found out from the cops
that worked the park back then. No one believed him, as a matter
of fact, the one cop he talked to laughed at him, told him to go
home and sleep it off before he took him in for drunk and
disorderly." He grimaced. "Since then, he's been trying to exorcize
her from his mind, make her leave him alone."
"Oh, okay, so he's using surrogates to stop her?" He nodded,
grinning slightly at her. "So why the staging of the body?"
"Because he's marking her as submissive," John said, taking the
laser pointer to point at the enlarged photo of the body. "See how
he puts her arms across her stomach? And how he has her feet
together? If a woman was standing like that next to you, she'd be
very submissive looking." He looked at the woman on the team,
who was nodding. "Try it." Amanda stood up, mimicking the
position then looked down at herself. She sat back down, frowning.
"Yeah, but I don't get why the cops didn't believe him."
"It's a common problem," John told her. "Even where I used to
work in the Special Victim's Unit." He shrugged. "Don't ask me
why, ask the people studiers."
"It's about power and competition," Sam told her, leaning back in
her chair. "Men who can't fight back against a simple woman like us
are thought to be weak and deserving of it. It's what we went
through thirty years ago."
"Blame the victim," she summarized. Blair nodded. "Oh. Okay."
She looked at him. "So, that's why you reacted when Scott..." He
nodded, glaring at her. "Sorry, I didn't mean to bring him back up."
She touched his arm, noting the flinch. "So, how do we catch him?"
"Well," Jim said, turning to the computer person, nodding at her.
"From the notes he made that day, and fortunately he did make note
of it on his duty log, we have a very vague description. We know
he fits into the base statistics about serial killers. White male, late
twenties. Trim. And he'd have to have stayed that way to drag them
that deep into the park." He turned back to look at his boss. "They
said they tried to trap him last year but one minute there was no
body and the next there she was."
Sam nodded. "I've talked with those officers. That one minute was
actually more like fifteen of chatting with some girls that were
jogging." She frowned at the screen. "I'd say he'd be trying to get in
better shape now, give himself an edge."
"Yup," Blair said, closing his folder and looking up at the screen.
"I'd say he's compulsive about going to the gym. He's probably
changed a lot since then, maybe he was in school then and is now
out in the world, somewhere where he would have power over a
woman, or more than one," he suggested, looking at Sam. "I'd also
say that he has to live close to there, or goes by there daily to make
sure he reminds himself why he's working so hard." He shrugged.
"Either that or we're working on the 'snap' principle. He tried to
move on and can for only so long before he gets overwhelmed and
it has to be expressed."
Sam shook her head. "No, he's not snapping. This is planned. He
does it the same way every year. The same spot, the same
positioning of the body. The same everything, down to what they're
wearing." She looked at their computer manipulator, Maria Rasto.
"Do you have anything on the clothing?"
"Yes, ma'am, Sam," she corrected herself with a small frown. "It's
pretty generic. He can get it in about any mall across the country."
She put up a picture of the individual clothing items. "The only
thing that's not readily available is the belt and I have a call in
to the manufacturer about it. He's supposed to get back with me
today. It's an expensive model, sold only to small boutiques, and
they only really made that one a few years ago. They put out a few
per year to deal with the small demand for replacements but that's
only a few dozen maybe, or so he said." She tapped a few keys at
the beep, smiling. "Ah, here it is. Um, three dozen sold this year,
last two year's orders. Three sales in common," Maria said,
highlighting it. She preened under the small smile Sam gave her. "I
can call and track them down if you'd like?"
"No, print them out," John said. "A cop in their face tends to make
people work faster and we only have two days." He closed his
folder. "So, we now have our first three cases solved, hopefully.
Now what, boss?"
"Don't be so cocky, we still have to catch the guy, John, and he has
many reasons to slip away from us."
"Let me handle bringing him in," Blair suggested. Everyone looked
at him, shaking their heads. "Oh, come on, you guys will be there
but he and I speak the same language. He won't listen to either of
the women." Sam frowned harder at him. "Don't even give me that
look. I'll spike your tea with ex-lax." He grinned at her. "Honestly,
bosslady, I'd run from you if I was him." He stood up, walking out
of the meeting room and out to his desk, taking the print out with
Jim looked at Sam, who waved him on. "Let me get my jacket," he
said, grabbing it and following him out. "What's the rush?" he asked
once they were in their Bureau car.
"By the pattern, he's going to buy it today or yesterday."
Blair looked at the man in front of him and just knew it was him.
"So," he said casually, looking around. "Who was she?" The man
started, looking up at him from the order book he was looking
through. "Trust me man, I understand here. Got laughed at for it."
He held out a hand. "Let me get you help?"
"No one can help," he said, pulling the gun under the counter, and
putting it under his chin before Jim could react. "And if you
understood, you'd know that."
"No, I found a few people that could help me," he said quietly.
"Got laughed at a few times, had a few offers of medication before
that but I did eventually find someone." He walked around the
desk, running his hand up the gun and pulling the barrel away.
"Come on, we need to get you some help," he said quietly, walking
him out to the car and locking him inside. He leaned against the
door, calling the office. "Sam? Yeah, I'm sure we have him." He
hung up, nodding at Jim to drive as he slid in beside the prisoner.
John looked at the man across the table from him, crying now as his
head leaned on the table from the harsh questions he'd been given.
"Hey," he said gently, same as he would with Blair, "I used to work
with rape victims. If you'd tell us what happened, we'd make sure
you got some treatment. Or at least go to jail for contempt for
trying." The crying man looked up at him, blinking his big, wet
eyes. "Just write it out for us," he said, pushing the pad of paper
across the table with a pen on top. "Let us help you to stop this
cycle." The man nodded, wiping off his eyes, and started to write,
his head pillowed on an arm.
John got up, walking out of the interrogation room. "I can't do
this," he told Sam, who simply hugged him. "Thanks," he
whispered, pulling away. "This is too hard."
"Just this case or the job?" she asked.
"This case," he admitted. "I'm yours. I'll call Don later and tell
him to start my retirement paperwork there." He walked down the
hall, going to find somewhere private.
Jim cleared his throat. "I'm staying if Blair is and I think here is
better for him." She smiled at them. "He did it all, Sam, everything.
He recognized him, he took the gun from him. He even got him into
the car without a fight or cuffs." She nodded, patting his arm. "I'll
call my boss tonight, arrange a time to go pack our stuff up, and let
Blair look for an apartment for us." He followed John down the
Blair walked out of the shadows, almost smirking in disgust. "Gee,
me?" he asked her, wrapping an arm around her waist. "I'm safe
here," he said. "Jim's not the only one staying." He squeezed her,
walking into the interrogation room and closing the door. "Ready?"
he asked as Sam turned off the speaker, walking back up to her
Sam looked up from her paperwork as someone walked in, smiling
at Blair and putting her pen down. "Good, Jim can pass on
messages." She waved at the chair.
"Only from you. He keeps forgetting ones from my mother." He sat
down, looking at her. "Do we have a problem?"
"No, Blair, no problem. A solution actually." She passed over a
journal, and a pen that was attached to it with a ribbon. "I want you
to work it out in your work. Write a paper on it." He opened his
mouth. "Hey, just listen, okay?" He nodded, relaxing. "I know that
you've worked out some other stuff in your work, it showed in your
diss, all the confusion about Jim and your place and everything. Do
the same this time. Even if no one will ever see it. It's as good a therapy
as any I could give you, or anyone could give you, because only
you can find the truths that matter to you." He nodded again.
"Yeah," he said, looking up. "Do you want to see what I've done so
far?" She smiled, nodding. "Okay, I'll e-mail it to you tonight.
It's at home." He shifted. "Where did he go?"
"I made sure he went to a mental institution and I had a talk with
his Doctors, told them what he said. They said they'd deal with it as
the reality it was." That made him smile more. "And," she said,
passing over a piece of paper. "They said that if I should run across
another case to send them here." He took it, looking at the name
and number on it. "Your choice, but I would like to see your
paper." She picked up her pen, smiling as he left, closing the door
Until next time...