"The past is better left there"
August 14th, 2013
"Yeah! He just left me, in the middle of fucking no where...ugh, I can't see where I'm going, I know these shoes are ruined! " A young woman complained, walking aimlessly along the backwoods, far on the outskirts of town. She struggled to balance herself on the uneven terrain in her flashy stiletto heels, while angrily yelling into her cell phone. The darkness was thick and impenetrable, the brush of trees obscuring any view more than a few feet away. Suddenly, a squishy noise stopped her in her tracks. "You've got to be fucking kidding me...no, yeah, I'm fine but I think I just stepped in something..."
As she bent down to investigate what her heel had been stuck in, her mouth fell agape in horror. Clasping a hand over her chest, she stumbled backwards, exclaiming into her phone, "Oh my god, oh my fucking god...It's a dead animal. I stepped on a dead animal...I don't know what it is! Who fucking cares, it's guts are all over my shoe!" She rested her back against a redwood tree, running her fingers through her pretty blond hair, "I'm gonna kill him...who does he think he is, leaving me out here. No! It's not kinda funny, it's--"
The muffled voice on the other end of the phone called curiously into the unknown, "...hello? Hello? Sarah, are you there? Okay THIS isn't funny!"
More silence followed, until a shrill scream broke out, causing a flock of birds to take to the sky. In moments, a second much louder thud, was heard. "Sarah! Hello?! Sarah!" The voice continued, unknowing that Sarah was looking hopelessly at the screen of her flip phone, only inches away. Her breaths were labored, and a thick stream of blood dripped from the corner of her mouth. Slowly, her once lively blue eyes paled, and the breathing stopped.
The crackle of branches and twigs beneath heavy boots was the only sound, as a very calloused, filthy hand lifted the phone from the ground. Heavy, raspy breaths filling the speakers, before a mysterious voice poured through, "Sarah's busy". Click .
August 15th, 2013
FBI Headquarters ● Seattle, Washington
"Working all night again, Agent Reagan?" A man's voice asked, his thick south African accent showing through. "Reagan!"
Her eyes shot open, startled by his loud voice. She sat up in her office chair, from her hunched position over her desk. Quickly she rubbed the sleep from her eyes, turning around to look up at the man. David Talbot, her boss, dressed in a crisp black suit with a flattering sapphire blue tie. His dark skin and eyes bearing down on her made her quite intimidated. "I'm sorry sir, there's just so much to be done", she started, "I went home and showered, then came back around 4am".
His stern face melted into a smile, "Agent Reagan, I always admire a hard worker...but don't forget to take care of yourself too".
"Yes sir", she smiled back, tucking a strand of loose brown hair behind her ear.
"Be in my office in ten minutes, we have an open investigation to discuss", he said casually as he turned and walked out, but not before turning to say one last thing, "And don't forget to bring Agent Flynn".
Reagan rolled her eyes and slammed her head back down onto her desk with a frustrated groan. For all she knew, he was late, trying to rush some floozy out of his house from the night before. She really disagreed with this entire "partner" thing. Just because she got shot one time, everyone makes a big deal out of it. She could take care of herself! And she definitely didn't need Agent Flynn to help her.
Taking a deep breath, she sat up and closed the file on her computer. There was a lot of lab work to be done, not to mention files from the institution sent over for her to analyze. As she went to swivel her chair, she was met by another face in her doorway.
"Oh, good morning Zach", she smiled, "is that coffee for me? I really hope it is".
Zach, an eager intern working as her personal assistant, was a tall skinny boy. He just graduated last winter and was working his way into the field. He was a nice kid- scrawny, white, shaggy blond hair, green eyes. He dressed in black slacks and a white button up every morning.
"Yes ma'am", he grinned, swiftly placing the hot cup of coffee in her hand, "just how you like it. Three sugars, no cream".
"Oh Zach, I've told you a million times to not call me ma'am...it makes me feel old" she cringed, "but thank you. If you could do me a favor, go out into the parking garage and look for Agent Flynn. I haven't seen him yet, as usual".
"Right away!" He cheekily saluted, turning and practically running out of the door. Reagan couldn't help but giggle, something she honestly rarely did.
At that moment, her phone buzzed. She reached into her pocket and looked at the screen. It was a text from one of her cop friends, a connection in the Seattle Police Department. In tiny black text it read, "just wanted to let you know. 1 body found, fbi jurisdiction".
That must've been what David wanted to tell them. Reagan sighed, already thinking up scenarios for what might have happened. Another liquor store robbery? Domestic violence? They really didn't get a lot of gang related issues in Washington. Guess there was only one way to find out.
Opening the door to the Chiefs office, she took a seat in one of the comfy blue chairs and sipped her coffee. David looked at her as if to ask where the hell her partner was, to which she shrugged. "Don't look at me".
“Mmm, you up for another round~?”
“Heh, get over here and find out.”
“Ooh, stop, that tickles~!
Jace grinned against the neck of the slender brunette he currently had pinned beneath him. They lay in a tangle of soft bed covers and sheets in the tiny bedroom of his downtown Seattle apartment. The room was warm and dark, the window shades pulled down low to block the glow of the morning sunlight. Street sounds drifted up below – the jingle of the cross walk sign, the hum of morning commuters and the occasional groan of a city bus. At the moment, all of it seemed faint and far away.
“Mm, babe, do that thing again. That thing you did last night. That was amazing…” Jace was murmuring into the giggling woman’s ear as he pressed her roughly into the mattress. They had both just woken up after a late night. He had met in her the hotel lobby across the street and the two of them had stumbled back to his apartment, barely making it through the door before she’d fallen all over him. He couldn’t remember if she’d told him her name…
“No, we need to make it quick, I have to be back at the hotel by nine,” the woman sighed, sounding reluctant.
“Aw, you have plenty of time then,” he said coaxingly, still devouring her throat. “Hours and hours and…”
“It’s almost nine now.”
There was a pause. “..Wait, are you serious?” Jace shot a glance over at his nightstand. His clock was gone. It had been knocked over sometime in the night and he scrambled to find it kicked under the bed. The red glowing numbers glared back at him as he read the time in disbelief. The very next moment he was a flurry of motion, rushing to dig through his closet for a suit, running a comb through his long, messy dark hair.
“Shit, shit, shit!” he muttered around the toothbrush in his mouth as he emerged from the bathroom, a sock on foot and a shoe on the other. No time to shave, but he thought he could pull off a rugged sort of look anyway. “Uh look, I have to go. But there’s food in the kitchen, orange juice, stuff to make waffles…” he spoke distractedly, as he gathered up a few files and tucked them into a soft leather case. He was too busy to be bothered by the amused way the woman in his bed was staring at him.
“What do you do anyway?” she asked, eyes trailing up his black tailored suit.
“Law enforcement stuff,” he replied vaguely. He was never eager talk about his work, although it was no secret. He guessed it was an old habit from his time working in Russia. He preferred to keep his personal life private.
“So you’re a police officer.” There was a playful, sensuous tone in her voice.
“Something like that.” Jace slipped on a pair of polished shoes and tucked his briefcase under his arm. “Listen, maybe I’ll see you around sometime.” He headed for the door.
“Hey, what’s your name?” The woman called as he stepped into the hall
“You can call me Flynn,” he replied loudly before the heavy front door swung shut.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ___________________________________
Luckily, the FBI office where he now worked was not too far away from his urban apartment. He cursed the traffic anyway and cursed himself for allowing himself to lose track of the time. He was still a new face around the office and he knew that these first few days were crucial in making a good impression. Then again, he had a feeling it wouldn’t matter how punctual he was, it would do nothing the change the impression he’d seemed to have already made on his new partner. Agent Reagan. Boy had he been wrong about her. They’d only met a handful of times now, but already it was clear she had a problem with him being her partner. Jace had no idea what her beef was, but supposedly something big had happened during a previous case and her superiors had thought it wise to pair her up with someone. He didn’t know details, and frankly he didn’t care. He was used to working on his own and not dealing with some moody female agent.
Before long, he was stepping out of his car into the parking garage, taking just a brief moment to fix his messy hair in the car door mirror. A scrawny face appeared suddenly behind his reflection.
“Don’t you know you should never try to sneak up on a FBI agent?” Jace joked good-naturedly, turning to meet Matt, or Zach, or whatever the kid’s name was.
Apparently he was there to hurry the new agent on his way. In a few moments, Jace was at the Chief’s office door, a charming, apologetic smile on his handsome face.
“Guess I underestimated the traffic today,” he said, taking a seat beside his partner and leaning back casually. He glanced over at Reagan and winked. “Morning. Ah, now that’s what I need,” he added, eyeing her coffee. His light grey eyes lifted then to meet her levelly, noticing a bit of sleep in her eyes. "Late night? Come on, you've got to leave me some work or I'll have nothing to do around here," he teased.
“So Chief, what’s the story for today?” There was a lazy charm in his tone, an effortless charisma that always seemed to play about his person. “Anything big?” The twinkle in his eye made it apparent he thought it would be just another slow day in the office.
Reagan was just getting into all the reasons she didn't need a partner when the sound of the door behind her creaked into the room. Agent Flynn waltzed in, looking his usual suave self despite his rugged unshaven face, and took a seat, making some absurd complaint about the traffic.
Reagan rolled her eyes, taking that moment to cross her legs. She was wearing a black pencil skirt, one that zipped up just under her bust, and a white Georgio Armani short sleeved blouse, the first two buttons undone. On her feet, classy three inch black pumps. Her long, naturally voluminous chestnut brown hair was pulled back neatly into a pony, and her make-up very conservative and not flashy. Regardless, it didn't take much effort to see that she was a beautiful woman- she didn't have to be flashy.
"Oh, I'm sure the traffic was so terrible and it wasn't the fact that you-"
"Elizabeth.." David scolded, addressing her by her first name, "while it is extremely unprofessional to be late for work, I have no patience for petty differences between the two of you. There is an important matter that needs your attention". David looked at the two of them, a stern look plastered across his face as he sat behind his desk, hands folded.
Reagan dropped her eyes to her lap, "I apologize". In her mind however, she poured that hot coffee right in Flynn's lap. Maybe if he had to take a break from sloppy one night stands he'd actually show signs of being a decent person. A smirk curled on her lips as she mused on her thoughts.
"The story..." David began, raising an eyebrow at Jace's choice of words, "is that this morning we got a call from the Police Department, reporting that an early morning jogger found the body of a young woman. It's a grisly scene, but because of the severity of the murder, it's under FBI jurisdiction. " He pursed his lips, standing from his chair to stare outside his window with his arms placed behind his back, "This is not the work of a jealous ex, or a gain to money...this was a very passionate, might I say recreational crime."
Her brow furrowed at his words, "I'm sorry sir, recreational? "
"Yes...I mean that the killer was very creative in his tactics. I haven't seen anything like this in a very long time". He turned and faced them once again, "Agent Reagan, Agent Flynn...I do realize your partnership is a test of your will. I expect the two of you to handle this. Reagan, with your expertise on criminology and the science of human anatomy, I know you will be very useful in helping to determine who our victim is, and why anyone would want her dead. Jace, we are proud to have a discharged cia man on our team. With your training in espionage and being a weapons specialist...you two are the perfect team".
"Hardly.." Reagan interjected.
"AND SO..I have high expectations. You're adults, act like it. And get out of my office, take a car down to the crime scene and look around", he finished, hurriedly rushing the two of them out into the hallway.
Reagan crossed her arms over her chest, "Get your car, I'm driving". With that, she brushed passed him, "Zach! Zach, get my coat, I'm going out on the field".
“With your training in espionage and being a weapons specialist...you two are the perfect team.”
“Absolutely,” Jace replied, speaking at the same time as Reagan. He shot her a disgruntled look as the Chief continued on.
The perfect team. Maybe on paper, but personality wise, it seemed they couldn’t be more different. This would be their first real assignment together, his first real test in his new position. He had no patience for petty arguing, but he was determined to make some effort to be civil. After all, he couldn’t afford to screw this up.
‘She might be a pain in my ass, but I can handle this. I just have to make it clear who is following who here. She’ll mellow out once she sees me take the lead…’
No sooner had that thought run through his mind when he heard her order him to get his car. Jace grit his teeth. “Now just a minute, your highness. It’s my car; I’ll be the one driving it. You can, I don’t know, look out the window and analyze traffic lights or something.”
He still had his coat on and so promptly headed for the door, swinging his keys around his finger. “Besides, I need you to navigate.”
In the parking garage, he made a show of opening her door for her, before slipping into the driver seat. Within ten minutes or so, they had hit the highway, cruising through the heavily wooded Washington countryside. The sky was an overcast grey, the same color it always seemed to be, day in and day out.
Anticipating an awkward silence during the drive, Jace had flipped on the radio. The weatherman was predicting rain in the afternoon. He pressed his foot a little more firmly on the accelerator. It was crucial that they survey the scene before any evidence was washed away in the rain. Of course, the Chief would have photographers on the scene…but the evidence captured in a picture paled to the kind of information they could gather from getting up close and personal with the murder victim.
He mulled over what the Chief had told them. Recreational. Jace didn’t particularly like to admit it, but he’d reacted the same way that Reagan had to the word. It was an unusual way to refer to a killing. Made it seem like it was done in the spirit of entertainment. A pastime. A hobby. Not the messy, passionate affairs he’d been sure he’d be dealing with. He stole a sideways glance at Reagan as he continued down the road, wondering if she could picture the scene already. He realized, with a sinister sort of feeling, that he was a little unsure himself what they would find...
“Ahem..” Jace cleared his throat and turned down the radio. “Should be coming up soon. We’ll see the tape I’m sure-.. Ah, there it is.”
He pulled the car to the side of the road, behind one of the two cop cars that was parked there. “Agent Flynn. This is my partner, Agent Reagan,” Jace informed one of the portly local officers who stood around the outer edges of the crime scene. He flashed his badge and proceeded to duck under the yellow tape.
“Brace yourself,” one officer told him. Jace glanced up and noticed that the policemen and women had all been standing with their backs to the scene. One of the younger fellows looked like he’d already been sick.
“You haven’t touched anything?” Jace asked mildly, continuing on into the quarantined area.
“Not a thing. Just roped it off and called you guys. Honestly, I wish I hadn’t seen as much as I did. Really makes you wonder about people, huh. Bunch of sickos in this world.”
“Right. Thanks for you help.” Jace wasn’t immune to gore, but he’d seen plenty of grisly sights during his time abroad. Still, he had to admit, this… this was just…
It was disturbing. He stopped and surveyed from a healthy distance, aware that the entire area needed to be scavenged carefully for slightest bit of information before they went trampling all over it. From where he was standing, he could clearly see the lacerations on the body. He understood the term “recreational” now. These wounds had not been made in flurry of passion. They were deliberate, they were precise. They were…playful? Oh God, he had to push that thought out of his mind.
“Carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey, that one," Jace flinched at the officer's remark. He might have been an ex-CIA, but apparently the scene had shook him up a bit. He wasn’t sure how to respond to the callous way the officer described the body, so he said, “What are your thoughts Reagan? I know your brain’s going into over drive. I can hear the gears turning from here.” He took another long look at the body, the surroundings.
“There’s a cell phone." He pointed at a metallic glint in the grass. "If it’s in tact, we can trace her most recent calls.”
“Oh yeah, we saw that too. And looky here, we think she might’ve been hit on the noggin or somethin’ cuz you can see a gash-...”
“Hold on,” Jace held up a hand to stop the man before he stepped down. The agent squatted down to study the muddy, uneven ground. “Tread marks. Looks like someone passed through here with fairly large feet. Might belong to our killer…”
The car ride there, albeit only thirty minutes or so, felt long and drab. Reagan had kept her arms crossed and her eyes averted, watching the world pass by. She was comfortable with her thoughts, and while Agent Flynn probably assumed she was thinking about the case, she was actually thinking about her mom. They had passed the cemetery where she was buried on the way. 'God...has it been that long since I've seen her? ' she thought to herself, glassy blue eyes staring intently out of the window.
She was only pulled from her personal thoughts as the music volume lowered and Jace made some attempt at conversation. Just moments later, they approached the scene, gaining clearance from two officers and parking down the road. She slipped on her blazer, a gun holster strapped visibly around her waist now, and approached the yellow tape with no caution at all. She was unlike most people- looking at corpses was part of her job as a scientist with a PhD, and now as an agent. The wind blew strands of loose hair about her face. It would rain soon.
As Jace spoke with the officer, she was immediately swallowed by the scene. A thick brush of treea surrounded the area, ground very muddy with patches of grass. A dead animal carcass feet away from the victim, most likely prey to a coyote or wolf. The victim lay face down, her blond hair matted down with blood and brain tissue. Her clothing was ripped, and there were several lacerations. That was only what she gathered from a distant view.
"Yeah, I'm gonna need a sample of this soil. Carefully preserve this footprint- I want a mold and photographs" she ordered, resulting in the officer once previously engaged with Jace, running off very quickly. Reagan looked at the cell phone beyond the yellow tape. No one had been near the victim yet, and this seemed like a good time to proceed. Grabbing a pair of latex gloves from her pocket, she carefully stepped over the tape, "Get me some evidence bags, make yourself useful" she mumbled in Agent Flynn's general direction.
As she approached the victim, a clearer, much more gruesome scene unfolded. Reagan knelt down beside her, "A young girl...between 20 and 25. She was struck in the back of the head with a weapon...but from what I can see, her death wasn't instantaneous." Stopping for a moment, she looked back at Jace, "she suffered...I think the killer wanted her to die slowly. He knew exactly where to strike in order to paralyze her, just shy of severing the spinal cord. So we know it wasn't the blow to the head that killed her".
Investigating further, as one of the clean up guys assisted in flipping the body over without wrecking crucial evidence, Reagan could here the gasps around her. "Oh my god...our killer removed her heart". The stench of death was poignant and heavy in the air, and insects had already begun harvesting on her flesh. "She's only been dead 15 hours, tops..she's fresh. And look here", she pointed, running her gloved finger along the woman's lower abdomen. Carved crudely into her tissue was the number "1". "What could that mean...I won't be able to tell more details about this woman until I get a look at her in the lab. She has no ID or wallet on her, but I highly doubt a murder this elaborate would be over a simple robbery".
The sounds of camera shutters and news anchors speaking in front of their cameras filled the air. It didn't take long for the media to get a whiff of the grisly crime. The cellphone was bagged, as well as several samples of soil, the footprints were molded, and any blood covered debris taken. "Once we find out who this woman is, we'll be able to go from there...the cell phone should give us an answer, and tell us who she was involved with before she died".
He had heard rumors about her incredible ability to pick apart a crime scene - mostly from the younger agents around the office, a few interns here and there - but until now, he’d brushed it off as a just a bunch of hype. Now he watched with interest as his partner reeled off information about the scene that most people would never have seen at first glance. He wasn’t about to let himself be impressed…but he was glad to see he hadn’t been paired with some wanna be expert. She was real deal.
Ignoring her comment about making himself useful, he casually turned toward one of the officers nearby. “You heard her, get us some evidence bags. And give me those gloves.” Jace slipped the latex onto hands and carefully proceeded to join Reagan by the body, stepping exactly where she had stepped to spare himself receiving a lecture. He crouched beside her, too absorbed in the gruesome corpse to care how close he was having to bend next to the other agent.
“You say she suffered..” he said quietly, looking at the grisly wound that had evidently been used to paralyze the woman. “I think you must be right. She bled from her wounds, which means she had to have a heartbeat at the time they were inflicted. She was alive through all of it.” He knew Reagan knew all of this. Perhaps she would think it was too obvious to be said out loud. He wasn’t exactly a trained crime scene investigator but he did have some experience examining dead bodies in the past. And he couldn’t stand the thought of not being useful in some way. The very last thing he wanted was to be relegated to the sidelines.
He’d had to step away when they eventually turned the body over to reveal the gruesome whole where the victim’s heart should have been. Jace had covered his mouth to keep from gagging at the stench. He watched with uneasy amazement as Reagan continued, seemingly unperturbed, to examine the cuts, pointing out the very clear number one carved into the woman’s abdomen.
“We should get going before the storm breaks,” one officer called to another. Jace glanced up at the angry clouds threatening to burst at any minute. He thought solemnly that had even one more day gone by, this woman’s corpse might have been washed up by the rain and mud, destroying what little evidence they had managed salvage just now. She would have had an even lesser chance of having her killer brought to justice. He caught a glimpse of her face again before her body was lifted by the crew and felt a flash of anger for the murderer.
“Right then, off to the lab,” he said to Reagan as he headed back to the car. “We should be there right when they perform the autopsy so you can tell the doctor everything she missed. Do you have tiny microscopes as contact lenses or something?” He opened the car door for her, just like before. “Hey, can you use your Sherlock abilities to tell me what I had for breakfast?”
They followed the van carrying the body and other samples back toward the city. The heavy rain made the going slower than when they had come, beating down heavily on the windshield. “I can barely see a damn thing..” Jace muttered. “Do you think the killer knew it would rain like this? Some might think he’d be grateful for the rain to wash away the evidence but…I think it’s pretty clear this guy wanted the body to be found just the way he left it. There was vanity in it, you know? Like a sick presentation…some psychopath’s work of art…” He shuddered and turned the windshield wipers on higher. “Listen, don’t keep all your notes to yourself. This isn’t a competition. Like it or not, we should probably talk about what we just saw back there.” Jace glanced at her. Then, after a moment, “Ever seen anything like this before?”
Reagan smirked as she slipped into the passenger seat, looking back at Jace without missing a beat, "No but judging from the smell of your breath, I'm guessing onion bagel". With that, she grabbed the door handle and yanked the door shut. What kind of game did he think he was playing? Opening doors, acting like George Clooney. She hoped the car ride back would be a quiet one, as she pulled out a notepad from her bag and began scribbling things down. But then, as soon as the silence began, it ended.
"Of course I've seen things like this before. It is part of my job to identify decomposed corpses in much worse condition than our victim back there", she answered, glancing at him from the corner of her eye, "as far as I'm concerned, everyone's a suspect until we can narrow it down".
The Franz Urian Institution
"Dr. Reagan, the body has arrived, and is being prepped for examination as we speak...can I get you anything?" A young man asked, wearing protective goggles, gloves, and a blue lab coat.
"No, thank you though", she smiled, simultaneously slipping on her own gloves and protective goggles as they entered the lab, "but I would like to introduce you all to my partner, Jace Flynn. We're working on this case together". Reagan turned to Jace, extending an arm towards three individuals, "This is my lab team. Here we have Amy, our reconstructive artist, Julian, our entomologist, and Dr. Brennan, another fellow anthropologist. "
Amy, being the perky and fun spirited one out of the bunch was first in line to shake Jace's hand, "Wow, it's so nice to meet you- who knew you'd be so handsome! Elizabeth...why didn't you tell me?" She giggled, nudging Reagan in the arm playfully. Amy and Reagan were coincidentally friends in high school and are considerably close, hence the first name basis. She'd always been the flashy, provocative one. She had short, shoulder length black hair and pretty brown eyes.
At that moment, Julian and Dr. Brennan stepped in. Julian was the aforementioned man in a blue lab coat and goggles. He had thick curly brown hair, and hazel eyes. Dr. Brennan was a tall man, broad shoulders, handsome, in his mid thirties. His blond hair was combed back, but inevitably a strand had fallen over his face. He had deep blue eyes, and a charming smile.
"Yeah, nice to meet you man. We love having the FBI in our lab- makes us feel so safe", Julian said sarcastically. He was a conspiracy nut, and anything to do with law enforcement was pretty much his enemy. The fact that Reagan was now an FBI Agent drove him nuts.
Dr. Brennan interjected, "Welcome to the lab officer. I was a law man myself- well, military actually. I served in Afghanistan for two years performing medical procedures on injured soldiers". That was one thing about Dr. Brennan, he loved to brag. His ego was the size of the Atlantic.
"Yes, well, let's get to it, shall we?" Reagan grinned through her teeth, linking arms with Jace and pulling him into the examination room. "Amy is going to try to put a face to our victim since hers was badly damaged, Julian is going to examine the soil samples we took as well as the insects making a home out of her flesh. Dr. Brennan is going to help me clean the remains and determine all injuries and cause of death. Meanwhile, we're waiting on the cell phone records. Unusually enough, when Brennan sent in a mold of her teeth no dental records were found. Whoever this was, she was very low profile."