"You stop hunting me and I'll stop hunting them."
Morgan froze at the words. He'd opened the envelope without expecting anything more than a letter or a clever marketing scheme. It was handwritten with no return address but it came mixed with his other mail. As usual he'd waited to the end of the week to open his mail and the stack had grown to a nice pile of miscellaneous bills and worthless crap.
Those words had set off a chain of crimes that had haunted Boston and later the BAU for years. George Foyet had made it his mission to become the most famous serial killer that they had ever dealt with. He wanted to prove that he couldn't be caught, that he was smarter, deadlier and invincible. He'd victimized and tortured Hotch, killing his wife and threatening the life of his young son until Hotch had finally killed him with his bare hands.
Morgan himself had been a victim of the Reaper, coming far too close to death and spending too many months trying to shake the terrifying nightmare that still from time to time haunted him. Now he stood in his home being revisited by the ghost of a past that he never wanted to think about again.
"What's up Hot Stuff? You look like you've seen a ghost?" Penelope cheerfully asked.
Morgan turned and handed her the letter. She gasped and looked at him. His eyes told her that he was suddenly reliving his moment of hell with the Reaper.
"Derek, what's going on? Is this some kind of joke?"
"It has to be. Foyet is dead…"
"Yes, I know he's dead but what is this about?"
"I don't know Baby Girl. Somebody's idea of a sick joke."
"Well, it's not funny."
Penelope wrapped her arms around him. He was tense and even her body pulled close did not make a difference. She was worried, she saw what his run in with the Reaper had done. He'd never been in such a vulnerable position before; death literally hovering over him and being powerless and unaware of it all. It had unnerved him and for a brief moment it had made him doubt himself. She didn't want to think what being forced to go back to that place would do.
"Why? He needs to know. Call him!"
"No Penelope! He's gone through too much. He doesn't need this. Besides, its just a joke."
"Derek what if it's not a joke? You could be in danger?"
"Baby Girl, don't worry, I'll handle it."
He turned to face her and pulled her tight in his arms. He wished he hadn't shown her the letter. The Reaper was dead and buried…this was nothing more than a sick joke. Or was it?
FBI Headquarters - Quantico, VA
Derek and Penelope road the six floors to the BAU in silence, hand in hand. She knew he was still troubled by what he'd found in his mail. Hotch needed to know but for now she'd honor his wishes not to mention it to their boss. She prayed that it is was just a joke and nothing more.
He couldn't shake the eerie feeling of dread that had shot up his spine when he read the letter. Foyet even in death had haunted him. The nightmares of their first meeting still shook him to his core. Now someone was playing games and he wasn't going to stand for it. He was going to do whatever it took to stop this before it went on any further.
Derek chuckled when the two arrived at her lair. In the corner of her desk sat a vase of drooping red roses which he had given her four days ago. Their pedals had turned from bright crimson to a dull deep burgundy and their leaves had hardened and had begun falling onto her desk.
"Baby Girl, I think it's time to let these go. I don't think they're coming back to life." He grinned.
"No! They're so beautiful and it was so sweet of you to surprise me with them."
Garcia began fingering the dead leaves as he wrapped his arms around her waist and leaned in resting his chin on her shoulder.
"I guess I better send you flowers more often so you don't have to hold on to them so long." He teased.
She leaned back and relaxed against his chest smiling at the man that had rescued her heart and made her a part of his.
"You do just fine, Hot Stuff."
He kissed her gently on the neck and the two lost themselves in a quiet sweet moment.
"Umm…I better leave before I forget that we're here to work."
"Oh…I have lots of work I can give you, Handsome."
"Yeah, I know you can, Baby Girl, but your work requires me to be butt naked and on top of you."
"And the problem?"
"Oh…no problem, no problem at all."
Derek turned her to face him and placed a long hot kiss on her lips and then disappeared into the hallway. When she opened her eyes again he was gone and her knees where having problems holding her up.
Derek was baffled at how Penelope was able to change his mood for the better. He smiled as he stepped into his office. He noticed a white envelope on his desk with his name handwritten on it. The writing looked familiar and he hesitated for a second before opening it. Inside was a single bullet and a note that read, "I didn't forget about you just because I went after him."
There was a soft knock before JJ stuck her head in the door. His back was to her and he didn't notice her enter.
"We've got a case. Hotch wants us in the conference room."
His mind was elsewhere, eyes still studying the letter and the bullet held tightly in his hand.
"Morgan. Morgan? Are you okay?"
"Uh…yeah…fine…I'll be right there."
He shoved the bullet in his pocket and quickly folded the letter before turning. She looked at him puzzled after all she was a profiler now…just like him and contrary to what he said he was not okay.
The D.C. police were on the scene of a brutal murder. A homeless woman had stumbled upon the bodies of a male and female while on her early morning scavenger hunt. The man had been shot at close range in the face and the woman had been stabbed multiple times in the face and chest. The CSI's noticed a tan line around the woman's wrist… her watch was missing. The detectives on the scene assumed that the woman who had discovered the bodies may have added the watch to her collection of fines to which she vehemently denied and after several minutes of harassing the poor woman they let her go on her way.
The team was headed to Boise, Idaho to investigate the murder of three young women. Morgan had not mentioned his latest letter to anyone including Garcia; he didn't want her worrying about him, especially since he was leaving on a new case. He knew that she worried enough about him and the rest of the team until they returned safely. He was just going to treat this like a part of whatever sick joke someone was playing.
As the team was leaving Garcia stopped JJ in the hallway and pulled her back to the conference room.
"JJ, I need a favor."
"Sure. What is it?"
"Can you keep an eye out for my man while you're gone?"
"Sure? What's going on?"
"Please, he'll kill me if he finds out I told you but…"
"What is it, Garcia?"
"Derek received a letter from Foyet."
"Garcia, Foyet is dead…"
"I know he's dead, JJ…but I'm telling you, he got a letter! It was mixed in with his mail!"
JJ looked at her friend and saw the fear in her eyes. Even now Foyet had the power to strike terror in her team. He'd done serious irreparable damage and even now his control was undeniable.
"It's got to be a joke…How is this possible?"
"Hell if I know but I'm afraid he's going to be distracted and he can't afford to be distracted in the field when you guys are out there chasing baddies…JJ please I don't want his mind on this when he should be thinking about the…"
"Garcia, Garcia, calm down. I will watch out for him, okay? Besides, we always have each other's backs out there. This will be no different."
"Okay, okay, thanks, JJ." Garcia exhaled.
The two women embraced quickly and JJ rushed off to catch up with the rest of the team.
Boise, Idaho - Evening
Detective Jeremy Cantor greeted the team with a tired smile as they entered the small precinct. After introductions and handshakes he led them to a conference room that had been set up for their use. Each of them took a seat around the large table ready to work.
"What do we have, Dectective?" Hotch began.
"We have three young women who's bodies were discovered in an abandoned warehouse just north of here in our industrial district."
The detective handed them each a brown case file to study. As they reviewed the files, the detective continued.
"Each woman was found with their hands and feet bound with duct tape. Our first victim, Heather Sims, 19 was blindfolded. Our second victim, Michelle Worthy, 20 had her ears stuffed with paper and covered in some sort of plaster type substance. Our last victim, Chrissy Vega, 18 was gagged."
"What was the cause of death?" Rossi asked.
"Each victim's throat was slashed."
"They bled to death." Reid added.
"See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." Morgan thought out loud. "Our UnSub was definitely sending a message."
"No sign of sexual assault and no signs of any other trauma to the bodies." Alex surmised. "Could we be dealing with a woman?"
"Maybe. She obviously knew them or was not perceived as a threat by these victims." Hotch noted. "Let's get Garcia on this. See if these victims knew each other."
"On it." Morgan answered.
"We need to speak to the families of these women. Maybe they can tell us something that can give us a clue about why these women were killed." Said Hotch.
The team was set to leave and visit the families of the victims when a young police officer approached Morgan and JJ.
"Are you agent Morgan?"
"Yes. I'm Agent Morgan."
"This was delivered for you."
Morgan looked at the white envelope in the officer's hand, the familiar writing, his name written across the front and no postage.
"Agent?" Still holding the envelope looking questioningly at him. "Agent Morgan?"
JJ looked at Morgan then the envelope and finally the officer. He seemed stunned almost frozen as he slowly took the envelope from her hand.
He turned it over and slid his index finger under the seal and opened the envelope.
"Morgan, what is it?"
He removed the letter carefully unfolding it staring at the message oblivious to the concerned stare of his partner.
"This time you will be awake!"
"Nothing. Let's go."
Morgan crumpled the paper and threw it in the trash on the way out. JJ puzzled glanced at the discarded paper as she followed him through the door.
Home of Heather Sims
Morgan and JJ were ushered into the den by Heather's father, Harry Sims. He'd been crying it was evident by his blood shot eyes. JJ smelled alcohol on his breath and it was obvious that he'd been drinking for a while.
Heather was all he had left in the world. His wife had passed from cancer three months prior and he hadn't even begun to grieve that loss before suffering another devastating blow.
"Mr. Sims, we're sorry for your loss…" JJ began. "We know these are tough times but we need to ask you a few questions."
"Heather was all I had left. Who would do such a thing? She was just a girl." His voice broke.
"Mr. Sims do you know of anyone who would want to hurt Heather?"
"No. no one. She was a good girl."
"Do the names Michelle Worthy and Chrissy Vega sound familiar?" JJ asked.
"Yes. They were friends of Heather's. They grew up together. Why?"
"Their bodies were found with Heather's. All three of them died in the same way." Morgan said.
Harry Sims closed his eyes trying hard not to cry any more tears; he'd cried enough for a lifetime, there were no more left. None at all.
Police Station - Later
The team had gathered in the conference room to review the case and all of the families stories were consistent. The three victims had been childhood friends and were nearly inseparable. None of them had any known enemies. As the team continued to debrief, Garcia called with new information.
"Hello my Dreamy Super Agents!"
"Please tell me you have something, Gorgeous!"
"Would I bother you otherwise, my Chocolate Hunk of Burning Love?"
The team simultaneously rolled their eyes and shook their heads.
"I found something quite interesting. It seems that two years ago when the three where in high school there was an incident on campus where a fellow student, a Wanda Perkins, was caught cheating on her SAT's and lost an early admittance to Yale. When her school found out she was not allowed to participate in graduation and was the target of a lot of teasing and ridicule by her fellow classmates."
"So what does that have to do with the case?" Alex asked.
"Hold on to your seats. I'm bringing it home. All three of our victims scored in the high 1400's on their SAT's and went on to institutions of higher learning with scholarships to boot."
"You think the four may have been involved in a cheating scam and Wanda was the only one that was caught?" Reid said.
"Where's Wanda now, Garcia?" Hotch waited for a reply.
Garcia began typing furiously while the others waited.
"Wanda Perkins committed suicide two weeks after graduation. Her twelve year-old brother found her hanging from a noose in the family's garage."
"If these girls were involved in something. Why kill them now? Two years is a long time to stew."
"Wanda killed herself on her 18th birthday. Our victims were killed on what would have been her 20th birthday."
"Why didn't any of the families mention this?" JJ asked.
"Apparently none of the victims were implicated. Wanda never mentioned anyone else. School authorities assumed it was just her."
"Well someone knew about the others. The question is, who?" Hotch added. Morgan you and JJ go talk to the Perkins family. Garcia, keep digging."
"Aye, aye Captain. Garcia out."
"I'm worried about you Derek."
Derek was hoping for a quiet ride to the Perkin's home. No such luck, he knew JJ wasn't easily fooled.
"Look Derek, something's is obviously wrong. I'm your partner and I need you on top of your game. Our lives depend in it."
"JJ, when have I not been on top of my game?"
"Never…but I don't want you starting now. Look, Derek we're more than partners, friends…we're family. If you need to talk, I'm here."
"Yeah. I know you are."
Perkins' Home -
The interior of the Perkins' home was a shrine to their deceased daughter. Trophies, awards and ribbons covered the walls and fireplace mantle. The atmosphere was heavy, stagnant and it was as if the family had stopped in time the day Wanda died.
"Mr. and Mrs. Perkins were sorry to bother you. We know it's still a difficult time for you and your family but we have a few questions." Morgan began.
The Perkins sat quietly and sullen before the agents.
"Did your daughter know Heather Sims, Michelle Worthy or Chrissy Vega?" Morgan continued.
At the mention of the three dead girls' names the Perkins showed the first real emotion since Morgan and JJ had arrived. Anger flashed in their eyes and Mr. Perkins jumped from his seat and began pacing clinching his fist in an effort to stay calm enough to speak.
"Those girls ruined my daughter's life!" He answered angrily.
"It's true Marilyn and you know it!"
Ron Perkins still had not come to terms with his daughter's suicide and clearly blamed the dead girls. His wife had taken it upon herself to pull the family along through their grief but it was obvious she was struggling too.
"Agents, my daughter was a very bright girl and she was headed to Yale when…"
"Those girls…those degenerates…talked her into some hair brained scheme to score high on the SAT's!" Ron interrupted.
"Why weren't the other girls punished with Wanda?" JJ asked.
"All the girls took the test at separate locations. Wanda answered every question except one correctly. It sent up a red flag and the administrators began an investigation." Marilyn said. "The other girls scored high but not high enough that would cause anyone to get suspicious."
"Wanda was a perfectionist. She had to be perfect. She'd never gotten anything lower than an, "A" in her life! When the chance came to ace that SAT she couldn't help herself." Ron added.
"Why didn't she tell on the others?" Morgan asked.
"They were her friends. Our daughter was no snitch, agent!"
"Those girls stood by while our daughter was punished, ridiculed and shamed. They didn't stand up for her or protect her. They stopped calling her and hanging out with her…she lost everything…it destroyed her!" Marilyn said sadly.
"We understand that her body was found by your son, Raymond. How is he handling all of this?" JJ inquired.
"How do you think? He was twelve years old for god's sake! No twelve year old should see anything like that!"
"Mrs. Perkins, did your son know about the other girls cheating?"
"I don't know. Maybe. He and his sister were awfully close."
"We're going to need to speak to him." Morgan informed them. "Is he home?"
"Yes. He's in his room. He's always in his room."
Marilyn Perkins led the two agents to her son's room. Leaning her head toward the door she knocked lightly.
"Raymond. These agents need to speak with you."
There was no answer. Morgan and JJ exchanged glances.
"Raymond honey, open the door please."
Morgan opened the door. The room was empty but the window was wide open the obvious escape route of a son that was not in the mood for conversation.
A loud heavy thud sounded from the garage side of the home. The four looked at each other had rushed toward the kitchen door that led into the garage. The screams of Mrs. Perkins pierced the silence of the dimly lit room as they were shocked by the sight of the dangling body of Raymond Perkins. Morgan and JJ rushed to the jerking body of the fourteen year old. Morgan quickly grabbed his legs and lifted him relieving the strain around his neck. Ron Perkins grabbed the ladder that was laying on its side beneath his son. JJ climbed the ladder and cut the rope freeing the boy's limp body as it fell in his father's arms.
Jet - Next Morning
The team had closed the case and were headed home. Young Raymond Perkins had lured the three young women to there deaths and killed them in a symbolic way to punish them for the part he felt they had played in his sister's demise. The Perkins family had lost another child and it was hard to find the win in the closing of this case.
Morgan was anxious to see Garcia and to enjoy the next few days off. He hadn't thought much about the letters in the last few hours and he hoped that whoever had begun the prank had gotten their laugh and moved on.
As usual Garcia was there to greet the team as they stepped off the elevator. They smiled at each other as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and walked into the bullpen. Fatigue written on each of their faces and worn on there bodies they all drug themselves to their desks to drop off files and wrap things up before heading home.
Home of Derek Morgan - later
Derek pulled into their driveway. It was good to be home especially with the next two days off. The two walked up the walkway toward the front door. There was a small box sitting on the porch and Derek placed his hand in front of Penelope stopping her from going further.
"Just stay here."
She stayed put watching him carefully approach the box. Noticing the familiar writing he assumed that someone still wanted to play games.
"What is it?"
He ignored her question slowly picking up the box and examining it closely for wires. It passed his scrutiny and so he opened the box. Inside was a pair of worn black-rimmed glasses and a note, that read:
"How many of them do I have to kill before you stop me?"
The D.C. Police had been called to the scene of a gruesome murder. The bodies of a middle-aged couple were found at a bus stop. The man had been shot in the chest at close range and the woman had been shot point blank between the eyes and stabbed in the heart. The officers recovered their I.D.'s, Mr. Robert and Sarah Cravitts had been out on a leisurely stroll after dinner at a nearby restaurant. Mr. Cravits was wearing two watches; one was obviously a woman's. His driver's license picture showed him wearing black-rimmed glasses…they were missing. And if that weren't creepy enough the killer had used the victims blood to draw an eye with a line going through it on the ground in front of the dead couple.
Detective Artie Purchase had never seen anything like it; it was the second similar case in as many days. Pulling his phone from his pocket while staring at the grisly scene before him he dialed Aaron Hotchner at the FBI's Behavioral Analyst Unit. He needed help and he needed it now.
To be continued...