There was a point in most cases where the pieces just fell into place, one after another after another.
They’d reached that point with this one, finally, and instead of the adrenaline surge he usually felt, Derek Morgan was feeling nothing but dread.
“I hate cases like this.”
“If she truly killed him in self-defense, then it’s unlikely that the Bureau or the local police will…” Spencer kept going. Derek tuned out.
This was worse than finding the killer who’d done so to save her own life. That sucked back enough. This was finding someone who’d had the wherewithal to kill a monster. And that could lead to any number of horrible places.
Where it led, this time, was to a convenience store surveillance camera, and from there to a local canvas. From there, they ended up talking to a very nice woman who started out with truth and then started lying.
The girl was Penny. Yes, she’d been visiting; she was a school friend of the woman’s daughter, Kath. Yes, she was back in school now, along with Kath.
And then a brick wall. They were in boarding school. They would be back for Christmas break. The woman didn’t even seem to notice that she wasn’t passing on other information, such as where the school was or had Penny had some trouble. She just kept politely answering questions that weren’t quite what they were asking.
Reid was getting frustrated. Hotch was getting angry. And Morgan could smell magic all over this case.
But before he needed to start fighting fire with fire, Penelope Garcia worked her own version of magic.
“Found ’em! Or, I should say, I found a shell. And I have to say, this is probably the most interesting shell I’ve ever found. I mean, there are students who have graduated with high honors from this… shell. And they’re going to places like Yale and Harvard. So, either they’re ghosts, their credentials are ghosts, or something very hinky is going on with this shell.”
Morgan wasn’t ready to rule out any of those possibilities.
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They’d had to do some very complex verbal footwork to both not lie to the team and not use the word magic – or other words Derek didn’t even want to think about right now, like fae or, worse yet, Ellehemaei – but they’d managed to convey the information they needed:
They’d found the killer’s journal.
Reid the genius had figured out a translation algorithm.
It detailed all the kills buried below.
Except the male body, which was probably the killer.
Now they needed to find out who’d killed him.
Once they had all that conveyed, it was really a matter of just going forward with a hunt. It was probably a would-be-victim, from the location of the body. They had his types, they had his hunting locations, and they were just a few inches from excavating the body.
“Got it!” The corpse digger sounded far, far too pleased about it. “Okay, looks like a white male, mid-thirties, long brown hair – very long – very decapitated, that’s a decently clean cut… three cuts, I think. They didn’t hesitate, it’s just a rough thing to get through. There’s the weapon, I bet. They wanted this guy good and dead.”
“If he had started in on her, I can imagine why.” Derek studied the man. He looked human – but they usually did. If you squinted, though, you could see where the Changes might have been, before someone ended his life. “Not too long gone, either, less than a month?”
“It’s going to be really hard to tell, encased in rock like this. But yeah, looks like he hadn’t been gone long at all.”
“Right.” Derek took a few pictures. No way they were going to be able to show this photo around, though. “Baby girl? I need you to do some magic with this picture. Or find a sketch artist.”
“Urgh.” Garcia’s response came seconds later. “There is no way I can make that guy look good. But I might be able to make him look alive.”
“You do magic with your fingers, doll. I can’t thank you enough. And I need one more favor.”
“Of course you do, Derek Morgan. What is it?”
“I need a composite picture, hold on, these qualifiers.” Brown hair, white girl, pointed chin. There were things their dead killer had looked for in every victim he’d grabbed. Certain age, certain feel. Feel was harder to get in a composite photo – but he had faith in Garcia’s skills.
“Thanks again, Baby Girl.”
“You owe me chocolate.”
“Honey, if we wrap this up, I’ll bring you the chocolate factory.”
And never mind how that sounded. They had a killer-killer to catch.
And departed gods help him if that one turned out to be fae, too.
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How can you…?
“Magic,” Derek answered. It was going to change everything, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to be honest.
“Magic, Morgan, come on…”
“Look, you said you wouldn’t ask how I knew. So don’t ask.” He gestured at the floor. “The dig teams can get the bodies now. Why don’t you and I work on the book?”
“Derek, what do you know about languages?” Reid frowned. “I mean…”
“Well, genius, what I have is a working vocabulary in this language. Which means I can get the easy words and you can use that to figure out the hard words.”
“But what is it?” Spencer was looking at him sideways. “I mean, really. Magic?”
“Look, you’re going to have to take some of this on faith, at least for now. Once we solve this case, I…” Derek paused. “I promise, when we’re back home and this case is over, I’ll explain everything I can to you.”
He’d always wondered a little bit about Spencer Reid. But that expression, that look – if the kid was fae, he didn’t know it. Spencer couldn’t lie that well.
The promise seemed to settle him down at least. “All right. Do you said it’s called ‘Idu a’Iduþin?’ ‘To know all there is to know?’ That sounds like a fairly common construction for words about language. For instance…”
“Later. I promise, later. We have a killer to put to rest here.”
“Put to rest? So you think…”
“I think that the male body we found here was the killer, yep. Which means somebody killed him.” Derek frowned. “Which is, of course, its own problem.”
Spencer twitched. “So we might be looking for a serial killer killer, or a victim who somehow got away, after putting the body in bedrock. This case just gets creepier and creepier.”
“The book.” Derek pointed at it. “If we can get through this, we can figure everything else out.”
“I still can’t believe you let me go over this for hours without stopping me.” Reid settled down, still muttering.
“You were having fun. Who am I to stop you when you’re having fun?”
The book was harder than it ought to have been, in part because Dr.-Reid-the-Genius kept taking apart words to understand how they worked, and in part because it had been decades since Derek had actually read Old Tongue. He could talk it with the best of them, of course, but talking a language and reading it were utterly different.
When they were done, the translations and the book itself photographed and sent to Garcia, they both felt a little sick. “Derek, this is – you know this is impossible, right?”
“I know, kid. I know. And I promise you we’ll work it all out.”
“But you know what else, right?”
“Yeah.” The book had detailed every single body down there. Except the male body. “We have a serial-killer killer to go look for.”
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This fills my “au: crossover” square.
Morrigan’s “Special Captive” made his first attempt at escape somewhere in the middle of Texas.
“I told you to keep him sedated.” Cym was less than impressed, rather completely less than, glaring at Morrigan with her hands on her hips. “And now look.”
“Let him go.” Travis’s urge was more of a hope than an order, which probably saved them both from Morrigan doing something unwise. “Seriously, Morrigan. You know the Fibbies are going to be after us like woah for this one, and we can’t afford it.”
“We grabbed him, he’s ours. Nobody gets away from the slave runners, you know that.” Morrigan slid on her coat. “Travis, if I find out you let him go on purpose, I’m going to put his collar on you.“
“She’s not bluffing, you know.” Cym was oh-so-helpful.
“I know. What is it with this kid? He’d just another boy genius. Of all the types for her to get attached to…”
“Think he’s noticed the tracker I jammed up his ass yet?”
“Depends on if he took a shit or not.” Their captain was already in the wind, invisible and silent in the nighttime forest. It made Travis feel a bit exposed, of course, not having her there to cover their asses. “And if he did, well, there’s your trick, too.”
“I know. You don’t like it. But it works. Well… see if the signal lines up with your whammy.”
Cym stared at the screen for a moment, then hit the com. “Mor? I’ve got a reading on him…”
“Listening.” Morrigan’s voice was the short, clipped one she often used when she was invisible.
Cym listed off the coordinates. “From the looks of it…”
“Got it. Shit, he’s shaking. Okay. Got him. Goddess blast you, kid-“
They could hear his voice over the com. “Not- not a kid. Just, the pain-“
“Well, yes. You ran away on a wounded leg. Of course it hurts. What were you – no, don’t answer that. Did you call for help? Travis?”
“I don’t see any phone signals but we ought to run. Hurry, Mor, the last thing we want-“
“Leave me. Team’ll find me.” The fibbie’s voice was weak. Well, as Morrigan had said, he’d been shot.
“Or you’ll die out here. No, you’re coming with us. You’re coming with me.”
Cym and Travis shared a glance. “Did she-?”
“Well, it’s in the contract.”
“Travis, you never like them. Besides, what else is she going to do? Put an FBI agent on the open market?”
“Well, he’d bring in good money. He has that sad lost-puppy look a lot of the rich ones like.” Travis flopped his hands, seeming to suggest a limp pallidness that really had nothing to do with the captive.
“And he’d bring way too much attention. She should leave him-“
“But we know she won’t.”
“I can hear you, you know. Get the door.” Morrigan’s voice was short and sharp over the comm. “He’s half unconscious. We have to hurry.”
“Just…” They all fell silent as the kid spoke. “Just some Dilaudid, please. It will help with the pain.”
Morrigan strapped herself into the back seat, the boy in her lap. “Drive, Travis. Head for home.”
Spencer Reid fell unconscious again, cradled in the amazingly protective arms of the Tír na Cali slave raider.
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Spencer Reid was a genius. There was absolutely nobody in the world, not even the snottiest Grigori, that could argue that point.
He was, however, looking at a book written in an unknown alphabet in an ancient language. Morgan wasn’t sure if the kid could handle that, even as smart as he was.
Derek paced the room, watching the kid out of the corner of his eye while he pretended to profile the murderer and the victims with the rest of his attention.
“Quipia Tlacatl οστά, Tempero Eperu πέτρα Tempero Tlacatl οστά, επάνω, ανατέλλω, εγείρομαι.” Up, rise, rise up. Slowly, while he pieced together the pieces of their likely-dead enemy, Derek pulled the bodies out of their impossible positions embedded in the bedrock.
“What was that?” Spencer rubbed his eyes and looked around. “Is there some coffee around here?”
“Just talking to myself.”
“You only do that when you’re stressed or working through a problem.”
“Well, this case justifies both of those, wouldn’t you say?”
“It’s just that there was something that you said that sounded Greek. ????, that’s bones. I didn’t know you spoke Greek.”
“I picked up a few words on an old case. And we’re walking over piles of bones here.” He patted Spencer’s shoulder. “How’s the translation going?”
“If I just had a key.“ He raked his hands through his hair. “Something, anything. I know I’ve seen this alphabet before.” He closed his eyes. “On my mother’s bookshelf. It was a book hidden in something else – The Joy Of Cooking.”
Derek watched the genius’ brain work. “What do you remember about it?”
“She said… she said it was a history.” His hand moved while his eyes remained closed, the pencil sketching on the paper. Old Tongue letters. The History of the People in the New Land.
Derek was here to keep the team from learning the wrong things.
He was here to profile and catch criminals.
He was here for his team.
“I’ve seen it… now that you draw it like that, it came across my desk, years ago.” He sat down and took the pencil from Spencer. “This. This is ‘new,’ if I remember right.”
He could ruin the whole investigation and hurt Spencer’s brain if he gave him the wrong information.
He drew the symbols more carefully than he’d ever written anything in his life.
“And this is ‘Law.’ Law was a big deal in the paper I read.”
“Okay, so something in here means ‘history,’ and that word there means ‘new.’“ Spencer nodded. “I can work from that. Could you get me some paper?”
Derek dropped an empty legal pad in front of his teammate and waited for the all-clear to dig.
The shovel moved. The dirt moved. He muttered another Working, to make it lighter, easier to sift for the dig team, easier for him to move. The shovel cut ground, the dirt lifted up, he hummed another Working.
Reid’s pencil moved, his lips moved, the paper fluttered, the pages of the killer’s book moved. He muttered something under his breath and made another note, his murmurings making a counterpoint against Derek’s Workings. His pencil sketched out another symbol. The pages moved. The paper fluttered.
“I think I’ve got the start. But Morgan, if you could remember anything more of this paper you read, it would be great.” He turned to look directly at Derek. “Like a translation.”
Derek swallowed and tried to cover. “Look, kid…”
“Profiler.” Spencer had that pissed-off look he didn’t often get. “With three PhD’s. Look, I don’t know what you’re doing, but the fact of the matter is, we’re trying to catch a murderer, and you’re obstructing the investigation if you’re withholding information.”
Derek sat down with a thump. “Look… Reid.” He covered his face with his hands and tried to think. “Some things…”
“You don’t have to explain to me. But if you know what’s in this book, Derek, you know your job. I won’t ask you why you know, or why you were hiding it from me. But you know what your duty is.”
Derek picked up the book and scanned it. “You were nearly there, you know.”
“While you… did what? Don’t think I didn’t notice the second scan showed the bodies at a different strata of the earth.”
“You said it yourself. There’s no way to bury a body in bedrock.”
“That doesn’t explain how the bodies aren’t in the bedrock anymore, either.”
Derek flipped a page. “It’s written in a language called Idu a’Iduþin-”
“I’ve never heard of it.”
“I’m not surprised. In its own language, Idu a’Iduþin means ‘to Know all there is to know.’ The book starts with a list of dates-”
“I knew it!”
“-and a list of descriptors. He doesn’t give any of them names. Let’s see. The first date is June twenty-first, eighteen-twenty-six. Brown hair, brown eyes, pales skin. It references a page further back…” He flipped through the book. “She didn’t expect me. This land has not been preyed upon in some time; perhaps not since the last time I came through…”
“Morgan.” Reid was still staring at him. “How can you fluently read a language I’ve never even heard of? How are the bodies in dirt now when they were in bedrock when we got here?”
Derek smiled tiredly. “Magic.”
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In the BAU they didn’t give serial killers cute nicknames – that was the business of the press – but if they had, this one would probably be That Bastard.
(Penelope, privately, called him The Creepy Bastard, and he deserved the name).
They were coming to the conclusion that the sick fucker – not all that sick, not in the scope of things they’d seen – might just be smarter than them. And that was a thing that was outside of their mythology. Serial killers, after all, had only themselves, and maybe, just maybe, a partner. They had the whole team, and all the resources of the FBI.
And then… the strangest of dead ends. They’d figured out his pattern, because he had one. They’d found him with the girl on a surveillance video. And then… gone.
They’d tracked him to the factory, though, and when they’d started scanning the ground, they’d found remains. That had led to some digging, and, on a whim, when the first set of remains – old ones, they couldn’t be the same guy’s work, they predated the freaking factory – was so close to the bedrock as to be sitting on it, Reid had them pull in more intense equipment and they scanned the bedrock.
Privately, Derek Morgan was muttering Idu Eperu to himself and hoping nobody overheard. There were some things FBI background checks just didn’t cover…
They found the victims first. And then, only a few feet away from the skeleton of a post-pubescent girl… a male skeleton. His head was between his feet, and there was something sticking into his heart. Wood, the radar operator thought.
Derek’s heart slowed. He swallowed, and checked out the expression on their resident – human – genius. He hadn’t put it together yet. Good.
“You have to wonder about his victims.” He flipped through the images on his tablet, moving ostentatiously and putting the tablet in Reid’s line of sight.
“‘His’ victims? Derek, these bodies go back for centuries. There’s no way they could be the work of one guy. The oldest documented human being only lived to be one hundred and twenty-two years old. Either the age of the factory is improperly documented, or we have the work of some sort of copy-cat killer or killers.”
“Or he faked the burials to make it look like they were placed before the factory was built.” Derek felt dirty. He was putting forth information that directly contradicted his own knowledge regarding the case. But his choices were limited.
Spencer was still frowning. Processing. “How did he get the bodies down there, anyway? Some of those bodies are embedded into the bedrock. And how are we going to get them out of there?”
“They can’t be in the bedrock. The radar has to be wrong.”
There was a reason Derek was in the BAU, a reason besides his profiling skill and his aim with a gun. Without steering, the BAU would have figured out the existence of the Ellehemaei – of the Nedetakaei- long ago.
So the bodies couldn’t be in the bedrock.
“And what’s this guy? All the vics are posed exactly the same. It’s almost ritualistic, especially if you look at how the bodies are grouped. They must have done some sort of map or paperwork. I wish the excavating team would move faster.” Spencer was pacing now, brushing his gloved fingers over everything in the sparsely-furnished space.
This, Derek could help with. He stretched his legs and looked around the room.
“He snatched them from nearby gas stations. He brought them here in that van, and he raped them.” He kicked at the sleeping bag. “This is a bachelor’s set-up, nothing fancy, no trappings of a temple or anything like that. This wasn’t the sort of space he expected to impress anyone – but it’s not set up to frighten them, either.”
He’d lost Spence. He glanced over at his teammate and suppressed a sigh. The genius was studying the body layout on the radar scans again. “Morgan, look at this.”
He’d drawn out the shape on a paper. Shapes, when you really peered at it.
“It’s almost like they’re letters.”
Derek’s heart tried to stop. Not almost like; they were letters.
“I feel like I’ve seen them before, somewhere in my mother’s books.”
Derek looked at the scans again. He was pretty sure he knew what that one was, the anomaly that messed up the pattern. The bastard had picked on the wrong girl, and she’d left him where all his old victims were.
“Okay.” He made a cursory search of the drawers – an old toolchest sat against one wall, near the second set of manacles. Most of the tools in there now didn’t bear thinking about, but there was an old notebook, scribbled in so long it was covered with notations.
Like the message written in bodies, it was all in Old Tongue.
Derek sighed. He had his loyalties. He had always had his loyalties, and if they’d changed over the years, well…
A fae’s first loyalty was to their crew.
“All right, so he’s trying to tell us something. Here’s his notebook; it’s written in the same thing, looks like. What can you do with it, genius?”
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Morrigan lay in bed, pressed up against Reid’s body, watching him sleep. When he slept, he didn’t pull away from her. When he truly slept, sometimes helped along by a nudge from their doctor, his body relaxed, and she could see how young he was.
She was going to keep him. She’d already known that when she hauled him into her van. She was going to keep him, because he was so strong, so brilliant, and so utterly vulnerable.
He made her want to take responsibility. He made her want to be a grown-up.
Shira watched them together, pouring over the new student lists. She wondered if Luke knew how his wings curled protectively over Regine. She wondered if Regine knew how she looked up to the older Ellehemaei, even when his opinion hurt, even when she stubbornly ignored everything he said.
Shira could see the echos of them, a hundred years past, a hundred years hence. She could see the moment Luke bent to comfort Regine, and the moment Regine learned how to be human for long enough to comfort Luke.
She wished her students, the ones who didn’t always understand friendship, could see this.
Summer. Finally. Mike saw the last of his Students off on vacation, spent one last evening with his favorite non-Mentored student, and braced herself to visit Luke.
He would glower, of course, and grumble. He’d invite her into his home because they were crew, and friends. He’d pour her a drink and have none himself, like he didn’t trust her. He’d refuse to touch her.
But in the end, he would hold out an arm, and hug her, and yell at her for an hour about being a better person. And when he was done, when she’d cried in apology and grumbled and yelled back at him, Mike always felt like she could be better, could be a nicer, more responsible person. Like he made her better.
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For the 30 Days Meme Second Semester, for the prompt “12) prompt: sweet iced tea.”
This is more of the Reid/Cali crossover fanfic, directly after the last piece.
The stories before this:
Never Been Caught : First written, last in sequence.
Shots Fired: First in sequence
“Well, Crap, Where am I?”, after “Shots Fired” and before the story below.
“Excuse me,” their captive croaked. “Could I have some water?”
Morrigan turned in surprise, studying him. She hadn’t heard it when he woke, which shouldn’t have surprised her. She knew he was an Agent, even if not from their Agency.
“I’ve got some water here,” she answered levelly, and got the cup with the straw from the cooler. “We’ve also got some sweet iced tea, if you’d rather.” She pressed the straw to his lips anyway.
He drank slowly, buying himself some time, she guessed. “Thank you. I appreciate you taking such good care of me.”
Behind Morrigan, Cym choked out a laugh. “Shit,” she swore, “that’s her. The Lady of Kindness herself.”
Morrigan laughed quietly. “It’s a nice technique,” she told Reid. “They teach a similar one in our Academy.” He was looking a bit worried, so she offered again, “some tea? You were held captive for a few days, I bet you’re hungry, too.”
He licked his lips, contemplating that. “I didn’t know that Californians were fond of sweetened tea.”
“We’re not, generally,” she allowed, smirking at him. “We stopped at a gas station just before we… rescued… you, and that was all they had for drinks with caffeine.” She shook her head. “We are, whatever we are, not serial killers, Agent.”
“Could I have a little more water?” Stalling. She pressed the straw to his mouth and let him. He was a bright boy; he could tell he was trapped.
“You’re those Agents,” he said slowly.
“We are,” she agreed.
“I’ll have that tea now, please.”
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Day 15 of 30 days of Fiction: “28) Prompt: overhearing a conversation.”
Reid woke slowly, groggy, and cotton-mouthed, the last of the drug cocktail leaving the world hazy and his stomach uneasy. He was still bound – no, not still, bound again. For one, he was no longer in a chair; his knees were almost at his chest and the floor under him was padded. For another, whatever was holding him now was both less uncomfortable and had less give than the ropes Tobias had tied him with. His hands were behind his back, his ankles together, and he was leaning sideways against something padded. His eyes, when he opened them, were covered, hooded or blindfolded.
When the first voice he heard was male, he almost believed Tobias had sprouted a new personality.
“So, you’ve got him, now what are you going to do with him, then?” His accent had the peculiar combination of Irish and pioneer that suggested Californian working-class. Unlikely to be Tobias, then. All his personalities had Georgian accents.
“What we do when we kidnap someone.” The second voice was female. From the swallowed, lazy consonants, she might be royalty. This wasn’t looking all that good.
“Mor, he’s an American Federal Agent. You can’t just go kidnapping fibbies.”
“I don’t see why not.” And that was a third voice, another female, working-class. So the bleary memories he had of getting snatched from Tobias’ hands were accurate. He wondered what they’d done with his captor. “Ours now, isn’t he?”
That couldn’t be good. He cleared his throat into the moment of silence. “Excuse me,” he croaked. “Could I have some water?”
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