Fandom: Criminal Minds
Author's note: Again, sorry for the late update. My beta is swamped with her homework and the least I can do is not to push her to read my long and winding story. I really don't like this chapter. Seriously, this is the longest chapter I've written and I don't like it. :( My self-love was (and is still) in the lowest level when I wrote this. Well, I'll just shut up and let you decide for yourselves then.
Thank you: Ex, you are the most awesome, the most dedicated, and the most responsible person I've ever met. Thank you for the beta. I owe you.
Previous chaps: sneaky-in-red.livejournal.com/
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
Location: FBI: BAU
Time: 05:47 pm
Morgan eyed JJ as the press liaison checked her phone for the hundredth time. He frowned every time he saw the same sad look on her face right after she did so. He wondered if the woman was waiting for someone – Emily – to contact her.
This case was both frustrating and exhausting. Morgan could hardly keep his eyes open but he knew he would not be able to sleep properly until they found Emily. He tried not to think of the possibility of not finding Emily as he glanced at JJ again. The blonde was now on her phone, but it seemed that whoever she was calling didn’t answer the phone because she hung up looking disappointed.
The dark agent had just started to stand up and ask her if there was anything he could do when Garcia suddenly barged into the briefing room, muttering to herself – almost every head turn to look at her.
“What happened?” Morgan asked, hoping that it wasn’t bad news.
“I’m stupid, that’s what happened,” the tech wizard replied without really looking at anyone. She was busy attaching her laptop to the projector but she kept on talking. “So I’ve been trying to enhance the satellite feed and I’ve been freeze-framing every second of what we got in the security camera – something that I should have done last night instead of leading you on a wild goose chase – and I noticed something. I missed it at first,” she rambled on, looking rather displeased when she continued, “and I missed it again the second time. But like they said the third time’s the charm...”
“Garcia, get to the point, please,” JJ cut in, rather annoyed. Everyone gave her a quick glance. It was unusual for JJ to be so harsh with Garcia. And apparently she realized it, too and blushed, “I... I’m sorry. It’s just...”
The shorter woman smiled understandingly at her friend. “Okay,” she continued. “Look what I found,” she pressed a button and the screen on the wall projected a blurry frame – enhanced by several magnifications – with a red arrow and a circle on the far right side.
Reid moved closer to the screen. He gasped as he realized what it was. “Oh! It’s a hand!” he exclaimed.
Garcia nodded. “It isn’t just a hand – it’s a kid’s hand,” she added.
Morgan hit the table hard with his fist. “The small fingerprints we discovered in the van!” he said.
“The Unsub probably didn’t realize that a child touched the car again after he cleaned it up,” Hotch said. “Garcia, run the prints. Find out everything we can about this child. Why would the Unsub have a child with him?.” He looked at the personnel files scattered everywhere in the briefing room. “We have to rearrange the files. Prioritize on the people who have children under twelve; separate people who are single parents – both male and female – from the ones who are still married. Separate the ones who are divorced with children but not the main guardians for them. Put the ones who live near this area and those who don’t in different piles. And don’t forget to look for people who live near Emily’s area – children or no children.”
JJ was the first to move. This was new lead – bringing new hope of finding Emily. She wasn’t going to waste a single second. We’re getting closer, Emily, she whispered in her head. The blonde took a large pile of files and began sorting. She worked as fast as she could – no longer tired as adrenaline pumped into her blood, providing her the energy that she needed.
Morgan saw how motivated JJ was now. He silently hoped that this lead wouldn’t crush the blonde’s hope again. He took a seat in front of her, taking stacks of files with him. “Hey Jayj,” he said. The blonde glanced over and gave him a weak smile. He reached out and touched her hand, stopping her movements. “We’re going to get her back,” he tried to reassure her. Morgan realized that he hadn’t been the best of friends towards JJ on the Henkel case and he wanted to make it up to the woman. The press liaison didn’t say anything at first and Morgan was surprised when she spoke up a couple of minutes later.
“Thank you, Derek,” JJ said. She had needed time to process what Morgan had said earlier. She saw the dark agent nod and they returned to sorting the files. There were too many files to read and there were not enough people – Hotch didn’t want anyone outside the team helping them in case the Unsub had an accomplice in the office.
The team was so engrossed with the sorting that they were surprised to hear someone’s phone ringing. JJ picked her phone up and without thinking, said, “Emily!”
Garcia didn’t expect the reaction and suddenly felt stupid for calling JJ. She knew what the press liaison had been doing – Garcia had caught her calling Emily’s phone in the rest room. “No, sweetheart, it’s Pen,” she said.
JJ blushed. What was she thinking, blurting out Emily’s name like that? “Oh, sorry,” she whispered. “I’m putting you on speaker.”
“Savannah Taylor,” Garcia began. “Age 7 now. She was kidnapped from a children playground in Charlottesville, Virginia two years ago. Case was never solved – no witnesses, no suspects. Parents Dennis Taylor and Olivia Abram-Taylor; one younger brother, Erick Taylor. Lead detective: Terrence Wilson, Charlottesville PD. Sending you the files now.”
“Thanks Garcia,” JJ said before hanging up. She looked at Hotch; her hope rising.
The unit chief furrowed his brows. Now they had two cases on their hands. “Morgan, Dave, I want you to go to Charlottesville, find everything you can find – talk to the lead detective, talk to the parents.”
Location: Charlottesville Police Department, Charlottesville, VA.
Time: 09:13 pm
Rossi had contacted the lead detective and had told him about the case on their way there. It hadn’t been a long flight and Morgan had sped all the way to the station from the airport. They had introduced themselves to the lead detective, a balding middle-aged man, who then showed them what he had pulled out from the records room.
“At first the parents were eager to find their daughter,” he explained as the two agents were reading the files. “But their hope faded away and they told me they didn’t want to deal with it anymore.”
Rossi sighed. He had seen a lot of people losing hope after some time, accepting their loved one’s deaths even though their bodies were never found. He remembered the hopeful look in JJ’s eyes when they got this lead, and he prayed that the look would not go away. “Now that we have a new lead about the child’s whereabouts. I wonder if they’re willing to talk to us,” he said.
Detective Wilson nodded. “I called them after your call. The wife seemed reluctant to help, but the husband said he would do anything to help the missing agent even if he couldn’t get his daughter back.”
“Bless him,” Rossi said. “Let’s get going then.”
Location: FBI: BAU
Time: 10:15 pm
Reid was walking to the break room to get another cup of coffee when he heard someone talking. He saw a pair of cleaning ladies in the BAU bullpen, sweeping the floor and emptying trashcans. The young agent couldn’t help but overhear the conversation as the two women talked loudly.
“... unworthy. She’s absent again, you know,” one of the ladies complained. “Four times this month, I don’t know why she isn’t fired yet.”
“She said her kid was ill the last time,” the other one said with a thick Italian accent. “The child was what? Eight? Poor little girl, she seems to be ill all the time.”
“Seven. She doesn’t care about the kid. Just a few weeks ago I saw the poor thing waiting in the rain without any coat,” replied the dark-haired friend angrily. “She was freezing and she refused to come inside when I asked her, the kid said she would be angry if she didn’t stay where she was told to. Now what kind of mother that is, letting your kid freeze to death. You know, I don’t even think that the kid’s her child. She doesn’t even look like the bitch.”
Reid listened to the conversation attentively; his coffee long forgotten. The more he listened, the more he was sure about something. He stepped out of the break room and addressed the two women. “Excuse me,” he said – polite as always. “You were talking about your absent friend earlier. May I know what her name is?”
The two women were surprised. They didn’t know that someone was listening. They blushed, embarrassed to be caught gossiping. When they saw Reid didn’t scold them, the Italian woman replied, “Sara Mendell.” Then she added guiltily, hoping that she didn’t get her colleague in trouble, “You’re not going to tell our boss about it, are you, sir?”
The young agent shook his head. “That is the last thing on my mind right now,” he replied. “You said she has a child? A daughter?”
“Yes, sir. She often brings her here if she works the nightshift, a very shy kid, I must say,” the other woman replied.
“So you’ve met her? And you know what she looks like?” Reid asked, hoping that the answer would be yes. When both women nodded, Reid asked them to follow him to the briefing room. “Don’t worry, ladies, you are not in trouble.”
They met Garcia, who was on her way to the rest-room, and Reid asked her to find any information she could about Sara Mendell. “I have a hunch,” he told the blonde. Reid hurried into the briefing room, snatched a photo of Savannah Taylor from before the kidnapping, and showed it to the two women – leaving two very confused agents inside the room.
“Oh my Lord, this is Lucy! She does look younger though,” the woman with the dark hair exclaimed. “How do you get her picture?”
Reid didn’t answer her. His heart was racing. He thanked the women and returned to the briefing room, where JJ was already on the phone with Morgan. He was at the Taylors’ at the moment and Hotch was scribbling something on a sheet of paper while the unit chief was talking with Garcia.
“Come up here, Garcia,” Hotch ordered before hanging up. The older man met Reid’s eyes. “We heard. Garcia will be here soon and give us the info. Good job, Reid,” he said encouragingly.
The young prodigy smiled nervously, taking the nearest seat. He was glad he had gone to the break room earlier – then he remembered. “Oh, my coffee!” He jumped out of his seat and ran through the door, almost knocking Garcia over. “Sorry Garcia,” he shouted.
Hotch smiled his first smile in the last 24 hours. He glanced at JJ and was relieved to see that the younger woman looked amused hers. The woman had hung up, too.
“Morgan said the father wanted to be informed about his daughter no matter what. He said he had given up hope, but if we can get Savannah back he will be forever grateful,” JJ said. And if I can get Emily back in my arms, I will never let her out of my sight anymore, her mind added.
Hotch nodded. Garcia handed them the files and they began to read. As soon as Hotch read the background information he frowned. Sara Mendell was a troubled woman. She had been abused by her own mother when she was a child and had been sent to live with her grandparents. She had spent her whole life in therapy – she had even been hospitalised for two years when she was a teenager, but there was no information about why. From what Garcia had found, it seemed that this Mendell woman had changed jobs several times without any difficulty. No marriage certificate; no indication that she had given birth to any children. Hotch was angry. What was HRD thinking? They were supposed to dig everything up about anyone before they could work at the Bureau. How did they miss something so important like this: Sara Mendell didn’t have a child until two years ago and then suddenly the child was seven years old! He made a note to have a word with the people in the Human Resource Department later. They had bigger task at hand right now.
“The address in this file was the one we had raided earlier, Hotch,” JJ pointed out. “And there’s no other addresses listed here.”
“When you ran the plate number, what was the name of the car owner?” Hotch asked Garcia.
The blonde sat up straight. She typed into her laptop. “Lucille John, sir. But she’s deceased. It says here that she died on a car accident about two years ago. Oh,” Garcia gasped as she read. “she was pregnant when she died.”
“Find the connection between her and Sara Mendell, and if you can’t, just get us the addresses of all her property,” the unit chief said. “Let’s just assume that these two women are somehow connected. We need to find Sara Mendell – and her accomplice. I don’t think she’s smart enough to do this on her own.”
Garcia typed as fast as she could. “Her parents left her three properties, a house in Baltimore, a villa in Chesapeake Beach, and a cabin somewhere near Prince William Forest Park.”
Hotch stood up. “Send the address of the cabin to my phone. Call Morgan and Rossi, tell them to fly there ASAP. JJ, call for backup. We’re going to need it,” he said as he walked outside the briefing room, JJ and Reid following him.
Garcia did as she was told. Morgan and Rossi were on their way to the airport when they received the call and they said they would go straight there. When there was nothing else she could do but wait, Garcia couldn’t help herself. She rummaged through Emily’s handbag and found her phone. The battery was still half full when she tried to turn it on. The first thing she noticed was there were a lot of missed-calls and voice messages on the phone. The woman sighed as she recognized the numbers. “Oh JJ,” she whispered sadly as she realized what had happened. The press liaison had called Emily’s phone over and over just to hear Emily’s voice – and she had left dozens of messages, too. Garcia turned the phone off and put it back where it belonged. I never saw anybody loved so deeply... without knowing about it, was her last thought before heading back to her office.
“One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.”
a/n: what do you think? ready to kill me?