Title: Weak in the Knees
Rating: NC-17Please see previous posts for disclaimer/summary/notes. As always, thanks to celievamp for the beta!
Scully looked at Casper. “Why are you telling me this?”
“I obviously don’t know you very well, but Jessica has good instincts about people. If she let you get close it’s because she saw something special in you. If you want... it’ll be up to you to pursue what you want. Jessica won’t. She will deny what she wants if she believes it’s in the best interest of someone else that she do so.”
“So in other words–”
“It’s totally up to you. You’re the one who has to decide what you want and whether to pursue it or not.”
Scully let out a heavy sigh. Now she just had to decide what it was she really wanted with Jess... if anything. She jumped slightly when Casper’s phone rang.
“Hey, John. Have you guys eaten yet?”
“No, we haven’t.”
“Alright, I’ll pick something up on the way. We’ll be there shortly.”
“We?” Casper asked. The only response he got was silence since Morgan had already hung up.
The front door opened.
“Hey, guys. Food’s here!” Morgan called out. She appeared in the kitchen with a grey-haired man on her heels. “John, Dana, this is Dr. Darren Lenihan. Dr. Lenihan, this is Agent John Casper and Agent Dana Scully. We’re working the case together.”
“Please, call me Darren,” Lenihan said as he shook hands with the other agents.
Morgan emptied the bags and set out several different selections of Chinese food.
“There should be some plates in the cupboard to the right of the sink, Jessica,” Lenihan told her.
Soon dishes were filled with food and everyone was enjoying their meal.
“Darren’s the one who volunteered this place for us to stay. It’s his condo,” Morgan informed Scully and Casper.
“Thank you for your hospitality, Dr. Lenihan,” said Casper.
“I told you, call me Darren. I hear Dr. Lenihan and I think I’m in class,” he replied with a smile.
“What do you teach?” Scully asked.
He looked at Morgan. “You didn’t tell them?”
She shook her head.
“I teach Psychology here at Harvard. Jessica was my T.A. when she was here.” He grinned. “In a way I was sorry to see her graduate. She was the best T.A. I ever had.”
Morgan snorted. “That’s just because you had me grade all the papers from the grad students.”
He grinned. “I did enjoy watching them try to argue with you. You were never intimidated and rebutted their arguments point by point.”
Morgan shrugged, “Right was right and wrong was wrong.”
They finished up dinner and cleared away the dishes.
“Now, let me see this note from the hotel,” Lenihan said.
Scully arched an eyebrow in question and looked at Morgan.
“It’s okay, Dana. I asked for Darren’s help. He taught me everything I know about profiling and there’s no one better at getting inside someone’s mind than he is.”
Scully retrieved the note and handed it to the professor.
“Well, he didn’t actually write this,” Lenihan said almost immediately. “The handwriting is too neat. He either had someone else write it for him, or someone wrote this while taking a message.”
Casper nodded. “We spoke to the desk clerk at the hotel who took the message over the phone. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything else he could tell us.”
“What do you think about this message and the others, Doc–” Scully cut herself off at the corrective, but lighthearted, look she received. “I mean Darren,” she finished with a smile.
“The author of the messages is... puerile. He’s selfish, extremely egocentric and not happy unless he’s the center of attention. He’s the kind of person that would say, ‘If I can’t have you, no one can,’ and eventually follow through on that threat.”
“How does that fit with the murders?” Casper asked.
Lenihan shook his head. “It doesn’t. The killer is sophisticated, a true genius and possibly gifted as a child. He’s meticulous since he doesn’t leave behind clues unless he chooses to. He’s very socially adaptable since he’s engaged women of varying backgrounds and income levels.”
Scully jumped in. “Couldn’t he have targeted the women at random and not have any contact with them prior to the actual murder?”
“He most likely does pick them at random, but he definitely interacts with them before he kills them. He’s shown familiarity with their residences – meaning he’d been inside their homes at least once. And based on the frequency of the murders and the geographical distance between them, I’d say he earns their trust quite quickly. I’d say he’s quite charming and just about ‘sweeps them off their feet.’ Obviously money isn’t an issue for him. So he’s from money, either his family’s or his own. If he’s working it’s for himself.” Lenihan looked at Morgan. “I shouldn’t be telling you anything that you don’t already know, Jessica. You are exceptionally gifted at profiling, you always have been. I didn’t teach you all that much – you’re a natural.”
Morgan sighed. “There’s just something about this one that doesn’t feel right. Something that I can’t... figure out.”
“How do you reconcile the author of the messages with the killer?” Casper asked.
“They are two distinct personalities,” Lenihan said without hesitation.
“Are they two different people?”
“That is the question. I don’t know. It very well could be two different people, or simply two different personalities of one person. I don’t know. And you won’t know until you catch him.”
“What does your gut tell you, Darren?” Morgan asked.
The professor looked at his former student and felt concern. “He’s made this a personal thing between you. He’s taunting you. Sooner or later he’s going to make you pay, and I’m afraid he knows enough about you to know how to hurt you the most.”
After Dr. Lenihan left the townhouse Morgan changed out of her suit. She grabbed her laptop and settled down on the couch in the living room. She was joined by Casper.
“I can hear the gears turning in your head, Jessica. What are you thinking?”
She sighed. “I’m just wondering what would be the best move.”
“What do you mean?”
“This guy has focused on me personally, as his foil to test himself against, and as a target to be played with. It might be a good idea to remove myself from the equation. Walk away and let someone else get this guy.”
“What? You’ve never backed down or walked away from a case. Why start now?”
“Because I’ve never backed down or walked away. He may be counting on that. And I really don’t know how much good I’m doing since, as you pointed out, he knows my buttons and is pushing them. I’m not being proactive; I’m only reacting to him.”
“Well, you can be proactive without walking away, Jessica.”
“By changing the game; by not waiting to react to him; by making him react to you.” He paused. “When you figure out how to do that, you’ll be that much closer to catching him.”
“And what if it’s not just him? What if there are two of them?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Just concentrate on what you know. Know what the game is and change it.” With that he patted her leg and left her alone.
Morgan stayed up late into the night. As a result she fell asleep on the couch. The smell of breakfast cooking woke her up. She went into the kitchen to find Casper making breakfast.
“Hey, John,” she said while yawning.
“Morning. What time did you finally fall asleep?”
“I don’t know. But I feel like I’ve gotten two or three hours of sleep.”
“Sit down.” Casper set a plate in front of her and poured some juice.
Morgan frowned. “Where the hell did this food come from?”
Casper smiled. “I went out and got it at the grocery story.”
“Because I felt like making breakfast.”
Morgan looked at him and frowned. “Who the hell are you and where’s the John Casper I know?”
He laughed. “After Jennie left me I had to fend for myself. I also like to cook for Jeremy when he’s with me.”
Scully soon joined them and they all enjoyed the breakfast Casper cooked.
Starting the workday, the three agents drove to the Boston field office. Morgan set Casper and Scully on the trail of Russell Schiff, the name in Sheila Cousins’ work and personal calendars. She then started making some phone calls.
Morgan quickly found out that the pizza delivery driver had finally been located. He was a 21-year-old named George Linz. He was found coming back into the country after having spent some time in Mexico. According to his statement, Linz was stopped by someone who flashed a badge and claimed to be an FBI agent, when he exited his vehicle. He demanded to inspect the pizza before Linz delivered it to the agents in the house. Afterwards, the man who stopped him gave him a big tip for his inconvenience.
After leaving work that night, Linz stopped at a convenience store and bought some scratch-off lottery tickets. He ended up winning several hundred dollars and, on a lark, decided to take off for some fun in the sun in Mexico. Which he did without telling anyone. Unfortunately, Linz was completely unable to provide a description of the alleged agent that stopped him, because the man had worn a coat with a hood that obscured his face.
She then called Alan Stillwell at the cell phone company. She had him check the account records and verify there hadn’t been any further activity on the account since the texts and call she received the past Monday.
Morgan then spent time interviewing the parents and sister of Sheila Cousins. The remainder of her day was spent interviewing her friends and coworkers.
It was 3:00 in the morning when her phone woke her. “Morgan.”
“How do you like Boston?”
Instead of replying, Morgan had decided to follow John’s advice and change the game. She hung up on the caller.
He called back. “Don’t do–”
She hung up again.
The phone rang again. “Listen! I’m not going to play your fucking game so you might as well quit calling,” she said before he could react. She hung up and turned off her phone.
Somewhere in Boston, a dark figure stared at his phone in dismay and anger. “You fucking bitch!”