Title: Weak in the Knees
Rating: umm... NC-17 eventually
Please see previous posts for disclaimer/summary/notes. Special thanks to celievamp for the beta.
Scully and Morgan arrived at work early in the morning and started reviewing some of the case files that Morgan had requested after she’d run her searches. They read several faxes and printouts of emailed reports, sorting them into piles – one pile for possible Reaper cases and another for the cases they had eliminated. After an hour or so Morgan tossed a folder down in frustration. She got up, walked to the window and looked out. Scully finished what she was reading and looked up at the other woman. Morgan was clearly agitated.
“What’s wrong, Jess?”
Morgan rubbed her face with her hands before turning around. She shook her head. “We can sit here and read these damn files for weeks, but it’s not going to tell us what we need to know. We don’t even have crime scene pictures.” She sighed. “How are you doing with the autopsy reports?” she asked in a calmer tone.
“Well, there are some similarities certainly, as you know. But without the bodies, or good pictures of the wounds and their placement, it’s hard to be sure.”
“That settles it. We go.”
“Alright. But you have to know redoing autopsies on bodies this old...”
“Yeah, I know. But we can at least get access to the original files and photos, and check out some of the crime scene locations.” Morgan walked over to her desk and picked up the phone. She started making travel arrangements.
They were on a flight to San Diego, CA by noon.
The two women spent the next four and half days visiting various cities on the west coast, liaising with the local police and sheriff departments, reading and evaluating case files, and looking at crime scene locations. Then they got a phone call.
“Morgan.” She stepped away from Scully and the detective she was talking with.
“Agent Morgan, it’s Ben Taylor.”
“We’ve got another one – Wilmington, Delaware.”
She closed her eyes and sighed. “It’s been 13 days since the last one. He’s still not sticking to any pattern in frequency.”
“That’s not all.”
“What is it?”
“There’s a note... and it’s addressed to you.”
At Morgan’s exclamation Scully glanced over at her partner with concern.
“It was mailed to the office. The envelope was addressed to ‘Reaper Taskforce Leader.’ But the note inside was addressed to you by name.”
“What did it say?”
“‘You look for me high and low. How far are you willing to go? Are you ready for the Reaper? To find me you must dig deeper.’”
“I assume you had forensics check the note and envelope out.”
“Too many hands on the envelope for prints to do any good. And no prints on the note. Both the envelope and paper are too common to trace.”
“Alright. We’ll get a flight to Philadelphia as soon as possible. Obviously you can’t leave the body at the scene in the meantime, so make sure they take a lot of photos of the scene and the body before they move it.”
“Already got them working on it.”
“Good. And send the note to the Philadelphia field office. I want to see it. I’ll call you with our flight information so someone can pick us up.”
“You got it. Talk to you later, Morgan.”
“Bye.” Morgan put her phone away and rubbed her temples.
Scully finished up with the detective and approached her partner. “What’s going on, Jess?”
“We’ve got another one.”
“Yeah. We’ve got to catch the next flight to Philadelphia. Let’s go.”
On the flight from Portland, OR to Philadelphia, PA Morgan was lost in thought. The note really threw her, for more than one reason. Most obviously because it had been addressed to her personally. She hadn’t been on the press’s radar so there hadn’t been any TV or newspaper reports that mentioned her. So how did the Reaper even know she was working the case? And after what had happened with Toni... having a serial killer know who she was, that she was hunting him, brought up some bad memories.
Then there was the note itself. It simply made no sense. The wording was banal and seemed... forced. Not something she expected from the mind of the killer she had profiled. In fact, sending a note at all just didn’t appear to fit with the person who committed so many murders without leaving any useful forensic evidence. The kind of person who would plant a hair from a previous victim on another victim just wasn’t the kind to write such a note. It lacked... intellectual elegance.
It was 9:00 at night when they landed in Philadelphia. An Agent Erik Bowman was waiting for them as they came off the plane.
“Agent Morgan, Agent Scully?” the young man approached them. He looked barely old enough to shave and was obviously fresh out of the Bureau academy.
“I’m Agent Bowman, Erik. I have a car to drive you to Wilmington.”
“Good. Let’s go.”
When they got to the car Bowman scurried to put the senior agents’ bags in the trunk. Scully and Morgan exchanged an amused look. He even opened the passenger side car doors for them. Morgan got into the backseat leaving the front for Scully. Bowman hurried around to the driver’s side. He started the car, allowing it to warm up. He pulled a legal size envelope from a valise and passed it back to Morgan.
“Assistant Director Taylor sent this for you, Agent Morgan.”
“Thank you.” She opened the envelope and took out the contents. She looked at the note that had been addressed and sent to her. Morgan stared at the block printed message, trying to make sense of it.
“Agent Bowman asked if you wanted to go by the field office before heading to the crime scene.”
“No, no,” she answered distractedly.
Bowman put the car in gear and they were on their way. For the entire hour’s drive, Morgan sat in the dark of the backseat, staring at the note. Her thoughts raced, between the current case and the past.
Scully had to prompt Morgan out of her mental wanderings again when they arrived at the crime scene. Sensing something was wrong, other than a new victim, Scully kept a concerned eye on her partner as they entered the house. It was because she was watching her partner that Scully caught the involuntary breath Morgan sucked in with a slight hiss. And something... happened with her eyes... didn’t it?
“Are you alright, Jess?”
“I’m fine. Let’s get to it.” Morgan moved past Scully, pulling on her gloves.
Scully arched an eyebrow as her partner passed, but she didn’t voice her doubts. They had a job to do.
Due to the late hour, it was decided Scully would do the autopsy in the morning. Even though it was after midnight when they got checked into a motel it felt earlier since they had started their day on the west coast. Scully changed and immediately knocked on their adjoining door.
“It’s unlocked,” came from the other side.
Scully opened the door. She stood in the doorway leaning against the jamb with her arms crossed. Morgan was sitting in one of the chairs, facing the window. Her feet were propped up on the table, crossed at the ankles. Scully waited silently for an entire minute. Finally she spoke.
“Are you going to tell me what’s going on, Jess?”
“What do you mean?”
Scully shook her head and uncrossed her arms. She walked over and sat on the edge of the bed, close to Morgan’s chair, but still to her back. “Look, I’ve only known you for two weeks, but we’ve spent a hell of a lot of time together during these past two weeks, on and off duty. You’ve not been yourself since this morning. What’s wrong?”
Morgan took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “Maybe I’ve been doing this too long.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because I’m confused.”
Morgan didn’t say anything, but after a moment she got up and retrieved the envelope from her briefcase. She handed it to the redhead. Scully opened the envelope and pulled out the note while her partner began to slowly pace. She read the note and frowned.
“How did he know you were working the case?”
“I don’t know. But that’s not what I’m confused about.”
Scully reached out and gently grabbed Morgan’s arm as her pacing brought her near. “Sit down here and talk to me, Jess.” Morgan sat down next to Scully on the bed with a sigh. “What are you confused about?”
“The note itself. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. The profile I did... he just wouldn’t do this. And if he did, it sure as hell would be more elegant. It doesn’t fit.” She sighed again and shook her head. “Unless I’m really off with my profile. In which case, I don’t know where to go from here.”
“Well, we start with the body tomorrow morning.”
“I’m not holding my breath that we’ll find anything new.”
“Then we continue what we were doing.”
“But that’s just it. I don’t know if what we were doing is the right thing to be doing. If my profile is wrong then...”
“Then what, Jess? Then you’re wrong?”
Morgan gave Scully a look. “Don’t you get it? If I’m wrong... then people die.”
“That’s a risk we all accept when we put on the badge. Lives depend on the decisions we make and the actions we take. Jess, you’re an excellent profiler and investigator, but everybody makes mistakes – we’re human. All anyone can do is do their best.”
Morgan still looked full of doubt.
“Come on, let’s go.” Scully stood and pulled the other woman up as well.
“To get something to eat.”
“At 1:00 in the morning?”
“You skipped lunch and didn’t eat dinner on the plane either.”
“I think I’ll just go to bed.”
An auburn eyebrow arched disbelievingly. “As tightly wound up as you are? I don’t think so. You need to eat something and relax a bit.” She gently pushed Morgan towards the door. “Let’s go.”
“What did I tell you about being bossy?”
“And what did I tell you about me being right?” Scully retorted.
Morgan shook her head and opened the door.
First thing in the morning Scully and Morgan went to the morgue. Needing to focus her mind on something other than the note and crime scene photos, Morgan also changed into scrubs and planned to assist Scully.
Per the FBI’s request, the body had been bagged at the scene and then left alone. So the two agents removed the body bag from the cooler. Scully unzipped the bag. They carefully removed the bag and then began their examination, starting with her clothes.
When Morgan took one of the hands in her own to scrape under the nails she paused. She lifted the hand and sniffed at the wrist. She then reached across the body and did the same with the other wrist. Scully saw her actions and raised an eyebrow in question. Before Scully could give voice to her question Morgan spoke.
“Dana, could you toss me the evidence bag with her shirt, please?”
Scully grabbed the bag and tossed it to her partner.
Morgan took the shirt out and sniffed the material at the collar. She handed the shirt to the redhead. “Do you smell that?”
Scully sniffed the collar, but the scent wasn’t as apparent to her less sensitive senses. “Perfume of some kind?”
“Mm hmm. It’s Estée by Estée Lauder; fragrance spray, $20-$25 a bottle depending on where she bought it. I knew someone who wouldn’t wear anything else.” Morgan bent down and sniffed again, this time at the victim’s breastbone and then her knees. “And she was looking forward to a romantic night.” She took hold of a wrist and brought it up, bending the elbow and sniffing the victim’s wrist once again. “And her date brought her a gift.”
Scully was confused. “What?”
“Take a sniff.”
Scully bent down and sniffed the proffered wrist. She frowned. “It smells different.”
Morgan nodded. “Joy – about $400 an ounce.” She gently placed the arm back down on the table. “I’ll have someone run a check on purchases. No telling when or where he bought it, but it’s worth a try.”
Scully nodded in agreement.