Title: Snapshots: A Brief History of a Life Less Ordinary
Word Count: ~20,500
Please see first part for disclaimer/summary/notes.
Feb 24th, 1984
Jessica arrived at Essington Manor after her classes for the week were done. Even though Essington Manor was not a great distance from Oxford, she chose to stay at school during the week. However, on the weekends, she happily headed to the only place that ever really felt like a home.
It was the day after her birthday, and she was looking forward to celebrating it with her grandfather. He had hinted at something special planned, so she’d hurried to the manor as soon as her last class let out. Besides, she had some good news to share with him as well.
Edward, her grandfather’s longtime butler was the first person she saw. “Good afternoon, Edward,” she cheerfully quipped and kissed his cheek.
“Good afternoon, Miss Jessica. And Happy Birthday.”
“Thank you. Do you know where my grandfather is?”
“The Earl is in the library.”
She breezed through the hallways and opened the door to the library. She was surprised to see that her grandfather was not alone. “Mr. Michaels.”
The lawyer smiled. “Hello, Jessica.”
“How are you?”
“I’m fine. It’s good to see you.”
“Jessica, Mr. Michaels has a few things he needs to discuss with you,” said the Earl.
“Since you turned 18 yesterday you’re now entitled to your trust. Included in that is the controlling interest of Rodier International. There are some matters that you need to be made aware of, Jessica.”
She let out a sigh. “Alright. Let’s get this over with. Because I planned on a good weekend.”
“I’ll leave you two to it.”
“No, Grandfather. Stay. I’ll undoubtedly want your advice anyway.”
With a nod, he resumed his seat.
With issues of her inheritance addressed, the mood shifted to a much more upbeat one.
Her grandfather led her outside with his hands over her eyes. “No peeking.”
“How can I with your hands over my eyes?” she chuckled.
He removed his hands. Before her was an ocean blue 1966 Austin Healey 3000 Mark III convertible – fully restored.
“You finished it!” she excitedly exclaimed. She knew her grandfather had been working on restoring the car for the last five or six years. It was something ‘to get his hands dirty’ with and putter around with when he felt restless. “It’s beautiful!” She ran her hands over the sleek lines and took in the navy blue leather interior. “Have you taken it out yet?”
“Nope. I figured her owner ought to do that.” At her confused look he continued. “She’s all yours, Sunshine,” he said with a grin.
Jessica’s jaw dropped. “No way!”
He dangled the keychain in front her. “Want to take it for a spin?”
Dinner was a quiet celebration with just her grandfather and Edward – and just what Jessica wanted.
“So what’s this good news you have?”
Jessica smiled. “I just found out today – I got approval to study at the Repository. I’m to report on July 15th.”
“That’s wonderful. How long will you be given access?”
“What is the Repository?” Edward asked.
“It’s the single greatest collection of religious texts in the world. Texts from all the world’s religions, original manuscripts and first editions,” Jessica answered excitedly.
“You know I’m happy for you, Jessica, but we need to talk about your plans.”
She sighed. “You mean about being cloistered at the Repository for a year.”
“You know you can’t buy blood there.”
“I know. I’ve been gradually extending the time between–”
“I don’t care how much you extend the time between feedings, you cannot go a year without blood.”
“I know, Grandfather.”
“Well, you certainly can’t feed from anyone there!”
“Of course not! I would never do that!”
“Then what do you propose to do?”
“I won’t be able to leave, but I will be allowed a few limited visits.”
The Earl took a deep breath and slowly let it out as he nodded in understanding.
The Earl sat in the car nervously tapping on the steering wheel. Jessica’s year at the Repository was over and it had been a long time since he’d seen her – too long. The ‘limited visits’ had not worked out as well as they’d planned. He was not able to pass the blood to her every time he’d been up to see to her due to a lack of privacy during his visits. As a result, it had been way too long since she’d last fed.
When she finally exited the gates she looked like death warmed over. He jumped out of the car and rushed to her side. “I’ve got you, Jessica.”
She drew in a deep breath and stiffened her back and resolve. “I’m fine.” She stubbornly moved to the car under her own power.
The Earl shook his head and walked back around to the driver’s side. “You look like shit.”
He started up the car and pulled away. “There’s something for you in the paper bag there,” he said referring to the bag on the passenger side floor.”
She reached down and took out the pint of blood.
“Take another picture, Edward.”
“Don’t you have enough yet, Grandfather?”
“It’s not every day my granddaughter graduates from Oxford,” the Earl replied with a proud smile.
Edward took a few more pictures.
She stood at his casket and gazed down at the only person in the world who had ever really given a damn about her.
Her mother had been... fickle, to put it kindly. Elizabeth had been killed when Jessica was only six years old. Her father, Philippe, hadn’t even showed up for the funeral – he’d said he was too busy. But then what should she expect from a man who wouldn’t even give her his name simply because she wasn’t a son? The next time she saw the man was at his own funeral when she was 14.
But her grandfather, Geoffrey Avery Morgan, the Earl of Essington, had always been there for her; always loved her; always understood her – even when she didn’t understand herself. She had been pressed to have a large public funeral for her grandfather, but she knew that wasn’t what he would have wanted.
She reached out and tenderly cupped his cheek as tears trailed down both of hers. “I’m going to miss you, Grandfather, so very much.”
Edward lightly touched her arm. “It’s time.”
She looked at her grandfather’s loyal butler and trusted friend. “It’s not fair, Edward.”
Jessica bent down and placed a kiss on her grandfather’s forehead. “Goodbye, Grandfather.” She closed the casket and walked with Edward out of the private family cemetery.
Back at Essington Manor, Jessica retreated to her room. It was only a couple of hours later when Edward came to tell her the solicitor had arrived.
“Do I really have to do this now?”
“The Earl made the arrangements himself.”
She sighed. “Very well.”
The grey-haired man stood as Jessica entered. “Countess Essington.”
She held her hand up in a clear stopping gesture. “Don’t. I am not Countess Essington.”
“In point of fact, you are, my lady. As the Earl’s sole heir, his title and estate pass on to you.”
“How? I mean, don’t titles pass to male heirs?”
“Most do, but not all.
February 21nd, 1987
“Are you sure about this, my lady?”
“Yes, Edward, I am.”
“But why not MI5 or MI6? I know they’ve both tried to recruit you. And Oxford has offered you a position.”
“Yes they have. As have the CIA and Harvard and a number of other agencies and universities. However, I’ve decided to take the FBI up on their offer.”
“But I thought you–”
“I changed my mind, alright?!” she snapped. Jessica stopped and took a long, slow, deep breath.
“I’m sorry, Edward. I didn’t mean to snap at you. I know how much Grandfather trusted you, Edward. I want you to stay on to run the manor and attend to other matters, but I’ll understand if you decide not to.”
“Of course I’ll stay, my lady. It’ll be my honor to serve you as I did your grandfather.”
“As long as you accept a promotion. What I’m asking of you goes beyond the duties of a butler.”
“I will perform whatever duties you ask of me, my lady; however, I am a butler and it is the only title I am interested in,” he replied proudly.
“Cavanaugh! Get in here!” barked AD Vince ‘The Great White’ Sharkey. Sharkey was a slight man, barely 5’9”. But his reputation was legendary.
Cavanaugh entered his boss’s office. “What’s up?”
Sharkey handed Agent Cavanaugh a file as he sat down. “That is our newest addition to the unit. I’m assigning her to your section.”
Cavanaugh opened the file. His eyes widened. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Since when we do we take rookies? She graduated from the academy yesterday! My god, she’s just a kid!”
“I know. I had to call in almost all my markers to get her.”
The other man’s jaw dropped. “Why the hell would you want her?”
Sharkey smiled. “That kid was a Rhodes Scholar and has three PhDs in Psychology. We’re lucky to have her. Read her file.” He looked at his watch. “She’s due in at 10:00.”
Cavanaugh was not pleased. He had no use for an inexperienced 21-year-old kid, even if she was book smart.
Jessica was excited and nervous. It was her first day as an FBI agent. She had been surprised when she received orders to report to the Violent Crimes Unit. She had expected to be assigned to the Behavioral Science Unit, where most of the Bureau’s profilers were.
Jessica looked at the name on the paper in her hand. She was to report to Assistant Director Vince Sharkey – The Great White. Sharkey had been in the Bureau for almost 30 years. He’d made his reputation in the Organized Crime Division, taking down the worst of the worst by working undercover in the Mob for several years. His most striking feature was his white-blonde hair, hence the nickname the Great White (Shark).
“May I help you?”
Jessica turned. The question had been posed by a six foot, sandy-haired man. “Yes. My name is Jessica Morgan; I’m looking for Assistant Director Sharkey.”
“Are you filling in for Eric today?” Casper noted her light British accent and sparkling grey eyes.
“Eric – from the mailroom.”
Jessica smiled. “Ah, no. I guess I should have said I’m Special Agent Jessica Morgan; I’ve just been assigned to the VCU.”
Surprise showed in green eyes. “Oh. Sorry.” He held his hand out. “I’m Special Agent John Casper. I heard we were getting a new addition.” They shook hands. “Sharkey’s out right now, but Cavanaugh is here. He’s our section chief.” Casper gestured to an empty chair. “Have a seat and I’ll let him know you’re here.”
While Jessica sat waiting, she noticed a white board nearby with pictures of murder victims on it. She stood and walked over to it, studying the crime scene photos.
“Cavanaugh is on the phone, but will be with you soon,” Casper said when he returned.
“Thank you,” she replied without taking her eyes from the photos. “Is this a current case?” she asked.
Casper ran his fingers through his hair. “Yes. We’ve got ten victims, across the five boroughs of New York. The locals asked for some assistance in profiling the killer.” He gestured to the right side of the board that had highlights of a profile written on it. “That’s what the BAU has given us. But it hasn’t gotten us anywhere. No one has a clue to his motivation and we don’t know when or where he’ll strike next.” Casper noticed how Morgan tilted her head in thought. He came to an impulsive decision. He picked up a folder from his desk. “Take a look.”
Morgan opened the case file and quickly read through it. She suddenly picked up an eraser and moved to the board, but stopped and looked at Casper. “Do you mind?”
“Not at all.”
She erased the profile highlights and began to write.
Casper sat on his desk and watched. The kid was completely focused as she wrote.
Morgan was rearranging the photos when Cavanaugh approached. He lightly smacked Casper’s shoulder. “What the hell is going on?”
“I’m not sure.”
“What is she doing with that case file?”
“I gave it to her to look at.”
Cavanaugh gave Casper a look that clearly indicated he wasn’t pleased. However, neither man interrupted Morgan as she continued.
Finally Morgan finished. She turned to Casper and the man standing next to his desk. “You have more than ten victims. There are two missing from this group. And there will be another in two days. He’s killing every nine days.”
“How do you figure every nine days?” Casper asked.
“The photos were up in the order of discovery. Correlating the information from the autopsies and the position of each body tells us the order he actually killed in.”
“Position of each body?” asked Cavanaugh.
“Look at the photos.”
Both men stared at the photos, but didn’t see to what she was referring.
“Here, maybe this will help.” Morgan moved the photos so they were directly next to each other, illustrating how the hands of victims matched up from one photo to the next, as if they were holding hands. She left two gaps where the ‘missing’ victims belonged in the chain. “These two are the ones that are missing. And they explain why almost three weeks passed between the killings here, and here. So there are actually 12 murders so far. As for his motivation, these are hate crimes with religious undertones.”
“His message is in the crime scene addresses.” She underlined the first letter of each street name; then wrote them in order with the appropriate gaps.
Rancho Vista Cir
H O M S B U R I N H
“I still don’t get it,” said Cavanaugh.
“If you fill in the gaps and finish the sequence...”
H O M O S B U R N I N H E L L
“And nine is the biblical number of judgment. There are nine Greek words derived from the root word meaning judgment = dikay. The words abussos – bottomless pit; asebee – ungodly; aselgeia – lasciviousness; and astrapee – lightning, each occur nine times in the Bible. And according to 1st Corinthians 12:8-10 the gifts of the spirit are nine in number: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. The killer is passing judgment on gay men.”
Both men were silent as they took in what had been laid out for them.
Finally Cavanaugh spoke. “There’s nothing in the file that says all the victims were gay.”
“Some clearly were. And many people are in the closet. But if you dig deep enough, I’d bet you find all of them were gay.”
“How do you know that stuff about the bible and the number nine?”
“I have a degree in Theology and Religious Studies.”
There was a very long moment of silence. Finally Cavanaugh reached a decision.
“Casper, get this info to the New York office.”
“On it,” he replied with a knowing smile.
“Come with me, Agent Morgan.”
AD Sharkey returned to the VCU bullpen after a meeting with the Deputy Director. He took note of the new agent in one of the small conference rooms. She was reviewing unit orientation material. He stopped at Cavanaugh’s desk.
“So, what do you think?” he asked with a nod towards the glass-walled conference room.
“She’s smart, I’ll give her that.”
“But she’s still a rookie with absolutely no experience. No one’s going to be willing to partner with her.”
Sharkey and Cavanaugh both looked Casper.
“You’ve paid your dues, John. You don’t have to do that,” said Cavanaugh. “Reggie Purdue from the BAU will be joining the unit next week. I was going to partner him with you.”
“You don’t understand; I want Morgan.”
Casper grinned. “I like her. I think she’ll be a good partner.” He chuckled. “And she’s even better than Spooky Mulder.”
“What do you mean?” Sharkey asked.
John told him about the New York case.
Sharkey grinned, “And that’s why I fought to get her.”
Cavanaugh kind of growled. “She got lucky. And given a choice, I’d take Spooky over her; he’s at least had some experience.”
“Well you don’t have a choice,” Sharkey replied. He turned to Casper. “You got it, John. She’s your partner.”
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