Okay, here's my July 4th present to everyone... the next part of Snapshots. :-)
Title: Snapshots: A Brief History of a Life Less Ordinary
Word Count: ~20,500
Please see first part for disclaimer/summary/notes.
July 4th, 1987
“Jessica! Over here.”
Morgan waved at Casper and joined him at the picnic table. “Hey, John.”
“Jessica, I want you to meet my wife, Jennie. Jennie, this is my new partner Jessica Morgan.”
The women shook hands.
“Jessica, I’ve heard so much about you,” said Jennifer Casper.
She smiled. “It’s nice to meet you, Jennie.”
“You hungry?” John asked.
“I’ll get you both some food. Be right back.” John left.
“John never told me how beautiful you are.”
Jessica didn’t miss the tone of Jennifer’s voice. She suppressed a half smirk. “I appreciate the compliment... but I’ll let you in on something – John is not my type.”
The blonde arched an eyebrow. “Oh?”
Her smirk bloomed. “I’m gay, Jennie.”
Blue eyes widened in comprehension.
Jessica’s smirk softened into a smile. “Besides, I may have been John’s partner for less than three weeks, but I can assure you he’s head over heels in love with you. Even if I was interested, he definitely wouldn’t be.”
“Can I ask... How old are you?”
“But John said you had a couple of PhDs.”
“I do. Look, I understand how you feel, Jennie. You’re husband is in a potentially dangerous job and has to rely on me, as his partner, to have his back. And you know partners tend to form close relationships because of that reliance. I give you my word that I will do everything in my power to ensure John comes home to you each night.”
Jennie blushed slightly and dropped her eyes. “I’m sorry. I just...”
“So, everyone ready to eat?” John asked as he returned with plates full of food.
The brunette nudged the man tending the BBQ. “Who’s the newbie?”
He glanced in the direction Jeffers was looking... then rolled his eyes. “That’s Casper’s new partner,
Jessica Morgan.” He paused. “Don’t even think about it, Toni.”
She looked at him as if insulted. “Come on, Sharkey, give me a little credit – she’s looks awfully young.”
“She is. She’s just a kid.”
“Besides, I’m seeing someone – Chris Talley, in Records.”
“I thought you were dating Jim Glass in White Collar.”
Jeffers let a quiet huff of amusement. “That was last month. I like Chris, she’s sweet.”
“You like all of them... for a while.”
She gave a one-shoulder shrug. “What can I say? I’ve never found the right one. Not all of us are as lucky as Casper.”
“Yeah. And God knows the job doesn’t exactly make it easy.”
Jessica burst through the doors. She rushed up to the nurse’s station. “I’m Jessica Morgan. I’m here for Jennie Casper. Where is she?!”
A nurse came out from behind the counter and grabbed her arm. “This way.”
Jennie cried out just Jessica entered the room. “AHHHHH!”
The brunette ran the to the blonde’s bedside and grabbed her hand, letting her squeeze it. “I’m right here, Jennie.”
The blonde looked up at her husband’s partner. “Where’s John?”
“He’s still in court. As soon as he’s done testifying, he’ll be here. I promise.”
“Well, unless he gets here soon, this is going to happen without him,” said the doctor. “This baby is ready to be born. We’re going to move you into the delivery room, Jennie.”
Jennie squeezed even harder on Jessica’s hand. “Don’t leave me, Jessica!” she pleaded.
“Of course not. I’ll be with you all the way,” she said as she brushed some hair from her forehead.
“If you’re going with us, you need to change. Show her where,” the doctor ordered a nurse. “You can meet us in the delivery room.”
Jennie refused to let go of her hand. “Don’t go!”
“It’ll be alright. I’ll be right with you as soon as I change. I promise.” Jessica dropped a kiss on a sweaty brow and left with the nurse.
Jessica was given a set a scrubs to change into. Before heading to the delivery room, she tried her partner’s phone one more time. Still no answer. She’d already left a number of messages, so she hung up and rushed to the delivery room.
John arrived at the hospital in record time. When he arrived at his wife’s room he stopped in the doorway and smiled. Jennie was asleep, and his partner was sitting in a chair next to the bed, looking worn out.
Jessica opened her eyes and saw John standing into the doorway. She smiled. “Hey, Daddy,” she said softly. Following his gaze to his wife, she said, “She’s fine, John, just worn out.” Jessica stood up and stretched. “Have a seat and I’ll let them know you’re here.”
John sat in the chair next to his wife’s bed and took her hand in his own. A few short minutes later, Jessica returned, followed by a nurse – with a small bundle in her arms. His heart skipped a couple beats as the nurse placed his son in his arms.
“Hey, buddy. How’s my boy?” John softly said with wonder in his voice.
He looked to see his wife’s bright blue eyes. John stood, kissed his wife, and sat back down with his precious burden. “Hey, honey.”
She smiled tiredly. “He’s beautiful.”
“Yes he is, just like his mother.”
Jessica moved to the side of Jennie’s bed. “I’m going to go now.”
Jennifer grabbed the brunette’s hand. “Thank you, so much, Jessica.”
“You’re more than welcome,” she replied with a soft smile. She leaned down and they kissed each other’s cheek. Jessica then turned to her partner. “Congratulations, John. Enjoy your leave.” She kissed him on the cheek as well.
“Thanks, Jessica. Keep out of trouble until I get back.”
Purdue slapped him on the back. “Welcome to the VCU, Mulder. Now you’ll finally get to work in the field, instead of being cooped up at the BSU.”
“Come on, I’ll introduce you to the section.”
Reggie introduced Mulder to the other agents in their section that were present.
Later, at lunch, Mulder elbowed Purdue and gestured toward the woman who’d entered the cafeteria. “Who’s that?”
“Special Agent Toni Jeffers. She’s in Beck’s section.”
“You mean she’s in the VCU? Nice.” He grinned like a fool. “There are definitely some perks to being in Violent Crimes compared to Behavioral Science.”
Reggie shook his head. “Down, boy. She doesn’t take shit from anyone – she’d likely throw your scrawny ass across the room if you tried anything. She’s the VCU’s top marksman, too.”
“But she is definitely my type – tall, leggy, sexy...”
After lunch they returned to the unit.
“Hey, Reggie!” called out a young woman. She approached and handed Purdue a file. “Here’s that workup you wanted on the Diekmann case. Oh, and I’ve set up the time to interview Wilson. I’m heading to the prison to see him in a couple hours.”
“Thanks a lot, Jessica. No one’s been able to get Wilson to crack; I appreciate your help.”
“No problem,” she replied with a smile.
“Oh, Jessica, I’d like you to meet Special Agent Fox ‘Spooky’ Mulder. Mulder, this is Special Agent Jessica Morgan.”
They shook hands.
“It’s nice to meet you, Agent Mulder. I’ve heard a lot about you. Welcome to the VCU.”
Morgan retreated to her desk.
“So that’s the Freak, huh?”
“Be nice, Mulder. Jessica’s a good agent, and an outstanding profiler and interrogator.”
“Well, I’d still like to know who the hell she slept with to get assigned to the VCU right out of the academy,” he sniped petulantly.
“You know, you two have quite a bit in common. You both have a PhD in Psychology, you both joined the FBI right out of Oxford, and you’re both excellent profilers. I would think with so much in common you’d become friends.”
Mulder didn’t reply to Reggie’s observation.
“He’s an organized killer,” declared Mulder.
Jessica frowned. “No, he isn’t. At least not totally. Some of the crime scenes show distinct signs of disorganization. We have to classify him as mixed.”
Violently shoving files off the table, Mulder stood. “You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!”
“Mulder! Calm down!” barked Purdue. “We’ve been working on this case for weeks, and we’re no closer to catching this guy than we were when we started.”
“I’m right about this guy! He’s meticulous.”
“Yes, he is. However, he doesn’t always use a murder kit; sometimes he’ll use whatever objects he finds at the scene as props and weapons. Sometimes he kills brutally; sometimes he kills quickly. Sometimes he poses the body; sometimes he doesn’t. He kills men and women. He’s not consistent,” Jessica continued.
“Because he’s organized!”
“No,” she said shaking her head. “He leaves messages because he wants the bodies found. He’s proud of his work and wants to show it off.”
“The messages are meaningless, a red herring.”
“Everything he does means something. The way he kills, the messages he leaves, the victims he chooses, how he ties his shoes, how he combs his hair. Everything has meaning! He’s extremely ritualistic.”
“He changes his M.O. to throw us off the trail!”
“Alright! That’s enough!” barked Section Chief Beck. “I specifically asked Cavanaugh for your assistance on this case because of each of your success rates in profiling the tough cases, not to listen to you bicker! Now get your act together and come up with a workable profile on this guy.” With that, Beck called an end to the meeting.
Jessica just sat at the table as everyone else filed out of the room. She felt a hand on her shoulder. The young woman looked up into the face of Agent Jeffers.
“Look, Morgan, don’t let them get to you. You’re good at what you do. I’ve heard nothing but the very best about you from everyone who’s worked with you.”
The young agent let out a rueful huff. “Yeah, that’s why they call me the Freak.”
Jeffers sat down next to her. “Hey, that is not meant as a dig. In their own way they’re complimenting you. It’s because they don’t understand. What you do, and do so well, is get into the minds of the suspects in a way they can’t comprehend. You have a real talent. And believe me, there are a lot of worse things they could call you. Trust me, I know.” Jeffers’ tone made it clear she’d been called worse.
Jessica looked the older agent. “But everyone respects you, Agent Jeffers. Everyone knows you’re a good agent.”
The older woman sighed wistfully. “That has taken a number of years. The FBI is, in many ways, still very much an old boys club. Women are still a minority – especially in the field. Fortunately, most of the men here in the VCU really are decent, and accept us based on our abilities. But even so, the testosterone can get a little thick around here,” she said with a smirk, and received a smile in return. “Listen, if things get to you, or you just want to talk, call me.” She handed one of her cards to the young agent.
“Thank you, Agent Jeffers.”
Jeffers stood. “You’re welcome, but only if you call me Toni.”
Morgan found herself smiling widely. “Alright. Thank you, Toni. And it’s Jessica.”
“Take care, Jessica,” the older agent said on her way out of the conference room.
Morgan felt flattered that the senior agent took the time to reach out to her. She was the only female agent in her section. And while John Casper was a very supportive partner and she loved him like a brother, it felt good to connect with another female agent – especially one as good as Jeffers.
May 26th, 1988
Jessica wasn’t happy. She sat at her desk, glaring at the file laid out in front of her. John walked up and looked over her shoulder.
“What are you doing with that file? I thought you already presented your latest analysis.”
“I did.” She paused. “For all the good it did.”
John sat on the edge of her desk. “What happened?”
Jessica leaned back in her chair and tossed her pen onto her desk. “They’re not giving Croskey enough credit. He’s consistently been three steps ahead of us. If we don’t change our tactics, we’re not going to catch him.”
“So what do you want to do?”
She let out a sigh. “Try to figure out his next move before he makes it.”
May 27th, 1988
It was early morning. So early that the office was practically deserted. John and Jessica had worked through the night, digging through case files and notes, researching online, and trying to figure out Croskey’s next move.
Finally, Jessica tapped her computer screen. “John! I think this might be it.”
He rolled his chair around the desks and next to his partner. “What have you got?”
“This. Croskey is always thinking and planning.”
“I thought you said he was disorganized.”
“No, I said he was mixed. Some of his crime scenes show definite signs of disorganization and explosive anger. But, he is also very ritualistic. And part of his ritual, I believe, is to have his next scene set up and ready to go, and have his next victim picked out before he finishes with the one he already has. He took his latest victim four days ago.”
“So, going by his history, Croskey will probably kill him within the next two to three days, if he hasn’t already.”
Jessica nodded. “And if the Bureau’s history repeats, we won’t find the body for a couple days beyond that. Unless...”
“Unless instead of playing catch up and trying to find where he is, we focus on where he’s going to be.”
“What are you two doing here so early?” Cavanaugh’s voice startled the two agents.
“Working on the Croskey case,” Casper answered.
Cavanaugh frowned. “You’re not assigned to that case.” He pinned Jessica with a hard look. “And you were only on loan to Beck’s section. You’ve been released from that case.”
“But Reggie and Mulder are still working it,” Jessica replied.
“Look, I know you don’t see eye to eye with Mulder on the profile. But Beck made his call; he’s not convinced your analysis is the right one,” Cavanaugh said, not unkindly.
“Oh, come on, Lou! You know Jessica is better than anyone in the unit at getting into the heads of these guys.”
“Agent Mulder is also a good profiler. His track record proves it.”
“Lou, we’re not going to catch this guy playing catch up. By the time we figure out where he is, he’s already moved on. We need to figure out where he going to be.” Jessica paused for a beat. “And I think I have an idea about that.”
Section Chief Lou Cavanaugh had initially been very skeptical about Morgan being assigned to the unit. However, since she’d joined the VCU, she had yet to be off the mark. And Lou was not a stupid man. He pulled up a chair and sat down. “Okay, tell me what you’re thinking.”
Jessica went over her research and conclusions with Cavanaugh. “I’m telling you, Lou, we’ll never catch him focusing on where he is.”
“I get what you’re saying, Jessica. But we can’t just write off his latest victim. We have to try to find him.”
“Of course we do; we should never write off a victim. And you know Beck has his people doing everything they can to find him and Croskey. But what does it hurt to follow up on Jessica’s theory?” John asked.
“It’s not our case, and Sharkey won’t abide us interfering with the investigation.”
“Who’s interfering? We’d just be checking out a few empty locations; simply scouting out possible leads about where Croskey might go next,” John rebutted. “We’ll stay completely away from the active investigation.”
Lou shook his head and sighed. “Alright. You can check out the locations that fit your theory. But do not do anything. Simply observe and report back to me what you find.”
Casper jumped up with a smile on his face and patted his partner’s shoulder. “Come on, let’s go, Jessica. Let’s grab some breakfast first.”
“Hey, Jennie.” They hugged quickly. “Don’t be too mad at John, it’s my fault we worked all night.”
“No it’s not,” the blonde replied with a smirk. “No one has ever made John do something he didn’t want to.” She kissed her husband as they hugged.
“Sorry, Jen. But we got caught up in a case.”
“Have you had breakfast, Jessica?”
“Then come into the kitchen. It’s just as easy to cook for three as it is two.”
“Let me help.”
“No, just relax. Besides, I’m sure you two aren’t done talking about whatever case had you working all night.”
As John and Jessica sat at the kitchen table talking about their plans for the day, Jennifer Casper started cooking breakfast. Suddenly 12-week-old Jeremy voiced his displeasure about something.
Jessica jumped up. “Let me get him,” she said with a smile.
“I’ve already fed him, so he probably needs a changing,” the blonde called after her.
After she changed the baby, she returned to the kitchen with him in her arms.
“So, do you think you’ll want any of your own?” Jennie asked with a smile as she set their food on the table.
Jessica smiled. “I don’t know. Maybe.” Her smile widened as she looked up. “Probably. But I’d have to find the right woman to settle down with first.”
Jennie smiled. “Well, you’re still young. You have plenty of time.”
“Oh, I know. I’m not in any hurry.”
After breakfast with Jennie and Jeremy, John and Jessica headed out. They had checked out six of the seven possible locations.
“After we check this next place out, I’m going to go home and sleep!” John said.
“Yeah. Sleep does sound real good right now. At least it’s Friday. You got any special plans this weekend?”
“Nope. Just spending some time with my wife and son,” he replied with a big smile.
She returned his smile. “You know, I hope I find someone that loves me as much you do Jennie.”
“I’m sure you will, Jessica. You’re a hell of a catch.”
She blushed and looked at the road sign they were passing. “You should take the next left.”
Even though they were tired, they carefully moved around the remote building, looking for signs of recent occupancy or use. They met back up at the side door.
“I don’t see anything, Jessica.”
“I don’t either.”
She shrugged and shook her head. “It was just a theory.”
“It was still worth checking out.”
“Well, let’s get out of here; my bed is calling me.” She turned and started back to the car.
Casper rubbed the back of his neck, hesitating.
Jessica was more than halfway back to the car before she stopped and turned back. “What?”
Suddenly John withdrew his weapon and rammed his shoulder into the locked door. Once, twice. It gave, wood splintering. Jessica ran after her partner as he disappeared into the dark interior. She heard him cry out before she reached the doorway.
“John!” She found him at the end of the corridor. He was on the floor clutching his thigh.
“Be careful... booby trap...” he ground out between clenched teeth.
Jessica gasped at the expanding pool of blood. It was a lot of blood – too much blood. She ripped open the slice in his pant leg and saw the telltale spurt of arterial blood. His femoral artery had been compromised. “Bugger!” She applied pressure, causing him to cry out again in pain. “Take off your belt,” she ordered.
His own blood-slick hands fumbled with the buckle, but he managed to remove his belt. She wrapped the belt around his thigh, pulled it as tight as possible and twisted it. She told him to hold the makeshift tourniquet in place as she pulled her phone out and called for an ambulance and backup.
“Are you barmy?! What the bloody hell made you break in the door?!” she demanded.
If he hadn’t been in pain and suffering from blood loss, he would have been amused by Jessica’s light British accent resurfacing – something that happened when she was stressed. “I heard something... a woman scream...” He looked up at her in the darkness. “I think he’s here, Jessica.” Then he passed out... letting go of the tourniquet.
She grabbed the webbed belt and twisted it, again cutting off the blood flow. Then she heard something from somewhere further in the interior of the building. “Fuck.” She couldn’t let go of the tourniquet because John would bleed to death, but there was a woman screaming for help.
“Go... help her...”
She looked up at his whisper to see him pass out once again. She came to a decision. She released the belt just long enough to tie it in place. She then slipped her arms under her partner and carried him outside where the EMTs could find him. With weapon in hand, Jessica re-entered the building.
When the call had come in that Casper and Morgan were in trouble Cavanaugh raced to the scene. He was appalled by the amount of blood found inside the abandoned house. Especially in the kitchen. Lou had been to countless crime scenes during his career, seen the worst that mankind had to offer; but he had to retreat back outside before he lost the contents of his stomach.
Police and agents milled around, not really knowing what to say or how to take in what they’d seen. Lou approached the ambulance. The young woman was sitting in the back of it, being cared for by the paramedic.
“Miss? Can you tell me your name?”
She stared back, eyes glassy.
“What’s your name?” he asked gently.
The paramedic handed him a driver’s license when she didn’t respond. Her name was Erica Towne.
“Erica. That’s a pretty name. My name is Lou, Erica. I’m an agent with the FBI. Can you tell me what happened?”
She still didn’t respond.
“I’m afraid she’s in shock, Agent.”
Lou nodded and turned away.
“She saved me.” It was barely a whisper.
Lou turned back to Erica. Her eyes were still glassy; she still wasn’t all there.
“He butchered her...”
Previous parts: Prologue | Part 2 | Part 3 |