"I saw the whole thing on the television. How awful,
Spencer! Those people killed in the bank, and then that you knew the officer
that was kidnapped! I'm so glad to hear that he's all right."
Reid hadn't told her about the threat to Henry. He couldn't quite bring himself to think about it himself, let alone talk about it.
"He'll be fine, but only because of the vest. The bullet still got him, but it didn't hit anything vital. It looked like he'd already dumped the sling. But I guess he didn't want to get married looking like that.
"Yeah, he and JJ got married last night" Maeve couldn't help but notice the long pause after that, almost as though Reid had said it to himself, and was trying to process it.
"JJ, she's the one you're especially close with, right? Henry's mother?" By now, Maeve had heard all about Henry. But she'd long suspected she hadn't heard everything there was to hear about JJ.
"Yeah, she's Henry's mom." Not answering the question about how close they were. "They decided to get married right after it was all over. He proposed to her in the hospital."
"Ah, a 'mercy wedding'." Maeve was joking, Reid could hear it in her voice. But he took the words seriously. They jived with what he'd thought.
"Do you really think so?" Now Maeve could hear the concern in his voice.
"No, Spencer, I was joking. I don't have an opinion. I've never met them, only through you." Pause. "But I can hear that you might be concerned about it."
He hesitated to say it aloud. Until now, it had only been an internal conversation.
"I guess I am. I mean, they've been together for four years, and living together for most of that time, so I guess it makes sense. But then, there's that. They've been together all that time, and she didn't want to marry him before. So why now? I'm just worried that she was reacting to her fear that day, and not paying attention to whatever it was that's kept her from marrying him up to now. I don't know, It's just that marriage is a pretty life changing thing, isn't it?"
Now there was a long silence on the other end of the line. Reid wouldn't understand until much, much later what might have caused it.
Then, a quiet voice. "Yes, the decision to get married is pretty life changing. I'd imagine."
Maeve decided to change the subject. "Was Henry there?"
"Oh, Maeve, you should have seen him. My little man is so smart!" And he proceeded to tell her all about the magic trick, and Henry's understanding. She smiled to hear how excited he was about a child's simple breakthrough.
"You love learning, don't you, Spencer? No matter who's doing the learning?"
"I love Henry."
It was a simple statement, declarative, honest and true. The kind he'd made so often, about so many things. The kind of statement that was, gradually drawing her to feel closer to him, to want to be closer to him. Over their several months of sharing, Maeve had gradually found herself thinking about the day she would meet Reid. The day she could see for herself this man who had such great love for a little boy who wasn't his own. Now, each time they spoke, that desire to meet became stronger and stronger. And yet, there was the danger...
Not realizing she was reacting, Reid changed the subject, and brought them to a discussion of their favorite sleuth and the most recent adventure they were reading in common. Reid found Maeve's insights into human nature to be remarkable, and he enjoyed her analyses of the cases.
Wishing the modern pay phone came with a built-in seat, Reid spent the next forty minutes in lively conversation with the person he was increasingly thinking of as his soul mate.
On Thursday, they were called out to a case. JJ had returned the day prior, having celebrated only a brief, two day honeymoon.
"JJ, you're back? Already?" Reid had thought she'd be out at least a week.
"Will wants us to go to New Orleans, so I'm saving up my time. This was just a 'post-wedding vacation', and New Orleans will be the honeymoon."
"Well, it's good to have you back. And congratulations, again."
"Thanks, Spence. Oh, and thanks for taking care of Henry that night. He was so cute, wasn't he?"
Reid realized he'd never told JJ about Henry and the rings and the magic trick. Now that he did so, she laughed at his excitement about it.
"You know, Spence, sometimes I think you get more worked up about Henry growing up than I do." She saw that he didn't know how to take that, so she added, as she placed a hand on his arm, "and I think it's great."
He was reassured. "Well, he's a smart kid, JJ. He picks things up so quickly."
She grinned at him. "Takes after his godfather, right?"
He returned the grin.
After they'd taken their seats in the round table room, Garcia began the case presentation.
"What we have here, crime fighters, is a mystery. A genuine, Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys type mystery."
She flicked the remote and several photos came up on the smartboard. The first was a photo of a woman's face, seemingly taken from some type of ID.
"This is Elaine Morton, age 32. Or, rather, it was Elaine Morton. Her decapitated body was found in a dumpster outside Springfield, Missouri."
"If she was decapitated, how was she identified?" Morgan asked the obvious question.
"Ah, because her most identifying feature….to wit, her head…was delivered to a Mr. Robert Causman."
Rossi moved the presentation along. "And who is Mr. Causman to the victim, Garcia?"
"No relationship, at least none that the Springfield PD can tell."
"So, again, how was she identified?"
"By the delivery man. Or, more exactly, by the delivery service. She paid to have her head delivered to Mr. Causman."
That brought looks all around the table.
Emily, about to embark on her last away case with the team, remarked, "This is a little more gruesome than any Nancy Drew story I remember."
Morgan snorted. "Yeah, Frank and Joe always seemed a little more into 'who stole money jar' than anything like this." The rest all joined him in chuckling. All except Reid, who'd never heard of any of the referenced fictional characters.
"Garcia?" Hotch tried to bring all of them back to the subject at hand.
"The delivery service had an invoice for a shipment ordered by Elaine Morton two days before the delivery. The box was picked up at her address and then delivered to Mr. Causman"
"And we've got absolutely no relationship between the two." Reid wanted clarification.
"None that Springfield PD has been able to turn up."
"How did she order the delivery, Garcia? If she did order it? Was it on line?" JJ inquired.
"On line, yes. Traced back to an IP address that corresponds to her laptop."
"Can we assume they've been to her house?" Morgan was hoping the Springfield PD had covered all the obvious angles.
"They've been to her house, no sign of forced entry, no sign of trauma, no laptop."
Rossi had a question. "This may be obvious to everyone else in the room but me, but can they tell where the laptop was when she made the order? If it was her who made the order?"
"Excellent, Rossi! You're beginning to catch on to the modern era! So, yes, they can tell, and no, it wasn't from her home network. It was from the wifi at the local coffee shop."
Emily was surprised. "So the unsub had this woman with him at a coffee shop, and forced her into requesting a delivery of her own head?"
Reid interjected, ever the voice of logic. "We don't actually know that it was Elaine Horton making the arrangement on line. And, even if it was, it could be that she simply requested that a package be picked up and delivered, without knowing what would be in the package."
Several of them cringed at the thought of a woman unknowingly ordering a pick up and delivery of her own head. Garcia had more information for them.
"The on line order was made at 2:45 AM. The coffee shop is a late operator, but it closes at midnight."
Morgan wanted to be sure. "So they either broke in or….could the signal penetrate to the outside? Could they have used the coffee shop wifi from outside the store?"
"Absolutely." Garcia was emphatic.
JJ was curious. "Where did she….or the unsub….arrange for the pickup to be made?"
"From her front porch."
Emily whistled. "Whoa, so the unsub forces her to order the delivery….or he orders the delivery…or she orders the delivery without realizing what it was for…..and then the unsub decapitates her, and then brings the head back to the porch?"
'Precisely. Or not. We simply don't know." Garcia shrugged.
Rossi wanted to pursue a practical aspect of the case. "Do we know what kind of implement was used to sever the head?"
"Ewww, why do we always have to get to this part?" Garcia shivered. "It was a hack job, according to the ME. Something really rough, like an axe. With multiple strokes."
"So nothing surgical, nothing precise." Reid observed.
"Sounds like our unsub is a hybrid. Disorganized enough to get into a frenzy with decapitation, but organized enough to plan a pretty bizarre scenario." Morgan was laying out some of the details that would prove to be most mystifying, and frustrating, in solving the case.
Hotch had been on his cell for much of this conversation, already being familiar with the details. Now he closed the phone and addressed the team.
"Springfield PD has a second head, no body yet. Whether he's organized or disorganized, we've got a serial. Wheels up in thirty."
The circumstances surrounding the second severed head seemed to be similar to the first. This time, the head of Marta Leon was delivered to Jasper Ruiz, ostensibly at the behest of Ms. Leon. Her delivery order had also been place on line, this time from a location in or near the public library, at an hour when said library was closed. Her laptop, and her body, were missing.
Morgan spoke with Penelope via their computer link, as the others on the plane listened. "Garcia, Baby, Girl, what have you got for us? Anything under any of those identities?"
"Of course, my liege. But nothing that connects any of them. Elaine Morton was a legal secretary for a two man law firm, twice divorced, no kids that I can find. Our newer victim, Marta Leon, was twenty-six, and a paraprofessional in an elementary school. She was never married, but did have an eight year old daughter. She's being looked after by her grandmother now."
"Did they live together, Garcia?" Reid was asking.
"No, Marta had an apartment with her daughter. Her mother lives in the next town."
"And how about Elaine Morton, did she live alone?" Emily was continuing the train of thought.
"She owned a home about six miles away from Marta Leon's apartment. Bought it after her most recent divorce."
They could hear Garcia typing on her computer as she spoke. "And before you ask, I'm still looking into all of the men involved. The two 'gift' recipients, as well as Elaine Morton's exes. I should have contact information by the time you land."
Reid wanted more. "Garcia, can you send me addresses? I need them for each victim, recipient, workplace, the sites where the orders were placed….anything you can get."
"Will do, Boy Genius. You'll be able to plot away to your heart's content as soon as you land."
"Thanks, Garcia." Reid was always polite.
As she returned from making a cup of tea, JJ noticed Reid. He had a book open on his lap, as per his usual. But he wasn't looking at it. Instead, he was staring out the window of the plane, a faraway look in his eyes. And maybe something else.
She plopped herself down in the seat next to him.
"A penny for your thoughts. What were you daydreaming about?"
She was caught off guard by his reaction, which was almost panicked. "Nothing. I wasn't daydreaming, I was reading."
He couldn't have explained why, but he knew he wasn't ready to share Maeve with anyone. Not even his best friend.
JJ just looked at him, a bemused smile on her face. "Of course you were."
She sat back and drank her tea, letting him pretend to look at his book. Something's up with you, Spence. And if I didn't know better, I'd guess it's a 'someone'.
Out of the corner of his eye, Reid could see JJ smiling to herself. He couldn't hear what she was thinking.
Can it be? Can Spence have a girlfriend? In truth, and despite her newly married status, she wasn't all that surprised when the thought raised a pang of jealousy.