Transitions

Chapter 5

They were to start the day with a full task force meeting. Before that, the BAU team wanted to hear the 911 tapes from the two men who'd received the packages containing the severed heads.

"911, what is your emergency?"

"I need the police, immediately." The voice was tense, tight. This was the call from Robert Causman.

"Are you in danger, sir?"

"No. Yes. Maybe, I don't know. I just opened a package and there's a human head inside it. I need the police."

"They're on their way, sir. Are you sure you're safe?"

"Yes…..yes, I think we are. Thank you." And he ended the call from his end.

Hotch looked around at his team. "Thoughts?"

Emily started. "Sounds pretty controlled, considering."

"And directive, " observed Morgan. "He basically gave an order, didn't he?"

"What do you mean?" JJ was curious.

"I mean, he didn't start off with saying anything about the head. He demanded the police. Twice."

JJ wasn't sure it meant anything. "But couldn't he just have been saying he needed the police instead of an ambulance?"

"I don't know, JJ, I think Morgan might be right." Reid was joining the conversation. "I think most people would have been too panicked. They would have started right in with shouting about the head. And, think of it, the 911 operator even asks 'what is your emergency', but that's not what he responds to."

Rossi had been holding back, listening. Now he felt a need to comment.

"It could just be his personality. According to Detective Brenner, he's a take-charge kind of guy. Maybe also a demanding taxpayer, feeling a right to give orders."

Looking towards his old friend, he added, "You interviewed him yesterday, Aaron. What was your impression?"

Hotch was considered in his response. "He did come across as arrogant, and he tried to be demanding."

There were stolen glances all around the table at that. The rest of the team had no doubt that Causman had been 'out-arroganted' by Aaron Hotchner, and they didn't have to ask to be certain that his demands had not been met by their unit chief.

Rossi moved them along. "Maybe we should hear the other recording now."

This one started similarly, but then diverged.

"911, what is your emergency?"

"Oh, my God, oh my God!"

"Sir, what is your emergency?"

"It's a head! It's a woman's head!" Then, with less volume, as though his mouth had been turned away, they heard, "No, Paulie, don't come in here. Go play outside."

"Sir?"

They could hear several deep breaths, as though the caller was trying to calm himself.

"I came home from work, and there was a package. I opened it and, oh my God, there's a head! A woman's head!"

"There's a woman's head in a package? A human head, sir? A person has been killed?"

"She's dead, her head is in a box! Please help me. What if my son had opened it? Oh my God!"

"The police are on their way, sir. Are you safe? Is your son safe? Is there anyone else in the house with you?"

"Anyone else…?!" They could hear the caller pacing, now checking the house.

"No, there's …Paulie, I told you to stay outside!"

"Sir?"

"I see them, the police are here now. I see them."

"Sir, I'll leave you in their hands then. Goodbye."

"Goodbye." Pause. "Thank you, thank you."

Hotch looked around at his team, and Emily started them off again.

"A lot more like what I'd expect in the circumstance."

JJ noticed, "He's pretty protective of his son."

Reid agreed. "He even searched the house on his own. Most people would have gotten out and waited for the police."

JJ observed wryly, "That's a parent for you."

Morgan contributed, "He was definitely more panicked than Causman. Frightened by the whole situation, I think, and not just because of his son."

Rossi made an astute observation. "He also identified the head as belonging to a woman. That personalized it more than Causman did. Causman only called it a 'human head'."

"And Ruiz stayed on the line until the police arrived. I think most people would have done that. Causman ended the call himself. According to the records, it was another full minute and a half before the cops got there." Morgan was citing more of the facts that supported Ruiz' increased sense of panic.

"So we have some significant behavioral differences between the two recipients to go along with their differences in social status and personal circumstances. Where does that bring us?" Hotch was posing this question back to the team.

Reid always liked to think aloud, sometimes to the annoyance of his colleagues. But this time it helped them start to sort things through.

"It's more where it doesn't bring us, at least at this point. There are too many questions. Is one of these men the unsub, and if so, is he on a killing spree? Or did he kill one woman for a specific reason, and the second as a distraction?"

That made JJ voice one of their concerns. "If it's an unsub on a killing spree, he's got a very short interval. We could be hearing about another severed head as soon as today."

"Right." Morgan took it next. "But if the unsub is one of our package recipients, and if he targeted the woman, we should be able to find some kind of connection between them. I'll check in with Garcia before we meet with the task force."

Reid was still thinking. "Morgan, have her cross check them. It could be the unsub was actually targeting the woman whose head was delivered to the other man. Forensic countermeasure, " he added, unnecessarily.

Emily knew it could be still more complicated. "Or is there another unsub who targeted either these women, or these men, or, somehow all four of them?"

"Well, if it's a targeted crime, and more than one of these people was targeted, we should be able to find some connection between them. But if it's a fetish crime, or a compulsion, and they're seemingly random targets, we'll have to hope something else breaks for us." Rossi had been here before, often, and it always frustrated him.

Reid and Hotch were to revisit the two men's homes today, while Rossi and Morgan covered their workplaces. JJ and Emily would go to the workplaces of the two women.

"Hotch, before we go out to the homes, do you think we could take a look at the packages?" Reid was suggesting a diversion to the crime lab. He wanted to lay his own eyes on something the unsub had touched.

Hotch nodded once. "We'll go right after we set up with the task force. Everyone, we'll reconvene at noon, here or by phone. Good luck."

"And good hunting," added Rossi.


Warily, because she didn't want to cause any discord, Emily decided to approach JJ as they traveled to the legal office where Elaine Morton had been employed. She looked over to her colleague from the passenger seat.

"JJ? Is everything all right?"

The blonde stole a glance sideways. "All right? What do you mean?"

"Well….between you and Will. You know, last night, when you made that remark about him 'owning' you."

JJ heaved a huge sigh. "You weren't supposed to hear that. I was just venting."

"Venting? Is it something you want to talk about?"

JJ turned sideways again, then back to the road. "It's nothing. Really. Thanks, Emily, but I think it will be okay."

Emily Prentiss had become everyone's sounding board. She was never one to probe, but always provided an excellent opportunity for reflection. It was probably why so many of her colleagues confided in her. She wouldn't probe this time either. But that wouldn't stop her from offering an observation.

"Sometimes it's easy to misinterpret a text, isn't it? Like an e-mail. There's no inflection, no tone of voice, so you never really know what it means."

JJ harrumphed. "Some texts don't require an inflection." Then, realizing she'd already started the conversation, she conceded with a small smile at her friend.

"He was texting me all through dinner. Obviously you saw that. And every last one of them was about something I was missing with Henry by being away, or how Henry was asking for me. He's trying to make me feel guilty, and he feels like he has the right, because, as he says, "You're my wife now." As if that changes everything."

"Doesn't sound new. He's been unhappy about your being with the BAU, and especially the traveling, for a long time, hasn't he?"

"Since I got pregnant with Henry. He wanted me to stay out of the field. We argued about it a lot. And then he was ecstatic when I was at the Pentagon. But I wasn't. When I came back to the BAU, the arguing got worse again."

Emily's antennae were up. "Got worse? You were still arguing when you were at the Pentagon?"

JJ was dismissive. "All couples argue, I didn't think much of it. It was mostly about normal stuff. The only times I got really upset with him were the nights we were supposed to get together. Remember, the team was having dinner? All but one of those times he had to work late and I couldn't go."

She thinking back to that time. "But I really shouldn't have been upset with him then. It wasn't his fault he had to work late."

Maybe, and maybe not. Emily kept silent, allowing her friend to continue her thoughts. But she did file away the information she was hearing. There was something in there that concerned her…but she wasn't sure it should have.

After a few moments, JJ continued. "He says I'm being selfish, and sometimes I can't help but think he's right. I mean, we're in a relationship, don't I have to make compromises? Look at him, he left his job and moved all the way up DC."

They were nearing their destination. Their time in the car, and Emily's time with the team, was running short. Despite the potential fallout, she had to ask.

"JJ, if things haven't been smooth between you…well, really, you can just tell me to shut up right now, and I will….but if things weren't smooth between you, why did you decide to get married?"

Even from the side, Emily could see the tears spring to JJ's eyes, and then be fought back down without being shed.

"I don't know. I was so emotional that day. He'd almost died…twice. Henry had almost lost his father. And…" JJ's hand had gone to her face. A tear had escaped.

"And we could have lost Henry! I just…..I was just so grateful to have them both, alive. I had to do something to show it."

Emily just looked at her good friend, then dared to ask. "If you hadn't been surprised at Rossi's….I mean, the party, all of us, even your mother being there…..do you think you would have done it?"

They'd arrived. JJ put the SUV in park and turned to look at Emily, clearly upset. "I don't know."

Emily's eyes widened as JJ continued.

"But you can't tell Rossi, please. It would upset him, and he was being so generous about it. Please, Emily, you can't tell anyone."

Taking a few seconds to consider, Emily responded. "There's someone who's very worried about you, JJ."

Her colleague squinted her lack of understanding, and then the light went on. "Spence?"

Emily nodded. "He even picked up on it Saturday night, but we all poo-pooed him."

JJ shook her head. "Don't tell him, Emily. Will is already not a fan of Spence, and I don't want anything to happen to make it worse."

Emily was very precise in her response. "I wouldn't do anything to hurt you, JJ. I need to keep my best transatlantic friend. Who else would fill me in on all the dirt?"

She got the laugh, and the distraction, she was seeking, as they headed into the legal office.


Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.