Addison screamed and shot straight up out of bed. Her heart was beating so hard she was afraid that it might actually pop right out of her chest. Sweat was beading on her neck causing her long brown hair to stick to it. The yellow prescription bottle seemed to shine like a beacon on her nightstand with a bottle of water right next to it. She picked it up and cradled it in her hands carefully reading her name on the label. As she closed her eyes an image of the dream she was having flashed through her mind. Bloody hands, tools hanging, a chill ran down her spine. Her body shook and she chucked the pills across the room.
The LED clock showed that it was past four in the morning, but her heart would not calm down long enough for her to even think about laying back down. She quickly shed her sweat soaked tank top and her panties along with it. Her long hair fell down her back as she walked into the kitchen. The whiskey sat on the counter. It had been untouched for the past week while she had been taking the painkillers, the same amount of time that she had been having the dreams.
Her hands shook as she poured a glass. Before she even realized what was happening a tear had slipped down her cheek and dropped into her glass. She brushed it away quickly and searched for her cell phone. The number was in her recently outgoing calls and she put it on speaker while she paced around the room, swirling the brown alcohol in the cup.
“Hi, you’ve reached Agent Rossum. I’m either away from my phone right now or on the other line. Leave your name and number and I’ll call you back.” The gruff voice rang through Addison’s kitchen making her very aware that she didn’t have any clothing on.
“H-hey Uncle Ross – Rossum. I don’t know why I called, it’s silly really, but I was up and I figured that if you were too then we could get some work done. I know we closed on the Strangler Frank case, but, I mean, people get murdered all the time, right? There has got to be something to do. Plus, the Tri-way killer is still ongoing and we haven’t got very far in that. Oh my god, I’m babbling, you don’t care… I’ll check in my folders, see if there is anyone worth pursuing in there. I’ll talk to you later… sorry, sleep well.”
Addison set the glass down and slipped her silk bathrobe over her shoulders. The files that she didn’t travel with were stuffed neatly into her underwear drawer. She pulled the top one off the pile and settled onto the living room couch. The file was thin; a few newspaper articles about six prostitutes murdered in either hotel rooms or their apartments and the man who was in prison for murdering them.
“Joel Harrington…” Addison whispered to herself. She remembered assembling the package. As she reread the article she remembered why she had felt so wrong about the arrest. Harrington was caught at the crime scene of Rosie Parker. The 18-year-old’s fingerprints were all over the apartment and the blood was all over him. Police found a drop of the previous victim’s blood on Harrington’s boot, but what sealed the deal was the confession that the police got within hours of arresting Harrington. While reading about it Addison had felt a twinge in her gut that she had learned to listen to.
Her laptop rested beside her curled up feet and she pulled it onto her lap. As soon as Google popped up she typed Joel Harrington’s name into the search bar. She perused some of the articles, but she already had all the information on the murders and the arrest that she needed. The luck that she wanted seemed to be nowhere in sight, so she sighed in defeat and picked up her phone once more.
She tapped her nails against her glass as the phone rang, “what can I do for my favourite mental patient?”
“Slug, I really need an address.”
“Swanny, I’m glad you need something actually. I need to move some finances around. I’ll get you the address if you throw the recently deposited money in my main account into the Wayne Shortman account. Would you be able to do that for me?”
“Yeah, simple enough. Do you want the name?”
“Joel Harrington. Convicted of the murder of six women. Prior to his current residence of USP Lee in Virginia he lived at 3510 Old Annapolis Road. Directions are being sent to your phone right now. From what I can see the police are done with it, but it’s still being held as evidence for a while longer. I also sent you the address of the impound lot that his car was brought to. It’s a 1994 Honda Accord license plate FCC 210.”
“I always forget that you just check my search history. It’s nice that we have a relationship that I barely have to speak to you at all.”
“That what I’m here for, Swan. I trust if you need any information more than what you have you’ll give me a call?”
“Thanks again, Slug. Let me know if there is anything more I can do for Mr. Shortman, his trusty secretary Trudy Homes is always available to him.”
“And he is grateful to her for that.”
In a matter of minutes Addison was dressed in dark clothing with her long hair pinned into a low bun. She pulled out her phone so she could check the directions as she drove to the unoccupied apartment. Her clean appearance and well-fitting clothing made her stand out in the seedy neighbourhood especially in the wee hours of the morning. Addison hoped if anyone thought she looked suspicious they would assume she was another cop going over the apartment.
There was a red notice posted on the door warning her: DO NOT ENTER. Addison quickly looked around her and pulled a pair of leather gloves out of her back pockets. Hopefully, she twisted the small golden door knob, but, as she suspected it was locked. Examining the lock, she concluded that it wouldn’t be a hard job and pulled her kit out of the opposite pocket that she got her gloves out of. She slipped the tension wrench into the slot first and rotated it slightly to the right. The pick slipped into the upper slot and all the way back. Once she felt all the pins snap into place she slowly turned the mechanism and smiled when she saw the knob turning along with her and the door creek open. Addison replaced all the tools and pushed the package back into her pocket. She slipped her body through the crack in the door like she couldn’t open the door anymore and shut it quietly behind her.
The apartment was messy. Dishes left unwashed in the sink, clothes lying aimlessly on the floor, books scattered on the table and counters. Addison slowly walked through, trying not to even disturb a floorboard. She tip-toed to the space beside the mattress on the floor. There was a standing glass of water with lipstick on the rim placed next to a picture of Harrington next to a pretty young girl. His arm was around her and he was looking at her with a smile on his face. She felt a twinge in her stomach as she looked over the faces, so she pulled her phone out and snapped a quick picture.
Once she stood up again she made her way to the fridge. There were only two things hanging from the front of the freezer. She looked at the first one. A grid on a plain piece of paper detailing codes times and numbers under the days of the week. In the top left corner Addison saw a letterhead reading University of the District of Columbia. She snapped a picture of that and then the phone number resting beside it written on a post-it note. She squinted harder at the number, racking her brain trying to determine if she knew it, but came up blank. She was about to lower her hand with her cell phone in it when it started to ring rather loudly and vibrate in her hand.
“Shit,” she said under her breath, “shit, shit, shit!” she repeated as she struggled to press the green answer button, “Hello?” she harshly whispered.
“Addison? I can barely hear you, why are you whispering?”
She subtlety look around her surroundings, “it’s the morning, Rossum, it’s just what people do in the morning.”
“Is there someone in your apartment with you?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know Agent Nosey.” Speaking with Rossum made Addison feel slightly guilty about breaking and entering. She took one last fleeting look around the small apartment and made her way back to the door, “why are you calling me, Rossum, it’s pretty early.”
“Says the girl who called me at twenty after four this morning.”
“Ah, yes, sorry about that.” Addison apologized as she slipped past the door again. She stopped dead and her stomach flipped as she saw two people stopped in the hallway looking right at her. Her heart stopped for just a moment before she gave a stiff nod and straightened her posture. “Sorry Agent, I couldn’t find that shirt you were looking for. I’m heading back to the office right now.”
“Addison, what in the hell are you talking about. Are you having some sort of stroke?”
“No, Agent everything else is fine here, I think we’ll be able to close it up for good pretty soon.” She spoke as she quickly walked out of the building and over to her car. Before she spoke again, she glanced behind her to make sure she was alone. “No I’m not having a stroke. I would explain, but I’m sure that you wouldn’t want to know.”
“When it comes to you, I’m sure you’re right. Now, what are you doing calling me at four in the morning? I thought we agreed that you were going to get more sleep?”
“Rossum, you more than anyone should know that sometimes when you are talking I agree to things that I never intend to follow through on. Plus, I can say I’ll do something all I want, but the body wants what the body wants, and this morning my body wanted to get up and call you.” Addison thought about the sentence and leaned against her car, “that came out a little dirtier than I meant it to.”
“Okay, well I’m up now. I’ll be heading into the office in about half an hour if you want to meet me there.”
“Yeah I’ll meet you –”
“Ay, baby, what’s a girl like you doing in a dump like this.”
Addison turned quickly to roll her eyes and admonish the man who was apparently trying to pick her up. When she did, she saw a young man holding a small switch blade in his hand. She rolled her eyes, angry at herself for lingering by her car instead of getting in, “Rossum, I might be a little late, but I’m going to have to let you go.”
As she lowered the phone she heard Rossum asking if she was alright, but she cut him off by hanging up the phone. She saw a man flank the other on his left side, she smiled sweetly at them, “can I help you gentlemen with something?”
“Ya can start by handin’ ova all ya money.” He took a couple steps forward until he was right in front of Addison. He pressed the cool flat steel over her cheek, “then we talk ‘bout gettin’ dem clothes off.”
Addison let go of a shaky breath and slowly put her hand into her back pocket and pulled the pick out of her kit like she was pulling a wallet out. The man was busy running his free hand across the V on Addison’s t-shirt right above her breasts. She lunged at the hand holding the knife which had lowered against her abdomen. The man yelped in pain and Addison felt the blade scrape across her belly before it fell to the ground. Her leg worked fast as it kicked the blade away from her and the man in front of her. He stepped back and slapped her hard across the face splitting Addison’s lip, but she recovered quickly kicked him as hard as she could in the groin. As he fell to the ground she pulled her keys into her hand, but she didn’t have time to unlock her car door before the other man was upon her yelling in rage. She pushed the different keys into the slits between her fingers and punched him across the cheek as he lunged at her. His head was forced to the side, before it snapped back, rage clear in his eyes and blood seeping through three large scrapes across his cheek.
“You little bitch.” His knife was poised in his hand, but as he stepped forward to push it into Addison’s abdomen she side-stepped and he pushed it into her car instead. She grabbed the hand with the knife and wrapped the other around his back. She twisted until he dropped the knife and she kicked that one away in the same direction as the other one. Before she could regain her grip, the man pulled back and his fist landed just below her left eye. Her eye watered, but she countered with another punch of her own. Her foot kicked forward and pulled the man’s legs out from under him as she pulled back. His clutching hands made contact with the hem of her t-shirt as he went down and it ripped at the back as the material dug into her neck, but it didn’t stop him from hitting the ground hard.
Addison didn’t wait to see if the fall had knocked him out because the other one was already staggering to his feet, eying both of their knives only a short distance away. She quickly isolated her key and shoved it into the slot. The door unlocked quickly, she shoved it into the ignition and pressed her foot so hard into the gas that it took a while for the old car to respond. A strained laugh escaped Addison’s lips without her knowledge and within minutes she was hysterically laughing.
The laughter finally settled down as she pulled into her apartment’s parking garage. She placed a hand on the car’s hood as she walked by and said a silent thanks to it for not choosing that moment to spontaneously stop working. Once back in her apartment she pulled off her, now torn, shirt and examined her face in the mirror. The blood seeped down her chin and her left cheek. She wet a washcloth and pressed it into her wounds, then softly washed her whole face. The left eye was quickly swelling and there was light bruising already evident on both the cheek and under her eye.
Her next stop was the freezer where she located the frozen peas and held them in place while she pulled a blouse out of her closet and leaned her head back as she used both hands to do up the buttons. Before she stepped out of her house, she switched the lock picking kit in her pocket for her purse that was on the counter.
Eyes followed the girl with frozen peas pressed into her face as she quickly navigated the bland hallways. She chucked the peas into a garbage can before entering Rossum’s office without knocking, “Honey, I’m home.”
Rossum’s face was buried into a file, “Addison, how many times have I told you to knock before coming into my office, and I’d really prefer it if you didn’t hang up on me in the middle of a conversation.”
His face still hadn’t lifted from the file, and Addison still didn’t know how she was going to explain the state of her face. “Sorry Uncle Rossum. Did you want to discipline me? Absolutely no television for the whole week? Am I grounded?”
He looked up at her with a scowl on his face, but it immediately dropped when he laid eyes on her, “What the hell happened, Addison?!”
“Oh, this old thing?” Addison asked sarcastically as she pointed to her face, “I’d tell you, but the first rule of fight club, right?”
“Why do you treat everything like a joke, this is not a fucking joke Addison! Who did this to you?”
“I didn’t stick around long enough to catch their names, unfortunately.” She looked into his grey eyes, but they just peered into her, “listen, Ross, this is just one of those things.”
“One of what things?”
“One of the things that I’m going to ask you not to ask about.” She looked up at him through her lashes and tried to soften the harsh stare on his face, but he only seemed to grow angrier.
“So that’s that then?”
“Unless you’ve got a truth serum up that sleeve.” Rossum only grunted his displeasure at this, “listen, this is who I am. I will show up sometimes with cuts and bruises, sometimes my clothing gets ripped. I will show up places and not be able to account for where I’ve been for a few hours.”
“And I’m just supposed to be okay with that? Look at your face, Addison! I can’t be okay with it when you walk into my office looking like that and refusing to tell me who hit you, because it’s clear that someone hit you, a few times at that.”
“I’m trying to protect you, Ross.”
“And what the hell do you think I’m trying to do for you?” He exploded. He shook his head a little trying to calm down. When he felt he was settled enough he spoke at a normal tone, “I just want to make sure you aren’t doing anything dangerous.”
Addison glared at him and rolled her eyes, “I was on Annapolis Road this morning and two upstanding young gentlemen decided that I had some assets that they wanted. Simple as that.”
“Simple as that? Did they rob you? Did you call the police? Where are they now?”
“No, they didn’t rob me, not that I had much to steal at that point. I didn’t call the police, and right now I would say they are talking about that bitch that beat them up this morning.”
“You took on two men by yourself?”
“Well, they only had knives.”
“They had knives?!”
“They weren’t guns or anything.”
“You’re crazy. Absolutely insane. Why wouldn’t you just hand over what they wanted?”
“Do you know how difficult it is to replace everything on your cell phone? And you know how close that car is to my heart.” She smirked.
Rossum shook his head and started to pace, “Why would you put yourself in danger like that?”
“I didn’t exactly ask them to mug me, Ross. I find it hilarious that you are standing here yelling at me for defending myself. I’m here; I’m fine can we please stop talking about this now?”
“You’re going to kill me.”
“Well, not on purpose.”
The pair stared at each other for a while longer before Rossum finally smiled, “So, how are they looking right about now?”
She arched one of her eyebrows, “A lot worse than me.”
“What were you doing in that area anyway?”
“Really gotta get my heroin fix in the morning or I’m just useless all day long.” He tilted his head at her indicating that he wanted a real answer, “I told you in my message, I was reviewing some of my files this morning. Some files led me in that direction, so in that direction I went.”
“And that’s all you’re going to give me?”
“No, I’ll give you a really nice pat on the head later, but only if you’re really good.” Addison flopped into the leather chair and bit at the cuticle on her thumb. “Now what are we working on today?”
“Apparently not what you were working on this morning.” He pursed his lips, “There are no new pressing cases so we are back on the Tri-Way killer case.”
“Oh, how I’ve missed it. Find anymore bones lately?”
“No, but I have been trying exceptionally hard not to look for them.”
“I’ve always thought avoidance is the healthiest way to deal with anything.” She nodded her head towards the desk, “what did you have your nose buried in before I came in?”
Rossum pulled the file into his hand once again, opened it, and dropped it in front of Addison, “I guess Magnus left it in here last night. It’s the report from the stab wounds on the other victims.”
Addison leaned over to scan it without actually picking it up. “So all the wounds were most likely made with the same weapon?”
Rossum nodded, “There are no hesitation marks whatsoever, and there was a stab wound on the third victim’s shoulder, made a nick on her clavicle. I think you were right about the knife. He must be taking them; it would be too much of a coincidence for the same knife to be present at every crime scene.”
“You sound so sexy when you say that.”
“Crime scene?” Rossum furrowed his eyes in confusion, “that’s messed up.”
“Knife?” Rossum laughed, finally catching on.
“Even before that.”
“Could it possibly be when I said you were right?”
“No, I meant when you said clavicle.” Addison winked, “so hot. Where do we go from here?”
“I’ve got Agent Brogan compiling a list of knife manufacturers that produce a product capable of cutting into bone. Then, the real fun begins I get to take that list and call each and every one to get an idea of exactly how many people own these knives.”
“We.” Addison corrected as she pulled up the first page in the file and examined the descriptions of the markings on the next page.
“What?” Rossum questioned while hitting the keys on his keyboard violently.
“You said ‘I’, were you planning on letting me off the hook from the boring work?”
“Oh the only reason I’ll be able to get through the work at all is knowing that I’ll be making you just as miserable as I am.”
“Glad I can be of some service.” She gazed down at the small drawn picture of a female’s body with the arms outstretched and feet together. She pursed her lips together, “I went to Italy once, you know? I guess I was having a slight crisis of identity, and like any teenage girl who has no ties and zero prospects, the romance of Italy was just too strong to ignore, so I took off.”
Rossum looked up from his computer and furrowed his brow, “is there a reason you are telling this story, or are you just finding new and creative ways to torture me?”
She ignored him and continued looking into the file with a dazed smile on her face, “I had no idea what to do once I got there. I was alone in this foreign country, and, while everyone is completely right Venice was beautiful, everywhere I went was beautiful, I still couldn’t help feeling so lost.
“One day I wandered into the Gallerie dell’Accademia and they happened to have DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man on display.” Addison shook her head at the memory, “While looking at that drawing, I genuinely smiled for the first time since I landed in Italy, and I couldn’t understand it. It made me really sad truly, but I couldn’t make sense of either reaction. I stood there for… I don’t know how long, just gazing at the man’s outstretched arms, when it finally struck me I was smiling because it was the first familiar thing that I had found there. I was smiling because it reminded me,” she turned the file around and pointed at the body, “of this; but that’s why it also made me sad. I just kept asking myself why this memory made me smile when it was the one thing I was trying to escape, the whole reason I went to Italy in the first place. I walked right out of the museum and caught the first flight back to the states.” Addison knew that she was leaving out a key part of the story, but leaned back in her chair like she was finished her story, all the while remembering the face, the face that had scared her onto that plane.
Rossum narrowed his eyes at the picture, then looked into Addison’s, “you know some people would have just said, ‘you know, Rossum, these pictures here remind me of DaVinci’s Vetruvian man’ and left it at that, but not you.”
“I’m not some people.” Addison felt that her left eye was now completely swollen shut. She saw Rossum looking at it, trying to swallow the words piling up in the back of his throat. “Oh my god, Ross, just say it.”
“I just… It’s just difficult to see you hurt and know that there isn’t anything I can do about it.”
Addison tried to shake off the blush that was threatening to creep up her neck, “Well, I’m sorry to interrupt this love-fest we have going on here, but I’m feeling a little less like the charming beautiful girl I usually am and a little more like Rocky Balboa with a splitting headache. So, if you don’t mind I’m going to grab some ice.”
Rossum nodded, “good thing you still have some of those painkillers left.”
“Yeah, I think I’m just going to tough this one out.”
She turned away quickly, but could feel Rossum’s stare turn to a squint and heard him cross the room to face her, “Why would you do that? Your injuries look pretty bad.” He lightly brushed a thumb across the cut on her cheek, “Maybe you should think about taking something.”
She shrugged one shoulder, “I just stopped taking them. It’s no big deal.”
“Why did you stop taking them?”
“I didn’t need them anymore and you’re not supposed to take them if you don’t need them.”
He snorted, “Because you’re such a stickler for the rules?”
“I just don’t want to take them anymore. Sorry, next time I’ll clear it with you.”
Rossum took another second to look into Addison’s stern face. She knew that if she held it he would back off whether he wanted to or not. He finally stepped back and held out his hand indicating that Addison was free to leave. With a curt smile Addison walked out of the office and finally relaxed enough to exhale.
Before she reached the refrigerator she bumped right into Alex’s chest, “Sorry Agent Brogan. My hand eye coordination isn’t the best today.”
“My oh my, ma’am. Are you doin’ alright?”
“I will be just fine once I get some ice.”
Alex ran to the freezer, “Please, allow me.”
“What a gentleman.” Addison watched as Alex placed a few ice cubes into some paper towel and she allowed him to lightly press it against her swollen eye, “aren’t you going to ask me what happened?”
“I would, but I’m mighty certain you wouldn’t tell me if I did.”
“Well, you would be right.”
“Then I suppose me askin’ would just be a waste of time.”
Addison smirked and pulled the ice out of his hands, “what a refreshing point of view. I think I can take it from here though.”
Alex looked to his shoes and Addison turned to walk away. She could almost hear the internal struggle going on inside the agent’s head until he tentatively spoke up, “Um, Addison?”
Her shoulders dropped, “yes Agent Brogan?”
“I was wondering if you might want to get a bite to eat tonight?”
Addison bit her lip, “Listen, Alex, I think you are a really nice guy and, to be honest, I would love to go to dinner with you, but as it stands I have a lot of respect for Agent Rossum. I know I don’t show it all the time, but I really think that he is smart and strong and incredibly forgiving –”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that ya’ll we’re seeing each other.”
“No, uh, we’re not. If I thought agreeing to this date wouldn’t hurt Rossum, in a completely platonic way, then I would do it in a second, but I know that if I did this, if I even considered doing this, it would not only hurt Rossum it would disrespect him, and that’s something that I absolutely refuse to do.” Addison lightly placed a hand on one of Alex’s crossed forearms, “I want you to be completely certain that I take no thrill in this and I truly am sorry for leading you on.”
She felt her stomach flip with guilt when Alex caught her eyes, but he nodded, “naw, don’t worry about nothin’ ma’am I understand. I really shouldn’t have even asked you knowing the way Rossum feels about inter-office datin’. I don’t know what I was thinkin’.
“You were taking a chance. There’s no shame in that, in fact I find it quite admirable.” She leaned forward and pressed her lips to his cheek then turned away only to see Rossum looking at her, mouth gaping. “Hey Ross.”
The agent sternly turned without a word and stalked back to his office. Addison rolled her eyes and followed him. Once she got inside and shut the door she stood in front of the desk and looked at him until he spoke, “I think once we narrow down the list of providers we should get a set of each knives to see if we can match the wounds specifically to a certain brand.”
“Sure, Ross, we can do that, but I have a feeling that’s not what you want to say to me right now.”
Rossum slammed his fists into his desk so quickly that is startled Addison and she jumped back slightly, “Damnit, Addison! I have better things to do than try and figure out why you kiss every man that you kiss. God knows that would take up every moment I had.”
“Uh, ouch.” Addison furrowed her brow and shook her head. “So this is how you want to handle this? Rossum, I didn’t –”
“It’s really none of my business what you handle other than the fact that I expressly asked you not to become romantically involved with anyone inside the bureau. That was it, Addison. You have free range on everybody else, but you had to go ahead and pick someone from here.”
“No, Rossum, you don’t understand. What you saw –”
“What I saw was not only you disrespecting my wishes, but you doing it with my partner. I can’t imagine how little you think of me to do that.”
Addison’s mouth dropped open and she placed her hands on her hips, “well I guess you have it all figured out, now don’t you Rossum?! And here I am thinking that I was your partner, how dense was I?”
“I don’t know Addison, but you must have been pretty stupid to think that I could ever be partners with someone as damaged as you!”
Addison’s eyes shut automatically like she had been punched in the gut. The ice in her hands fell to the ground and her eyes started to tear up. She hadn’t felt hurt like that in a long time. The wall was building back up, she could feel herself shutting down again. There was no more need to defend herself; what did she care what this man thought of her, why did it matter? “okay, um, you know what? I’m not really feeling one hundred percent so I’m actually going to head home. If you need something done about the case, I guess you can just call.”
Rossum looked like he was about to say something, but she turned away before he had time to get anything out. Her face was straight as she walked out of his office. It didn’t even change when she heard Rossum call her name. Her head was clear as she navigated the halls and into Alex Brogan’s office. Once she was inside, without a word she marched up to him and kissed him deeply on the lips, “forget everything I just said. Pick me up at eight. No dinner, drinks.”