Rossum sat cross-legged in the middle of Addison’s living room floor. He hadn’t been home for two days and Lena had eventually stopped calling, but that was about the only person who had. When Magnus and Mortimer weren’t right there with him, they were calling him or leaving him messages. Even with all the time they had put in and no matter how much Rossum stared at all of the pictures laid out in front of him, he was no closer to figuring out who took Addison, or where she was.
He was so distracted that he didn’t even hear Agent Brogan knock at the door or walk into the apartment until he was standing directly in front of all his paperwork. “Sir, are you alrigh’ there?”
“Oh, sorry agent, I didn’t hear you come in. Can I help you with something?” Rossum quickly gathered up all of the photos and slipped them into a folder before Brogan sat down beside him.
“Everyone’s mighty worried about you back at the station. We wanted someone to come check on you make sure you’re still alive in here.” He pulled at one of the papers that Rossum didn’t tuck away, “are you getting any closer to figuring it out? Everyone workin’ they’re hides off tryin’ to figure this out. We’re all mighty worried.”
“I don’t know Alex. It’s like she’s disappeared without a trace. I’m starting to wonder if we will ever find her. It’s hard to keep hope up.”
“She’s still alive.” The way Brogan stated it so blatantly and seemingly without his accent made Goosebumps appear up and down Rossum’s arms.
He furrowed his brow, “what?”
“I just mean, you can’t let that hope die, just like we can’t let her die.” Rossum felt uncomfortable so he stood up and walked over to Addison’s fridge. He pulled out a beer and tossed the cap in the sink, but Brogan followed him. “Are we completely sure it’s the Tri-Way killer?”
“Yes, we are pretty sure. It’s too much a coincidence not to be him. I just don’t know why he went after Addison and not me. I thought I was his target, maybe he’s just going after her to get to me.” Rossum drained what was left of his beer and cleaned up the paper still scattered across the floor. “Anyway, I think I am going to hit the hay. Thanks for coming to check on me.”
“I can wait for you. I’ll walk with you down to your car.”
“That’s alright; I actually think I am just going to stay here tonight.”
Alex seemed to clench his fists, but quickly unfurled them. “You are going to stay here? In Addison’s apartment? Why aren’t you going home?”
“I’ve just been spending most of my time here and it just cuts down on my travelling.”
“It’s a bit strange, Sir.”
Rossum tossed him a terse smile, “no one is asking you to stay and watch, Brogan.”
He held up his hands in defeat, “sorry, it’s clear I’ve overstepped. It’s up to you if you want to stay here until you find her. If that’s how you need to deal with this then it’s up to you.”
“Thanks, Alex. I’ll see you later.”
He watched Brogan head toward the front door and finally felt a sense of relief as it closed. His eyes welled as he looked around the apartment. “Addison, where are you?” he spoke quietly to himself. The couch cushions were even more dishevelled now that he had been sleeping on it. Before he settled in for the night he locked the front door and turned off all the lights. He laid his jacket out on the table and checked his pockets for his cell phone, but when he pulled it out the picture of Addison as a child came out with it. He threw the phone to the side and gazed at the old picture.
All of a sudden something inside Rossum clicked and he jumped up to grab his laptop. He remembered vividly Addison telling him about the little girl that was murdered in Kansas. That’s where it started, he thought to himself, but when he tried to look it up he got nothing. There was not a single thing on this nameless little girl. He debated heading into the office to expand his search, but before he could gather his things a cell phone chirped. The tone was unfamiliar but he still picked his up and checked the screen. Blank. The only other cell phone that had been in the apartment was Addison’s, but Magnus had taken it back to the lab a couple of days earlier.
It sounded again. He knew it was close, but it sounded like it was coming from the direction of Addison’s bedroom, so he heaved himself off the couch and went to check things out. First, he tore all the pillows and blankets off her bed, nothing. Next, he threw the doors of her closet open and searched every pocket he could find, still nothing. He eyed her dresser and tossed every panty, sock and t-shirt out of it, but there was no cell phone to be found. Defeated, he sank onto the edge of Addison’s bed and tried to convince himself that he was hearing things until finally he heard the sound again. He shot up and pulled the dresser away from the wall. Duck taped to the back was an old silver cell phone with the display window lit up. Would there ever be a world that he would stop being surprised by Addison Grace?
He flipped the phone open and checked her incoming messages. They all seemed to be coming from one number.
Hey Swanny. The transfer went through. Thanks for your help again. What would I do without you? Slug.
Swan, I did a little more digging on our little Kansas Jane Doe. I may have found something, not positive though. Call me and I will fill you in. Slug.
What’s going on? Usually when I tell you to call me, you call me right that second. I know your home right now. You just tried to do a google search on that girl. Trying to take my job? Call me. Now.
Swan, what is the deal. Are you alright? I’m hacking into your building’s security cameras right now.
Rossum had no idea who this ‘Slug’ was or how he knew about the Jane Doe, but he seemed to be someone close to Addison. His finger hovered over the call back button before he hesitantly pressed it. He only heard one ring before the person on the other end picked up.
“Geeze, Swanny, you’re going to give a guy a heart attack. By the way there is something up with your building’s security. When I attempted to hack in everything was just blank.”
“Hi… please don’t hang up. Something’s happened to Addison.”
There was silence from the other end, but Rossum could still hear breathing so he knew ‘Slug’ hadn’t disconnected yet, but he didn’t speak again for fear of spooking him. “Who is this? Why should I trust you?”
“Because I am Addison’s partner with the FBI. I know that probably isn’t something that is very comforting to you, but I can tell by your messages that you care about Addison. So do I. All I want is to get her back, but I need your help. I can’t do it alone.”
“Are you telling me the big bad FBI needs me for something?” He snorted and used a condescending tone, but Rossum let it roll off his shoulders.
“Not the FBI, just me. I need your help. She needs it.”
Yet again there was silence. Rossum knew there was a war waging inside of this man. There was clearly no love lost between him and law enforcement and he didn’t seem to want to trust Rossum, but then there was that ever present loyalty that Addison inspired in everyone around her. That loyalty was the reason that Rossum didn’t feel the need to oversell himself; if Slug was going to agree to do this it wouldn’t be because he liked Rossum, it would be for Addison. Always for Addison.
“What would you need from me? Hypothetically, of course.”
A small smile threatened to appear on Rossum’s face until he remembered that Addison was still missing and that thought sobered him up. “Well, we could start by you telling me the potential new information on the Jane Doe in Kansas. There is next to no evidence in Addison’s apartment so I’m thinking that if we can figure out who the Tri-Way killer is then we can start to figure out places he would take her.”
“I don’t know if my information is going to be the breakthrough you’ve been looking for.” Rossum heard paper shuffling, then the sounds of tapping on a keyboard, “when we found this girl I thought it was so sad that she was nine years old and no one knew who she was or reported her missing, so I dug into it a little further in my spare time. I wanted to be able to put a name on this gravestone.”
Rossum arched an eyebrow. He was surprised by the compassion shown by a man who went by the name ‘Slug’. “That’s a very noble cause.”
“It’s just a thing I do sometimes if I can. Anyway, I went through every missing person records for a child around her age and general description, there was nothing. So I expanded the search, I started to look at every young white girl reported missing up to a year before she was found. At a cursory glance I didn’t find anything, same as before, but there was this one little girl, Ida Clemmons, I kept pulling up her picture. I had no idea why at first. She had long blonde ringlets and the Jane Doe had short brunette hair. Then, it was like something hit me over the head, it was her eyes, they were so big and green, almost shockingly. So, I compared it to the crime scene pictures. Jane Doe’s eyes were dulled slightly by death, but I would be willing to bet they were just as breathtaking in life. I think they are the same person.”
“And you and Addison think this was probably his first kill?”
“We don’t really have anything to go on other than Addison’s gut, but I would bet on that gut every day of the week. I trust that gut more than I trust my own eyes.”
“Me too.” Rossum said this is a whisper, but he knew Slug had picked up on it. “So, who is this little girl, then, this Ida Clemmons?”
“Born to a couple of winners. Dad was a deadbeat, mom was an addict. Same old story. She was taken out of her mother’s care at four and placed in a facility. She was in and out of faster care, never because of her but just because of the families. When she was taken she was back in a care facility. They must have lost track of her because they didn’t put in the missing person’s report until a bed check the morning after, but they were pretty sure that she never made it to bed that night. She was never found… well, until now maybe.”
“A low risk victim, as low risk as a child can be. If this really is one of his, he has been at this a lot longer than we first thought. He was obviously a lot younger than we thought when he started, or he is a lot older now. Either way we are going to have to take another look at the profile we’ve put together for him.” Rossum took a moment to organize all of his thoughts, “was there anything found at the scene that might be helpful? If he started out there he might have made a couple mistakes that could help us.”
“Not a whole lot was found. No fingerprints. A couple shoeprints that didn’t really lead to anything and a DNA sample found until her fingernails. I see that they did re-run it a couple of years ago and didn’t get any hits, but you may be able to convince them to run it again.”
“Yeah, I will give the Kansas office a call in the morning. Can you tell me what size shows were found?”
“It’s hard to say. It looks like they were brushed over and there are a couple different ones. I will send you the pictures, maybe you will be able to make some sense out of them. It looks like there is a pretty big set and smaller ones as well, but they aren’t even necessarily from our killer, the woods weren’t a heavy traffic area, but they also weren’t deserted.”
“I would be grateful if you could send those photos. I’ll give you my email, it’s –”
“No need.” Slug spoke and Rossum immediately heard his cell phone ring and indicate that he had an email.
“Well, you are rather impressive, aren’t you?”
“I’ve heard you’re no slacker yourself… you’re going to find her, right?”
Rossum answered without a moment’s hesitation, “yes.”
“Good. I’m alright with you calling me if you need me, but please only use this phone and tell no one else about me. I don’t like my name getting out there, but I am at your full disposal, for the time being at least.”
“I really appreciate it. To everyone else, I don’t even know you exist. I’ll keep the phone charged and on me at all times if you find anything else, or think of something.”
“I’ll keep an eye on things electronically. I’ll try to hack her phone and internet history to try and get a better idea of when she was taken. I’ll be in touch.” With that and the sound of a few keystrokes Slug was gone.
Rossum found the charger for the small phone and moved it to the living room so he could have it closer to him. Then, he grabbed his own phone and opened the pictures Slug had sent to him. He had been right about the different tracks, but they seemed sporadic. There weren’t a clear defined set leading to and away from the body. He flipped through a couple more picture until there was a shot of the Jane Doe. It made him cringe at first and then he took a close look at her, then he scrambled to find the old one he had just finished looking at. He held it up beside his phone. The resemblance was striking especially with both of the faces so sullen and pale. Rossum felt the vomit rise in his throat and he barely made it to the kitchen sink. Could this have been about her all this time?
He didn’t have time to think it all the way through though because his phone started ringing from an unknown number. He glanced at the LED light on Addison’s stove 12:24, a little late for a social call. He furrowed his brow and hesitantly answered, “Agent Rossum here.”
“Hey Agent Rossum.”
That voice. That fucking voice. The voice he had been replaying in his head for days. His imitation had nothing on the real thing. Tears spring to his eyes and the vomit threatened to return but he managed to push both of them away. “Addison, where are you? Are you alright? Did you get away? Did he let you go?”
“I’m going to need you to calm down there. I’m… alright.” Her voice was shaking. This was the most scared Rossum had ever heard her, but she held it together, like she always did. “I mean under the circumstances, right?”
“Who took you? Where are you?”
“Ross, he’s not going to let me tell you that. He let me call you to… to say…” Her voice faltered for the smallest of moments, “to say goodbye. You are the most important person in my life Ross, and I’m so sorry about how we left it –” Rossum heard a loud cough and some shuffling in the background. “Sorry, I’m not supposed to go off track here. I just needed to talk to you one last time and ask you: could Lena ever stay here? Could she, Ross? Think about it, I am trying to look out for you…” her speech was starting to speed up as if she was being rushed, “I love you, I really do, no matter what I’ve said in the past. And I’m sorry and don’t miss me too much.”
And that was it. Seemingly the last words he would ever hear from Addison Grace and she asked him about his ex-wife. He cast a fleeting look at the couch and shook his head. He knew this was about to be another sleepless night.