Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Lost Chronicles: Cases of the BAU- the Final Year Episode 2

In December 2013, the once great Behavioural Analysis Unit, first of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and then of its replacement, the Foederatio Borealis Indigatores Imperiale (FBII), was reformed and reduced in size due to damning implications found in the controversial Milner Report. The Report alleged that the BAU's methods had caused unethical practices that corrupted law enforcement operation as a whole across North America, and thus recommended its disbandment. The BAU counters that it has always "followed the rules" and misapplication by lower level officers was really the culprit. Thus, the cases from its last year of operation are presented here, so that the readers may decide for themselves the validity of the BAU's assertion.

Monday, January 21, 2013
Cases of the BAU: The Chessmaster
Jessica Davies Park, Alexandria, Virginia

Jason Simeon had done this many times, but each time still felt like the first time. Standing before him in the thick of the Virginia snow was a phone booth, a place where he could escape the foreboding, harrowing winds. Though he’d never met her face to face, he was about to call the one person who gave him warmth, and the one person who made him feel like his life was worth living after all.

He stepped inside the booth and dialed the woman’s phone number, as he’d always done. He then hung up the phone and waited for it to ring. After a few moments, the phone did ring and, forgetting his calculated older self, Simeon raced into the booth like an eager teenager and picked up the phone.

“Maeve,” he said, warmly. “Even though we’ve been doing this for months I’m always afraid you won’t pick up.”
“Jason,” replied Maeve Donovan, a geneticist at Mendel University in Washington. Donovan, 50, was a divorcee like Simeon was, though she looked a lot younger. “You never have to worry about that. I look forward to our talks every week.”
“So how are you today? Did you get a chance to try my clam chowder recipe?”
“The selections are kind of slim where I am, so I didn’t have much to work with...but I did get to try something like it...you, sir, are quite the cook.”
“Thank you. One day, once this whole thing passes, I would love to show it to you.”
“I like that, and I’d like to see what else you can show me.”
Simeon laughed as he cried, knowing it’d been too long since he felt the touch of a woman who loved him. Oh Sarah, why did you have to go? If only I wasn’t late that night...Simeon stopped himself, realizing he had a new woman, one who cared for him just like Sarah Jacobs did. He had a good feeling about Donovan, even though they had only been talking on the phone for only a year. He longed for the day that her stalker would disappear, so that they could finally be together, but he was afraid that if he called his former employers at the Behavioural Analysis Unit they would laugh him out of the office. How intimidating that thought was...yes, he has an apartment with the famous Dr. Pascal Yves, his essentially adoptive son, but he hadn’t spoken to the rest of the team in years, and was worried that they would still be upset with him for abandoning them before the case of Joe Smith in Milwaukee. He wanted to help out Donovan, but he wasn’t sure how.
“Well, Jason, I must go now...it’s almost time for me to cook dinner. Goodbye my love.”
“Goodbye, angel.” Simeon hung up the phone, knowing he’d have to wait until next week to speak to his love, but if that’s what he had to do to continue feeling the warmth only Donovan could give him.

Sheila Parkes’ house, Cleveland, Ohio

“I’m glad you’ve finally decided to come, Pascal,” said Sheila Parkes, the mother of fellow BAU member Zoe Parkes.
“It’s a pleasure,” said Yves, wiping his mouth with his napkin. Sheila, Zoe, her younger sister Audrey and Yves were all sitting for a Sunday dinner. Tonight was Sheila’s special bratwurst recipe. “The bratwurst is nothing but delectable...I just love all the spices you’ve used.”
“I learn from the best,” said Zoe, smiling.
“K-I-S,” started Audrey, referring to Zoe and Yves, before her mother told her to stop.
“I’m sorry Pascal...Audrey’s always been a troublemaker,” said Sheila.
Yves laughed. “It’s okay,” he said. “I understand Zoe picked up Criminology because of Audrey.”
“Audrey had a way of sneaking around and pinning the blame on Zoe,” remembered Sheila. “I remember once Audrey used Zoe’s window to sneak out to meet a boyfriend despite being grounded...I confronted Zoe about it thinking she helped him, but Zoe led me throughout the house to conclusively prove it was Audrey all along. After that, Audrey never snuck out of the house again, because we were on to her.”
“Zoe never let me have any fun,” said Audrey, sarcastically snickering.
“Come on,” said Zoe with a smile. “I let you have fun...I just didn’t like you doing it at my expense.”
“The teenage years were fun,” said Sheila, “but eventually they learned to mend their fences. We’re all so close as a family...we had to after our father died.”
Zoe and Yves both nervously smiled. Zoe never believed their father, Bruno, was dead, and Yves knew that the story of Bruno’s death, written after he helped arrest and convict Bruno for being a mole in the Central Intelligence Agency, was likely fabricated to cover up for Bruno’s new identity, wherever he was.

When they were finished dinner, they gathered in the family room. Tonight was science fiction night, done mostly for Yves but the whole family thoroughly enjoyed the genre. Zoe talked the family into a Star Wars marathon, harkening back to the debate Yves and Zoe had about the Death Star when the two of them met. Audrey, too, had wondered about the worth of the Death Star, but Sheila, who knew about the Star’s symbolism having lived through the Cold War, reminded them about that analogy, and how she remembered thinking the Galactic Empire were just like the Soviets that scared her back in the 1970s.

When the marathon was done, Yves grabbed his coat, thinking he was going back home with Zoe that night. Sheila stopped him.

“Pascal...it’s okay,” said Sheila. “You can stay. It’s a long drive.”
“My boss doesn’t like it if we’re late,” said Yves.
“Pascal,” said Zoe. “I’ve booked tomorrow off too...Fitch knows we’re here...it’s okay. We can leave in the morning.”
“Okay,” said Yves, putting down his coat. “Where am I going to sleep?”
“You can stay with Zoe,” replied Sheila. “I’m no prude, and you two are adults.”
Yves smiled, and accompanied Zoe up the stairs to her room.

FBII Academy, Quantico, Virginia

“Thanks James,” said Claudio Pucci, receiving a file from James Blake, a member of the FBII’s Counterterrorism Unit.
“You’re welcome, Agent Pucci,” replied Blake, an older woman who was the CTU’s Linguistics Expert. “I didn’t think a University case could be this complex.”
“Calgary’s no ordinary town,” replied Pucci, “and I don’t think these are your ordinary terrorists.”
“Their messages are very strange. I think they’re taking aim at the oil industry, but I’ll need to look at them a bit deeper before I’m sure.”
“Keep up your surveillance efforts...let me know if anything happens.”
“Will do.” Blake then left the office, only for Pucci’s boss, Aaron “Fitch” Fitchner, to walk in.

“I guess the Calgary case is getting stranger every minute,” said Fitchner, closing the door.
“I never thought at a case at a University classroom could evolve into terrorism,” said Pucci, “well, I guess there’s a first time for everything.”
“A day after coming back home from Sanibel and your speedo and you’re already back at work.”
“You’re just jealous about my legs.”
Fitchner laughed dryly, as was his style.
“How’s your case coming along?”
“I just handed San Diego police a profile...I was told they apprehended the guy last night.”
“Good work.”
“It was just a matter of getting them to look in the right place...they kept looking at the border but the robber behaved differently.”
“I love it when the cases are that easy...I only wish our cases were like that.”
“I think I’ll leave you to your work. If you need anything Claude, you know where to find me.”
Pucci smiled. “Will do, Aaron.”

One week later, Jessica Davies Park, Alexandria, Virginia

Simeon stared at the phone booth, nervous. No matter how many times he went through the routine of calling Donovan fear gripped his soul, making every move treacherous. What if she’s gone too? The love of my life...I can’t handle another loss...maybe I should just end it, knowing that the pain would be worse if I continued it...no, Jason...she needs you as much as you need her...if you felt empty before her then you’ll only be emptier if you leave her now, and you might never get her back...but what use is joy if it will always be taken away from you? Simeon shook his head, mouthing “no, no, no”.

Then he got lost in his thoughts. All he could think about was taking Donovan back to the cabin...dancing with the orchestral styling of Beethoven and Bach, relaxing on the porch under the crisp Carolinian air, and watching the birds as they moved into their nests. Yes, Donovan was the fairest bird of them all, a free spirit, one that reminded him that life can be vibrant and happy. Ah, yes, happiness...the one thing Donovan made him feel. The one thing that had eluded him for so long...and the one thing that keeps her in his life.

He went through the routine again. He slotted the coins so carefully into the phone booth. He dialed her number. He waited...and waited...a bit longer than usual it seemed but still, he was patient. When the phone rang he darted for it, his joy running through him like a burst of energy. What he heard made his face drop.

“Hello Jason,” said a robotic voice at the other end of the line.
“Who...who are you?” said a nervous Simeon, scared for Donovan.
“Who I am does not matter,” replied the voice.
“What have you done with her?” Simeon began to sob, though he tried valiantly to fight through it.
“You love her, don’t you?”
“Please...please don’t hurt her...just let her go...I’ll do anything for you.”
“Why didn't you help her, Jason? Why? What kind of a boyfriend do you think you are?”
“I don’t understand...” Simeon didn’t even hide his tears anymore, beginning to visibly cry in the phone booth.
“I’ll tell you what this means Jason- Zugzwang. Zugzwang Jason. You can make the next move, but you know you’ll only lose in the end.” The caller ended the phone call right there, with Simeon responding by collapsing to his knees in the phone booth, gripped with sadness and tears over what could possibly happen to his new girlfriend.

After regaining his composure, he drove into Washington, to a small diner in the outskirts of town he remembered going to as a kid, the one place where he always felt welcome. He sat there, thinking, wondering where all the innocence had gone in his life. He thought back to his youth. There was his mother, a Broadway starlet who used men, like his father, only when they suited her, and discarded them like trash. His father crept into his thoughts...his father loved him, and tried to raise him as a single father but it was hard. He spent a lot of his nights here, in the diner, where a beautiful waitress named Kelly always served him a fudge sundae, free of charge, because she had a son herself and knew how hard it was for little Simeon to be alone, waiting for his parents. Simeon remembered sitting in the diner for hours, sometimes past midnight, until his father could arrive to pick him up from work and drive him home. He and his father spent what little time together as they could, and even went to the diner to celebrate Simeon’s acceptance into the FBII.

Then he remembered that one day when his father didn’t come, on a summer day in 1985, because he’d died of a heart attack on his way to see him. The day the sadness started. July 16, 1985. He remembered feeling the torrent of emotions that grip him daily for the first time, trying to wrestle with the fact that the only person who really cared for him was gone. Even though he was an adult then and was better able to cope with it, the knowledge that the only person who truly gave him security would no longer be there to help had a crippling effect. As he dove into his midnight meal, he was overcome by the memory of when his isolation started, because now he was an island, a person held too aloof to for anyone to understand. That’s why he became fond of Yves, because there was another man, also held to be aloof, grappling with the same sense of isolation that he felt. However, in looking up to his father he was always afraid that he could never live up to expectations, and always panicked at the first sign of trouble. That’s why his first wife left him along with Steven, because he was too afraid to love them properly; and Yves...as much as he wanted to love him like a son he was too afraid that he too would find him inadequate.

Still, on this lonely winter day Yves was the only one he could talk to, even if he didn’t think Yves truly understood him. He nervously picked up his cell phone and called the Agent, even if it was late.

“Jason,” said Yves, groggy at being woken up so late at night.
“I’m sorry for doing this to you, Doctor,” said Simeon, apologetic.
“Is everything okay? Where are you? I’ll come find you.”
“No, no, it’s okay. Stay where you are...I’m not sure there’s much you can do for me anyway.”
“It must be pretty serious if you called me Doctor.”
“They took her Pascal, they took her.”
“Jason...back up a minute...who’s ‘they’...and who’s ‘her’...you’re not making any sense.”
“A year ago I find this wonderful woman, Maeve Donovan, working some brilliant experiments on psychological genetics for Mendel University. I was writing a paper on it for Georgetown University so I thought I’d E-Mail her for some thoughts. One thing led to another and we were exchanging E-Mails, on personal time. Then, one day, about ten months ago, she wrote to me telling me she was leaving for some undisclosed location and that I could only call her through a pay phone, and once a week. We’ve been doing that ever since, but today...I called her only to find another voice answering the phone...I figured if she fled she was in trouble but I never knew who was targeting her...I don’t know what to do now. I need help finding her and you’re the only one who can help me...please Pascal, help me...she’s the first one to give me solace in my life since my father.”
“E-Mail me everything...every message you’ve written to her, every note you’ve ever written about her. I’ll get Morales to look into her file at Mendel and see if there’s any possible suspects and dig into her personal life and see what else we can find. Can you come tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow afternoon I’ll visit the Bureau.”
“Good. We’ll talk more then.”
“Have a good night.”

The next day, Quantico Train Station, Quantico, Virginia

As Yves entered teammate Zeke Coleman’s car to get a ride to the Bureau office, Coleman noticed he was rubbing his eyes this morning more often than usual. He didn’t think anything was wrong though.

“Looks like somebody had quite the night,” teased Coleman, flashing a full grin at Yves. “So, did Parkes try a new move last night?”
“Zoe and I are just friends,” said Yves, still groggy.
“Yeah, friends that sleep together and have Sunday meals at the parents’ house.”
“Nothing happened there…we just slept in the same bed…we’re really close. Like you and Morales.”
“Morales and I haven’t been in the same bed.”
“I don’t know…she’s like a teddy bear…she likes to snuggle. So do I.”
“Do you think you’re finally coming around to the fact that Zoe just may be the girl for you?”
“I realized she is more naturally caring than I thought she was…I guess because I saw her as a geek like myself she wasn’t the nurturing type, but she really is. Maybe I just like where we are and don’t want to wreck what we have.”
“Just enjoy the ride kid.”
“Simeon called me last night.”
“Simeon? The Simeon? The one that abandoned us in Milwaukee?”
“Yeah…that one…I’m meeting with him today.”
“Unless he’s come with an apology I want nothing to do with him.”
“Let’s just see what he has to say first…it could just be me working on the case. It seems pretty straightforward.”
“It’s Simeon. When is it ever straightforward?”
“He says he’s been talking to a Maeve Donovan for the past year or so, at first through E-Mail and then through a bizarre system where he calls a landline from a payphone and she calls that payphone back.”
“A payphone? Well, this is Simeon we’re talking about.”
“It’s a pretty interesting countermeasure. Calling from the payphone means that the caller is untraceable…as long as the landline is a fresh one and communication is solely between those two points, neither person could get detected.”
“Maeve did get detected though...either she slipped or, more likely, our stalker is that good...most are quite ‘professional’ about their craft.”
“I’m going to get Morales to trace the phone...that will give us a start.”
“Won’t be much of one...Maeve could be anywhere now.”
“We gotta start somewhere.”

Aaron Fitchner’s Office, FBII Academy, Quantico, Virginia

Fitchner was focused. His mountain of paperwork never seemed to end, and most of the time all he needed to do was write a profile and affix his signature. He often wondered why so many police departments called him for help- many times, the investigations are obvious, and all their requests just left him with busywork. He sighed, then took a break and looked at a picture.

Yes...Jeff. He smiled. He loved his adopted ten year old son more than anything else in the world. How he wished his first husband- and Jeff's primary caregiver- wasn’t so cruelly taken from him by George Farley, but, as he grappled with so many times, there was not much he could do about that. At least, now, he has a new love, now that Jack Joyner- who just barely survived the Blood Army attack in New York- was in his life. He wished he didn’t take so long to ask him out, but at least luck was working with him for a change.
His phone began to ring. Oh, please...what now? What stupid police officer needs my help now? As much as he dreaded picking up the phone, it was his duty to do so.

“Aaron Fitcher, Behavioural Analysis Unit Chief, speaking,” said Fitchner.
“Fitch,” said Simeon, at the other end of the line.
“Jason?”
“I wished we could have reunited under better circumstances, but there’s not much I can do.”
“Jason, as far as I’m concerned what happened was water under the bridge...I was lucky to get two quality years of service from you after the bombing.”
“How is Jeff?”
“Jeff’s doing fine...his hockey team just won the municipal championship...next up is regionals. How are you doing?”
“I’m not doing too good...I was hoping I could come in and talk to you about it...I haven’t been able to sleep a wink since it happened.”
“Since it happened? Since what happened?”
“Please, Fitch...I’d rather tell you in private...not here, at the reception desk.”
“All right. I’ll tell reception to give you a visitor’s pass.”

Fitchner hung up the phone. Pucci walked in to his office.

“You always seem to know when to come, don’t you?” joked Fitchner, dryly.
“You’re an old friend, Aaron. I just have that instinct,” said Pucci with a smile. “So, is it true?”
“Is what true?”
“Simeon is coming in?”
“How’d you know?”
“Well, when I walked in this morning I saw him, furiously pacing outside of the building...I figured something was up.”
“Jason...he’s always like that...always second guessing himself...‘do I?’ or ‘do I not?’ Nothing’s ever straightforward to him...you should see him ordering at restaurants.”
“Usually we spend twenty minutes waiting for the food...we can spend an hour waiting for him to make up his mind.”
“Parkes is a lot like him.”
“That’s why we’ve got to nurture her and make her understand that she is doing a good job...so she doesn’t end up like him.”
“I do think Parkes has a better head on her shoulders though, but you’re right...we need to show her that we care about her because we know what happened to Simeon...he’s a neurotic mess because he never believed anyone ever truly cared about him.”

Outside, Simeon could be seen exiting the elevator that brought him to the BAU floor space. BAU member Emily Proctor was the first to see him.

“Jason?” she asked, cautiously.
Simeon didn’t even bother looking at her, believing she was the one who ultimately cost him his job at the BAU. He walked away, looking nervously at Fitchner’s office.

Fitchner, however, heard Proctor and stepped out on to the floor immediately. He walked with purpose to Simeon and gave him a hearty handshake. Simeon responded by taking his other hand and placing it on Fitchner’s back, drawing the two of them closer together, a move Fitchner reciprocated. Simeon began to sob.

“It’s good to see you, my friend,” said Simeon.
“It’s good to see you too,” replied Fitchner, with a smile. Pucci simply looked on.
“You still have Proctor here? I thought she was trying to get rid of you.”
“Yes, Proctor was brought in to be Erin Strauss’ mole, but she turned the tables and blew the whistle on her...we have a new director, his name is Lucius Black. He’s...he’s actually pretty cool so far, certainly easier to work with than Strauss ever was.”

Simeon then turned around and walked towards Proctor.

“I’m so sorry Emily,” said Simeon, purposely clasping his hands forward. “Fitch told me you saved his job, and probably could have saved mine.”
“No hard feelings,” said Proctor, who gave Simeon a hug. Simeon seemed to hold on a bit longer than she was used to, but she let it go.

Moments later, Technical Analyst Andi Morales and media liaison Jenna Jayme “JJ” Cooke walked out and greeted their one-time co-worker.

“Andi,” said Simeon, embracing Morales. “You precious dove...are you still using that MP3 player I got you?”
“Every day,” replied Morales. “I’m amazed it’s lasted so long.”
“You sweet angel,” replied Simeon with a warm smile. “I know I had a bad way of showing it, but your vibrancy gave me the energy to continue on.”
“Glad I could help,” said Morales, smiling. “Good to see you, Jason.”

“JJ!” said Simeon, turning his attention to Cooke.
“No hug from me,” snapped Cooke.
“I understand...you’re bitter I left you in Milwaukee. I know there’s no words to tell you how sorry I am about all that...I’d tell you that I’ve changed and that I’m in a better place now...but I can’t change how you feel.”
“Maybe you should have thought about that before you walked in here. What, did you think I was just going to jump right into your arms? You make me sick.”
“I wasn’t expecting anything...I just hope one day you’ll forgive me.”
“Keep dreaming pal.”

“I’m sorry about JJ,” said Pucci, “she’s got issues at home.”
“It happens,” said Simeon. “I didn’t take it personally.”

Around the corner came Parkes, who was visibly agitated.

“For the last time, Anderson, I’m not giving you my phone number!” said Parkes, angry at Brian Anderson, the office’s “designated photocopier”.
“I just needed your help on some files to put away,” replied Anderson, sheepishly.
“Ask Yves! Leave me alone!”
Anderson took it as his cue to leave, scratching the back of his hanging head as he walked away.
“Men...” Parkes shook her head, before noticing Simeon.

“So you’re Agent Simeon? I’m Agent Parkes” said Parkes, with a smile.
“Yes I am,” replied Simeon, extending his hand to shake. Parkes had a better idea.

Parkes decided to give Simeon a hug, a long, warm one. She held him like he was her dad, and Simeon responded by holding her as if she was his daughter. Simeon’s emotions got the better of him, crying uncontrollably on Parkes’ shoulder. They embraced for what seemed like an eternity, with years of sadness oozing out of Simeon in that very moment.

“How’d you know?” said Simeon, still holding Parkes but coming face to face with her.
“I can just tell,” said Parkes, “that no one has really given you a hug in a really long time.”
Simeon laughed. “Well, I had a few this morning but I know what you mean.”
“Pascal has told me a lot about you...and I felt so bad for you. I decided to give you a hug the first time I saw you...and here I am. If you ever need anything...please...don’t hesitate.”
“I won’t.” Simeon kissed the top of her forehead before the two of them parted.

“She is a delicate little flower,” said Simeon, fondly. “Take good care of her, she’s special.”
“Don’t we know it,” said Pucci with a smile.

Entering the elevator was Yves and Coleman. Yves gave Simeon one of his trademark smiles, but Coleman stood, staring at him coldly.

“Zeke,” started Simeon.
“Agent Coleman,” scolded Coleman. “Don’t you ‘Zeke’ me.”
“Agent Coleman, I’m sorry. I guess you’re still upset at me.”
“You guess?”
“Listen...if it’ll help, you can punch me as hard as you can in my stomach...I know it won’t do much, but if it helps take out some of your anger towards me, then by all means.”

Coleman wasn’t going to take that invitation lightly. As soon as Simeon said it and opened up his stomach for attack, he readied his fist before Fitchner intervened.

“Coleman, please!” said Fitchner. “Not in the office, at least.”
“We’re not done,” said Coleman, passing by Simeon and holding his finger towards him.
“Coleman!” snapped Fitchner. “A word.” The two walked into Fitchner’s office and closed the door.

“I’m not working with that guy again!” said Coleman. “Whatever case he’s come here with, I’m out of it.”
“Coleman,” said Fitchner. “I know you’re upset at what happened in Milwaukee...but that was five and a half years ago. We just need to work with him on business...I need to know you can handle that. Otherwise, you can just walk out the door and come back next week.”
“Fitch? Seriously? I’m not letting you bully me into working with the guy.”
“Then I guess we shouldn’t have helped clear your name in front of Stan Gordinski.”
Don’t go there Fitch! I am this close to quitting.”
Fitchner took a deep breath, realizing he chose the wrong words. “I’m sorry...I don’t mean to make this personal because this isn’t personal...promise me you’ll at least listen to what Jason has to say...you may not need to work with him, and if you do...please just look at this as any other case. We’ve worked with some jerk detectives before, but our sense of justice prevailed, and at least Jason is trying to be conciliatory. Please, can I count on you to at least be civil?”
“Okay Fitch.” Coleman agreed his duty to justice was more important than his ego, and thought that if Fitchner was giving Simeon a second chance, maybe he should too.

As they stepped out of the office, Coleman called Simeon over.

“I’m sorry about earlier,” said Coleman, shaking Simeon’s hand. “We still got a lot to work through...but I see that you’re trying, so maybe I should too.”
Cooke also approached Simeon, having been talked to by Pucci. “I’m sorry too,” she said. “My home life isn’t what I thought it would be after the wedding bells, and you are trying to make things right, so maybe I should too.” The two of them also just shook hands.
“JJ, Coleman,” started Simeon, leaning against the railing leading to the superiors’ offices. “I don’t expect to regain your friendship overnight...I just hope we can work together for at least this one case and then afterward we can see where we go from here.”
“Understood,” said Cooke, with Coleman nodding in agreement. “I’ll get the war room ready.”

After a few minutes, Cooke invited the team into the war room, where Simeon led the discussion.

“Okay,” started Simeon, still somewhat nervous but regaining his composure now that he had gotten the pleasantries out of the way. “This,” he said, as a picture of Donovan appeared on the screen, “is Maeve Donovan. She’s 50 and a divorcee like I am. She’s a geneticist at Mendel University right here in Washington. A little over a year ago, while I was away in my chateau in France, I was writing a paper on the genetics of psychopathic behaviour when I decided to E-Mail her for help. We traded a few E-Mails, which got more personal with each subsequent message. I fell in love...and I think she did too. We were about ready to meet when, one day, she told me she had to flee. She didn’t tell me why, though, but it involved having to move to an undisclosed location. She gave me a phone number and instructed me to only call her from a phone booth. I was supposed to vary my locations, but there’s only one phone booth in the entire Washington area, in Jessica Davies Park in Alexandria, that allows someone to call it back, so I kept calling from that phone. I figured that she has a stalker after her which is why she wanted to escape detection, and, for ten months, it seemed to work.

“Then, yesterday, everything changed. I didn’t hear her voice at the other end of the line. I heard a voice, which was being masked. He wouldn’t tell me who he was or what he was going to do with her, or even where he was going...I just know, he caught her. He referred to me by name, I didn’t offer it, and ended the conversation by saying ‘zugzwang Jason.’ That’s where I’m at right now.”

“Zugzwang,” said Yves. “That’s the term in chess for the moment where a player is forced to make a move due to the rules of chess even when there isn’t a move that puts him in any kind of advantageous position.”
“So this is a game,” said Parkes, “and apparently the stalker thinks they’re going to win.”
“The E-Mails vary between descriptive and vague, as if she’s trying to hide something…possibly because of the stalker,” noted Proctor. “So there’s not much there. Have you met Ms. Donovan?”
“No I haven’t,” replied Simeon, hunched over the table. “I’ve been to Mendel University before, many times, though, so there could be a mutual contact that knows us both, but it’d be tough to narrow down.”
“What else do you remember about the message?” asked Proctor.
“I’m not sure…it’s all been a haze,” said Simeon, “but I think I recall something where the stalker asked why I couldn’t help her out…I really don’t understand what that means.”
“When, during the call, did the voice recognize you as Simeon?” asked Coleman.
“He didn’t even wait for me,” replied Simeon. “Right before I opened my mouth he said ‘Hello Jason’. So he must know about our relationship.”
“This stalker has done his homework,” said Coleman, “just like I thought.”
“The phone number,” pondered Pucci, “have you traced it?”
“It’s a completely made up area code,” said Morales, “and it’s unlisted. So she’s paying extra for that. Her credit card activity has also ended, as well as her bank activity...she’s just receiving straight cash.”
“She probably has a courier then,” said Fitchner, “who receives her cheques in cash and takes a cut for himself.”
“I don’t think she’d hire just about anyone for that job,” said Parkes. “That’s an awful amount of trust you’re leaving in a courier, not to reveal her location- and to handle her money.”
“So we’ve likely got a murder on our hands too,” said Pucci. “The stalker likely got the information on Donovan through the courier- no chance he’s going to let the courier live and potentially spill the beans.”
“Couldn’t the stalker just hire a private investigator to find all this out?” asked Coleman. “It’d be pretty easy to tail a courier.”
“What if she does her work on a computer and leaves with the courier on a flash drive?” replied Parkes. “The courier could just go to the library and E-Mail her superiors, maybe even with her own E-Mail address- that way she can continue doing her work without having to go anywhere near campus; and, of course, if the courier only shops for her locally and varies their shopping routines it adds another layer of protection.”
“You are a smart one, pumpkin,” said Morales, looking up her files. “She did, in fact, E-Mail her work from library computers- in fact, a different one each time. She’s crazy good.”
“She also has a wide net of people she could talk to, being a teacher,” noted Yves. “That’s an awful lot of people to investigate, and no one is compelled to talk to a P.I. The courier himself probably won’t tell anyone they’re connected to Maeve at all.”
“Did Maeve ever tell you why she never went to the police about her stalker?” asked Fitchner to Simeon.
“I don’t think she did,” said Simeon. “I think she believed the stalker would just ‘go away’ if she paid him no attention. The last few times we talked she was much more alive and free, so she must have felt that he had left.”
“Lulled her into a false sense of security,” said Proctor.
“She stayed cautious though, from what I can tell,” said Simeon. “She promised me that when her ‘issues’ were resolved that we’d meet, and not once did she suggest doing so.”
“She probably did let her guard down a bit,” said Parkes. “The longer that someone feels that they’re ‘safe’ the more likely they are to take risks...because each passing moment is an indicator that their troubles may actually be over.”
“What we need to do is find out who she would really trust,” said Fitchner. “We profile her, find out who could have been murdered and profile the murderer. Once we do that, we’ll find where Donovan is. Coleman and Yves, I want you guys to visit Mendel University and find out about her professional life. Proctor and Parkes, I want you guys to interview her family and see what you can find on her personal life. Pucci and I will look over missing person and unsolved murder reports and see if anything fits the profile. Simeon, you can join Pucci and I. Let’s get to work.”

Mendel University, Washington

“Professor Dalhousie will be with you in a minute,” said the receptionist, Donna Winters. She was a young, petit woman with black curly hair, with a perky smile that drew people in. Yves was struck by her, and concluded she did her job really well.

“Thanks Ms. Winters,” said Coleman, who then left to take a seat next to Yves.

“You like her, don’t you?” said Coleman quietly, with a smile.
“She looks nice,” said Yves, “but I like Zoe.”
“You’re drawn to her though.”
“She does a great job. She’s very likeable. I’m thinking she should work in Quantico…the receptionists we have can be very haphazard.”
“I think ‘haphazard’ is kind, kid.”

“You guys must be Agents Coleman and Dr. Yves,” said Professor Philip Dalhousie. “Glad to meet you both. Dr. Yves, I’m particularly enthralled by your epileptic theory of sadism…it’s riveting stuff.”
“Epileptic theory?” asked Coleman, intrigued.
“Basically I’m postulating that everyone has a certain amount of predisposition to violence,” said Yves. “Like epilepsy, we all have a ‘chance’ to get it, but some of us have better chances than others; and I believe the chance to become a violent offender is affected by events in the person’s life, with some people needing less triggers while others need more. Like Coleman here…say something against the Blackhawks…he’ll snap.”
“Caps guy here,” said Dalhousie, “sorry agent.”
“Oh yeah?” said Coleman, feigning anger. Yves and the professor had a laugh. “Just you wait for the Stanley Cup League.” The professor grinned, before leading the two agents to his office.

“Maeve Donovan,” started Dalhousie. “She was a recluse…which, I guess for someone in her profession isn’t that uncommon. We’re professors, and our work typically takes up all of our time. Our social lives are extremely limited, if we ever get time for one at all.”
“Still,” said Coleman, “she must have had someone she liked talking to. Were you guys friends?”
“Friends,” said Dalhousie. “I guess you could say I was her friend. Oftentimes we were the only left at the lab…we were both dedicated to our crafts. It wrecked our marriages…we got closer together…and then…”
“Then?” said Yves, noticing the inflection in Dalhousie’s voice.
“…and then we had a fight,” said Dalhousie, his voice consigned with resignation. “I was devastated. I thought I had found the love of my life, but Maeve didn’t think so. She said the relationship got repetitive and boring, and that it was weird working together now. I told her that many people make work relationships work…but she was dead set on ending it. There was not much I could do.”
“When did you guys break up?” asked Coleman.
“This was over two years ago,” said Dalhousie. “It made working together tough but we’re professionals…we toughed it out. We eventually repaired our friendship, so much so that when she told me about this new guy she met that I was excited for her. Then.” Dalhousie stared at the ceiling, pensively, before resuming eye contact. “All of a sudden, she left…and she wouldn’t tell me why. I thought her and her boyfriend had run away together…I guess I’m wrong.”
“That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” said Coleman. “There’s someone she trusted more than anyone else, and that person is murdered, we suspect. So if we find the person she trusts, then we can find her stalker.”
“Why look for a murder?” asked Dalhousie. “Seems like a waste of time.”
“We think her net is too wide,” said Yves. “A person in her profession has likely encountered a lot of people who could hold a grudge against her, and stalkers are known to begin their fixations for even the smallest of matters. Not only that, but we don’t know where she is…her courier, whomever they are, was likely the only person to know, so if we find out who killed her courier, we can be that much closer to finding her.”
“Well, if you’re looking at me I didn’t have anything to do with it,” said Dalhousie.
“We’re not accusing you of anything, Professor,” said Coleman, assuredly.
“I don’t know who in this place she’d trust enough to do that,” said Dalhousie, “I mean, besides myself, but she never told me where she was going…so I can’t be of much help.”
“Do you know what places she liked to visit?” asked Yves.
“She was particularly fond of Dallas,” said Dalhousie. “Whenever we visited she would always go on wistfully about it. She also has a villa near Raleigh that she loved visiting…she loved the open air…she was never one for the city. She really loved the Carolinas…we made frequent trips down there. Other than that…I can’t really be of much help I’m afraid.”
“Okay, well if you don't know who she trusts,” asked Yves, “who hates her?”
“Take a look out into the halls,” said Dalhousie, “and take your pick.”
“She was that prickly with her students?” Coleman asked, bemused.
“No,” answered Dalhousie, shaking his head with a bit of a laugh, “but in our profession, we meet so many people as your colleague noted...there's always that few that don't take a liking to you. It's inevitable.”
“Were there anyone who was exceptionally confrontational with her, or just ‘hung around too much’?” Yves asked.
“Nobody strikes me at the moment,” said Dalhousie. “There were a few from time to time but nobody really struck out as that abnormal. I'm sorry guys.”
“Can you take us to Maeve’s office?” asked Coleman. Yves looked at him with concern.
“Sure,” said Dalhousie, getting up. “It’s right this way.”
“Thanks,” replied Coleman.
“Coleman,” said Yves, as the two of them started to walk with Dalhousie. They went to reception first to get a key before going to her office. “Fitch didn’t tell us to go in there.”
“I don’t really care what he has to say,” answered Coleman. “I got a good feeling about this, and she’s missing…we don’t need clearance to look at her stuff.”

Eve Donovan’s House, Rockville, Maryland

“I didn’t know she was missing,” said Eve, Maeve’s sister and her only surviving immediate family member. She was flailing about in her living room, prancing nervously.
“You didn’t know?” asked Parkes, intrigued at the statement. “I find that kind of strange.”
“You guys live together,” said Proctor, sharing the same sense of incredulousness. “Or at least you did.”
“Do you know how many times she just ‘ran away’ on some ‘mission’?” answered Eve, curtly. “Without even ever telling me what she was doing?”
“I understand that you’re upset and perhaps you’re trying to distance yourself from what happened,” said Parkes, softly, “but if we work together we can find your sister.”
“Just so you guys can turn around and accuse me of kidnapping her, right?” snapped Eve.
“No,” replied Parkes, still calm. “We’re not going to do that. It’s obvious in your voice that you care deeply about your sister.”
“What do you remember about ten months ago?” asked Proctor, realizing Eve was calmer.
Eve took a seat on the couch in front of the agents. “She didn’t mention much,” Eve explained. “She left without much warning…Maeve was always secretive…she never trusted anyone. She did date this guy from her lab for many years, but she was always reserved about him, like she didn’t want to open up to him but felt compelled to. It was all very odd, but Maeve never did things by the book.”
“She must have trusted you,” said Proctor. “You guys live together.”
“She only lived with me because she had to,” said Eve. “Because of all her trips she was going in and out of debt...she was unstable...she needed someone to keep her grounded, but she tested my patience a lot.”
“You said she was unstable,” noted Parkes, “how did it not affect her job?”
“Being primarily a researcher she justified a lot of expenses,” said Eve. “However, after a certain point, the University stopped paying for them, but she had a lot of hunches in her field. I mean, it did pay off...she’s one of the leading geneticists in her field, and that had a lot to do with her research trips...but it took a lot out of her.”
“Sounds like she was really dedicated to her craft,” said Proctor.
“ ‘Dedicated’ is an understatement,” said Eve with a bit of a warm laugh. “She loved her job...but it meant she had very few in the way of friends, and, being at the top, she was always looking over her shoulder. She hardly trusted me and I’m her sister!”
“What were some of her favourite places to visit?” asked Parkes.
“She kept going on about the South,” said Eve. “Especially Carolina. She loved Dallas too...said life was ‘laid back’ there and made her forget how busy her life had become. I bet that if she fled somewhere...she’s there.”
“I don’t know,” said Parkes, skeptical. “Where’s Maeve’s room?”
“It’s upstairs...I can show it to you,” said Eve, concerned. “You don’t believe me?”
“Not that I don’t believe you,” said Parkes, “but I think if she were to flee from a stalker, she’d go in the last place that anyone would think that she is. Meaning...she’d go somewhere where not even you would know where she was going. She didn’t trust anyone, it seems, so she wouldn’t want to be easy to find...I know, it doesn’t narrow it down much, but I think we can rule out the South as a possible destination.”
“If you don’t know who she trusts, who hates her?” asked Proctor.
“Shouldn’t that have been where you started?” asked Eve, with a hint of incredulousness.
“We were afraid that a woman in her position would have a net too wide,” said Proctor assuredly. “So we figured finding the person she would trust doing her deliveries would be easier.”
“Nobody acting strange that I know of,” said Eve.
“I think,” said Parkes, “more importantly, I want to know where she hated visiting. That’s where we’ll find her.”
“Well...you could pick any place in the Arctic,” snickered Eve.
“No,” said Proctor. “Somewhere close...if she ran off without warning she couldn’t go very far, especially since she didn’t miss a day of work and thus would have wanted to get comfortable to resume her work quickly.”
“She hated Baltimore,” said Eve, confidently.
“Baltimore?” said Parkes, intrigued. “Why Baltimore?”
“She said it is too run down,” said Eve. “Always felt depressed going there.”
“Too run down,” noted Proctor, starting to think. “Meaning...lots of abandoned warehouses she could hide in.”

Maeve Donovan’s Office, Mendel University

“Okay, thanks,” said Yves, getting off the phone.
“Who was that?” asked Coleman, digging through her bookcase.
“That was Parkes. She believes she’s in Baltimore.”
“Baltimore? Why Baltimore?”
“She said that Baltimore made her feel depressed and that she hated going there...so it’d be the last place anyone would think to look for her.”
“Makes sense...would throw off a potential stalker.”
“She also said she went on a lot of trips for research purposes.”
“This could be another one of her trips. Now all we have to do is figure out what she could be researching.”

Yves took a glance at her computer and made another call to Morales.

“How can I help Pinky and the Brain today?” beamed Morales.
Yves laughed. “I sure hope you’re not calling me ‘Pinky’,” he replied.
“Hey!” said Coleman, mocking anger. “Who are you calling Pinky?”
Morales smiled through the phone. “Make sure you tell my boy toy that I think he’s smarter than that mouse,” she said.
“Actually,” said Yves, “if I recall those cartoons correctly, I think it’s Pinky that’s always smarter than Brain...anyway...we’re getting off track. I need you to hack into Maeve Donovan’s computer, can you do that for me?”
“Right away, Boy Wonder,” said Morales, who then hung up the phone.

“Hopefully this will tell us what she was working on,” said Yves, waiting for Donovan’s computer to come to life. In a few minutes, the screen turned on, but it was blank.
“It’s got nothing on it,” said Coleman, who found the sight curious.
“The System Restore Points are cleared too,” said Yves, looking through the system. Coleman placed a call to Morales.

“Babygirl,” he started. “Maeve seems to have cleared her entire computer...now I know you restored Lila Archer’s servers just a while back, so I need you to restore Maeve’s computer.”
“That’s a bit trickier,” said Morales. “Internet servers are required to have backups in case things go wrong...a personal computer can be wiped clean without needing a backup...however, there’s a chance I can restore it because it’s on a school network and those usually require backups...but, it’ll take some doing.”
“Do what you can,” said Coleman, hanging up the phone. He then looked around the office before spotting something.

“Yves,” said Coleman. “Catch.” He then tossed a journal at Yves. It was edited by Simeon. “It’s dated two weeks before her disappearance.”
“This hasn’t been published yet,” said Yves, “it’s just a manuscript that she’s contributing to. It’s revolutionary stuff...I can see why Simeon would want her involvement.”
“Genetics and gang warfare,” said Coleman. “I’ve always wondered if violent personalities have a predisposition to being drawn together.”
“It would certainly make sense...perhaps the gangs got her.”
“Or she went to Baltimore to study them. Baltimore has been known for its gangs.”
“Why would she put herself in danger? If I was running from a stalker I’d want to go somewhere safe.”
“Danger, Yves? The gangs are protecting her.”
“Or at least they did.”

The two agents left the office and walked back into Dalhousie’s office, with the journal in hand.

“Do you know anything about this, Philip?” asked Coleman, firmly.
“Not at all,” said Dalhousie, intrigued at the find. “I didn’t even know she was studying this...she didn’t tell anyone.”
“Really?” Coleman didn’t seem to believe him.
“I’m saying it as honestly as I can...really.”

Yves tapped Coleman on his shoulder to get him to exit. “I think he’s telling the truth,” said Yves, reading Dalhousie’s body language. Coleman nodded his head for “yes” and departed, the journal in hand.

BAU War Room, FBII Academy, Quantico, Virginia

“Baltimore, Baltimore, Baltimore...” said Pucci, combing through the files of possible murders, having received tips from the investigating agents.
“We have to look in areas where gang activity is the highest,” said Fitchner.
“Downtown, where the Ravens play...that’s our best bet,” said Simeon. “Downtown Baltimore has had its issues with crime, especially after football games.”
“It’s right by the docks too,” said Pucci, digging through the files.
“Jason,” said Fitchner, turning his attention to Simeon, “you know Maeve the best...do you think she’d go to Baltimore?”
“I think it’s plausible,” said Simeon. “She was studying the genetics of gang violence...now I remember, she asked to contribute to a journal on gang violence I was editing…I had forgotten about it since I didn’t think it would ever get off the ground…it’s been so long, a lot of things have gotten lost in the details. We didn’t get to talk about places she liked visiting...she was secretive about that...I never understood why…that was one of my first clues that she had a stalker, if she didn’t want to reveal that kind of stuff to me.”
“So it wouldn’t have mattered if we had asked that in here earlier,” said Fitchner.
“Nope,” said Simeon, “wouldn’t have helped.”
“Why do you think she was secretive with you?” asked Pucci. “She must have trusted you.”
“She was paranoid…always afraid someone was listening,” said Simeon. “I recall that most often in our conversations…as much as I reassured her that no one was there she never felt she could truly open up. I do believe, deep down inside, she was trying to ultimately protect me- I got that feeling from her conversations. Even though she never said that she loved me, I felt it.” Simeon smiled, getting wispy about his new love, before Fitchner’s voice made him snap out of it.

“Okay, Jason,” said Fitchner, “I have here a Marcus DeRullo…aged 28…shot dead just outside of Raven Stadium…he was a ‘straight A’ student at the top of Maeve’s class three years ago.”
Simeon put on his reading glasses and examined the file before shaking his head.
“What about this one?” asked Pucci, handing Simeon a file. “Maria Marquette, 52, worked at Garber Pharmaceutical Research…also found dead last week right by the Baltimore Docks.” Simeon again shook his head.
“Julia Masters,” said Fitchner. “46, straight ‘A’…” Fitchner’s voice was cut off by Simeon again shaking his head.
“Frederick Marsden...this one is miss-” started Pucci before being cut off again by Simeon shaking his head. Pucci and Fitchner then just kept feeding him files.
“Peter DeYote?”
“Giula Verdone?”
“Edward Jones?”
“Yamina Farquad?”
Simeon was steadfast, continuing to shake his head upon just glancing at every file.
“Okay, well, it’s got to be this one,” said Pucci, handing Simeon another file before Simeon again shook his head. Pucci got up and shook his arms violently in frustration.

“We’ve just given you nine files!” stammered Pucci, continuing to flail away with his arms and hands. “How can none of these guys provide any hits for you?”
“Maeve Donovan was very selective about who she trusted,” said Simeon, curtly. “Those people are too distant from her to qualify as anyone she trusts…really, only her closest friends and family would do, and sometimes not even they did. We may need to investigate those murders too at some point- nine in a week?”
“Baltimore P.D. will worry about that one,” said Fitchner. “Right now, we need to figure out who the dead courier is.”
“What if the courier is the stalker?” asked Pucci. “It’d be the perfect cover, and could explain why the stalker waited so long to strike at Maeve.”
“It’s possible,” said Fitchner. “It brings us back to Square One but…at this stage, I don’t think we’ve gotten anywhere anyway.”
“I had a feeling that maybe we didn’t have a dead courier,” said Simeon, letting out a heavy sigh. He stepped outside of the office to grab some air. That’s when his cell phone rang.

“Hello Jason,” said the same robotic voice that answered him at the park.
“How’d you find my number?” asked Simeon, distraught.
The voice mocked him in its reply. “From Maeve, dummy.”
“Maeve wouldn’t betray me.” Simeon breathed heavily and started to fumble around in his speech.
“I think you’ll find that when your life is on the line, you’ll do just about anything.”
“Let me talk to her...LET ME TALK TO HER!
“Okay...okay...you don’t need to yell.”

“Hello?” said Donovan, sounding drugged.
“Maeve,” said Simeon softly, hope tingling through his despair.
“Please, Jason...you gotta help me...save me from her.”
“I’m doing everything I can. You’re okay right?”
The call disconnected before Donovan could reply.

An hour later, the team was back in the War Room to analyze what they’ve found. It was now evening.

“Okay,” said Fitchner, trying to put everything together. “We know she’s in Baltimore. She picked it because it was close to where she worked but also a place she hated, meaning potential stalkers would be thrown off for a while. We also know she’s working on gang violence research and Baltimore would be the perfect city for that, with the gangs perhaps protecting her against her stalker. We’ve narrowed it down to the downtown area by the docks around Raven Stadium, which has plenty of abandoned warehouses for her to hide in. We still don’t know who her courier is and reason the stalker may be the courier turning the tables on Maeve, because there are no murders that fit the profile. That’s about it.”
“Fitch,” said Simeon, “I’ve got something to add…the stalker…she called me an hour ago…I spoke with Maeve briefly.”
“ ‘She’?” said Coleman, intrigued. “How do you know for sure?”
“It was excited utterance,” said Simeon, “Maeve pleaded with me ‘you gotta help me…save me from her’…she sounded like she was in actual danger so she wouldn’t make that statement up.”
“So if her stalker is the person she trusted,” thought Parkes, “I think Proctor and I have already met her.”
“I’m going to leave you guys to that,” said Fitchner. “Coleman, I’m going to co-ordinate with Baltimore P.D. so they can lead you to the Docks with an officer so you can talk with the gang members there and see if they’ve met Maeve. Pucci and I will go to the police headquarters and speak with the Sheriff and see if there’s any connection between the murders and Maeve- I know, Jason, you dismissed them but we still need to investigate any link. Yves, I want you to work on a geographic profile here with Jason. Let’s get to work.”
“Fitch,” said Simeon. “Please let me come with you to Baltimore...I want to see her.”
“Okay,” said Fitchner. “You and Yves can join us in Baltimore then.”

BAU Interrogation Room

“I told you guys at my home- I don’t know where she is,” said Eve Donovan, exasperated. “Why the heck don’t you believe me?
“You were pretty evasive when we did talk to you,” said Proctor, “and you would be the one person she would trust the most…so that tells me you know more than you’re letting on.”
“We aren’t here to bury you,” said Parkes, softly. “We care about your sister as much as you do. All we want is your help.”
“You expect me to believe that claptrap?” scoffed Eve. “You guys arrest me and bring me in here not because you want to help me, but because you want to bury me. That’s the point of these interrogations, right?”
“We’re not calling this an interrogation, Eve,” continued Parkes calmly. “This is just an interview.”
“It’s a continental offence, Eve, to withhold or destroy evidence,” said Proctor firmly. “So unless you want a nice obstruction of justice charge, Eve, why don’t you just tell us where Maeve is so we can end this charade?”
For the last time,” said Eve, visibly agitated, “I don’t know!
“Listen Eve,” said Proctor, looking at her watch, “if you help us out, then maybe there’s a chance you can get out in time to enjoy the night…it’s still pretty early and many of the bars here in Quantico have drink specials.”
“You’re not going to let me out,” snapped Eve. “You’re just going to get your confession and drag me to prison.”
“Okay,” said Proctor, smugly. “The choice was yours. Zoe, what do you think about that place down the street?”
“I’ve been meaning to go there for so long,” said Parkes, feigning excitement.
“What place down the street?” inquired Eve. The two agents simply ignored her, except for Proctor giving her an innocent wave before she closed the door.

“Do you think we’ve got the right person?” asked Parkes. “I believed her the first time we talked to her…just that…knowing what we know now.”
“I agree,” said Proctor. “Something felt funny in that house…now we’re going to figure out what.”
“So when do we come back?” asked Parkes.
“Give it another hour or two,” said Proctor. “Let her stew. She’ll remember something when we come back.”
“You don’t actually want to go to the bar, do you?” asked Parkes.
“If Fitch hears we were drinking while on duty, I think he’d have a field day,” said Proctor, “but at least we can pretend.”

Baltimore Docks, Baltimore, Maryland

“All right,” said Coleman, coming up to a group of teenaged boys part of a gang called The Dockers. “My name is Zeke Coleman. I’m with the FBII. I’m not here to cause trouble or bring any of you in…I just want to ask you guys a few questions.” Coleman held up a picture of Donovan. “Do any of you know this lady?”
“No,” said one of the gang members. “She’s pretty though.”
“Okay, so nobody came with a cotton swab or a syringe to draw blood?” asked Coleman, surprised. “She’s studying genetics in gangs.”
“Why would she need to come ask us?” said another gang member. “We’re already in the system…if she’s a professor or something, I’m sure she can get past all the rules and stuff.”
“What about the nine murders that happened here in the Docks last week?” asked Coleman, sternly. “You guys must know something about that.”
“If any of us killed anybody, do you think we’re going to tell you?” asked another gang member, incredulously. He then turned fierce. “Listen, Mr. FBII Agent, I suggest you take a walk, or we’ll make you take a walk. You’re not welcome here.”
Coleman walked up to the gang member’s face. “Do you think I’m playing around?” said Coleman, fiercely. “Do not test me.”

The gang member responded by attempting to punch Coleman, an attempt which the agent caught. Coleman then deftly punched him in the stomach, levelling him. The rest of the gang responded by trying to swarm him, but Coleman was up to the task. A few were tougher fights than others were, but none proved to be any kind of challenge for the battle-hardened Coleman, who escaped the fight with nothing but a few bruises while the gang was left defeated to catch their collective breath.

“I told you,” said Coleman, glaring at the gang. “Don’t play with me.”
“Okay, okay,” said another gang member, still catching his breath. “The gang wars…they’re starting up again…last week, our gang came under attack so some people got shot dead or got caught in the crossfire.”
“Including Marcus DeRullo?” snarled Coleman.
“Marcus,” started another gang member, “we had him killed...he killed one of our own, Peter.”
“Peter DeYote?” said Coleman.
“Yeah,” replied the gang member. “In fact, some chick did the job on Marcus.”
“Some chick?” said Coleman, visibly angry with the member’s choice of words.
“Okay, some girl,” he stammered, “I didn’t know her well…I just knew she was friends with Peter…she was young but older than him though.”
“Do you have a name?” asked Coleman sternly.
“No I don’t,” said the gang member. “None of us knew her that well.”
“What about the warehouses?” asked Coleman. “We believe the lady we’re looking for is hiding in one of these warehouses, and that you guys are helping protect her.”
“Peter had a whole block to himself,” said another gang member.
“Which ones did he have?” asked Coleman.
“Between 6th and 7th Streets, north of 2nd.” said another gang member. “It was a long block...since they were his we didn’t go inside them...we just left them to him and since his death was so recent we haven’t had a chance to check them out ourselves. If your lady is inside one of these docks, then only Peter would know which one she’s in...his girl, she was hardly ever around here.”
“Well, if you remember anything else,” said Coleman, handing the gang member his card, “don’t be afraid to call.”

Coleman then turned his attention to the police officer assigned to him. “Thanks for your help,” he said, sarcastically.
“I thought you had a handle on it,” said the officer. Coleman could only shake his head.

Baltimore Sheriff’s Office Break Room

Before starting the geographic profile, Simeon and Yves thought they would play their favourite game- chess. Yves figured it might relax Simeon, who was visibly stressed by the ordeal.

“One of these days, I’m going to beat you,” said Yves, contemplating his next move, which Simeon easily countered.
“I think you’re getting there,” said Simeon, with a soft smile. “It’s only a matter of time Pascal. You’re a smart man.”
“So Maeve had very few people she actually trusted.” Yves made another move that Simeon again countered.
“She was very paranoid. Very subconscious about herself and her work. I knew we'd have a hard time trying to find her courier.”
“Maybe we need to think outside the box on the person she trusts.”
“We've already thought outside the box on location, so that makes sense.”
“She was unstable, so maybe she wouldn't trust the people closest to her...the whole 'keep your enemies closer' thing.”
“Okay...but that means we'd have to look at her extended network...that will take days.”
Yves scrunched his mouth, as he realized he now frustrated himself.
Simeon made a move. “Checkmate, Pascal.” He didn't gloat though, because he beat Yves too many times.
Yves contemplated the board. All looked lost, but then he saw something. “Nope. Checkmate to you, Jason.”
Simeon, surprised, looked at the board before realizing that he had, in fact lost. He smiled for Yves. “Good work, Pascal. I'm proud of you.”
Yves then had another thought. “The receptionsit at Mendel...what's her name?”
“Donna Winters, why?”
“That's the courier...that's the one.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“She had a way of drawing people in...you looked at her and believed you could trust her. I saw it for myself, and Donna would be the only one who would have access to her E-Mails and work files...nobody else would.”
“So she’s with Donna,” said Simeon.
“Yeah,” answered Yves. “Let me call Fitch.”

“Fitch,” said Yves, calling Fitchner. “I know who her courier is.”
“Who is it?” asked Fitchner, with interest.
“Donna Winters, the receptionist at Mendel University,” said Yves. “She’s the last person anyone would think Maeve would trust, and Donna is extremely trustworthy. She’s also the only one who has access to her work files and E-Mail.”
“Get Morales to run a background check on her. Meanwhile, Coleman says that she was in a warehouse located between 6th and 7th Streets, north of 2nd Avenue. It’s a long block…do you have a geographic profile ready?”
“We don’t have a geographic-”

Simeon grabbed the phone from Yves. Meanwhile, Yves used the break room phone to call Morales.

“We won’t need to do a geographic profile, Fitch,” said Simeon. “Just get me a picture of the block…I know which one she’ll be in.”
“How will you know now when you didn’t before?” asked Fitchner.
“All this ‘thinking outside of the box’ and all the clues we have now.”
“Okay.”
“What have you found on the gang murders?”
“Police are wondering about Peter DeYote’s murder. It looks like it was staged.”
“Staged?”
“Yes. They’re thinking it was done to frame Marcus- his watch was at the scene.”
“Interesting.”

“Once Mr. Prickly gets off your phone,” said Morales, “you can see the map of the area I sent to it. I’ve also sent you Donna Winters’ background, as per the Grandmaster’s wishes.”
“Thanks Morales,” said Yves, who took another call from Parkes.

Simeon got off the phone. Yves talked to Parkes for a bit before concluding that call.

“Peter DeYote,” said Yves, “that was Donna’s boyfriend...Zoe said her and Proctor got it out of Eve in interrogation...Eve said she didn’t think much of Donna because she only met her once but realized, thinking back, what everything meant now.”
“Peter’s murder was made to frame Marcus,” said Simeon, “so Donna likely used the gang wars as a cover for an argument with her boyfriend, and shot Marcus to bolster the claim.”
“How do you know?”
“Fitch said Peter’s murder looked staged, implying that Marcus was framed. The question is, why?”
“Maybe that’s why Maeve was taken...because she was studying gangs and thus Donna believed she might be able to help her when she screwed up.”
“So she created this mess...and she’s grasping at straws.”
“We need to proceed with caution...gangs...this almost never ends well.”

Undisclosed Warehouse, Baltimore Docks, Baltimore, Maryland

“Maeve,” said Winters, entering the room with Donovan before locking it behind her. She started to pace frantically. “The feds were here...you need to help me.”
“Why?” sneered Donovan. “Why should I help you now? You made this mess- you need to clean it up.”
Winters started to stammer. “Peter...I didn’t...I didn’t mean for him to die.”
Donovan answered mockingly. “Right. It was supposed to be someone else...I get it...”
“No...no one was supposed to die...I was just supposed to take you to get Jason to come here.”
“...and now that you’ve screwed up you panicked so you rushed things and now you’re furiously trying to cover your tracks...that’s why you dragged me here.”
“I understand you’re upset.”
“Upset? I’m more than upset. You take me here against my will and expect me to be happy about that?”
“Bear with me...this is all going to work.”
Donovan could only roll her eyes. “You didn’t think the feds would figure out you screwed this up...now you’re in real trouble, Donna.”
Winters could only wipe her face, filled with stress.

The streets of the Baltimore Docks, Baltimore, Maryland

“I know one of you clowns knows where she is,” snarled Coleman, approaching the Dockers, who cowered in fear. “Where in this mother f---ing cesspool is Maeve Donovan, you nitwits?”
A gang member walked up to Coleman, holding his arms up as a gesture of non-violence. “Okay...Agent Coleman...I’m the leader...they call me ‘Shaft’,” said the gang member, who finished with bravado. “The ladies gave that one to me.”
“ ‘Shaft’, huh? You ain’t Richard Roundtree,” answered Coleman, mockingly.
“Richard who?” said Shaft, bemused.
“The original ‘Shaft’, genius,” cracked another gang member.
“Do I need to mess you guys up again?” said Coleman, angrily.
“Agent...please,” pleaded Shaft. “I don’t know why you think we know who Maeve Donovan is...we don’t know who she is...that was Peter’s duty...we got nothing to do with that.”
“Then maybe you want to tell me who framed Marcus DeRullo,” snarled Coleman, “because that was staged...you guys did that just to make sure Donna Winters kept having her ‘protection’, didn’t you?”
Shaft and the rest of the Dockers looked at each other with genuine concern. “Donna?” said Shaft, in shock. “That’s her name? No...she came to us, Agent...she was the one who told us that Peter was dead...none of us knew...said that Peter and Marcus got into some fight and that she killed Marcus to defend herself and get revenge for Peter...we didn’t see any of that...she tricked us too, Agent.”
“Shaft,” another gang member called out, “I just realized Rubber Ducky is missing.”
“Rubber Ducky?” said Coleman, bemused.
“He loved that song...you know, that song, from ‘Sesame Street’?” said Shaft. “So now do you believe us?”
“How’d that b*** get your guy so quickly?” asked Coleman, with concerned surprise.
“Rubber Ducky was always a sucker for women,” said Shaft. “He was out getting dinner when you were here before...he must have seen Donna or something and she lured him.”
“Well, do you guys want to have some fun?” said Coleman, “I’ll let you guys have some of the best toys from the FBII if you help me out.”
“She’s hit too close to home,” said Shaft. “How could we not?”

Baltimore Sheriff’s Office

“Fitch,” said Simeon, pointing to a mauve coloured warehouse in a printout from Yves’s phone. “She’s right there.”
“What makes you so sure?” asked Fitchner.
“Mauve is Maeve's favourite colour. All this time we’ve been doing things because it’d be the places we’d least expect Maeve to be in,” reasoned Simeon. “However, I think Donna would flip the scales and try to throw us off.”
“She sounds like a profiler,” said Pucci.
“That’s because she wanted to be one,” said Simeon. “I had her in a class five years ago...I didn’t realize it until Morales gave me her background file...I had failed her, that’s why she’s a receptionist.”
“So she took Maeve to get back at you,” said Yves, “and to help out when she messed up with the gangs.”
“It’s all starting to make sense,” said Simeon. “Where’s Coleman? I want to join him.”
“He’s coming back to the station,” said Fitchner, “so are Parkes and Proctor. They’re coming with the SWAT team.”
“SWAT? Do we really need them?” said Simeon.
“We’re dealing with gangs, Jason,” said Pucci. “In fact, as I understand, Coleman’s enlisted The Dockers’ help, since it appears that Donna has taken one of their members.”
“Sounds like we’re going to have some fireworks,” said Yves.

Donna Winters’ Warehouse

“Donna?” said Simeon, trying to call her using Rubber Ducky’s phone.
“Well if it isn’t Jason Simeon,” snickered Winters. “The one who wouldn’t give me that stupid ‘C’ on my paper to pass your course.”
“Donna, it wasn’t worth the...” Simeon stopped himself, realizing now wasn’t the time to have that kind of fight.

Behind him, Coleman noticed a camera leading up the stairwell. He stepped out of the camera’s viewpoint and placed a call to Morales.

“Babygirl?” he said with urgency.
“Yes Mr. Bond?” beamed Morales.
“There’s a camera in the stairwell...I need you to hack the feed.”
“I can do better than just hack it...I’m going to hijack it and make train the camera on you guys standing there...all Donna is going to see is you guys standing there and not the actual feed.”
“You are my bread and butter girl.”
“L’amour toujours, mon Cherie.”
Coleman smiled. “Wait for my signal. When I say ‘Go’, put that into the feed.”

“Please...Donna,” pleaded Simeon. “Don’t hurt her...take me instead.”
Winters grinned, realizing Simeon was playing right into her trap because he was lost in love. “Okay,” she said. “I’ll take you...but only if you come up here, and only you. Your FBII buddies have to stay at the bottom. Got it?”
“Yes, yes, I got it.”
“Are you wearing your weapon?”
“No.”
“Take off your vest.”
Simeon took off his vest and his sweater, putting the vest underneath his sweater.
“Now come up. I’m right at the top.”

Simeon walked up the stairs, purposefully. When he reached the top and entered the room, Coleman gave Morales the signal to hijack the feed, which she did.

“Maeve,” said Simeon, overcome with emotions. “I’m so glad to finally see you. Can we at least have a few minutes?”
“I ain’t letting you two get your freaky on,” snapped Winters, brandishing a gun.
“I just want to hold her for the first time...kiss her for the first time,” said Simeon, his heart melting at finally meeting his lover.
“Please, Donna,” begged Donovan. “We’ve waited so long for this.”
“Okay fine,” fumed Winters. “Make it quick though.”

The two of them embraced before starting what was supposed to be a passionate kiss. However, Simeon felt something was amiss and backed away.

“You!” screamed Simeon. “You! YOU TRICKED ME!” Simeon was now enraged. “How could you, you little runt!”
Donovan laughed after backing away. “Donna really wanted to get back at you,” said Donovan, feigning sweetness. “So she enlisted my help. We decided it wouldn’t be that fun if we just let you come to the University...no, we had to hit you where it hurt most- your heart.”
“Why? Why? Why?!” Simeon could only gasp. He then shook his head softly before continuing. “You played me...you played me for over a year...made me believe that I had achieved the one thing I had missed the most.”
“Your happiness?” Donovan smiled as Winters laughed in the background. “I think I told you not to come in with your vest.”
“I’m not wearing my vest.”
“Take off your sweater. I see it peeking underneath it.”
Donovan pulled out a gun. “I’m not playing, Jason.”
“Then why don’t you come to me...show me what kind of a shot you really have.”
“See that bull’s eye? I shot right through it.”
Simeon saw that Donovan had, indeed, shot a bullet dead centre. He tried not to be deterred but it was hard, trying to wrestle with the emotions of the moment.
“Checkmate, Jason.” Donovan cocked her gun and pointed it at his head.

“Drop it!” hollered Coleman, appearing from behind the door. The Dockers and Parkes appeared right behind him.
Winters got scared. “What are the Dockers doing here?” she quivered.
“Why don’t you tell us why you killed our brother?” said Shaft. “You made us believe you were in trouble when it was you that caused that trouble.”
“Maybe Donna you want to start where the web of lies ends and the truth begins,” said Parkes, glaring at Winters. She then turned her attention to Donovan. “So that’s why you never called the police…because you knew as soon as they would look into this ‘stalker’ of yours that you just made it all up.”
“There was always something fishy about you Maeve,” said Coleman. “Always. Of course, you can pick the ending- you can drop the weapon, come peacefully and maybe my boss downstairs can talk about giving you a deal…or I’ll shoot that gun right out of your hands. Now you can think death is all about a ‘blaze of glory’ but I got ten guys right here who know it’s nothing like that.”

Winters panicked. She hurriedly opened a closet and pulled a bound and gagged Rubber Ducky and held him up against her body, putting her head right next to his.

“Ducky!” called out Shaft. He called out to Winters fiercely. “Donna! Put him down! I will not let you do this!” He then continued with a reassuring tone, without losing its intensity. “Don’t worry man, I got you.”

Winters wasn’t listening to a word Shaft said. She cocked her gun and placed it right next to her head, holding Rubber Ducky’s head right next to hers. Shaft didn’t waste any time upon seeing what Winters did, firing his gun and shooting Winters right between the eyes. Donovan responded by aiming her gun at Simeon, but she was met with a bullet from Parkes’ gun, shot in the head once Parkes realized what she was doing. Both Winters and Donovan died instantly. The rest of the team, upon hearing the shots, came running up, with Fitchner and Pucci tending to the gang to see how Rubber Ducky was doing.

Simeon slumped to his knees and wanted to cry, but for some reason he decided to just stare at the two dead bodies. He stared, confused, not sure if he should cry that he had just lost the woman that he had loved or be angry that the love he felt was nothing but a lie.

“I’m sorry man,” said Coleman, patting Simeon’s shoulder softly. Coleman was in as much shock as Simeon was. Parkes, after ordering paramedics to come tend to Rubber Ducky, came to tend to Simeon. Yves took a seat right next to Simeon. Parkes held his hands and looked into his eyes, but he continued with his thousand-yard stare.

“Agent Simeon,” started Parkes.
“Please, you can call me Jason,” said Simeon, still distraught.
“I wish there was something I could say to you right now, make all the pain go away,” said Parkes.
“I know she gave you something to live for,” said Coleman, “but I hope, deep down inside, you’ll find the strength to continue.”
Simeon smiled, and then placed his hand on Yves’s shoulder while continuing to hold Parkes’ hand. “I do have something to live for,” he said, warmly. “You guys. Everyone in the BAU. Heck, every victim I’ve helped save. You guys are my family; and I thank you so very much.”

Shaft turned his attention towards Simeon and gave him a warm smile. “That was deep man,” said Shaft, noticing Simeon. “Chick just holds a gun to your head and you don’t even flinch. You got some impressive skills man.”
“You should hear the story of how he dealt with The Footpath Killer sometime,” said Yves.
“Shaft,” said Coleman, turning his attention to the gang leader, “you guys did good today. We should talk. I’ll be able to help you guys get some fun jobs in law enforcement and get yourselves out of this life.”
“I think we’d like that,” said Shaft. “These streets could use some real cops.”
Coleman smiled and was about to hand him a second card before he realized he’d already done so.

The next day, FBII Academy, Quantico, Virginia

“Just examined The Dockers’ file,” said Fitchner, talking to Coleman in his office. “They’ve all got assault convictions of some kind, though they’re all minor. It might take some doing before a judge, but, from the looks of it, their crimes were defensive in nature and all were in retaliation for an injustice in their community- this was a gang that beat up two rapists that operated in the Docks at various times.”
“It was obvious talking to them that they did have a sense of justice,” said Coleman. “They defended their turf because the police weren’t doing their job. I think they just never got the right break.”
“I’ll see to it that their records are cleared. Coleman, I want you to train them as a unit of Baltimore SWAT.”
“Got it. Hopefully this brings some order to a city that badly needs it.”

Jessica Davies Park, Alexandria, Virginia

“So Jason,” said Parkes, playing a chess game with Simeon. “Do you think you’ll come back to the BAU? Or just the FBII?”
“No darling,” said Simeon, making another move. “As fun as it was to be out there on the field today, I’m too old to be out there full time…plus I enjoy writing papers and escaping to my chateau. I did tell Fitch that if you guys ever need an alternate to call me.”
Parkes smiled. “I’m glad to see you happy again.”
“Happiness comes from within, Zoe. I learned today that I don’t need others to make me happy…I make myself happy. I also learned I had people who cared about me all along- you guys. You guys in the BAU. You guys are my family. I wished I had learned it sooner.”
“Better late that never.” Parkes gave him a warm smile, before making another move. “You know, my mother’s single…I think you two would like each other. One of these days I’ll invite you to dinner at my place.”
“I think I’d like to wait before I give this relationship thing another go...I want it to be right, I don't want to enter into one because it will make me 'feel better', because I don't need one to feel better. However, in the interest of friendship I would be more than happy to come over one of these days.”

Yves came by with three cups of coffee.

“Sorry I took so long guys,” said Yves, frantically handing out the coffees. “How’s the game?”
“Zoe’s quite the player herself,” said Simeon. “I think you have a formidable foe.”
“I always keep Pascal on his toes,” said Parkes, with a grin. “We challenge each other…there’s this synergy with our minds…I love it.”
“You two really are special,” said Simeon, fondly. “Your youth brings so much energy and enthusiasm…it really rubs off on everyone. Don’t ever lose that…I know this job can rob you of any hope for humanity and make you lose hope, but do everything you can to fight it, and remember it’s your job to restore the hope and happiness that these killers rob from society. Your youthful buoyancy gives people hope…don’t ever forget that.
“I learned that just the other week, Jason,” said Parkes. “I shot and killed my tormentor, Eric Poulsen. I felt so bad about what I had done until his sister- whom he had kidnapped- came by and gave me a big hug. That’s why today I didn’t hesitate to do what I did at the warehouse- because seeing Lana reminds me about why I do what I do and that hope always emerges from sadness.”
Simeon smiled, happy that Parkes has the right frame of mind. He then made another move on the chess board. “Checkmate, Zoe.”
“You bugger!” exclaimed Zoe, examining the board. “You are good!” Simeon and Yves just laughed, before taking over the chessboard for a game themselves.