Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Fic: Sobek Drowning

Sobek Drowning Part 2


“We need to narrow down the unsub’s age,” Hotch told his team.  “Basing off of the victims isn’t possible.”

Rossi listed the obvious.  “His physical abilities indicate that he’s young but he has more self control and patience than one would expect from a twenty-five year old.”

“The first victim was twenty-seven and that was the most impulsive we’ve seen this particular unsub.  He killed Ramirez without water,” JJ supplied.

“It was raining that night,” Griffin remembered.

Prentiss nodded.  “That could be the reason he went outside though he had no logical reason to do so: He needed the water to be there.”

Reid joined the others and laid the map on the table, “I finished my geographic profile, but there is no visual overlap.  He’s all over the city.  We’ll have to find some other similarity.  If Burkhardt and Parrish are correct on their assumptions in the park, we might have a cone of directionality, but it relies on more assumptions than I am comfortable making.”

Renard frowned.  “Where did you get the map?”  His eyes traced certain routes.  “That’s old.  Things have changed since it was printed.”

Griffin had a realization.  “Wait a sec.”  He walked to his desk and returned with a newer map.  When the two were lined up, it was easy to see the clue.  “The unsub is sticking to areas of the city that haven’t changed in the last ten years.”

“Oh,” Burkhardt breathed.

“Detective, what do you see?”  Hotch prompted.  “You’ve had a better handle on this unsub from the beginning.”

“I don’t think he’s a local, but I think he used to be.  I think he returned home to Portland and people had changed.  That’s why your tech couldn’t find him in the Portland incident reports.”

“The actual stressor could have happened anywhere,” Rossi agreed.  “Then he came home, maybe to put himself on an even keel or more likely for safety and then what?”

Reid jumped in with a partial profile.  “He saw Ramirez.  He knew Ramirez before leaving Portland.  Maybe the unsub used to bully him, but he comes back and Ramirez doesn’t act like prey anymore.  That’s why he knows the back roads and shortcuts so well but is avoiding the new developments.  But there’re problems with that theory.  He had to be stalking Ramirez for him to catch him alone.  Ramirez lived and socialized in the newer section of town, but worked in the gym that had been there for thirty years.”

“Okay,” Prentiss slowly spoke.  “Let’s refine the profile.  Ramirez catches his attention somehow and the unsub starts poking around.  He doesn’t like how Ramirez has changed and he really doesn’t like how he’s teaching others to change too.  He kills Ramirez in such a way that it’s a warning to his bodybuilding class.  The gym is the most logical place for them to have crossed paths.”

“But I couldn’t find anyone one the list or on the surveillance that matches the profile,” Garcia reminded her over the open phoneline.

“He’s still pretty young.  Doing the math, he left as a teenager and returned as an adult,” Rossi mused.  “It explains why we can’t match anyone from the local domestic calls.”

“Garcia?” Morgan called.

“Ready and waiting, my sweets.”

“We’re looking for someone who graduated from high school with Ramirez and went out of town or state for college and just returned within weeks of Ramirez’s death.  He might have a juvie record but he’ll definitely have some domestics called on him wherever he might have been.  Start with people who graduated from Ramirez’s school within four years.”

“In either direction,” Reid added.  “If this guy is as big of a bully as we’re thinking, he would have enjoyed picking on upperclassmen.”

“Well, I’ve got a list of eighty-seven domestic disturbances.  Not as bad as it could be but worse than we’d all like.  But here’s the thing, Ramirez’s ten year reunion was two days before his death.”

“So everyone is in town.”

“Yes.  Thirty-nine of which are on my list.”

“Send the information through.  All of it.  We’ll organize it and examine it in the morning.  Everyone go home,” Hotch suggested.  “We need sleep and we’ll look at the files in the morning with new eyes.”


Griffin arrived, well rested, and with a large box of Voodoo Doughnuts to share.  Burkhardt beat him to the office and didn’t look like he had slept, but he did look refreshed and brimming full of new ideas.  He pounced on the donuts with a child-like glee that reminded the experienced agents just how new of a detective he was.  JJ and Emily split a donut but the rest enjoyed the local specialty.  Renard looked tempted but refused.  Wu, on the other hand, stuck his head into the conference room to steal one.

“We’re running out of time.  The unsub is going to strike soon.”  Hotch dropped the stack of files in front of Reid.  “Can you winnow down the suspect pool any?  They all went to school together with Ramirez.  They communicate, especially now, so close to reconnecting at the reunion.  As soon as we start questioning some of them, the others will know and the unsub will probably vanish.  He’s moved once for safety, he’ll do it again to keep out of law enforcement’s spot light.”

Reid flipped opened to the first file and started to read at his normal pace.  Burkhardt’s jaw dropped as Reid’s finger slide down the page, absorbed all of the information, declared the suspect unlikely and then picked up a new file.

Burkhardt was practically green with jealous of Reid’s ability to speed read.  He didn’t bother hiding it.  When he saw Hotch’s amusement he shrugged.  “My aunt left me <I>volumes</I> of family stories upon her death and for being a librarian, it is remarkably unorganized.”

Renard was too interested in the personal revelation.  Burkhardt caught Hotch noticing thus and suddenly closed down.  Somehow Hotch had broken years of trust with one observation, not even spoken aloud.

Reid broke the silence.  “I’d be interested in seeing the books.”

“My family has been interested in fairy tales and folklore since, well,” Burkhardt’s grin widened, “the Grimm brothers.”

“Oh, are you related?” Reid asked.

“According to family history, yes.”

“So the books are in German.”

Burkhardt laughed.  “Pretty much.”

Reid had worked his way through a dozen files and still had eight possibles.  “I think this is going to be dependant on alibis and personal interviews.”

“We’ll divide up,” Hotch decided.  “Griffin and Burkhardt, Morgan and Rossi, JJ and I.  Reid will text everyone the addresses as he reads the files.”

“Let’s go say ‘hi’,” Burkhardt challenged with a grin.


It was a long day of interviewing belligerent suspects.  No one stood out as a probable unsub.  Burkhardt and Griffin were the first to return to the office.

“You went through your list awfully fast,” Morgan pointed out.  “Are you sure you didn’t miss the unsub.” 

Hotch wondered if he should have separated the local detectives and paired them with the BAU. He knew and trusted his team.  Though talented, Hotch didn’t have the same experience with Burkhardt and Griffin.

“Nick didn’t miss him,” Hank was quick to defend his partner.  “He just doesn’t need more than a couple words with a guy to know if someone is a bully with the ability to kill.”

“But you’re welcome to waste you time reviewing his work,” Renard added.  He was being honest but he was more verbal than normal, trying to mend fences with Burkhardt.  The detective in question stayed on the opposite side of the room from his boss.

“If you didn’t miss him and we didn’t miss him, then he wasn’t on Garcia’s list,” Morgan told him.  “How was he not on the list?”

“What incorrect assumption did we make?” Reid motioned to the stacks of files.

Burkhardt was scrolling through his phone.  “I’m going to troll my CIs and ask them if they know anyone who fits the profile.”

“Anyone that will talk to me?” Griffin asked his partner.

Burkhardt shook his head.

“Keep in touch,” Renard ordered.  “Keep Griffin up to date on your whereabouts.”

Burkhardt watched him carefully but nodded.  He hurried out the door, already dialing one of his CIs.  Griffin and the BAU dove back into the suspect list looking for irregularities.  They knew they had a limited time until the unsub struck again.


A few hours later, Burkhardt had returned empty handed and those who had stayed to comb though the expanded list of files were doing no better.  Everyone was waiting for the next victim to show up dead, they just didn’t expect her to call in the middle of the attack.

Burkhardt’s phone rang and the detective was obviously displeased with the caller.  He answered with a curt, “Burkhardt.”  The tone changed almost immediately.  “Ms. Schade? Adalind? Calm down.  You can do better than panic.  Where are you?”  Whatever the woman on the other end of the phone said made Burkhardt’s mouth tighten in distress.  He turned to one of the uniforms.  “Wu.  Track the GPS of the phone I’m connected to and text the address to Hank.”  He grabbed his jacket and ran out the door.

His partner was on his heels.  Hotch sent Morgan with them and called Garcia.  If the local couldn’t trace the phone call with the head start, Garcia would.

“Adalind?  Adalind?”  Burkhardt looked down at his phone.  “Lost her.  Wu did you get an address?” he yelled down the hall.

“Of course.  You doubt the Asian?” the sergeant yelled back.  “It’s in Hank’s phone.”

“Adalind? Adalind Schade?” Griffin echoed.  “My ex, Adalind?  Didn’t you tell me that she was bad news and that breaking up with her was the best thing I’ve ever done?  Why did she call you for help?”

“I’m not dating her.  Occasionally, she is a CI.”

“Does Juliette know?”

“She’s the one that made me help her.”

“Do you think it’s the same unsub?  Adalind is no one’s prey.”

“She lost her job, her apartment and got disinherited.  Her car was even repossessed.  She was out on the streets, Hank.”

“But I know exactly where your theory falls apart,” Griffin answered.  “Adalind would never help anyone else.”

Burkhardt winced the tiniest bit.  “I got her a job as a lawyer for Child Services and you know the way she hates to lose.  Not only is she bullying her way through case after case and getting them settled for the best of each child, she’s successfully gotten three high risk students into college after turning eighteen and doing halfway decent with their grades.”


“I gave her an enemy to dismantle, mostly to keep her focus off me.  Once we get the unsub in custody, she’s going to make a nuisance of herself.”

“That I believe.”

Morgan kept his mouth shut.  He was pleased they had a possible live victim.


Burkhardt parked the unmarked police car on the side of the road and faced the wild forest.  “Adalind!” he shouted.  Morgan and the local cops had their guns in hand in case the unsub was near.

The bushes rustled and a blonde woman stepped out into the open.  Adalind Schade’s arm was hanging listlessly to her side, broken.  Her bare feet poked out of holes in her nylons.  Her normally flawless hair, clothes and made-up face were filthy and ragged.  Her beauty was visible despite the new crisis.  Schade ignored her ex-boyfriend and eyed the federal agent with distrust.  “What is going on?” she demanded of Burkhardt, as if he were an idiot skipping his chores.  “Aren’t you supposed to protect the streets?”

“Ms. Schade.”

“What’s going on?” she asked again, taking in Morgan and Griffin flanking Burkhardt.

“You might have crossed paths with a possible serial killer, ma’am,” Morgan told her.

“You couldn’t put out a warning,” she accused Burkhardt.

“I didn’t think you fit the unsub’s criteria.”

“Obviously, you thought wrong.”

Morgan stepped in between the two, trying to play peacemaker.  “Ma’am.  How about we get you to the hospital so they can set your arm, give you some pain medication and only after it kicks in will we interview you concerning your experience.”

Schade and Burkhardt were still deep in a staring contest.  “I want clean clothes,” she demanded.

Now, Burkhardt smiled but it was closer to his smile for a bully than that of the protected.  “I’ll send Monroe.”

Schade didn’t like the offer, but she didn’t refuse it either.


Hotch took one look at Ms. Schade (freshly showered and clothed in a tailored suit that cost as much as his) and decided that JJ would have the best chance of getting the woman to open up.  As a suave, driven career woman who had been buffeted by circumstances beyond her control, JJ understood Schade’s mindset.

Unfortunately, Schade would not trust JJ.  Her answered were curt and just barely truthful.  Like any good lawyer, she answered the question, only the question and offered no additional information.

JJ was floundering.  “Did he wear a mask?” she finally asked.

“Yes.  You wouldn’t see what I saw.”  Whatever secret Ms. Schade was keeping that, at least, was the truth.

“Tell me what he said,” JJ prompted.

“He told me that I should accept my circumstances.  That I should lay down and die.” 

“And what was your response?”

Schade lifted her chin.  “I refused and kicked him in the balls.”

“Good for you,” JJ cheered grimly.  “What happened next?”

“He hit me.  Hard.  Lifted me right off my feet and sent me across the building.  I finally could get to my mace in my purse.  I shot it in his face, took advantage of the distance he gave me and I ran.  End of story.  Where’s Burkhardt?  I want to talk with him.”

Behind the one way glass, the rest of the BAU team looked at Burkhardt.  The man looked rather chagrinned at the victim’s demand.

“Do you know how much she hates you?” Rossi asked the detective.

Burkhardt nodded solemnly and the profilers knew that the hatred was mutual.  “I caught her and prevented her from doing something illegal.  I stopped everything before it was enough to prosecute her –a lawyer- but since she failed in executing the job, she lost everything.  In some ways, it’s my fault that her family abandoned her and because her family threw her out, she lost her job and then her place.  Her hate for me is just slightly less than her hatred for everyone else.”

Hotch nodded at the room.  “Go get answers.”

Burkhardt picked up his notes and left.

“Another audition?” Rossi teased Hotch quietly.  The Agent in Charge refused to answer but there was a moment of alarm on Renard’s face.  Morgan’s too.

“Is someone leaving the team?” Morgan asked.

“Not that I’ve been informed,” Hotch answered.  “But taking into account length of training and several more psych classes I’d like him to get under his belt plus the general time in the field as a Fed, about the time he finishes all of that, someone will have moved on or will be taken out of the field due to injury.”

“He’s just wants to have a batter on deck,” explained Rossi.

Burkhardt entered the room and told JJ, “I’ll take it from here.”  The female agent was experienced enough to accept the change with grace.  As soon as she vacated her seat and exited the room, Burkhardt took the chair and dragged it away from the table, all the way to the wall.  He was putting excessive space between himself and the victim.  “Ms. Schade,” he said coolly.

The lawyer grinned with too much teeth.  “Detective Burkhardt,” and the words were practically a threat.

“He’s treating her like she dangerous,” Morgan murmured. 

“And she’s treating him the same way,” Rossi pointed out.  “As if he wasn’t her first call the moment she was in trouble.  She didn’t call 9-1-1.  She called Burkhardt.  He’s in her speed dial.”

“At what point did you realize someone was watching?” Burkhardt started.

“Leaving the office, but I have admirers, it didn’t worry me then.  I was late.  It was dark.”

“Did you spot the Unsub on your walk to the tram?”

“Nothing full on.  A few profiles maybes.  He was careful not to draw attention.”

“At what point did you realize something was wrong?”

“Something hit my shoe.  I think it was a rock.  It broke the heel.  It was too much of a coincidence.  Walking in the shoes despite that slowed me down to the point where I missed my bus, but I wasn’t going to walk barefoot until it was vital to survival.”  She could have let someone know that the circumstance was wrong but had been fiercely independent and determined not to waste her contacts on a nuisance or a vague worry.  She believed that she had limited good-will with her contacts and considering that a man she hated, Burkhardt, was the first one she called when the incident escalated, it was somewhat understandable that she waited.  Schade had no one she could depend on if she was resorting to Burkhardt.

“And then?”

She shrugged, most graceful.  “I think he threw a rock or something into a tree as I was passing under it.  A <I>dead bird fell on my head</I>.”  There was a bit a restrained fury but curiously not horror at the memory.  This was not a girl that got squeamish.

“And you thought?” Burkhardt prompted. 

“That one of the enemies I had made was harassing me.”  She looked pointedly at Burkhardt and Burkhardt scoffed.

She knew who had perpetrated the ugly prank now and so continued the story.  “I got out my phone and didn’t walk under any more trees, but that meant that I couldn’t pass under the trees on Oak Street to the next bus stop.  The only bus stop in town not near trees is on Wickliffe.”

“Do you know why he herded you to that part of town?” Burkhardt asked.

“Two of my clients live there.”  Adalind looked ashamed about confessing, “I wouldn’t lead him to the clients.  When I realized his plan I ran the opposite direction.”

“You controlled the situation.”

Adalind stiffened.  “I did as much as able.”

“You ended up in a warehouse near the port.”

“Yes.  Directly on the water.  I tried to exit the opposite door and the… <I>guy</I> was waiting for me.  Dripping wet.  I think he swam around –or under the building to beat me to the other side.”

Burkhardt waited a moment.  “And that was when he said…”

“That I should accept my circumstances.  That I should lay down and die.”

“Did you see his eyes through the mask?” Burkhardt asked.

“They were black but it was too dark to really tell.”  Ms. Schade was looking slightly shaky.  “It was very dark,” she murmured.

Burkhardt noticed.  “Would you like a break for some water?”

Schade nodded, relieved.

Burkhardt stood and waited at the door as Schade collected her belongings.  “Adalind.”

The woman jerked.

“You’re no one’s victim.”

Schade pulled herself together and smirked.  “Damn straight.  Where’s my water?”

“This way.”


When the survivor and the detective didn’t return to the interview room in a timely manner, Rossi asked, “Where’s Schade?  Sitting down with a sketch artist?”

“One better,” Griffin told them.  “Nick is an artist and she’ll talk to him but none of our regulars.  He found a quiet corner to draw.  Schade is with him.”

“Those two have a very interesting relationship,” Morgan had to say.

Griffin didn’t answer and they all knew that he had been manipulated in whatever illegal scheme that Schade had attempted.

Rossi mused aloud.  “No love lost between the pair but they trust each other to a certain extent.  They know where other stands.”

“As long as Schade is honest with Burkhardt, they can hate each other with the fire of a thousand suns,” Hotch told them all.

Fifteen minutes later, Burkhardt arrived with a sketch of a reptilian mask and an estimated height of the unsub.  He was over six foot tall.  Unfortunately, nothing more.  The mask indicated that the unsub was trying to hide his true self to his victims but it wasn’t unusual.


The next morning, Burkhardt knocked on the captain’s office door as Hotch and Renard were discussing the best way to handle the media starting to pick up the scent of the serial killer story.  Renard waved him in.

“Sirs, we have a problem… and a way to identify the unsub.”

The detective also had their undivided attention.  “One of my CIs just reported that there might have been an earlier victim.  A man, Nathan Nichols, in his late twenties, just a couple doors down from White.  He’s missing and has been since before Ramirez died.  I checked his house.”  He waved a cell phone in an evidence bag and a gun in a second bag.  “We have one phone call between him and the gym where Ramirez worked and apparently White bought the gun for him, serials match.  He went to a different high school than Ramirez.”

It wasn’t hard to follow Burkhardt’s train of thought.  “You think Nichols is the first victim of the unsub and that he was one that the unsub bullied in high school.  He was the stressor for the unsub.”

Burkhardt nodded.

Hotch palmed his phone and started dialing.  “I’ll get Garcia on it.  We’re looking for every parameter as before, in the second high school, plus an extremely fast swimmer.”  Burkhardt handed the agent a name of a high school scribbled on a napkin.  Before all of the agents and detectives could gather around the conference table, the computer guru had an answer. 

She paused long enough for Hotch to switch her to speakerphone and then announced, “Winner in the unsub evil villain of the day is a plain –but tall- young man named, Bulebuk De Dau.  Nathan Nichols had one main tormentor in high school and that would be De Dau.  His back story is interesting.  He was born in the Sudan, near the Nile.  Somehow, at the age of eight, he was put on a plane for the states where he was fostered by one Luke Taymor.”

The last name had both of the local detectives sitting up and taking notice.  “Taymor?”  Griffin repeated.  “Any relation to Leo Taymor?”

They could hear the click of the keyboard and then.   “Why yes, mysterious voice, Luke and Leo were brothers.  Luke was older.  Leo inherited his brother’s fifty acres when his brother went missing.  That fifty acres is currently in probate since Leo followed his older brother into the MIA category.  De Dau was nowhere, and I mean, not even mentioned or hinted at in Taymor’s will.  De Dau had been living with him for ten years at this point.  There are no domestic reports on record.”

“Leo was a crooked cop and then moved on to be a corrections officer,” Griffin told them.  “He could have covered it up.”

“When did Luke go missing?” Hotch asked.

“He was last seen the day after De Dau’s graduation.  De Dau barely graduated, he kept his grades just high enough to be on the swim team and he was a champion swimmer.  De Dau was a person of interest in Taymor’s disappearance but was already in Sudan before anyone knew that Taymor wasn’t around and no one had contact information.  I’m not seeing any activity on his passport until three weeks ago when he arrived in Portland via New York.  He was completely and I mean completely off the grid.  I don’t even know where to start tracking someone down if they don’t have any computers, let alone computer databases.  Obviously, De Dau has never been accused of domestic violence, just some suspensions in high school for bullying in the US.  But here’s the interesting thing… De Dau had been question twice concerning suspicious disappearances.  Nothing could connect De Dau to the victim but he had been a person of interest in both cases.

“Once, when he was fourteen, an eleven year old Heath Wildmen disappeared.  Heath had a habit of cutting across the very edge of the Taymor property on his way home from piano lessons.  On day he never returned home.  De Dau and Taymor were questioned but they didn’t say anything suspicious.  Two years later, Kelli no last name known, a homeless CI, disappeared.  When the cop that she reported to started asking around, De Dau was questioned since she squatted on his route home from the pool.  Again, De Dau didn’t raise any flags.  Two years later he exited the domain of my computers, stage left, to the wilds of Africa.”

“It’s going to be hard to profile De Dau without knowing exactly what he was up to in Sudan.”  Rossi wasn’t pleased with the prospect.  “For someone like De Dau, he wouldn’t have played the hermit.  He needs someone to bully to consider himself successful.”

“He needs multiple people,” Reid corrected with the reminder, “since he has a tendency to kill them off.”

“He would have made a splash, the problem is finding the ripples.”

“Garcia, send every case where De Dau was questioned,” Hotch ordered.

“It arrived stage right into your e-mail five minutes ago,” she huffed and hung up.


It was odd for Garcia to call when they hadn’t asked for a search, but Hotch found a quiet corner and immediately answered the phone when she rang.  “What is it, Garcia?”

She sounded uncertain, off-balanced.  “Sir?”

“Yes, Garcia.”  Just a simple confirmation was enough to center her.

“I just got off the phone with the most interesting person from France.  He said that he was peripherally attached to Doctors Without Borders.  He sent me a file on De Dau.  The man walked into a tiny town on the Nile, killed the tribal leader and assumed control.  He demanded worship and tributes and was basically terrorizing everyone in that village until NATO came to calm things down in the civil war and subsequent treaty between the north and the south.  He was one of the aggressors purposefully displaced.  He was assumed to be KIA but he must have escaped and made his way back to Portland.”

“That’s… interesting,” Hotch was force to say for lack of a better word.  “How did they know to send this information to you?”

“He was really, and I mean, really vague about it.  I’ll send you the file and everything looks legit but I didn’t find it myself so I can’t confirm its trustworthiness.”

Hotch was always amused by Garcia’s trust in the facts she hacked over those handed to her.  “We’ll read it with a skeptical eye.  Send it to the fax machine so that we can print out a copy for everyone.”

“And sir, I believe I might have found the connection in the… ah… side project you requested.  I needed Emily’s help to comb through French income tax records.”

“E-mail it.”

“It’s already on your phone.”

Hotch would deal with it later.  He had an unsub to stop.

Ten minutes later, when Hotch explained the mysterious source of the new international files, both of the Portland detectives twisted to peer into Renard’s office.

“Called in a favor?” Griffin guessed.

“Called in a favor,” Burkhardt confirmed.

“He has family in France,” Griffin explained to the BAU agents.

Morgan reached for the top file.  “Let’s see what his favor netted us.”

Silence reigned for several moments as all of them digested the contents.

“Well, it makes sense,” Rossi was the first to comment on the French report.

Prentiss tilted her head the slightest bit.  “They didn’t leave out any nuances between the French and the English translation.  What you’re reading is what they reported to their superiors.”

“This unsub really thinks that he was a god,” Reid muttered in disbelief.  “When he was removed from power, he had a psychotic break over and above his previous delusions.  Interesting.  He took on the name Sobek while he ruled.”

“And the significance?”  Morgan prompted.

“Sobek was a deity of Ancient Egypt, associated with the Nile and with the head of a crocodile.  So De Dau somehow decided to take on Sobek’s identity and demanded worship and people to be killed as an offering for him.  Why pick Sobek out of all of the gods?  He isn’t the most well known associated with the Nile.  And like all gods associated with the Nile, he was worshipped for fertility.”

Burkhardt choked on his coffee and drew the attention of all the agents.  “Sorry.”  He coughed.  “I wasn’t expecting that.  Schade mentioned that he had a crocodile mask.  I drew it as close as possible.”

“So the mask wasn’t hiding himself from his victims but showing them his true self,” Reid re-evaluated the profile.

“So he doesn’t think he’s a prophet of a god, he thinks that he is actually a god.  What is he going to do when we catch him?” Rossi mused.

“Grandstand? Or suicide?” guessed Morgan.  “We’ve never seen anyone with this level of delusion.”

“So we need to find someone local who knew De Dau.  We could start at the school?” Griffin offered.

Hotch agreed, but qualified it.  “Later.  First, we need to check out Taymor’s house.”


Taymor’s house was a bust.  No one was living there.  No one but vandals had lived there since Luke Taymor’s death.  If De Dau wasn’t at his childhood house, where was he?


“I’m looking for information on the social ladder of a certain graduating class,” Reid told the high school secretary.

She smirked and pointed across the street.  “That coffee shop has been a favorite of every graduating class since its inception.  If you’re looking for someone in the last thirty years, chances are good that there’s an alum who knew them sitting in there right now.  They’ll clear out about twenty minutes before school lets out and the current crop works on their caffeine addiction.”

Reid looked over his shoulder at the store front decked out in school colors.  “Thank you,” he told the busy secretary.

The whole troop walked across the street to the shop.  Hotch stepped forward and showed everyone his badge.  “We’re looking for some information.  Does anyone know what happened to Bulebuk De Dau after graduation?”

“Bule?” The name was well known to this school’s alumni.  The man talking to the agents was big all around.  It was safe to assume he had been on the football team as a teen.  He puffed up with importance as every eye was on him.  “Swim Team captain that led them to state.”

“Led is a misnomer,” another alum, a woman argued.  “He never once encouraged another team member.  It was more like he won every heat he raced easily and he threatened the other swimmers to win theirs.”

The man rolled his eyes.  “Nickel Head was just telling tales.  Exaggerating.  Bule might’ve played a little rough with the idiot but he didn’t actually try to drown him in the school pool.  Even the coach didn’t believe him.”

None of the law enforcement reacted in favor of gaining information.  Rossi could keep his tone even as he stepped forward and asked.  “Do you know if Bule is back in town?”

“Yeah, I’ve seen him,” the man shrugged.  “But then, only when he wants to be seen.  Bule is a smart like that.  He’s a survivalist.  Taymor made him one by making life in that house a living hell.  There’s a cave on the old Taymor property, gotta be on the north side of the lake, Bule never let me see it, but he used to live out there a lot.  Taymor was a mean SOB. There was a reason that Bule was on the first flight out of the country after graduation.  He wanted to go back to his origins and he wasn’t planning on returning.” 

“Do you know why he did?”

The man shrugged.  “He didn’t say.  He did look a little rough though.  Said he ate something that disagreed with him.”

“One last question,” Rossi smiled with too many teeth.  “Nickel Head would be the nickname for whom?”

The man was stumped.  It was obvious that he didn’t know the man’s real name.

“Nate Nichols,” the woman filled in.  Her dislike for bullies and her compassion for their targets were pronounced in the single name.  “Nate was a good guy.  He wasn’t the type to exaggerate or lie.  He started running long distances in the last couple years.  Did his first 5k two years ago and was working up to a marathon next year.  And a,” she hesitated, not entirely sure of the correct phraseology, “mini triathlon this year.  It was the first time he’d been swimming since the incident with Bule.”

“Wuss,” the male alumni muttered.

“Where would Nichols train for the swim portion of the race?” Hotch asked.  As a racer that had been training for his own triathlon, he knew the limited opportunities available.

The woman nodded and explained that Nichols would train in an old YMCA, the same location as some of his high school races.  The profilers exchanged glances as they all knew that De Dau would be familiar with it.  It was logical to assume that the pool was the first place the two crossed paths upon De Dau’s return to the states.

JJ took the woman aside for a more private interview and Morgan took the man aside for the same reason.  Neither gleaned anything of import.  The detectives and agents waited outside while the conversations happened.

“We need a tracker for the Taymor property,” Rossi said.  “We have to find that cave.  That’s where he’d be with it in legal limbo.  Know any good local ones?”

Griffin looked at Burkhardt and Burkhardt threw his hands in the air.  “Monroe made me promise that he wouldn’t have to deal with the Feds.”

Griffin huffed.  “Like you can’t talk Monroe around.”

“That’s beside the point.  I promised.”  Hotch liked that Burkhardt tried to keep his promises.

“Monroe’s good?” Hotch demanded of the locals.

“He’s part bloodhound,” Burkhardt promised with a hint of a wicked grin.

“It’s going to take a couple hours to gather the manpower and the warrants to search the Taymor property.  Can you, Griffin and your CI get there and find the cave before we get there?”

Burkhardt grabbed his jacket, and this blinding grin was more of a wolf on a scent.  “We’ll try.”

“Be careful,” Hotch warned.


Part 3