Cut and run, p.5

Cut & Run, page 5

 part  #1 of  Cut & Run Series

 

Cut & Run
 



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Page 5

 

  Zane frowned. He had no problem with giving the overworked team a day or two off, but how were they supposed to do any of the things Burns ordered if none of the team was around to observe? “We should have access to all the subsidiary case material,” he said slowly, not arguing openly. “I’d like to spend some time with the photos. ”

  “I’ll have them pulled,” Morrison responded diligently, obviously knowing he’d insulted the two older agents and hoping to make up for it.

  “Are any of the crime scenes still intact?” Ty asked.

  “Uh … I believe the most recent one is,” Morrison answered uncertainly. “May I ask why?”

  “I’d like to visit it,” Ty answered.

  “Me, too,” Zane added. He wondered if Serena Scott would mind going along and seeing the site in person. He’d have to ask her—unless Ty got it into his head to go right this minute.

  That thought made him realize that he really had no idea what Ty was trained to do or how he would behave on an actual case. The other man at least knew what department Zane came from, although that certainly didn’t expose his training. Some research to learn a little more about his asshole of a partner might not be a bad idea. It was obvious from the fact that he had been stationed in the Gulf that he had been military of some sort, and when Zane pondered that it didn’t really come as much of a surprise. It wouldn’t take long to request a file on Grady.

  “When would you like to go?” Morrison asked.

  “As soon as we’re done down here,” Ty answered with a nod to the lab doors as they approached.

  “That may be a bit of a problem,” Morrison answered nervously as Henninger slid his key card through the security slot.

  “Then fix the problem,” Ty said to him coldly.

  “The NYPD detectives assigned to the case haven’t returned our calls for two days. They don’t know you’re here,” Morrison told him.

  “So, what’s the problem?” Zane asked, stopping at the security desk.

  “Technically it’s still a joint case. The site was left in NYPD

  custody,” Morrison answered with a grateful look at Zane as Ty sighed in exasperation. “We’ll have to notify them of the changes to the case and give them—”

  “Then get on it,” Ty interrupted before stalking through the security door Henninger held open for him.

  “Go on,” Zane said quietly. “Let us know when it’s set up. ”

  Morrison fled, followed by his quieter partner, and Zane turned and followed Ty, wondering if this would be the pattern for the job: Hurricane Grady sweeps in, tosses everything askew, and sweeps right back out, leaving Zane to clean up the mess.

  He hadn’t worked his ass off the past two years to be a goddamn janitor.

  FOUR hours after entering the lab, Ty sat amid a flurry of papers and untidy stacks of reports. He leaned his elbows on the table, scowling heavily and staring at the shiny stainless-steel top.

  On the other side of the table, Zane was busily working on his charts.

  He just happened to glance up, the look on Ty’s face giving him pause.

  “What’s wrong?”

  Ty didn’t look up. His eyes were slightly glazed and his brow furrowed. “There’s no pattern,” he muttered. “The only things connecting these cases are the little tokens the dude leaves with the bodies and the fact they all end up dead. Other than that, there’s no common victim type, there’s no common MO. Weapon, cause of death, even the way he stages them. All different. ”

  He finally focused his eyes and glared at the files accusingly as if it was their fault.

  “Victim Number One; Kyle Walters,” he recited suddenly. “Wealthy Wall Street type, found in his bedroom, still alive, half-insane, suffering from severe hypersensitivity to light, sound, smell, you name it. Dies in the hospital without ever saying a coherent word. Cause of death is ruled a meth overdose.

  Hell, the only reason we even know this guy was a victim was the maid finding the token from the killer a week later. Serial killers tend to get their kicks from watching their victims die or from the power to kill. Why would he leave him alive and risk being identified?”

  “Maybe they get their kicks just as much from watching the suffering,” Zane suggested quietly, not looking up from his paper. His fingers moved over the charts, still making notes from the case files. “The best developing pattern is the fact that the victims are so different. Like he’s choosing specifically based on some reasoning. A majority of serial killers fixate on a particular style of victim—young blonde women or rich gay men, for instance. ”

  “Yes, dear, I’m aware of that. That’s my point. We have a thirty-seven-year-old male stockbroker; overdosed with shitty-quality meth,” Ty said as he closed his eyes and rested his head back against his chair. He shook his head, reciting everything from memory. “Next, Susan Harris, a twenty-something hooker found in nothing but a six hundred-count white sheet in the most exclusive cemetery in the state, all her teeth gone and no apparent cause of death. Then a double murder. Two young women: Allison McFadden and Theresa Escobar. Roommates, both suffocated, positioned in their beds as if they were sleeping. The only notable thing about them is that their hair had been dyed postmortem. Then we have the infamous set of twins who got the Bureau involved, Ryan and Russell Stevens. Killed at the Tri-State marker, one man in each of the bordering states, shot dead. Late fifties, an apparent double-suicide, if not for the token left by the killer. ”

  He rolled his neck and shook his head, trying to make sense of it.

  “The first guy was a brunet, the hooker was a bottle blonde but a natural brunette, the second and third were blonde and black-haired, then dyed the opposite, and the twins were both redheads. Both sexes, no common body type. Brown eyes, green eyes, blue eyes … hell, he doesn’t even leave the same tokens! Fuck it!” he spat. “All serials have patterns. It’s got to be there,”

  he muttered to himself.

  “Not having a pattern can be a pattern. ” The patient distraction was clear in Zane’s voice.

  “If he’s intelligent and not quite insane, he may be deliberately toying with us. It’s a game to him. ” While Ty was getting frustrated, Zane kept himself removed, focusing on the numbers and the data. “I want to plot the locations of the bodies to get an idea of the territory we’re looking at. ” He looked up to see Ty frowning, and Zane’s curiosity got the best of him. “Tell me, Grady, why the hell are you here? Why did Burns put you on this case?”

  “I understand that there is a pattern,” Ty responded slowly, ignoring the question momentarily. “I want to know what the fuck it is,” he ground out patiently. He leaned back and rolled his neck. “And he put me on it because he knows me. I’m good at sneaking around and I’m good at mind games,” he said curtly, not choosing to elaborate.

  Zane nodded slowly. He was starting to see why they’d been paired up for this freak show. Ty was good at mind games, Zane was good at details and patterns. And they so obviously didn’t work well together that they didn’t even need to make a show of it for the New York team.

  “I’ve got enough here,” he announced, closing his file and notebook.

  “Tomorrow we’ll talk with the NYPD detectives, and Serena Scott should return my call. Henninger and Morrison will either get us access to the scene, or we’ll get access on our own. ” He pushed back from the table. “You have anything else?” His voice was neutral.

  “No,” Ty muttered without moving. He was still staring at the files and frowning.

  Zane watched him silently for a long moment before saying, “Ready to head over to the hotel? I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for dinner and a drink. ”

  “You drink on duty?” Ty asked incredulously as he finally tore his eyes away from the files.

  “Doesn’t everyone?” Zane headed for the hall. “I have a new smartass partner to deal with, so certainly I can’t be bl
amed,” he muttered under his breath while he walked to the door and out of the lab. A few beers with dinner wouldn’t even register on a Breathalyzer with his body mass and would go a long way to new brainstorms, but he didn’t dare. That didn’t mean he didn’t dream otherwise, though.

  “You’ve never been a field agent before, have you?” Ty asked with disdain, calling out the question as he remained at the table, staring at the files and crime-scene photos.

  Zane stopped at the door, taking a moment to order his thoughts and push away the ghosts of his constant nightmares. “A drink now and then is not going to end the world. I’m guessing that you came from deep cover, which means you were always looking over your shoulder, living the part every minute, knowing one mistake would send you to the morgue. ” Zane knew the situation very well. “While it’s admirable, and arguably the most difficult job the Bureau does, you’re going to have to figure out how to downshift, or the people we work with are going to strangle you. You can’t work around the clock and stay sharp enough to crunch this much data and get inside a madman’s head. ”

  Ty tore his eyes away from the papers again and looked up at Zane seriously. “You think those boys down in the morgue downshifted before he killed ’em?” he asked flatly.

  “I think they were locked down as securely as they could get, with no reason to think they’d be found, much less attacked. Which means one of two things,” Zane responded, brown eyes hard and unflinching. “They’d either already screwed up and exposed themselves or someone who knew where they were gave them up, either by mistake or not. Either way, letting down their guard made no difference. They were already dead. ”

  Ty just shook his head and snorted derisively. He knew he was damned if he was going to let himself be shot in the chest as he slept. You never thought you were safe. Feeling safe got you killed.

  Zane could almost see the tension pouring off Ty in waves. “Are you going to the hotel or are you planning on staying here all day?” he asked.

  “I’m going to a hotel,” Ty answered as he stood and gathered his coat and satchel. “A different hotel. And you’re coming with me. ”

  Zane simply leveled a gaze at him, waiting for explanation. It was the first time the other man had even remotely indicated that he wanted Zane anywhere around him.

  “I don’t plan on losing another agent to this shit, got it?” Ty responded sharply as he stuffed several of the files in his bag and glared back at Zane. “Even if it is you. ”

  Zane supposed he should feel all warm and fuzzy about Ty at least not wanting him gruesomely murdered and left to bleed out in his shower or something. Somehow, the sentiment didn’t really inspire much camaraderie, though. “So where are we going?”

  “Holiday Inn, man,” Ty answered. “If I’m footin’ the bill, I ain’t paying no damn five hundred bucks a night. ”

  Zane shrugged. A room was a room. He’d stayed in better and he’d stayed in worse. He followed Ty out of the lab and back down the hall to the elevator. “And then?” He wanted to know if Ty’s sudden concern for his well-being included staying in close proximity; he’d planned to come back after dinner to study the maps and evidence notes.

  Ty shrugged as he punched the elevator button. “Then we see what’s brewing,” he answered carelessly.

  Zane looked over at his partner in exasperation. First, complete and total focus on the case, a case that wasn’t even their main focus, and now, this. “Do you do anything like a normal person?” he asked, although the question was wholly rhetorical. And not at all complimentary.

  Ty turned around and looked at him in slight surprise once they were in the elevator. “Only the fun things,” he answered finally after a moment of looking at him thoughtfully.

  “Fun things,” Zane echoed, not looking away from Ty once he was pinned by the man’s hazel eyes.

  “You remember those, don’t you?” Ty questioned with a smirk as he let his eyes travel up and down Zane thoughtfully. “Maybe you don’t,” he decided with a sigh.

  Zane knew with absolute certainty that he did not want this conversation to continue. “How many strikes have I got left?” he asked abruptly. He knew Ty had been taking his measure, in more ways than one.

  “None,” Ty answered immediately, though he was somewhat surprised Zane even knew to ask the question.

  A ghost of a self-deprecating smile crossed Zane’s lips. He knew Ty had no respect for him. Frankly, Zane didn’t care. He didn’t plan for this joke of a partnership to last long. He just wondered who higher up in the Bureau had decided to take him out along with Ty. “So why hasn’t the ump thrown me out of the game?”

  “’Cause there ain’t no umps in this particular game,” Ty answered seriously as the doors whooshed open on the ground floor. “And there ain’t no rules. ”

  Zane walked out ahead of the other man. “So we do without. ” He could live with that. Better than working under someone else’s thumb like the past two years. “Or we make up our own. ”

  “Yeah, you seem the type to need rules,” Ty responded with a derogatory sneer.

  Zane didn’t answer as they walked through the parking garage. He drew back into his stony silence, focusing on thinking about the next steps of the investigation instead of the insolence of his jackass of a partner.

  After checking in to a hotel just a block or two from the swanky establishment where they were supposed to be staying, Ty Grady Aimmediately fell into the shower and went about washing the frustration of the day away. He had been a little surprised when his new partner had paid for his own room, but it suited him just fine. He didn’t want to be within ten feet of the fucker if he didn’t have to be. Arrogant priss. God, the man probably slept in his tie.
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