Jay couldn’t help but feel moderately in awe of the perp. He had somehow managed to kill nine victims without being caught. But awe wasn’t his only emotion. In fact, it was the secondary emotion, because it was his anger that was making him pay attention to every minute detail as SA Feud relayed the case file to the room, in that detached voice that Jay somehow knew indicated a deeply emotional connection to this case. The appearance of detachment was just that: an appearance. The only ones who had lost more than the victims and their families in this case were SAs Feud and Bittner. They didn’t just get under each other’s skin; the perp got under it, too. That does not bode well for us. 

“It wasn’t about the girls, it was about power,” Sam, who had evidently started paying attention again, said, her voice firm and controlled. “As you can see,” she said as she gestured to the cork board that was scattered with the victims’ photos, “there is no real pattern in who he chose as victims.” 

Jay looked at the board again. It was only too true: the victims ranged from young, blonde, and attractive, to elderly, gray-haired has-beens.

Charlie was pinning up the picture of the latest victim: Genevieve Watson. Young, red haired, smiling; a grad student with the world at her feet. Vibrant and alive. Now, dead. 

“So, why Genevieve, then?” Will said from his corner of the room, also studying the board. 

SA Feud fielded that question. “The question is, why not Genevieve?” 

Will’s eyes flashed over to Feud wearing their “I’m going to enjoy tackling you” look that Jay had gotten very familiar with, both from football camp in high school and police interrogations. “I’d just like an idea of what to expect.” 

“Expect the unexpected,” Charlie said helpfully.

“Oh, great, words of wisdom from the quack,” Will retorted, rolling his eyes. 

“It’s sound advice,” Jay informed his partner. “Especially in this business.” 

“I’m not concerned with advice, Jay,” Will spat out, his teeth gritted. “I’m concerned with who might be next.”

“There is no possible way of ascertaining that,” SA Feud said, his tone still detached. “He was unpredictable before and he remains so.” 

“Even more so, actually,” Charlie nodded, moving back to his chair. “I vaguely remember the conversations at the time. Not a one of my colleagues predicted that he’d make a comeback.” 

“And the Mighty Quacks strike again,” Will muttered under his breath. 

“Was that a joke, Detective Madden? From you?” Sam’s smile was dazzling. “That was unexpected.” 

“Exactly my point!” Will said emphatically, looking at the Chief, obviously feeling vindicated. “Profilers do nothing but make guesses, and half the time they’re wrong!” 

“Are you trying to convince me or yourself, Will?” The Chief was not amused. 

“I still have those volleyballs in my office,” Charlie murmured. 

“Oh, for the love of Pete!” SA Feud sounded about as exasperated as Jay expected it was possible for him. “Will doesn’t like profilers; the Chief does. I knew that the minute we walked into this room. Now can we just get on with it?” 

“The love of Pete?” Charlie raised an eyebrow. “Who loves Pete?” 

Will got to his feet. “You can’t just know something like that. Someone must have told you.” 

“No one had to tell me,” SA Feud returned, still in his seat, obviously unimpressed by the threat Will posed to his physical safety. Jay, who had been on the receiving end of too many angry-Will punches, eagerly waited to see what would happen next. “I knew from the moment we entered. Just like you and your partner, and I imagine even the Chief, knew that Sam and I were once intimate.”

Will’s mouth fell open in shock. Sam flushed red from her forehead down to her ears, Charlie gave a quiet nod, as did the Chief. Jay found his own lips twitching into a smirk. 

“That is beside the point,” Will stammered. 

“Is it? How so?” SA Feud asked, his tone a flat out snub and an ‘amuse me’ all at the same time. “They’re both elephants in the room, are they not? Sam and I dated, you hate psychology, Jay apparently has lost the ability to sit still—oh, for the love of God, would you stop moving?!” 

Embarrassed, Jay realized that he was bouncing his knees again. “Sorry.” He forced himself to sit still. I bet the Chief is wishing he had never put us up to this. 

SA Feud put his hands to his temples, closing his eyes, very obviously shutting everyone else out. 

Sam stared at him, a disgusted look on her face. 

And to think that she once loved him. Jay thought fleetingly. 

“I am here to work on this case,” SA Feud stated, eyes still shut tight. “I am not here to hold hands and sing around the campfire, or to recover the remnants of a lost relationship. And you can bet that I am not here to make friends.” He said the word ‘friends’ as if it were displeasing to him. 

“I couldn’t agree more,” Charlie said, setting the box of push pins aside. 

SA Feud got to his feet and stalked to the door, his trench coat billowing about him theatrically. “Doctor Leger.” 

“Call me Charlie.” 

“I will not now, nor ever, call you Charlie.” 

“Fair enough.” 

The two left the room, one after the other. 

Will still stood, fuming. Sam sat, trying to recover her good composure. The Chief was the only one who looked comfortable. 

“I don’t know whether to punch him or applaud him,” Jay finally spoke, breaking the stunned silence. 

“Yes,” Sam agreed. “He seems to have that effect on people.”

“He can make one hell of an exit, though,” Jay smirked.

Sam sighed, putting her hand to her eyes. “You have no idea.”

Ciara Zaketti
Column Editor