Get the mix here!
I remember the first time I saw him. He was beautiful. Black hair, crystal blue eyes… I went to every concert and couldn’t believe that he noticed me each time. We connected, I felt it. He loves me. I know he loves me.
* * *
“Lane! You’re fucking kidding me, right? The F.B.I?” Adam roared as he threw his boot across the bedroom. He couldn’t believe she had really called them; it was a few creepy letters and one crazy ass person that tried to attack him. Seemed pretty typical for a celebrity, but what did he know. “How long until they get here?” Adam asked wearily.
“Soon. Please be open to what they have to say, but for the love of god Adam be nice,” Lane begged as she handed him back his abused footwear and walked out of the room. Plopping in his chair, he pulled his boots on.
“Be nice Adam,” he mimicked under his breath, as he grabbed his jacket and walked to the living room. Throwing himself down he glared over at Lane who was busy sorting out his new security detail. “I need a drink, you want one?”
“No thank you, I need to keep my head on straight to make sure you fully cooperate with the investigation of these threats. We have to take this seriously Adam,” Lane said with a raised eyebrow as he got up to grab the scotch from his wet bar and pour himself a double. Placing her glasses on the table, she set the papers down beside them. “Adam, I know you don’t think this is necessary, but we’re worried about you. Given all the letters and that psycho trying to stab you, it’s just too risky to ignore anymore.”
“I know Lane, everyone is concerned. I get it. I promise to listen to what they have to say and take reasonable precautions if necessary.” Adam said as he downed his drink quickly and poured another. Hearing the doorbell ring, he sat on the couch and crossed his ankle over his knee. Praying silently that Adam would be true to his word, Lane went to answer the door.
After opening the door, Lane was surprised to find two very young looking individuals standing on the doorstep.
“Hello ma’am, I’m Special Agent Ratliff from the FBI and this is my partner Special Agent Iraheta. I believe you’re expecting us. May we come in?”
“Hi, I’m Lane Newland, and yes, please come in,” Lane said as she moved out of the way for them to enter. She stood in shock eying the appearance of the pair. The tiny blonde man wore a touch of eyeliner that went perfectly with his punk-like fringed hair, and the woman, who could almost pass for a teenager, had stunning scarlet hair. Lane mused that this twosome would fit right in with Adam’s crowd. Leading the way, she escorted them into the living room where she couldn’t wait to see Adam’s reaction to Agent Ratliff. Adam is nothing but predictable when it comes to his “type”. Gesturing to Adam, she smiled giddily, “Agents, this is Adam Lambert. Please forgive him for his behavior in advance; we are not completely in agreement about your involvement.”
“Mr. Lambert, I’m Special Agent Ratliff, and this is my partner Special Agent Iraheta,” The blonde man said as he shook Adam’s hand and glanced at his new charge. Both men gazed at each other a few seconds longer than necessary; Tommy getting a familiar feeling in his bones, pulling his hand away as if it had been burned. “Merde!” [shit]
“Tommy!” Agent Iraheta admonished, but patted his arm, calming him. It was obviously not the first time she needed to get Tommy focused. She turned to Adam and Lane apologetically. “I’m sorry, it, it hasn’t been a great morning. You can call me Allison by the way.” She extends her hand to Adam hoping to detract from Tommy’s apparent uneasiness. “I think we’d like to start by questioning you both separately.”
“No reason to apologize Allison. I know what it’s like to have your hands full.” Lane winked in camaraderie. They chuckled together as she led Allison to what appeared to be an office, leaving Adam and Agent Ratliff alone in the living room. Glancing up at the FBI agent, Adam took his time to appreciate the beautiful man standing before him. While dressed in a suit, Adam surmised that this was not his off duty style of clothing. He wasn’t tall, perhaps five foot seven or so, blond hair shaved on one side with an angled fringe (not his natural color either; Adam prides himself on knowing these things), striking brown eyes, lined lightly with dark liner, and utterly gorgeous. Biting the inside of his cheek Adam continued to let his eyes roam the small tight body, mentally undressing the agent, the corners of his mouth turning up at the thought of the man pressed beneath him.
“Mr. Lambert, are you with me?” Tommy sat down across from Adam, looking a lot more composed than when he shook Adam’s hand, and took out his notebook. “Let’s get something straight before we get started. I’m here to do a job and I am not one of your groupies.” Tommy crossed his leg over his knee, uncapped his pen and stared directly at Adam. “Now that we understand each other, you’re going tell me everything that has taken place, starting from the beginning, and when we are done I will decide what happens next. You’re going to listen to what I say, you’re going to do what I tell you, and you’re not going to question me.” Adam’s blue eyes widened in shock, then he stood to his full six feet one inch height, effectively towering over Tommy. Before Adam could speak, Tommy smiled, “Mr. Lambert, I don’t intimidate easily. Now please sit down.”
Adam did as he was told.
* * *
They think cops will keep us apart? Nothing will ever separate us. He belongs to me, he loves me. We are one.
* * *
“Seigneur, David, pourquoi tu m'as donné cette mission? As-tu seulement pensé à la façon dont le fait de devoir côtoyer cet homme-là risquait de me déstabiliser?” [Oh my God David. Why did you give me this assignment? Did you even think about how this guy and my being around him could possibly mess with my head?] Tommy said into his phone rapidly as he paced Adam’s kitchen, grateful for the quiet. Hearing only silence, he realized he fell into the usual habit of lapsing into French when he feels… affected. Tommy took a deep breath and repeated himself in English.
“Tommy, you’re the best profiler we have, and the victim is a celebrity. We can’t have any fuck ups,” David said exasperated. Tommy was known as a wild card, never really followed the rules and constantly pushed buttons, but damn if he didn’t close his cases quickly. He was young, but he was one of the best and brightest. He possessed a brilliant mind and was wholly underestimated, as people tended to judge a book by its cover. Tommy was not a typical FBI agent, no one ever saw him coming. He and the tenacious Agent Iraheta fit together perfectly.
“Bon sang, tu savais à qui il ressemblait !” [ Damn it, you knew who he looked like!] Tommy slumped against the granite counter top, knowing that David was right, but this hit too close to home. Tommy was concerned that Adam’s physical similarities to Adrien and assertiveness would be too much of a distraction.
David wasn’t sure what Tommy was saying, but French only meant one thing: Adrien. “Tommy, whatever issues you are having, put them aside. You’re a professional above all. I have faith in you Ratliff,” David replied. While he knew that Adam Lambert resembled Adrien, David knew that Tommy would focus on the job at hand. “Look Tommy, I know this isn’t ideal, but you’re the right agent for this case and you know it. My decision is final.”
“Ideal? David, on top of everything else, the man has given me the once over, over and over again, since I walked through the door. Fuck Cook, I feel like I need a shower!” Tommy said as he heard David chuckle on the other end and say something about not being able to handle a little flirting, “Va te faire foutre, Cook!” [Fuck you, Cook!] He said and hung up. Turning toward the doorway Tommy jumped a little when he realized Adam was standing right there. “You know it’s rude to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations?”
“Yes, but hearing you shout in French is kinda sexy,” Adam said with a smirk, as he let his eyes trail over Tommy again, taking in every detail. Adam silently wondered under what other circumstances Agent Ratliff shouts out in French.
“Look, Mr. Lambert, I’m not here to play games, I’m here to work,” Tommy said as he started to push past Adam. Feeling a hand on his shoulder, he looked up into the bright blue eyes staring back at him. Damn, this man will be the death of him.
“Tu es si beau,” [You are so beautiful] Adam said softly against Tommy’s ear, as he fingered his tie, his tongue flicking out to wet his lips. Turning wide eyes on Adam, Tommy audibly gasped. Shit, he speaks French?
“You understood everything?” Tommy spoke softly, his mouth too dry to force out any more words. Adam nodded in assent while still fingering Tommy’s tie. Adam thought he was beautiful? This was not going to be ideal at all. Jerking his tie out of Adam’s hand, he quickly shifted gears; he refused to let Adam get to him. “It doesn’t matter. I’m here to do my job first and foremost, the fact that I may find you appealing is irrelevant, Mr. Lambert.”
“It’s Adam and oh, mon jolie chaton, [oh, my pretty kitten] I think it’s very relevant,” Adam said letting his hand skim across Tommy’s chest, as he turned to walk away. Watching the singer strut out of his sight, Tommy let the back of his head smack against the wall.
“Vie de merde” [Fuck my life!] He growled as he grabbed his phone and went looking for Allison. Finding her still sitting in the office with Lane, he sat down and pulled his notebook out of his jacket, and started taking notes.
* * *
“So Ms. Newland, how long has he been receiving the letters?” Allison asked as Lane walked over to her briefcase and pulled out a large file. Placing it in her lap, she sat back down prepared for the battle ahead.
“Please, call me Lane. Well, he started getting them just as the Idols Live tour started, so summer 2009. They stopped for a couple months, but right after his first album dropped, which was November 2009, they started again. They were relatively mild at first, but after he started his solo tour to support the album, they started getting graphic. That was summer 2010. Umm, the last one… this one,” Lane said as she pulled it from the stack, placing it on top of the others that came before. “This is why we were scared.”
Tommy scanned the previous notes, then focused on the most recent. After giving it a careful read and absorbing the message that is clearly being sent, he understood their fear.
Why do you deny what we have? We both know we are meant to be together. I warned you, I have told you many times what would happen if anyone got between us. I promise you, if anyone tries to stop us from being together, I will kill them. No one can deny me what is mine… You…. You are mine, and we will be together no matter what…
If I can’t have you Adam… then no one can. I will kill you if I have to… I don’t want to, but I will if you force my hand.
I love you
“But that’s not the only thing. Last week, someone tried to stab him while he was signing after an appearance. We don’t think they are related and the attacker got away, but that, coupled with the letters, has got all of us worried about Adam’s safety, well more than usual, that is,” Lane said as she handed over the police report from that night.
Tommy knew the signs, all too well. The progression of Adam’s letters is something that he had seen too many times before in his line of work, almost standard. The development is typical, starting out with “I can prove my love,” to “I can make you love me” to the most dangerous, “If I can’t have you, no one else will.” In the case of a celebrity, the perpetrator may become aware of their victim through the media and establishes a delusional fantasy in which they have a special or unique relationship. These fantasies can sometimes be of an extreme sexual nature. The stalker believes the victim is communicating with him or her using a secret code that only they know the meaning of, as opposed to the more stereotypical stalking where the person behind the harassment simply cannot face the prospect that the people they’ve been in a relationship and controlled for so long have successfully gotten away from them.
Tommy has dealt with delusional stalkers before and they are generally motivated by a perceived injustice or the delusional belief that the object of their affection is in love with them. In Adam’s case, both impetuses are most likely. Given the initial timing of the letters and understanding the sequence of events that led to Adam’s success, from virtual unknown to pop superstar, this could have started out as an obsessed fan that was taken with Adam while on American Idol and became infuriated when he didn’t win. From what Tommy understood from Lane, this guy’s normal fans were obsessive of Adam and even casual viewers of the show thought Adam’s runner up status was an injustice. When the letters picked up again during Adam’s solo tour, as well as the severity of them, it was clear the stalker transitioned to that delusional state. Under normal circumstances, they would start with fans who attended multiple shows or that have outwardly focused on Adam’s sexual receptivity, but again, according to Lane, in both instances that would cover a significant portion of Adam’s overzealous fanbase. The additional difficulty being, while the majority of Adam’s fanbase are women, Adam is gay, thereby making profiling trickier, since the subject can easily be male or female. Breaking this case will rest on good old-fashioned police work, and in Tommy’s case, gut instinct. It has served him well over the years.
Unfortunately these situations don’t generally end well. The one case that comes to Tommy’s mind, the stalker evolved to violence rather quickly, and while the victim didn’t die, she ended up in the hospital with brutal stab wounds. Regardless of his visceral reaction to Adam, Tommy is not going to let anything happen to him. Not on his watch. Not again. Dragging a hand through his hair, he grabbed his phone and punched in some numbers.
“You rang oh blond one?”
“Knock it off Lee, I need you to do something for me,” Tommy said as he walked out of the room, and paced the hallway.
“Okay, shoot!” Lee said as Tommy thumbed through the stack of papers.
“All right, I need your team to get me everything there is on Adam Lambert and everyone he’s associated with, personally and professionally. We are looking for a stalker and it could be anyone. I want to know where he hangs out, every residence he’s lived in, all previous places of employment, schools attended and any romantic relationships or otherwise that he may have been involved in. I’ll send you what he’s already told me, but it’s not much. Start with his inner circle. Got that, Lee?” Tommy said as he heard Lee typing rapidly on his computer. Raising his head from the stack of papers in his hands, he saw Adam watching him from the doorway. He turned his back, determined not to let Adam get under his skin.
“Not a prob, TJ, I’ll email you everything as I get it,” Lee said and hung up the phone.
“You know, I would’ve told you all you wanted to know, if you had asked,” Adam said as he sidled up behind Tommy, his breath hot on his ear. Adam slid his hands over Tommy’s shoulders, thumbs rubbing in circles over his shoulder blades.
Taking a step away from Adam, Tommy took a deep breath whispering, “Pourquoi Moi?” [Why me?]
“Because you intrigue me, Agent Ratliff,” Adam softly slid a finger down Tommy’s cheek. Adam must have seen something flash across Tommy’s face because he quirked his eyebrow, smirked slightly and turned to leave. “There’s something hidden under that expensive suit of yours, and I intend to find out what it is.” Adam evidently liked to have the last word, but so does Tommy.
“I think Mr. Lambert that you need to get over yourself and start taking this situation seriously before you get hurt,” Tommy said unemotionally and factually. He pushed past Adam and into the study with Allison and Lane.
Shaking his head, Adam chuckled. He intended to find out everything about Special Agent Tommy Ratliff, yes he did. When Adam had a goal, he always followed through.
* * *
What is Tommy doing here? And why is my Adam touching him like that? I should have killed him when I had the chance… instead of my beautiful Adrien. I wish that hadn’t happened. I warned him what would happen if he didn’t leave that Fed, but he ignored me and unfortunately accidents do come to pass. Well, this time I will not let Tommy interfere again, I will not make the same mistake twice. I warned Adam… I told him the consequences to anyone that came between us, like that boy last night. I didn’t want to, but Adam left me no choice.
Maybe now Adam will see proof of my love.
* * *
Tommy caught a glimpse of a nondescript car parked beyond the property line of the Lambert home, immediately putting his danger antenna on high alert. Hand on his holster, he turned to Allison “Alli-cat, the window. Lane please escort Adam upstairs now.”
Nodding quickly, Lane went to retrieve Adam. Following Tommy’s lead, Allison drew her gun, and trailed Tommy to the front door. Peeking through the peephole, Tommy saw a red-haired man looking around furtively. Pressing the barrel of his gun to the door, Tommy looked back at Allison and just nodded, triggering her to flip the safety off her gun.
A soft, tentative knock came from the other side of the door. “Who is it?” Tommy called out.
“It’s Detective Nathan Marx, from the LAPD,” the man yelled through the door as he held his shield up to the eyehole. Taking a step back, Tommy shook his head at Allison indicating for her to stay close and then opened the door cautiously, his gun aimed at the uninvited guest. The detective immediately became visibly nervous, showing his identification again, as it was obvious he wasn’t expecting anyone other than Adam or his people. “Whoa, who are you guys?”
“I’m FBI Special Agent Ratliff, and that’s my partner Special Agent Iraheta,” Tommy produced his credentials as he observed the way Detective Marx peered into the house, narrowing his eyes. Most likely he was looking for Adam, but if he was anything like Tommy, he would be suspicious of two unknown individuals, armed no less, answering the door of a stalking victim. Widening his stance, Tommy squared his shoulders, drawing Nathan’s attention back to him. “How can we help you, Detective?”
“I’m assigned to the Lambert case and I was checking in,” Nathan said as he tried to walk into the house. All he ended up with was the barrel of Tommy’s gun pointed at his head. “Hey, calm down, we’re on the same team here. Let me call my captain so we can straighten this out.”
Waving his free hand at Detective Marx, Tommy withdrew and gestured to Allison to holster her gun. “Alli, call Cook and find out if he knows anything about this.”
Allison nodded as she pulled her phone out and called David.
* * *
Tommy paced his hotel, spawning a groove in the carpet that would rival the English Channel. He just got his ass reamed by Cook for putting a gun to the head of a fellow member of law enforcement and staring at the notes in his hand, isn’t any closer to a lead. He’s hoping Lee will come back with something he can work with, but in the meantime he needed to figure out a way to fight those still raw memories and keep his emotions in check. Tommy found it hard to control his reactions around Adam given his close resemblance to Adrien. If Tommy was honest with himself, Adam’s entire persona reminded him of Adrien, especially when they first met. They’re both bold and explicitly flirtatious and spirited. This didn’t bode well for Tommy and he knew it. This case was going to be the death of him.
He did feel bad about his apprehension of Detective Marx, though Cook had another word for it, but unfortunately it may take a while for Tommy to put his past behind him. Allison’s call to Cook had assuaged his ridiculous suspicions this time, but not enough for Tommy to feel comfortable letting Adam out of their sight—in view of the fact that anyone could walk up to Adam’s door and get close to him, a lesson Tommy learned the hardest way a person can learn that lesson. Pinching his nose Tommy sat hard in a small chair by the window and looked out. It wasn’t long before he started dozing off.
* * *
2 years ago
Tommy tucked his phone in his pocket as he went to slide his key into the front door, but it was already ajar. There were a few break-ins in the area recently, so a concerted effort was made by them both to keep their door locked. Tommy gently pushed the door open and with his hand on his gun walked toward the kitchen. “Adrien? Baby, are you here?”
Tommy crept down the unusually dark hallway, popping the thumb lock open on his holster. He palmed the grip of his gun and toed open the kitchen door, using his elbow to turn the light on. There was a bag of groceries on the counter, a pot of water on the stove and a bottle of wine on the table. Tommy turned, pulling out his gun, cocking it into position and edged further down the hallway quietly calling for Adrien. Tommy took a deep breath as he stopped in front of their closed bedroom door and reached out to turn the knob.
The first thing he noticed was the closet housed the only light on in the room. Advancing guardedly, he heard a squelching sound under his feet as he got closer to the bed. Closing his eyes, Tommy attempted to calm himself as he knew what he was going to find as soon as he rounded the corner to his side of the bed. His off duty 9mm was lying haphazardly on the floor, the safety off and Adrien’s foot resting awkwardly a few inches away. Tommy fell to his knees and reflexively checked for a pulse. Nothing. Adrien’s body laid viciously on the floor, almost taunting Tommy, the carpet surrounding him red with blood. Tommy set his gun aside where he could easily grab it if necessary, though Tommy knew it wouldn’t be. Adrien was dead and the person responsible was long gone. Tommy never felt more helpless in his life.
Tommy shuddered out a breath. Adrien was wearing Tommy’s favorite jeans, snug in all the right places and that horrible ratty t-shirt Adrien loved so much. It was ludicrously threadbare from being washed so many times since Adrien brought it back to the states from Paris. It was his “lucky shirt” from when he studied abroad at the Sup De Co Amiens Picardies. He fingered the neckline lovingly and that’s when Tommy saw a small mark on Adrien’s collarbone. Gently moving the shirt further aside, he recognized the symbol carved into his gorgeous skin. It was the same symbol that brandished all the letters that haunted Adrien and Tommy for the past six months. The blood started to soak through his slacks as he reached out a shaking hand to stroke Adrien just below his jaw, right above the ugly gash across his throat. Tommy found himself unable to breathe but eventually pulled himself together enough to reach for his phone. He tried not to look in Adrien’s eyes, tried not to look for some spark that he knew wouldn’t be there, something that Tommy could hold onto. Tommy cried into the phone as he rambled details to the 911 operator on what he found. He sat back on his heels and rubbed his hands over his pants. More than anything he wanted to touch Adrien, to hold him one last time, to kiss him and tell him how much he loved him, but he knew he couldn’t. He had to protect the evidence that the killer may have left, no matter what his instincts and his heart were telling him; he needed to wait, and let the police do their job. Tommy stared down at the love of his life and let the tears fall. “Je t’aime, Adrien.”
* * *
Tommy was jolted out of his sleep by the ringing of his phone. It took him a moment to remember where he was but managed to get out of the chair and retrieve his cell from the dresser.
”Tommy, you need to get back to Lambert’s house. We found a body.”
“Please don’t tell me it’s Lambert.”
”No, but it’s a kid that was likely with Lambert last night, and the body is less than a mile from Lambert’s house. Get your ass down here.”
“Fuck me… all right tell me where the hell you are?” Tommy grabbed his suit jacket off the bed, stuffed his wallet and credentials in his pocket and rushed out the door.
* * *
Tommy stopped his car just outside the yellow crime tape. Stepping out he could see Allison pointing over at a group of reporters while speaking to an officer. If Tommy had to guess, she was telling him to get rid of them. Ducking under the tape, Tommy walked over to where she was standing, her hands on her hips. “How bad is it Alli?”
“Pretty fucking bad Tommy. That poor kid, he’s down here.” Allison gestured to a small path down into a ditch. Following her, Tommy pushed the branches away from his face as they came to a small clearing where Tommy saw the body.
“Do we have any identification?” Tommy asked as he walked up to the prone figure in the dirt.
“Yeah,” Allison flipped her notebook open. “Carson Michaels, twenty four years old, he had this in the pocket of his pants pocket, which were found over there.” She gestured to some nearby shrubs and handed Tommy a clear bag with a napkin in it. The napkin had Adam’s signature on it.
“Oh fucking hell,” Tommy groaned as he grabbed a pair of gloves and pulled them on while stepping closer to the body. Looking over at the crime scene investigator, Tommy gestured to the body. “Would it be all right if I took a look?”
“Sure,” The investigator said as she walked over to where Tommy was crouching. “I’m Kari Rendall. I’m assuming you’re Agent Ratliff, Agent Iraheta’s partner?” Tommy nodded and she continued. “I’m glad you’re here, you should see this.”
Tommy watched as Rendall gently lifted Carson’s right arm, turning it so the inside of his wrist was visible. Tommy gasped softly as he saw the symbol etched in his skin. “Oh non!” [Oh no!]
“Tommy, what is it?” Allison asked as she bent down to look. After seeing the marking she looked over at Tommy and nodded at his silence. She pulled her cell phone out and quickly took a picture of the insignia. Standing up, Tommy took his gloves off and looked down at Carson one last time.
“Dr. Rendall, can you call me when the body goes to the pathologist? I want to make sure someone from our team speaks to him or her as soon as the autopsy is completed.”
“Of course Agent Ratliff, as soon as I get the body down to the morgue, I’ll call you.”
Tommy pushed his way back through the brush as he walked up to the road. Allison was right on his heels.
“Tommy, hey are you all right?” Allison asked as they reached the street. Tommy was pacing, whispering to himself as he rubbed his hands over his thighs.
“Je n'y crois pas, ça arrive de nouveau. Je ne crois pas que je peux le faire…” [I don’t believe it, it’s happening again. I don’t think I can do this…]
“Tommy,” Allison grabbed him by his shoulders and shook him. “Tommy! Damn it, what is it?!”
Tommy blinked at the ground as he slowly unclenched his hands. Looking at Allison, Tommy reined in his emotions. He took a deep breath and stuffed his hands in his pockets in an attempt to regain his sureness. “We have to talk to Lambert, and someone needs to make sure that the connection between him and the boy doesn’t hit the media yet… if at all.”
Allison grunted her assent as she pulled her phone from her pocket and flipped her notebook open. After making the requisite calls, Allison wanted an explanation.
“Okay Tommy, you gonna tell me what this is all about? If I didn’t know how pale you already were normally, I’d say you look like you’re about to pass out. What’s going on?”
“There is something here that is very similar to… The bottom line is that I have seen this before. We need to talk to Lambert, let’s go. I’ll fill you in on the way.”
* * *
Tommy stood outside Adam’s door and rang the bell two or three or four times. Given the hour, he supposed Adam was asleep, but then again, Adam is a rock star so Tommy decided not to assume anything. He looked over his shoulder to see Allison on the phone presumably with Lane. As Tommy gestured to her, the door opened.
“What’s going on? It’s four thirty in the morning.” Adam said as he opened the door, holding it open to let them inside.
“Did you go to a club last night?” Tommy asked, skipping all pleasantries as Adam shut the door behind them and led them to the living room.
“A club? Yeah, I went to Neighbors with some friends, why?” Adam sat on the couch, resting his elbows on his knees, rubbing his eyes in an attempt to wake himself up. He looked from Tommy to Allison, obviously having been asleep for a while, his face creased from his pillow and his hair matted flat on one side. Tommy relaxed into a chair, prepared to ask Adam about his encounter with Carson when he saw the inside of Adam’s right arm.
“You have tattoos?” Tommy asked. Adam curled his lip in amusement, eying the traces of color that cascaded his body, as if to say “Duh”. Tommy didn’t notice that morning. Adam was in layers of full leather regalia and there wasn’t much skin showing. Right now though, he wasn’t wearing a shirt and all the ink on his upper body was visible; from the Phoenix Crossing over his left shoulder and down his chest, to the astrological sleeve on his right arm.
“Yeah, I have a lot of them,” Adam gestured to his chest. “Why do you ask?”
“Your right arm, may I?” Tommy stood up and walked over to Adam reaching for his right arm. Tommy turned his wrist and saw the symbol, the Eye of Horus. He mapped out the curves of the metaphorical brow with his fingertips, remembering the last two places he saw it. Realizing the way he was touching Adam, Tommy jerked back but then managed to settle back into professional mode. “When did you get this tattoo?”
“That one? Um, it was the first one I ever had done. I got it after I made it past Hollywood week on American Idol.”
“Does it have any significance to you or anyone else?” Tommy asked as he sat back in his chair. Tommy was a logical guy, but couldn’t ignore that the precise tattoo etched in Adam’s flesh had also been carved onto Carson and Adrien, and as far as Tommy knew, Adam and Adrien didn’t know each other. He made an executive decision to categorize that piece of information as coincidence for now.
“It’s the Egyptian sign of healing and protection. Others that I know who have a similar symbol say it provides a feeling of safety and sense of direction, but to me it’s meant a lot during the creative process of my career, right from the beginning. I’d added more color to it right after Idol finished, and it’s evolved more as I’ve evolved. It’s very special to me. It’s guided and watched over me always. Anyone who knows anything about me would be very aware of this, including my fans. I am very much an open book, but as far as I know, it doesn’t hold any significance to anyone else that I’m aware of.”
Tommy was all too aware of what that symbol represented, spending hours upon hours learning everything there was to know about it, though it didn’t get him anywhere.
Adam’s fingers traced his tattoo where Tommy’s touch left off and watched Allison writing furiously in her notebook.
“Did you meet a young man named Carson Michaels tonight?” Allison looked over at Adam, the innocent look gone, replaced by a hardened investigator.
“Carson? Um, I met a lot of guys, but did talk to a cute one for a while that had brown eyes, about 5’7”? I met him on my way out of the club, but nothing happened that would get me in trouble. If you know what I mean.”
“You didn’t go anywhere with him? Maybe to the back or a secluded area? Did you two dance? Possibly kiss?” Allison prodded as she produced her cell phone and put the photo she took at the crime scene earlier up on the screen.
“No nothing like that, if we’re talking about the same guy, he came up to me as we were leaving the club, I signed a napkin for him and then left. Why? What is all this about?” Adam asked as the front door opened and Lane walked in.
“Hey… what’s going on?”
“We found Carson, a little less than a mile from here. He’s dead.” Tommy said as he watched Adam’s face drain of color. “He had a simple version of your Eye of Horus tattoo carved into his right wrist.” Allison revealed the picture on her cell phone to Adam.
“I… what?” Adam stumbled to his feet nearly falling to the floor. “I… I think I’m gonna be sick.” Adam rushed to the bathroom across the hall. They could hear him vomiting as Lane sat down on the couch.
“What? The boy we saw last night is dead?” Lane said as she sat back against the cushions and nervously watched Adam shuffle back into the room and drop into his chair. “But… why? I hope you don’t think Adam had anything to do with this?” Lane paused a moment waiting for Tommy to answer but then realized the bigger problem. “Oh god, the press.”
“So far, only Allison and I know of the connection between Adam and Carson, but if anyone saw them talking at the club, it’s bound to get out. I do have another question about the Eye of Horus, Mr. Lambert,” Tommy flipped through the file in his hands and pulled out a letter from the stack. He flipped the page around and pointed out the small emblem at the bottom to Adam. “Did you ever notice this on any of the letters?”
Adam took the sheet of paper from Tommy and looked at the bottom, near where the stalker had signed it. “Oh god, I never… that’s… oh fuck.”
“Okay, I’m gonna guess you weren’t aware of the implications, which would be understandable, since it sounds like that symbol embodies you to many people. Look, here’s what’s gonna happen. Allison and I will talk to our supervisor and have a team flown in from Virginia. This has turned into more than just a stalking case. Lane,” Tommy turned and raised an eyebrow at her as he saw her phone in her hand, “absolutely no talking to the media on this. When my team gets here I will have our media liaison hold a press conference, but until then your only words to the media will be ‘No Comment’ if anything comes up before then. Is that understood?”
“But…” Lane gestured wildly with her phone.
“No buts…” Allison continued where Tommy left off. “I can’t begin to stress how important it is that you say nothing to the media. We don’t want to give away anything we do or don’t know. If that happens, it could get even more dangerous for Adam.” Allison said as Tommy’s phone rang.
Tommy stood and walked to the foyer to take the call.
”Hey, how’s it going? I hear we have a body?” David asked.
“Our stalker has upped the ante Dave. I was just about to call you. We have to have a team sent over.” Tommy ran his hand through his hair as he paced the floor, glancing into the living room.
”Shit, all right, Tommy. Give me the rest of the details and twenty four hours, a team will be there.”
* * *
Tommy and Allison walked through the doors of the police station to interested looks. It wasn’t too often the FBI showed up. Tommy could see Cook through the window of the chief’s office and the rest of the team standing around in a nearby conference room.
“They’re waiting for you,” a voice said from behind a desk. Tommy looked over and saw Detective Marx sitting at a computer. “Just head in.”
“Thank you Detective,” Allison said with a nod as she moved toward the conference room.
“Anything to help the FBI.” Detective Marx got up and reluctantly accompanied them.
* * *
Tommy walked into the room and immediately spotted his former partner and close friend. The need to shriek was written all over his face at the welcomed surprised, but since he didn’t want to embarrass either of them, he settled with clapping a hand over his shoulder. “Kris.”
“Hey! Tommy Joe, it’s been a while.” Kris flashed his pearly whites and did not hold back one of his infamous hugs. Kris did not understand the concept of personal space or boundaries. He had none, but Tommy loved him for it. He took a good look at Tommy, and frowned slightly; something was bothering him. “You doing okay?”
“I’m all right. This case is hitting a little close to home I think. There’s something about this case that reminds me of what happened to Adrien,” Tommy said as Cook walk into the room, accompanied by the police chief. “How are you doing? I know it’s been nearly six months since…”
“I’m fine Tommy. I’m not the one who left, he did. It was his choice and I wasn’t gonna beg him to stay if he didn’t want to.” Kris said as he tracked Cook marching about the room speaking to various detectives introducing himself, his eyes never leaving the older agent.
“Tommy, we’ve been over this. He gave me an ultimatum and I wasn’t leaving the Bureau or transferring to a desk. He walked out. End of story.” Kris said, his eyes on Cook, the hurt clear in his voice.
“He was scared Kris, hell we all were. You nearly died.” Tommy closed his hand over Kris’ wrist, squeezing slightly to emphasize his words.
“You think I don’t remember that Tommy? I was the one that guy shot; I remember just wanting to leave the hospital and go home to Dave,” Kris turned and looked at Tommy, the pain still raw, “but then he gave me an ultimatum: leave the Bureau or take a desk job. When I told him I wouldn’t do either, he walked out. Grabbed his go bag and left. That was it Tommy, he hasn’t spoken to me outside of the Bureau since.”
“Kris…,” Tommy looked from Kris to Cook and back again. There are some couples that complimented each other perfectly and Tommy knew these two were it, but before Tommy could say anything else to try and persuade Kris to open the lines of communication, Cook started speaking.
* * *
“All right, you were all given a dossier that Agent Iraheta put together on the Adam Lambert stalking case. Inside you’ll find copies of letters that were sent to Mr. Lambert for the better part of two years, as well as crime scene photos from the Carson Michaels murder and various field notes taken by Agent Iraheta and Agent Ratliff, who are the primary agents leading this case. Agent Ratliff, please fill us in on the rest.” David stepped aside and gestured to Tommy. Tommy didn’t love this part of the job, as he gets shy when it comes to public speaking, always feeling self-conscious. He pulled it together and headed toward Cook. He trudged to the front of the room and smoothed his tie. Taking a deep breath, he opened his file.
“Okay, three days ago Agent Iraheta and I spoke with Mr. Lambert and his manager, Lane Newland. According to Ms. Newland, the letters have been coming for nearly two years; the first set was your standard fan type letter. Those were received just after Lambert was on American Idol, when the Idol Live Tour started, and progressively picked up in frequency, getting slightly more off balance. Still not threatening, but the author seemed to be getting a little too familiar. After getting a further understanding of the passion routinely exhibited by Mr. Lambert’s fans, no one raised an eyebrow. Apparently his every day groupies are a bit on the unrestrained side, which coincides with most of the mail he receives. The next series started just after his first album came out. The tone of these notes started to change. The first letter escalated to levels that are considered red flags; hitting all the stalker 101 basics: they are meant to be together, and while this was said previously in a handful of earlier letters, this person added that they would do anything to prove their love to Mr. Lambert. His boyfriend at the time wasn’t threatened directly, but it was strongly implied. Oh, if you aren’t already aware, Mr. Lambert is openly gay and it’s quite frankly a widely known fact. One note states ’I know that if he were gone we could be together. I wish I could make him just disappear.’.” Tommy looked around the room, watching the rest of the team take notes and reviewing the file. He pulled out a more egregious letter received and set it on the table before looking back at his team. “The flagged letter in the stack is the one that gives us the most insight on the unknown subject. If you look at the last three sentences, they tell more about the stalker than any of the others. Right here,” Tommy pulled a blown up photocopy of the three lines and tacked it to the board behind him.
I know you want to protect me from people who
don't understand our need to be together, but
it's not necessary to put up this facade any
longer. I'm willing to fight for what we have,
and if the one person that is close to you
doesn't understand that he will never have with
you what we have together, trying to deny
us our happiness, I am willing to put
everything on the line for you. I did it
for my last boyfriend when he sought to shield
our love from someone who didn't understand
our unbreakable connection and I am willing
to do the same for you, giving you that same relief.
This tells us that our unsub’s hold on reality is slipping and but even worse, they have done this in the past. Possibly hurting or even killing someone.”
“So are you saying this letter is telling us that our unsub plans to hurt someone?” a voice said from the back of the room.
“It is heavily insinuated, and from our experience, the answer is yes. As I mentioned, Lambert is gay, and this is commonly known. Usually the profile for a male celebrity strongly indicates a woman, late 30’s early 40’s, but given Mr. Lambert’s sexuality and his unusually diverse fanbase, we are in unchartered territory, so we need to thoroughly vet everyone that Lambert has been in contact with the past two years. There is a possibility that our unsub may have known him before he was on American Idol, though in my opinion, from the progression of letters, it’s highly unlikely. It’s more probable this was precipitated from Mr. Lambert’s appearance on American Idol. He was seen on the show and something was triggered, although again, he gained almost a cult following from nearly the beginning—so I’m told.” Tommy turned to face the board again; the familiarity of the words haunting him. He couldn’t admit it out loud and decided it was best not to say anything yet, not until he was sure. He put those thoughts out of his mind for the time being and gave the floor back to Cook.
“All right then,” Cook walked back to the front of the room. “Archuleta, you ready to talk to the media?”
“Um, yeah. I’ll talk to the chief here and call a press conference for the afternoon,” Archuleta stood up and walked toward the door. He pulled it open and stopped suddenly. “Damn it…”
“What?” Tommy and Cook rushed to the door in time to catch a glimpse of the television. “Ils se foutent de moi?!” [You have got to be kidding me!]
“Please tell me that is not the front of Lambert’s house,” Cook said as he turned and stared at Allison and Tommy, jaws practically on the ground.
“I really wish we could, Cook. I specifically told both Adam and Lane that under no circumstances were they to talk to the media,” Allison grabbed her phone and pulled up Lane’s number only to groan when it cut directly to voice mail. “Shit, straight to voice mail.”
“Ils sont fous? Dans quelle dimension parler aux médias est une bonne idée? Allison a souligné à plusieurs reprises qu'il ne fallait pas parler à la presse ... et qu'est ce qu'ils font? Quelle vie de merde !” Tommy growled as he paced the room furiously. [Are they insane? In what dimension is talking to the media a good idea? Allison stressed repeatedly to not talk to the media... and what did they do? Fuck my life to hell and back!]
“Um…” Archuleta looked at Tommy warily as he slowly shut the door and glanced at Cook and Kris. “…that’s not English.”
“Yeah, that happens.” Kris said as he ran a hand over the back of his neck and watched Tommy glare angrily at his phone as he punched at the face of it only to get angrier when it went to voicemail again.
“Everyone load up. We’re going to Lambert’s house. Archie, you need to fix… that,” Cook said as he waved his hand at the television and the young woman speaking into the microphones.
* * *
The car was still moving when Tommy shoved the passenger door open and leaped out rushing toward the front door of the house, just beyond the crowd of reporters.
“This press conference is over. Please direct any other questions to Special Agent David Archuleta,” Tommy said as he pointed at the small group of agents crossing the yard and turned to Adam and Lane. Speaking through a clenched jaw, “Please go inside the house… we need to talk.”
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” The woman behind the microphones said as Archie politely pushed her back and stepped in front.
“I’m sorry for the interruption folks, but please come back in one hour and I will answer all your questions as best I can.” Archie said as he thanked the reporters again and followed the rest of the team into the house, ushering the woman previously speaking almost forcibly.
Tommy was practically vibrating as they walked into the living room. Allison turned and spoke directly to Lane.
“I’m pretty sure this morning my words were to not talk to the media,” Allison said as she glared at Lane.
“Yes, I know you did and I adamantly passed on those sentiments. This was not my doing. She was already talking to them before Adam or I could do anything.” Lane said as she indicated the woman looking angrily at the group of agents.
“So, who are you? Other than the person who more than likely set back this case,” Matt asked as he eyed the woman in disbelief.
“Janelle Lawton. Part of Adam’s management team, and like you, I do what I’m told.”
“You do what you’re told? What is that supposed to mean?” Matt sputtered as he looked over at Tommy whose head was noticeably about to explode. “Who or what possessed you to do this? There was no obvious link between the boy that died and Adam… until you said something. Now in the eyes of the public, Adam is a possible suspect. Also, now our murderer is aware that we connected Adam to their actions, which in turn connects us to them. Basically, you blew any semblance of obscurity we had.”
Janelle was so tired. She had to get out of bed at the crack of god damn dawn to screaming music execs. She didn’t need this right now, and that one with the ludicrous blond hair and make up? had pure hatred written all over him. She wanted to knock that look right off his face. She wouldn’t have been surprised if daggers or flames started shooting out his eyes. “Look, all I can say is that the friends of the dead boy put out on twitter, and who knows where else, that Adam hooked up with him last night and the next thing they know, he’s dead. Really, we needed to let the public know that Adam had nothing to do with it, that he himself was okay, and that he is just as upset at this tragedy as everyone else. You can’t tell me there is harm in that?”
Cook walked to the center of the room, as Tommy left to cool off. “Everyone calm down. What’s done is done. Archie, you know what you’re going to say to the media right?”
“Yeah, just want to make sure I have my facts right. I’ll gonna talk to them, after I speak with Ms. Lawton and the rest of Mr. Lambert’s team.” Archie looked pointedly at Janelle when he spoke.
“Good, now Allison, go get Tommy and make sure he hasn’t punched a hole in anything. Kris, you and Matt go back to the station and talk to Detective Marx. See about getting in to speak with the pathologist. You…,” Cook motioned to Janelle. “You are going to sit here and figure out with Agent Archuleta what he needs you do and afterward you can pass it on to your superiors, along with my card in case they have any questions.”
* * *
Kris and Matt walked into the police station proceeding immediately over to Detective Marx’s desk.
“Agent Allen right?” Detective Marx looked up from his computer and smiled.
“Yes Detective,” Kris said as he looked around the open office. “We were wondering if you would escort us to the coroner’s office? We need to speak with a Dr. Reinhart?”
“Haley? Sure, let me call her first.” Marx picked up his phone. Matt tapped Kris on the shoulder and smirked as he nodded his head at the detective, who was busy gesturing at them while he spoke into the phone. After a few minutes, he laughed and hung up. “She said now is perfect. Come on, I’ll take you down there.”
Matt nudged Kris along, almost shoving him, the man is always checking his notes. “Get a move on Kris, you know Cook’s gonna want an update soon.”
“Yeah, yeah, of course he will,” Kris mumbled as he smiled at Detective Marx. “Thank you, Detective. Oh, also, we need to check out a club called Neighbors? Do you know it? We need to speak with the employees there who worked two nights ago.”
“Sure, I know it. That place has been under surveillance for an unrelated matter for some time now. What time tonight?”
“We’ll meet you there at 10:30. Come in casual clothes, we don’t want to stand out amongst the patrons,” Matt said as he glanced at his watch. “All right Kris, let’s get this over with. I hate the morgue.”
“Still boggles my mind that you’re an FBI agent and you can’t handle dead bodies.” Kris chuckled as they walked out the door.
“Didn’t have to deal with dead bodies before I met you.” Matt jokingly pushed Kris as they made their way to the car.
* * *
Upon entering the building, they were greeted by a tiny blond woman in the requisite white lab coat.
“You must be Agents Allen and Giraud,” she stuck her hand out to shake theirs. “I’m Dr. Haley Reinhart. Let’s talk in my office.”
She led them down a small hallway to her office. “Please take a seat. Now, how can I help you gentlemen?”
“What can you tell us about the results of the Carson autopsy?” Matt asked as he pulled his notebook from his jacket.
“Well,” she opened a folder. “He was found nude at the scene, with only his pants left nearby. Generally male victims are fully clothed or only partially undressed as I’m sure you know. Also he had six stab wounds to the chest and abdomen. But that’s not what killed him.”
“Six stab wounds didn’t kill him?” Kris asked as he leaned forward, his elbows on his knees.
“No, they weren’t deep wounds; whoever did this wanted to torture this man before they killed him. The victim had no defensive wounds either. I don’t know about you, but if someone was sticking a knife in my chest I would be fighting them off. There was nothing, like he didn’t or couldn’t move. There are no marks from being restrained, here, take a look.” She said pushing a few pictures of the victim from various angles across the desk. Kris took it and examined it closely.
“There’s no bruising around these wounds.” Kris handed the pictures back.
“Right, which means that whoever did this, pushed the knife in slowly, instead of thrusting hard enough to leave contusions on the skin. A different knife was used for the carving, probably something small like a paring or a pocket knife.” She passed an additional photo to Kris.
“An Eye of Horus symbol?”
“You’re familiar with it? It certainly looks like it, as crude as the depiction is. Oddly I remembered hearing about a similar case about two years ago in Virginia while I was at a conference recently, so I looked it up. A man was killed in his home in a comparable fashion, with a similar Eye of Horus symbol, except it was carved into his collarbone.” She said tapping the picture.
Though he wished he wasn’t, Kris was only too familiar with this symbol. “Two years ago? How did you say you heard about that case?” Kris asked with more vested interest than that of a probing investigator. Haley seemed to notice the change in Kris’ demeanor, as he handed the picture back to the coroner.
“I took a seminar last year in Virginia, as part of an annual medical examiner’s conference,” she said carefully. “They discussed unsolved cases and used the forum to bounce ideas off of each other, fresh eyes and all that. One of them was that case. They didn’t use the real names of the victim, but the similarities cannot be ignored.” She pulled another picture out of her folder and handed it to Kris. “This is how our victim was killed, which resembled the Virginia victim as well. The main difference was that this victim was fully clothed. After you leave I’m going to take a closer look at the Virginia case to see if there are any other links we should examine.”
“Carson was strangled?”
“Yes, that was the cause of death. Looks like a thin cord or something of that nature was used. In my experience strangulation is a very intimate act, and look here,” pointing to the far corner of the photo. “See how the marks overlap?”
“Holy shit,” Kris said as he looked up at her. “Face to face.”
“Wait, are you saying?” Matt piped up as he looked between them and the picture.
“Yeah, whoever strangled Carson was looking him directly in the eyes when he died.”
* * *
Kris took a deep breath and knocked on the hotel room door. Even after six months and all the hurt, when David opened the door, Kris’ breath caught in his throat.
“Kris,” Cook sighed, unable to hide his forlornness. “What can I do for you?”
“I learned something today that you need to know. May I come in?” Kris saw the flurry of emotions cross David’s face before he finally spoke.
“Yeah, come in.” David stepped back and opened the door wider so Kris could step inside. Kris looked around the small room and noticed David everywhere, from his jacket thrown over the chair to his laptop tossed haphazardly on the end of the bed. His gut clenched when he saw the small picture of the two of them on the bedside table, before he could say a word, David walked over to the table and flipped the picture face down. “So what did you need to tell me?”
“I was talking with the pathologist, Dr. Reinhart. She gave us a complete rundown on the autopsy, but that’s not exactly why I’m here,” Kris said as he paced in front of David. “There was a mark carved into the body of our victim. She had seen it before, in another case. Two years ago, a body in Virginia…”
“Virginia? Two… Oh fuck,” David said as he ran his hand over his face. “Adrien?”
Kris nodded as he leaned against the dresser and studied David. “If this is the same stalker, and we don’t know that it is yet, Tommy’s too close Dave. He’s already too close. I know you see it.”
“I know. Lambert looks a lot like Adrien.”
“Tommy is still doing his job, but after today’s fiasco, I can see the cracks. He needs to pull back and not be in the field on this one. What’s more, I’m worried he already made the connection. He and Allison were the agents on the scene after the body was found. The mark could not be missed, definitely not by Tommy. It would explain his behavior today.” Kris rubbed the back of his neck and looked over at David.
“I know, I know, Kris. What do you want me to do?” David asked, his voice rising slightly. His frustration over the situation and being in such close quarters with Kris overwhelmed him.
“I don’t know Dave, I know Tommy is your best profiler and one of your most coveted agents, but he’s in too deep, I see it already. I’d tell you to have Tommy stay back and work with Lee, or have him talk to the pathologist some more and work that angle, but we both know he won’t listen.” Kris paced in front of the dresser, his hands in his pockets. “He’s changed since Adrien died. It’s like he doesn’t really care sometimes whether he lives or dies. He’s always taken risks, but he’s become reckless and at times out of control. He’s his own worst enemy. He’ll get himself killed chasing this perpetrator down if it’s the same person that killed Adrien.”
“When bad things happen, we change. You should know this.” Kris turned and looked at David as the unspoken accusation hung in the air.
“Really Dave? This is when you want to talk about this? Fine. For the record, you’re the one that left me! You are the one that walked out the door when I refused to cede to your demands! You didn’t ask what I wanted, or try to have a discussion. You just expected me to leave the Bureau on your command and when I didn’t…” Kris stalked closer to David with every word, until he was standing directly in front of his former lover, nose to nose, and whispered. “you left me David!”
“I nearly lost you Kris. I couldn’t be with you if you were going to continue to work undercover. I couldn’t watch you walk out the door knowing that I could get another phone call or a visit from one of my colleagues telling me that you were shot again, or killed,” David said as he looked at Kris conveying all of his feelings with his eyes. “I was scared, I still am. Every day. Terrified that I’m going to hear about you being killed by a dealer or some other maniac who can get to you. “
“You’re scared? Damn it Dave, I wake up every morning worried that it’s gonna end with a gunshot, afraid that I’ll end up with another bullet in me,” Kris stared incredulously at David. “The one thing that got me through it all was knowing I’d come home to you, and now I don’t even have that. You walked away from me and that hurt worse than being shot. I never thought you could abandon ship so easily. You broke my heart David.”
David touched Kris’ cheek with the back of his fingers tracing the tear track until he reached under Kris’ jaw and forced him to look up. “Kris, god, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Sliding his hand back, David cupped Kris’ head as his thumb caressed Kris’ perfect mouth.
“Don’t do it again,” Kris sighed as he pressed into David’s hand, his lips brushing against David’s palm.
Kris took a step back and looked up at David with a gentle smile. “I should clean up. Matt and I are meeting a couple of the local cops at the club Lambert and Carson were at the other night.”
David watched as Kris removed his coat and walked into the bathroom to wash up. Feeling lighter than he has in months, he handed Kris his jacket when he came back into the room. “Be careful okay?” David said softly, looking humbly at Kris.
“I promise,” Kris murmured as he pressed into David for a kiss. He pulled the door open, but turned back. “I’ll come back here?”
“You better,” David said as the door clicked shut.
* * *
Kris pulled his t-shirt over his head as his partner entered his hotel room.
“You ready yet Allen?”
“Yeah, keep your pants on Matt.” Kris chuckled as he slipped his wallet in his back pocket and grabbed his leather jacket from the chair. Clapping Matt on the shoulder, they walked out the door.
* * *
They were greeted by an already waiting Detective Marx who was accompanied by a very small man with bright hazel eyes and a Scorpion tattoo on his neck.
“This is Detective Frank Iero and he’s been fully briefed on your case and why you’re here,” Detective Marx gestured to the small man, who nodded and smiled at the two men. “Frank, meet Agents Kris Allen and Matt Giraud. Well, I’ll let you guys get to it. I have paperwork to go over back at the precinct and anyway, I stick out like a sore thumb here.”
“Hey guys, why don’t we go in and get a table so I can fill you in on this place.” Frank said as he gestured to the bartender who immediately came over and leaned against the counter.
“What can I get for you?” the vague hint of a smile on the bartenders face as he looked at Frank.
“The usual Mikey and whatever my friends here want. Just put it on my tab,” Frank smiled and winked at him.
“Okay Frankie, I’ll have Gee bring it out to you. Go sit your ass down before you get yourself into trouble,” Mikey said as he turned and waved his hand at one of the waiters.
“Come on, let’s go sit,” Frank said as he began weaving through the crowd to a table situated in the corner facing out into the club. Kris approved. This spot gave them unfettered views of the entire place, but also the privacy they needed to talk. Kris deposited himself into the booth, as a man with dark hair zigzagged between sweat-slicked bodies with their tray of drinks. He stopped at their table and set it down. The man put one hand on his hip unmistakably vying for some attention. Kris and Matt were amused and appreciative of his attitude.
“Gonna introduce me to your friends Frank?”
“Hey Gee!” Frank bounced from his seat and threw his arms around the man, dislodging his flirty stance. “This is Kris and Matt. Gee, can you take a break later, so you can meet them properly?”
“I’ll see what I can do.” With a wink, he walked toward the bar, easily maneuvering through the masses. Frank picked up his glass and watched the interaction at the bar. Gesturing with his drink, he looked at Kris.
“That’s Gerard; he’s been working here forever and I should disclose immediately that my interest in him goes beyond a professional one. The bartender is his brother Mikey, and the bouncer,” Frank nodded his head toward the door at a man with an epic head of hair, “is Ray. These guys are here every night for the most part. They would definitely know the regulars and any newbies that check the place out. Gee in particular goes out of his way to get to know the customers. It’s just his way. He’s a very friendly guy.” Kris respected Frank’s candor, but also the difficulties in separating work from one’s private life.
“So Detective Marx tells me you’ve been watching this place for a while now? Why?” Kris asked as he picked up his beer and watched the mostly male clientele gyrating on the dance floor. There was one woman that caught his eye, mostly because there weren’t very many women inhabiting the place, but also because her eyes kept flicking over to their table, her fingers drumming against the bar almost nervously. She seemed familiar to him, but Kris didn’t recognize her. Catching Kris’ glances, she sidled over to the bar and began chatting with Mikey.
“The club owner came to us about a month ago. He filed a report describing a passed out man found in the restroom after closing, who claimed that someone drugged him and left him in the back stall. While the man in question was embarrassed enough and didn’t want to be involved in a police investigation, the owners did, as stuff like this is bad for business. The victim was bound with thin cord and had a symbol of sorts drawn on his chest in eyeliner, an eye of some kind. It was smeared and hard to make out, but it was definitely an eye. The man had said the design had no relevance to him, so we can only assume that it had significance to his attacker,” Frank said as he tracked Gerard through the club, making his way to a nearby table.
Matt choked on his drink, then wiped his chin. He looked at Frank. “An Eye of Horus?” He eyed Kris with an anxious look.
“I’m not sure what it’s called, but it looked like a hieroglyphic version of an eye. Why? What is it?” Frank asked as he looked between Kris and Matt.
“The body Detective Marx told you was found last night had a similar marking carved into his body. As you know, he was last seen here, talking to Lambert. It now begs the question whether Lambert was here the night of the attack you’re investigating. Out of curiosity what did the victim look like?” Kris inquired.
Frank paused for a second, thinking. “Slight build, slender, lightish hair, young, and while this is a mixed club, he was definitely gay.”
“Very similar to last night’s victim and it’s too coincidental not to be connected.” Kris said as he ran his hand through his hair, which was now becoming a bad habit. All he could think about was Tommy, and Lambert’s possible linkage to Adrien. Adrien didn’t fit the physical description of these other victims, but Kris knew the connection was there somewhere.
* * *
Tommy rubbed his hand over his face and looked back at the computer screen. The pictures from the autopsy were both open on the screen and spread all over the table around him. There were enlarged versions that zoomed in on the mutilation and the ligature marks from every possible viewpoint. Tommy picked up one in particular and stared at it. Something was peculiar about it, just slightly off. Tommy tried rotating it and looked from a different angle. It was there, tugging at the back of his mind, but he couldn’t pinpoint what it was. His mind was too busy wandering where it shouldn’t, which was grossly unlike him. He needed to focus and decided it was best to step away for a while. Tommy groaned with exhaustion and reached for his coffee cup, glaring at it when he realized it was empty.
Tommy dragged himself over to the coffee maker and was pouring himself a cup when it hit him. It was there the entire time, but while trying to block out everything that has been distracting him, it had caused Tommy to miss an important detail. Setting the cup on the counter quickly, he grabbed his phone and began tossing papers around looking for Dr. Reinhart’s office number. Once found, he dialed hurriedly.
“Dr. Reinhart? This is Agent Ratliff, we met yesterday? I have a few questions about your autopsy of Carson Michaels.”
“Sure, I remember, I’m still in my office if you want to come by and talk.”
“Ok, I’ll be right over,” Tommy said, already gathering his papers together and sticking them into his messenger bag as he grabbed his jacket and headed out the door.
* * *
Dr. Reinhart was waiting for him at the door of her office. He nodded in greeting and rushed inside, immediately reaching for his bag and the pictures within.
“Did you run toxicology tests on the victim?” Tommy asked, looking wild-eyed at Dr. Reinhart.
“Of course, that’s standard procedure for cases like this, but also, Agent Allen insisted that I run those tests. The results just came back actually, I was about to review them before you arrived. Why? What are you thinking?”
“The lack of defensive wounds and everything else lends itself to the victim being drugged.” Tommy pushed a photograph of the ligature marking on the neck. Pointing out that there were two different marks, Tommy glanced up at Dr. Reinhart. “That’s how he was able to be moved to the grove. He was dragged which also explains all the scratches along his back.”
“Those were my initial thoughts as well, so let’s take a look.” Dr. Reinhart opened the folder in front of her; quickly skimming the report, she snapped her fingers. “Ketamine!”
“Ketamine?” That threw Tommy a bit. This wasn’t what he thought she was going to say, but it stands to reason that Ketamine or not, these similarities cannot be considered coincidences anymore. The killer simply improved their technique.
“Yes, he had Ketamine in his system. Other than his blood alcohol content, which was only .04, the Ketamine was the only other uncommon substance in his body.” She said as she sat back in her chair. “Did he use recreational drugs?”
“According to his friends and family, he didn’t use anything stronger than Tylenol, unless prescribed and the occasional night of drinking.” Tommy said as he flipped through his notes. “What happens under the influence of Ketamine?”
“Ketamine, or Special K, is generally used as an anesthetic, or for minor sedation in the ER. It doesn’t cause suppression of the lungs like other drugs that would that have a similar effect. It’s also used in veterinary clinics as sedation for animals. In small enough doses it causes an extreme body high, a floaty, dreamlike feeling. Within twenty minutes a person would suffer loss of limb function, causing full body paralysis, while the mind is still completely aware. It can also cause hallucinations and a trance-like state.” Dr. Reinhart said as she leaned back in her chair. “He would have been completely aware of everything that was happening to him, but unable to stop it. It had to be terrifying.”
Tommy nodded mutely, trying to sort through the array of feelings coursing through his veins
* * *
Adam stared blankly at the sheets of music in front of him, not focusing on the lyrics, only thinking about Tommy. That lithe body hiding under that suit… The attraction was mutual, Adam was sure of it. Somehow he needed to find out what made that man tick. How to get around that shield Tommy encased himself in. Ever since he’d met the man, Adam’s nights were filled with terrifying nightmares and erotic dreams, both of which starred Agent Ratliff. If the agent wasn’t spread out under Adam, he was tied up somewhere bleeding and crying out for help. Both made him wake up with a start, but while one terrified him, the other had him reaching for his hard cock. It was the latter thought that was making it difficult to concentrate on work. Adam gave in and let his hand inch down toward his crotch. There was no sense in fighting it, so he thought back to the last dream he had about Tommy.
Tommy fell gracefully to his knees, his tie loosened but still around his neck, the top three buttons of his shirt unfastened, dark brown eyes watching Adam’s as his tongue peeks out flicking over the tip of cock.
“God damn Tommy,” Adam groaned as he twisted his fingers in the long fringe covering Tommy’s face, tugging it back so he could see Tommy take Adam’s cock all the way down his throat.
Adam had just tugged the zipper of his jeans down and was pushing at his briefs to palm his cock when the door to his office opened and the object of his fantasy walked in.
* * *
Tommy stopped short as he entered Adam’s office. Lane had said Adam was busy writing and to just go in. He wasn’t sure what he expected to see, but pants open, cock in hand was not it. Nor, was hearing his name coming from Adam’s lips while doing so. Clearing his throat, Tommy tore his eyes from the scene in front of him, almost forgetting the reason he came to talk with the singer in the first place.
“Agent Ratliff,” Adam purred as he looked at his hand then back at the agent standing in the open doorway.
“Am I interrupting? Tommy couldn’t help but be amused at the situation. This was a first.
“Actually, you were, but reality is always better than fantasy. What can I do for you?” There are worse circumstances Adam could be in. Let Agent Ratliff chew on that visual for a while, Adam thought childishly as he tucked himself away with a sigh and a groan.
“I have a few follow up questions I need to ask you,” Tommy said as he walked across the room, showing no embarrassment, but possibly overdoing the professionalism. He bit the inside of his cheek to keep himself on point. More and more, Adam was making Tommy think about Adrien, from the way he said Agent Ratliff, to the freckles across his nose, to the fiery look he had when he wanted to fuck Tommy into oblivion. Tommy had spent so much time building walls after Adrien was killed, and to have anyone, let alone a near copy of Adrien, break them down was going to kill him.
“Okay, what do you want to know?” Adam said as he palmed himself, readjusting his hard on that hadn’t wilted in the slightest.
“First. The club you met Carson at, Neighbors, do you remember being there about a month ago and speaking to a man similarly looking?”
Adam didn’t hesitate and laughed out his answer. “I’m somewhat of a regular over there, so it’s highly possible. I’m in there often and it’s not a well-kept secret that I have a type.” Tommy was entertained by Adam’s use of bunny ears to accentuate his point. “Anyway, I like that place. They all know me and people tend to let me be, unless of course, I don’t want to be. Know what I mean?”
Tommy couldn’t help his eyes from rolling. “Yes, Mr. Lambert, I know what you mean. Now Lane is pulling together a more formal list, but I’d like to know about the people working with you, how long they have been with you, how they came to be hired if you know, and how close you are to them all,” Tommy said as he sat down, pulling out his notebook.
“Ok, um… Lane has been with me since Idol, she’s from 19 Management and was assigned to me as soon as the show was over. She and I are very close, and probably knows me better than anyone who works with me. She couldn’t be the person doing this, so don’t even go there,” Adam said as he sat down, his hard on completely forgotten. Just the thought of it being someone from his inner circle made him nauseous. “Uhhh, all my security is hired from an outside company; it’s all coordinated by 19 as well, possibly RCA. Lane would know for sure.”
“Okay,” Tommy made note of this in his notebook. Looking up he pinned his eyes on Adam, “Who else?”
“Well other than label suits, Janelle is the only person Lane and I regularly deal with. She’s my publicist. She came on about six months ago, replacing Roger Widynowski, who decided to take a great job opportunity that came his way. I’m not sure how or why she was assigned to me, but I was given the opportunity to meet her beforehand and give my approval. Lane or someone from 19 would know the circumstances surrounding her hire better than I would. I don’t get too involved in those things.”
“Six months ago? That was just after your tour ended right?” Something was niggling at the back of Tommy’s head. He was missing something.
“Yeah about then,” Adam watched as Tommy jotted notes down. “Does that mean something?”
“I’m not sure. I don’t want to rule anyone out, but I don’t want to panic you unnecessarily either. I need to get back to my team and see if anything has turned up from their digging.” Tommy stood up, making a mental note to call Lee as soon as he was out of the building. He really needed to leave, being around Adam for long periods fucked with his mind. Turning to go, Tommy was startled when a hand clamped down on his shoulder. “What is it?” He looked into Adam’s eyes with his own, with any luck showing nothing behind them.
“You can’t deny you’re attracted to me,” Adam whispered as his hand teased down Tommy’s arm stopping at his wrist and encircling it.
“I can’t be, I… can’t,” Tommy pulled away and practically sprinted out of the building.
Tommy made it to his car before he released the breath he didn’t know he was holding. Adam was more like Adrien than he realized. That assertion was just like the one Adrien made right before Tommy agreed to go out on their first date. This was not going to end well.
* * *
I’m done playing around. I warned Adam. I told him what would happen, and I showed him first hand the consequences of denying our love. Fucking Tommy Ratliff. Again, here he is getting between me and my beloved. I should have gotten rid of him when I had the chance. No mistakes this time.
Agent Tommy Ratliff has to die.
* * *
Tommy entered the bar to meet up with Kris, the events of the afternoon buried deep enough to put up a good front and concentrate on the task at hand. Scanning the crowd he saw Kris leaning against the bar talking to a small dark haired man and the blond bartender. He sidled up to Kris and put his hand on his shoulder.
“Hey Kris, wanna introduce me to your friends?”
“Tommy, hey! Yeah this is Detective Frank Iero and Mikey Way, bartender extraordinaire,” Kris motioned to the men with him. “Guys this is Tommy Ratliff.” Mikey nodded in greeting and living up to the introduction, promptly took his drink order. As he stepped away to get Tommy’s beer, Kris leaned a little bit closer to Frank. “We used to be partners until he moved to the Behavioral Sciences Unit. Best profiler we have.”
“Nice to meet you. So have you seen your charge tonight?” Frank asked as he rested against the counter and tipped his beer bottle to the left. Tommy turned to look where he was pointing and groaned at the sight that greeted him.
“Oh come on,” Tommy looked between Kris and Frank, his eyebrows nearly at his hairline. Shrugging out of his jacket, Tommy tugged the short sleeves of his t-shirt. “That shit actually works? He’s such a cocky bastard.”
“He may be a cocky bastard, but he’s a hot cocky bastard.” Frank said knowingly as he took another swig and settled back on his stool.
“His physical attractiveness means nothing. Packaging means nothing if there’s no substance.” Tommy griped as he accepted the beer from Mikey and continued to watch Adam charm a group of young men hanging off his every word.
“That may be true, but when was the last time you tried to look beyond anyone’s packaging, Tommy? You know better than most not to judge a book by its cover. Talk to him, I think he may surprise you,” Kris whispered with heartfelt sincerity as he clapped him on the back. Tommy just scowled harder. Kris knew exactly what the last two years have been like for him, and while he appreciated the gentle push, he didn’t want Kris to know how badly he wished he could take that first step right now, but he simply couldn’t bring himself to do it.
“So Tommy, if you don’t mind me being blunt, I didn’t expect you to look like…” Frank waved his hand at Tommy. “Well… like you do.”
“I bet Kris made me out so be some hard assed BSU veteran huh? By the book and all that shit?” Tommy asked smirking over his beer bottle.
“Something like that. He certainly didn’t tell me you were tatted up and kinda hot.” Frank laughed as he took a drink.
“Kris tends to forget the important things,” Tommy laughed as he pushed his hair behind his ear and perused the bar.
At just that moment Adam saw him. Adam looked him up and down before realizing who he was, and then a knowing smile crossed Adam’s face. Gritting his teeth Tommy already dreaded what was about to happen.
“Oh, someone’s noticed you Tommy,” Frank snickered, evilly, as Kris tried to hide his own amusement behind a cough.
“Damn it,” Tommy groaned as Adam weaved his way through the crowd, leaving his sycophants behind and making a beeline for Tommy.
“Well, well, well. I never expected to see you here, Agent Ratliff.” Adam said as he came to a stop right in front of Tommy, his eyes dragging over Tommy’s exposed arms. “Tattoos?”
“I… yeah,” Tommy said as he set his beer down and rubbed his hands over his arms. He wasn’t self-conscious, but he could feel Adam’s eyes all over him, taking him in. The similarities between Adam and Adrien’s appearance and their apparent attraction to Tommy were mind-blowing. It was wearing Tommy down and his resolve to stay detached from Adam was crumbling. Tommy’s breath caught in his throat as he felt Adam’s fingertips sliding over his forearm. Tommy knew exactly which tattoo he was outlining. Adrien was fascinated by Tommy’s tattoos, and often traced them. It relaxed Tommy, especially when they were in bed after incredible lovemaking, but even more so after a stupefying wild night of fucking.
“A Libra?” Adam said softly as he traced the thick black lines.
“Um, yeah, I am,” Tommy admitted as he unfroze himself and pulled his arm back, trying to shake off the way Adam’s fingers felt against his skin.
“You seem so contrary for a Libra,” Adam smiled as he gestured to Mikey for another drink.
“You’re very pushy for an Aquarius,” Tommy countered before biting his cheek at the sudden déjà vu of this entire situation.
Adam reacted with a bright smile and his blue eyes practically sparkled. “It’s just part of my charm.”
The bar, those words, Adam in lieu of Adrien… Tommy is starting to wonder if his being put on the Lambert case is someone’s idea of a cruel joke, or a brutal test of his sanity. Either way, the same thought has been running through his head since the two of them met: Adam Lambert was going to be the death of him.
* * *
Tommy settled in at the bar, drinking his beer. He barely noticed when a tall dark-haired man walked up to him.
“Is there a reason you’re alone?” a slightly accented voice asked over Tommy’s shoulder.
“I came alone,” Tommy replied as he peered up at the man.
“Well, that’s certainly a shame, but lucky for me. I’m Adrien,” the man said as he put his hand out. Tommy took his hand and then stared into radiant blue eyes.
“I’m Tommy Joe.”
Over the course of the next two hours Tommy and Adrien talked about everything and nothing. When it came time for Tommy to leave, Adrien grabbed his arm, his thumb rubbing softly over Tommy’s wrist. “Go out with me tomorrow?”
“I’m sorry. As much as I’d like to, I have to work,” Tommy said as he tried, without success, to pull his arm free.
“The night after then? You can’t deny you’re attracted to me.”
“You’re awfully pushy for an Aquarius,” Tommy smiled as he retrieved his phone from his pocket.
“It’s just part of my charm,” Adrien smiled up at Tommy as they exchanged phone numbers. “I’ll call you tomorrow afternoon.”
“Okay, I’ll… um talk to you then,” Tommy felt the loss when Adrien released his wrist. He smiled back at the man, then walked out into the evening air, feeling a little lighter for the first time in a while.
* * *
Tommy managed to collect himself. “That’s what everyone says when they are trying to deflect. I’ll stick with pushy.”
“Pushy? I never thought of myself as pushy, more like driven,” Adam said as he situated himself on the abandoned stool next to Tommy.
“Driven? Well…” Tommy started before he heard David Bowie’s Let’s Dance blare from Adam’s pocket.
“Hold that thought Tommy,” Adam said as he pulled his phone from his pocket and answered it. “Yeah? No… Janelle slow down… what do you mean someone broke into my house?! NO! Security… FUCK! No I’ll be right home.”
“Adam, what’s going on?” Tommy asked as Adam stuffed his phone back in his pocket.
“Someone broke into my house; they were in my bedroom.” Adam signaled to his security guard and started toward the door. Tommy grabbed his arm.
“You aren’t going alone,” Tommy turned to Kris. “Call Cook, get everyone to Adam’s. Looks like Adam had a break in and it’s possible it was our unsub. I’m heading over there with him.”
“All right,” Kris waved him off as he grabbed his cell to call Cook. “Hey Tommy, be careful k?”
Tommy gestured over his shoulder at Kris as he threw his jacket on and put a hand on Adam’s back leading him out the door.
* * *
“Adam, wait here,” Tommy said as they got to the door, his hand on his gun. He thanked the stars that he remembered his back up weapon in his SUV.
“What? Why? They’re probably gone,” Adam huffed as Tommy turned to glare at him.
“Remember what I told you? Don’t question me. Now please wait here.” Tommy pushed the door open and slowly ventured inside. He moved from the foyer to the kitchen, taking a deep breath and passing through the doorway. Empty. Stepping toward the hallway, Tommy listened as his shoes made soft thumping sounds against the hardwood floor. Tommy climbed up the stairs, his gun trained at the closed bedroom door off the landing. Swallowing back the horrifying memory of finding Adrien dead in their bedroom, Tommy reminded himself that Adam was all right, and was downstairs with his security guard. He reached out his free hand and gradually opened the door. The only light on was in Adam’s closet. Tommy stepped over the threshold and edged further into the room, striding closer to the bed. He felt his shoe slip in something slick. Biting back the urge to turn and run, Tommy rounded the bed and breathed a sigh of relief when he realized the liquid was water.
After a thorough search of Adam’s house, Tommy walked outside and was greeted by the rest of the team, Adam, his security guard, Lane and Janelle.
“Cook, can we talk… alone,” Tommy said as he glanced over at Adam in deep discussion with Lane and Janelle.
Nodding, Cook followed Tommy to the opposite side of the driveway.
“What’s going on?”
“Something is weird, nothing was touched aside from a glass of water spilled on his bedroom floor and the light in his closet being turned on,” Tommy tugged at his hair slightly as he looked at Cook. “Whoever did this either wanted to scare Adam by showing him that they could get in his house at any time, or left before they got caught and couldn’t take anything. But either way, whoever did it, I have a feeling they are a lot closer to Adam than we thought.”
“Okay, then we need to focus on those closest to him. Who’s around him on a daily basis?” Cook looked back to where Adam was standing watching them talk.
“I want to talk to Janelle; she was the one that called Adam about the break in. I want to know why she was at his house this late.” Tommy stared off into the dark yard. “And David, there’s something else. Walking in there… it was like that night. Closet light on, and instead of blood, it was water on the floor, but the location was spot on. Also, there have been other similarities. I didn’t mention them, though I should have. I wanted to write them off as freak coincidences, but I’m not so sure anymore. I’m starting to believe it could be the same person.”
“Tommy,” Cook rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Why didn’t you say anything sooner? Maybe you need to step back from this. From Adam. Just let Kris and Matt deal with the major stuff, you can work with Dr. Reinhart and Lee.”
“No! Dave, I can’t… I can’t explain why, but I can’t take a back seat on this one.” Tommy pushed his hands through his hair and stared at Cook. “I promise I won’t do anything stupid, but don’t make me back off on this. I didn’t know how to explicate what I was seeing. I thought I was projecting or something.”
“All right, look Tommy, I’m worried about you. There is too much about this that’s analogous to Adrien’s case, luckily you’re not the only person who’s noticed. Kris has been keeping me posted. Just… be careful, okay? We’re both worried about you.” Cook said as he watched Tommy’s face change at the mention of Adrien. “You know it’s not your fault what happened to Adrien, right?”
“If I had taken the letters seriously from the beginning, it never would have happened Dave.” Tommy turned back to where the rest of the team was waiting. “I won’t let it happen again. To Adam.”
Cook watched as Tommy marched back to where everyone was standing. So much could go wrong.
* * *
Tommy stopped in front of Adam, Lane and Janelle. “Ms. Lawton, can I ask you a couple of questions about what happened tonight?”
“Sure,” Janelle said as she faced Tommy, her arms crossed over her chest.
“Let’s step inside and sit where it’s quiet.” Janelle grudgingly followed Tommy and took a seat at the dining room table, staring bemusedly across from him. Now, Ms. Lawton, do you come to Mr. Lambert’s home often when he isn’t there?”
“What exactly do you mean by that?” Janelle bristled at the underlying question.
“I’m trying to establish if whoever broke in was surprised by you being here or whether they knew you would show up, and left the home the way they did for a reason,” Tommy said matter-of-factly as he watched the way Janelle’s left eyelid twitched.
“No I don’t. In fact this was the first time. I needed to drop some papers off for Adam to look at, so I did.” Janelle readjusted her arms, shifting from side to side.
“Did you see anyone in the house when you walked inside?” Tommy noticed Janelle continually looking over at Adam, watching every move he made. Her jaw clenched slightly when she saw him talking to Frank and Kris, lightly touching them when he made a point.
“No, I didn’t see anyone, but the front door was unlocked and then I saw the light on in Adam’s bedroom and that’s when I called him.”
Tommy jerked his head up from where he was writing in his notebook. She saw the light on in Adam’s room? Tommy had to open the bedroom door to see the light on, how did she see it?
“Did you touch anything? Go into Adam’s room at all?”
“No I didn’t go upstairs, just noticed the light from the bullnose.”
Tommy looked over at Cook and tried to convey the feeling coursing through his body. There was something very strange about her story. How did she see the light on if the door was shut and she never went upstairs?
“You’re sure you never went upstairs?” Tommy prodded.
“No, I never went upstairs.”
“Okay, Detective Iero, can you get someone out here to check for prints?” Tommy called out as he closed his notebook. “Thank you Ms. Lawton.”
Tommy watched as Frank made the call to have a small forensics team out to process the house.
Less than twenty minutes later an SUV pulled up and three crime scene investigators spilled out with shiny metal cases and latex gloves.
“Hi everyone, I’m Investigator Kari Rendall, right now I need everyone to line up so I can fingerprint you for elimination purposes.” Investigator Rendall opened the back of the SUV and booted up a small laptop computer hooked up to a laser finger printing system.
“What? Why?” Janelle asked as Lane and Adam walked over to the SUV.
“If we find any unknown prints at the crime scene, it is protocol to have elimination prints of people with legitimate access so we can eliminate the ones that belong to those people. That way you have fewer prints to search in the computer and compare to your suspects,” Investigator Rendall said as she scanned Lane’s finger prints into the computer. After scanning Adam’s, Rendall looked over at Janelle. “Ma’am, your turn.”
“Fine,” Grudgingly, Janelle let the investigator scan her fingers.
Tommy observed the whole operation, taking notes as the investigators found unknown fingerprints on the bedside table, the closet door and Adam’s dresser. When they finished Tommy walked with them to their vehicle and reiterated to call him directly if or when they found matches to any of the prints they came across.
“Tommy? I mean Agent Ratliff.”
“Adam, hey, are you all right?” Tommy asked as he turned around to face him. “And it’s okay to call me Tommy.”
“I’m so-so, a little freaked out. I’ve never had my house broken into,” Adam tucked his hands in his pockets and glanced at his house.
The change from the cocky guy in the bar to this frightened man standing in front of him was not sitting well with Tommy. Adam shouldn’t have to be afraid to be in own house. “If you want I’m sure I could talk to either Detective Iero, or Agents Allen or Giraud to stay here with you.”
“What about you? Would you stay?”
“If you felt more comfortable with me I would. I’m just not sure if that’s a good idea.”
“Oh I’d definitely be more comfortable,” Adam winked making Tommy roll his eyes. How Adam could be a scared puppy and still come on to him was a mystery to Tommy.
“I’ll make the arrangements.”
* * *
Tommy sat at the bar while Kris and Frank argued over whose turn it was to buy drinks.
“Tommy, what you want to drink?” Kris asked as Frank sulked against the bar, giving away that Frank lost the argument.
“Just water for me.” Tommy watched Adam dance. After the night before and the break in that evening, Adam had insisted on going out again, as he “wasn’t going to let this stalker take away my life”. Tommy remembered Adrien saying the same thing the months before he died. In the end that’s exactly what happened.
“Fine spoil sport.” Kris said as he gestured for the bartender, which tonight wasn’t Mikey. “So Tommy, how are you doing?”
“I’m okay, it’s a little hard, I mean look at him. He’s just like Adrien. I know you’ve noticed.” Tommy observed Adam charming a small group of disciples around him. After taking a sip of his water, Tommy’s face softened. “So, tell me, what’s going on with you and Cook?”
“Nothing?” Kris fidgeted with his beer bottle. “Well, we talked a little, so maybe something?”
“Yeah, it’s about ti…” The room started swimming, and Tommy grabbed the bar top trying to shake off the feeling in his head. “Kris?”
“Tommy? Tommy!” Kris yelled as Tommy started slipping from his perch on the barstool.
“I… Kris?” Tommy slurred, trying to figure out why the room was spinning. Tommy struggled to stay upright, but his hands and arms wouldn’t work right. His breath caught in his throat as he saw Adrien rush over. “Adrien? Mais…" [“Adrien? But…”]
“Kris? What’s going on? What’s wrong with him?” Adam asked in a panic when he rushed over to where Kris and Frank were trying to keep Tommy from crumpling to the floor.
“I don’t know! We were talking and, wait – holy shit, Iero, get Tommy’s glass and bottle of water.” Kris said as he readjusted his hold on Tommy. “Adam, grab his other side, we need to get him out of here.”
“Adrien? C'est toi? Mais tu es mort, comment?" [“Adrien? Is that you? But I you’re dead, how?”] Tommy tried to reach out and touch, but his arms wouldn’t cooperate.
“What’s wrong with him? Who’s Adrien?” Adam asked as they maneuvered Tommy outside and into the SUV.
“It’s not for me to say Adam. If you really want to know, you’ll need to ask Tommy,” Kris said as they loaded Tommy into the car. In the rearview mirror, Kris observed Adam slip in next to Tommy and push his hair behind his ear. “I think he was drugged, and if I’m right, we need to get him to the hospital as fast as we can.”
* * *
Tommy groaned trying to turn his head. He couldn’t move, he tried to speak but his tongue wouldn’t oblige.
“Kris, I think he’s awake.”
Tommy tried to see where the voice was coming from, but he could only move his eyes. He heard shuffling and a door open and close before more voices surrounded him.
“Agent Ratliff, if you can hear me blink once,” a voice said. Tommy blinked once.
“Agent Ratliff, I’m Dr. O’Neal. You passed out last night and are now safely at the hospital, thanks to your quick thinking colleagues and friends. We ran numerous tests and found that you had been drugged with Ketamine. It was in the water you were drinking. You experienced a few of the classic symptoms, including full body paralysis and hallucinations, immediately after ingesting the substance. The paralysis is temporary but I want to keep you here for day or two once it’s subsided for further observation.” Dr. O’Neal said as his hand came down on Tommy’s shoulder. Tommy could only groan, and blink once. “Your friends are waiting outside; I’ll let them in to see you now if you’re up for it.”
Tommy blinked in assent and heard the doctor leave the room and inform everyone that he was awake, just really out of it. He closed his eyes and hoped when he awoke, he would feel like his old self again.
* * *
Tommy woke up to the beginnings of a hangover from hell, feeling as if his head might explode. He realized he could move, and now that he was able, he almost wished he was paralyzed again. His whole body felt like it had been run over by a truck. Tommy tried to sit up to push the call button and ended up half on the pillow, half in the space between the bed and the protective metal arm. He waited for the nurse, before trying to move again. It would be his luck to end up bare-assed in the air, on the floor, in a peek-a-boo gown.
“Agent Ratliff, how are you feeling?” The nurse asked as she entered the room.
“Like shit,” Tommy groaned as the nurse helped him sit up in the bed.
“Your friends are out in the waiting area, do you want to see them now or would you rather take a shower first?”
“Oh god a shower please.” Tommy begged as she laughed and opened the bathroom door in his room.
“Are you all right on your own or do you need assistance?” She asked as she collected a towel and wash cloth from a nearby cabinet.
“Is there a bench in the shower?” Tommy asked as he pushed the blankets back and slowly swung his feet around off the bed.
“Sure is, can you make it?”
“Yeah just gonna go slow.” Tommy shuffled to the bathroom, holding the back of the gown shut as the nurse waited until she was sure Tommy was situated.
* * *
“Hey Tommy, how are you feeling?” Kris asked as he walked in the room, Cook right behind him, a bag slung over his shoulder.
“Ready to get the fuck out of here. What’s going on with the case?” Tommy asked, taking the bag from Cook. Tommy was ecstatic to get some real clothes on his body. He pulled out a pair of jeans and slid them on under the gown, then tugged the gown off, replacing it with a worn T-shirt.
“Not much. We’re waiting for the results of the prints lifted from Lambert’s house and the bottle of water you drank the other night. Should be sometime today.” Kris handed Tommy his shoes as Cook went to speak with the doctor about getting Tommy discharged.
“How’s Adam?” Tommy put his jacket on and ran his hands through his hair grimacing when his fingers caught on tangles.
“He’s shaken up. You kept calling him Adrien and mumbling in French, Tommy.” Kris said softly seeing Tommy’s face go pale at this information. “He asked me who Adrien was.”
“What did you tell him?”
“I told him that if he wanted to know he needed to ask you,” Kris said carefully. Tommy sat on the bed and wiped his sweaty palms over his legs nervously. Tommy opened his mouth to speak, but couldn’t find any words.
The door flew open and a smiling Cook crossed the entryway. “Hey, Doc says you’re good to go. Ready Tommy?” Cook asked, looking between Kris and Tommy warily.
“Yeah let’s get the hell out of here,” Tommy stood up and headed toward the door. Turning back, he looked at Kris. “I’ll tell him, but only if he asks.”
Adam sat in his office staring down at a sheet of paper with half-finished lyrics and rolled a tumbler of scotch between his hands. Not his usual drink of choice, but it was the only bottle of liquor that hadn’t been opened and therefore it was the only one the FBI deemed safe for drinking. Considering what happened to Tommy and the break in, he wasn’t going to disagree. Adam thought back to that night, Tommy was so out of it, calling him Adrien, begging him not to leave him again. When Adam wanted to find out what lay beneath that gorgeous blond hair and smooth pale skin, he never thought it would be anything like this. Tommy was so… closed off. Adam sat back in his chair and took a swig from his glass as he heard a soft knock on the door.
* * *
After Adam called out ”come in”, Tommy tentatively opened the door and walked inside. Adam sat behind his desk, glass in his hand, with a look of relief and uncertainty on his face. “I hope this is all right. Lane said to “go on in”.
“Oh my god, of course. How are you feeling?” Adam asked, his tone cautious, unsure of the direction this conversation will ultimately take. Tommy sat in the chair across from Adam before answering.
“I’m doing okay, no effects from it at all. How are you doing?”
“I’m still a bit freaked out, but Agent Allen has been staying at the house while you were in the hospital, so I’ve been feeling more reassured about my safety, plus I was able to get up-to-the-minute updates about your condition. I was so worried about you, more than I’ve been about someone in a long time. See, under this indomitable nature, I’m really just a softie. I can tell you and Agent Allen are very close, so it made me feel better that I had someone else to agonize with. We talked a lot when things were quiet, and look… I want to ask you something, but I don’t want you to get mad. I wasn’t prying or anything and Agent Allen wouldn’t tell me a thing, except that if I wanted to know anything about you, I should ask the source directly.” Adam set his glass down and stood up making his way around the desk to sit next to Tommy. Positioning himself intimately close to him, Adam spoke to Tommy, looking directly into his eyes, using a soft, sincere voice – one that Tommy has only heard glimpses of from Adam. “That night, you called me Adrien over and over, and you continually asked me not to leave you, at times in French. I need to know, who is Adrien?”
Tommy blew out a trembling breath and pulled his wallet from his pocket. He took a well worn picture out, handed it to Adam and waited.
Looking at the picture, Adam was shocked to see a man that could have been his brother. Adam handed the photo back. “Is that Adrien?”
“Yes, we met in Alexandria, West Virginia. I had just transferred from the Organized Crime Unit and was sharing an apartment with Kris, Agent Allen. Both Kris and I were working undercover busting some high school drug rings. I had a night off and met Adrien in a small bar around the corner from my apartment. He was… to use your word, driven to persuade me to date him.” Tommy chuckled at the memory, wiping the lone tear from his face. “We dated for two years and then letters, similar to ones you received, started coming. At first it was no big deal, he was a psychologist and sometimes his patients would get overly attached and fixated with him. He would recommend they find a new doctor if he was able to pick up the signs and it was something the patient couldn’t get passed.”
“The letters started coming in late March of 2008. They talked about how Adrien and the writer were meant to be together, and that no one could get between them and that theirs was true love, things of that nature. We brushed them off at first because Adrien wasn’t worried, so neither was I. They started getting more threatening, coming more frequently to the house and to his office. Some had pictures that were clearly taken from outside our home. There were pictures of us together, with my face blacked out. That’s when Adrien started to worry, that the writer might try to hurt me,” Tommy tucked his hair behind his ear and wiped his face. “It ended up that he was wrong. I found his body in our bedroom, my gun close to his hand, but he never had a chance to use it.”
“I’m sorry Tommy, I didn’t know,” Adam said softly, wringing his hands, trying not to feel like a complete ass for acting the way he had been.
“How could you?” Tommy said rubbing his fingers over the top of Adam’s hand.
“Did they find the person that did it?”
“No, they never did. They looked at every current patient he had, as well as those released from his care during the previous six months. Nothing. Then the case went completely cold,” Tommy turned Adam’s right arm over and traced the Eye of Horus tattoo, then over the soft skin between his wrist and elbow causing Adam to shiver.
“And the French?” Adam breathed.
Tommy leaned over, his breath ghosting over Adam’s chin. He lifted one hand and cupped Adam’s jaw, his thumb rubbing softly over the stubble. Tommy’s voice was barely a whisper. "After Adrien and I would make love, he’d hold me in his arms and give me post-coital French lessons.” Tommy couldn’t help but smile into Adam’s skin at the memory. “He’d said that’s when I was most receptive, when I was naked and sated and blissed out. I guess he was right. Now, when I have a strong reaction to something or someone, it seems to just fly out of me… Est ce que tu sais combien c'est difficile de ne pas te toucher?" [“Do you know how hard it is to not touch you?”]
“Tommy?” Adam forced himself back. As much as he wanted Tommy, to touch his skin, it wasn’t time yet.
“Tu es tellement comme lui, mais en même temps tellement différent.” [You're so much like him, but at the same time so different.] Tommy whispered as he skimmed Adam’s profile with the tips of his fingers. Tommy leaned up, his lips barely touching Adam’s, “S'il te plaît, s'il te plaît embrasse moi.” [“Please, please kiss me.]
Adam groaned as Tommy tilted in pressing their lips together. Adam pushed tenderly against Tommy’s shoulders. “Wait, Tommy, I can’t. I can’t take his place. I’m not Adrien.”
“I don’t want you to be. I know he’s gone, I know…” Tommy whispered as he crawled over Adam’s lap, dragging his hands over Adam’s shoulders, fingers diving into Adam’s hair, tugging on it, pulling Adam’s head back. Adam sighed and let Tommy maneuver him so their lips finally met. Adam huffed a soft breath as his hands slid over Tommy’s hips, rubbing over the exposed skin above Tommy’s jeans. Tommy tightened his fingers in his hair and shifted across his legs, settling fully in his lap. Adam readjusted his hold on Tommy’s hips, his tongue outlining Tommy’s lower lip. Fitting their mouths together, Tommy groaned as Adam’s tongue slid past his teeth, licking the roof of his mouth. Adam’s hands skated across Tommy’s lower back, fingertips drifting below the waist of his jeans. Just as the kiss deepened the door to Adam’s office opened.
“Adam, Lane and I need you to go over… Agent Ratliff? What the hell?” Janelle stared for a moment before gathering herself. “Um, Adam, I have those contracts you needed to go over and have signed by tomorrow.”
“I…” Adam looked from Tommy in his lap to Janelle standing in the door way looking intensely uncomfortable.
“I have to go anyway,” Tommy stood up, brushing his hands through his hair and smiled softly at Adam before turning toward the door. He nodded at Janelle as he walked past her, wondering how he wasn’t aware she was in the house with Lane. “Ms. Lawton.”
“Agent Ratliff,” Janelle nodded stiffly as she watched Tommy walk down the hall, not turning back to face Adam until she heard the front door close.
Adam was back sitting at his desk when Janelle’s focus was returned to Adam. Her face was drawn in almost a scowl. “Really Adam? Him?”
“Excuse me?” Adam cocked his head not really believing the sneer he could hear in her voice.
“Seeing someone like him is not going to go over well with the fans,” Janelle said as she crossed the room, setting the contracts on Adam’s desk and taking the chair directly across from him. “He’s not a musician, or even in the business. He really has nothing to offer you. You could really do better.”
Adam just stared at her in disbelief. Who the hell did she think she was? Janelle was still new to Adam; she had only been with him for six months, but regardless, had no right at all to be speaking to him about whether or not he should enter into a relationship.
“Janelle, you’re here as part of my business team, today specifically to discuss contracts, not who I date and certainly not who I sleep with. Let’s remember that from now on,” Adam said unsteadily as he pulled the folder of contracts across the desk. He’s never had to reprimand anyone he works with, and did not like the sensation in the pit of his stomach in doing so now. The exchange weighed heavily on his mind and the uneasiness he felt was difficult to shake. He found it hard to concentrate, so much so Adam did not see the way Janelle reacted to him as he ran his thumb over his bottom lip and attempted to focus on all the paperwork before him.
* * *
I can’t believe it. I warned him, I fucking warned him! After all the things I have done for him, all the love I’ve shared, and the time I’ve spent with him, this is how he repays me!? Hooking up with… with that homewrecker? This time he has to go. It’s what should have happened two years ago and I will not make the same mistake twice. Time to get rid of Tommy.
* * *
Tommy paced back and forth in his small hotel room, tapping his phone against his thigh. He revisited the look on Janelle’s face when she saw him in Adam’s lap over and over. While being in Adam’s lap wasn’t exactly professional, Adam was his charge, and he had every right to be there. Tommy couldn’t get rid of the feeling that Janelle didn’t like him, finding Tommy in Adam’s lap notwithstanding. This wasn’t anything new really, many people didn’t like Tommy before getting to know him, but it was the sheer disdain he felt emanating from Janelle when she saw him near Adam, which made him feel odd. If he was truthful, he sensed that from their very first meeting. Sure he wasn’t exactly in a great mood that day, but in his defense she had gone to the media without consulting him or his team. While producing a semi-permanent groove into the carpeting, Tommy’s phone pinged, signaling an email. He sat at the small table near the window and opened his laptop. His phone rang just as he pulled up his incoming messages.
“Lee, did you find anything on Janelle Lawton?” Tommy scanned his inbox.
“Yeah, I just sent you everything I could find on her.” Tommy could hear Lee typing as he scanned the files in his email. “Janelle Lawton showed up about six months ago, before that she was Candice Underhill, and before that she was Laura Anne Marshall. She spent the first twelve years of her life in and out of foster homes before she was adopted by Paul and Margaret Marshall. Things were pretty good for her until she was twenty, then it seems everything derailed.”
“What happened?” Tommy asked as he clicked through the files on his screen. It showed pictures of a young girl who looked vaguely familiar.
“It says here that her parents died when she was twenty, and after that it seems she had some sort of breakdown. She became fixated on a classmate at college, and stalked him for nearly a year before trying to run him over with her car. She pled guilty and was locked up in an institution for five years. Apparently she was diagnosed with a personality disorder and is highly obsessive. She was prescribed medications to help, but she refused to take them.”
“Ok, so she just decided to become someone else? Change identities?” Tommy put his forehead down on the table. There was something about Janelle that pricked his mind, something that should be obvious but yet he couldn’t wrap his head around all this new information.
“That’s what it looks like. She was locked up until late 2007; it says she was released to an outpatient program in Alexandria, Virginia.” There was a pause as Lee typed rapidly on his keyboard. “Okay looks like her doctor was a Dr. Adrien Renaud. Oh god… Tommy…”
“Uh… yeah,” Tommy felt the blood rush from his face and his hands started shaking. He was staring at the file that contained the name of the doctor and a picture of Candice Underhill. It was Janelle except she was a redhead instead of blonde. Back then, Tommy only had a first name, but remembers it so clearly now. Adrien would come home visibly upset after his sessions with Candice, but he couldn’t talk about it. He finally referred her to another physician after Adrien felt treating her was not in either of their best interests. Shortly after she was no longer his patient, the letters started coming. He recalls Adrien getting a call from the doctor he referred Candice to informing him that she had moved out of state with family and would be seeking treatment elsewhere. Tommy didn’t notice at the time, but the content of the letters escalated during that same period. It all made complete sense now. He saved the files then shut his computer down, simply going through the motions. “Lee, thanks, I have to go. I almost let her take him. I can’t let it happen again. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Tommy? Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll call you; I gotta talk to Cook and the others.” Tommy hung up and slid his gun into his shoulder harness, and put his leather jacket on. He grabbed his phone and dialed Cook as he rushed out taking only his keys letting the door slam shut behind him.
“Cook, come on, pick up the damn phone!” Tommy slapped the steering wheel of his SUV as he waited for Cook to answer.
“‘lo?” a slight southern drawl came through the line.
“Kris? Never mind put me on speaker.”
“Tommy? What’s going on?” Cook asked. Tommy could hear the rasp of sheets as Cook moved closer to the phone.
“It’s Janelle Lawton, she’s the stalker.” Tommy said turning into Adam’s driveway. “Dave, get everyone to Adam’s. Paramedics too, just to be safe. I’m just pulling in now.”
“Tommy, wait for us to get there before you...”
Tommy hung up the phone with Cook in mid-sentence, rushing to the front door of Adam’s house, noticing it was ajar. Pulling his out gun, Tommy edged the door open with his elbow. He made it only two steps inside before everything went black.
* * *
Tommy groaned as he opened his eyes. He tried to reach up to soothe his aching head, but his arms were restrained behind his back with what felt like plastic cuffs. Also, his chest hurt, like he had a giant paper cut. While attempting to gather his bearings, he saw Janelle standing with her hip against Adam’s desk and a tumbler with ice in her hand.
“Why do you insist on trying to steal them away from me? You know Adrien never loved you like he loved me, and Adam is no different.” Janelle said as she set the glass down and crossed the room, stopping only inches in front of Tommy. “You can’t believe you meant anything to either of them when they have me? Look at you. You are nothing on the inside, and indubitably nothing on the outside. You probably don’t even know what that word means.”
“Adam is all about love and being who you are without regret. The man only wants to put a smile on the face of everyone he comes in contact with, whether in person, on television or though his music. He wants to make this world a better and more accepting place. He’s intelligent and articulate and inspiring, with a preference for a partner that is his equal, not subpar. He is someone of substance, not that you would know anything about that.”
“You and your tattooed body, the crazy hair and the would-be rocker make up. No one can take you seriously. You are nothing but a diversion. A hobby. A hole for Adrien and Adam’s cock to fuck into. Nothing more.”
Pure hatred marred her face. “I have proved my love over and over, first for Adrien and now for Adam. That boy from the club wasn’t good enough for Adam and I showed him how easily I can take care of those wannabe star fucker types that only want him because he’s famous. I’ll protect him from anyone that I perceive as a threat to him or to our love. And right now, I have another distraction to get rid of. You will never be in my way again.”
Tommy watched as she took the knife lying on the desk behind her and scrunched the loose material of his shirt, which was already hiked up at weird angles and sliced it from bottom to top. Shoving the remnants over his shoulders, she drew the tip of the blade across his collarbone, stopping momentarily at the hollow of his throat. Swallowing, Tommy looked up at her.
“You killed Adrien.” It was a statement, not a question.
“That was unfortunate. He didn’t understand the depth of our love. He refused to accept the truth and insisted that you were his true love.” Janelle snorted as she put pressure on his chest with the knife, drawing a bead of blood to the surface. “It should have been you. If it was, I would still have Adrien and you would no longer be a problem. It was you I was looking for when I came to the house that day. I knew Adrien’s schedule like that back of my hand. He wasn’t supposed to be home. You’re the one who should be dead. Instead my true love was taken from me.”
Janelle’s declaration hit Tommy like a ton of bricks. If only it was him instead of Adrien, but now was not the time to dwell on this. He had to push on. He needed to buy more time. “You do realize that even if you kill me, Adam will never love you. He will never be with you,” Tommy said raising his chin to look her in the face. “First of all, like Adrien, Adam is gay.”
“That’s not true. Adam is about the person. He views all people as beautiful individuals and doesn’t acknowledge labels. He only believes in finding happiness. If you’re gone he will focus only on me and realize how happy I will make him. Our love will see us through.” Janelle brought the knife up tapping her chin with it, smearing his blood across her face. She turned and paced the room, drumming the knife on her hand barely sparing a glance at Tommy. “You ruined my plans once again Agent Ratliff. That bottle of water the other night was given to you by accident. You weren’t supposed to drink it.”
Tommy contemplated his next course of action as she walked back and forth in front of his chair, waving the knife to punctuate her words. Then it struck him. It didn’t occur to him that the bottled water was meant for Adam. “Janelle, where’s Adam?” Tommy asked warily.
At the mention of Adam, Janelle whipped around and slapped Tommy across the face. “He is none of your concern, but I will tell you only that he is safe and away from here. Away from you.”
Tommy could feel a small cut on his lip from the slap; he poked his tongue out and licked at it as he watched Janelle stalk around the room muttering to herself.
“You do realize that in about ten minutes my entire team will be here. You’re stuck, there’s no way out of this.” Tommy rolled his shoulders, hissing as the movement pulled at the cuts on his chest. He flexed his fingers, realizing she hadn’t tightened the cuffs as much as she should have. It hurt like a bitch, but he was able to bend and squeeze his hands enough to slide one free of the plastic restraints. Not wanting to give himself away, he kept his hands behind his back as she turned again to face him.
“It won’t matter, you will be dead by the time they get here.” Janelle said as she navigated the room, knife held with a forward motion. When she reached the chair, Tommy rolled to the floor as she drove the knife into the back of the chair. Scrambling to his feet he rushed to the door only to find that it was locked. After finally unbolting the door, a sharp pain burst through the right side of his back before he had a chance to escape. Instead, he was slammed into it face first. He managed to peel himself off the door and turned to find Janelle standing in front of him, the knife now smeared with blood. His blood. “You won’t leave this room alive Agent Ratliff; I can’t allow you to come between Adam and I any longer.”
Tommy felt his chest get tight and it was difficult to breathe. He knew she had probably nicked his lung, but there was no way he was going to go down without fighting. She lunged at him again, but this time he deflected the knife and punched at her chest, the blow knocking her back and making her only weapon fall to the floor. Kicking it across the room, Tommy pressed a hand against the wound in his back, and braced for her to rush at him. “You’re not so tough when your victims aren’t incapacitated. I wish I walked into our house instead of Adrien. I would have killed you myself for what you put him through.”
“Shut up! It should have been you! It was supposed to be you! He wasn’t supposed to be home,” Janelle shouted as she came at Tommy again her knee coming up and catching him in the groin, causing him to double over. As he hit his knees, he saw her scramble for the knife. Using every bit of strength he had left, he propelled himself forward and crawled after her, grabbing her ankle just as she got hold of the knife. Rotating around, she slammed the blade into his forearm. Screaming in pain, Janelle pulled the knife free. He rolled to his knees and cradled his arm against his chest, knowing he didn’t have too much time before he passed out. The pressure from the knife wound in his back made it increasingly difficult for him to breathe. Janelle seized the opportunity to topple him over onto his back and straddle him. She held the knife with both hands high above his chest. With her eyes flashing manically, she slammed the knife blade downward. Just as the knife was about to take his life, there was a loud crack from somewhere in the room. Next thing Tommy knew, Janelle was a crumpled mess next him on the carpet, the knife falling from her hand. Tommy coughed wetly, blood coming up from his lungs. His head leaned to the side to look where the gunshot came from.
“Jesus Christ Ratliff! I thought I told you to wait for us!” Cook said as Kris rushed to Tommy’s side, putting pressure against the wound in his back, and Cook hurried over to where Janelle lay. Kicking the knife away, he checked for a pulse out of habit, but the hole in the center of her forehead told him all he needed to know. “Damn Allen, hell of a shot.”
“Didn’t… go in… didn’t… do it on purpose.” Tommy said with a wince as Kris pressed harder against his back, trying to stem the flow of blood. Still coughing, Tommy looked up at Cook. “She killed Adrien Dave, she…”
“Shh Tommy, she can’t hurt anyone else. Just focus on yourself. We can talk after we get you to the hospital,” Cook said as EMTs came in the room to examine Tommy’s injuries. One paramedic wrapped his arm while another inserted an IV. Once Tommy was stable, they loaded him onto a stretcher. “We’ll be right behind you.”
“Call Alli,” Tommy said, voice muffled behind the oxygen mask.
“She’s gonna be so pissed,” Kris said softly, as Cook nodded at Tommy. They wheeled Tommy out of the house while Cook and company returned to Janelle’s motionless body still on the floor. Kris surveyed the limp form, and then motioned to Cook. “Look at her hip, Dave. Do you see what I see?”
Cook bent down to take a closer look at the tattoo ink peeking out on the skin between Janelle’s hiked up shirt and her yoga pants, where the waistline was almost pulled down on one side. “Well I’ll be damned.”
Kris pulled Cook from his amazement. “You wanna call in the troops? Need to get Archie on this fast before the media catches wind of this. Also, someone needs to find Adam. Assuming he’s unharmed and unaware of what’s happened here, aside from the dead body in the middle of his office, he’s going to want to know about Tommy.” This wrenched a deep sigh from Cook.
As if on cue there was the sound of a scuffle near the front door and Adam’s voice breaking through.
”What the fuck is going on?! This is my god damn house, let me in!”
Rushing to the front door, Kris and Cook saw Adam struggling with Matt. “Mr. Lambert, please.” Matt pleaded as he held tight to Adam’s arms, preventing him from crossing the threshold.
“Adam, stop.” Kris said as he stepped out the door. “You can’t go inside, this now a crime scene.”
“What?” Adam stopped struggling with Matt and took in the sight of Kris’ hands, which were covered in blood. “Who’s blood is that? And who was in the ambulance I saw pulling out of my driveway?”
Turning to Matt, Kris removed his weapon from its holster and handed it to his partner. “Log this, I’ll be in the car. Adam, please follow me outside. Agent Cook will be there in a moment and will explain everything to you there.”
Matt watched as Kris left the premises, Adam following closely behind, walking as though he was in shock. Kris crossed the yard, leaving a dazed Adam with Lane, and climbed into his car. Waiting. He knew he’d have company to the hospital.
“Cook, what happened?” Matt asked as Detective Iero and Investigator Rendall walked up the stairs.
“Janelle Lawton, who was part of Adam’s management team, was his stalker. Kris and I got here just in time. Her body is inside in the office. Tommy is on his way to the hospital, with what looks like multiple stab wounds. She did a number on him. I’d hate the think what we would have walked into if we had gotten here any later.” Cook said as they started toward the front door. “Iero, do you have someone that can take Kris’ statement? He’s the one that put her down.”
“Sure, we’ll take it when we get back to the station. Who’s going to speak to Mr. Lambert?” Frank said as he canted his head in Adam’s direction.
“I’ll do it. I’ll leave you to your work,” Cook said as he walked over to Adam.
“Agent Cook, what happened in my house? Why is Agent Allen covered in blood?” Adam was wringing his hands as he watched the crime scene investigators pulling on foot covers and gloves before entering his house. Adam inhaled deeply and in barely a whisper asked, “Where’s Tommy?”
“Adam, Agent Ratliff figured out who the stalker was and confronted this person here at your home.” Cook said carefully as he watched Adam’s hand tighten around Lane’s.
“Who was it? Why were they at my house? And where’s Tommy?” Adam asked as he looked around the yard trying to find the blond agent.
“It was Janelle, Adam.”
“What? But… oh my god,” Adam sank to the grass, his hands covering his face. “Where is she?”
“He’s on his way to the hospital. He was hurt badly.”
“I… I have to go, I need to see him.” Adam stood up and started toward his car, only to see Kris open the door to his.
“Adam, get in. We’ll go see him together.”
* * *
Tommy heard raised voices outside his room; he groaned and blinked his eyes open, seeing the muted light coming from under the door. He tried to sit up but fell back, his chest and arm throbbing. Gritting his teeth, he pushed the call button and waited.
“Agent Ratliff, you’re awake,” a soft voice said as the door opened spilling light in the room. “You have some very vocal friends waiting to see you, if you’re up to it after I take your vitals and give you a quick once over.”
Tommy smiled wryly and let her help him into a more comfortable position.
“How is your pain on a scale of one to ten? One being no big deal and ten being the worst thing you’ve ever felt,” she asked as she looked at his chart.
“A six maybe, it’s mainly my chest,” Tommy said as she nodded and walked around the bed so she could check the dressings on his torso. Tommy winced as she peeled the tape back, momentarily mourning the loss of his chest hair. “What the hell is that?”
“Um, it looks like an eye of some sort,” she said as she gently cleaned the area and re-bandaged it. “All right I’m going to give you a bit of morphine for the pain. The doctor will be here shortly to check in on you. Okay to let your friends come in? There is one man in particular who keeps asking about you. He’s harassing the nurses, not that they mind. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how gorgeous he is. You’re a lucky guy Agent Ratliff.”
Tommy bit back a small smile at that. “Yeah, let them in, they won’t leave until they see that I’m actually alive.”
* * *
“Well, I’m glad you’re okay, but Tommy Joe Ratliff if you ever pull a stunt like this again, I will kill you myself,” Allison said as she leaned in and pressed a quick kiss to Tommy’s cheek. “I’ll be by in the morning.”
“Yeah we’re out too. We’ll see you in the morning for your de-briefing and statement,” Cook said as he guided Kris to the door, a hand pressed against his lower back. Tommy smiled at this sight and turned to the last guest in his room.
“Jesus Christ Tommy,” Adam whispered as he crossed the room and took Tommy’s hand in his. “Why did you go in the house by yourself? Agent Cook said you were supposed to wait. You could have died.”
“I needed to protect you. I couldn’t protect Adrien when he needed me most, and I couldn’t let the same thing happen to you. We only just found each other and I couldn’t let it end before it ever began,” Tommy said quietly as he gently ran his fingers over the bandage on his arm and waited for Adam’s reaction.
“God Tommy, you scared me,” Adam said as he reached out his hand and pushed Tommy’s hair away from his face. He leaned down and pressed his lips to Tommy’s. “Please try not to do that again.”
“I’ll try.” Tommy whispered as he let Adam kiss him again, all the pain briefly forgotten.
* * *
4 months later
Tommy was pulling his shirt on when the front door flung open.
“I’m getting dressed Kris, gimme a minute,” Tommy called out as he buttoned his shirt and grabbed his shoulder rig from the dresser. Padding out to the living room, he set his holster on the table and tucked his shirt into his slacks before sitting on the couch.
“Well, look at you, all ready to get back to work,” Kris teased as he sat back on the couch next to Tommy. “Happy to go back to the BSU?”
“You know I am. What about you? You gonna stay undercover or you gonna come join us?” Tommy asked as he slipped his feet into his shoes and tied them.
“I’m not sure yet, I still have one case that needs to be wrapped up, but we’ll have to see after that. Most likely I’ll be leaving the unit and transferring somewhere else. Let’s just say that I’m considering all my options.” Kris had a bit of a glint in his eye as he handed Tommy his rig and helped him tighten the strap across his back. Things between him and Dave were finally working themselves out. “Enough about me. How’s your back?”
“Considering that four months ago the psycho that killed my fiancé two years ago, stabbed me and then proceeded to carve an Eye of Horus into my chest, and not a very good one I might add, I’d say pretty damn fucking good.” Tommy picked up his jacket and swiped his keys and wallet off the table. “Come on my friend, let’s go to work.”
* * *
“So, is Adam back yet?” Allison asked as she draped herself across the chair in Tommy’s office.
“Not until the end of the week. I told you, he’s been doing some type of international promotion. He’s been in Japan the last few days.
“It’s just so weiiiirrrrdddd…” Allison stretched the word as she tapped her fingers on the edge of the desk. “How can you not speak for months after everything you guys had gone through?”
“Alli,” Tommy groaned as he let his head hit the desk. He thought back to when he woke up every morning in the hospital, only to find Adam sleeping in the chair next to his bed. Lane had to come and force him to work. One night, Tommy couldn’t sleep, so he and Adam had a heartfelt talk about what was happening between them and what that meant. It was then that they came to a mutual agreement, for a couple of months anyway. When Tommy was to be discharged from the hospital, Adam was scheduled to leave for an extended promotional tour overseas. Given the intense experience they just went through, coupled with Adam’s uncanny resemblance to Adrien, both Tommy and Adam wanted to be sure that the attraction they had to each other was not a result of either of those reasons. Also, Tommy wanted to get to know Adam without either of them feeling that Adam was a replacement for Adrien. They decided they would communicate during that time either by text or old-fashioned letter writing only. None of their friends understood why this was important for any future they might have together, but he and Adam understood, and that was enough for both of them.
During that that time, Tommy began to find writing Adam therapeutic and believed that it helped his rehabilitation, both physically and mentally. Tommy hadn’t realized how closed off he had become and Adam had a way of drawing him out. He poured his heart and soul into those letters and Adam responded in kind. They learned a lot about each other and Kris was right, Adam was a man of substance and also, they had a lot in common. Most of all, Adam made him laugh again. The man was truly ridiculous. The texts Adam sent throughout the day were about nothing in particular, but hysterical in their own right. Tommy joined twitter under a pseudonym (Adam taught him how) and knew most of the tweets and pictures Adam posted for his fans were meant for him. It was as if Adam had Tommy right there with him. It was one of the reasons Tommy grew to adore and respect Adam. Adam was Adam through and through. He won’t pretend to be someone he’s not or hesitate to call Tommy out on something, but mostly, Adam can be the biggest dork. Janelle was right about Adam; the problem was that her interpretation of his words and how he lived his life was twisted and warped to fit her own delusions about him in her mind.
Tommy was glad he chanced that first step. He hadn’t felt this good in years, well, really before Adrien died, and while he’ll never forget Adrien, Tommy knows his heart had room for one more.
“What? Letter writing and texting is not the same as talking to each other. I’m just worried about you Tommy. It’s been a long time and you’ve finally met someone who’s willing to put up with you. I just don’t want you to blow it.” She had flipped over in her seat, and her hair brushed the floor as her feet hung over the back of the chair.
Tommy sat back, scheming. Two can play this game. “You’re just jealous that I’m dating a rock star…” Tommy felt great satisfaction. Allison was speechless.
His triumph didn’t last long, as the phone started ringing. He almost forgot he was back at work, “Special Agent Tommy Ratliff.”
“Hello Tommy Joe,” a familiar voice said across the line.
* * *
Tommy stared across the table at Adam, grateful that Adam was in the position to fly out and see him whenever he wanted. As the singer regaled him with stories from his trip, Tommy surmised that a transfer to the LA office was not out of the realm of possibility. He could listen to Adam talk forever. Even now, he had heard most of these stories already, but it was a treat to watch Adam tell Tommy in person and he didn’t want to miss one more second of that. He didn’t want to waste one more second of his life.
Adam gesticulated with his whole body, using different voices for the various people that traveled with him, but mostly Tommy loved seeing Adam’s face light up. Adam could barely get through one tale or another without cracking himself up. He flashed that thousand watt smile he was famous for and his eyes were as bright and blue as the sky. He wouldn’t tell Allison under pain of torture, but this was much better than reading words on a page, except, Tommy fell in love with Adam through those letters, and nothing can really beat that.
“So, Tommy, how are you doing? Really?” Adam asked his hand stretched across the table, fingers lightly brushing Tommy’s hand. Adam was worried things wouldn’t be the same between them in person, but if there was any awkwardness, neither of them seemed to notice.
“Honestly? I think I’m doing okay. Rehab was tough, but overall, I’m doing all right. You helped me get though it Adam. I’m not sure I could have done it without you.” Tommy said as he took a sip of his wine and flipped his hand over so Adam could slide their fingers together. “How are you doing?”
Adam shrugged as his fingers tightened against Tommy’s. “It’s been tough. I mean Janelle was so close to everything I did. Now I’m a little jumpy when new people are assigned to my team. I’m not sure a simple background check is going to be enough for me when I hire anyone. I’m glad my mom still does most of my personal things for me. Can you imagine if I unintentionally hired a stalker to buy my toilet paper? I mean, how did I miss that something wasn’t right? How could I not have seen it?”
“It’s not that easy to see crazy. I mean you would think that as delusional and completely out of reality as she was, someone would have been able to see it, but it doesn’t always work that way.” Tommy smiled softly as he squeezed Adam’s hand. “Adrien was a trained professional and while he did see it eventually, he didn’t think to take it as seriously as he should have.”
“Will you tell me about him?” Adam asked quietly as Tommy finished off his glass of wine.
“Yeah, someday I will, but not tonight.” Tommy said as he stood up and held out his hand. “Come with me?”
Adam smiled and fit his hand into Tommy’s, allowing the smaller man to pull him to his feet. Slowly, Tommy led Adam down the hallway to his bedroom. Stopping at the threshold, Tommy let go of Adam and walked backwards into the room, beckoning him to follow. With his index finger, Tommy pulled his tie loose and slipped it off his neck, tossing it to the floor. Adam walked closer, crowding into Tommy’s space, his hands tugging Tommy’s shirt from his pants, slipping under the hem to find the skin just above his belt. Tommy reached for the bottom of Adam’s shirt yanking it up over his head and throwing it close to the pile of clothes that started to accumulate. He traced over the ink crossing Adam’s chest with his fingertips and leaned down to press his lips against Adam’s collarbone, his tongue slipping out, lightly touching.
“Tommy,” Adam groaned as he opened Tommy’s shirt, then carefully removing it. Drawing his fingers over the scars across Tommy’s chest, he glanced up and caught Tommy’s eyes as he felt the raised skin of the eye forever etched into Tommy’s chest. “Does it still hurt?”
“No, not anymore,” Tommy hissed as Adam dropped his head and flicked his tongue over the raised lines. Tommy’s hands fluttered as they reached for Adam’s belt, quickly undoing the buckle and popping the button of his pants. Adam groaned as he wrapped his fist around Adam’s cock, slowly jacking it as his other hand pushed Adam’s pants over his hips. Tommy growled as Adam’s skin tight pants got stuck around his thighs. “Get these off!”
Adam chuckled as he wiggled out of his pants and turned back to Tommy. “You’re still dressed.”
Tommy scrambled easily out of his pants and faced Adam. Reaching out, Tommy fingered Adam’s hips, digging them into the flesh, drawing Adam closer, pressing their bodies together from knee to chest. Finally, finally Adam lowered his head and pressed their mouths together, his tongue licking into Tommy’s, tangling their tongues together as his hand carded through Tommy’s hair, pulling it tight. Tommy’s hand slithered down between their bodies wrapping around their cocks, slowly stroking them together.
“What do you want?” Adam whispered, his lips trailing over Tommy’s jaw and down his neck.
“I… everything…. It’s been so long,” Tommy moaned as Adam’s hand circled his as it moved over their cocks, his thumb grazing the crown of Tommy’s.
“Okay baby, get on the bed. I want to do this right.”
Tommy crawled onto the bed and rolled to his back, his knees falling open as he waited. Adam crawled between Tommy’s legs leaving soft kisses in his wake before settling on his knees, his hands on the insides of Tommy’ s thighs. Adam leaned in and pressed a kiss to the skin just above Tommy’s navel, his hands sliding lower as his lips trailed down to Tommy’s cock. Tracing his tongue over the crown, Adam suckled the head lightly, before kissing down the length. “Lube?”
Tommy reached blindly over to the bedside table and groped around in the drawer before coming back with a bottle of lube and some condoms. Adam slicked his fingers, taking Tommy’s cock back into his mouth; he pressed one slick finger inside Tommy, drawing it back out slowly as his tongue pressed against the underside of Tommy’s length.
“More please… more” Tommy whined as Adam pressed a second finger inside curling them slightly and twisting his wrist. Rubbing his thumb over the soft skin behind Tommy’s balls, Adam pushed a third finger inside slowly. Tommy whined as Adam swallowed around the head of his cock and writhed against the sheets, his hands grabbing Adam’s shoulders as his hips thrust up into Adam’s mouth. Adam pulled off and leaned against Tommy’s thigh as he thrust his fingers inside Tommy, marveling the way his body just opened around them.
“Jesus Tommy,” Adam breathed against Tommy’s leg, his breath cool against Tommy’s wet cock. Tommy reached for one the condoms and slid it into Adam’s free hand.
“I’m… fuck Adam, I’m ready…” Tommy groaned as Adam let his fingers slip free. Tearing the package open, Adam rolled the condom on and slicked himself up. He lined up against Tommy’s hole and pressed in slowly, feeling Tommy’s body give way and accept him inside.
Adam rolled his hips experimentally, pushing in further little by little. He braced himself on his elbows to lean down and mouth along Tommy’s jaw, mapping his way to Tommy’s mouth. Tommy opened his eyes as Adam pressed their lips together. Adam gently pulled back from their kiss, and was met by the beautiful sincere eyes of the man he knows he’s in love with. “You make me feel free again Adam,” Tommy whispered as a single tear rolled down his cheek. Adam kissed the tear away and wrapped his arms under Tommy’s shoulders, holding him tight as they rocked together. Adam could feel his orgasm slowly crawling up his spine as Tommy gasped against his neck, his hands clutching at Adam as he threw his head back and cried out, coming between their stomachs. Feeling Tommy clench tightly around him, Adam gritted his teeth and thrust twice more before pressing as deep as he could and coming, Tommy’s name slipping out on a breath.
Adam took his time gently cleaning Tommy and taking care of him. It something that seemed to come naturally to Adam and Tommy was grateful for that. He knew there was no chance he was getting up from that bed for at least twelve hours. When Adam was satisfied that Tommy was no longer covered in come or lube, he tossed the washcloth aside and slipped back into bed, curling around Tommy. Tommy laced their fingers together, happier than he’s been in a long while and held them securely over his heart. Adam squeezed back and whispered, “I love you Tommy. I know it may be too soon for you, but I can’t help how I feel. Just know that I do.”
Tommy let out a deep breath and tucked himself closer into Adam, fitting perfectly in the nooks he has now come to associate with Adam’s body. Lying beside Adam, Tommy was content. Tommy was happy. Tommy was in love. He tilted his head ever so slightly, so that his lips lightly brushed against Adam’s ear.
“Adam, moi aussi, je t’aime.”