“Oh fearless leader?” Garcia asked as she knocked on Emily’s door and let herself in without a response.
Penelope Garcia was sunshine incarnate, so for her to look anything less than that was already a red flag. “What’s wrong PG?”
“Look at these.” She set down a stack of six files and seconds after glancing them over she understood why Garcia looked a little green around the gills. “How did you find these?”
Years ago, after Hotch lost Haley, she’d designed a program that recognized various aspects of past crimes in their system - things like cause of death, M.O., that sort of thing. Seeing Hotch in so much pain had nearly ripped her apart, knowing she couldn’t do anything to help. So for his sake, she channeled her energy into doing something to help the term. “The program picked these up. They’re all ours. And they’re all happening again.” With an outstretched hand, she took the files back. “I took the liberty of looking at the crime scene photos for all six cases…and there’s a link.”
“That’s the signature, isn’t it?”
Six words: It has passed into a proverb…
Whoever this was, they were spelling out a message - and it didn’t seem complete. “Yes,” she said nervously, swallowing the saliva that had built up in her mouth. “It is. We need to get this to the team.”
“It has passed into a proverb, that wisdom is overshadowed by wine,” Spencer said quickly. “It’s a quote by Pliny the Elder. Roman author, philosopher, and naval and army commander.”
“What does it mean?” Matt asked. “I mean I know what it means but what does it mean for us? These files?”
Tara flipped through pictures, grimacing at the reminders of former cases thought solved. “Well, these are our cases. Paired with the quote, I think this means that someone we’ve worked with is none too happy that we get the credit for their perceived work.”
“So we’ve pissed someone off?” Luke asked as he rubbed his eyes. “That’s…something tells me that’s gonna be a long list to sort through.”
“We are no closer to find whoever this is and two more bodies have dropped,” Spencer said frustratedly. He dropped the files he was holding and raked his fingers through his hair. “We are waiting on four more bodies.”
JJ’s eyes had glazed over in the ensuing days. “We’re going as fast as we can. Do you realize how many people we have personally interacted with over the course of the past five years? Ten years? It’s practically insurmountable.”
“Practically,” Emily interjected. “But not impossible. We have four people we can still save. Keep looking. Once we narrow down a list, Garcia can do deeper background checks.”
It was nearly five hours, 1 AM, before they had any semblance of a list they could sort through. With the names in hand, Spencer ran into Garcia’s lair. “This is what we have - twenty names. Can you help us out?”
“Dumb question,” Spencer replied, quickly kissing the top of Garcia’s head. “Just get back to us as soon as you can.”
“Ten-four, Boy Wonder.”
The walls were closing in. He didn’t have much longer before the loathsome BAU would close in on him. It’s not that they weren’t good at their jobs; he was just better.
Time and time again the BAU would get credit where his work was what broke the case. Lucky guess after lucky guess could only do so much, but physical medical work? That was what brought the criminal to the courtroom. That was proof.
“Please don’t do this,” the man said softly. “You don’t need to do this.”
That was where he was wrong. “I really do.” He would make it quick. Death wasn’t the primary motivation. It was the message.
After going through files for more than 36 hours straight, everyone needed a couple hours, but Spencer had been tossing and turning. A few winks at sleep were all he could get. Since he got out of prison, he felt this insatiable need to prove himself. To Emily, to the team, to their superiors. He had to show them that he was worthy of this miraculous second chance. So in his wakeful hours he was scouring his brain trying to determine who this could be.
When he got up to question Garcia, Emily met him in the hallway. “We have another victim.”
“Dammit,” he said under his breath. “I think i know who it could be though.”
“Dr. William Sokolov.”
“He wasn’t the medical examiner on any of the cases that are being duplicated though.” Despite her protestation, Emily heard truth in his words. She just had to play devil’s advocate.
Spencer nodded. “Exactly. He’s too smart to connect himself with cases that he’s worked on. Everyone else on the list we gave Garcia has some connection to these cases in particular. He’s the odd man out.”
With her hand at his back, she pushed Spencer back into the conference room and woke everyone up. “William Sokolov.”
JJ’s eyes went wide. “He’s always been very standoffish with us. He even questioned the validity of profiling to me once.”
“Me too,” Tara added.
As the rest of the team began spouting off instances that backed their theory, Garcia ran into the room. “Did I hear Sokolov? Because yes.”
She handed Emily the information she’d gathered. “His social media reeks of being overshadowed at work. Constant memes about how his work goes unnoticed. Tweets about how less skilled people get the attention he deserves. If it’s not him I’d be surprised.”
“Let’s go,” Emily said, turning to the team. “He could have his next victim already.”
Even a man with a message needed to rest, but there was no time. He had three words left and then he’d be done. Then he could sleep. In all likelihood, he was going to get caught, but he didn’t care. All he cared about was his message.
As the woman fought against the gag, eyes wide and scared, she stared at the knife in his hand. “I’m so tired,” he said softly. “This will all be over soon.” He was talking to her just as much as himself. Her blood already decorated the walls in big letters. Just two words to go now. “Don’t cry. It’s almost over.”
He hesitated for two seconds too long while bringing down the blade. “Sokolov!” Emily screamed. “Put the knife down!”
“I knew you were getting close. I was hoping to finish first.”
“Sorry to burst your bubble,” Matt replied, slipping in behind Emily, gun trained on their unsub. “Why?” He wanted to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.
Sokolov stared them down. “Is it not obvious?”
“It is. I want to hear it,” Luke said from Emily’s right side.
“For years and years and years, I’ve worked with facts. Without my work, half of your bullshit wouldn’t even get to court, and yet you’re the ones that are celebrated time and time again.”
“Really?” Spencer asked, shaking his head. “You’re under appreciated so you kill nine people? You’re pathetic.”
“Speaking of,” he crooned. “How was prison?”
Spencer’s finger twitched on the trigger but then he lowered his weapon. There was no need. The rest of the team had him covered. Plus, he had a taped confession on the phone recording in his pocket. “You make me sick.”
“Likewise,” Sokolov sneered.
“Hands on your head.” JJ approached after he dropped his weapon and kneeled before them. While she cuffed the cool metal around his wrists, Tara helped the victim outside - just a few cuts and a bruise under her eye; she would be okay…eventually.
With Sokolov cuffed in the car, Emily slipped into the drivers seat. “I just don’t get it.”
“You’re profilers,” he spat. “Don’t you have all the answers?”
The validity of their profession was constantly in question, but after so many years the insecurities were wearing on her. “No. We have experience. Just as you do. It just happens to be in a different science. This…this is what makes you kill?”
“No, that would be you.”
Was the blood really on their hands?
Of course not. In her early years, she might have questioned it, but he made his choices. None of them could control what someone else did. They could only suss out why. Wisdom was not overshadowed by wine; it just came in many forms.
Wisdom is the daughter of experience. - Leonardo da Vinci