Spencer wasn’t used to the FBI Headquarters, he felt much more at home in Quantico. The J. Edgar Hoover building was somewhat intimidating, filled with agents with their heads down, shoving past each other. Spencer pressed through the crowds, turning corners and running up and down stairs until he found himself outside SSA Hotchner’s office.
He took a deep breath to steady himself then knocked. The invitation to enter was curt but Spencer didn’t expect any different. He had met the man a few times and he had a reputation for stoicism.
“Dr Reid take a seat” Hotchner motioned to the empty chair opposite. It was only as he was sitting down that Spencer noticed the other man in the office. He was older than Hotchner, with greying hair and his mouth set into a grim line. Most notable of all was the fact that he was lacking a suit and that he was slowly rolling a satsuma between his palms as he watched Spencer intently. Spencer turned back to Agent Hotchner, trying not to shiver.
“Thank you for coming at such short notice” Agent Hotchner continued, “Agent Strauss at the academy speaks very highly of you and your work. You’ve been out of the field for a few years now correct?”
“Yes sir” said Spencer “I’ve teaching at the agency.” It was good work and far more suitable for him than field work if he was being brutally honest.
“You enjoy this?” Hotchner spoke. Before Spencer could answer the other man interrupted them.
“Are you familiar with an agent named Elle Greenaway?”
“Yes, I am” replied Spencer. Hotchner looked between him and the other man. His face remained blank but there was flash of something behind the eyes that was gone before Spencer could decipher it.
“How so?” the man asked.
“By reputation,” answered Spencer. He was starting to feel like he was in the middle of an ambush “Um... She's an Oxford-educated psychologist who wrote a monograph on serial killers and the occult that helped catch Randal Garner in 2006. Generally thought of as the best analyst in the Violent Crime section, she also worked extensively in Sex Crimes and I believe she did some consulting for the BAU before I arrived. She had a nickname at the Academy..."Spooky" Greenaway” Spencer laughed but the two other men remained silent. He shifted awkwardly in his seat. “Can I ask what this is concerning please sir?”
“Agent Greenaway has become focuseed on an FBI project known as the X-Files. Do you know what that is?”
“Um, I know it’s concerned with unexplained phenomena”
“We would like you to accompany Agent Greenaway in the field, if you find it agreeable” said Agent Hotchner, “Her work often strays into specialist territory, and we believe it would be useful to have someone with such a diverse skill set as yourself working with her. Your scientific background would be key to countering some of the more…fantastical methods that Agent Greenaway employs. Your scientific background would be useful.”
Spencer frowned. His gut told him this was an order not an offer but there was something unsavoury about what he was being told to do. It felt like spying. He only knew Greenaway by reputation but that reputation often raised eyebrows and prompted derision from others in the bureau. Spooky Greenaway rambling on about aliens and fairies and psychic phenomena was something of a joke and the only reason she was still in the FBI was because she was, in some way, undoubtedly brilliant. Even her harshest critics admitted that her work on the Garner case was flawless.
“Am I to understand that you want me to debunk the X Files project, sir?” asked Spencer. The tension was thick in the air.
“Dr Reid, we trust you'll make the proper scientific analysis,” Hotchner said in a clipped voice, indicating the meeting was now over.
The X Files was located in the basement because of course it was. Where else would you stick all the cases the bureau wanted to forget about and the only person crazy enough to want to investigate? For the second time that day Spencer braced himself before knocking on the door.
“Sorry, nobody down here but the FBI's most unwanted” a voice called back. Trying hard not to roll his eyes, Spencer entered the office. Office was a generous term, it looked like store room someone had shoved a desk in. There were shelves piled with books, a row of old and dented filing cabinets, and every available surface was covered in papers, files, knick-knacks, and boxes. On a small table a projector was set up and surrounded by boxes of slides and on the far wall hung a poster of a UFO with the words “I Want To Believe”.
Elle Greenaway fixed him with a sceptical look that Spencer did his best to match. He wasn’t sure what he had expected but this wasn’t it. She was pretty (to be honest she was stunning) with a shoulder grazing bob and bright, inquisitive eyes.
“Agent Greenaway? I'm Spencer Reid. I've been assigned to work with you” Spencer gave a small, awkward wave in lieu of a handshake. Elle swept her gaze slowly up and down him before wandering over to her projector.
“Oh, isn't it nice to be suddenly so highly regarded. So, who did you tick off to get stuck with this detail, Reid?”
There was something overly casual about her demeanour, another thing Spencer hadn’t expected. He squared his shoulders and moved closer.
“Actually, I'm looking forward to working with you. I've heard a lot about you”
“Oh, really?” Elle snorted “I was under the impression that you were sent to spy on me”
Before Spencer could respond Elle had switched off the lights and the projector had hummed to life. A crime scene photo was thrown across the wall. A young woman was lying dead on the ground what looked to be a forest. Her eyes were wide open and if Spencer didn’t know better he’d say she was terrified.
“This is Maggie Lowe,” said Elle “She went missing from her parents’ home in the small town of Bellflower on Friday night and she was found by a dog walker at 7am on the Saturday morning”
“COD?” asked Spencer, slipping on his glasses and moving closer.
“Unsure, waiting on the ME results” said Elle “Maggie is the fourth victim. Eight months ago Karen Foley went missing from her bed one night and was found the next day in the woods. Last year Cory Bridges went to a party but left early, next morning same deal and six months before that Heather Woodland disappeared from her room and, drumroll please, was found dead in the woods the next morning. COD was different in each case: exposure, cardiac arrest with no obvious cause etc. All kids were around the same age, just out of high school, no health problems, they were all young and fit”
“Do you have a theory?” asked Spencer. Elle folded her arms like she was preparing to stand her ground.
“I have plenty of theories”
Elle clicked to the next slide, which showed a close up of Maggie Lowe’s back and two small raised marks.
“There’s no mentionin the other victims’ ME reports of this but they don’t appear to be mosquito bites” explained Elle
“They look kind of like needle marks” said Spencer “But they’re bigger than any I’ve seen before”
“So all those PhDs will come in useful” she quipped, a smile tugging at her lips “I read your thesis. I enjoyed it by the way, it’s not everyone who tries to re-write Einstein”
A wave of pride surged through Spencer before he forced himself to turn his attention back to the crime scene photo. Elle clicked through more slides of the scene. Nothing else seemed out of place.
“Clearly there’s a serial offender at work” said Spencer “But there’s no obvious motive from the crime scene. I’d buy one kid dying from a heart attack but not four so there must be some external cause”
“Impressive” said Elle “Our plane leaves first thing the morning. Get a good night’s sleep”