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Cold Case

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As they boarded the private jet, Therese chose a seat towards the back, away from the others.  An introvert by nature, she was uncomfortable with small talk and wanted some time alone to study the crime scene photos.  There were always clues people missed, you just had to know how to look for them. She also found herself feeling like a child sitting at the adult table, out of place, and inexperienced compared to the others on the plane.  Gen, Phil, and Dannie had all worked together for a few years now and they all knew Carol.  They seemed to share a comfortable comradery, and Therese wasn’t sure how she fit in to that or if she even wanted to. 

Carol was the last one to board the plane, and after speaking with the pilot, she chose a seat towards the front also away from everyone else. Therese wondered if she also felt like an outsider.  She wondered what had brought this woman back to the BAU after so many years away. What was it about this case that seemed personal to her?  She watched as she tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her ears.  Her beautiful blonde hair was in a medium length bob with soft waves that came just to her shoulders.  Long enough to pull back, but still short enough to wear down.  As if feeling her staring, Carol turned around to see Therese’s eyes on her and Therese quickly diverted her gaze. 

Once the plane took off, Therese began her study of the photos.  She was deep in thought when she heard someone sit across from her. She looked up into sweet brown eyes.  She could only describe Dannie as cute with his short brown hair and deep New York accent.  “So Therese, tell me about yourself.”

“There isn’t much to tell.” Therese answered with a shrug of her shoulders. 

“I hear you were NYPD.  Me, too!” He seemed determined to make some kind of connection, Therese noted. 

“I worked in the crime lab, mostly.  My background is in forensic science and behavioral psychology.  I also worked with criminal photography.”  She didn’t mean to sound cold or like she was reading off her resume, but Therese really did find it hard to relate to most people.  She found it easy to study them from a distance, but hard to connect in person.

“So, like, you were one of the people taking the crime scene photos and such?”  Dannie asked.  “Doesn’t seem very scientific.”

“There is a science to it, trying to capture as much detail as possible for the detectives and such, but I find the photos can help with victimology.”

“How so?” Dannie was intrigued now.

“When you photograph the room, the objects that the victim owned or touched, you can get a sense of their personality.  It is more than just the crime; you have to look all around the room and all throughout the house to get a full picture of the scene.” Therese wasn’t aware but other ears were now listening to their conversation.

“How long have you worked with the FBI?” Dannie continued his inquisition.

“Two years.” 

His eyes nearly popped out of his head.  “That’s all? Jesus!  I’ve had to work my ass off for ten years to get here!  You’re what, like 20-something?” Gen and Phil looked at each other and rolled their eyes before going back to their files. 

“26.” She wondered if she should be embarrassed by her young age. 

“I think you may be younger than Dr. Reid when he started.  Are you one of those genius types like him?”

“I’m no prodigy, no.” Therese looked down at her pictures again.

Dannie could see he wasn’t going to get much more out of the young agent.  “Well, kid, welcome to the team.”

“Thank you.” Therese chose to ignore the pejorative term, realizing she was the youngest one in the group.  To them she was a 'kid'. She went back to studying her photos and had several clues already.  She wondered if Carol already knew and didn’t want to embarrass herself by showing off her inexperience.

Just then Carol stood and told them all to move towards the middle of the plane.  “Let’s talk victimology.”

Everyone flipped through their file folders as Carol started giving out assignments.  “When we land, Phil and Gen will head to Chicago PD to set up.  Keep in touch with JJ if they give you any headaches, but as this is a serial and crosses state lines, we have jurisdiction.  Dannie, Therese, and I will head to the crime scene.  I haven’t worked with either of you before and I need to assess your skills." Carol looked over at the young brunette now sitting beside her.  "Therese I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation earlier, it seems you have a background in crime scene analysis.  Bring your camera.  I want to see this through your eyes.”

Therese could feel her face flush as she nodded.  She was nervous at the idea of Carol watching her work and judging her.

“Now,” Carol continued, “tell me about the victims.  What do we know?”

Gen was the first one to speak.  “Well, they have similar appearances and ages, so he definitely has a type, so far.”

“Was Garcia able to find any connections between the victims?” Phil asked.

“Nothing so far,” Carol answered and waited.  She had already figured out one major connection between the victims, but she was waiting to see if anyone else would catch it.   She turned to look over at the quiet brunette, waiting to see if she would be the star she hoped she would be, but she seemed unsure of herself and shy.  Carol decided to give her a bit of encouragement.  “One of the most important aspects of this job is understanding victimology.  As profilers, you need to be able to see the hidden connections. Tell me what you see.”

“They were all lesbians.” Therese spoke so softly her voice was barely audible over the plane engines.

“What was that?” Carol asked. 

Therese cleared her throat and said it again, “They were all lesbians.”

Phil, Gen, and Dannie started flipping through their folders.  “How do you know that?” Dannie asked.  “I mean, it says that two of the victims were, so why are you assuming they all were?”

Carol looked over a Therese, a small smile playing on her lips. “Care to explain your rationale to the team?”

Therese opened her folder and pulled out 4 photos, one from each crime scene.  “It isn’t the crime scene itself, but the space around it.  Look at the books on the shelf, the DVD’s by the television, and even the art and décor of the space.”

“It’s dangerous to stereotype.” Gen tried to interrupt Therese’s thought, thinking she could teach the young agent something, but Carol was quick to counterman her.

“Yes, but stereotypes do exist for a reason.  We would be foolish to ignore them outright as well.”

“I do know we have to be careful, but in the lesbian community there are…clues.  Look here,” Therese pointed to the DVD’s in one picture.  “The top shelf are all movies about lesbian relationships; Carol, Imagine Me & You, Desert Hearts…well known.  And here,” she pulled out another picture that had some books on a nightstand.  “The Price of Salt, Rubyfruit Jungle and Curious Wine are all famous lesbian fiction.”

Therese looked up and realized by the stares that she had just outed herself to the team.  “Yes, I am.”

Carol smirked at the Melissa Etheridge reference knowing the others would miss it. 

“Ok, even if this is true, what about Special Agent Gerhard." Gen questioned. "She was murdered in a hotel room and we have no way of confirming—“

“She was.” Carol interrupted.  “So we’ve established that all of the victims were gay women, around the same age, all brunette with similar physical characteristics. Now tell me why our unsub attacked them.”

Dannie went first.  “Maybe they all rejected him in some way?”

“He clearly hates women.” Phil added.

“Not all women, apparently,” Gen inserted.  “Only gay women.”

Therese was quiet again. She had an idea, but she needed to speak with Penelope Garcia to confirm her suspicions first.  The brainstorming session continued for another 30 minutes.  Therese found her eyes uncontrollably drawn to Carol.  She would watch her hands move as she spoke.  She noticed how she clenched her incredible jawline whenever Abby’s name was mentioned.  They were close, friends, maybe more, Therese thought.  She found herself lost in the cadence and sound of Carol’s voice. But mostly it was the color of her eyes that left Therese speechless.  Suddenly Therese realized everyone was looking at her again.  “I’m sorry, what?”

“I asked if you were alright.  You’re very quiet.” Carol said for a second time. “What are you thinking?”

“I’m sorry, I think I’m just taking it all in.  Learning.” She looked down at her hands and started to fidget. that was the second time she had been caught staring at Carol.

Carol found Therese's innate sweetness disarming and for a moment she worried that working in the BAU would someone devour a soul like hers.  She didn’t want this sweet, beautiful woman to end up cold and jaded like she was.  You need to protect her. Carol wasn’t sure where the thought came from, but it immediately made her uneasy. Fuck! Carol looked at her watch in an effort to distract herself.  “We have an hour till we land, I suggest we all try to get a powernap in.  It will be a long day.”