by TangledAria

"He smiles like a killer," she says, shrugging into her coat.

"So does half of New York," her partner answers with a wry smile. "But we can't hold him without charging him."

She pushes open one of the glass double doors. "I know he killed that woman."

"Hey," he says, holding up his hands in defense. "You're preaching to the choir here."

She steps off the last marble step, her heel hitting the pavement of the sidewalk with an ominous click.

She smells the smoke before she sees it; the years of having had a smoker in the family has made her nose sensitive. A wreath of smoke, a harsh, deliberate exhale-

"Taking your work home with you, detectives?"

She spins around, her hand automatically going for her gun. Out of the corner of her eye, she can see her partner doing the same.

"Easy," he says with a smirk, flicking the butt of his cigarette towards the street.

"Mr. Goren," her partner says. "Have you been waiting for us all this time?"

"Hardly," he says.

"Then what have you been doing?"

"The last I checked, it was still legal to smoke in the street," he says with a smile.

"However," she says. "Loitering on municipal property isn't."

The smile disappears, replaced by something infinitely more terrifying than any open display of anger.

He pushes off the low retaining wall, tension and control plain in the long lines of his body.


The officer that leads them to the scene says, "I think it's your guy, same MO." He turns halfway around, breath puffing out in misty white clouds. "You find him yet?"

"Not yet," her partner says. "But we're close." He lifts his chin in the direction of the yellow crime scene tape. "What have you got?"

"Same as before." The officer turns back around, leading them closer. "White female," he begins in a professional, abstract tone, "around 30 years old, I guess; the ME will know for sure. The throat has been slashed, and she has multiple stab wounds." He continues on, beginning to sound slightly bored. "Homeless guy found her in the dumpster, said he though she was a mannequin. Then he saw the blood on her throat." He lifts the yellow tape, pointing to a dumpster at the back of the alley. The intermittent flash of camera bulbs lights the area. "We haven't secured a weapon yet, but we're still looking."

She pushes her way to the front, stepping over half-open bags of garbage, their contents strewn about, picked over for evidence. The forensic team has a set of step ladders arranged around the dumpster with a photographer moving up and down, taking pictures. "May I?" she asks, gesturing to one of the ladders.

The man steps down. "Go right ahead, detective."

She pulls herself up, latex gloved hands grasping the edge of the dumpster.

The woman does look like a mannequin, with skin bone-white from blood loss. Her eyes are rolled back and glazed over, mouth slack and open. But what surprises her most is the shoulder length blonde hair, the cut and style very much like her own. The hair is spread out like a fan around the woman's head, shining with a bright glow. It's hair that would make any woman jealous, she notes, if it weren't for the garbage tangled in it.


They bring him back in for questioning, Carver and Deakins observing through the two-way mirror. Her partner stands across from him and she leans against the wall next to the mirror, arms folded underneath her breasts.

He smiles at them all, even taking in the expressionless silver face of the two-way mirror.

"Now detectives, this is beginning to border on harassment." He leans forward across the table, sharing a conspiratorial smile. "You're not going to force me to file a lawsuit, are you?"

Her partner laughs, his voice sounding loud and fake to her ears. "Mr. Goren, we wouldn't drag you back down here and take time out of your busy schedule for no reason at all." He pulls a chair out and hangs his jacket on the back before sitting down. He opens his portfolio case, flipping out the autopsy pictures of the bodies of the two women they've connected him to.

If Goren's disgusted at the sight of the dead bodies, it doesn't show on his face.

"Before we begin," her partner says. "We need you to sign this release stating we are questioning you in relation to these murders and that you have refused to have a lawyer present."

They've made up the release, of course. They're using it as a ruse to establish which hand is his dominant one. The women were all killed with a knife, throats slit from behind, left to right, a right-handed perp.

He realizes the game though, three steps ahead of them, and gives her that same twisted smile before reaching for the pen with his left hand.

Maybe her partner notices the way her jaw tightens, the muscle jumping in her cheek. "So, Mr. Goren," he says, drawing the man's attention back to him. "We keep having to call you down here. I hope we're not tearing you away from anything too terribly important." He pauses and turns his head to the side, taking on a confused look of a man trying to remember a forgotten fact. "What is it you do again?"

"I teach psychology at Columbia University," he says, amused, after all, what kind of detectives would they be if they hadn't investigated his background, staked out his office and home?

"So, should we be calling you doctor?" her partner asks.

"Only if you're one of my students."

They both laugh, and Eames hates this old boys' way of doing things that has become the only way of doing things.

"Where did you go to school?" she asks, because that wasn't in the file, and because she can't believe any reasonable institution would give him a degree.

He looks at her, head cocked to the side like a bird, his eyes burning right through her. And she knows now, this is the last thing those women saw.

"Oxford," he says finally.

"England," her partner says, looking up from his writing tablet. "How was that?"

Goren's smile is fixed upon his face. "I've never been happier in my life."

And she knows it's a lie.


She lays the paper down in front of her partner, pushing it across the desk. "Interpol came through."

"Nicole Wallace," her partner reads. "What does this woman have to do with anything?"

"Apparently she and Mr. Goren had an apartment together in London," she says, relishing the moment. "And it also seems that they shared, among other things, an affinity for manipulation and murder."

"He was convicted of murder in England?"

"He was considered a person of interest in a murder case there along with Ms. Wallace."

Her partner slumps slightly in his chair. "You say 'was'," he says. "Why was and not is?"

"It seems that someone else came forward confessing to the murder," she tells him. "A student attending the same university as Mr. Goren, a student belonging to the same exclusive doctorate program as Mr. Goren. She confessed to the murder and three days later died in a freak road accident on her way to the police station. Both Mr. Goren and Ms. Wallace had solid alibis for the entire time."

"So through whatever means of coercion," Deakins says, his arms crossed over his chest, "they managed to get this girl to commit the murder, or at least confess to it, and then managed to have her killed?"

"I can see how they slipped the rap," her partner says dryly.

She holds up a finger. "But the most interesting part of this isn't the perpetrators, but the victim. One James Goren. Robert Goren's father."


"Third time's a charm," Goren says as they usher him into the interrogation room.

She smiles at him and lets him sit down. Her partner is standing off to the side and she already knows that Goren has noticed the change in control.

"When, exactly," she asks, "was your father murdered?" She folds her hands on top of the table, meeting his eyes. She watches his jaw work, the rage moving across his face before he looks away, down at the table and then back up at her, his face completely calm again. It is more than unsettling.

"1991," he says. "It was a sad point in our lives."


"Yes, my mother was already quite sick by then and the shock of my father's death pushed her even further into her illness."

She pretends to read something in her paperwork. "She's schizophrenic, isn't she?"

"Yes." Goren practically spits the word.

"Your father was so concerned about her that he moved his entire family to England to get her help, didn't he? She was attended to by Europe's top specialists in the field of psychiatry."

"He was a good man," Goren says, and it galls her that he's playing this game with her, that he thinks he can get away with it all.

"Money was no object to a man like that, a loving husband, a man devoted to his family."

He smiles. "I didn't kill my father, detective."

"Of course not," she says smoothly.

"The person who did," he continues, "was a confused young woman who mistakenly believed that by doing so she would be proving something to me." He pauses before unclasping his hands on the table. "Surely I'm not responsible for the actions of other people?"

"What was this person's name?"

"I don't think I remember. Really, I've done my best to put the whole thing behind me."

She leans forward across the table and doesn't bother to keep the acidity out of her voice. "Let's ask your wife, I'm sure she would know."

He freezes. "I'm not married," he says slowly.

Her partner pushes off of the cinder wall, putting his papers down on the table. "City records in London say you are. That on April 22, 1988 you married Nicole Wallace in St. Mary's church in London. There isn't any record of a divorce."

Goren leans back and looks at the ceiling.

She tilts her head to the side. "I wonder, does she have brown hair or black hair?"

He answers without looking down. "She has-" He cuts himself off and laughs. "Almost," he concedes, tipping his head to her. "Almost."


She feels like she's pulling teeth. "Both of our victims had blonde hair, both were about the same age as the suspect's wife." She exhales in frustration. "He's killing these women because they look like his wife."

Carver gives her a look she's familiar with by now. "That very well may be, but unless you get direct physical evidence tying him to those victims I'm not going to take it before the grand jury."

She turns away, lifting a hand to her forehead.

"Look," Carver says, sensing her helplessness. "Get me a murder weapon, or even forensic evidence supporting a circumstantial weapon and I'll see what I can do."

Goren's lawyer has his hand on the other man's arm, the taller man bending his head to the side so the lawyer can whisper something in his ear. She watches them briefly. The lawyer is one she's never seen before, not a harried public defender but a calm, collected man in an expensive suit that she's sure would cost her three months' salary.

Her brow furrows. "When did he show up?"

Her partner catches on. "I'm not sure," he says slowly before moving towards the information desk, flipping the sign-in sheet around so he can read it. "Came in alone. Signed in exactly six minutes before he opened the interrogation door."

"Six minutes," she echoes. "Why so long?"

The desk clerk looks up from her filing, phone cradled against her shoulder. "He was on his cell phone," she says. "He had the volume on that thing so high I think everyone in the whole building could hear him."

"Who was he talking to?" her partner asks. "Do you know?"

"I'm not sure." She breaks off suddenly. "Yes, I'll hold," she says into the phone before flipping it back under her chin. "It was a woman. She was saying something about it was only a precaution and that her boy was too smart to say anything. Something like that."

"Did you hear a name?" he asks.

The clerk pauses in her filing. "Yes. I told him he couldn't talk so loud on that thing in the middle of the bullpen, and he told her he'd call her back afterwards." She pauses. "Nicole," she says. "Her name was Nicole."

Realization dawns and she meets her partner's eyes. "He's not planning on killing her," she says. "He's been helping her."

Her partner is nodding. "And now he's covering for her."

They cut him off on the first floor, the lawyer with his phone in hand, making complaints they all ignore.

"Looks like you don't get to leave just yet," she says, snapping on the handcuffs tighter than necessary.

"Are you arresting my client?" the lawyer asks. "If he's being charged with something, he has a right to know what it is."

"Let's just say we have a few more questions for him," she says. "About a woman that doesn't exist, who somehow manages to make phone calls for him to his lawyer."

The lawyer looks down at his cell phone in surprise, as if confused how the thing could have betrayed him.

Goren tilts his chin at the lawyer and the phone. "Call her," he says, defeat on his face.


Her partner is sitting with him in the holding pen, talking to him in a low voice. Goren's running his bound hands one over the other, finally displaying a nervousness that hours in the interrogation room never exposed.

From behind the grating, her partner's voice: "We know she's the one who killed them, she's right-handed. You're not." She can hear the clink of metal, the movement of fabric. "Did you get rid of the bodies for her? Let her pick them out?"


She makes eye contact with the officer on the inside, letting him know she wants in. "They're ready now," she says to her partner. She lets him leave before she slips a hand around Goren's arm, forcing him to his feet. She unlocks the chain holding the handcuffs to the rail and grabs his arm again, hard enough to bruise. She hates the idea that he almost got away, that he was playing them all along.

He looks pointedly down at where her hand is on his arm and that only makes him want to dig her fingers in deeper.

Carver and Deakins are waiting in the observation room, silently making room when she pushes Goren in and closes the door behind her.

Her partner's voice floats through the speaker next to the glass. "You had him bring those women to you and then you killed them."

"I did nothing of the sort," Nicole answers, hands folded neatly in her lap.

"He's left-handed, you're right-handed. The angle and force of the wound suggests someone right-handed between five foot four and five foot eight," he says. "You match all of those."

"So do most of the women in New York."

"Your husband has already confessed," her partner says, leaning against the wall. "He told us how he pulled those women off the street and how he got rid of them afterwards."

Eames tightens her fingers around Goren's arm because she's expecting him to jump or bang his hands against the glass to let his wife know he's there. But he does nothing.

On the other side, Nicole is looking right at them through the glass. "No, I don't believe he did," she says, a smile on her face.

Not at them, she realizes. Just . . .

She looks over at Goren, and he's smiling back, as if the glass isn't even there.

Behind him, Carver is shrugging his shoulders, and her heart sinks.


When she gets home, she's halfway up the stairs before she remembers to check her mailbox. She debates about leaving it until the morning. After all, the phone bill can sit another day, but something tells her to go back, driving her feet back down the stairs.

There's a copy of the New York Times and various bills and junk mail. And there, pushed towards the back-

She pulls off the front page of the Times, wrapping it around the package. She pulls the package out and examines it. It's a plastic bag, wrapped around something, a long strip of packing tape around the middle. She slowly peels the tape back. The bag has writing on it: "The Great British Take Away" and a cartoon fish. She carefully unfolds it, her heart hammering in her chest. She can smell it suddenly; old blood assaulting her senses. She opens the bag. The plastic sticks together, dried blood flaking off as she pulls it apart.

The light of the lobby catches the metal of the blade and the browns and rusty reds of old blood, the few strands of long blonde hair.

She runs up the stairs to her apartment, the rest of her mail lying forgotten on the floor, the paper-wrapped package clutched to her chest.

They send cars and a helicopter, and even shut down La Guardia and JFK for four hours each, checking every passenger.

She waits until they check every lead, until the sun rises the next morning and Deakins tells her to go home.

They've both vanished without a trace and she can't get a straight answer out of anyone as to how.


From that day on, she changes her route into work so that it passes his apartment.

She never mentions the case unless her partner brings it up, but she keeps the photographs the families gave her of the two victims in her purse.

Behind her badge, she keeps a picture of him. And she vows she won't rest until she finds him.


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