When Emily woke up again the searing pain had lessened to a dull throbbing, but she was extremely thirsty. She looked in JJ’s direction and saw her sitting with her back to the wall taking small sips from a bottle of water. Emily wanted to protest but her voice cracked at her attempt to speak. JJ understood her anyway.
“It’s safe Emily. I opened the bottle myself after I checked for puncture marks. I took a small sip and waited for half an hour to see if I felt anything before drinking more. It’s clean.”
“Why didn’t you wake me?” Emily’s voice was very rough and weak.
“Well, obviously we’ve been drugged. You needed to sleep it off and we’re in no immediate danger. A foggy mind won’t be any help if we want to get out of here. Come here, drink some water. It will help with the fur in your mouth.”
Emily sat down beside JJ and took some sips of the water. It tasted divine. Between the two of them they drank half the bottle and decided to spare the rest for later.
Emily started looking through her pockets.
“Okay, he took my gun and my cell, but he didn’t take the badge and the cuffs. You?”
“Same here. It seems he doesn’t care who we are. Why did he abduct us anyway? I’ve never been in a foster home and I surely never had an abortion. How about you? I can’t imagine you were ever in foster care.” JJ didn't even consider the second possibility.
“I wasn’t. But…”
“But?” JJ took hold of Emily’s hands sensing that her friend was deeply troubled by the subject.
“When I was sixteen, we were in Rome, Italy at the time, I… made a big mistake.” Emily's voice was quiet but steady.
“Oh Emily I’m so sorry. How…? Why…? What happened? Do you wanna talk about it?” JJ pulled Emily towards her, hugging her tight. “Tell me.”
Emily buried her face at JJ’s shoulder and started talking.
“I was sixteen and all I wanted was to fit in, to be a teenager like everybody else. Long story short, I got pregnant and had an abortion. Mother never found out. I was so young and all I wanted was to be accepted by the other kids, I couldn’t have a child… And now… I’ll probably never have any.”
“Well I would need a partner for starters. And then there’s the job. I would want my child to have a loving family that is actually around.”
“Well It couldn’t be that hard to find a partner. You’re so smart, caring and beautiful. I can’t believe men aren’t lining up to date you.” JJ said with a hint of amusement in her voice.
Emily was silent for a moment. This would be a great chance to come clean. Maybe the last chance.
“Well, maybe that’s because I don’t date men.” There she said it. She lifted her head from JJ’s shoulder and looked into her face, searching for the rejection she was sure had to be there.
But there wasn’t any rejection. Emily couldn’t read what it was that was glimmering in JJ’s eyes. Only when JJ spoke did she recognize it.
“And you're only telling me this now why?” JJ’s voice was slow and deep.
It was anger. Anger that she didn’t trust her, that she didn’t tell her sooner.
“I’m sorry JJ. At first it wasn’t… I didn’t know how you would react, I was new at the BAU and didn’t know how any of you thought about it, and then… I don’t know, we were friends and I didn’t want to spoil it.” Emily was looking to the ground so she wasn’t able to see the big smirk playing out on JJ’s face. Only when the blonde put a finger under Emily’s chin and lifted her face again did she see it.
“It’s okay Emily, I was joking. I knew that you were gay all along. I’m not mad at you for not telling me, because, well I didn’t tell you either. I thought you knew. Like I knew. You know.”
“You gotta be kidding!” Emily, usually verbally easily as skilled as JJ was, had lost her ability to form an appropriate sentence.
JJ only smirked and shook her head no.
“Oh boy, we needed to be put away in a cage to figure that out? But back to the problem at hand.” Emily was about to go back into profiler mode, but JJ stopped her.
“Wait. There’s just one more thing.”
Emily just looked at her waiting. JJ leaned forward and whispered into Emily’s ear.
“When we get out of here I first want a long, hot shower and after that I’m gonna fuck you senseless. And here’s a little teaser.”
Emily could just moan when JJ captured her lips with her own. The brunette only needed a split second to react and soon both women were engaged in a deep, meaningful kiss. A kiss that was hope and reason and motivation to get out of there as soon as possible.
The kiss ended all too soon, but both of them knew that this wasn’t the time or place for deepening their relationship. They had to get out of there, rescue all the other women and catch the unsub along the way.
“So.” JJ spoke after a few seconds of meaningful silence. “What do we do now?”
“Well, let’s first talk to as many of the women as possible and learn more about this place and the unsub. We need to know as much as possible, if we don’t want to end up dead.”
JJ just nodded her agreement to that plan.
They left their shack through a small door at one side and looked around, taking in as many details as possible.
The cages were on a small clearing surrounded by dark woods that seemed to go on forever. There were ten cages over all arranged in a circle with the glass fronts of the shacks facing the center. A bunch of cameras were positioned in strategic places, with no dead angles at all. As far as Emily could tell there was only one empty cage, every other cage held two women, some of them pregnant.
“Oh my God, JJ. Look at them. He impregnates them. He chooses women who had an abortion. He’s probably some kind of a religious nut, they took a life and now he makes them bear children. He’s a control freak.”
JJ could only look around speechless, doing some math in her head.
“Where are the kids Emily? It’s been two years, plenty of time for some pregnancies to go full term. Where are the kids?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he has them somewhere in his real house, or he sells them or gives them up for adoption. The kids have no papers, they don’t exist officially.”
By now some of the other women had noticed the newcomers and looked at them curiously. It was a women from the cage to their left who stepped closer to the bars and spoke to them first.
“Hi there. I’m Amanda. Who’re you?”
“I’m Special Agent Emily Prentiss, FBI and this is Agent Jennifer Jareau. Please call us Emily and JJ.”
“FBI? So someone finally found us? We’ll be rescued soon?” A glimmer of hope shone through Amanda’s eyes as she looked at them more closely.
“Not exactly. We got abducted, too. But our team is out there looking for us.”
“He got you both? That’s a first. So who of you had the abortion?”
JJ answered this time. “Is that important?”
Amanda shrugged. “I don’t know. But the one who didn’t have an abortion will probably get off easy.”
Emily interrupted. “Can we ask you some questions? Maybe we can figure out a way to get out.”
“Ask away, but there’s no chance to get out. Believe me, we’ve all tried.”
Emily started to interrogate Amanda, while JJ only listened and observed the surroundings.
“How does he impregnate the women?”
“With a syringe. I think he’s impotent. And I don’t think it’s his sperm either. The kids look too different.”
“How many kids are there and where are they?”
“There must be at least seven, but I got no idea where they are. He takes them after two weeks and we never see them again.”
“Does he work alone? Or have you seen more than one man around here?”
“No it’s just him. He comes in an old pick up truck to bring us food and water and clean clothes and stuff. He always comes at least twice a day. Sometimes more often, to check on us. And if someone gets hurt. He sees everything with those fancy cameras of his.”
“Did he ever say why he does it?”
“Yeah, constantly. He always preaches about sinners and hell and stuff. He says we must redeem ourselves to be allowed into heaven. And for each child we killed we need to payback sevenfold.”
“Do you have any idea how he knows who had an abortion?”
“No, not really, but I guess he’s some kind of computer geek, because all of this stuff here is computer controlled. He probably hacked into some fancy shmancy security systems. Or maybe he even installed them.”
“What about security?”
“Okay, where do I start. First, there’s the cameras. He sees everything. You don’t have any privacy here. You learn to ignore that, because he doesn’t care when you clean up or use the poor excuse of a bathroom. He only comes for serious stuff. Once Gwen over there fell and broke her ankle. He was here 15 minutes later and taped her up and stuff. Then there’s the cages themselves. The bars are live. Don’t get too close, it hurts pretty bad and ruins your hairdo. We think it would be possible to dig under the bars, but there's just not enough time.”
“15 Minutes, through the woods, so I guess he lives about 5 miles from here, maybe less. But how is it possible? He can’t monitor you 24/7, he has to sleep and go abduct more women. “
“Yes, but we don’t know when he’s gone, and the risk to simply try is to big. If he finds out you tried to escape he punishes you pretty bad.”
“He beats you to a pulp and you go to solitary.”
“Didn't any of you ever try to fight back?”
“Sure, some of us know self defense and hand to hand, but he has this stun gun. Plus he always tells us we better pray that nothing ever happens to him.”
“Why's that? If he didn't show up for a day or two you could dig out under the bars.”
“He said the system must be manually reset every day from his main computer. Otherwise this whole clearing would blow to hell.”
“And how does he get food and stuff into the cages? He can't use the stun gun all the time?”
“He orders us to go into the shack; he can lock and unlock the doors remotely. Then he turns off the juice on the bars and steps in.”
“Okay, thank you Amanda. You've been very helpful. If I think of anything else I need to know, I'll call for you.”
“No problem. Just get us out of here.”
Determination shone in Emily's eyes when she answered. “We will!”
Emily turned back to JJ.
“Okay, let's sit down and work on a plan.”
The two agents got back into their shack, all eyes looking at them hopefully, curiously, and sat down by the back wall again. Emily and JJ knew that they had brought new hope of escaping to these women and even if the situation seemed hopeless, difficult, and dangerous, they couldn't let it show.
“So Emily. Got a profile yet? What's your take on this guy?”
Emily took a deep breath and started talking silently, so they couldn't be overheard.
“He's mid-thirties, well educated, works from his home. Something with computer software. But he's a passable handyman, too. Probably grew up here. It must be some sort of farm with a great stretch of land. This clearing has to be on private property. Otherwise someone would have stumbled upon it in two years. The house is outside of town, but not too far.
I guess his mother died when he was pretty young during an abortion. Since she already had at least one kid, there was probably a medical reason for the abortion, but the unsub was too young to understand. All that's left in his memory is that she died during an abortion. Some priest probably told him later that abortion is a sin and that his mother died because she was a sinner.
He's left alone with his dad who's probably a religious fanatic himself. He beats him when he does something wrong, or when his grades slip. And he definitely beats him for his sinful thoughts. So everything that happens to a boy at the age of twelve, thirteen and up, wet dreams, sudden erections, gets punished. A sure way to make him impotent, sexually frustrated and a hater of women, because they are the ones that tempt him, make him have those sinful thoughts.
He's average in every way. Height, weight, looks. Probably his father died about two years ago and he started his crusade after. His job pays well. He has to provide food and clothes for a lot of people, but he can afford it easily.
He's a loner, but people in town know him from church. They ask him for help with their computers and he's generally well liked. He goes to church every week and to confession once a month. But he doesn't talk about the women, because he doesn't see it as a sin. He's helping these women, so why should he confess to any of it?”
JJ listened carefully until she had an important question.
“What about the three women who died in his care? How does he justify their deaths?”
“In his mind that was God's way of telling him that they were already lost. They were too far gone to be saved by him.”
“God, I'm really sorry for the boy he was, but I'm sure not sorry for the man he became. So, how do we get out of this? Do you think we can persuade him to let me go? I didn't have an abortion, so I don't need saving.”
“I don't think so. We were in a gay bar. Maybe that's reason enough for him. Or he could decide to kill you, so you won't ever become a sinner. He knows he can't let you go, so he would find a twisted way to justify you being here somehow.”
“So basically I'm in more danger than anybody else here?”
“Yes, I think so. You better try to not attract his attention.”
“Okay. I'll try. But...how the hell do we get out of here?”
“We need to get out of the cage, get to the house, shut down the self-destruct, call for help, rescue everyone and take out the unsub.”
“Piece of cake. We can't stop him from the inside, but with him out there we can't get out either. So?”
Emily smirked. “Actually I think we can stop him from inside the cage. But I need to know his routine. Let's wait. I wanna observe him for a bit. This evening and tomorrow morning. And maybe the team figured it out by then and we don't even have to try.”
“Okay. We'll observe. One day couldn't hurt I guess. But I really don't think anyone will find us here.”
“Well, I'm pretty sure García is hacking into every database possible, warrant or no warrant. If someone can find this guy's traces it's her.”
JJ was silent for a moment, her thoughts wandering to the team, her friends, her family.
“Do you think they're gonna be okay with this, with us?” JJ asked with a hint of doubt.
“Hell yes. They're totally gonna be happy for us. If anybody knows how important and rare true love and happiness is, than it's our team. I think because we see the worst of men we are able to appreciate the good things in life even more and more easily. There's a lot of ugly and evil in the world, a lot of stuff you can judge people for, but who you choose to love surely isn't one of it.”
“Okay, I guess you're right. What do you say, we take shifts sleeping so we don't miss this guy?”
“Good idea. Why don't you go ahead and sleep. I'll wake you in some hours.”
“Fine with me. I'm still a little fuzzy. Probably from the drugs.”
While JJ laid down Emily sat down outside, observing, listening, thinking. A plan was forming in her head. She memorized the layout of the clearing, the positions of all cameras, where paths lead away from the cages. She couldn't hear any sounds besides the birds and the animals in the woods. No cars, no trucks. The highway had to be some distance away, which meant they couldn't flee on foot. Some of the women were in no shape to go far, as they looked like they were about to pop. They needed the unsub's car, too.
Emily managed to stay awake for most of the night, seeing the unsub coming and going. She decided to wake JJ around midnight to get some sleep herself. Of course JJ was angry with her because she didn't wake her sooner, but Emily thought it best if JJ slept off the remainder of the drugs. She made JJ promise her to wake her in the morning when she heard the unsub coming and went to sleep.
JJ kept her promise and woke Emily as soon as she heard the truck from a distance. Together they observed his routines and Emily found he used the same order as the night before, so when he left again Emily started working on her plan.
She turned to JJ.
“Say, do you have the manicure set on you?”
JJ looked at Emily like she had grown a second head but checked the inside pocket of her jacket.
“Yes. Why? Don't tell me you plan includes painting our nails.”
“No, I need the small scissors. And then I need to get into you pants.”
Now JJ looked even more confused. “Wha... What? Emily I thought we agreed this is not the time and place.”
Emily grinned wickedly. “As much as I would love to do that with you, I'd rather have a little privacy for that. No silly, I need the elastic from your panties.”
JJ laughed. “Well why don't you take yours?”
“Oh I will, or rather you will, but I need both of them.”
“Do I have to understand this?” JJ asked puzzled.
“You'll see. Now, scissors please. And open your pants. Or would you rather I do that?”
Emily grinned at JJ and waggled her eyebrows.
“No, I'd rather spare that for a more romantic setting.”
JJ opened her pants and Emily skillfully undid the stitching on JJ's panties a little and extracted the elastic in a matter of seconds. JJ looked at her in wonder.
“Wow, that was fast. Where did you learn that?”
“That? That's nothing. It's not that hard when you know how. One of my mother's tailors showed me when I was little.”
“Well I think it's great. I barely know how to sew a button back on.” JJ grinned. Emily was full of surprises. “I hope I don't ruin your panties for good.”
“Never mind the panties, but don't ruin the elastic; we need it.”
JJ needed somewhat longer than Emily but finally she managed, feeling only slightly weird fumbling in the brunette's pants.
“Here ya go. Now what?”
Emily took the elastics and stuffed both of them in her back pocket.
“Now, we need a crutch, about eight inches would be perfect.”
“And where exactly do you plan on finding that? We can't get out of the cage, remember.”
“Yes, I know. Ask around. There's a lot of wood laying around here.”
They spread the word around the cages and indeed they got a crutch about the right size.
“And what exactly do you plan to do with that?”
“Well, isn't that obvious? I'll build a slingshot.” Emily said like it was the most natural thing to do.
“A slingshot?” JJ asked dumbstruck. “What for?”
“Well, I'd prefer my gun, but it was taken from me. So I improvise.”
“You want to shoot at the unsub with a slingshot? Are you nuts? Do you want to get yourself killed?”
“I know how to shoot a sling, and I'll prove it to you. I need some practice shots anyway. Can you pick up some stones while I assemble the sling?”
“Sure.” JJ answered, shaking her head, unbelieving.
When JJ had collected some stones she thought would work with a sling she turned back to Emily and found her adjusting the elastic.
“You really think that will work?”
“I really hope so, because otherwise we're screwed. Let's see those stones.”
Emily took every stone into her hand separately, weighing it, feeling its texture.
“Those are all good. Shot a sling yourself once or twice in East Allegheny?”
“Yeah well, there wasn't much to do.” JJ grinned. “But I was never good at it. I was always better with my feet. So, you wanna show off a bit?”
“Well I have to test how far I get with this sling and how hard it can shoot. I need to take out one of the cameras to lure him here.”
Emily took a few test shots at one of the trees behind their cage and after only three or four shots she hit her mark every time.
“Okay. We're good to go.”
“How many stones do you have left?”
“Only three?” JJ asked alarmed. “Won't you need more?”
“If I don't get him with the first shot it's over anyway. So three's plenty. Let’s get on with this. Spread the word that everyone should take cover in the shacks. I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”