DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds belongs to CBS. This is a work of fiction. All the characters portrayed in this story have no relation to anyone living or dead.
SPOILERS: Set around Season 4 / Season 5. No specific spoilers to any TV episodes.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To rebelgirl_uk[at]yahoo.co.uk
JJ could feel her stomach roiling and nausea washing over her in waves. She desperately tried to open her eyes but just couldn't force them open. Her head was pounding and she couldn't concentrate on anything except trying to keep the contents of her stomach from escaping. She could feel cold sweat running off her face and wondered what the hell it was her body was reacting to. When she felt yet another lurch in her stomach, she knew she was fighting a losing battle and she reflexively bent in the middle as she heaved.
The movement was enough for her to get her eyes open and as she retched again, she became vaguely aware of her surroundings. Unfortunately, she couldn't make any sense of anything as all her body wanted to do was keep vomiting. She raised a hand to try and wipe her face and looked at her hand in surprise as she felt her arm stop short, prevented from going further by what she could now see was a manacle round her wrist. Her eyes widened in alarm and she tried to sit up, only to be forced back down by yet another wave of nausea. It was only as she lay back gasping, that she heard her name being called and she turned her head in the direction of the voice. "Emily?" Her voice was shaky and hoarse.
"Thank God. JJ are you okay?" Emily asked anxiously.
JJ coughed and then grimaced as she swallowed down the bitter taste of bile. "What the hell happened?" she replied, not answering the older agent's question.
Emily shifted slightly, trying to get a better look at the media liaison. She had been anxiously watching her for what she estimated was at least an hour, calling out periodically in an attempt to get her to wake up. The brunette was handcuffed to a metal railing that was attached securely to the wall of the room they were in. Her attempts to get free had resulted in bruised and cut wrists and little else. "Do you remember collapsing upstairs?"
"Upstairs?" JJ repeated in confusion. She could feel her head swimming with nausea so resisted an urge to shake it into clarity. "Are we still at Mrs. Parsons' place?" The last thing JJ could remember was trying to concentrate on Emily and Norma Parsons' conversation.
"Yes. I think she drugged you with the iced tea. Whatever she used was masked by the flavour of it. She couldn't do the same with me as I had water," Emily reminded the blonde woman.
JJ nodded slowly, trying to keep her head relatively still. "It's probably why I feel so dreadful now. Ever since I was pregnant, I've not been able to tolerate medication." She paused for a moment as she tried to remember what had happened. "Sorry Emily, I should have told you I wasn't feeling right."
"Do not blame yourself JJ," Emily responded forcefully. "If anything, it's my fault. Instead of drawing my gun and disabling her, I checked on you. When I turned away from her she tazed me." Emily shuddered as she recalled the awful sensation of every muscle in her body going into spasm. It wasn't so much the pain of being tazed but the sheer exhaustion it induced. She just couldn't get her body to do anything.
"She's an old lady," JJ pointed out in confusion. "How did we end up down here?" Her head was clearing slowly so she risked trying to sit up again, though it took her a few minutes to work out how to manoeuvre round her manacles. As she sat up, she could see that she was chained to a central wooden pillar in a dimly lit room. There was a pervasive smell of damp in the room which suggested that it was below ground. There was also a more sinister metallic odour in the room that both women associated with spilt blood.
Awkwardly, JJ managed to wipe her face before adjusting her position to face Emily. Even in the poor light, she could see the older agent's face etched with worry, along with a number of bruises and scrapes. Her clothing was disheveled and dirty. JJ didn't even want to consider what she looked like. "Emily, what did she do to you?"
Emily grimaced. "After she shocked me for the third time, she grabbed me by the collar and dragged me out of the kitchen. I have no idea how she had the strength to do that. She then opened a door dragged me through it and then shoved me down the stairs." Emily nodded towards a wooden stairway at the far end of the room. She frowned as she recalled what happened. "No, that's not quite right. There was a second door somewhere." Emily shook her head. "Maybe I hit my head on the way downstairs."
JJ glanced over and then back at Emily. The brunette had clearly bounced heavily down the stairs. "You okay?" she asked in concern.
Mimicking JJ's earlier avoidance of the question, Emily chose to continue filling in the details. "She dragged me over here after giving me my fourth 8 second tazer ride and used my own cuffs to keep me secure." She jangled them for effect. "She went back upstairs and it was ages before the door opened again." Emily paused as she tried to keep a firm lid on her emotions. That period had filled Emily with almost uncontrollable fear as her imagination conjured up all sorts of horrors that JJ might endure. It took a supreme effort of will to focus instead on the possibility of escape. Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that escape was highly unlikely and that was when Emily began trying to force her wrists free of her cuffs.
"Someone carried you downstairs, JJ. He didn't look at me or say anything to me, but I think it was our unsub. He put you on the ground and manacled you. Didn't even look at me the entire time." There was no disguising Emily's concern and it was easy for JJ to read the brunette's interpretation of the behaviour. If the unsub was ignoring Emily completely then it was clear that JJ was the target of his attention, and this put her in extreme danger.
"Okay then. How do we get out of here?" JJ prompted, looking at her restraints and wondering if she could work her way free.
"I hate to say this, but I think we're going to have to wait for our unsub to return and see if we can exploit a weakness."
JJ tugged at her chains experimentally, and then with increasing force. "There has to be a better plan than that," she demurred, grunting as she tried to squeeze her wrist out of a manacle.
Emily once again tried to do the same with her bonds, though she knew that it would be a futile effort. "The upside is that we've been gone a long time. Hopefully, the team will come out to look for us shortly."
"Well I have no intention of ending up in a yellow waste bag before that happens," JJ replied darkly and continued to twist and pull at the manacles.
Norma Parsons pulled out a large cloth from her purse and carefully wiped the steering wheel and other hard surfaces of the rental car. She opened the door with the cloth covering her hand then put the car into neutral and took the parking brake off. She slammed the driver's door shut, again using the cloth and then walked to the back of the vehicle. Using the cloth as a barrier, she carefully placed her hands on the trunk and started to push at the car. It quickly built up momentum as she got it onto the downhill slope and within seconds it was rolling unaided down a steep embankment and into the river. Norma had already disposed of the agents' guns, credentials, personal items and phones by throwing them into the river further downstream after wrapping them in a black trash bag and weighing it down with some rocks. She picked up the cloth that had fallen as the car picked up speed and rammed it into a pocket. It would be easy enough to dispose of later.
The woman walked back to the main road and got into the passenger side of an old sedan that was parked up and turned to her son. "When we get back, sweep the yard. I'll clean the kitchen floor. There'll be no trace that anyone ever came by."
"Mama, you d-d-didn't have to d-do this," Harrison stuttered as he clutched the steering wheel tightly.
"I know, my angel," the old woman replied softly. "But you deserve to be looked after, and I know how much you like to play."
The large, doughy-faced man shrugged uncomfortably. "I don't l-like it w-when they don't play with me," he complained. "You damaged this one."
Norma shot out a hand and slapped her son hard across the face. "Don't you dare be ungrateful! Those women are dangerous. I had to secure them so you wouldn't be disturbed."
Harrison flinched at his mother's sudden change in demeanour and looked down in contrition. "Sorry mama," he muttered softly. He paused before continuing. "I don't like t-the other one. She l-looks too angry."
"That's nothing you can't change with a little attention Harrison," his mother reasoned. "By the time you're done making her less angry, the other one will be ready."
Harrison paused to think about this for a few minutes. "Okay," he agreed finally. He turned and smiled at the old woman in adoration. "Thank you f-for my presents."
Norma smiled and stroked her son's cheek lovingly. "You know I'll always take care of you honey. Just trust your mama. Now let's get back and finish up."
Harrison drove in silence for a while before speaking again. "Why d-did they come t-to the house?"
"They wanted to hurt you Harrison," Norma replied cryptically. "I had to stop them. It's my job to protect you and provide for you sweetie."
"She is p-pretty mama," Harrison continued. "Do you think she'll like me?"
"Oh, I think she's going to like you more than any other girl you've had," Mrs. Parsons reassured him confidently, knowing that the young FBI agent would do everything she could to fight her son off, and that would excite him like nothing else.
Morgan and Reid strode purposefully into the police precinct. It was clear from Morgan's body language that he was not happy. "He wasn't at work," he told Hotchner and Rossi as he stepped into their work room. "And his colleagues describe him as quiet, shy and polite. He can barely string a sentence together without stammering."
"Yeah," Reid continued. "They were surprised that he'd attracted anyone's attention, let alone the FBI."
Hotch frowned, deepening the seriousness of his visage. "We couldn't find anything at his home address either. It's an averagely well kept home that is obviously lived in. Nothing to connect him to any of the disappearances."
"Then we have to ask ourselves how his DNA got on the vic," Rossi interjected.
"Well, the man's a bank teller, not a clinical waste handler so I think we can assume that he came into contact with her while she was still alive," Morgan voiced.
"It's a good starting assumption, but I don't want to rule anything out. I keep getting the feeling we're missing something significant," Rossi replied.
"He could have met her at or around his work and had his DNA transfer onto her," Reid suggested.
Hotch nodded. "You and Morgan go back to the bank and look through their CCTV. See if the vic came into the bank and if so, if she made contact with Parsons." The senior agent looked round suddenly. "Anyone heard from Prentiss or JJ?" His three colleagues all shook their heads negatively. Hotch picked up his phone and hit a speed dial. After waiting a few seconds he spoke into the phone. "Prentiss it's Hotch. Give me a call when you're free." He looked at his wrist watch. "It went straight to voicemail. She may still be interviewing Mrs Parsons."
Morgan flipped open his phone and tapped in some digits. He paused briefly before hitting the end call button. "JJ's went straight to voicemail too. That's unusual. One of them would keep their phone on."
"It could just be bad reception," Reid stated. "How long have they been gone?"
Rossi glanced at his Rolex. "A little over two hours," he replied. "Garcia said her house was about 14 miles away."
"About a half hour trip each way then, give or take a few minutes. That would give them an hour with Mrs. Parsons," Reid calculated.
Rossi shrugged slightly. "That's not unreasonable," he allowed. "It all depends on how much information or useful background stuff she can give them."
Hotch paused for a few seconds as he weighed up his options. "What else do we have?" he asked his team.
Rossi grunted. "A profile that doesn't fit, an unsub we can't find and still no clue as to how he targets and abducts his victims," he supplied.
"We do have his DNA on the vic's body," Morgan argued.
"But nothing else to connect him to her disappearance or murder," Reid demurred.
Hotchner nodded his head. "We need to come up with something far more substantial than what we already have," he agreed. "Hopefully Prentiss and JJ are having more luck than we are putting together the pieces." He paused once again. Coming to a decision he looked at Morgan and Reid. "Go to the bank and review the video footage," he repeated. "Rossi and I will revisit the profile with what we have, and then go back out with the local PD to see if we can locate Parsons."
"We still need to locate the other persons of interest on our list," Morgan reminded the team leader.
"We need to leave that to the locals for now. When Prentiss and JJ get back we'll meet up and divide again to maximise resources," Hotch declared.
"We're against the clock here," Rossi reminded the team almost redundantly. "It can't be long before he goes looking for another victim." There were grim nods all round as the agents set to work.
JJ growled in frustration and pain as she tried to get her wrists free of the manacles securing her to the central wooden post in the basement. She had been twisting and pulling pretty much continually since she had regained consciousness and got control of her nausea. Every now and again she would be hit by another onslaught of queasiness and have to stop, breathing slowly in an effort to damp down the after-effects of whatever drug it was that Mrs. Parsons had laced her drink with. Her wrists were chafed and bleeding but she was not going to give up. There was too much to lose.
At the same time, Emily had been trying to get free. Unfortunately she was having the same amount of success as JJ. Her shoulder was painful from the fall down the stairs and her face felt swollen. After seeing the photographic evidence of what the unsub did to his victims, Emily was in no doubt that they were in extreme danger. JJ was right; simply waiting to be rescued wasn't an option at this point, but with her wrists resolutely secure, the brunette agent was beginning to wonder if that was all that was left.
Determined not to allow despair to overwhelm her, Prentiss concentrated on what she knew of the unsub. Hearing JJ snarl made Emily realise that the younger agent was also in need of re-focusing. "JJ," she called. "Hey, JJ!"
Emily's second hail caught the press liaison's attention. "Are you free?" she asked anxiously.
Emily shook her head. "No, and I don't think I can get free," she admitted reluctantly.
JJ looked at her sharply. "We do not give up Emily," she insisted. "I am not going to be a temporary plaything for a sociopathic sadist whose only desire is to inflict torture on me before killing me for his personal gratification."
"We're not giving up JJ," Emily assured. "But we have to be realistic here. How long have you been trying to get free?"
JJ yanked on her manacles as she let out another frustrated grunt. "Emily," she pleaded. "We have to do something." Determination was beginning to devolve into panic.
"I know, Jayje," Emily agreed. "But let's concentrate on what we know so we can use it to our advantage."
JJ drew a deep breath in an effort to control her breathing. "Okay," she replied slowly. "But I'm not a profiler," she warned.
"You could pass the class tomorrow," Emily dismissed the younger woman's concerns. "Right, let's start from the beginning. Let's get a profile."
JJ frowned for a few seconds as she thought, her sore wrists temporarily forgotten about. "Well our assumption about him being sophisticated and charming is wrong. It's his mother that lures the victims," she began.
Emily nodded in agreement. "She must know what type of woman he likes, or maybe she's learned. She probably uses her age to deceive the victim into thinking she's safe."
"It worked with us," JJ interjected ruefully.
Emily pulled a face, disgusted with herself for being caught out. "Yeah, I know. But I don't think she's used to dealing with more than one victim at a time. She almost certainly overdosed you to compensate for there being two of us, but she was confident in shooting the taser at me. She's probably used both methods before."
"I wonder if she's the sociopath and controls him to do all the torture." JJ stumbled over the last word.
"For a partnership, it is a classic dominant, subservient relationship. What is unusual is that it's the woman who is dominant. I just wonder what it was that set her off."
"Abusive husband?" JJ suggested tentatively.
Prentiss pulled a face. "Could be. I think it's more likely that it's an absent father from the home and that she's completely put her focus on Harrison. It could be that he was rejected by the first victim; perhaps he asked her out, or she was rude to him. She could have made fun of his stammer. The mother finds out and punishes her by abducting her, neutralising the threat by chaining her up and then directing Harrison to exact his revenge."
The brunette was focusing off in the distance as she continued on her train of thought and JJ was mesmerised by her. The younger woman kept quiet, not wanting to interrupt the flow.
"Harrison gets his jollies with the first victim, clearly to his mother's approval. He may have told her that's the first time he's ever felt power, or respected or even loved by someone other than her. That provokes the mother to find him another victim and so the cycle is set."
"Okay," JJ continued, "so she's got a twisted way of nurturing him and he's found a place where he has the power. Does that support the profile about the way he treats his vics?"
Emily nodded, impressed that JJ would relate things back to the original profile. "Given the type of torture we've seen, I think we can be fairly sure that element is correct. It's progressive and drawn out. He wants them to fight back so he can believe that he really has power."
"Or it could be the only time he's free from his mother's control," JJ countered.
Emily's eyes widened. "Now that makes sense." The brunette tipped her head back and looked at the ceiling. "That's brilliant Jayje. He gets his kicks from being totally in control, without his mother interfering. She probably doesn't even realise it's his chance to feel free, but instead feeds off the sense that she is providing for her son and he loves it. Their actions feed each other and the positive feedback just escalates the behaviour."
JJ looked at the older woman with a grim look. "Much as I don't want to dampen your enthusiasm, we still don't have a plan on how to stay alive."
Emily sighed and looked at JJ carefully. "There's only one thing we can do. Fight back as hard as possible."
"Isn't that just going to antagonise him?" JJ asked dubiously.
"No. Remember the profile," Emily guided her. "He'd lose interest in anyone submissive or weak and from the fact that there are so many women, must kill them quickly. We have to fight."
"We?" JJ enquired pointedly. The liaison knew it was unfair of her, but the word was out before she could stop herself.
Emily couldn't blame JJ. She was the one tied to the centre pillar and was clearly the one both Norma and Parsons had targeted as their next victim. "Yes we," she confirmed determinedly. "I will do everything in my power to take attention away from you." She sighed and swallowed, trying to keep control of her emotions. "I wish I could swap places with you Jayje. You know that."
And JJ did. She knew without a shadow of doubt that Emily would do anything she could to shield her. She had a proven track record of selflessness. But she also didn't want to see Emily hurt again. Actually, all she wanted was to be at home in front of the TV with a pint of ice cream and Henry asleep in his bedroom, safe. Ideally, Emily would be on the couch with her and she'd somehow magically know that JJ had fallen madly in love with her and she wasn't totally freaked out by it. However, wants and wishes were not going to get them out of the cellar, at least not in the way they wanted to leave. "I'm sorry Emily. I didn't mean to snap. And I don't think I could stand to see you hurt, especially if it was as a result of taking the heat off me."
Emily almost made the mistake of telling JJ that she was trained to deal with this. She knew just how much it irritated JJ that her FBI training was disregarded due to her role as media liaison. "JJ, neither of us wants to see the other get hurt. If he is fixated on you, then any reduction in attention is only going to buy us time. It can't be long before the team realises we're missing and come looking for us. We just have to hang on."
"I know Em, it's just " Whatever it was JJ was about to say was interrupted as the door at the top of the stairs swung open.
Rossi scratched his neatly trimmed beard thoughtfully as he watched a tall man shuffle out of the police precinct. It had taken him less than five minutes to determine that the man was not who they were looking for. Not only did the guy have a plausible alibi, he just didn't meet any sort of profile they had put together. Although the Italian veteran profiler was doubting the veracity of their original profile, he knew enough to realise that even with some subtle changes, the man he had just questioned was not capable of the planned, persistent kidnapping and torture of the women that were missing; the subject type was simply too diverse for him.
He looked over to where Aaron Hotchner was seated, flipping through the contents of yet another manila document folder. Grabbing some barely palatable coffee from the pot, Rossi made his way over to the Unit chief. "I'm assuming from the frown and continued research that you had no luck with the other one?" he asked drily, referring to the final person of interest that had been tracked down by local PD.
Hotch shook his head. "He wasn't our unsub," he confirmed. "Likes his women younger," he continued, keeping his tone bland and yet conveying his personal sense of disgust at that nugget of information.
"So where does that leave us?" Rossi prompted.
"Still with Parsons. And he's still not been located." Hotch threw the folder onto the table. "I've been reviewing what info we have on him," he told Rossi. "We are missing something, I'm sure of it."
"Your gut telling you that it is Parsons?"
"My instinct is telling me we need a closer look at Parsons. I won't write anything off yet, but it does concern me that we have DNA evidence from him on one of the vics and no plausible reason for that."
"You heard from Reid and Morgan?"
"Only an interim update. They have hours and hours of CCTV footage. It's going to take too long."
"Garcia?" Rossi prompted.
Hotch raised his eyebrows. "Morgan's already spoken to her. She's tapped into the bank mainframe and is running some software to try and cut things down, but still "
Rossi looked round. "Where the hell are Prentiss and JJ? They can't still be with Mrs Parsons can they?"
Hotch looked at his watch and then up at the clock on the precinct wall as he frowned. "They should be back by now," he confirmed. The dark haired agent pulled out his cell phone and hit a speed dial. "Straight to voice mail," he stated.
"Prentiss?" Rossi confirmed.
Hotch nodded as he hit another speed dial. His eyebrows rose but this time he spoke into the phone. "JJ it's Hotch. Call me as soon as possible." He hung up and looked at Rossi. "They shouldn't both have their phones off."
"Want to take a trip to see Mrs Parsons?" Rossi offered.
Hotch hesitated, knowing that Emily in particular would be affronted if she felt he was checking up on her. Just then his phone rang and he answered immediately, "Hotchner."
"Sir, I've been doing some digging while looking at incredibly boring images of bank queues," Garcia started, without even bothering to announce it was her. "I have tried all sorts of permutations on Harrison Parsons and come up with nada. He's as clean as a whistle. The only interesting element, and I use that term in its loosest possible sense, is that he likes to move every 18 months or so. Obviously doesn't like hanging round one place too long."
"You're ringing me for a reason " prompted Hotch patiently as he put her onto speakerphone and placed the phone on the table so that Rossi could hear the information too.
"As perceptive as always mon capitan," Garcia complimented. "With nothing to go on with Harrison Parsons, I decided to do a bit of delving into his family. His mother Norma, aged 57 raised Harrison by herself after her husband left them. Harrison was three at the time. It's difficult to ascertain the reasons as to why he left but he left the state, not just the city. No contact after he went either. No indication that Norma Parsons found anyone else so it looks like it was just her and Harrison."
Garcia spoke quickly, and Hotch sensed that this was simply background information and that the technical analyst was hurrying toward the information that she really wanted to share. He had to acknowledge her professionalism though in recognising that all information needed to be shared with the team so that they could make their own minds up regarding how relevant it was.
"Here's what got me twitchy," Garcia continued, confirming Hotch's assumption. "In order to make ends meet, Norma Parsons worked as an ancillary nurse at the Highlands Medical Centre for 30 years. She retired last year."
"There's your link to the waste disposal system," Rossi interjected.
"Exactly," underlined Penelope. "And Emily and JJ went to see her."
Hotch suddenly understood why the analyst was so anxious. "Get a trace on their phones Garcia, we're on our way." The team leader was about to hang up when Garcia spoke again.
"Already tried that. Nothing. Sir "
"Don't worry Garcia, we're on our way," Hotch assured. He looked at Rossi but the shorter man was already heading for the precinct exit and their rental car.
Harrison Parsons descended the stairs slowly, his footfall heavy on the wooden steps. He enjoyed the fact that both women were staring at him as he made his way down and could feel the familiar surge of power building inside him. He looked at the dark haired woman as she suddenly started speaking to him.
"Listen Harrison. We're FBI agents. There are people looking for us. You need to let us go."
He hadn't intended to pay her any attention at all after seeing that the blonde woman was now awake but the brunette's demanding talk irritated him and he wanted no distractions. He diverted from his route toward JJ and approached the older woman instead. The large man struck out abruptly and punched Emily in the face, stopping her talking immediately as her eyes rolled back and she slumped forward. Satisfied that she would cause no more bother for the present, Harrison turned to the other woman and smiled.
JJ's blood ran cold when she saw the unsub lash out suddenly at Emily. The second her head fell forward she couldn't help but call out her name and she felt her stomach lurch when there was no response. The media liaison stared at the tall man and tried not to flinch as he smiled leeringly at her but with Emily unconscious, she had never felt so alone and vulnerable. Recalling Emily's advice regarding fighting back, she sat up as straight as she could as Parsons approached. "Keep away from me," she warned; her voice low and angry.
Parsons said nothing as he approached the woman. He moved to one side of JJ and reached over to where the manacles were secured to the pillar. With the ease born of practice, he removed the chain from its mooring and then yanked the chain up, forcing JJ to lift her arms up over her head. He didn't stop and JJ had to scramble to her feet hurriedly in order to stop her wrists taking her whole body weight. She turned to Parsons. "Let us go," she ordered, putting on her measured media voice. "Our colleagues know we're here and will come for us."
The tall man looked at her for a moment and moved his hand as if to stroke her hair before frowning and withdrawing his hand. He turned away from JJ and moved to one end of the room, picking up a bucket and placing it under a free standing faucet. He waited for a few moments as the container filled with water and then hefted the bucket up and walked back to where JJ now stood, with her hands secured above her head.
JJ watched him carefully, trying to prepare herself for anything when he suddenly threw the bucket of water over her head and chest. She gasped as the icy cold liquid drenched her and rapidly blinked the water out of her eyes, shaking her head once before another wave of nausea hit her and she had to stop.
"That's better," the man commended. "A pretty girl should be clean."
"What?" JJ asked, confused by his actions. Then she remembered that she had vomited earlier and had only been able to get some of it off her. "If you really cared, you wouldn't have me chained up and in this hole," she retorted savagely.
Parsons approached her again, and this time combed his fingers through her soaking hair, tucking some behind her ear almost lovingly as he appeared to completely ignore what she said. "M-mama said you'd be perfect for me," he mused almost to himself and JJ noticed it was the first time he had stammered.
"Your mother didn't give me any choice," the young agent retorted angrily. "She drugged me and tazered Emily."
Again, Parsons seemed to ignore her comments and he slowly ran a thick finger down the side of JJ's cheek, before tracing her jaw line and the tendons in her neck. His hand reached the open collar of her button down shirt and he slowly followed the material down till he reached the first fastening. His grin widened as he flipped the button though the eyelet and then parted the sodden material to expose the flesh beneath.
JJ pushed herself back against the pillar initially but realised she had nowhere to go. Instead she twisted her body away as best she could and shouted at the man who was at least twice as heavy as her. "Get off me you creep."
Parsons grinned and he pushed his body against her, and JJ had to swallow down her revulsion as she felt him harden against her. He brushed his lips against her ear. "I bet you can't wait to feel me can you?"
JJ tried to shove him away, but with her arms held above her head she could get no real force behind the push. Instead, she swung her lower body round and managed to successfully knee him in the groin, a move the man had not expected and he staggered back, doubled up in pain and surprise.
JJ pulled desperately at her chains in the vain hope that somehow there was a weakness in the links that no one else had exploited but simply felt pain in her wrists as the manacles held fast.
"I'm so glad you really want to play," Parsons gasped as he regained control of his breathing. He went back to the work bench and returned with a savage-looking bowie knife and held it in front of JJ's face menacingly. "You want to fight?" he asked daringly. "I'm going to give you the chance to."
JJ half expected the man to free her from the restraints and be handed the knife to fight with, when instead he slid the blade down the front of her shirt and deftly cut the remaining buttons. With the tip of his knife he pried the clothing open to expose JJ's chest and abdomen. He licked his lips as he used the knife to trace the outline of her nipples through her bra, concentrating on his work rather than her face.
"Get away from her!" Emily had regained consciousness and was straining desperately against her handcuffs. Her voice was rough but her determination and anger shone through.
"Emily," JJ gasped, relieved that her friend was alert. Tempered with that however was the fear that Emily now might be witness to whatever it was Parsons wanted to do to her. While JJ no longer felt quite so alone, she was desperate for Emily not to have to see something she couldn't do anything to stop.
Emily fought to clear her head even as she pulled at her restraints. Her face hurt from the blow she had received and her head felt muzzy but the sight of JJ being terrorised by the unsub helped clarify her thoughts and actions very quickly. She didn't know what had gone on while she had been unconscious but she could tell JJ had been fighting back simply by how angry Parsons was. Her blood chilled as she watched him drag a knife over JJ and she didn't know how JJ managed to keep a look of composed anger on her face rather than the terror she must surely be feeling.
The hulking man studied the older woman for a few moments. Both women were looking at each other intensely. There was clearly a strong bond between them. He realised that there was an opportunity to exploit the link to his advantage. He could use that link to really exert his power over the blonde. Just the thought of her reaction gave him a feeling of excitement he had never experienced before and he felt a warm, wet feeling in his pants as he released. He wasn't worried though. It would allow him the opportunity to build himself up again and then really demonstrate his power over both these women. Even as he relished the thought of it, he could feel his body respond and he pushed up against his petite captive, wanting her to know how aroused he was. His grin widened as he felt her flinch at the touch. This was going to be his most satisfying encounter yet.
"This is what I'm going to do," Parsons told JJ conversationally. "I'm going to place this knife on the side over there and then I'm going to let you go. If you get to the knife before I do, feel free to use it how you want." At this point he looked up and then looked over to where Emily sat, taut and straining against her restraints. "If I get to the knife first, I'm going to gut your friend with it, unless you can stop me."
JJ's eyes widened in horror. She could see from the expression on his face that he was totally serious and she couldn't help but wonder about what sort of games he had played with his previous victims. The young agent then looked to where Emily was restrained. JJ wasn't a fool. She knew that even should she get the knife before Parsons he would undoubtedly be able to wrest it away from her without too much trouble. The only advantage she could hope to achieve would be to somehow free Emily and she was not sure she could do that easily. JJ assumed that their captor would have the keys to Emily's cuffs on him. She would have to do something to temporarily incapacitate him in order to locate the keys and get her friend free.
JJ looked at Emily, hoping that she could pick up a clue on what to do. Emily's face was schooled into a hard expression and she held JJ's gaze with steely determination. JJ knew that she didn't have a choice but to fight Parsons. Giving in would give him reason to kill them and she had to buy as much time as possible so that the team could find them, or at least Emily, alive. It was that final thought that focused JJ. She turned and looked at Parsons right in the eyes. "Bring it."
Parsons was a little taken aback by the vehemence in his captive's tone. She didn't appear to be scared at all. If anything, his challenge seemed to have set her resolve. His grin widened suddenly at the implication. All his previous interests had quickly succumbed to his attention and offered little resistance in the end. He sensed that this one would fight and fight, and offer him days of pleasure. Oh, she would falter in the end when she ran out of strength. But it would be an exquisite journey between now and then. Even better, the brunette would be there to witness it all. She might even provide some secondary amusement while the blonde recovered. Once again, Parsons felt indebted to his mother. She had understood his every need and provided for him, as she had done since he was a child.
Parsons grabbed JJ's face suddenly and planted a slobbery kiss on the petite woman's lips. JJ tried to twist away but the contact was mercifully brief and her captor suddenly turned and strode towards the work bench. He swung his arm swiftly and drove the knife into the work surface. It quivered slightly as he released his grip but stayed upright and embedded.
He hurried back to where JJ was secured and then pressed against her again as he reached up to the fastenings. He looked down at her, his face just millimetres away from hers and JJ's stomach lurched as she thought he might try and kiss her again. She could hear the rattle of Emily's handcuffs as the woman made another futile attempt to get free but could only stare at her captor's face. She had already made up her mind that she would not give in to the man, but she was beginning to question how strong her resolve was.
There was a click and the tension from the manacles eased and JJ's arms dropped. She realised quickly that she was still secured in the manacles but they were no longer tethered to the pillar. She jangled the chain that connected her cuffs questioningly.
"They stay on," Parsons advised her. "You look pretty in them," he added and JJ wasn't sure if he was being sarcastic or not. He stepped back from the woman and looked over to the knife. "I'll even give you a head start," he told her as he gestured to where the knife was stuck in the work bench.
JJ waited a fraction, wondering if there was a hidden catch in this game, or if it would really just be a straightforward fight to get to the knife. Realising that there would be no answers until it happened, the blonde agent sprang suddenly forward and ran for the knife, pushing forward even though her legs felt leaden. Even as she headed for her target, she scanned the work bench for anything else that she might be able to use to improve their odds of survival. She knew that Parsons would have a huge advantage over her in a knife fight. His height and weight alone would prove almost impossible to overcome. From his confident manner, she had no doubt that he was very experienced at using a knife as well, and JJ had not had any hand to hand combat training since her initial FBI training in Quantico.
As she reached the table she could hear the heavy footfall of Parsons behind her. He had indeed been true to his word and given her a head start. There was an array of tools scattered over the workbench and JJ grabbed two quickly along with the knife before swerving to where Emily was chained up, sensing that Parsons was right behind her. She felt a rush of air across her back and knew that she was running out of time. She threw the tools in Emily's general direction and gripped the knife tightly as she turned around, expecting to meet Parsons head on. She was right but not even close to prepared as the lumbering man lashed out and punched her across the face, her head snapping back as she stumbled and then fell to the floor.
The second the woman was down, Parsons leapt at her, a big meaty hand enveloping the one that grasped the knife. Already JJ knew she was going to be disarmed easily, but her grip on the knife tightened even as she jabbed an uppercut onto the man's jaw. He replied with a heavy slap that made her eyes sting and the coppery taste in her mouth confirmed that he had split her lip.
JJ punched again and tried to shove the unsub off her but Parsons didn't budge. He tightened the grip around her knife hand and then banged it viciously on the floor. JJ cried out as she felt her hand open and she heard the knife skitter across the floor. She looked up at Parsons, her mind racing as to what he might do next now she was disarmed, even as she raised her fist again to rabbit-punch him in the ear.
Emily had seen JJ's dash to the knife and her heart had lurched as Parsons suddenly took after her. Things happened so quickly that it was difficult to follow what was happening but one second JJ was yanking the knife out of the work bench and the next she was throwing objects at her. Knowing that JJ had taken a calculated risk in taking the time to do something like that, Emily immediately looked for the objects and when she spotted them, she nodded in approval. On the floor by her feet lay a small hacksaw and large screwdriver. Not knowing if Parsons would divert to take the tools away, Emily immediately focused on manoeuvering her body round so she could use her feet to get the tools closer. With her hands secured to a pipe near her head, the brunette was going to have to work hard to get the saw into her hands, but she needed no more motivation than the sounds of the struggle between Parsons and JJ. Emily couldn't afford to get distracted by JJ's fight, her own task was to get free.
Parsons looked down at JJ and smiled. The loss of the knife had spurred her to fight harder and one of the punches she had landed had made him see stars. He could feel her squirming underneath him and he couldn't help but press his groin into her, wanting her to feel how hard he was for her, but he needed her to fight back more before he could finally take his prize and get the highest thrill from it. Recalling his earlier conversation with his captive, he knew he could push her easily to fight harder. "You lost the knife," he reminded her conversationally. "Looks like time's up for your friend." With that he rolled off the blonde toward the discarded knife.
After a fair bit of contortion, Emily had managed to get the hacksaw into one of her hands. Initially she tried to saw at the links between the cuffs but quickly realised that the steel was too tough for the saw and the angle was too awkward for her to get any leverage on. She had a much better angle to work on the pipe however, and she worked rapidly, knowing that she only had limited time. Her concentration was broken by a loud shout from JJ. She looked up to see Parsons heading straight for her, knife raised menacingly.
"Stay away from her, you bastard." JJ tackled the man using a tip her father had taught her years ago when she played football with her brothers. She dug her shoulder in low right behind his knees and felt his legs buckle immediately, forcing him to the ground.
Parsons had anticipated JJ jumping on him, but thought that she would go high. Consequently, his balance was off when he was tackled and he face-planted the floor, feeling his lip tear as his teeth bit into the soft flesh. In his surprise, he relinquished his hold on the knife, and it slid across the floor right up to where Emily was seated.
Parsons flipped round, a look of sheer fury on his face. He had wanted the woman to fight back but she had gone too far. He wiped blood away from his lip angrily and got to his feet. Now she needed to be taught a lesson.
JJ's eyes widened in alarm as she saw the look of hatred on Parsons' face. She knew she had to stop him from getting to Emily, but the other woman was now clearly forgotten as she had managed to completely enrage him. She scrambled to get up but was barely straightening as he lashed out with a booted foot. JJ grunted as she felt the blow connect and she crumpled back down onto her knees. Within seconds, the initial kick was followed with another into her ribs and then another across her face, cutting her eye, and JJ had no choice but to curl into a foetal position in a futile attempt at protecting herself. The blows continued to rain in on her and JJ knew that she could do nothing against the onslaught.
Emily gasped in horror at the ferocity of the attack. She knew JJ wouldn't be able to take much of that sort of punishment. The profiler was desperate to protect JJ and for the first time in her life, her compartmentalising skills were failing her. She could sense real panic begin to grip her as she watched JJ suffer yet more blows as she lay curled in a tight ball in the centre of the room. Emily yanked her wrist against the pipe, wondering if she'd damaged it enough to break through but it remained resolutely whole. The brunette frantically continued to saw away at the pipe, frowning in concentration and ignoring the pain in her hands as the blade slipped and sliced into them.
Parsons' red mist abated as he noticed JJ go limp after another kick to her head. There was no point continuing the punishment if she was not alert for it. However he was still hard and wanted some form of gratification from her.
After a moment's thought, the large man flipped the blonde agent onto her back, and fully opened the woman's shirt, admiring the smooth, honey skin and swell of her breasts, covered by a white bra with lacy edging. His eyes rolled as he held on to his excitement. As he wiped his mouth again, the sting from his lip reminded him of what she had done. He knelt down and unbuckled his pants, and then lay over the unconscious woman.
Emily had heard the beating stop and glanced over to see Parsons unbuckling his trousers. She glanced at JJ and realised that she was out cold, and yet the man was going to violate her anyway. Her sawing took on a new urgency. She had to stop this.
Parsons flipped the material of JJ's bra under her breasts and then massaged the soft flesh roughly, pinching the nipples and twisting hard, ensuring that the woman would know that he had touched her once she woke up. He carefully positioned his penis in the valley of her breasts and squeezed them together, surrounding his own sensitive flesh. Just a few quick thrusts were enough and as he rubbed his fluid over his conquest's chest and neck, he was satisfied that the first stage of owning her was almost complete. He just needed to slap her awake so she could fully realise what had happened to her so far and was about to do just that when the door crashed open from upstairs. "Keep them quiet honey," Mrs Parsons called down. "We've got company."
Parsons growled in frustration. He would have to wait to savour his moment, but perhaps that anticipation would add to his feeling of power and he could use it to goad her into fighting back again. He got up and pulled his pants up quickly, buckling his belt as he headed for the workbench. He grabbed a roll of duct tape and hurried to where the other agent was still secured. He tore off a strip and grabbed the woman's jaw. "Shut your mouth tight," he ordered gruffly.
Emily did what she was told. She didn't want the man to pay any more attention to her than absolutely necessary as she knew she was almost free. She grunted as Parsons slapped the silver tape across her mouth, but she kept still, hoping her body would hide the tools she had hurriedly dropped, and perversely that the pipe she was attached to remained in one piece. Fortunately, the man paid her no heed as he headed back to the prone form lying on the middle of the floor, picking up the bowie knife that lay near Emily on the way.
The brunette watched as the unsub grabbed JJ by the wrists and dragged her back to the central pillar where she had been originally chained. He secured the woman's manacles carefully before placing tape over her mouth. It was obvious he was taking no chances on JJ waking up while he needed silence from them.
Satisfied that the two women were sufficiently muted, he went to the edge of the stairway and reached up to the joists running across the ceiling. Emily watched as he tugged down a series of black tarpaulin sheets, hooking them into moorings on the floor and effectively hiding them away. It wouldn't take much to move them, but they would not be in plain sight, so even if the 'company' was the rest of the team, they wouldn't be able to move anything without a warrant. Emily wasn't certain, but unless there was any new evidence, she didn't think they'd have enough for a warrant.
As the last tarpaulin was secured, Parsons returned to where JJ lay, still unconscious, and sat down beside the young agent, caressing her hair after he made himself comfortable. Emily raised an eyebrow. He had done this before and not been caught and that thought made her heart sink. Her heart rate increased as she saw the man run the tip of his knife along JJ's thigh. He did not exert enough pressure to cut the agent's trousers, but Emily knew that the second it was safe to resume, Parsons would be terrorising his captive again.
"Good afternoon Ma'am. We're with the FBI. My name is Aaron Hotchner and this is David Rossi," Hotch advised the elderly woman at the door. The agents had arrived and taken a quick look around the property before knocking at the screen porch. There was no other rental car outside, and the yard had been freshly swept. There was no evidence to suggest anyone had visited all morning.
"FBI? Is something wrong?" Mrs Parsons asked.
"We sent two other officers up to see you earlier today." The team leader explained. "Can you tell me when they left?"
"I haven't had any visitors here all day, sir." Mrs Parsons advised, looking worried.
"You've had no visitors at all today?" Rossi probed, wanting clarification.
"Well, my son came by this morning to make sure I was okay and then he left for work, I think," Norma responded.
"Harrison Parsons was here?" Hotch asked, wanting to be sure they were at the right address.
"That's my son, yes. He was here this morning."
"Would you mind if we came in to talk?" Rossi asked softly.
"Talk about what? Have I done something wrong?" Norma Parsons asked assuredly, a completely different attitude in place to the one Emily and JJ had dealt with.
"No ma'am, but we're conducting an investigation and would like to speak with your son," Hotch replied patiently.
"I told you, he's not here now."
"Can we take a look round?" Rossi requested.
"Do you have a warrant Mr Rossi?" Mrs. Parsons countered.
"Not yet, but we can get one," Hotchner replied. "If you have nothing to hide then surely you won't object to us taking a quick look."
"I don't have anything to hide," Norma agreed. She shrugged indifferently. "You can come in, but don't disturb anything."
Aaron kept his face carefully schooled as he followed the woman into the house. He was finding it difficult to read her. He had felt sure she was going to refuse entry and demand a warrant and he had been surprised at her agreement to their request.
Norma stood to one side and gestured for the two FBI agents to pass her and go on into the house. "Feel free to look around," she invited.
Rossi narrowed his eyes at the action. It indicated to him that Parsons' mother was confident they wouldn't find anything and that concerned him. However he stepped slightly away from Hotch and began to examine the left side of the house as the unit chief searched the other side. Stepping into the kitchen, he could tell that it had been cleaned recently. His instinct was telling him something was very wrong, but there was nothing to give him any proof.
Hotch was having similar feelings as he allowed his eyes to survey the premises. Something was not quite right, but he couldn't identify what it was. He was convinced his team had been here, but he couldn't find evidence to support his feelings. The raven haired chief raised his hand to open another door but stopped as Mrs Parsons suddenly spoke up. "That door leads to the cellar. I can't imagine why you'd want to take a look down there."
"Would you mind anyway?" Aaron asked.
Mrs Parsons shrugged noncommittally. "I'd rather you didn't. I use the area for old storage. It's a mess. You can take a look from the top of the stairs if you're really interested but I'd rather a stranger didn't rummage around my old belongings, there are a lot of personal memories in there."
Hotch frowned and then opened the door to take a look. He flipped a switch on a nearby panel and squinted as a bare bulb provided a harsh light source. The space down there appeared small and was separated into partitions with what looked like black tarpaulin. He would have to move it to see the rest of the room, and he knew that Mrs Parsons wouldn't allow that. Denied the opportunity to look, he waited and listened intently for any other clues.
Emily heard the dull baritone tone of a muffled voice and then heard the cellar door open. She knew a light had been switched on when bright white slivers highlighted the gaps in the tarpaulin sheets Parsons had secured and was certain it was her team looking for her. Almost involuntarily, she emitted a small grunt and was about to move her hands to rattle them against the pipe when she looked towards JJ and saw that Parsons had placed the tip of the bowie knife at her neck and was looking furiously at her. The knife had dug into the skin and a small trickle of blood was running down the unconscious agent's neck. Emily could see Parson's hand shaking in an effort to maintain a steady pressure and knew that if she made any attempt to draw attention to them, he would kill JJ and probably her before the agents made it down the stairs.
Prentiss nodded minutely in understanding and stayed perfectly still, now hoping that she wouldn't inadvertently make a noise that would trigger a killing spree.
After what seemed like an eternity, the slivers of light were extinguished and the click of the door indicated that whomever had been at the top of the stairs had now left. Parsons continued to shake his head slowly at the dark eyed agent, silently telling her to maintain silence.
There were a few moments of desperate silence when all Emily could hear was her own breathing when suddenly the door opened again. It was unexpected and Emily jumped, her handcuffs jarring loudly against the pipe. Her eyes widened in alarm as she saw Parsons looking at her murderously and then his face relaxed visibly as she heard the voice of his mother calling down. "They've gone, Harrison. I'm putting supper on. It should be ready in about an hour."
Parsons smiled slowly as he looked at Emily and she felt a cold finger of dread run down her spine. The feeling intensified as the large man continued to stare at her, but slowly raised an open hand and started slapping JJ's face gently. "Come on, pretty. Time to wake up."
Hotch gripped the steering wheel tightly as they drove away. "They were there, Dave. I'm sure of it."
"Me too," the Italian agreed. "But without a warrant we can't go there and turn over everything."
Hotch brought the rental car to a halt at the end of the street. "Let's do a bit of door-to-door canvassing. Maybe one of the neighbours saw Emily and JJ arrive. If we can get some independent verification on that, it might be the leverage we need."
Even as the senior agent was speaking, Rossi was using his phone. "Morgan, bring Reid and some local officers up to Norma Parsons' place. We need to do some asking around." He paused for a moment. "No we haven't found them yet. That's why we need your help." He ended the call abruptly and punched in another number. "Garcia, trawl "
"Have you found them?" the blonde technical analyst interrupted immediately, concern lacing her words.
"Not yet. Mrs Parsons says that she hasn't seen them. Do some trawling round the medical facilities and see if they've turned up at any of them." As he heard Penelope gasp in horror, Rossi realised how his last statement sounded. "Sorry, I didn't mean like that. In case they were involved in an accident but have damaged their phones, or even if there's a record of breakdowns out here. I'm just trying to cover all the eventualities."
"Yes sir," Garcia responded morosely, her voice clipped. She hung up without giving him time to elaborate even more as she began to urgently search for any news of her friends.
JJ felt herself being dragged upright by her arms and crushing pain round her wrists as they began to support her whole body weight. She tried to get her feet under her to take the weight, but her legs felt as if they had no bones in and she just couldn't co-ordinate herself. Every part of her body hurt, she could smell and taste blood and body odour and she swallowed down bile as her senses started to kick into gear for her. Her journey back from unconsciousness was hurried along by a sudden blast of icy water crashing across her face. Her reflexive reaction to inadvertently inhaling the liquid was severely restricted by the duct tape across her mouth, and the blonde agent could feel herself panicking even as she tried to control her coughing fit.
Without warning, the tape was removed brutally and JJ couldn't help but cry out as the adhesive ripped at her already damaged lips. The relief at being able to cough freely quickly replaced the painful stimulus, and she coughed noisily, blinking away the tears that streamed down her face.
Struggling to regain her composure, the media liaison was grateful for the watery intervention as the cold stimulus had cleared her head somewhat and she found she was steadier on her feet. She looked up even as she felt her arms get stretched above her head to the point where she could only balance her weight on the balls of her feet, keeping her disconcertingly off balance. Her first thought was Emily and she scanned the room for her quickly. With relief, she saw that the brown-eyed woman was still alive and in the same spot as before, but sporting a similar gag of duct tape to hers. JJ's mind went into sudden over-drive. What had happened in the time she became unconscious that had prompted Parsons to tape their mouths? Had Emily been able to utilise the tools she had thrown her way as she had run for the knife? And as soon as that thought crossed her mind, JJ recalled the rest of the events leading to her latest bout of unconsciousness.
Simultaneously, Parsons blocked her view of the older agent and smiled wolfishly. "You feelin' better?" he asked gently, his words antithetical to the situation.
Knowing that the longer she fought back, the longer he would remain entertained by her, JJ narrowed her eyes at her captor. "Go to hell."
Parsons couldn't keep the grin from his face. His mother had been right to take these two. Even if it had put them at risk. "Ready to play again?"
"This isn't playing, you sick bastard. How many women have you murdered?" JJ was in no mood to follow his lead.
Parsons didn't flinch at the question, instead running his thick fingers along JJ's neck gently. "They didn't want to give me what I wanted anymore. They stopped caring," he whispered.
JJ frowned at his behaviour, looking at Emily for guidance.
The profiler saw JJ's confusion but communication was severely restricted due to the silver tape across her lips. She nodded encouragingly even as she continued to apply pressure to the pipe that she had managed to partially sever. Prentiss couldn't risk using the saw now; it would make too much noise, but she was hopeful that she had weakened it enough for her to break loose.
JJ went on gut instinct. "They didn't stop caring. You beat the life out of them. You murdered them."
Parsons moved his hand slightly, laying it across the young agent's neck before squeezing just enough to cause her discomfort. "They gave up. They didn't want me anymore."
"They never wanted you in the first place, you freak." The second the words were out, JJ knew she had made a mistake. She gasped as Harrison's hand tightened his grip around her windpipe.
"Don't c-call me that," he warned, his tone deathly quiet. He gave a sudden quick squeeze and then released his grip before stepping back. He inspected the woman he held captive for a moment. "I think you need a bit more time to recover your fighting strength back," he mused. He nodded his head towards Emily as he continued to stare at JJ. "That don't matter though. It'll give me time to work up an appetite with "
JJ didn't know where she got her strength from, but the thought of Parsons turning his attention to Emily filled her with rage. She swung out a foot, pulling on her chains as she did so to add extra momentum to the blow and caught him square in the groin for a second time.
Reflexively the man doubled over and JJ attempted to kick him again, this time catching him across the temple. He stumbled back and out of range, grinning as he looked at her in the eye. "I can't wait to have you again."
JJ's eyes widened in horror at the inference his words held. Simultaneously she mentally checked the pain zones in her body, noting with shame that her breasts felt bruised and sore. It was at that point she realised that her chest was exposed and she swallowed down bile at the implications. Every part of her body hurt after the physical assault Parsons had inflicted on her, but she couldn't tell if he had actually raped her. She glanced quickly at Emily and saw her desperately trying to free herself from her restraints. "You sad loser," she goaded, determined to keep his attention away from the older agent. "You're not even man enough to take me when I'm conscious."
Her words had the desired effect as the hulking man leapt at the media liaison officer and he pressed his body close into hers, grinding his groin into hers. "Oh, I'm man enough," he contradicted, squeezing her left breast roughly. "You'll be screaming at just how much of a man I am," he continued, dropping his hand to fumble with the fasteners of his jeans.
Emily was frantic. She couldn't watch the man violate her friend again. It was simply unacceptable. She used all her strength and body weight on the area of the pipe she had tried to saw through and suddenly she felt it give. Her wrists were bruised and bloody, but the brunette ignored the pain, instead focusing on the opportunity to help JJ. The progress spurred her on to increase her efforts. The pipe hadn't broken yet, but surely it was just a matter of time before it did. Emily just hoped that it broke before Parsons got much further.
"Man enough?" JJ questioned imperiously. "What a joke. The only way you can get a woman is to chain her up." She jangled her manacles jeeringly. "Frightened I might hurt you again?"
Her attacker slapped her hard and JJ realised that her lip had split once more. From the tickly sensation on her philtrum, she guessed that her nose was bleeding too. Parsons leant into her and then reached up, once again releasing her from the pillar. "You'd better be prepared to fight hard this time, bitch. Because I'm not stopping until you beg me to." He used the chain tethering her manacles together to yank her onto the floor and smiled grimly at her as he fumbled with his belt buckle.
Hotch pinched the bridge of his nose as he surveyed the street. The weather remained resolutely humid and stifling and he could feel his shirt stuck to his back with the sweat running down it. He and Rossi had begun with Norma Parsons' immediate neighbours, two of whom weren't home or chose not to answer the door when they knocked. Of the other residents, no one had seen anyone enter the Parsons' place. The two men had worked steadily out and were beginning to think that their efforts were futile. As Hotch looked round, he tried to determine any other properties that might have line of sight of the Parsons home and who could be a potential witness. There was nothing.
"I think we're done here," he sighed resignedly.
"There must be someone who saw something," Rossi demurred, not wanting to give up. He gestured to a bench that was shaded by an ancient oak tree. The two agents took respite from the punishing sun and sat down. "Okay, think. Was there anything in the house that could raise our suspicions?"
Hotch shook his head. "The kitchen floor was immaculate as if it had just been cleaned." He closed his eyes to aid his recall. "There was nothing on the floor or the kitchen table and three glasses on the drainer."
"Three?" Rossi prompted. "Unusual number for someone who hasn't had company all day," Rossi speculated.
Hotch shook his head again. "There could be any number of reasons for that." He looked at his colleague. "Don't get me wrong, Dave. I'm convinced they were there too. But we need something concrete to go on if we want to search the place properly."
"And in the meantime, they could be in real trouble." The Italian stood up suddenly, irritated by the impasse.
"We don't even know if they're still in there," Hotchner replied disgustedly. He followed Rossi's lead and rose from the bench. "Look, I don't like this any more than you do," Hotch stated. "But other than breaking and entering, I don't think we can gain access back to her place."
Rossi was about to answer when he noticed cars on the main street. "Help's here," he indicated. "Maybe the neighbours will trust the police and speak with them."
"We need to catch a break somewhere," his raven-haired colleague agreed.
Morgan was out of the dark blue sedan before it rolled to a halt. "What do we have?" he asked urgently.
Hotch frowned again. "Nothing. We looked round Norma Parsons' house but there was no sign of Emily or JJ."
"You search everywhere?" Morgan probed, squinting toward the shabby building.
"Nope. Only what was in plain sight."
"You're kidding me?" Morgan was furious, taking off toward the property.
"Morgan!" Hotch called out authoritatively. "We don't have cause."
"Don't have cause? We have two missing agents."
"With no corroborating evidence to suggest they were even here," Hotch pointed out, his voice deathly calm.
Reid looked round. "No-one saw anything?" he asked. "I find that hard to believe."
"You and me both," Rossi agreed. "But they weren't talking to us. Maybe they'll talk to the locals," he suggested, nodding towards the sheriffs.
"Damn it, Hotch. They're missing, and if you think they're in there, let's go." Morgan was furious.
"Morgan think. The second we go in there without probable cause, the sheriffs will have to ask us to leave. We'll have no jurisdiction here at all and we could potentially lose any chance at finding a clue to their location." The team leader spoke quietly but quickly, hoping to get through to the younger man.
Morgan rubbed his head as he stared at the property, the feeling of impotency grating at him. He blew out a deep breath as he tried to get his emotions under control. "What do you need me to do?" he questioned, his deep voice strained.
"Take your time and walk around the perimeter of the property," Rossi instructed. "Don't worry about being seen. We need to keep her on guard to provoke a mistake or at least prevent anything else happening to JJ and Prentiss."
"What am I looking for?"
"Anything out of the ordinary. See if you can spot Parsons' car, see if there is any activity going on in there. She told us that her son had visited in the morning but had gone to work. If there's someone else in there, we need to know."
"Of course if you see Prentiss or JJ, then we move in immediately," Hotch interjected. "But we don't know if they're there. We couldn't find any evidence to suggest that they were."
Morgan nodded grimly. "On it," he confirmed gruffly. "What are you going to do?"
Rossi nodded up the street. "Get the locals talking," he replied.
Emily felt herself panicking as she watched Parsons remove his belt. She willed JJ to get up and fight back as hard as she could, but knew that the younger agent would only be able to hold on for so long.
The brunette desperately yanked against her restraints, trying to get free so that she could stop the hulking man, ignoring the constant pain from her wrists. When she saw Parsons lift the belt and then lash JJ, using the buckle for extra damage, the ambassador's daughter suddenly felt a preternatural calm descend and she paused, taking stock of her current situation logically. A sustained attack with a belt could not only scar JJ for life, it would also sap her strength very quickly.
Emily studied the pipe that anchored her cuffs, noting with disappointment that although it had given slightly, it didn't look remotely close to fracturing all together. Determined that there was a solution available to her, the ambassador's daughter broadened her inspection of the pipe and surrounding components. It didn't take her long to spot that an o-ring connector had come away from the wall slightly. This was where the weakness was. She looked around for the screwdriver that JJ had thrown her way earlier, and before manoeuvering her body round so that she could pick the tool up with her teeth, yanked the duct tape away from her face, wincing as the adhesive tore at layers of her skin.
Prentiss ignored the dust, grit and dirt that she also had to pick up, instead concentrating on getting back up so that she could transfer the screwdriver into her hands.
A pained scream broke her concentration for a moment, and Emily turned to see JJ scrabbling away from her attacker even as ribbons of blood streamed from a wound above her eye. Emily willed her to remain fighting for just a bit longer as she returned her focus to the pipe's moorings. She placed the flat head of the screwdriver just behind the fastening that had loosened and then used her full body weight to lever it out. She had to use her fingers as a fulcrum, crushing them as she pushed the bolt out further. Unfortunately, she could only lever the bolt out so far before she ran out of room to lift it further. The brunette grunted in annoyance as she tried again, but the attempt was futile. She was going to have to return to brute force.
Emily adjusted her position and put her full body weight onto the loose mooring, yanking and twisting, trying to use the bolt to widen the hole it was housed in, so that she could break free. Suddenly, she felt it give and the bolt left the wall, putting pressure on the pipe and bending it at the same time.
This time, the agent wanted to let out a whoop of triumph, but she had no time for that, she had to get free before Parsons knew what she had done.
Emily glanced back to see where Parsons was and winced as she saw him land another lash across JJ's torso. She could see that he was getting tired and knew it wouldn't be long before he decided to finally release his pent up arousal.
Her eerie calm continued as she worked on the pipe. It was only a matter of time before she was free and then all bets were off.
Her focus was shattered as she heard the door leading to the house upstairs open loudly.
"Harrison, it looks like our visitors don't want to leave. We need to re-locate you again."
Parsons snarled in anger and flung his belt at the woman lying on the floor. "B-but I haven't even begun with her yet," he complained, his deep voice incongruously whiny.
"Don't worry, sweetheart," Norma Parsons' disembodied voice continued. "We can take her with us but there isn't room for both of them."
Emily's eyes widened at the implication even as Parsons swung round to stare at her malevolently. He took a step towards her, even as he began contemplating how he would solve his problem but halted when he heard JJ's voice.
"I will not let you touch her," she rasped. Her voice was weak but there was no denying the steely determination of her promise, and Parsons knew he would have to secure her before dealing with the brunette.
He turned to pick her up and return her to the central pillar but was stopped by his mother. "We haven't got time for any of that. Just take her through to the garage."
"If w-we leave her alive, they'll know it's us." Harrison pointed out.
"I think they know anyway, son. It's time to disappear like last time. Only this time, I'm coming with you."
The hulking man seemed indecisive for a few seconds as he stared at the location where his mother's voice was coming from. Emily could almost see him trying to work out his options as he frowned in concentration, but he suddenly seemed to make up his mind, stooping to grab JJ into a bear-hug grip.
JJ struggled immediately, trying to get the man off balance so that he would loosen his hold and she could fight back properly. To her surprise, the man released her and shoved her forward.
The media liaison stumbled slightly and then spun round, ready to fight back only to feel her head snap back as Parsons punched her square on the jaw.
Emily yanked furiously at her restraints again, her heart racing as she saw JJ collapse to the ground. Every muscle screamed at the abuse she was putting on her body but she ignored the pain, focusing on the only thing that mattered - the need to help JJ.
Parsons didn't spare the other woman a glance as he bent down to scoop up his prize. He knew she'd come round again and he could continue where he left off. Perhaps the delay would make the prize that much sweeter and he strode towards the end of the cellar, stepping through the tarpaulin sheets that still acted as a partial barrier.
Emily cursed. She could not get free and they were taking JJ away. She couldn't even see what type of vehicle they were going to use. This was turning into the most terrible nightmare imaginable. What made it worse, was that JJ had been determined to protect Emily at all costs, and Emily could do nothing to return that protection. She knew it was illogical to think that way, but emotionally she was distraught that she had let the other agent down.
Norma Parsons stood that the trunk of the car and opened it up as Harrison approached her. "Just like last time honey, only this time, you're going to have to make room for a passenger."
Her son smiled at her as he placed JJ's limp body into the trunk and pushed her right the way in. The car has been modified, and although it looked like there were rear seats in the car, they were simply very thin cushions resting above an additional compartment. The big man grunted as he shuffled his body into the trunk, wiggling forward and wrapping his body round his captive, pushing in further and further so that they were squeezed in tight.
Satisfied that her son was far enough inside, Mrs Parsons lifted a cover and put the false panel over the two bodies. Covered in the same material as the rest of the trunk, no one would suspect anything from a circumspect glance. Norma then carefully placed various standard trunk items in the remaining space, ensuring that it didn't look overly tidy.
Before closing the trunk, she leant down into it and spoke loudly. "Hold on tight for just a minute, I have one more thing to do." The elderly lady heard him grunt a response and then shut the trunk with a loud whump. She then turned and headed back to the cellar.
Prentiss focused on trying to get free, knowing that her captors would be leaving imminently. Even if she couldn't prevent them from escaping, she needed to get as many clues as possible so that they would be traced quickly and JJ rescued.
The brunette was startled from her concentration by a woman's voice unnervingly near. "Don't waste your energy dear, you're not leaving here any time soon."
Emily spun her head round in time to see Mrs Parsons aim the tazer at her and although she contorted her body, there was no avoiding the metal prongs that Norma fired at her chest. Once again, Emily felt a long burst of energy course through her and she trembled violently, unable to control her body's reaction.
When the agent slumped forward, Mrs Parsons looked down on her, a cold, calculating smile on her face. "I need all the head start we can get, agent Prentiss, so you'll forgive me for ensuring that you're no help to anyone."
Emily's eyebrows raised in alarm at what the older woman might do next, but was powerless to defend herself against the large lump of wood that crashed down on her head. She felt an agonising second of pain before blacking out and slumping forward, unconscious.
Norma kicked at the brunette to ensure she was out of it, before slinging the wood to the floor and returning to the car. Satisfied that the trunk was secure and safe from enquiring eyes, she slid into the driver's seat and turned the ignition.
Morgan narrowed his eyes as he slowly circled the Parsons' property. Hotchner had been right - there was nothing untoward. If anything, the yard looked too neat in comparison to the upkeep of the house, but that could mean any number of things. The tall black agent carefully scanned every inch of wall he was staring at, searching for any clue that could assist. The dirty blinds hanging at each window were only opened fractionally, trying to keep the harsh sun and heat out of the property, or preventing curious eyes looking in. He continued his circuit round the property, making no effort to hide his presence, or disguise what he was doing. As he neared the next window, he picked up his cell and hit a speed dial, illogically hoping to hear a telephone ring inside the house. Instead, he connected immediately to Prentiss's answerphone message and he stabbed the disconnect button in frustration.
It was at that moment that he heard a car engine turn over, and he knew that the occupant was on the move. He glanced back to where the other agents were as he jogged round to the entrance of the garage and used his phone again. "Hotch, I think Mrs Parsons is heading out."
"Stop her and search the car," the team leader responded.
"On what grounds? You're the one who said we had no probable cause." Morgan moved to block the driveway even as the garage doors opened.
"Just stall her, we're on our way."
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