Beginning One

James Horne stepped from the car and paused, feeling the familiar sickness in his stomach. He forced it back down and walked determinedly toward the cluster of people and yellow police tape inside the park. He knew that he was on probation here, that this new job was his last chance to remain a profiler. To do the job where he truly could make a difference.

"Horne?" A deep voice came from his right and he turned to see a tall, well-built man studying him, his eyes expressionless. "I'm Jim Ellison." He held out a hand and James shook it, his lips quirking in an involuntary grin.

"James Horne."

Ellison eyed him then returned the tight smile. James had no doubt that the other man knew his history, about the breakdown that had made his working for the Portland PD impossible. It had only been his previous record that had convinced the Cascade PD to give him a chance as consultant.

"This way." Ellison turned abruptly and lead the way through the park to where a cluster of men were working. A typical crime scene, with forensic people moving carefully about, taking pictures, samples and anything that might help make or break the case.

Then James caught sight of the victim and the typicalness of the scene vanished. He knew his face had gone white but he managed to stay steady, walking carefully around the body.

The victim had been a fair man with light blonde hair, maybe six-foot in height and built lean. He couldn't tell what the man looked like, there wasn't enough left of his face to tell. Long slashes ran down his cheeks, across his forehead, over his eyes. His torso was covered with even more slashes. None of them would have been fatal but the slash across his throat definitely was.

James crouched carefully, studying the victim intently. Yes, those were cigarette burns, set in a very distinctive pattern. A familiar pattern and James felt his stomach lurch. He heard someone make a comment behind and knew, without actually hearing what was said, that it was a comment concerning him. He ignored his audience and continued his examination.

Ellison watched as the profiler worked, hoping the man didn't breakdown in the middle of this investigation. He'd seen the man go white at the sight of the corpse, heard the man's heartbeat start to race. But now the man's heart had resumed its normal rate though his face still remained pale.

"Is that. . ." Blair Sandburg muttered at his elbow and Ellison nodded. "Seems to be holding together pretty well."

Ellison nodded absently, not mentioning the surge of panic he had felt from the profiler. He watched as Horne finished examining the body and rose, walking over to Ellison. Ellison introduced Blair and Horne nodded to him absently.

"What's the story?" Ellison nodded at the crime scene and Horne stiffened. Ellison felt a brief surge of anger from the man that faded as quickly as it rose.

"Where were the violets?" He asked bluntly and Sandburg was treated to the sight of his partner trying very hard not to swallow his tongue.

"How the hell did you know about those?!"

Horne smiled humorlessly. "So that's one of the things you've been keeping hidden." He turned and began to walk for his car.

"Wait a minute!" Ellison started after him, Sandburg on his heels. "How did you know about the violets?!"

James reached the car and stopped, reaching in through the open window for the pack of cigarettes in the door pocket. He hadn't smoked for years...since before his son was born. . .but the stress of his breakdown and the divorce had driven him back to this bad habit. He lit one, turning around to lean back against the car.

"You've seen this before!" It was more of a statement then a question and Horne stared at the man, taking a long drag on the cigarette before answering.

"Six years back."

"But we ran a search!" Blair said.

"Yeah, well. In that case, the first six victims were women, not men and they varied in every possible way."

"Then how. . ?" Ellison gestured behind him.

"The killer's last victim was a man, resembled that one." He jerked his head back toward the crime scene. "He was tortured the same way that one was. Sexually assaulted. Looking at that. . .it looks pretty much the same."

"Man. You profiled the case?"

"No. My brother did." He took another long drag. "He was also the killer's last victim."

"Shit." Ellison muttered, looking at Sandburg, who looked a little shell-shocked. "I'm sorry, Horne. I mean, about your brother."

James threw him a startled look then shook his head. "Steve's not dead. He was found in time." He smiled bitterly. "Nothing that a month in the hospital, several operations to rebuild his face. . .among other things. . .and years of ongoing therapy can't fix."

"So it could be this guy again. . ?"

"No. That man's dead. Which means we have a copycat."

"Great." Ellison muttered. "We'll have to get all the information we can about that old case. This was. . .where?"

"Boston."

"Boston. Can you get ahold of your brother?"

James didn't answer for the longest moment, just stared at the ground. "Yeah." He said finally. "He's here in Cascade. Helping me move."

"Great! The sooner we talk to him the better."

"I'm not sure if he can help you. Or will. Steve doesn't like to talk about what happened."

"I personally don't blame him. But we got people dying here."

James hesitated then nodded. "I'm moving into a flat on Jefferson Road. 327. Second floor. You can follow me there."

"I know the area." Sandburg spoke up.

*****************

****************

The two men followed Horne into the converted Victorian-style house. Ellison, always the cautious one, "listened" ahead of them. He could hear voices in the flat above them, two people talking in low voices. With an uneasy feeling, he heightened his hearing and promptly wished he hadn't.

"Come on! Jim won't be home for hours." The voice was very much like James', low and seductively coaxing. "We'll just break in the table. . ."

"We've broken in just about every piece of furniture here!" The second voice said laughingly and Ellison almost missed a step. That second voice was deeply male. "Aren't you worn out yet?"

"No." came the very serious reply then James' key was sliding into the lock. "Damn! He's home early. Move, love!" Ellison heard soft laughter.

When the door opened, it was to see a dark-haired man sitting cross-legged on the floor, a stack of books on his lap. He was filling the bookcase next to him from nearby boxes. From the man's scent, Ellison guessed that the books were concealing a raging erection. He looked up and smiled. "James."

"Jarod." James' voice was cool and the other man's smile cracked slightly. "This is Detective Ellison and his partner, Blair Sandburg. Jarod Moore. A friend of Steve's. Have a seat, guys. I'll find Steve."

"He's in the kitchen." Jarod said blandly, returning to his unpacking. James walked past him and through a swinging door.

Ellison moved a box from a nearby chair and sat down, eyes sweeping around the room. It was very large for a living room with a fireplace and French doors leading to a balcony. There was a sofa and two chairs and a huge clutter of boxes. A cat made its way through the clutter to demand attention from Sandburg, who sank to the ground to give it a fierce rub. Ellison smiled slightly and looked at the man sitting nearby.

Jarod was a very attractive man with his dark-brown hair and neatly-trimmed beard. Did James know that he and his brother were lovers? Ellison wondered. Yes, he decided he did. And he didn't like it one bit. This lead to different thoughts. Was he gay before the attack or did he become gay because of the attack? No, that wasn't the way it work.

A sudden shout from the kitchen broke his train of thought. Jarod jumped to his feet, the books falling to the floor. He darted to the kitchen so fast the door slammed into the wall and his voice joined the argument. A few minutes later, James stormed back out, his face grim and eyes angry. Jarod followed, his arm around a third man and Ellison blinked, reflecting that James had forgotten to mention that he and his brother were twins.

Steve did look exactly like his brother save that he, like Jarod, had a beard. He was even more pale, presumably because James had told him of the murders. But there was also an sense of. . .fragileness about him. As if he might break if someone spoke too harshly to him.

"Steve, this is James Ellison and Blair Sandburg from the police." He threw himself into a chair, scowling darkly at the ground.

Steve stared at him sadly for a moment before walking to sit on the sofa. Jarod sat next to him, slipping his hand into Steve's. Only then did Steve turned to looked at Ellison.

"I don't think I can help you, Detective." He said in a low voice. "What happened. . .you can get just as much information from the files then from me."

"But we can get it faster from you. And in more detail."

Steve stared at him hesitantly then Jarod leaned in close, whispering softly into the other's ear. Though Ellison was tempted, he didn't listen in. Steve looked at Jarod then began to talk in a low voice.

end beginning one


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