Beginning Two

Jim Ellison scowled at stack of files, feeling more then a little angry. Six sexual assault ending in murders and they were no closer to the killer! He glanced around at the other members of the task force. Granted, it wasn't the first time he'd headed a task force but it had to be one of the most difficult. Then again, didn't he think that every time he was assigned to a task force? Ah, well.

Blair Sandberg was on the computer, trying to find a pattern. No, scratch that. They had a pattern. All the victims were of the same approximate height and build with very light blond hair and light eyes. All were male though their sexual preferences varied; three were heterosexual, two homosexual and one homosexual. They had all been kidnapped either just entering their cars from work or getting out once they reach home. They had been tortured with a blade, sodomized then their throats cut before being dumped by the side of the road.

Now all they had to do was hope that the profiler coming in could put the pieces together and give them an idea of who they were looking for.

"Ellison!" Simon Banks swung open the door into the task room. A tall man followed him in and Simon gestured at him. "This is James Horne. James, Jim Ellison."

"Detective." Horne's voice was low and melodious, his grip surprisingly strong for such a lean man. But there was hidden strength in that wiry frame. He stood just a little shorter then Ellison himself with silvery-blonde hair and gray-blue eyes, attractive in a feline kind of way.

Ellison turned to introduce the rest of the team, finishing with Blair.

"Blair Sandberg. Blair!" Ellison hit him lightly on the shoulder to get his attention and the younger man started.

"Uh? Oh." He turned, offering his hand to Horne, who happened to be looking over his shoulder at the computer screen. Only Ellison saw Blair start again, blinking as he saw Horne clearly for the first time.

"Ahhh, James, this is Blair Sandberg. Observer." He eyed his partner thoughtfully. "Taggart! Why don't you get Horne set up? I have to talk with Sandberg a sec."

"Sure! Come on."

Horne turned to follow Taggart toward the center table where everything was sprawled out and Ellison looked down at Sandberg, who was still gaping after Horne.

"What's up, chief?" Ellison asked quietly. "You know him?"

"You might say that. Don't you see. . ? No, I guess you don't. Here, take a look." Blair turned back to the computer, punching in a series of commands. Ellison grimaced as, one by one, the crime scenes flashed on the screen. Blair looked a little ill but stuck with it, zooming in on first one face then another until all six were lined up on the screen.

"I've seen these, chief. . .wait a minute." Ellison stared at one photo then another before cursing under his breath.

"What's up?" Simon appeared next to the duo and Ellison silently gestured at the screen. It took a moment for Simon to see what they were seeing. Simultaneously all three looked over at Horne, now looking over the case files then back again. "Are you telling me that our profiler fits the victimís profile? Thatís a little too weird for words."

"Yeah, it is." Sandberg frowned at the screen. "But look at them! They could all be brothers!"

Ellison frowned then straightened, turning to look at the newest member of the taskforce. "Horne. . ." Then he paused at the sight of Horneís face. The man was even paler then before. "Heís seen the resemblance" was his first thought then fear, anger, hate flooded his senses. He froze, watching as Horne very gently set the file he held down and turned to walk from the room. Something told Ellison that the man was about to lose everything he ate for the past three days.

"Iíll be right back." Ellison muttered to his friends and followed Horne. When he reached the bathroom, it was to see Horne leaning over the sink, splashing cold water on his face. He looked up at Ellisonís entrance, flushing slightly.

"My apologies, Detective. Iím afraid my stomach isnít as strong as Iíd like it to be."

Liar, Ellison thought, listening to the otherís heartbeat. On an impulse, he asked, "Do you recognize the work?"

Horneís heart jumped, to Ellison, it was as good as a signed confession. He turned away from the detective, plunging his hands into the cold water and splashing more on his face. "Iím not sure. It looks familiar but. . ." His voice trailed off. "Let me look at the rest of the files and maybe I can say for sure."

Ellison frowned. He wanted to know now, get the bastard before he killed anyone else but he sensed that it would be a bad idea to push Horne. "Sure. You gonna be okay?"

Horne gave him a ghastly smile. "Yeah, Iíll be fine. I donít think Iíll eat ever again but Iíll be fine."

Ellison nodded and turned to walk back to the room. Most of the team was gone, not too surprising considering how late it was. Simon and Sandberg were still at the computer and both looked up as he entered.

"You better come see this, Jim." Simon looked more somber then usual. "Tell him, Sandberg."

Blair looked at him then back at the computer, looking, if possible even more nauseated then before. "I ran the search through the computer with a few more parameters. . ."

"What kind of parameters?" Ellison asked. He thought they had tried every type of search possible.

Blair looked a little guilty and lowered his voice, despite the fact no one was near them. "I added Horneís name to the mix."

"And?"

"Got a hit." Sandberg did something to the computer and Ellison got his first look at this new hit. His stomach lurched.

It was a crime scene photo in full blazing color. Blood and slashes marred the victimís face but even so he was recognizable. What was worse was the fact that the man appeared to conscious; his gray-blue eyes were open and there was a gleam of awareness in them as he stared at something unseen behind the photographer with that horribly blank look of the shell-shocked. There were the familiar marks of a gag around his mouth and each wrist bore rope burns. His chest was a mass of gashes and the bed beneath him was soaked with blood. Ellison was surprised he hadnít bleed to death before being rescued.

"Iím surprised heís still profiling." Ellison said quietly.

"He isnít." Horne said from behind him and Ellison whirled, startled that anyone could sneak up on him. Horne gave him a wan smile. "Thatís my brother, Steve. Twins." His eyes shifted to the photo and looked even sicker, if that was possible. "Identical twins." he added needlessly, turning around to look over the files on the table, reaching for one.

"But the name. . !" Blair said tactlessly. "James Steven Horne. That's you, isn't it?"

James frowned, not looking at them. "Twins are really common in our family and it's become customary to give them the same name. James Steven. Ryan Christopher. Catherine Miranda. Hennah Elizabeth. The first-born uses the first name, the second the middle. So, I'm James S. Horne, my brother is J. Steven Horne. They spelled it out there and there lies the confusion." James frowned at the file folder he held, finally seeming to realize that it was upside down. He let it fall and rubbed at his face. "Look, if we're going to talk about this, I'm going to need a drink. Is there somewhere private we can talk?"

"Ahhhh, yeah. There's a cop bar not too far away." Ellison said. "Their foods pretty good too."

"Good." James ran his hands through his short hair. "Do me a favor and make sure I eat something before I drink too much or you'll be pouring me into bed. I get drunk easily."

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

A short time later, the foursome sat in a private booth at the BLUE SPOT, each with a plate of food and a drink at hand. James ate his way through half a plate of the house special before pushing the plate away and abruptly starting the story.

"Six years back, Steve was working with the Boston P.D. with the F.B.I. sniffing around, thinking of hiring him away. He was a real good profiler. Well, he got assigned to this case involving the sexual assault/murders of several young women. . ."

"Women?" Blair frowned. "But..."

"Let him finish." Ellison said sharply.

"Yeah. Sorry." Blair muttered.

James gave him a wan smile. "He started on women. Picked them up, took them to this hidey hole he had and carved them up. Apparently he couldn't perform with them and took it out with a blade. If I remember correctly, the first few bleed to death. About the fourth one, he started to kill them."

"By cutting the throat?" Ellison asked and James grimaced.

"Yes. Steve did the profile on the killer. He reasoned that the guy was a homosexual who, probably due to the way he was raised, couldn't accept it so he kept picking up women and killing them when he couldn't meet his own expectations." James paused, rolling his glass between his hands. "It turned out that he had hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately, it also turned out that the killer was involved officially with the investigation."

"Shit." Banks muttered and James nodded.

"Exactly. He read the profile and got mad. Really mad. And smart. The attacks stopped for several days. . .they'd been happening about every four days. . .long enough for folks to relax their guard, I guess. Then one night, Steve got home and got whacked across the head. Knocked unconscious. He woke up at the killer's hideaway, bound and gagged." James fell silent, frowning into his glass.

"How did you find him? I mean, he was found in time. . ." Sandberg caught Ellison's eyes and shut up but James didn't even seem to notice.

"I was visiting at the time and I found his car."

Ellison threw him a sharp look, wondering why the man would bother lying now.

"Called the task force he was working with and we managed to find him in time. He was in the hospital for a month, reconstructive surgery, the whole shebang." He fell silent.

"Can we get him here?' Simon asked sharply. "If he. . ."

"No!" James' voice was just as sharp, his look unrelenting.

end beginning two


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