Hello, I'm back again! Well... after the success of Gazing into Abyss, I thought that I'd bring you another story. I had to do tons of research for this one. It's a wee bit different for Gazing into Abyss, but I hope you enjoy it all the same.
Disclaimer: Everything that you read within this story is fiction. I own none of the WWE Superstars or Diva's. I just own all of the original characters and some place names.
"…This was the third victim found dead in Groves Park. All three were young men in their twenties, students at a local university and part of a Fraternity. Even though no official statement has been made, all signs point to the work of a serial killer…"
"Fratboy Killer strikes again. The dead body was found in the south of Groves Park around four am this morning. The identity of the third victim is still unknown…"
"Universities increased security on campus when they heard of a third victim found in Groves Park this morning. According to a press statement made only an hour ago the victim was male, Caucasian and in his twenties. He died from massive blood loss caused by various stab wounds. Like the other victims he was sexually assaulted before he was killed…
"Fratboy Killer fools local authorities…"
"FBI avoids calling these killings the work of a serial killer even though all signs point in that direction…"
"Oh, shut up," he yelled and turned the TV off, rubbing his tired eyes. This day couldn't get any worse, that much was sure.
Cody G. Rhodes was standing in a small room inside the building of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and sighed in annoyance. Annoyance with the news and very much himself. He had been called here three weeks ago when the second victim had been found. Of course he wanted to help, but the truth was he hated to be away from Quantico.
With every mile away from home his nervousness increased immensely. Nevertheless, his suggestion to work on the case solely in theory had been denied and he had been ordered to Los Angeles. They had called him because despite his young age, Cody had a brilliant mind. He was not a field agent, but a profiler.
Currently he was the best they had. He was only twenty-three years old, yet had a natural ability to see through people and evidence. A gift that only few possessed and a gift that he had dreaded for as long as he could remember. When he had been recruited for the FBI, the discussions about him had reached from praises to deep concerns.
Concerns mostly because of Cody's past. A subject that everybody carefully avoided around him. Mike was glad they did but he wasn't a fool and knew that many people he worked with knew all about it. His file however was locked and that allowed him some peace to do his work.
Once again he stared at the dozens of photographs pinned on his wall. Surrounded by files, notes, and drawings - anything that they had collected at the crime scenes and beyond - and once again he let out a deep breath. His eyes gazing over the bodies, soaking in every detail. Their eyes were open. Forced open, to be precise.
The killer obviously wanted them to see. Despite the obvious abrasions created by a small knife and the various bruises that indicated that the victim had received severe beatings, the bodies were neatly cleaned.
"You wanted them to look their best," Cody thought as he stood up and approached the picture of the second victim.
Slowly he mumbled to himself as he always did when was trying to figure out the connection between the murders.
"You only chose pretty boys. Flawless skin, non-smokers, athletes. The perfect Abercrombie and Finch fratboy. Why them?"
"Sexual motive?" A voice behind him said out loud and he flinched.
"W…what? Oh, Officer Jericho I didn't hear you come in," he stuttered nervously and lowered his eyes.
Christopher Jericho found the Profiler peculiar. He hadn't been in this job for long, this was his first serial, and he couldn't stop wondering how someone who was so obviously insecure was supposed to crack this case. However, he trusted the system and therefore trusted Cody.
"No. Yes, he did rape them but the motive sits much deeper. Probably neglected child. Most likely an outcast in school. Possibly violated as a child. He most definitely hated them intensely. The use of severe violence indicates rage. But nothing that would explain why he wanted them to look perfect when they would be found."
Chris looked at the pictures and curiously asked: "Do you think he knew them?"
As he turned back to the photographs, Cody's mind seemed to slip; a very unwelcome side effect of his so-called gift. His voice sounded slower when he answered.
"No. I don't think so," he moved his index finger to the wrist of victim number one. "See that?"
The officer nodded and followed Cody's every word as he listened.
'They all tried to fight back. All of them showed wounds of struggle and they might even have been a little stronger than their attacker. Toxic report found traces of a high dosage of sedatives in both victims, so he needed to drug them in order to overpower them. Probably has health problems as well.'
Snapping out of the momentarily trance Cody slowly turned around. "What can I do for you?"
"Oh, sorry. They want you down at the autopsy."
Cody pulled a face but suppressed the urge of adding a childish 'Oh, no' and simply nodded. He hated nothing more than to be present during an autopsy. It wasn't that he had stomach problems. It was his past. Being in the presences of dead people brought back old memories that he would rather keep buried.
He had seen too much death throughout his childhood. Nevertheless, he was here now and he really wanted to help so he grabbed his ID card and followed Jericho down to the autopsy room. All the way down he had trouble keeping himself from shivering.
The room was as gray as a room could possibly be and for a second he wondered why that always was the case in a crime lab. He braced himself with a deep breath and approached the silver table where the victim was lying. His eyes instantly focused on his face.
Such a shame, he thought noting to himself that once again the killer had chosen a very attractive young man. The lifeless skin was bright white and flawless.
You never hit them in the face because you want them to look pretty, he thought to himself trying to ignore the sickening feeling inside of him.
"Cody," Doctor Callaway said in a friendly voice and gave him an encouraging smile.
"Do we know his name?"
An assistant flipped a page on a chart board and answered: "Yes, his name is Richard, twenty-four. Student at Harvard University. He visited a wedding and was staying with a friend at the UCLA dorm rooms. Reported missing six days ago."
"Six days?" Cody raised an eyebrow and gathered all his strength to make a step forward. "Do we have a time of death, yet?"
"Deterioration of the body suggests that he hasn't been dead long. We'll know once we've finished. Nevertheless, the healing process of the skin indicates that he might have been killed approximately 48 hours ago. There are several injuries that the victim received earlier."
Cody's mind was wandering as he tried to imagine what had happened, slowly circling around the dead body. "What is this?"
The doctor pulled out a swab and grazed over the small part of skin below the victim's ear. He held it up into the light. "I don't know. We should get that to trace."
As the assistant bagged the swab, Cody leaned over the victim and squeezed his eyes. When he lifted them again he cleared his throat, knowing exactly that his request would raise suspicion. "I know this sounds a bit... crazy but could I have a moment alone?"
"That is very unusual and against protocol…"
"I know. Look, I'm sorry about this but I can see things much clearer when I'm alone."
The doctor turned his gaze and through the class and Special Agent McMahon, who was the leading officer in this case, nodded. Callaway shrugged and said. "Very well but you will be monitored."
Cody's muscles relaxed at the sound of a closing door. He didn't really care about being monitored; all he wanted was a moment with the victim because despite the fact that this man's heart was no longer beating, he might still be able to tell him something. Something about the beast that had done this to him.
Slowly he moved closer and with his gloved hand brushed through the black curls, tentatively moving his finger along the cheekbones.
"What made him hate you so much?"
His movements were tender and he could almost feel the estranged look of his colleagues. He didn't care about them, though. His hand moved carefully over the body, but he couldn't find anything new. Nothing that would give away why this had happened.
Unlike the others working on this case, Cody felt compassion for the victim. Much more than others might feel. Cold shivers ran over his spine as he tried to picture how this young man had lost his life. He was sure that the toxicology report would once again show traces of drugs inside the deceased's blood circulation.
His hands moved over the various bruises on the victim's chest and he whispered:
"You've put up quite a fight, haven't you?"
Cody was almost working in trance, his eyes closed for a second as he moved up and his mind was being overwhelmed with an image. So horrible it made him almost stumbled. He noticed the door opening and when he opened his eyes and lifted them, he stared into Agent McMahon's face.
"Victim number three," he answered quietly. "There is no doubt that it's a serial."
"No, I guess not even the press would buy anything else by now. What can you tell me?"
The more people entering the room the more uncomfortable Cody became. All eyes were on him and he hated to be in the spotlight more than anything, he strengthened himself and started to explain.
"We're looking for a male in his mid-twenties, Caucasian. He probably has a history of violent outbursts. He's definitely insecure about his appearance. I think he may wear glasses but I maybe wrong, his body most likely is quite well built and I still believe the murderer is coping with some health problems. I think the suspect is obsessive compulsive because he always cleans his victims very thoroughly."
"He wants them to be found in a perfect state," Cody added.
Officer Jericho pulled a face, saying. "Perfect state; they're dead."
"That is exactly what is perfect to him, though. All of the victims could be called attractive. Or maybe a better word would be beautiful. It's obvious that this is something he never will achieve. In some way, he blames them for that. I still haven't figured out the rage. The sexual assault seems too brutal for his profile."
"He's a pervert," Chris snarled and everybody gave him a disapproving look.
"No, he's an artist," Mike suddenly said and again all eyes were on him. "Well, you see how he cleans them. Forces their eyes open. They almost look like porcelain puppets. He makes them into art once they are dead. It seems that he cares for them in such an intense way after the crime, yet he hates them so much while they are still breathing."
He scratched his head and tried to concentrate. It didn't make any sense. Why mutilate the body first and then go through so much trouble to make it pretty again? Some cuts on the second victim had even been treated in order to heal.
More to himself he murmured. "He acts like a child."
"Well, it seems that he finds his victims and sees them as a toys. He plays with them but once they get broken, he feels sorry and tries to make them whole again. I know it doesn't sound like typical behaviour. I don't know, but it looks like it. I think he might be someone who holds on to materialistic things very intensely. Maybe, he didn't have anything else in his childhood except for some very expensive toys."
They all stared at him confused. Mainly because it was something they would never even have considered.
McMahon cleared his throat: "So you think he's a rich kid?"
"Maybe. Maybe not. He might have been close to someone with money but that doesn't necessarily mean that the toys were his own. Maybe they were out of reach but he wanted to play with them very badly. You know that envy is one of the seven deadly sins. Once it gets you, it never lets go of your heart. He probably tried compensating his loneliness with dreaming to be someone else. To 'have' what others had."
"You make it sound like we should feel sorry for that monster."
The words pulled him out of his thoughts and he blushed. Jericho didn't know. Didn't know how he had grown up and what he had seen. He was unable to form a reply and it was McMahon, one of the very few Agents who knew, that realised that this accusation might have hit him harder than the young officer would have guessed.
"Officer, we should never leave out of sight that something makes them turn into murderers. I admit I've seen some people that were born with a natural darkness but most of the time it was pain that made them snap. Only if you have the entire picture you are able to catch them."
Cody turned his gaze away and took a deep breath as Doctor Callaway leaned over the dead body with a scalpel. It was the blood that purred down the skin into the rinse of the table that made his heart scream inside and he quickly looked away.
He remembered blood. All of it. Its colour and the distinct smell. The warmth of it when it splashed on skin, mixing with tears. Anxiously he brushed through his hair and tried to keep it together, focusing on the words of the doctor as he started to work on the viscera. Measuring the weight of the organs and with skilled eyes weighing up the putrefactions.
Cody hated to be here. He hated to be witness as the body was cut. The perfect image of a human being destroyed and transformed into a meaningless puzzle. It was necessary, of course, but it didn't make it any better. Besides, it always confronted him with his past and there was nothing he could do to prevent it.
Even back in Quantico, he had tried to avoid autopsies at all costs, which had earned him quite a few visits to a psychiatrist in order to work on his issues. You can't be a criminal investigator if the thought of a dead body freaks you out, he had told himself but then again it hadn't been his choice to be here in the first place.
"Cody, I think you should get some rest," his boss said and Cody was very aware of the taxing glance the others gave him.
"Thank you," he said, not even trying to be brave. He wanted out of there. Away from the reality of death and indulge himself with the theory of it instead.
As he walked away, he could here the voice of the doctor. "Do you really think he's the best one for the job? He's just a kid and considering all the circumstances…"
The door fell into the lock and Cody was actually relieved that he wouldn't have to hear the answer. Nobody said anything as he made his way back to the office. Nobody hardly ever interacted with him at all. Even though not all of them knew, they still felt that something was different about him and there was nothing he could do to change it.
For the most part, he liked it that way. His mind worked better alone anyway. He collected some files and took most of the photographs with him. Since he did that almost every night, nobody asked questions. In the end, they all hoped that somehow this weird guy would find a way to catch the killer.
On his way to his motel room he picked up some Chinese food even though he knew he would barely eat anything. He told himself it was the thought that counted and directed his rental car into the parking lot of the Travelodge on Pico Boulevard. The room was small. Typical motel room. A small kitchen barely in use, a king size bed, which had a certain comfortable asset to it. A painting so ugly that it amused Cody every time he walked in.
Just like every other night, he transformed the room into an office and started to pin the various items he had brought with him to the wall. It felt easier to watch them all from a small distance and he had learned that it helped to go over them as often as he could. He wasn't afraid of nightmares. Because his nightmares never circled around his cases.
After having eaten two bits of his food, he felt sick and trashed it. His eyes felt heavy as he sat down at the bed and focused on the case. Piece by piece, he went through the files.
Victim #1: Robert Houghton, 23 years old. Tall, tanned and handsome. Someone Cody would definitely risk a second look would he pass him by. Surely, he would have never had the guts to actually make conversation and it kind of made him feel sad that he wouldn't have a chance now anyway.
Born in Portage, Indiana, Robert had attended the local High School and due to his qualities skipped a class in 5th grade. He had received a scholarship from three different Ivy Colleges but had decided to attend UCLA. According to teachers, Robert had been a brilliant student. Determined in every thing he started.
He had been recruited to the Beta Crusis fraternity by the end of his second year. Which had probably sealed his doom, Cody thought, wondering if the Killer had been declined a brotherhood in a fraternity when he had been younger.
Robert had been straight and had been dating a young girl named Evie. She had reported him missing on October 2nd. His body had been found three days later in an isolated spot in Groves Park, near the observatory. According to the medical examiner, he had been dead for twenty-four hours.
The killer had been more hasty in the beginning. Cause of death had been a severe stab wound through the heart and Cody had always suspected that it had happened accidentally because even though all three had died of blood loss, the two victims after Robert had never received a fatal wound.
Robert had died instantly and somehow Cody could tell that it wasn't what the killer wanted. He wanted them to suffer longer. To die slower because he wanted more time.
Victim #2: Richard Martin, 21 years old. Dark haired, medium height. Handsome as well but much more delicate facial features. Very pretty and soft. Richard had been born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His parents had moved to California when he was sixteen.
His father had gained a small fortune by entering the open doors of Silicon Valley. When Richard turned twenty his father was CEO of a high tech computer facility and his name turned up in Forbes listed under the fifty richest people in the Valley.
It had been quite a shock when Richard skipped Harvard University and decided on the Santa Clara University instead. During the investigation, it had been revealed that Richard had done this to be close to his boyfriend Daniel, who had been a suspect earlier in the case but had been cleared because he had a flawless alibi.
Christopher was part of a Fraternity called 'The Nine', the name resembling the nine muses of Apollo and the Brotherhood was known to be wildly interested in Greek Mythology. Cody had been called to Los Angeles after Richard's body had been discovered on the 5th of November.
It seemed odd for a serial killer to stay local, but apparently the killer didn't want to leave his common grounds. Richard had been in town to visit his sister and had left her on October 31 to attend a Halloween Party at the UCLA campus. Next night he had been reported missing and when he had been found it became clear to the local authorities that they had to call in the Federal Bureau of Investigation because the body was found in the exact same position as victim #1.
Cody picked up the file of the newest victim and started to read it thoroughly.
Victim #3: Edward Stedman, 24 years old. Tall, dark haired and incredibly attractive. For a second Cody closed his eyes and thought of the young dead man he had examined earlier.
Born in Oxford, England, Edward's family had moved to the states in 2001. They had moved here because his father worked at the British embassy in Washington, DC. Edward had been a student at Yale University but not a part of the known fraternities. After a talk with his former girlfriend Lisa it had turned out that he had been part of a secret society of students who called themselves 'Romantic Drama' and were mainly focused on the writings of Shakespeare.
Even though everything seemed to point out he was straight, Cody had his suspicions. This also led him to believe that maybe Victim #1 wasn't as straight as they thought. It would make sense in a way because all victims were high profile students and being gay was still not to be seen as something 'normal'.
So far, they were still collecting information on Edward, who had been invited to a wedding and stayed with a friend on the UCLA campus during his visit. He had been found yesterday, November 24th, south of Groves Park.
Cody sighed. It didn't matter that they had increased security around the Park. It was too big and too easy to access from various points and it made him feel sorry for Edward that their efforts so far hadn't been able to prevent this from happening.
He went through the things they had in common once again for what seemed like the millionth time.
All victims attractive, successful. All part of a fraternity. All dark haired. Mid-twenties and possibly homosexual. They all had been linked to the UCLA in some sort of way, which indicated the Killer had some kind of access to the Campus or at least knew his way around.
They had all died of blood loss, although victim #1 was the only one who had been killed by a fatal stab wound. All three bodies had been brutally raped and all three men received heavy beatings. They were all cleaned thoroughly afterwards. No DNA traces were left and in all three cases, the killer had used a condom.
Their hair had been washed and obviously he had taken time to bring it in order. The bodies were wrapped in plastic and brought to an isolated area of the park. The plastic was common and could be bought in every major store. It was wrapped very neatly and perfectly around them so that the faces could be seen through it.
"You wanted us to find them," Cody whispered. "Made sure we saw your work."
Rigor mortis usually hits after two to four hours after death and fades four hours later. He must have waited that long in order to make their eyes stay open. None of wounds had been enforced post-mortem.
"You cared for them, didn't you? Probably cried and mourned as well."
All three victims showed signs of defensive wounds and all three showed traces of a sedative in their blood streams.
"They weren't scared of you at first. Somehow they came very close to you," Cody said and rubbed his eyes.
"Did you seduce them?"
He didn't receive an answer nor was he expecting one. Exhaustion finally took over and he lay back, staring at the ceiling. He dreaded sleep more than anything because in that state he was unable to fight off the shadow of his own past. His body however demanded rest and he felt his eyes getting heavier.
The nightmares of Cody Rhodes always started out with the recent case. His mind going through the various files until it got lost in the unconsciousness. Like a rift in a wall darkness surfaced. Crawled up and filled it with a past he wished he could forget. There was always blood, there were always screams.
Different screams, crying out in agony and there was always a voice. A soft, familiar voice of someone he had loved so much.
"Don't cry. You know that it has to be that way," the voice assured him.
It was usually the moment he woke up with a scream on his own lips. A word loudly slipping from them.
Sweat pearls were dropping from his face and his heart pounded fiercely inside his chest. It always took him a few minutes to calm himself down. Focusing on the small light from the nightstand, he had to tell himself where he was and how much time had passed. Mostly he moved up and made it to the bathroom.
Splashing cold water onto his face to regain his focus. Usually he let out a deep gasp when he noticed that he had barely slept more than three hours. As much as he hated to admit it - due this very nasty haunting his dreams he had developed quite an addiction to sleeping pills.
With trembling hands, he grabbed the small bottle, popped two pills into his mouth and added some cold water to swallow them. As he stared in his reflection, hoping that his fears would somehow vanish and allow him some rest, he noticed the paleness of his face. He was definitely not as beautiful as the dead boys.
Not nearly as perfect as them. He told himself that it was the stress. That he had to resolve this case and stop the killer to take even more lives. That once he would be back home it would be better. Even though he knew that was a lie.
It would never go away entirely and all he could do was make the best of it. The truth was that the only thing he really ever did was distance himself from everybody and he never admitted that it was because he felt so ashamed. So ashamed of what he had witnessed silently without ever speaking up.
Once he had been told that he had gained this gift of seeing into a dark soul from his experiences and that he should see it as something positive because he might be able to help others. Cody hated those words so much that it made him feel even sicker. He knew how some people - the ones that knew - looked at him wondering if maybe he had that darkness in himself.
He moved out of the bathroom and crawled up under the blankets doing what he always did, every night for as long as he could remember. He cried. Cried because he couldn't erase those memories, couldn't erase his pain and the loss. If only he could sleep through one night without being confronted, he thought and faded into a restless sleep.
His nightmares now dampened down by the medication but still there to remind him. Mixed with details of the case which swirled around his head and he wondered who that person was that was capable of such cruelty, wondering if that person was in just as much pain as he was.
"You want to be caught. You want it to end, that's why you never hide the bodies. I'll find you," he whispered to himself before his mind shut down.