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"I don't understand. What is this?" Santana held up the card Woody had received the day before, studying it in the sterile hospital lighting. She read the words, "Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree", several times before turning the card this way and that, trying to find something – anything – that might stand out at a different angle.
"Dunno," Woody said listlessly, his voice bland and lifeless. He sat in a chair at Jordan's side, holding her limp hand in both of his up to his lips as the ventilator breathed for her. She hadn't regained consciousness yet.
He had remembered the card not long after the episode in the hospital hallway when he had been changing into the scrubs brought to him by the nurse and found it in his shirt pocket. He had stared at it blankly for a full fifteen minutes before shoving it into the deep pockets of his clean scrub top and pushing it from his mind. He'd known it was important – that whoever had sent it to him had done this to Jordan – but his mind had been completely unable to process that information. It wasn't until he had woken up that morning on the uncomfortable cot another nurse had brought into Jordan's room for him (along with a non-prescription sleep aid) that he remembered it again, and realized that he needed to give it to whoever was in charge of the case.
That person was Santana. She and Roz Framus had been assigned to the case. Even though it hadn't been a homicide, it had still happened to one of their own and their chief was able to pull enough strings to keep it within their department, for which he was grateful.
"It was sent to me yesterday afternoon," he continued automatically, his gaze never leaving Jordan's calm, unresponsive face. "There was a picture of her in the envelope – it's there on the table – and I went home and…found her."
"You don't know who sent it?" Santana asked gently, finding the photograph he had mentioned and picking it up to read the message on the back. You must not forget that a monster is only a variation.
"Do you remember who brought it up to you?"
Woody thought for a moment, trying to pull up those memories from before finding Jordan that had gone fuzzy. "It was…Mark Flynn. Yeah."
The other detective slid the three pieces of evidence into a small bag and then put them into a folder to be filed when she returned to the precinct. Biting her lip, she stepped up behind his chair and touched his shoulder. "I'm sorry. All of us are. Jordan means a lot to us, too. Is she gonna be okay?"
Woody swallowed around the lump in his throat and lowered his head, unable to answer her question when he didn't know himself. "Did you find anything at the house?"
"Oh." Santana blinked and opened her file again. "Um…no. There were no traceable fibers and all the blood was…oh. Hers. But, uh, that pan! The pan, in the hallway. Her prints were on it, right? She hit him with it. There were black cotton fibers on one of the bottom edges, so whoever was there was wearing…well, black cotton. If she got him in the head, that means he was wearing a mask. Nigel says he can match it if we find any more evidence." She paused, knowing he was listening even if it didn't seem like he was paying attention, and then added kindly, "Seely and Roz went by your place after CSU was done and cleaned everything up so you wouldn't have to deal with it."
He looked up at her then, the relief obvious and written all over his face that he wouldn't have to see his home in such a horrible state again. "Thank you."
"Woody." Now that she had his full focus, Luisa crouched beside his chair so she could look him in the eye. "Can you think of anyone – anyone – who would want to do this? Any open cases where the perp might be trying to elude you, or a closed case with someone looking for revenge? Has anyone threatened you recently? Do you maybe recognize the words on the cards? Anything?"
These were questions he had been asking himself almost nonstop during the time he had been sitting there, but now all he could do was stare at her vacantly as the relief he had felt previously faded away. "If I had any ideas I would have told you already."
"I know." She touched his upper arm and sighed before getting to her feet again. "I just had to ask. Roz and I are gonna go through all of your current cases today to see if anything stands out, but let us know if you think of anything, okay? We'll do our best to keep you up to speed under the radar."
Woody nodded, his full attention back on Jordan as Santana left the room.
"You need to eat," Lily tutted that night as she unloaded a basket in Jordan's hospital room and set out a meal for three. "Nigel is on his way over, and we're going to stay here with you for a while."
"That's really not necessary," Woody protested, but it was a weak argument and all he could do was watch as she set out some kind of homemade vegetarian dish that smelled at least somewhat good, even if it wasn't what he or Jordan would have ordered out at dinner themselves.
"Of course it is," his friend retorted easily, doling out some couscous salad into a bowl and handing it to him with a spoon. "How's she doing?
He shrugged and pushed the food around with the utensil when he knew she wasn't looking. He wanted to pick up Jordan's hand again, but he couldn't while he was holding the bowl. "No change, really. They took her for another CT about two hours ago and the swelling in her brain is going down, so she could wake up any time. But…"
"That's great! That's really, really great." Lily smiled widely at him and served herself some food, too. "Jordan's a fighter; she always has been. She's not going to just give up."
"She hit the guy who attacked her in the head with a frying pan," Woody said suddenly. He had no idea why he said it, but saying it and really thinking about it – Jordan, as undomestic as they came using a frying pan as her weapon – now seemed quite hysterical. Of course, it probably meant that the attack started or ended in the kitchen and that was all she could reach…but his emotions weren't working correctly, and all he could see was the irony and humor in it.
"Yeah. The only cast-iron one we have. Well, had. It's been catalogued by CSU now."
He glanced up at Lily again and saw that she was grinning, too, and then they both started laughing, the stress of the last thirty-six hours becoming so overwhelming that they didn't know what else to do.
"There's nothing here," Roz Framus pointed out bluntly late that night as she slammed closed yet another file and pushed her curly hair out of her face. "Or, should I say, there's too much here. For every case we set aside with no noted threats, we find three more with at least a dozen. We're not gonna find 'em this way."
Santana sighed and leaned back in her chair to stretch her arms out over her head. "We have to keep going. For all we know, this guy could try again. We have to find him before he does."
"Well, duh. I'm just sayin' - one of these is going to be too obvious." She gestured over the large table filled with sorted files, the 'threat' pile far larger than the 'non-threat' pile and getting them nowhere. "Someone this conniving, who sends devious notes, tells the person to deliver them thirty minutes later, and times everything perfectly? He's not gonna just make an open threat that he knows'll be catalogued with this crap. We get those surveillance videos yet?"
"Danny's still putting them together," the younger woman replied warily.
"Mkay. I'm done with this bull," Roz said in annoyance, pushing the folders in front of her away and ignoring Santana's enraged utterances as the act disorganized their piles. "Let's try to find motive. That'll get us further than this ever will."
"Okay, fine. What's your take?"
The other detective shrugged and shimmied out of her suit jacket to reveal a low-cut shirt. "Could be someone trying to stall a case. With Woody not leaving Jordan's side, it's not like he can do his job. But did they want to leave her alive, or was their intention to kill? We can assume Jordan fought back, since we know her and that's what the evidence said. So, if they had wanted to kill her, it's obvious she foiled their carefully laid plan."
Luisa was quiet for a moment, listening, before she nodded. She didn't like thinking about this even if she needed to. "But what would be the point of killing her if their intention was to stall? His cases would be given to another officer during his bereavement period."
"Revenge, then," Framus said simply. It made the most sense and they both knew it.
Santana pursed her lips, her gaze going back out over the large table where they had spread all of Hoyt's cases. They'd have to go through all of them again with fresh eyes. That was not a pleasant thought. A timid knock on the open door of the conference room they'd been using brought their attention up, and they saw a young man there with a DVD in his hand. "I have the surveillance tapes you requested, Detective," he said, handing the case to Santana.
She took it with a small smile as he left and then turned to Roz. "Let's go boot up your computer; it's faster than mine."
It was well after midnight when Santana and Framus realized that they were going to need help with the surveillance DVD and, without hesitation, they had driven to the morgue. Nigel had been there, looking over the evidence found at Jordan's home for the thirteenth time with just as little success as the first, but he hadn't been able to leave.
"Hello, lovelies," he muttered dryly when he saw them. "No, I don't have any new information. No, I haven't heard from Woody. No, I'm not going by the hospital again tonight. No -"
"Shut up," Roz interrupted, shoving him away from the computer he was in front of and opening the CD-ROM drive so she could put in the DVD.
Santana touched his shoulder before he could start arguing with the other woman, and he looked at her in angry frustration. "We have something new for you," she told him calmly. "And we need your help getting as much as we can out of it. Please."
His defensive demeanor dropped immediately. "What is it?"
"Surveillance from the precinct the afternoon Woody got that note," Framus explained as the DVD began to hum and start up. "All Lu-Lu and I saw was a woman come in and hand something to the guy at the front desk. She looked confused, and kept glancing over her shoulder."
"Lu-Lu?" Nigel asked with a sly grin.
Luisa rolled her eyes, her fingers tapping the counter in annoyance. "Just do what you can, will you?"
"Certainly. Let's see..." He sat down on his stool again and sped the time on the video up to where it needed to be. This camera was placed behind the main desk, and it had a view of the front doors and main lobby. The station was incredibly busy that day, but there she was - a woman dressed in expensive clothes carrying a large purse came up to the desk and chatted for about fifteen seconds, handed the ivory envelope to Mark, looked over her shoulder a few times with an odd expression on her face even through the fuzzy pixilation, then left.
They watched a little more before Nigel backtracked so they could see it again. "That's it."
"What about outside?" Santana asked. "Maybe someone gave it to her on the street and told her to bring it inside."
The criminologist nodded silently and pulled up the view from another camera set outside facing the sidewalk and main entrance from the other side, then forwarded to a few minutes before they had seen the woman inside. "There she is," he murmured. "Doesn't look like she's waiting for anyone."
"No," Roz agreed. "Looks more like she's lost."
"The perfect target," the other detective whispered.
"Here!" Nigel pointed to the screen.
A young man had come up to her, touched her arm, leaned close. They talked for a moment. And then he handed her something - the envelope - gestured toward the building, and walked away. Just like that. None of the three people recognized him.
"You dusted that thing for prints, right?" Framus asked.
"Of course I did," Nigel spat irritably. "Woody's were on there, with that...that guy - Mark's. And one set we didn't have on file, must have been the lady's. Guy in the video here is wearing gloves. See?"
"Maybe she told Mark her name." Santana started tapping her fingers on the counter again, pleased with what they had found and wishing it weren't so late so they could start tracking down these leads now instead of at a decent hour.
Roz smacked her knuckles, smirking when she jerked her hand back and cradled it in surprise against her chest. "That bothers me. Stop. Anyway. We'll call to have a twenty-four hour guard set outside Jordan's room at the hospital, and then I guess we'll just have to grab Mark in the morning to continue from there. Thanks for your help, Nigel. Please send my regards to Buggles. C'mon, Lu-Lu, let's go look at mug shots 'til the sun comes up."