kaichen & slight suchen
-loosely based on Hannibal
-warnings: violent imagery
-a rewrite of an earlier story
The green tape that winds around her arms and legs makes the limbs look severed. Each neon band cuts into skin and creates stripes against the reddened flesh. Gore gift wrapped in tape, Jongdae thinks wryly as he notes the strange contrast between the lively color of the tape and the pale flesh beneath it. She must have struggled, is his second thought, as he takes in the cuts spidering between the green bands. Each red laceration across her body stands stark against the green and white, the edges puckering over in the body's last attempt to heal.
It's a macabre calling card in the foyer of a otherwise normal suburban home.
Jongdae knows each cut is part of a story, and he's not sure if it's a story he wants to read. But there's no telling how long the police will be fumbling over this case without his help. Sighing in resignation, he pulls off his blazer and hangs it over the crook of his arm. It's only mid-March, but the heat of the room is oppressive and the stench of death only makes him feel more lightheaded.
"What do you think?" Minseok stares down at the body impassively. Like Jongdae, he's already lost the sympathy and squeamishness that comes from being around the dead. But eight years in the field would do that to anyone. The year Minseok made detective he dealt with fifteen different murders, and the numbers are only going up. Suddenly serial killers are in and Minseok is working overtime just trying to keep another ghost out of the newspaper.
Jongdae has known Minseok for years, so he's one of the lucky few to witness the changes in him firsthand. Sometimes he fondly thinks back to the eager young policeman that tracked him down between classes and used crime clippings as bookmarks. Back when Jongdae was just a bundle of repressed neuroses with strong opinions majoring in Criminal Psychology at BU.
The years between them may make Minseok softer on Jongdae, but in the end he is only be as soft as he can afford to be. Jongdae gets results, and sometimes that's more important then a few years of shared lunches.
"What do I think?" He lets out a shaky exhale of laughter. "I think I miss the old days when the worst cases you could hit me with were the ones you stole from CSI Miami."
Minseok ignores him, bending over the body. "Why do you think he did it?" He moves the victim's arm with a gloved hand and the body splays open. Although the limbs are ringed with tape, nothing has been bound together and each appendage is left to move freely. "It doesn't look like he was using the tape to restrain her at least."
He says more, but the words are already fading into darkness as Jongdae closes his eyes.
She is beautiful in his arms. So beautiful. He had missed her, but she's all his now.
The drug must be wearing off because she's starting to move. There's a shudder running through her body and he can feel her fingers twitching, reaching for him.
He shushes her and strokes at her hair, but it does little to stop the movements.
She's probably trying to will feeling back into her arms and legs, but circulation has been cut off for too long. Her fingers are toes are purpling and blue is crawling up her limbs and slowly overtaking her.
But she won't stop moving.
"I was making her into a doll." Jongdae says when he opens his eyes. There's a moment of uncomfortable silence before Jongdae remembers where he is. Who he is. Laughing, he pulls off his glasses and massages the bridge of his nose."He was making her into a doll." He gets some uneasy glances from the officers milling about the scene, but Minseok barely bats an eye at the slip.
This is why they consult with him, after all.
To his face, police officers joke that he's a fortune teller. Behind his back, they say he must be a murderer himself to know the things he does. But people always exaggerate things, and the truth is much more mundane that that. His parents call it an empathy disorder, and he calls it his own kind of crazy.
Simply put, he's good at emphasizing with killers. He puts himself in the minds of psychopaths and gets the arrests the department wants.
That's all. No magic, no tricks.
And that's how he became the most sought after criminal profiler on the East Coast.
"Doll?" Although Minseok's speaking to Jongdae his eyes never leave the body.
"The tape... it was meant to section off the limbs. Like a doll." Jongdae's tired. He fumbles a bottle of Advil from his jacket pocket, pops back another tablet because his migraine is waking up. "He wanted to preserve her beauty in a form easier to control, and what's easier to control than a toy?"
Large eyes, rich brown hair, it's not hard to see why her killer was captivated.
"And the strangulation marks?" The dark marks circling her throat are difficult to miss, even with the discolorations staining the body.
Jongdae looks away, focusing on the dull glint of Minseok's badge.
"She woke up while he was... transporting her. Even though she wasn't restrained she couldn't...." He breathes through his mouth, trying not to think about the sour taste of the air. "She couldn't fight back very well. She'd already lost feeling in her limbs from the tape, and a fully grown man sitting on top of her would be difficult to dislodge even if she hadn't."
"That would explain why she's in the foyer." Minseok muses, standing up. "So he panicked."
"He panicked." Jongdae agrees. His mouth twists into a wry smile. "Our killer wanted someone who would obey him, he never thought that she would go against her creator."
"And who is her creator?" As usual Minseok gets to the point quickly.
Jongdae sighs. "There's no sign of a break in. Check if she had any work done on the house recently. Repairmen. Renovations. It's someone who knows her well enough to see her on a near daily basis but not well enough that they would have interacted."
"How do you know?"
"Because he's obsessed with her. But not with her as a person. As an image." He looks at the young woman before them. Helpless, stripped of everything. "She was in a position of power and he wanted to reverse that. He wanted to be the one to own her. He wanted to be the one in control."
He sees the question growing on Minseok's lips but he's not sure he knows the answer to what Minseok wants to ask. It's easy to talk about the killer, it's harder to say how he knows what he does. His job is half science and half intuition.
But Minseok doesn't ask, nodding grimly instead.
"Jongdae Kim?" An unfamiliar voice cuts between them and Jongdae turns towards it.
Policemen like this are disposable in their similarities. It's the same weathered face Jongdae sees again and again with the same starched uniform.
"There's been an incident. We need you to come with us."
And they're even the same tired words.
The only difference is that instead of Worcester Police, the badge reads FBI.
The Chief of the Behavioral Science Unit doesn't look up when Jongdae is ushered into his office.
Jongdae uses the moment of silence to look around the office. The standard off-white walls, the small pile of books stacked on the desk. The furniture is all classic office furniture: a leather swivel chair, a mahogany desk and heavy paperweights. It's all so predictable and cliche, even if the pieces are of higher quality than the standard Staples variety.
"Take a seat please."
The wooden frame squeaks a bit when Jongdae sinks into the leather cushion. The man across from him snaps the folder shut abruptly, peering at Jongdae over his wire-framed spectacles.
"I assume you know who I am?"
Even if Jongdae hadn't read the placard on the desk, he would know. Over the years Kyungsoo has written case studies and developed a name for himself in the world of behavioral science.
"Kyungsoo Do, head of the BSU at the FBI."
Kyungsoo nods, folding his hands together on the desk. "Good. Since we're done introductions, I'll get straight to the point. You have a talent. We need it."
"Talent?" Jongdae laughs. "I suppose that's one way to put it."
Kyungsoo stares at him, face impassive. "The ability to see a case from the perspective of a psychopath is useful to us."
"Really? Some people don't think I'm that creative. They prefer to think I'm remembering, not imagining." Jongdae leans forward onto Kyungsoo's desk with a coy smile.
"I know. I've seen your case file." The reply is curt and Jongdae is so used to knocking people off-balance that he feels disappointed that Kyungsoo seems unbothered by the rumors.
At least Kyungsoo knows what he's getting into.
"So there's a file on me?" Jongdae's smile widens as he settles back into his chair, the ball-bearings creaking as he moves. "I'm flattered. If I knew I was being watched I would have made it more interesting for you."
Finally Kyungsoo shows some kind of reaction, frowning as he taps his fingers against the folder on his desk. "We're tracking someone slightly bigger than normal and we thought it might be useful to have someone like you join our team. You do still want to join the force don't you?"
"I've helped the force before." He's worked with Minseok for years. It may be frowned upon for a civilian to get involved with police affairs, but he's allowed to come in as a specialist. People don't get hung up on details when murderers end up behind bars.
The other man's face pinches together. "So you have. On a more... local level. But this time we want you to join us officially."
Jongdae's eyes flicker to the gleaming FBI nameplate on the desk. "So I'll be an agent?" He drums his fingers along his leg absent-mindedly.
"Of a sort."
Jongdae leans back and the chair screeches back a few inches. "So who are we catching?"
Kyungsoo's smile is grim and Jongdae wonders for a moment if Kyungsoo would have preferred that he turn him down. "Have you heard of the Cambridge Torso Killer?" He stands and makes his way over to a gray filing cabinet lining the wall.
Jongdae can remember some of the pictures that found their way to the public: some poor souls sliced in half with a cleaver and lain next to the tracks of the subway. The schedule of the T had been backed up for hours and even though the newspaper had reported the case as a simple suicide, that hadn't stopped some idiot with a camera phone from posting the gruesome details online. Thankfully the photos were grainy enough that not much information about the case had been leaked, but (like anything meant to be secret) the photos spread like wildfire.
"I'm familiar with it, yes."
"The name comes from a serial killer that used to butcher people in Cleveland. But the guy behind those attacks is long dead, and this one is active and getting bolder with each body." Kyungsoo turns back to face Jongdae, this time with a file in hand. "Familiar isn't enough." He thumps the thick file against Jongdae's chest, face pinched. "Study this, and then we'll talk."
Jongdae takes the file to an empty meeting room nearby and a policeman trails behind him, checking that the room won't be used in the next few hours and helping him find the light switches.
"Do you need the heater turned on?" The man fiddles with the controls, but Jongdae shakes his head. He settles back into the padded swivel chair and pulls his woolen jacket snugly around him.
"I'd prefer to be cold than sweating." The policeman nods and disappears as Jongdae flips open the folder. He spreads the documents across the table. Each photo is a masterpiece of the grotesque: blood smeared train tracks and pale limbs gripping the gravel. The corpses are immortalized trying to crawl away from death.
Little good it did them.
He's surprised to find that most of the scenes are ones he's familiar with. They're all isolated sections of the MBTA: one near Cambridge, one in South Boston, and the most recent one is just a few miles from where he went to university. It's strange to see familiar places turned into backdrops of murder. The juxtaposition is so bizarre that the corpses almost seem photoshopped into the photos.
They weren't able to uncover much evidence so far. Just a few bootprints and a shadowy figure on a traffic CCTV. There's nothing close to a suspect list.
Jongdae stares at the photo wondering what kind of mind is hidden in this silhouette. He wonders if it'll push him closer to dark corners that he'd prefer to leave untouched.
But then again it's his job to look into those corners.
Suddenly the door swings open and Jongdae pulls his gaze away from the spread of photos. All he sees through the doorway is a bowed head and a well tailored suit.
He clears his throat.
"Oh I'm sorry, I didn't realize that anyone was-" The words die in the man's throat when he catches sight of Jongdae. His brown eyes widen in surprise. "J-Jongdae."
And then it's Jongdae's turn to stare in shock because-
It's been years since high school, but Jongdae could never forget someone like Jongin. Like he could forget the younger friend he walked home with every day, the one he lounged with on the couch watching Family Guy and eating trail mix, chucking the raisins at the television screen.
There's so much about him that's the same; the defined jawline, the warm brown eyes, the plush lips. But there's a lot that's different too. The years of teenage awkwardness have been hammered out of him and he stands with more confidence than he did before.
Back when they were kids Jongin was the one always chasing after him. Jongdae was two years ahead of him; always smarter, always more self-assured. But now, as Jongdae looks up at the young man in front of him, it hits him that two years isn't such a big gap.
Back in high school, a two year gap was enough for Jongdae to give up on trying to push a platonic relationship into something more. But now, he's feeling a familiar tightness in his stomach and he struggles to remember how to control himself.
"I saw something written about you in the paper, you know?" Jongin drops the cardboard box he'd been carrying on the table. Jongdae can't see what's inside, but the "EVIDENCE" markings across the side tell him the contents are important. "I can't remember the case exactly, but I do remember being startled at seeing your name alongside the name of a wanted kidnapper." Jongin grins boyishly, pushing aside bangs that fall across his eyes. "Still poking your nose into danger?"
Aware of the mess overwhelming the table, Jongdae shuffles the photos and police reports together and shoves them back into the folder. Laughing indulgently, he winks. "You know me. Always getting into trouble."
Jongin raises an eyebrow, his smile slow and inviting. "Oh yeah?"
If it had been anyone else, Jongdae would have already been tugging their hand into his and writing his phone number across their palm. But this is Jongin and he's not supposed to feel like this.
Jongdae distracts himself with sliding his file to the side, trying to move back to safer topics. "So, what brings you out to Boston?" They grew up together in a small Ohio suburb and when it had come time for college, Jongdae had gone East and Jongin had gone West. "Did you get bored of the warm weather?"
He'd heard from some mutual friends that Jongin joined the FBI but Jongdae hadn't done a very good job of keeping in touch with anyone from high school. Recently his social life consisted mostly of Skype calls from his mom and late night drinks with colleagues from the university.
Jongin shrugs. "After I finished my degree I worked a few years in California. The beaches were nice, but I got transferred to Boston, and well, you know..." Jongin trails off, waving his arm. "Bureaucracy," he sighs with a smile.
"I see," Jongdae responds, lips twitching into a smirk. He's been around enough police stations to know how irritating superiors can be.
"So have you been here since you graduated?" Jongin leans forward. "The article said you were a professor at BU now, but...."
"Lecturer." Jongdae corrects. "Just a lecturer."
"But you love what you're doing?"
"It has its moments." It feels like too much trouble to explain any further.
"Still. Not everyone can do what you do." Jongin insists. The cardboard box bows a bit under his weight and Jongdae hopes there isn't anything fragile in there.
"It's not like it's a super power," Jongdae snorts. "Although some act like it is. I think some police officers want me to be a murderer so they don't have to accept that I'm better at their jobs than they are."
He didn't mean to speak so harshly, and he hopes that Jongin isn't offended; FBI aren't that different from the police.
But Jongin just laughs. "Does it ever matter what the public thinks? Some of them still think the moon landing was faked."
It's a poor attempt at getting Jongdae to smile, but he finds himself grinning back anyway.
"Anyway, I'm glad we're living in the same city again, maybe we'll even be lucky enough to work a case together someday." Jongin grins as he holds out his hand. "I guess I shouldn't be saying this since I'm pretty new myself... but Jongdae Kim it's a pleasure to have you join us."
Jongin has grown to be lean but sturdy, the litheness of his frame countered by the breadth of his shoulders. He stands a bit taller than he did back in high school and Jongdae can't help but bitterly wonder how many inches taller he is now.
Jongdae shakes his outstretched hand, squeezing it gently. "No, the pleasure is all mine."
Even with the usual look of a weathered officer Jongin's smile has remained painfully unguarded and Jongdae wonders how many more monsters Jongin will have to see before he relents to the same fake stretch of lips they all wear.
When Jongdae makes his way back to Kyungsoo's office he finds Kyungsoo has company. There's a ragtag of officers lounging about. One is seated in the chairs before the desk and two more crowd around Kyungsoo while the last is examining the bookshelf.
"I didn't know you had so many classics on your bookshelf," comments the one dragging his finger along the spines of the books. "Did you actually read Paradise Lost, or is it just to fill up your shelves?"
"Chanyeol, sit down." Kyungsoo snaps, and the two standing next to him glance up.
The man chuckles, but he complies, collapsing into a chair against the back wall.
It's then that they notice the newest addition to the room. Chanyeol hums as he looks over Jongdae, and when Kyungsoo looks up at the noise he makes his own grunt of approval.
"Ah, Jongdae." Kyungsoo beckons for him to come closer, so Jongdae takes a few short steps towards the desk. "Have you finished reading? Good."
Jongdae fingers the edge of the file and looks around the room uncomfortably. When he entered the office he wasn't expecting to deal with a whole group of people.
Following his gaze, Kyungsoo looks at the officers clustered around him. "Ah. This is the team. Our forensics team." He gestures to the two standing around him as well as the one Kyungsoo had referred to as Chanyeol. The two standing nod at Jongdae and Chanyeol waves lazily. "Baekhyun. Sehun. Chanyeol. This is our profiler genius, Jongdae Kim."
Jongdae smiles wryly. "Is it genius or insanity?"
"They say that genius is born from madness," Kyungsoo responds with a tight smile, rapping his fingers on the desk. Then he sighs heavily.
Jongdae's eyes are drawn to the last one in the room. The one with the Dutch suit and designer neck tie watching Jongdae with a smile so inviting it appears crafted.
"And this is?"
"Kim Junmyeon. He's a psychiatrist."
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