James Street Hotel,

Deakins was already in the lobby when Goren and Eames came down the next morning. He eyed them critically before speaking.

“Sleep all right?”

“What you mean is, did we sleep at all?” Eames retorted. “Strangely enough, yes. We managed to get through the night relatively okay.”

Deakins sensed there was more to that comment than he was reading on the surface, but opted to leave it alone. More so now than ever before, there were aspects of Goren and Eames’ relationship that he simply couldn’t comprehend. He was not going to disrupt anything unnecessarily by asking questions that he knew damned well that he was not going to get an answer to. At least, not a satisfactory one.

“DI Frost should be here soon. It’s almost eight o’clock.”

“As long as he comes, and not that idiot Mullett,” Goren muttered. “We wasted enough time last night with him.”

Deakins had to smile. “Now, Bobby, why do you think I came alone? And don’t say it was to baby-sit you two.”

“I think,” Eames murmured, “that if you can keep Mullett off all our backs, we won’t be the only ones grateful. I think Jack will appreciate it, as well.”

Deakins nodded obligingly. “I’ll do what I can. Here he comes.”

They all looked to see Jack just coming through the revolving glass doors into the lobby. He spotted them almost immediately, and strode over.

“Suit and tie?” Jack commented, eyeing Goren with a wry smile. “Mullett might yet decide that he likes you, Bobby.”

Goren grinned, noting with amusement that Jack appeared to be wearing the same clothes he’d had on the night before.

“I see you go for the rumpled look.”

Jack shrugged, returning Goren’s smile.

“Yes, well, as much as I love ironing, I do tend to find there are somewhat more important issues to attend to. Ready, are we?”

“We’re ready,” Deakins confirmed.

“All right, then. Let’s move, shall we?”

“I’ll give you fair warning,” Jack told them as he drove them to Denton CID. “Mullett informed me earlier this morning that he intends on debriefing you himself. That will probably mean an hour or more of listening to him pretending that he knows something about the case.”

“Captain…?” Eames asked Deakins pleadingly. Deakins rolled his eyes, knowing precisely what she wanted from him.

“All right, I’ll see what I can do. But you owe me.”

Goren grunted. “Just add it to the list.”

“So what’s the best course of action?” Eames asked as they came in sight of the CID building. Jack pulled up at the curb, on the opposite side of the road.

“If you want to avoid Mullett, then let me call one of my offsiders and find out where the ambush is.”

Eames and Goren grinned openly, while Deakins tried unsuccessfully to hide his amusement by looking away out the window. Jack picked up his cell phone, and dialled a memorised number. It was answered almost immediately.

“George here, Jack. Where the blazes are you? Mullett’s almost ready to have a fit.”

Jack grimaced.

“Strangely enough, I’m not surprised. Just tell me one thing. What’s the best way to come in if I was wanting to avoid Mr Mullett altogether?”

There was a brief silence, and then George spoke again incredulously.

“What did you do, go and lose our American friends?”

“Not exactly. Let’s just say that they got more than earful of Mullett last night, and they’d prefer to avoid a second helping. And so would I.”

There was a sound strangely like choked laughter that they all heard quite clearly before George responded.

“All right, Jack, keep your shirt on. Mullett’s waiting for you to come in by the back way. If you really want to avoid him, come in through the front.”

“You had better be right, George,” Jack growled. “Because if you aren’t, and we run into Mullett before we’re ready, my face will be the last thing you’ll be wanting to see today.”

Jack ended the call abruptly before George had a chance to reply, then manoeuvred the car across the road into the CID car park.

True to George’s word, Mullett was nowhere to be seen when they entered the CID building. After collecting their temporary IDs, Jack took them up in the elevator and finally into the sanctity of the task room, where all the case information was currently laid out.

“Congratulations, Jack,” George said wryly as he came in behind them. “You got this far undetected. But you ought to know that Mullett just came back from the cafeteria, and he saw your car in the lot. He knows you’re here somewhere.”

“Wonderful,” Jack muttered. Eames looked across at Deakins and smiled sweetly.

“Your turn to be a hero.”

Deakins shook his head.

“I am going to collect on this particular debt, I promise you.” He paused, his expression turning serious. “I want to be kept informed about everything. All right?”

“Don’t worry,” Goren promised sincerely. He paused, then added, “Just don’t start phoning us fourteen times a day.”

Deakins shot Goren a death glare. Jack spoke quickly, making brief introductions as a means to dissolve the tension.

“George, this is Captain Deakins, and Detectives Bobby Goren and Alex Eames. I’d like to introduce Detective Sergeant George Toolan, one of my more trusted associates. George, show Captain Deakins to Mr Mullett’s office, would you? He’s kindly offered to run interference for the rest of us so we can get on with things.”

George regarded Deakins with genuine surprise, but managed somehow to recover and move towards the door.

“Right… This way, Sir. I, ah… I suppose you do know what you’re letting yourself in for?”

Deakins smiled ruefully.

“Unfortunately, I think I do.”

George looked back at Jack.

“Jack, I hope you’re offering some sort of compensation…?”

Jack glared at George, then finally turned back to Goren and Eames once George and Deakins had gone.

“All right, then. Where would you like to start?”

Fifteen minutes later George returned to report their plan was a success. With a practised smoothness, Deakins had stopped Mullett from chasing after Jack and was now currently suffering Mullett’s many theories on the spate of murders.

“We really are going to owe for this one,” Eames said ruefully where she sat examining pages of reports on the murders. Jack smiled a small, cunning smile.

“Oh, I wouldn’t be too worried. Just look at it this way. Mullett will keep your captain sufficiently occupied that he won’t be phoning you… what was it you said, fourteen times a day?”

George regarded the detectives with surprise.

“Fourteen times a day? Seriously?”

“It’s a long story,” Goren said simply. George looked questioningly to Jack, who completely ignored him.

“What do you think?” he asked as Goren pushed one file aside and reached for another. “Any similarities to your, ah… your case?”

“Plenty of similarities,” Goren confirmed. “You definitely have a copycat here. Now the question is, how can we tie him in with Erik Mathers?”

“We brought our completely case files with us,” Eames said, indicating the heavy porta file that Deakins had carried in. “When we left, our office was still trying to compile other information on Mathers, like where he went to school. Anything even remotely connecting him to England would help.”

“A pen pal,” Jack mused, “or perhaps some time spent over here. That would help quite a bit. All right. George and I will start looking through your case files, then…”

Both Goren and Eames looked up simultaneously at Jack, their expressions almost identical. Jack took one look at them, and realised what was wrong. The complete case files on Erik Mathers would, of course, include all that had happened to the two detectives.

“Here…” Jack opened the case, thumbed quickly through and pulled three thick files out and handed them to George, speaking in what he hoped was a casual tone. “You start with the first three victims. I’ll start with the most recent couple, all right?”

George nodded amiably and took the files from Jack, oblivious to the looks shared between Jack and their two guests.

“Bloody hell…”

Goren, Eames and George all looked up together as Jack swore vehemently not five minutes later.

“Everything all right, Guv?” George queried. Jack nodded, keeping his gaze fixed firmly on the files in front of him.

“Yes, just fine. George, why don’t you get us some tea and coffee? I think this may take a while.”

With the air of one resigned to performing menial tasks, George went to do as asked. Jack waited until he was gone, then looked back to Goren and Eames.

“I’m sorry,” he apologised sincerely. “When you told me last night what had happened to you, I never imagined just how bad it actually was.”

Eames started out of her chair, but sat back down very abruptly when she caught a glimpse of the photos in front of Jack.

“I’d forgotten those were in there.”

Goren peered across as well, only to shudder a little and look quickly away again. It was difficult enough looking at pictures of other victims’ wounds without seeing pictures of their own.

Jack looked back down, his stomach churning as he flipped slowly through the thick pile of photos. There were a considerable number that were of the interior and exterior of Mathers’ cabin, and of the weaponry used by Mathers. Many, though, were of the horrific injuries sustained by both detectives.

Jack carefully sorted the photos into two piles. In one pile he placed all the photos that in any way identified Goren and Eames as the victims, and slipped them carefully back into the file. The other pile, photos of the cabin and the weaponry, he pushed across for George to look at when he returned.

Then, he began looking carefully through the typed files relating to Goren and Eames’ ordeal.

There were separate statements from each detective, and each statement was at least seven or eight pages long. The followed reports by the investigating officers, forensics reports… The volume of paper seemed endless. A hell of a lot of people had been involved in the search for and rescue of Bobby Goren and Alex Eames, Jack realised grimly.

Resisting the urge to look at the visitors, Jack picked up Goren’s statement, and began to read.

“It’s cold.”

Jack looked up slowly from the bundle of papers his nose had been buried in to find Hazel Wallace sitting opposite him. She smiled at his obvious confusion.

“That cup of tea, Guv. It’s stone cold. I’ll warm it up for you, if you like.”

Finally, Jack realised what she was talking about. Completely engrossed in the papers in front of him, he’d let the tea George had brought him go cold and, totally oblivious, had just picked up the cup and taken a sip.

“Oh… Ah, no thanks, Hazel. No, it’s all right.”

“Bit of an odd pair, aren’t they?”

Again, Jack was caught off-guard and left momentarily confused. Then, when he looked, he realised Goren and Eames were gone. Another glance, this time towards the clock, revealed nearly two hours had passed since he’d started reading the case files on Erik Mathers’ last two intended victims. Two hours had passed and he was only halfway through the notes and reports about Goren and Eames’ abduction by Erik Mathers.

“How do you mean, odd?”

“Well, him with a leg brace, and her arm in a brace as well. They don’t exactly appear to be conventional, do they?”

“Don’t be too quick to judge, Hazel. I think you’ll find that they’re both quite intelligent. I think it’s going to prove very beneficial to have them here after all.”

“You’ve changed you tune, haven’t you?”

“Yes, well, it does happen occasionally. Do you know where they’ve gone, by the way?”

“Yes. Their captain came and got them a half hour or so ago. Something about this evening’s appointment having to be moved forward, whatever that’s about. They certainly didn’t seem happy about it, but they went anyway. Mullett was with them… I think he was taking them to Denton Hospital.”

Jack sucked in his breath sharply. Denton Hospital… He thought of the braces that both detectives wore. There was a rehabilitation and physiotherapy wing at Denton Hospital…

Closing the thick file and shoving it under his arm, Jack stood and headed for the door.

“I’m going to go and meet them at Denton Hospital.”

“Do you want me to come with you, Guv…?”

“No,” Jack said, perhaps a little too quickly. “Stay here and keep reading through those other files. I’ll probably be back in a few hours.”

Denton Hospital

Jack arrived at the hospital and was directed promptly to the rehab wing by the nurse on duty at the front desk. His suspicions were confirmed as he rounded a corner to find Mullett waiting in the corridor.

“Jack?” Mullett asked in surprise as Jack approached. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to find Detective Goren and Detective Eames. They are here, aren’t they?”

Mullett stared at Jack, at a loss for what to say or do.

“It’s all right, Sir,” Jack reassured him. “I know what happened to them. They told me about it last night, after we finished dinner. When Hazel told me you were bringing them here to Denton Hospital, I gathered it was probably for physiotherapy.” Jack nodded towards the closed door of the physio room. “Both in there, are they?”

Mullett nodded, relaxing visibly in his seat. Jack was silent for a moment, carefully considering his next words.

“If you like, Sir, I’ll stay here and wait for them. I’m sure you have quite a lot to do back at the office.”

Mullett coughed. “Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I do. You’re certain you don’t mind?”

“Oh, no, not at all, Sir. I brought some of their case files with me, so I think I can keep myself occupied. You go on back to the office, Sir.”

“Thankyou, Jack. That’s much appreciated.”

Jack watched as Mullett disappeared around the corner, then sank into the nearest chair with a sigh of relief. With another glance at the closed door of the physio room, he opened the file he’d brought with him, and began to read again.

A short time later, Jack was interrupted in his reading his cell phone rang. He answered it, mildly annoyed at the interruption.

“Frost, here.”

“Jack, it’s George. Thought you might like to know, we’ve just received on the fax all the known history on the American chap, Erik Mathers.”

“Well, what are doing blathering to me? Get to work and read it!”

“That’s just it, Guv. We don’t need to. Some kind soul has gone to the trouble of doing that for us. There’s a section that’s been circled. It seems that about eight years ago, this Mr Mathers was here in Denton, attending the local university on some sort of exchange program. He was here for one year.”

Jack drew in a long breath. One year spent at the local university would have been plenty of time for someone as sick as Mathers to work their way into another person’s mind.

“All right, George. Get on the phone, and call the Dean of the university. Tell him I’ll be around there to speak with him with our American friends in a couple of hours. And tell him it would be quite helpful if he could dig out all the records the place has for one Mr Erik Mathers.”

“Consider it done, Jack.”

“All right. Thankyou, George. I’ll speak to you later.”

Ending the call, Jack stood up and walked into the physio room.

“Wrong. You suck at this, Bobby. Why don’t you just quit now? You’re never going to catch up.”

“Don’t get cocky. You’re only three ahead of me. If I start asking hard questions, you won’t find it so easy.”

Jack halted in the doorway, caught by surprise. Across the floor, Bobby and Alex sat facing each other while individual physiotherapists worked on their respective injuries. They were engaged in a fairly feisty discussion, if it could be called that.

Looking around, he spotted Deakins sitting off to the side, watching the scene before them with a bemused smile. He joined the captain, curious to know just what was going on.

“They do this every time they have physio together,” Deakins explained in a low, confidential tone as Jack sat next to him. “I suppose it’s one way to distract themselves, but the last time they ended up in a roaring argument and wouldn’t talk to each other for the rest of the day.”

“And what, exactly, are they doing?” Jack wondered.

“Their own personal version of twenty questions. Goren told me that it started when they were up on that mountain. One of them… I don’t know who… accused the other of not knowing as much about them as they thought. Now it’s turned into this.”

Jack turned his gaze back to the detectives in time to hear Alex ask Bobby a question.

“What did I study at college?”

Bobby’s face lit up.

“You didn’t study anything. You went on a road trip with your brother after finishing high school, and when you got back you went straight into the Police Academy.”

“Damn,” Alex grumped. “Philip must have told you that, because I sure didn’t.

Bobby grinned. “I don’t name my sources.”

“Smart ass. Okay, ask your damn question.”

“Okay. How old was I when I quit the army?”

Alex’s face creased in a frown.

“Um… You’re forty-four now… You’ve been in the Force for sixteen years… I know you were in the army for eight years… Oh, I don’t know. Twenty-eight?”

The triumphant grin on his face told her she was wrong.

“Twenty-five. I had a three year gap between leaving the army behind and joining the Police Force.”

Alex frowned as she quickly did the math.

“But that would mean…”

“I was seventeen when I joined the army,” he confirmed. “I was so desperate to get away from home that I doctored my birth certificate and lied about my age. I fixed it up again before I joined the Police Academy.”

Alex sighed.

“Okay, fine. You win that one. Ask another one.”

Over by the wall, Jack shook his head and looked back to Deakins.

“We have a lead.”

Deakins’ attention was instantly and completely on Jack.

“Talk to me.”

Jack was momentarily taken aback by the sharp interest in Deakins’ expression. It was a considerable contrast to the vague confusion that he usually got from Mullett. Recovering from his surprise, he told Deakins about the call from George.

“So he was here for a while,” Deakins mused. “One year… Who knows what friendships he might have struck up. You’re going to go out there?”

“Yes. It was eight years ago, but hopefully they still have records from when Mathers attended.”

Deakins nodded his approval.

“Anything they’ve got would be a good starting point for us. What classes he took, whether he stayed on campus, who he roomed with. Maybe there are still some people in the area that knew him then.”

Jack raised an eyebrow slightly. “Aside from our killer.”

Deakins smiled grimly. “Aside from, or including.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Jack asked the question that had been on his mind since Mullett had first told him that the Americans were coming.

“Do you mind me asking, how exactly did you lot get wind of what was happening in our little corner of the universe?”

“An email was sent to Goren’s computer,” Deakins explained. “It included pictures of your first three victims. They weren’t police photos.”

“Pictures of the victims dead, you mean.”

“Yes. At first we thought they must have been three of Mathers’ original eleven victims from Florida, but after a bit of digging we learned about the Denton killings.”

“So we could reasonably assume that these pictures were sent by the killer…” Jack murmured. He trailed off as his mind came to the logical conclusion, and he turned a hard stare on Deakins. “You did take into consideration the possibility that the killer was deliberately trying to lure them here?”

“We know that’s a possibility. Goren and Eames took it into consideration when they made the decision to come.”

“They decided, or someone else did?”

“It was their choice,” Deakins insisted. “I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

Jack nodded slowly, feeling oddly placated.

“All right. It’s starting to look seriously as though this fellow is more than a simple copycat. There is a very good chance that he was friends with Mr Mathers eight years ago, in which case it’s quite likely that he is simply picking up from where Mathers left off. Which might not necessarily bode very well for Bobby and Alex.”

Jack glanced sideways at Deakins. The other man’s pale features spoke louder than any words, telling Jack that Deakins was all-too-aware of that possibility. He looked back at Jack, a haunted look in his grey eyes.

“Why do you think I insisted on coming with them, Inspector? I don’t doubt their capability, but every time they’re out of my sight now, I start having anxiety attacks.”

“Fourteen phone calls a day,” Jack murmured. Deakins nodded.

“Yes, guilty as charged. But it’s either that or I chain them to their desks. We all have our own personal traumas to live with, Inspector Frost. This happens to be mine. Over-protectiveness, if you will.”

“I think I understand,” Jack murmured. “Somehow, though, I don’t believe they’ll allow themselves to be taken by surprise like that again.”

“I know,” Deakins agreed. “I can’t express how proud I am that they had the courage to come here at all. Believe me, Inspector, it really is a big deal that they were able to take that step.”

Jack stared at the file in his hands.

“Now, let’s hope that the university records turn up a name or two that we can follow up on.”

Their discussion was very suddenly interrupted when Eames erupted with a loud and indignant protest.

“No! No way, Bobby! That’s not a fair question! How the hell am I supposed to know that? I’d just had a baby, remember? I was still in hospital, for crying out loud!

Goren looked unrepentant.

“So you’re allowed to ask about the Baxter case, but I can’t ask that? I was in hospital for that, in case you’d forgotten. Fair’s fair, Alex.”

Eames glared at him. “Yeah, after getting shot by a suspect who got sick of you being in his face. But I’ll tell you what the difference is, pal. When I came back to work, I didn’t go prying into all the case files you’d worked on while I was away. When you came back after being shot, you read the Baxter file from cover to cover! So no, it’s not fair.”

“Oh, c’mon,” Goren shot back. “What the hell did you talk to Bishop about all that time you two spent at the local bar if you didn’t talk about our cases?”

“What? You’re assuming now that neither of us had a life outside the job to talk about? Well, you know something, Bobby? Screw you.”

Goren glowered right back at her.

“I never assumed anything. You’re putting words in my mouth now. But then, you’ve always been good at that, haven’t you?”

Eames went red with anger, and looked around furiously for something to throw at him. Her physiotherapist moved quickly back, out of reach, taking his equipment with him.

“Okay,” Deakins muttered, getting up quickly. “Time to put a dampener on things.”

Even as Jack watched, Deakins strode across the floor and placed himself squarely between the feuding partners.

“Enough, you two. Listen up, we have a lead. Mathers spent twelve months at Denton University eight years ago. As soon as you two are done here, you’ll head out to the university with Jack, and see what information you can get.”

The argument almost instantly forgotten, Eames got up and followed Deakins back over to where Jack waited.

“Twelve months here at the local college? That’s a start.”

Goren joined them, moving noticeably easier and quicker than he had been before the physio session.

“Let’s go, then.”

“Drop me back at CID Headquarters,” Deakins told them. “I’ll keep looking through the rest of those case files and see whether they turn up anything of interest.”

“All right, then,” Jack agreed. “Let’s go.”

“If you don’t mind me saying so,” Jack commented as he drove them out to the university, “the two of you don’t exactly have a conventional partnership.”

Eames laughed. “Even before what happened with Mathers, I don’t think we had what you’d call a conventional partnership. But it was more…”

“Professional,” Goren interjected, and Eames nodded in agreement.

“Right. More outwardly professional than it is now. Before, Bobby only ever called me Eames. He only ever calls me that now if he’s trying to piss me off.”

“It’s just, you were arguing quite ferociously before,” Jack pointed out cautiously, not particularly wanting to be responsible for initiating a new argument. To his surprise and relief, both detectives laughed aloud.

“There is method in that madness,” Goren reassured him. “The physio isn’t exactly painless…”

“I imagine it wouldn’t be,” Jack conceded.

“In fact,” Eames stated, “it hurts like hell. Especially for Bobby.”

“We started that little game of ours when we were on the mountain,” Goren explained. “It helped to keep us distracted from the pain…”

“Which was considerable,” Eames added in a subdued voice. Goren nodded in agreement.

“Now we use it whenever we have physio together, which tends to be at least once a week…”

“Or whenever one of us happens to be in a particularly bad amount of pain,” Eames finished. Jack glanced first at Goren, and then in the rear view mirror at Eames.

“Do you do that often? Finish off each other’s sentences, I mean.”

Eames grinned broadly.

“Oh, every…”

“So often,” Goren concluded, an equally big grin on his own face. Jack couldn’t hold back his own smile.

“Suspects must absolutely love the two of you.”

“Wait until you see Bobby in action in the interrogation room,” Eames said with a distinct touch of pride in her voice. “He’s a master at psychological manipulation.”

“Oh, we have an amateur psychologist here, do we?” Jack asked in amusement.

“He’s no amateur,” Eames said, her voice taking on a tone of absolute seriousness.

“I studied psychology while I was in the army, and again when I joined the Police,” Goren explained when Jack looked at him questioningly. “It’s an interesting subject, and it’s helped me get inside the heads of a lot of killers.”

Jack grunted. “Well, as long as you can get back out again, eh?”

“Believe me,” Eames retorted, “I’ve wondered, sometimes.”

George had done his job. The Dean of Denton University, Professor David Graham, was ready to receive them when they arrived, and they were ushered straight into his office.

“You’re here about one of our past students, a Mr Erik Mathers, so DS Toolan informed me.”

Jack nodded. “Yes. Any information at all you have on him would be quite useful.”

Graham smiled a little. He had dealt with the Inspector before and, although Jack’s tone was genial enough, he knew that in reality he was not being given a choice. He’d already worked out a way around it, though.

“Now, Inspector Frost, you know very well that our student records are confidential. Whether it’s regarding a past student or a present one, I can’t allow you to simply take those files without some sort of warrant.”

Graham reached out and patted a file sitting on his desk, clearly marked with the name ‘Mathers’. He went on, just a hint of a smile still on his face.

“Now, as it happens, I was able to locate the records of the young man in questions, but unless you have a warrant…?”

“You know bloody well that we don’t,” Jack growled. “Not yet, at least.”

Graham nodded.

“Yes, I know, and until you do…”

The intercom crackled to life, and the secretary’s voice echoed over the speaker.

“Sorry to interrupted, Professor Graham, but I’m afraid the computers are acting up again.”

Graham offered his guests an apologetic smile as he got up.

“I’m sorry, would you excuse me? My secretary is really very bright, but not terribly keen on computers in general. The last time something went wrong, it took me nearly twenty minutes to work out what it was that she’d done, so this might take a little bit of time.” He paused in the doorway, then added, “The photocopier is over there in the corner, Inspector Frost.”

They watched as Graham closed the door after him, and then Jack got up and grabbed the file off the desk.

“Well, that was an invitation, if ever I’ve heard one.”

Eames followed Jack over to the copier and, when he hesitated, she took the papers and loaded them into the auto-feed and then hit start. Minutes later, they had three copies of Erik Mathers’ file safely tucked away inside Goren’s notebook, and the original file back in its place on Graham’s desk. They had each only just sat back down when Graham walked back in, and sat down once more.

“Turned out to be a fairly simple issue, thankfully. Now, as I was saying, if you wish to take this particular file with you, you will need a warrant. I can, however, provide you with one small piece of knowledge. After looking through the file myself, what I can tell you is that one of the subjects undertaken by Mr Mathers was a stylised version of human psychology.”

“Stylised in what way?” Goren asked.

“In that the lecturer focused on studying human nature at its most base level. If you want to speak to someone who might remember Mr Mathers, then I suggest you start with the lecturer who took that subject.”

“Can you get us a name and current contact details?” Jack asked.

“I can do better than that,” Graham answered. “The lecturer was Amon Bohen, and right now he’ll be wrapping up a lecture in the Owen Carter Lecture Theatre.”

“He still teaches here?” Eames asked in surprise.

“Oh, yes. Teachers with his experience are not easy to come by these days. We try to hang on to the ones we have while we can. If you’ll come with me, I’ll take you to the theatre. I can’t guarantee he’ll be willing to talk to you, but I won’t keep you from trying, either.”

They arrived at the lecture theatre just as a tall, heavily built, black-haired man emerged.

“Amon, could you spare a few minutes?” Graham asked. “These officers would like to ask you about one of your past students, if you’re willing to talk to them.”

Bohen turned to face them, a wry smile on his lips.

“Of course I’m willing to talk to the police, but I deal with hundreds of students. I find it near to impossible to remember all of them, let alone any one student that’s taken one of my subjects in the past.”

“This particular student was here about eight years ago,” Eames explained. “He was here for twelve months as part of an exchange program. His name was Erik Mathers.”

Jack, Bobby and Alex all expected Bohen to deny knowing the name, but to their surprise he nodded slowly, recognition lighting up his face.

“Erik Mathers… Yes, I remember Mr Mathers, funnily enough.” He paused, his gaze flickering first to Bobby and then Alex. More specifically, to his leg brace, and her arm brace. “Perhaps we could go somewhere a little more private…?”

A short time later, they sat in a smaller study room.

“I do remember Erik Mathers,” Bohen confirmed. “Not least of which is because of his… recent exploits. Oh, don’t look so suspicious, Detectives. I make a point of following world news. What else is the Internet for, after all, if not to keep up with what is happening outside the cosy little squares in which we live? When one of my former students is shot dead by police after abducting and torturing two police detectives, it’s something of an attention-getter.” Bohen looked pointedly from Goren to Eames. “And I’m deducing that you two would be the unlucky pair that fell victim to Mr Mathers. Am I right?”

Goren and Eames exchanged grim looks, neither one bothering to answer. Bohen smiled sympathetically.

“The leg and the arm braces were something of a give-away. Do you mind me asking what happened? The reports I read were conflicting.”

“It was an accident,” Eames said bluntly. “What do you remember about Mathers?”

“Right,” Bohen murmured. “Of course, you want to know about Mr Mathers. I suppose it would be stereotypical to say he was very quiet and shy, but the truth is that I don’t really know what he was like. At least, not socially speaking. I do remember him as being very animated in my classes, though. Very enthusiastic. He was quite interested in primitive human nature. I recall he came to me once to discuss topics that he would take on for his thesis when he returned to the US.”

“What sort of topics did he discuss with you?” Jack asked.

“He seemed most interested in drawing comparisons between the primitive natures of man and beast.”

“The desire to hunt and kill prey,” Goren interjected. Bohen nodded.

“Yes, something like that. His theories were quite interesting. He surmised that, given the right circumstances and stimulus, a man will dispense with the social graces ingrained in his from childhood, and revert to the primitive nature that has been part of our DNA since mankind first walked the Earth. I was interested, of course, but such a theory would be next to impossible to gather any evidence to prove.”

“Perhaps,” Jack said coolly, “but he certainly tried, didn’t he?”

Bohen looked around at each of them questioningly.

“What is this about, exactly? I thought Erik Mathers was dead, that he was shot by a police officer?”

“He was,” Goren said, with more than just a hint of satisfaction in his voice.

“Then why are you asking about him?”

“Do you recall whether he was friends with anyone in particular? Jack asked, completely side-stepping Bohen’s question. “Anyone that he perhaps showed up to lectures with on a regular basis?”

Bohen was starting to look irritated.

“As I’ve already said, I didn’t know him socially. He came to my classes, and met with me for one-on-one tutorials. I don’t recall him being especially close to anyone in my class, but mine was not the only class he took, either.” He paused, then went on in a more subdued tone. “I’m well aware that I may have provided Erik with inspiration, but I would never have encouraged his studies if I’d so much as an inkling about the path he’d take. I know this might seem a contradictory stance considering what I teach, but I really do abhor violence in any form. What Erik did to all those people… and to the two of you, was unconscionable.”

Jack glanced at Goren and Eames, then spoke again grimly.

“Professor Bohen, the reason we’re asking you about Erik Mathers is because it appears someone is copycatting him.”

Bohen stared at Jack, openly horrified.

“Here, you mean? In Denton?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. We have four victims so far, and we’d like to catch the sick bastard before another body turns up. We believe the current killer quite likely knew Erik Mathers when he was here eight years ago.”

“I see,” Bohen murmured. “I’m really sorry, but I just can’t help you. All I do know is that he lived here, on campus, in a two-bedroom apartment. I know he had a roommate… I did see them together once, but I couldn’t give you a name.”

“That’s all right, Professor,” Jack said, getting up. “You’ve been quite helpful. Thankyou, and we may be in touch if we need to speak to you again.”

Bohen nodded amiably.

“Anytime. I’m glad to help.”

“So what do you think?” Jack asked aloud once they were away from Bohen’s office. Goren looked thoughtful.

“He was lying about not knowing Mathers beyond the classroom situation. Did you see the way he kept flicking his thumb against his index finger? He was nervous. Especially when you told him about the copycat.”

Jack looked at Goren in surprise, then back to Eames, who smiled and shrugged.

“He’s hyper vigilant. You get used to it.”

“Somehow I doubt that,” Jack muttered.

“We need to get back and go through those files we copied in Graham’s office,” Eames said firmly. “See if we can get a name to this roommate.”

They were interrupted by the ringing of Jack’s phone. Grimacing, Jack answered the call.

“Frost, here… Yes, Hazel, we’re still at the university. We were just about to head… What? Where…? All right. We’ll meet them out there.”

He ended the call, then looked grimly across at Goren and Eames.

“Another body has just turned up.”

Denton Woods

“Three victims spread out over a period of five weeks,” Jack said tersely, “and then two in less than a week. I have to say that I’m starting to feel seriously worried about this situation.”

They made their way through long grass and tall trees, over rocky, uneven ground into the outskirts of Denton Woods, where the body had been found.

“Bloody hell,” Jack growled as they finally came upon the grim scene. “It’s just a kid…”

Neither Goren nor Eames moved or spoke, their gazes fixed on the body before them.

The dead boy was no older than seventeen or eighteen, and he had been found wearing nothing but a dirty, torn pair of shorts. His flesh was ivory white, with a blue tinge to his lips, cheeks and fingers. His body was peppered with puncture wounds of various sizes that were only too familiar to Goren and Eames.

Worst was the expression frozen onto his lifeless face. His dying expression was one of pure and absolute terror.

“His lips are tinged with blue,” Goren murmured as his investigative instincts kicked in. “He’s been out here for a couple of nights. The killer is following the same pattern as Erik Mathers.”

“Not quite the same,” Eames corrected, not moving from where she stood. “This kid came too soon after the last victim. Mathers dealt with each of his victims over a period of a week, and usually left a week or two between killing one victim, and abducting the next. This killer is way too eager. He must have had this kid on ice while he was dealing with the previous victim.”

“Or,” Goren pointed out quietly, “he took them together, and released them together. Like Mathers did with… with his last two victims.”

“Oh god,” Eames groaned softly, shaking her head at the unwanted reminder, “I hope not.”

Collecting a pair of gloves from a surprised Forensics officer, Goren made his way over to the body, curiosity momentarily overcoming his own personal traumas. Using his cane for balance, he bent down as low as he could to examine the wounds on the victim’s body.

Jack looked on with an expression akin to disbelief on his face before looking questioningly to Eames.

“Does he always like to get up this close and personal to dead bodies?”

Eames smiled a little, and inclined her head towards Goren who was stretching down to poke lightly at a laceration on the victim’s arm.

“If you think that’s odd, just wait until we get back to the morgue. He drives our Medical Examiner up the wall. Just can’t keep his hands to himself.”

“I see,” Jack murmured, frowning a little. In all his time with CID, he had yet to encounter a constable or detective who was willing to be ‘hands-on’ with a dead body. As far as he knew, Goren was definitely one of a kind in that department, and he wasn’t sure what to think of it.

Eames smiled to herself, taking in Jack’s puzzled look with amusement, but said nothing more.

“There’s something under the fingernails,” Goren announced to no one in particular. “Looks like it could be skin particles… He may have had a chance to fight his attacker. We need to get samples of that…”

He tried to lean down further still, only to overbalance and nearly tumble right over. He was save from a potentially nasty fall only by a strong pair of hands grabbing him by the shoulder and by the belt, keeping him upright.

“Thanks,” Goren muttered, his face flushing red. Jack nodded, nonchalant as ever.

“Yes, well, perhaps you’d be better off waiting until we do get the body back to the morgue, hmm?”

As Jack moved off to speak to one of the officers at the scene, Goren glanced back at Eames, who stared back at him reproachfully. His flush deepened as he rejoined her.

“I know,” he mumbled. “Be more careful…”

She laid a firm hand on his forearm, and squeezed affectionately.

“Just you remember that, pal, because if you do fall, it’ll be the paramedics picking you up, not me or Jack.”

Sufficiently chastised, Goren stood back with Eames, watching everything with intense interest and an eagle eye.

“Those are the two coppers from America, huh?”

Jack glanced up at WPC Andrew Winters, a slight frown on his face at what he sensed was a deliberately mocking tone. Winters went on, oblivious to the dangerous look he was getting from Jack.

“Not really what any of us expected, are they?”

“And what, exactly, did you expect?” Jack asked coldly. Winters shrugged.

“Not a couple of invalids, that’s for sure.”

Jack, who had been examining a footprint in the soft earth, now stood up straight, coming almost nose to nose with the young officer.

“Tell me something, Andy. You’re hoping for promotion soon to Detective Constable, aren’t you?”

Winters faltered, startled at having one of his superior officers right in his face.

“Uh… Yes, sir…”

“Well, WPC Winters, if you’re serious about obtaining that promotion, I suggest you avoid making snap judgements on people based purely on appearance. Am I making myself clear?”

Winters stared at Jack, wide-eyed.

“Yes, Guv. Sorry… I just thought… I mean…”

“What you mean, is that you didn’t think,” Jack snapped. “Perhaps next time you’ll do us all a favour, and keep your yap shut!”

Jack stalked away, leaving the constable staring after him, dumbfounded.

“What was that about?” Eames wondered as they headed back to Jack’s car. “That kid looked terrified.”

Jack grunted. “I tend to have that effect on police officers that insist on acting like dimwits.” He looked across at Goren, and a hint of a smile touched his lips. “I imagine the two of you would have much the same effect.”

“We try not to frighten the new kids too much,” Goren said with a wry smile.

“Although you should have seen him when we found a beat cop had tampered with a crime scene,” Eames added with a grin. “Tore strips off the guy. Left him crying like a baby.”

Goren frowned. “He deserved it. You don’t mess with a murder scene just because you’re worried it might offend someone’s sensitivities.”

Jack chuckled.

“I thought as much. Okay… The body will be delivered straight to the morgue. I take it that’s where you want to go next?”

“That’d be good,” Goren said. “How long before any results come back from Forensics?”

“A few hours,” Jack answered. “Unfortunately, we have to do with the staff that are available. Sometimes things take a little longer than we like. If you like, we can go and get some lunch first, then pay a visit to the morgue. After that, by the time we get back to CID, some of the results should be starting to come in.”

“No,” Eames said firmly, before Goren had the chance to agree. “I’m not visiting the morgue straight after eating. We go there first, and then get lunch.”

Jack looked back at her, puzzled.

“What difference would it make, going there before or after?”

She pulled a face in Goren’s direction.

“Trust me, it makes a world of difference. You’ll see.”

Coroner's Office

Half an hour later, Jack finally had the opportunity to see exactly what Eames meant. They arrived at the morgue shortly after the body had been delivered and, as per orders, it was bumped to the top of the list.

“I’ve got an audience today, have I?” Dr Derek Simpkins asked, eyeing Goren and Eames with mild amusement. He went on without waiting for an answer. “Had lunch yet, Jack?”

Jack glowered at Simpkins, who merely chuckled as he pulled on his gloves.

“All right, let’s see what we have here…”

He trailed off, looking up in surprise as Goren approached the table. A small smile touched his lips.

“I take it you have a marginally stronger stomach than Inspector Frost, Detective…?”

“Detective Goren. Do you mind…?” Goren indicated a spare pair of latex gloves on the trolley with the instruments. Simpkins looked even more surprised, but nodded in compliance.

“Be my guest.”

Goren snapped on the gloves, and promptly bent in close to look at the tips of the victim’s fingers, and beneath the nails. Simpkins stared at Goren, taken aback, then looked up at Jack and Eames.

“Is he, uh… Is he always this enthusiastic?”

“Usually he’s pushier than that,” Eames answered flippantly. “You’re lucky he actually asked first. But if you think this is strange, wait until he starts sniffing at the body.”

Sniffing?” Jack echoed incredulously. Eames smiled and shrugged lopsidedly.

“What can I say? He’s got the nose of a bloodhound.”

Recovering quickly from his own astonishment, Simpkins returned his attention to the body before him, and was soon engaged in a thorough examination.

“This lad wasn’t killed by puncture wounds like the rest of them,” Simpkins announced as he examined the skull. Goren moved around to look at what Simpkins was seeing, then nodded in agreement.

“The back of his skull was stoved in,” Simpkins went on. “Very violent and very abrupt.”

“You’re saying someone hit him in the back of the head hard enough to crack his head open?” Jack asked.

“Not exactly,” Goren murmured. He indicated a spot on the side of the boy’s head, and Simpkins leaned in for a closer look, then nodded again.

“I see… This bruising on the sides of the head… I’d guess that whoever killed him did so by holding his head… Detective, do you mind…?”

Goren nodded his consent, and Simpkins reached up to hold both sides of Goren’s head so that Jack and Eames were both able to see.

“Held the boy’s head like this… And then smashed it backwards, probably against a rock.”

“Which mean he had to be pinned to the ground,” Eames murmured. Goren nodded.

“If the killer is operating the same way as Erik Mathers, he probably gave each of his victims a time frame to try and escape him. I’m betting that this kid survived that time frame…”

“And this is the reward he got for it,” Eames finished off, anger in her voice. “Son of a bitch…”

“Let’s hope the evidence taken from under his fingernails was a result of him scratching and fighting his killer,” Jack said quietly. “God knows we need the break.”

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