Title: Touching a Nerve
Rating: R for innuendo and somewhat graphic descriptions of harm to humans
Written for the Post-Christmas Crossover Fest at torchwood_fest
Crossover with: Criminal Minds
Prompt: Torchwood requests that the BAU help profile some alien species in order to catch them. Would like a case fic, but underlying... Hotch is hesitant to start a relationship with Reid since he is his boss... Jack and Ianto notice the tension and offer their advice to move the couple forward into a relationship. Nothing too fluffy, I like when they are the manly men they are... but definitely obvious affection/desire between the couples.
Word Count: This part - 6112
Summary: The BAU is loaned to the United Kingdom to help find a serial torture/rape killer who's been dumping bodies in Caerphilly Castle's moat. Torchwood is brought in when they find that the bodies that haven't completely decomposed are found to have no nerve tissue left, apparently eaten from the inside out. They need to work together to get rid of the threat.
Timeframe: Classic Torchwood with no dead people in it. Criminal Minds at least a year after the mess with Foyet.
Characters from Torchwood: Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones, Gwen Cooper, Owen Harper, Kathy Swanson
Characters from Criminal Minds: Aaron Hotchner, Dr. Spencer Reid, Jennifer Jareau, David Rossi, Emily Prentiss, Derek Morgan, Penelope Garcia
Pairings: Jack/Ianto and a taste of Hotch/Reid
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood nor do I own Criminal Minds. They belong to other people. I have no intentions on disrupting anyone's copyrights. I just like to play in the sandbox.
Warnings: Descriptions of torture/rape victims, really icky aliens, and some more gross subjects. Nothing very graphic occurs on stage, but it may trouble some people to hear it talked about.
A/N 1: Caerphilly Castle is a real castle with an honest-to-goodness moat, about 10 miles from Cardiff and Newport. Everything about the surronding area is as accurate as I could make it based on Google maps and much searching.
A/N 2: For those who are unfamiliar with the gorgeous people of Criminal Minds, go here:
Touching a Nerve, Part 1
It was dark, but then it was always dark here. He liked the dark. It let him do what he wanted, when he wanted. They gave him all the light he needed. It was a simple reciprocity agreement. When he was ready, they would feed. Then afterwards he would dispose of what was left. This one had been more fun than the last one. He’d lasted until they had started to feed. When he realized what was happening, he began to squeak. Not scream or whine – actually squeak. It was such a funny sound. Maybe the next one would make another funny sound. He’s have to more careful, so they would last longer. He’d consider that. Next time.
"Jack!" Ianto Jones scolded. "Stop messing with the wires."
Captain Jack Harkness grinned sheepishly as he stood up from behind the AV equipment. "I was just trying to make it short out so we wouldn’t have to have this meeting." He took the tray of coffee cups away from Ianto and set it on the conference room table. "There are so many other things we could be doing. Weevil hunting, eating, each other…"
With an exaggerated sigh, Ianto rolled his eyes. "You have a one-track mind. Seriously, Jack. Detective Swanson actually asked us politely for a conference. Considering how much she dislikes Torchwood, her being polite suggests that that this talk is important." Softening a little, he leaned forward to brush his lips across Jack’s cheek. "Then later we can go hunt Weevils and order pizza."
"Stop it now before I need brain bleach," Owen growled as he came into the conference room, followed by Tosh and Gwen. "Bad enough we have to listen to the coppers. If you two have eye sex through this whole thing, I’m going to need a week of continuous pub-crawling to get over it."
Gwen and Tosh exchanged glances and both of them swatted Owen. "We like the eye sex," Tosh said.
"It’s cute," Gwen agreed.
"Two weeks!" Owen said. He dropped into a chair. "No, make that three."
Ianto knew that the blush was creeping across his face, but he couldn’t let Owen get in the last word. "You’re just mad that Jack won’t have eye sex with you," he deadpanned. Once they all had coffee, he sat in the chair on Jack’s right.
Jack peered over the edge of his cup and fluttered his eyelashes. "All you needed to do was ask, Owen. I’ve been told that I’m good at it."
"I’m fairly certain I have something in autopsy that will blind you both."
The ring of the telephone stopped the bickering. The screen lit up with the Detective Kathy Swanson’s face. Ianto felt Jack’s boot tap against his foot. He had always had an irrational reaction to what he perceived to be Kathy’s preference for dealing with Ianto. Jack smiled his shark smile. "Hello, Kathy. What can Torchwood do for the local constabulary?"
"Captain Harkness." Her voice sounded strained and Ianto could see that she was near exhaustion. "I really don’t have time for your usual antics. Just listen, please. This is important."
Jack leaned forward. Ianto knew that he had switched from "annoy the authorities" mode into Captain mode. Even Owen caught the undertone of stress. He dropped the lazy persona immediately. Jack said, "Tell us."
"I’m assuming that you’ve been keeping track of current events," Kathy said. "You know about the bodies being found around Caerphilly Castle? Well, we just found another one – this one much fresher than the others. Dead only four days when it was spotted. We’ve just completed the autopsy."
"I know you’ve probably got a serial killer on the loose," Jack said quietly. "I thought Scotland Yard was dealing with it."
"They’ve spent a week at it, but they’re spread pretty thin right now. All those terrorist bombings in Cornwall." She shook her head. "Unfortunately, they have no clues but the bodies and really nowhere to go."
Frowning, Jack said, "Kathy, I sympathize, but what do you need Torchwood for? Catching serial killers is not our job and I don’t think we’d be much help. We deal with aliens."
"I know." The strain in her voice became more obvious. "We’ve asked for outside help. It’s coming, but something new came out of the autopsy results today. The victim had been raped and tortured like the others, but since the body was fairly new they got something else. Something I think that you should look at."
"We’ll help if we can. What?"
"I don’t know all the technical terms, but in layman’s language it seems that the victims have lost their peripheral nervous systems. The brain, stem and spinal cord is intact, but every other nerve cell in the body has been removed. From what the doctors say, there’s no way the torture could do that. There’s no trace of the nerve tissue. What is there is a substance that they’ve never seen before, but has the elementary equivalent of digestive fluids. "
Ianto barely stopped himself from gasping. Owen was the one who finally said, "So what you’re telling us is that something is eating their nervous systems."
The words seem to hang in the air. They were all staring. Jack cleared his throat. "That’s Torchwood enough for me, Kathy."
The plane was larger than their usual one. That was understandable since they were crossing the Atlantic. "Has the Bureau ever sent a team to England before?" Jennifer Jareau asked.
Dr. Spencer Reid spoke up. "Technically, we aren’t going to England. We’re going to Wales which was taken over about the time the Magna Charta was signed. By agreement, the heirs to the throne in the direct line have Prince or Princess of Wales among their many titles. Wales has the longest place name in Europe: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-l
By this time, all of them were looking at Aaron Hotchner in desperation. He leaned forward and said, "Stop, please, Reid," in that gentle voice that he only used to cut short one of Reid’s lectures.
Dave Rossi passed Reid a piece of paper. "Write that long name down for me. I might use it in my next book just to confuse people."
While Spencer was occupied, Hotch gave the floor back to JJ and Penelope Garcia. Garcia pulled up something on the data pad. "Ok, troops, as Reid mentioned, we’re going to Cardiff in Wales. We’ll be setting up shop in Cardiff because the police headquarters in Caerphilly has only two rooms. It’s a small village and caters to casual tourists. The castle is the attraction, of course."
JJ said, "We’re going over there at the express request of the government, so we’ve all been given the same authority as Scotland Yard officers. However, they’d like us to shoot as few people as possible." She grinned. "Apparently, the person I talked to has seen all the Dirty Harry and Beverly Hills Cop movies once too often."
She glanced sidelong at Reid. Actually they all did, except Hotch. Reid looked up and said, "What? Clint Eastwood movies are classics and the Beverly Hills Cop movies are very good examples on how not to catch criminals. Besides, they’re funny."
Hotch hid a smile. He knew his team couldn’t really understand Reid’s notions of what was and wasn’t ‘funny’, so that finding out that he shared a general opinion was a little startling. Hotch said mildly, "So, what are we in for when we get there?"
JJ shook her head. "Sorry. It’s a bad situation. While preparing for an archeological excavation on a section of the moat…"
Derek Morgan interrupted, "The castle really has a moat? I thought that was only in fairy tales. And Disneyland, I guess."
Reid looked as if he was about to speak, so Hotch gave him the signal to not start. "We can talk about the side issues later. Let’s concentrate on the case."
"Right." JJ raised her datapad. "This is an overhead view of Caerphilly. It has a lake on one side and a moat that curves around the castle itself. There have been many underwater digs there, and there was nothing unusual about this one. Until the divers found the remains of a body dressed in contemporary clothing. There wasn’t a lot of flesh left; the lake does have fish in it. But there was enough to give a DNA match to Mark Elroy. Mark had a record of petty theft and prostitution in Cardiff, but no one seems to have noticed him missing. No family that the police have been able to track down and no pimp apparently."
Prostitutes. Hotch particularly disliked cases where prostitutes were disappearing. Most of them had no family or friends to talk to. It also made it hard to get a good geographical profile, since they tended to wander.
JJ went on. "So far the police have found twenty bodies in the lake and the moat. They’ve only been to identify seven of them so far. Same as Mark. Arrests for petty theft and prostitution. No one reported them missing. The oldest one that they’ve been able to determine was just over a year ago."
"So what makes the police think that there’s only one person responsible?" Rossi asked. "Couldn’t multiple unsubs be using that lake as a dump site?"
Garcia answered, "The castle is well-lit at night. It has to be to prevent vandalism. Also there’s a tower that has to be propped up by scaffolding, since it’s about to topple over. It’s monitored constantly to be sure it isn’t shifting. That’s a lot of eyes not to be noticing a bunch of people tossing bodies in the lake, and especially in the moat. The picture has red dots where the bodies have been found. Notice that there’s a cluster together here. That doesn’t give us a lot of information as to where he or she is putting them in the water because there are concrete supports for the bridge there. If they floated at all, they would be caught by that."
"Why don’t they float to the surface?" This time it was Emily Prentiss who asked the question that they were all wondering. "You’d think someone would at least notice a body floating around."
"There are concrete blocks nearby that may have been used to keep the bodies below the surface."
"The only reason they found a more recent one was that it somehow came loose and became lodged in the grill that keeps stuff from getting into the castle proper." It was JJ’s turn again. "One of the employees there saw it. It was the only one they’ve found that had much flesh on it. The coroner’s report is that there are multiple cuts on the body, but that’s not what killed her. The woman has a lot of vaginal scarring as though she had been repeatedly raped. She died of strangulation. She was a body before she went into the water."
Garcia took over. "But there’s something creepier than that. She leaned forward and her eyes were a little too bright to be explained by interest in the case. "We’ll be working with Torchwood."
That made them all sit up. "The alien hunters?" Reid said, excitement in his tone. "Why are they interested?"
"Because, my boy genius, the body had no nerve tissue. None. Zero. Zip. And it looks like something ate it."
Gwen Cooper wondered what this meeting would be like. She had read much of the information Ianto had given about them – only enough to know that they specialized in profiling serial killers. She was sure the Yard had profilers, so why did they need to call in an American group? Wouldn’t they be a bit out of their depth? She was fairly certain that she couldn’t just go to America and figure out how to hunt aliens there in a day. However, the crown had asked them to work with these people, so she would.
She was very uncertain about Jack, though. He was and had always been very territorial. Gwen supposed they would have to rely on Ianto to keep him under enough control that there would not be a giant pissing match once they got together. She knew that Ianto was the reason they were meeting on neutral ground, so to speak, rather than bringing them directly to the Hub. Ianto was the only natural diplomat in the group.
They were walking in what she privately called their "Wedge Formation": Jack in front, Ianto just behind his right shoulder, Gwen just behind his left, Toshiko behind Ianto and Owen behind Gwen. They’d never discussed it, of course. They’d just fallen into it since Jack’s return. She had no idea what it said about their power dynamics, although if the visitors lived up to their reputations, they probably could.
She spotted them immediately upon entering the lobby of St. David’s. Four men and three women, all too well-dressed for tourists and professional-looking, except possibly the one with a purple stripe through her blonde hair. As they got closer, Gwen was suddenly glad that Rhys was on a haul and not expected back for four days. He’d finally gotten used to Jack, Ianto and Owen. If he turned up and found her with four more attractive men around her, he’d probably go into a "Rhys Rant" instantly.
Because they were attractive. The dark, broody-looking one who introduced himself to Jack first as SSA Hotchner, the black muscle-bound Derek Morgan, the older but still charming David Rossi, and the ethereal Spencer Reid. Two of the women Emily Prentiss and Jennifer Jareau were beautiful and the one with the purple stripe and glasses, Penelope Garcia, was very pretty when she smiled. When the introductions were completed, she immediately crossed to Tosh and soon they were involved in exchanging computer gibberish that would make no sense to any normal person. Jack and Ianto were talking to Agent Hotchner, Dr. Reid, and Agent Rossi. That left her and Owen with the other three. Gwen smiled and asked, "Were your rooms all right?"
"All right?" Agent Jareau grinned. "Considering that we have three suites on the top floor in this gorgeous hotel? Usually we end up in the local motel with two rooms and a rollaway."
With a laugh, Gwen nodded. "Jack can’t stand the thought of visitors in cheap lodgings, so you can thank him for the nice place. It’s on Torchwood, which should make your budget-conscious superiors happy, Agent Jareau."
A pair of cleared throats, almost in unison, turned everyone’s attention to their respective leaders. Jack said, "The general location of our headquarters is ‘down by the quay’, but we prefer to keep the entrances inconspicuous. So we’re going to go in groups of four. Gwen, you’ll take three in by the tourist office. Tosh, Owen, you’ll take two to the dock. We’ll use the lift."
"How come you get to use the cool entrance?" Owen said grouchily.
Jack’s thousand-watt grinned flashed. "Because I’m Captain and you’re not. Agent Hotchner?"
"Rossi, Prentiss, Morgan, you go with Miss Cooper."
"Gwen," she said automatically. "I won’t know who you’re talking to if you call me ‘Miss Cooper’."
Rossi gallantly extended an arm. "Gwen, may I have the honor?"
She just couldn’t stop the giggle that bubbled up. "You certainly may."
"JJ, you go with Garcia."
Gwen saw Owen’s eyes light up. She knew he liked blondes. "And Reid and I will go with Captain Harkness and Mr. Jones."
Agent Prentiss raised an eyebrow. "I suppose you get the ‘cool’ entrance because you’re in charge and we’re not?" She grinned to take the sting out.
Agent Hotchner matched her eyebrow for eyebrow. "Actually, Reid called dibs on the ‘cool’ entrance and graciously allowed me to come along."
Reid had to stop himself from skipping ahead. He was eager and excited. There had been rumors galore about the Torchwood Hub and now he was going to get to see it for himself. He turned his head to grin at Ianto Jones. Apparently he took that as an opening to ask, "Are you the Dr. Reid who wrote the paper on the importance of compartmentalizing an eidetic memory for International Psychology Review last quarter?"
Once again, Reid reminded himself not to blush when he was asked a question like this, even if the someone was very good-looking and had a voice he could listen to all day long. "Yes, I am. Did you… have you read it?"
"It was enlightening. I’ve been trying out the suggestions and they’ve worked." Mr. Jones shrugged. "I’ve read some other things, but nothing that offered that kind of practical help."
"You have an eidetic memory?" Reid could have kicked himself for the obviousness of that question. Hadn’t he just said so? "How’s your phonographic memory?"
"Not nearly as good, but I’m trying to make it better. Do you have any suggestions for that?"
Reid hadn’t even realized they had stopped, but suddenly there was a hand on his arm and Hotch’s voice saying, "What’s going on?"
He knew he sounded like a child who had just been given a treat, but he didn’t care. "Hotch! Mr. Jones has an eidetic memory!" The unspoken part of that was, "Just like me!"
"Please, call me Ianto. We’re informal here."
"You can call me Spencer, then."
The captain was there. The part of Reid’s brain that was always profiling started spitting out information. Alpha male. Charm by the boatful. Very charismatic. Used to getting what he wants when he wants it. And with a simple placement of his hand on Ianto’s waist, claiming him for his own. Reid glanced at Hotch to see if he was getting it, too.
He was. Hotch took a half-step back, bringing Reid with him. It wasn’t a submission, but an acknowledgement of an existing relationship, upon which they would not encroach. Reid looked down at that claiming hand and an irrational spear of jealousy shot through him. He wanted… he wanted… damn it, he wanted Hotch to claim him exactly that same way and knew he never would. It was only a thought, gone as quickly as it came, so he was able to say calmly, "Sorry, I got distracted."
The captain turned the charm on full force. "Can’t really blame you," he said. "Ianto is very distracting."
They were hungry again. He could tell as soon as he came in. It was too soon after the last one, but there were more of them now. He wasn’t sure what to do. They had found the bodies at Caerphilly. He had seen it on the news. There would be people around even at night. He needed to find somewhere else to take the remains. Perhaps Cardiff Bay would do. He’d have to be careful about the tides, of course. If he threw them in the bay, he couldn’t weigh them down. He’d have to be sure that they were taken by the sea.
They poked at his mind again. Feed us. He considered. He’d driven all the way to Swansea for his last one. He didn’t like going that far. Maybe… maybe… he could bring two at once! That was a daring thought. Two. Perhaps one from Newport and one from Cardiff. Not too noticeable if he took them from two different places. That’s what he’d try.
Toshiko had known Ianto would do it from the little grin on his face. When the lift was partway down, she saw him move his hand to his pocket. A moment later, Myfanwy the pteranodon came swooping down, circling the descending platform and skimming the catwalk above Owen’s alien conservatory. Ianto tossed a chocolate bar to her and she cawed as she snatched it out of the air. She retreated to her nest with her prize. "Showoff!" Owen yelled up at the platform.
"You’re just mad because she’ll only do that for Ianto," Tosh said, smiling at his grumpiness.
Emily Prentiss turned to her with wide eyes. "Was that really a pterodactyl?"
Reid took a little hop off the platform, still looking with awe up at the nest. "No, it’s a pteranodon. They’re bigger and more birdlike than the Pterodactylus. Their beaks have no teeth. Did you just give her chocolate?" This last was directed at Ianto.
"It’s Myfanwy’s secret vice. Extra dark. Good for her serotonin levels."
"Where did she come from?" Rossi asked.
"From the Rift that runs through Cardiff," Jack said. "You might say she brought Ianto and me together."
From the looks the BAU team exchanged with each other, it was obvious that they wanted to ask more, but their leader (Agent Hotchner, she thought it was) said, "We can gawk like tourists later. For now, we need to get busy."
As Ianto led the others to an area off to the side where they could work, Tosh caught Penelope Garcia by the arm. "Come with me so I can get you set up."
"Are you the Goddess of All Things Computer here?"
Tosh could tell that she and Penelope would get along fine. "I’m not sure that’s how I would put it. Here, use Owen’s station. He only touches it when he wants to play a game or surf the porn sites."
Penelope flexed her fingers. "Let me at ‘em, Dr. Sato."
"Please call me Tosh. Everyone else does."
"We all use our last names, so I’m Garcia. Except to that gorgeous hunk of chocolaty goodness over there. He calls me Baby Girl."
Resisting the urge to giggle, Tosh leaned over her to get her hooked into the system. "Our big computer is called Mainframe. It’s got alien technology in it, but we’re not sure how much. I think she’s female. She has too much sense and too much knowledge to be male."
This time she and Garcia both giggled. It was so nice to have someone who understood what she was talking about as she explained how to access the kinds of records that Garcia would need to support her teammates. Tosh didn’t have to explain anything twice.
As they gathered in the conference room, Morgan was busy profiling Torchwood. They weren’t very easy to read, so it was a bit of a challenge. Morgan liked challenges.
The doctor was the easiest of the group. He’d suffered some massive hurt in the past and had therefore walled himself in. Of all of them, he was the one most likely to turn into an unsub in the future. The only outlet he allowed himself for his anger and bitterness was the razor-edged sarcasm he displayed to all and sundry. Morgan hadn’t seen him in his capacity of a doctor, but he must have some talent or no one would put up with him.
Gwen reminded him a little bit of Prentiss: lovely and deadly. Her sweet smile that displayed a gap between her front teeth covered a predatory core of steel. He would bet she would be capable of a good deal of compassion, but that it might be placed in the wrong direction without a firm hand to guide it. He guessed she would be stubborn if crossed, but also focused on the job at hand.
If he had to pick a word to define Tosh, it would be "intelligent". She was also shy and sexy, if she would allow herself to be. Smart girls were a big turn on for Morgan, which was one of the reasons he and Garcia were so close. He wondered if he would have time to coax her out of that shell she wore. It would be fun to try at any rate.
Ianto gave off many conflicting signals. It was part of his coping mechanism, Morgan assumed. His appearance in a well-tailored suit was not to be faulted and his voice was deep and soothing. He was apparently the general office manager, but also displayed a set of reflexes that reminded him of Reid without the nervous jumps. He kept his expression controlled and polite, but his eyes softened when he looked at his boss.
That brought Morgan to Captain Jack Harkness: a proverbial riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. He was the Hotch of his group, but Morgan could see depths of darkness underneath that big smile and charisma. There was one thing he gave off clearly though – he was an alpha with a mate he would not allow anyone to threaten. He had warned both the men and the women off without losing a single bit of charm, but Morgan would step carefully around Ianto. He suspected all of them would.
Ianto had brought in a large urn with coffee and was serving it to them almost like a butler. He had placed cream and sugar on the table, with the sugar bowl near Reid. Morgan wondered how he had guessed. When he was given his own cup, he sniffed and sipped cautiously. There was no telling how the Welsh made coffee and Morgan did not want to offend.
At the first taste, he lowered the cup carefully and looked at Hotch. "Can we keep him?" he asked, nodding at Ianto. "This is the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had in my life!"
Jack grinned but he also shot a look at Morgan. "Ianto is our coffee god. No poaching allowed."
The slight tension was broken by Reid. "Wow," he said appreciatively. "It even makes the sugar taste better."
Jack looked at Hotch and received a nod. They were sharing leadership, which Morgan found a little weird with two such alpha personalities. Jack signaled Toshiko and the large screen lit up, as did smaller screens on the table top. Jack began speaking. "We’ve been looking in our archives for species that digest nerve tissue and we’ve only found three. We eliminated the brain-eating ones, since the brain and spinal column remain untouched."
JJ and Prentiss both wrinkled their noses and Garcia piped up, "There are actually aliens who eat brains? That’s disgusting."
Ianto nodded. "You’d be surprised at what makes aliens survive. A lot of them don’t. We try to get rid of the brain-eaters quickly though."
Rossi said, "I’m all for that."
"This may be something new, completely out of our experience, but we can start with what we have. Tosh?"
A picture of a slug-like creature appeared on the screen. "This is what we call a Puraban. It will dissolve the nervous system of just about any mammal it comes into contact with. However, it’s also a meter and a half tall and almost as broad. The last known incursion was in 1956, where three of them were killed after being caught by Torchwood. They’d make a big Rift spike coming through and we haven’t had one like that since I’ve been working here, so I’d say they’re out of the running."
Another picture came up, with a creature that resembled a spider but with teeth like a shark. "This species is small, about ten centimeters in its largest dimension. The Gnemoics prefer nerve tissue, but will eat flesh to get through to it. They also smell very bad. Anyone coming within a kilometer would probably notice the stink from a colony. A small colony would probably die. They can only survive with two hundred or more. We don’t know why."
"She’s not kidding about the stink," Owen said. "We had to wear Hazmat suits just to get anywhere near them. And a flame thrower will dispose of them quickly and easily."
Tosh cleared her throat. "After a lot of digging, Ianto found this last type in the Archive files. A lot of the older stuff has not been digitized yet, so sometimes you have to go through the folders one by one." She put another picture up. This one was a bit out of focus and in black and white. "The name assigned to them was Nerve Worms. According to the description they were covered in cilia that would protect them as they moved through the body eating the nerves. They were found near the beginning of the twentieth century, hence the not-so- great picture. The coloring was a purple for the darker part and a light green for the brighter spots. The spots seemed to be phosperescent because it’s noted that they would glow faintly in darkness. When they reach a length of six centimeters, they split in half and become two creatures. The growth process is slow, taking at least 180 days to get to the length to split. Roughly half of them died after splitting."
"These are the most likely candidate," Jack said. "They’re small enough to have fallen through without a spike. If they fell onto a vehicle they would be taken along. Direct sunlight will kill them if left out in it too long. If it’s them, then the person responsible for this is either inside a structure without windows or a cave."
"Are there a lot of caves around the castle?" The question came from JJ.
Gwen sighed. "Wales is riddled with caves. You can’t swing a cricket bat without hitting a cave. Some of them are huge. A lot of them are small enough that only one person can squirm through them. There are plenty of cave systems that are in between."
Reid asked, "These things don’t cut or strangle, do they?"
It was Ianto who answered him. "No, they make a small hole, probably in a hand or foot, and slide in. It would make it even easier if someone had made a cut that allowed them direct access to a nerve. They could then just follow the path."
Hotch cleared his throat. "That gives us part of the pattern. The unsub somehow gets his victim into a vehicle, takes the victim to a room or cave, tortures and rapes and then gives him or her to these creatures to eat. Afterwards, he takes them to the castle and throws the body in the lake. Rossi, Prentiss and Reid, Ianto has agreed to take you out to the dump site. Garcia, you and Toshiko take a look at geological surveys of the area and see if you can map out the kinds of caves we’d be looking for as well as any unoccupied buildings."
"Owen, I’d like for you to go with me and Agent Hotchner to the morgue and see what we can find out about the body. Gwen, you’re with Agent Morgan and Agent Jareau. We have copies of the files, but they may need something else from Detective Swanson. I know how much you love to get reacquainted with your old colleagues." He winked at her.
Morgan saw her smile insincerely while looking daggers at her boss. "Oh, yes, Jack, thank you ever so." She didn’t sound exactly grateful.
Jack and Hotch stood up at the same time. "Ianto somehow managed to find two black SUV’s for us to use. I understand that’s your vehicle of choice. Take the Torchwood SUV, Ianto, and show them how to use some of its tricks. Tosh, make sure you know where they are at all times."
As they filed out, Morgan saw Jack lift his hand to Ianto’s cheek. It was only a light touch and didn’t last longer than half a second, before they moved away from each other. Yep, Morgan told himself. An alpha and his mate.
Owen glared at the partially-eaten corpse on the autopsy table. It mocked him simply by being dead. There were a million clues to be gained if Owen could just find them. That arrogant son-of-bitch of an FBI agent wasn’t helping his mood. If anything, the bastard was probably waiting for him to screw up.
They’d already examined the girl who was mostly intact. They’d moved on to another one that wasn’t as badly decomposed as most of the others. At least Jack was distracting the coroner and leaving Owen alone. Except for Agent High-And-Mighty Hotchner. Shrugging, he brought the scalpel up to the face and made a shallow cut along the skin under the eyeball. It was obscene what he would have to do here, but it was necessary to find out was causing this. He succeeded in removing the eyeball from its socket and glanced up at the Agent. He was stony-faced, showing nothing except mild interest in the proceedings.
The doctor decided to ignore him. He probed in the muscles to where the optical nerve should be, but there was no nerve, only a narrow hollow space where the nerve should be. He took a careful scraping and put it into a dish for further study. Carefully he traced the path down to where the nerve ought to have been and took another scraping.
The agent’s deep voice came quietly. "If the creature was introduced into the body close to the optic nerve, how long would it be before the victim would lose his sight?"
At least it was a semi-intelligent question. "Like a lot of things, the answer is ‘it depends’. If someone let it bore in through a tear duct, it would cut that eye out first. You’d be blind on one side until it reached the juncture of the nerves and severed it. That would be when the other side would blank out. If what was reported about the speed of these nasty little things move is accurate, I’d say around seven minutes before you couldn’t see out of one eye and about the same time before you were completely blind. If the person were still alive that is. If the person were dead so that the muscles wouldn’t be fighting so hard, a lot faster."
"A shitload of it." Owen discarded the ordinary scalpel and pulled the laser scalpel from his pocket. "It would be worse than a hundred simultaneous migraines would be." He carefully maneuvered the eye back into its socket and used the laser to seal the wound. The other eye and surrounding tissue were long gone. "I doubt if anyone could stand it for more than two minutes before passing out. I’m guessing less than a minute for most people. Tough guys like you would last longer."
"Thank you for the compliment."
Ok. Maybe this agent wasn’t so bad. At least he had a sense of humor. Owen spread the flaccid tissue of the ear next to him and examined it carefully. "I’d guess one of the little buggers went in through here. The ear drum is gone." He tilted the head to look at the eye again. "Well, would you look at that? Gwen would give a lot of money to find out what kind of make-up this kid used. It really is waterproof. You can see the mascara and eyeliner." Shrugging, he moved further down the body.
Agent Hotchner had another question. "Is it a habit for the male prostitutes here to use make-up?"
"Rent boys will use about anything they can get their paws on to make themselves look better. It’s the only asset they have. This one had an okay body until the water got to him. Tall and skinny, I’d say. Not much of an ass." Owen pulled the sheet off the lower half of the body and took a look at the injuries around the anus. "Gross," he muttered. "Object rape, it looks like." He picked up another scalpel and took more scrapings.
"Did they do a rape kit?"
"I’m sure they did, but they don’t check for the same things I’m going to check for." He looked up. "My guess would be at least one of these pokes put a Nerve Worm up there. I’d take a closer look, but there’s a lot of damage. I probably couldn’t tell. No need to put him through that just to check a conjecture. Not to mention that I’m not a proctologist and have no desire to be one."
Jack came striding up. "Done yet? I sent the coroner away on a wild goose chase, but I’ve run out of things to talk about when he gets back."
"What’s the matter, Harkness? Losing your charm?" Owen sniped.
"Don’t be ridiculous." He clapped Owen on the shoulder before looking across at the agent. "Do I look any less charming to you?"
"No," the man said dryly. "Your charm allotment seems to be steady. Although I think you’ve gotten the doctor’s as well."
Owen was starting to like this guy a lot. Maybe all Americans weren’t dickheads after all.
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