732, The Prodigital Son

In a dark moment I ask, "How can anyone bring a child into this world?" And the answer rings clear, "Because there is no other world, and because the child has no other way into it." ~Robert Brault

Richmond, Virginia

In the local elementary school, Ms Schuster, the art teacher, was finishing the attendance.

"Emily Rice?", she asked the class, looking up from her computer screen.

"She's$%^GETTIN IT DOWN^"^@%$" one of the boys, Christopher, told her. Emily was not the only one – half the class wasn't here today. They had probably all caught the same na%^[~*SCP-008(&^":£rus that was going around in town at the moment.

"And Sam Tellson?", she asked.

"Not here either", Christopher said. He was such an enthusiastic student, Ms Schuster thought. Smart, too. $%?#&"He was the smartest child in the whole world and nobody could beat him and he can fly and kick your ass and kill people with his mind."$=*^&"

Ms Schuster began the lesson. It was Friday, and even though it was only the first period, none of the kids were really concentrating on what she said about colors. They were all chatting about their plans fo%#$.?&"FRIDAY FRIDAY GONNA GET DOWN ON FRIDAY("%=!&* whispering eagerly to one another. Ms Schuster didn't really mind, since they were all working on their paintings while they talked. She had long ago learned that art classes are hardly ever quiet, and really the kids, and herself, were ready for a little break from school. Lost in her tho%!'&"$LETS DRAW COLURS%*"^*&on the overhead projector.

Christopher had already finished his picture and was looking out of the window. A man wa$£#^%&flying into$}+%^" the school's main entrance. He was alone, so he was probably a teacher. He was wearing a brown coat, and Christopher wondered whether teachers were allowed to be late. Usually only the students were tardy. As the man disappeared into the building, Christopher focused on what Ms Schuster told them about how to make a house look mo&-=%^-"NOT DIMENSONAL ENUFF*)!%&*!&nsional again.

A few minutes later, the class heard loud noises from outside. Someone in the other class down the corridor was shouting, and $$^!I THINK IT WAS THE HEDMASTR AND HER SECRETARE%$&~$ The class looked at Ms Schuster expectantly. "Alright", she said, standing up. "I'll find out what's going on there. You keep working, I'll be right back." She left the room.

She had closed the door, but the class could still hear her talking outside. "Jesus, what's going on in here?", she shouted, then, "Sir? Who are you, sir? Can I help you? I… Oh God. Oh dear lord. Oh God, please don't - %(*'{]then able came in before she could finish and killed the man dead.%^*just outside the room. It was followed by a soft thud. An$";then the bad man grew thrity feet tall anf punched able into a wall and sent him flying and abe flew and hit a wall.%':*& Christopher had no idea what was going on out there, but his imagination was enough to make%!"HIM INTO SUPERKID THE DESTOYAR OF WURLDS%$&; "Guys, get under your desks!", he screamed and quic%£~flew right into the one hundred foot man and shot him ded^%[* "What's happening?", Lisa whispered from where she was crouched down underneath her table, eyes wide with fear. "Shh," Ryan hissed back urgently. The whole class was quiet; they didn't even dare to breathe as ^>(;4Superkid and able and the 1million foot man foght each other. smahing and crashing happened and then it went quiet and cristopher teleported back into the room as a kid*)^"en someone slowly stepped inside. It was the man in the brown coat. But when Christopher had seen him through the windo$/?"@HE WASN'T A MILLION MILES TALL#}$%

The man walked slowly and unsteadily, as if he was drunk. "Jimmy?", he shouted. "Jimmy, are you here? Jimmy?" He walked across the room to Ms Schuster's desk, apparently not taking any notice of the frightened children cowering under their desks. He went to the computer and stared intently at the screen for several minutes. Then he fell down to his knees, and tears where running down his face. "Jimmy!", he cried, again and again. "Jimmy, where are you…" Finally, he threw the gun onto the floor, put his face into his hands and just sat there, sobbing. This was when the tension became too much. Lisa stood up, her whole body shaking. Then she turned and raced out of the room.

The man didn't notice anything, or at least he didn't seem to care. Slowly, one after another, the other kids got up and ran out of the room. Christopher was the last one. As quietly as he could, his knees and hands trembling with terror, he crossed the classroom, the teacher's desk, reached the door – There was a faint click behind him. He turned around. The man had sat up, and his gun pointed at Christopher. "Are- are you Jimmy?" He asked staring at him through reddened, unfocused eyes. Chritopher made a decision. "Yes, I am Jimmy", he said, his voice a lot less confident than he had wanted it to be. "Why did you run away!", the man howled. And shot. It was only his leg, but the pain was enough to make Christopher pass out. The last thing he felt was someone picking him up.

FBI/Behavioral Analysis Unit – Quantico, Virginia

The BAU team was gathering in the conference room. It was Friday afternoon, and all of them had been looking forward to a quiet weekend at home. Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner was the first one to come in and sit down, and he was in an especially bad mood, since he had promised his little son Jack to spend the Saturday with him. He had short, black hair and wore a deep frown, indicating his constant struggle to do his job without leaving Jack alone with his aunt all the time. Agents David Rossi, Derek Morgan and Emily Prentiss came in next, and finally Spencer Reid arrived as well, with his coffee in one hand, and quickly sat down. Jennifer "JJ" Jareau, their pretty, blonde media liaison started presenting their new case. "We have a white male in his thirties who broke into an elementary school in Richmond yesterday. He went into both of the third grade classes, armed and apparently searching for someone called Jimmy. He didn't do anything in the first class except shouting and waving his gun, but when the teacher of the second class came out looking for what was causing the noise, he shot her. Right in the face. Then he went in." She passed out three photos of the unrecognizable body. "Her name is Michelle Schuster, art teacher, she was thirty-four." Reid put down his coffee and took a close look, frowning. "The face, that sounds personal. Do you think he knew her?" JJ shook her head. "I shouldn't think so. The kids say she asked who he was before she was killed." "Maybe she reminded him of someone he knew, and that triggered the reaction," Rossi suggested, looking thoughtful. He was the oldest member of the team and one of the pioneers of criminal profiling. His four divorces proved that his extensive knowledge of the human psyche wasn't having a positive influence on his social life. Morgan looked up. "JJ, you said, the kids. How did they get out?", he asked, looking at JJ. "Apparently they hid under their desks after they heard the shot. They say the man was sitting on the floor crying and asking for Jimmy, and he didn't even notice them sneaking out." "Tell me there's a "but"", said Prentiss. She was the newest team member and spoke not only Russian, Arabic, Spanish and French, but also fluent sarcasm. JJ sighed and put another photo down on the table. "One of the kids is missing," she said.

The photo showed a young boy with a round, slightly chubby face, glasses and brown hair. He was wearing a green Star Wars t-shirt and a huge grin. "His name is Christopher Henderson, eight years old, lives with both parents and an older sister in Richmond. They found some of his blood in the classroom, so he might be hurt. The family will be here soon." "Any idea why the UnSub chose him in particular?", asked Hotch. He was frowning, as always, but the team knew that he also hated crimes on children more than anything. "Not yet," JJ answered. "It could be that he knew him, or that he just reminded him of someone else, like Rossi said. But he wasn't selected randomly." Reid was still studying one of the crime scene photos. "Guys, both Michelle Schuster and Christopher Henderson have brown hair and glasses. Maybe that means something to our UnSub." "Right," Hotch announced, standing up. "JJ, we are going to Richmond to talk to those kids again, see if they left out anything important. Prentiss, victimology. Search for any further connections between Schuster and Christopher. Morgan, Reid, I want you to talk to the Hendersons when they arrive. See if they or Christopher had any enemies, anything to help us find him. I want you all in Richmond by tonight. Prepare for not getting a lot of sleep this weekend."

The Hendersons arrived ten minutes later. Mr Henderson had his arm around his wife's shoulders. She was shaking and clinging to an old-fashioned handkerchief with both hands. Their daughter Clara stood next to them with her chin shoved forward and her arms crossed defensively. She had brown curly hair like her father, wore glasses and was a little chubby, like the rest of the family. She didn't seem desperate at all, just angry.

The all sat down in the interrogation room. Morgan and Reid took the chairs on the opposite side of the table. "Mr and Mrs Henderson, I know this must be very hard for you right now," Morgan started. Mrs Henderson began to sob quietly into her handkerchief. "You always think that sort of thing happens to… other people. You never think it could be you…" Her husband said, stroking her head. "My poor baby!", she cried. "He never did anything wrong! He doesn't deserve this!" Reid took over. "Are you sure, ma'am? Did he have any enemies at school or in the neighborhood, anything you noticed? Did he have any fights or arguments recently?" "He is the best son anyone could wish to have. His grades are stellar, he is nice to girls, he likes soccer and playing Star Wars with his friends. He always kept out of trouble," Mr Henderson answered. Morgan said, "We have reason to believe that the UnSub might know Christopher. Can you think of anyone? A teacher or another parent, maybe?" "There is no one," Clara answered instead of her parents. "Everybody loves Christopher." It didn't sound as though that was a good thing. "That's right," her mother hiccupped. "He is such a sweet boy." "Mr and Mrs Henderson, in 88.5 percent of child abduction cases the child dies within the first 24 hours. Every little detail could be important," Reid said. Mrs Henderson gave a howl of despair and buried her face in her husband's chest. Well done, Morgan mouthed to Reid, then he stood up. "We will briefly go outside and discuss what you told us. Can I bring you anything? Coffee, water?" "It's alright, thank you," Mr Henderson said, patting his wife's back. Morgan left the room, followed by Reid.

"There was no need to say that," Morgan said. "You scared the hell out of that woman."

"I'm sorry, but this was going nowhere. They obviously don't believe Christopher could have done anything wrong. They wouldn't have told us, even if there was something."

"Maybe there is. I think you should interview the daughter privately. Besides, have you seen the way she looks at you? Seems like you got an admirer, kid," Morgan said, smiling suggestively. Reid looked indignant. "She's fourteen, man!", he said. "Well, than you'd have about the same amount of experience," Morgan answered, grinning now. Reid looked as though he was going to answer something rather unkind, but thought better of it and instead answered, "Yeah, whatever" and went to the interrogation room to interview Clara.

She was already sitting at the table when he came in, arms crossed. "Clara, I'm Dr. Spencer Reid," he said as he took the opposite chair and sat down. "Yeah, you said that before," she answered, looking down at the smooth wood of the table. It didn't sound quite as dismissive as it had before, though.

"Clara, your little brother has been kidnapped, but you don't seem really upset. Why?", he asked, looking at her face, then at her hands. Body language could tell you a lot of things, and it worked better the younger somebody was. Her fingers started to trace the lines in the wood, her left hand held the second and third finger of the right one and covered them. She wanted protection, something to hold on to. Not unusual. She obviously had an answer, but was not sure whether she should give it. "Do you have siblings, Dr. Reid?", she asked eventually, looking up. "Uh, no," he answered, only slightly thrown off track. "Why?" "You wanna hear the truth?", she asked, staring into his eyes for a few seconds, then then down at the table again. Not quite sure what to say, Reid answered, "Yes. I guess. That's what I'm here for." "I hate him," she said quietly. "I keep… I always think whatever happens to him, like, when he hurts his knee at soccer or something, I think he deserves it. I can't stop thinking… the little bastard… deserves it." The last words where merely a whisper. "What did he do?", he asked, frowning. Her voice grew louder again. "It's nothing in particular!", she said. "He just… exists. And he's so damn perfect. Everybody loves him. My parents are always talking about him. He's so cool, he's so pretty, he's so nice… And it's just not true! He uses every chance to point out what I have done wrong today, and my parents always agree with him. When I get angry, they're on his side. When I want something, he gets it. When we both need to be somewhere, they drive him first. I can't even talk to my dad for, like, a second, because Christopher always needs his attention. And gets it, of course. I can't stand him!" When she started crying, Reid felt more and more uncomfortable. What should he do about this? Hold her hand or even hug her? JJ probably would have, but, well, JJ would probably hug an UnSub if he looked sad enough. Eventually, he leaned forward and awkwardly patted the girl's hand. "Clara, I need to know if anything unusual happened to your brother in the days before he was abducted. Every little detail could be important". She wiped her eyes. "I don't know. One of his classmates came over on Monday and tried to teach him how to skateboard. They almost crashed into a car accident. Big thing, the police sent them right away. He was so embarrassed about it that he didn't tell mom and dad, but I saw it. But really, I can't think of anything else. He usually kept out of trouble… At least in school." Reid sighed. The girl did not seem to have a lot more information than her parents, and he found the way she criticized her brother when he could be in such danger slightly unsettling. "Very well," he said. "I will have our technical analyst check on that accident and see if it is of any significance for the case. You can go back to your parents now, and we will keep you informed about our investigation." He stood up. When he was at the door, Clara suddenly said, "Dr. Reid? I hate my brother, I really do. But he is my brother, and nobody is allowed to hurt him. If you find that son of a bitch, I am going to kill him." She sounded completely serious, and as Reid turned around she stared directly into his eyes. "Oh, and Dr. Reid? Please keep me updated." He frowned at her for a second, and said, "Of course. It's protocol that the family keeps updated on everything we find out." Then he left the room and took out his mobile. "Hey Garcia, it's Reid," he said. "Well, hello there, doctor! And all alone? How may I serve you?" "Garcia, I need you to find some information on a car accident a week ago in Richmond, near the Henderson's house. Their daughter says it was a big thing, so maybe there were deaths. Can you do that for me?" "Anything for you, gorgeous grey matter. I'll call you back when I have something." "Thanks," Reid said and put the phone into his pocket.

Local Police Department – Richmond, Virginia

"Our UnSub is definitely disorganized. He left us loads of fingerprints and about fifty witnesses," Hotch said to the rest of his team forty minutes later. "He could just be very confident," Morgan pointed out. "That's highly unlikely," Prentiss said. "The first teacher told us that he was definitely drunk, and in the second classroom he sat down and cried. That doesn't sound like a lot of self-esteem to me." "I think he could also be delusional. He was looking for someone called Jimmy and took Christopher instead, so he's obviously not thinking clearly," Rossi told them. Hotch straightened up. "Let's get Garcia on the line, she was running the fingerprints through our databases; maybe she has found something yet." They didn't need to call her. Just a moment later Garcia appeared on the screen that was hanging from the wall in the conference room. "Hey, my furry friends," she greeted them. There was a colossal purple flower in her blonde hair. "Hold on tight, I think I found something really interesting. The fingerprints from the school belong to a certain Michael Sarton, 39, registered for drunk driving. I already did some research on him, since I am awesome, and it turns out that his private life was pretty messed up. His wife Charlotte was depressive and couldn't take care of their seven-year-old son, and Michael seems to have been drunk most of the time. It even says here that social services paid two visits. And now guess who had a fatal car crash a week ago." Reid sat up. "Hold on a second, Garcia. Guys, Clara Henderson told me that Christopher has been to the scene of an accident. He had been skateboarding and ended up there with a friend. The police sent them away as soon as they noticed them. I didn't think it was important, that's why I haven't told you yet. Garcia, it was the same accident, wasn't it?" "Brilliant as always, doctor," Garcia said. "Charlotte was driving the car, which is weird, because she hasn't left home in years as far as I can say. Their son was DOA, she died on the way to the hospital. And here comes the most interesting thing. One hundred points for the one that can tell me their son's name." Rossi didn't even hesitate. "James Sarton," he said. "Called Jimmy," Prentiss added.