He felt the man’s eyes on his back as he looked under the bed, pushing the comforter aside with a pen as to not contaminate the scene with his own hair or fingerprints. He paused for a moment longer than necessary before standing, then he rose to his full height and looked the heavy man in the eye.
“Detective Davis Holden?” the man asked. He pulled back his trench coat and revealed his badge, a red and white flag across the blue and goal seal – the standard FBI insignia. Davis shook his head in disbelief.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Davis said. “I guess if you’re here I can just go home.”
“Not so fast, Detective,” said the Agent. “Let’s get introductions out of the way first, then you decide. I’m Special Agent James Mathus, and my guest is Special Agent Erik Strand.”
“Well, I can give you the tour,” said Davis. “Is this still my crime scene, or should I just hand everything over and let you figure it out?”
“We’re not enemies yet, Detective. We’re here strictly to observe,” said James. “For the time being.”
Davis looked over the two men. Agent James Mathus was red-faced and tired, an Agent here out of obligation rather than his own impetus, but the other Agent – Strand – he couldn’t get a read on. Strand was young, but was meticulously observing his surroundings. Holden knew a professional eye when he saw one in action.
James finally broke the silence. “Why don’t you show us around? It’s a nice place you’ve got here.” James chuckled to himself; the detective didn’t appear to appreciate the joke.
“You know almost as much as we do, I’m afraid,” said Davis. “Single homicide – yet unidentified woman – ritualistic or spiritual in nature. No indication of sexual assault. Language of the symbols yet unidentified – looks like Aramaic, but I can’t say for sure. Beyond that, there’s a surprising amount of evidence – fingerprints everywhere, at least three sets. That, with the three decanters, implies a group brought her here.”
“You sound surprised,” James said.
“Usually when someone – or a group of someones – commits murder, they work a little harder to cover up their identity. But as you can see, there’s a lot here, we just have to go through it. So grab a coffee and a bagel, or whatever it is you secret agents do when real Police are working, and we’ll get back to you.” Davis was being unnecessarily rude and he knew it, but his position as lead detective was not one he took lightly. His experience with the Intelligence community was that they expected the unreasonable but offered very little in return.
“I see you’ve worked with us before,” said James with a smile, not wanted to rise to the insult. “But you’re just going to have to trust that we want this crime solved as badly as you. We’re not here because we want to steal your collar. We truly are here to observe, lend our assistance where we can, until circumstances require us to do otherwise.”
“Until circumstances require otherwise,” Davis grumbled.
“Indeed,” said James, matter-of-factly.
“You’re going to have to be a little forthcoming,” Davis said. He had no patience for mind games. “If we are to communicate.”
“Actually, Detective, we really don’t.” said James. He sighed. It was clear Davis was not easily swayed – this could either be a great boon or a hindrance. “We need to determine if there’s a connection between this and similar murders.”
“This has happened before?” asked Davis.
“Yes,” said Erik from the doorway. Davis raised one eyebrow –he had not heard Erik walk in, nor had he yet heard the Agent speak. “Years ago. An incident in New Orleans. A series of incidents, actually. Similar to this.”
James grimaced. “Agent Erik Strand, this is Detective Davis Holden. Discretion is not one of Erik’s strong suits.” Erik looked at him, not comprehending the comment, and then smiled a little too widely and continued to examine the room. He nodded stiffly at Davis, not bothering to greet him.