Dreams of the Past
Then sings my soul… my savior God to thee… How great thou art… how great thou art…
The little girl slowly made her way down the aisle of the church as the congregation sung around her. She looked around, noticing that no one was looking at her. She then made a right at the front of the church walking towards a wood panel door. Every step that brought her closer, a fear started growing. But she couldn't stop walking.
Something was drawing her there. Something out of her control.
Daisy shot up in bed, gasping as she frantically looked around the still slightly dark room. She looked across the large room towards the verandah, noticing that it was close to sunrise. Tossing the comforter off, she padded across the room and sitting area towards the bathroom at the left.
Flipping on a switch, she then walked to a sink, turning it on and splashing water on her face before turning the tap off and leaning against the counter as she studied her face in the mirror. Dark circles were nothing new to her - it was a side effect of being a journalist. Long hours and such. But her face looked a bit thinner than usual. This case was taking its toll on her and she knew why. Shaking her head, she looked back down at the sink.
The dream had started up as soon as she got word about the first murder - Toni Abbott. She didn't know what it meant. Oddly enough, she had never stepped foot in a church even though there were several in town and nearly everyone had belonged to one or another. Even her God-fearing, church-going grandmother had never questioned her parents' decision to not be religious or hers. No one had ever offered a reason why, but she chalked it up to another of her parents' quirks.
So she didn't understand now why she was dreaming about a church. Was it some sort of suppressed memory? Or just her mind playing tricks on her? She figured there was some sort of religious aspect to the murders - they were all burned at the stake. That had to be it.
Sighing, Daisy pushed off the counter and walked back into the room, grabbing a robe off the back of a loveseat there and pulling it on before she stepped over to the door leading the verandah. She unlocked it and pushed it open, leaving it open as she sank into a wicker chair with thick cushions, pulling her legs up in the chair as she gazed out over the miles of open land behind the house, waiting for the sun to make its way over the horizon.
She figured she had a bit of time before she would start getting ready. The FBI team was likely full of early risers, so she wanted to be up and downstairs before any of them. Get the coffee going. Chuckling softly to herself, she shook her head. Seemed even though she had long ago left Whitehall behind, the years away wouldn't undo all the training and platitudes her grandmother had instilled in her over the years about being a good hostess.
"You can take the girl out of the south, but you can't take the south out of the girl," she murmured. "Isn't that what you always said, Grams?"
About two hours later, Daisy was seated in the kitchen, showered and fully dressed, drinking coffee in the breakfast nook as she browsed through a tablet when Rossi walked in. She wasn't sure who would be the first in there, but she wasn't surprised to see it was him.
"I was hoping that was coffee I smelled," he said warmly. Daisy looked up at him and then motioned towards a counter with her mug.
"Got a lot over there. Figured if you guys were anything like me, you survive off it," she replied. "Also put out some breakfast stuff for anyone who ate it. Mrs. Battle dropped some of that off too." Rossi walked over and stopped, taking in the double pot maker.
"Seems like a lot for just you," he commented as he grabbed a mug and poured himself a cup.
"That would be Grams' doing," she said. "She liked to host gatherings here a lot before she died. The whole kitchen is her doing. She loved cooking and hosting things. It was probably the only room in the house she updated every year or so."
"This house seems perfect for entertaining," Rossi said as he walked over and sat at the table across from her.
"It is. Probably built that way. Nothing rich people like more than showing off they're rich," Daisy commented, looking back down at the pad. She glanced up at Rossi before returning to the screen. "Though my grandparents and parents weren't like that. Sure, they loved hosting parties and such, but they weren't pretentious about it. Just really sociable people."
"How long ago since they passed?" Rossi asked softly.
"My parents died in a car accident when I was in high school. Grams died about five years ago. Cancer," she said. "I came back to take care of her a couple months at the end. Outside of now, that's probably the longest I've been in town since I graduated."
"But you kept the house," Rossi commented.
"Couldn't bring myself to sell it," Daisy said with a sigh. "Plus, I knew Grams would come back from the grave and haunt me until I died if I did. Especially if it was to someone who wasn't a White." Rossi nodded slowly as he sipped his coffee.
"You know, I've read your work. It's really good," he said. Daisy stared at him a moment, not quite believing him. She had read a lot of his work. Respected him. But she hadn't expected that he would be familiar with hers. There were tons of true crime writers out there. Even more investigative reporters. "Seriously, Daisy."
"Does your team make a habit of reading true crime?" she asked, taking another sip of her coffee. "Or are you like Reid and read both of them last night?" Rossi chuckled.
"No, I read 'Highway Paved in Tears' last year when it came out and then your first right after," he said. "I like to keep track of up-and-coming crime writers," he said. "Also followed your work in the Times." He looked around the kitchen. "Surprised you don't have a copy."
"It's a small town, Agent Rossi. Mail comes in the afternoon and if you want to keep up with the latest news, then you need go digital or watch it," she said with a heavy sigh. "I prefer the real thing - nothing like the smell of newspapers in the morning - but tablet's the best I can do out here. Got subscriptions to all the major papers and have them delivered to my place in New York, though forwarded all my mail here for now. You should hear the postman complain when he stops by."
"Is that so?" Rossi asked, smiling slightly. Daisy nodded, studying him slightly. Before she could say anything, the rest of the team filed into the kitchen, taking in the spread.
"This is definitely better than a motel," JJ said, starting towards the coffee while Mark and Luke went straight for the food.
"Can't get any better than Southern hospitality," Daisy said, leaning back in her chair.
"Got that right," Luke said with a smile. Daisy watched them as they all got coffee and/or food, settling around the large table as they chatted amiably. Sometimes directing questions her way that she answered politely. She wasn't sure what had happened the night before, but they seemed warmer towards her. Likely just trying to buddy up so the case worked more smoothly, she thought to herself. She them reminded herself that this was just until they caught the killer. Once the case was over, they would go back to Quantico and she would go back to New York.
This was temporary. Like most things in life.
"Anyone check in with Garcia?" Luke asked.
"I did," Emily said. "Got her working on some things. We can call again when we get to the station."
"Right. Here is the wifi password," Daisy said, sliding a piece of paper towards the team leader. "Figured you all would need it. Like I said, dining room is all yours if you need it."
"Thanks," Emily said. Daisy then stood from the table and walked her empty cup to the sink, rinsing it out before placing it in the dishwasher.
"If you guys are done with the food, I'll get it put up so we can head over," she said, looking over at them.
"Think we are," JJ said. Daisy nodded and started, making quick work of it. By the time she was finished, the rest of the team was ready to go.
"If it's alright, could I ride in with you?" Reid asked Daisy, garnering a few looks. "Just wanted to pick your brain about some of the books I borrowed last night."
"Sure," Daisy said before leaving the kitchen.
"What?" Spencer asked, looking around the group.
"Borrowed some books?" Luke asked, smiling slightly.
"Questions about the town?" Mark added.
"Really, guys. What?" Spencer asked again.
"Let's go," Emily said, rolling her eyes.
"So, I found it interesting how much focus was put on the so-called founding five," Reid said after he was settled in the front seat of SUV Daisy had rented. She glanced at him as she slid on a pair of Ray Bans and started the car, quickly turning the music down so she could hear him.
"It's a small town thing," she commented, shifting the car into drive and starting down the long driveway, cracking the window a bit.
"The smell of smoke doesn't bother me. When did you start?" Reid asked, looking over at her.
"When I started at the Times," she said, glancing at him nervously. The studious man really didn't miss a thing. "I know it's bad but goes with the territory. But I try to be considerate about it. Anyway, you want to know more about the founding five? Why? Only Vanessa was part of it."
"Did any of the others have children in your year in high school?" Reid asked.
"The Martens," Daisy replied. "Cousins - Steve and Lizzie. Only Steve is still in town. The other two had kids that were either ahead or below us. I already ruled that out." Reid nodded.
"So, three of the founding families had children in the same year of high school," Reid murmured.
"Again, it's a small town," Daisy said.
"Were you friends with them?" Reid asked.
"Not really," Daisy said. "I lived outside of town while they all lived in town. And I wasn't exactly the cheerleader or varsity sports type. Nor the party-in-a-barn type."
"But you were friends with Marley and Becky," Reid said. Daisy nodded.
"We outcasts had our own group," she replied, glancing at him. "But I was on the newspaper staff with Toni. Student council with Vanessa. All of us were on National and State Honor Society. Had classes together. Again. Small town."
"It seemed your lives overlapped quite a lot in school," Reid said. "Makes it hard to figure out victimology."
"I know," Daisy said. "All we know is this guy stalked them. Knew their daily schedules and how to snatch them. Just can't seem to figure out why. And for all we know, he could be out hunting again."
"Generally, serials only stop when they are caught, die or are incarcerated for another crime," Reid said.
"I know," Daisy replied. "Again. Not my first."
The car was silent a bit, the only sound the radio.
"So, I take it you're close with the sheriff," Spencer commented. Daisy rolled her eyes.
"We're not close, but most people in town think they know my family. Being Whites and all," she said. "He's only been the sheriff a few years, but he moved here just before I left for school." Spencer nodded his head slowly.
"Is that common?" Spencer asked.
"People moving in?" Spencer asked. Daisy shrugged.
"It happens. Not often, but it does," she said with a sigh. "So, you guys just… travel all over? Solving murders and such?"
"We take on a variety of cases. Not always murders. Sometimes we do abduction cases as well," Spencer said.
"How often do those have happy endings?" she asked.
"We get them. Still not as much as we would like," he commented.
"For once, it would be nice to cover a story that had a happy ending," Daisy said wistfully. "But suppose that's just how it goes." She glanced at him. "Anything else you want to know about the town?"
The group filed into the police station and went straight to the conference room. Daisy's eyes immediately went to the board where photos of each crime scene were displayed. She clenched her jaw slightly, her grey eyes roving over each photo before she quickly looked away and started pulling files out of her bag. It was an action that didn't go unnoticed by Spencer as he sat next to her while the briefing started.
Emily quickly ran through what she wanted everyone to do that day and they checked in with the analyst. Daisy had sat up in her chair, smiling slightly as she listened in, then shot out a few questions of her own. She seemed to instantly warm up to Garcia, though Garcia tended to have that effect on people.
Once they were done, Daisy walked up to the board, carefully studying it while the others were making ready to go on their way. She hadn't offered an explanation to what she planned to do that day, but Spencer had overheard Walker quietly explain to Emily that she often rambled about on her own and would report in throughout the day on her progress. She had been spending a fair amount of time with the victims' families lately or around town.
Spencer moved to cross the room and speak to her, but before he reached her side, Daisy had walked from the board and grabbed her bag from her chair, leaving the room.
"Where is she going?" Luke asked, looking at Walker. The man just shrugged.
"She'll check in later," he said. "I typically let her do her own thing."
"Sheriff, you said the morgue is in the basement? I'd like for some of ours to go down and look at the latest body," Emily said. He nodded and motioned for them to follow.
"Just this way."
Daisy sighed as she slid onto a stool at the diner on main street. She glanced around, noticing a lot of old-timers were in, likely hoping to beat the lunch rush.
"Back again?" a plump woman said, sliding a menu across the counter towards her. Daisy nodded and picked up the menu, looking over it.
"I'll have my usual," she said, handing it back before the woman walked off.
"Onion burger with all the fixins, tator tots and a Dr. Pepper?" the woman replied. "Been eating the same thing since you were in high school."
"Can you blame me?" Daisy said with a slight smile. The woman chuckled as she wrote something down on a pad and then stuck it over the open grill.
"Charles! You got an order!" she shouted towards the back before moving to the soda machine. She then slid the full cup across to Daisy. "Heard them FBI folks were stayin' with ya."
"They are. Sheriff thought it'd be better than a motel," she replied, watching as an older man shuffled out from the back and made his way to the grill. "And, well… got all the space."
"Sake's alive, I bet that house hasn't seen that many people since your grandmother was alive," the woman said. Daisy rolled her eyes slightly. "Lord knows that woman loved to entertain."
"Certainly did," Daisy replied.
"What're you up to today?"
"Just… tracking down some leads," Daisy said. "The usual." The woman stopped and reached across the counter to pat Daisy's hand.
"You find the son of a bitch that did this," she said softly.
"I intend to," Daisy said. The door chimed, grabbing the woman's attention as she grinned and glanced at Daisy.
"Well, I'll be. I knew the FBI was in town, but I didn't know they were handsome," she said loudly. Daisy grimaced slightly, keeping her back to the door.
"We heard this was the best place to eat in town," Luke said brightly.
"Got that right. I'm Louise and this is my husband Charles. We've owned this place about 30 years now. His daddy before that," she said. "What can I get ya?"
"What's good?" Luke asked, sitting on the stool next to Daisy. "Hey Daisy." She nodded and smiled tensely at him and Matt, who sat next to Luke.
"Where's the rest?" she asked, glancing around.
"Off working. We thought we'd get something to eat while we had time," Luke said casually as he browsed over the menu.
"We're known for our onion burgers," Louise said. "Little Miss White here's been eatin' 'em since she was knee-high to a grasshopper."
"Is that so?" Luke asked, glancing over at Daisy, who was now busying herself with a newspaper. "Little Miss White, eh?"
Daisy rolled her eyes as Louise chuckled.
"Her and her grams would come in every Sunday after church," Louise said. "With her parents a couple times a week before that. More with her friends."
"Thank you, Louise," Daisy said as the woman walked off to the fryer.
"Gotta love small towns," Luke said, now back to looking at the menu.
"Tell me about it," she muttered. She glanced around the diner, noticing that the folks there were all looking at the trio and then whispering to each other. "You guys certainly stand out."
"Is it our rugged handsomeness?" Luke asked jokingly. Daisy stared at him a moment, unsure if he was just like this with everyone or if he was flirting with her. Matt was chuckling softly on his other side.
"More like they're not used to FBI in town," she said, returning her attention to the newspaper.
"What have you been up to this morning?" Matt asked as Louise came back and dropped off a basket of tator tots in front of Daisy and looked expectantly at the two men.
"Lunch special, please," Luke said.
"Same," Matt added. She smiled and quickly wrote the order down before putting it up on the grill.
"Was out running down some leads at the town library," she said. "Didn't find anything."
"Just what leads are you looking into?" Luke asked. Daisy glanced around the diner before looking over at the FBI agents.
"Hung up on the ritual aspect," she said softly, not wanting anyone to overhear. "Seems like it could be religious."
"That's what we were thinking. Might be able to do a profile this afternoon," Luke said. Daisy nodded.
"Mind sharing with me what you're thinking? I might have some notes for you," she said before popping a tater tot in her mouth.
"Might," Luke replied. He looked around the diner. "Just can't help but wonder why this town…"
"Same here," Daisy said, frowning. "Not like anyone gets up to much here."
"No big scandals?" Luke asked. Daisy snorted and shook her head.
"Biggest scandals we get is someone's dear little daughter getting in the family way with her high school boyfriend," she replied, adopting an over dramatic accent.
"Or the occasional affair," Louise added, setting drinks in front of the men. "Get a decent amount of those, but usually they're with someone from outside of town."
"Anything in recent years?" Matt asked, looking at the older woman. Louise thought for a moment.
"None that I can recall. Last hoopla we had was when Daisy's daddy announced he was marryin' her mama," Louise said with a wink in Daisy's direction. "Then after that, when Daisy here started winnin' awards with her writin'." She motioned to the wall behind her, where there was a magazine article framed about Daisy's Pulitzer. Daisy shifted uncomfortably on her stool. "Right proud of her."
"Bet you are," Luke said, glancing at her.
"Just wish she'd try writin' about something happier," Louise said, causing Daisy to roll her eyes.
"Think that's enough about me," she said.
"Order up!" Charles shouted. Louise walked over to start making up the hamburgers.
"So, you're the town hero?" Luke asked.
"God no," Daisy replied. "Louise has been a close family friend for years. She's related on my mom's side.
"What's this about your parents?" Matt asked.
"It's not nearly as dramatic as she makes it out to be," Daisy said quickly. "So… what are you guys planning for this afternoon…"
A bit more into the town's intricacies. If I know anything, it's a small town. And this is finished in terms of writing, though the second to last chapter needs a bit of editing and such.
ahowell1993 – Possibly? Maybe? I make no promises. ; )
Thanks for reading and following!