Fandom: The Inside
Pairing: Rebecca gen, femmeslash in later chapters
Rating: Hard R
Word Count: 2,497
Warnings (chapter specific): Graphic depictions of gore, violence, language.
Spoilers: Set post-series (after the thirteenth episode, Skin and Bone).
Note: In this fic, the seventh sin referenced is Vanity.
Summary: A new serial killer is stalking the streets of Los Angeles, leaving a trail of models, actors, and the rich behind in an exceedingly gruesome manner. In her search to find what connects them all, Rebecca examines what it means to connect to someone else.
“For fuck’s sake, Marc, if you can’t learn to parallel park, I’m going to strangle you with the next batch of surgical tubing I see.”
The woman who had just spoken wasn’t yet out of her teenage years, but she was close. Her long dark brown hair was in a severe ponytail, but some strands in the front had escaped and stuck to the sweat on her forehead. The glare she flashed at her partner was only half-serious. They’d been working the night shift together for over a year, and she was used to the fact that Marc couldn’t drive to save his soul.
“I took the class, Dane.” Marc said, his white teeth showing in a sheepish smile.
“Yeah, but you didn’t pass it.”
He ignored the barb and asked, “What’s our next stop?”
Dane flipped through the papers clipped to the board on her lap. “Cedars-Sinai on Beverly.”
Marc cringed. “They always have a warehouse full of stomachs and kidneys. It’ll take us half the night to empty that place out.”
“Better than the free clinics, Marc. Gallon drums of meth-laden piss aren’t exactly my idea of a good time.”
“You could have any other job, Dane. You’re a college student.” Marc said, taking the last turn towards the hospital. She still hadn’t answered him by the time they pulled up to the medical waste warehouse.
“It works for me, all right?” She finally replied as she shoved the passenger side door open with a creak.
“Right. Insomniac hours spent alone with me in a car carting bits of people around. That’s a dream job, right there.” He muttered as he got out and popped open the huge storage bin in the back of the vehicle. It really needed a new coat of paint.
Marc’s head snapped up as he heard Dane cry out from somewhere in front of the truck. He rushed over, hoping she hadn’t knocked over a pile of sharps containers like on her first day. When he saw what she saw what she was staring at, Marc paled and covered his mouth in both surprise and to protect himself from the stench.
There was a body, or pieces of what had once been one. Marc recognized her as female only because of two bloody bags of saline lying on top of what had once been breasts. Implants, he thought vaguely, but the flesh that had contained them had been ravaged, the nipples removed and nowhere to be seen. Bile came up his throat at the sight of the woman’s face, the skull crushed in and nose cut off. Blood and bits of brain had turned her platinum blonde hair into a sticky, rust-like mess. It was dye; he could see the roots showing in a handful of places.
He and Dane both stumbled away to vomit when they caught sight of the damage between the woman’s legs. Gaping wounds, strands of muscle and bone visible to the naked eye. Her high heels had been sewn to her feet. The worst thing about it, Marc thought as puke splashed onto the asphalt in front of him, was the obscene heart-shaped outline around the body, made with carefully arranged radioactive orange medical waste bags filled with rotten fat.
Rebecca had still been at her desk when the call came in. In fact, everyone else was too. This last week had been a series of sleepless nights spent in front of the Death Board with pictures of three different victims, all mutilated beyond recognition. Now, according to Webb, they had a fourth.
“I want all of you at the scene,” The older man said, jaw set tightly. They had made almost no progress in this investigation and fielding off a dozen calls from reporters every hour had not done any service to his mood. His gaze moved to his protégé, who had dark circles under her eyes from an imbalance between caffeine and sleep.
“Rebecca, we need to find the man doing this. Four killings in eight days, all meticulously planned. What do we know?”
She briefly looked down at the notes scattered all across her desk. “The un-sub is male, likely white. All of his victims share his race, even if two of them were covered in fake tanning lotion. He doesn’t discriminate on gender. So far two men and two women have been killed. The mutilations on each are relatively unique, and no one familiar with the victims believed they knew each other. Two of them are models. One is an actor in a moderately popular soap opera. The last one…” Rebecca’s expression was decidedly grim. “If we can ID her, we’ll find out her profession.”
“And the varying symbols at each scene?”
“Near the previous bodies, some romantic gesture was found. A banquet of red roses, a coupon for a couple’s day at a spa, a bottle of date-appropriate cologne. What did he leave this time?”
Rebecca blinked. “An actual human heart?”
“No, one lovingly created by medical waste around the victim.”
“Oh, that’s exactly what I want to see at three in the morning.” Mel shook her head, having just come in with a new thermos of coffee. “Danny, let’s go.”
Danny nodded and on his way out the door, he said, “It’s the smell that’ll get you, Mel, not the sight.”
Paul looked at Rebecca, who was shoving all of her papers into a manila folder. “Ready?”
“Yes, of course.” Her tone was absent, eyes nearly glazed over. He didn’t comment. By now, he was used to Rebecca not being in the room with everyone else.
“I’ll drive.” He said.
She didn’t answer as they left together, but Paul knew she’d heard.
The first thing Rebecca noticed wasn’t the body, but the two people who had discovered the latest victim. They sat down on the ground, backs to an old dumpster. Neither of them seemed bothered by the trash behind them, but they were avoiding looking to the left at what they had found.
Both were in ragged blue jumpsuits, but that was where the similarity ended. The man had to be close to thirty and was prematurely balding. His skin was an even olive color, but there were shades of what looked green in the bad lighting in his face. The woman next to him was significantly younger and trying to light a cigarette with shaking hands. Rebecca watched her shake long brown hair out of her face and fumble with the lighter, her pale skin looking waxy like a corpse.
“Are those the witnesses?” Paul asked from right next to her. Rebecca almost jumped out of her skin.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“I’ll get the guy, you take the girl?”
She nodded. “Sounds like a plan.”
Rebecca glanced over to the victim. A few uniforms were stringing crime scene tape around the area. Mel and Danny were carefully stepping around the macabre heart Webb had described to try and get a closer look at the damage done to the body. She returned her focus to the female witness, who had yet to light her cigarette properly. In that quiet panic, Rebecca saw a way to establish a connection, a brief line of trust. The more relaxed someone was, the more likely their memories would be intact.
“Do you need some help?” She asked once she got close.
The woman twitched a bit as her eyes shot upward to Rebecca, who towered over her from this angle. She scrambled to her feet and offered Rebecca the lighter, placing the cigarette between her lips. Rebecca flicked the metal wheel with her thumb and put the resulting flame against the gently shaking tip of the cigarette. It caught as the witness inhaled, tension instantly receding from her expression.
“Thank you.” The woman said softly.
“I’m Rebecca, one of the agents assigned to this case.” She spoke with the most soothing tone she could summon, foreign as it was. “I need you to talk to me about what you saw.”
“Dane.” The other woman replied, taking a long drag. “Is my name, anyway. Marc,” Dane looked over to her partner, who was talking with another man. “And I, we’re contractors for a waste management firm. Hospitals call our company when they need to clear out their trash. During slow hours, we take the truck to the back and load everything up to bring back to the plant. They dispose of it or recycle what they can.”
“When did you find the body?”
“You call that a body?” Dane laughed bitterly. “That’s…parts. I would know.”
“How long have you been doing this?”
“A year. Marc’s a seven year soldier.”
“Have either of you come across something like this before?”
“Hell no. Marc’s told me some horror stories, but those are accidents. Whatever happened to it,” Dane blinked, “Her, was entirely on purpose.”
“Run me through what happened.” Rebecca said. The witness’ hands had finally stopped shaking.
“Cedars-Sinai was our second to last stop of the night. It’s one of the biggest, so we try and leave it until the end. Marc parked, badly as usual. I got out to open up the warehouse door while he unlocked the back. Then I found her.”
“Did you touch,” contaminate, “Anything on the scene? The bags of medical waste, the–”
Rebecca raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”
“What’s in the bags. It’s fat from liposuction. Which doesn’t make sense.”
“Cedars-Sinai doesn’t do cosmetic work like that. I mean, some plastic surgeons do odd jobs there, for car crashes or dog attacks, but not optional procedures. Whatever freak did this, they didn’t take their materials from this hospital.”
Rebecca frowned. “What hospitals would have a supply of cosmetic medical waste?”
Dane sucked up what was left of her cigarette and stubbed it out against the dumpster. “They don’t, usually. Private practices are where we collect most of that stuff. You know, chop shops that do assembly lines of implants and reductions everyday.”
“Yeah. In the land of stars, there’s a boardwalk of those places around.”
“Is the waste you collect marked by where it’s taken from?” The breast implants from the first victim had had serial numbers on them, but they had been imported illegally, so the trail had gone cold.
Dane shrugged. “It’s supposed to be, but it’s usually not. There’s a lot of shady people out there that pay for unlabeled parts, so a lot slips through the cracks.”
“Have you ever sold anything?” Rebecca asked carefully.
“What? No.” Dane appeared honestly offended, although it could have been feigned. “I’m in a mortuary science program, a student. I know how hard it is to get legit materials to work on. I wouldn’t help those vultures.”
“Do you know anyone that would?”
The other woman shifted awkwardly under Rebecca’s intense gaze. “Maybe. I could make some calls.”
Rebecca pulled a card out of her jacket and handed it to Dane. “Call this number and ask for Agent Locke when you have information.”
“Yeah, okay.” Dane shoved it in the left pocket of her jumpsuit. “Can Marc and I go? We’re already going to get hell from our supervisor from being late.”
“You can’t remove the medical waste from this hospital’s warehouse. It’s evidence until proven otherwise.”
“Shit. What about the truck?”
“I’ll have an officer drive you two home.”
Dane rubbed her temple in what was likely an attempt to stave off a headache. “Fine.”
Rebecca nodded and left the witness standing there. Paul caught up with her a moment later, looking none too pleased.
“Did you find out anything relevant?” He said pointedly, making it obvious that he had not.
“The bags that made that heart over there aren’t from this hospital. Apparently Cedars-Sinai doesn’t do plastic surgery for purely cosmetic reasons.”
“So someone’s stealing it?” Paul asked, tension creasing his forehead.
“Or buying it. The witness informed me that less moral colleagues of hers make money selling unmarked waste and body parts.”
“Who are these colleagues?”
“She told me she would contact them and call me with information.” Rebecca glanced back over to the two witnesses. They were talking with a uniform and seemed to be offering directions.
“Do you trust her?”
“She doesn’t have a reason to lie. I’ll wait until she calls to make a final judgment.”
Paul let out a deep breath. “Ready to give the victim her close-up?”
“Did Mel and Danny say anything about her?”
“Just that they’re going to be scrubbing the smell off themselves for a week. And with her nose cut off and the damage to the face, there’s going to have to be some digital reconstruction before we can ID her.”
“The top joint of each finger was removed. Rough cuts like the rest of the injuries, not professional.”
“So our un-sub is experienced at killing, but they lack medical expertise.”
“All the coroner’s reports indicate a large blade, likely a hunting knife, was used to do the damage.”
“Except the blunt damage to the head.” Images of three different heads, reduced to mostly a mess of hair and brains, flashed through Rebecca’s head.
“Yeah. That hasn’t been determined yet.”
“I’m ready.” Rebecca said quietly.
She walked over to the victim, to the outside line of the sickly heart. Paul watched as she crouched down, seemingly oblivious to the rank scent emanating from the orange bags near her feet. Rebecca pulled out a pen and prodded one of the bags, but what she was looking for, he couldn’t guess. A frown crossed her lips and she stood, walking a circle around the body. No concern or sickness flashed through her eyes as she closely examined the mutilation, the gore.
“She wasn’t killed here.” Rebecca said out loud. “Our killer isn’t skilled in cleaning up his mess, but there’s not enough blood in the area. He must have a vehicle that he can easily cart his materials and the body around in. If we find the car, we’ll be one step closer to our real crime scene.”
Mel was methodically taking notes on everything Rebecca said, and Danny asked, “Any idea what kind of car I should put an APB out on? The usual strangers with candy van or what?”
“A van, a large SUV, even a waste disposal truck like the one the witnesses drive. No flashy colors.” Rebecca replied, stepping inside the heart as she spoke. “It was recently acquired. Our un-sub is extremely focused on his task, but he’s still making up the details as he goes along.”
“What does he want?” Paul asked.
“I’m not sure. He’s in love, with something or someone. The romantic symbols have a significance we haven’t linked to anything yet.”
Standing right next to the body in the middle of the heart, Rebecca looked down at what she imagined had once been a beautiful woman.
“Who are you?” She whispered, and no one but herself heard.
To be continued…