Title: Rock Paper Scissors 6/?
Pairing: Morgan/Reid, but mentions of Garcia/Kevin & Hotch/JJ
Summary: Reid starts to say goodbye, but when Joe Ringer calls upon an old friend, plans change.
Beta: None. Ah well. All mistakes are mine.
ConCrit: Better than watching Reid suck on a lollipop (and that was pretty darned good)
SPOILERS: Some canon from all seasons, but not always in the way it happened on the show. Many illusions to season 2 and season 4, mostly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any rights or trademarks to Criminal Minds, the FBI, CBS or any of the characters within. No infringements of these copyrights are intended. Any similarities between original characters therein are a coincidence. I make no profit from the following fictional story. (Fictional, maybe, but I swear this happened all in my head).
March 21st (that following Saturday) at the National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institute
Dr. Spencer Reid
“Did you know that when pandas are born, they are technically still in the fetal stage? They continue gestation...” I stop. “Sorry. This is going to be a long day for you if I do that.”
“Spence, I don’t mind.” JJ turns to smile at me. “When I was kid, every time we’d go to the zoo or the museum, I would always be the last one with the group because I was busy reading all the signs.”
“Thanks for coming with me.”
“Thanks for inviting me.”
We move down the path lazily, not exactly eager to see everything in the next ten minutes. “JJ, will you be honest with me?”
“What’s going on between you and Hotch?”
She takes a deep breath. “Not much, to be honest with you.”
“We walked in on you at Garcia’s party at New Year’s...”
“That was the last time we were together.” JJ stops and turns to look at zebras. “Its not good for the team for Hotch to be caught in a romantic relationship with a subordinate.”
“That can’t be the only reason,” I stand next to her, avoiding putting my hands on the dirty, germ-ridden railing.
“Hotch is married to this team, to his job.” JJ tucks some loose around behind her ears. “I’d still like to think that someday I could settle down, have a family, maybe take an assignment with less hours or even leave the bureau all together. I don’t think he ever will.”
“Does it hurt? Being around him all the time, knowing you both want two different things and yet still having feelings?”
JJ turns to look at me. “Is this about you and Morgan?”
I hang my head. “What?”
“Come on Spence, I’ve watched the two of you. He’s always treated you like a brother. In Davenport he was the only one of us who could stay in that room with you.”
“What do you mean?”
“When you came out, we were supportive, and we all care about you...but watching you in pain was too much. The rest of us knew we’d break down and that wouldn’t help you. Morgan was the one who stepped up, he knew he had to stay strong for you no matter how much it hurt.” She turns and puts a hand on my upper arm. “He flew all the way to Vegas when you took off...”
“Sabbatical. I was coming back.”
“We didn’t believe you were. Spence, do you have feelings for Morgan?”
I shake my head and start walking further up the path with her hurrying behind. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes, I’ve hurt people and I have to live with that. My biggest regret is that they have to live with it too.”
“Honey, please. We are all fallible, we all make mistakes. But I refuse to believe that you honestly think you are only worth as much as your worst moment.”
“We believe it, we work by it. All these serial killers are judged on their worst moments.”
“You didn’t slaughter innocent people!”
I stop. “Jennifer...”
“Is this about schizophrenia? You think you might snap into an episode and hurt someone? Look, why spend all your time worrying about it when there is no proof you’ll even have an episode.”
I turn around. “I think I just want to go home. I’ll call a cab.”
I hear her call out for me as I walk away. I wanted today to go differently. I wanted to see her smile and laugh. I wanted today to be my goodbye to her, I wanted her to remember a trip to the zoo with her friend. Instead I’m walking away, leaving her confused and hurt and scared for me.
When I finally get back to my apartment, and I’m sitting on the couch with my cats, I wonder if I should give notice, give people a chance to say goodbye. Gideon didn’t, I think that if he had it would have almost been an insult. It was selfish, but if he would have stayed for another two weeks and said goodbye it would have been selfish too, right? As much as I resent people in my life for leaving me, I can see the motivations behind it. I never forgave my father, and I never will. I never really forgave Gideon, though I understand, and I never blamed my mother.
“Do you think it’s going to be okay?” I whisper to the cats in my lap.
Truth is, I’m going to have to leave DC as soon as possible to keep people from pounding down my door and wanting an explanation. I don’t want to give up Taffy and Sally but I know it won’t be easy to take them with me. You’re giving up on everyone else Spencer, why not add a couple of cats to the mix? I say to myself. I could put them in an extended kennel and then move into a motel under an assumed name until I figure out what to do. Or I should stay at the FBI until I’ve made plans, then make one clean break from this life and start over. I’m not going into hiding, I just want to avoid being pursued. I grab a pen and notepad from the pile of random things on my coffee table and start writing a resignation letter.
If I can’t convince myself to stay, they won’t either.
March 23rd, Monday morning, BAU offices at Quantico
When I get to the bullpen, none of the team is there. I see Prentiss’s purse on her chair and Morgan’s car keys near his computer, so I know they’ve arrived. I look up to see JJ in Hotch’s office, talking over the file in her hands. I hear Garcia’s laugh float from the kitchen area and soon see her emerge with Anderson in tow. He’s smiling right along with her--something he wouldn’t have done six weeks ago. Garcia is a very intimidating woman, even to those who know and love her. It took a few weeks for him to warm up to her. She finds him ‘absolutely the greatest’. I wonder if Hotch will ask him to replace me?
They both see me and beeline over. “It’s our very own Boy Wonder! Good morning love!” Garcia smiles.
“Good morning Garcia, Anderson,” I nod, sitting down. “Is Rossi here yet?”
“Not yet,” Anderson says pensively.
“I better get going,” Garcia says. “I’m gonna order some things online before we get a case. OH! Reid, I read that playing classical music around the baby will increase the little Princess’s IQ, is that right?”
“Studies are mixed, but it couldn’t hurt you or her,” I reply. She found out last week that she’s having a girl and I find myself fearing for Kevin’s sanity. Not that I’d really know about that sort of thing, but from what I’ve read and seen on TV, having too many females around is considered taxing on the typical male’s emotional state. “Where’s Morgan and Prentiss?”
“Someone from white collar crimes came up here to ask for a quick consultation and Hotch gave them the go-ahead to go to the briefing, they should be back soon.” Anderson says. “There’s a fresh pot of coffee on.”
“Great.” I notice a rather large amount of cat hair on my sweater and I reach over to the tape dispenser.
Just then JJ comes up to us. “Guys, Morgan and Prentiss are on their way back and we need to brief on a case.”
“Are there files?” I ask.
JJ shakes her head. “This is a personal favor to Rossi, let’s see what we can do.”
Garcia disappears and Anderson sits at his own desk, going through his mail. I open my email and see something from Cal Tech. I open it to reveal yet another follow-up email for an offer to teach mathematics. I don’t have many good memories from Cal Tech, but it is a pretty campus and it’s much closer to my mother. I take the envelope out of my bag containing my resignation letter and contemplate putting it in my desk. Instead I tuck it back in the bag. I begin typing my response to Cal Tech that I may be interested for fall semester when Morgan and Prentiss show up.
“We were told we have a case?” Prentiss asks me.
“Yeah, a favor to Rossi is all I know,” I stand up, clicking ‘send’ before closing my email.
I follow Morgan, Prentiss and JJ up to the round table room where Hotch and Rossi are talking to another man, around Rossi’s age. He’s wearing jeans, boots, a blue button-down dress shirt and a blazer, no tie. He pats Rossi’s arm to indicate a long-term friendship. He’s wearing a gun on his belt and his FBI identification clipped to his jacket pocket.
Hotch sees that we’ve arrived and motions for us to sit down. “Everyone, this is SSA Joe Helman with the Department of Homeland Security.”
He nods. “I’m with the newly created Domestic Threat Assessment Unit, and please, call me Joe.”
“DTAU?” I reply. “That was created in 2007 with the express intent of sending smaller teams into areas with more minor incidences of domestic terrorist activity in order to better monitor homeland security and assess threats before the become more violent and out of control.”
“You must be the human encyclopedia,” Joe responds. “Dr. Spencer Reid. Lizzie told me about you.”
“Lizzie?” I ask.
“Yeah, Joe got into town last night and had dinner with us,” Rossi sits down. “These are agents Derek Morgan and Emily Prentiss.”
Joe nods at each of them. “I appreciate your help.”
“So what does the DTAU need us for?” Prentiss asks.
“My partner, Dale Ringer, and I have been tracking the activity of a domestic eco-activist group called The Gaia for the past year.” Joe sits down. “They were operating out of the Northwest corner of Oregon, not doing much except graffiti and the occasional sugar-in-the-gas tank sort of thing, but we were keeping an eye on them. Several months ago they left and we lost track of them. That is, until about ten weeks ago. They popped up near a town called Autryville in West Virginia.”
“Autryville, as in Autry Coal Company?” Hotch asks. He was born and raised in West Virginia, his knowledge of a large coal company in the area wouldn’t be out of place.
Joe nods. “Most coal mining towns were named after the companies that settled there. They brought the stores, the schools, pretty much created these towns for the miners to live in. But the reason I came to Rossi--and the rest of you--is because I think we have a serial killer in Autryville that may or may not be connected to The Gaia.”
“What do you mean?” Morgan asks.
“We got to Autryville several weeks ago when the Autry Coal Company started to report destruction of property--vehicles being lit on fire, tagging, tires being slashed, and other things being smashed and destroyed. The Gaia has about fifty members, give or take, and they camp up in the Appalachian mountains outside of town. About a week after we got there, they started stealing from the locals, although none of the thefts were reported.”
“Why not?” I ask.
Joe sighs. “These coal mining towns are tightly knit folks. Most of them have been friends and family for generations, working the mines all their lives. In such a dangerous job they become close. In recent years, the threat of outsiders and the green movements have threatened their way of life. If these mines shut down, the locals don’t have jobs and have to leave the only place they have ever known.”
“So they try to take care of The Gaia on their own,” Morgan says. “You said serial killer, could it be locals trying to take out members of The Gaia?”
“That’s were things get sticky,” Joe says. “So far we only have on suspected Gaia member and no case files.”
“You haven’t been invited in?” Hotch asks.
“We can’t work the murders officially until we get an ID on our suspected Gaia murder victim. We thought about invoking the Patriot Act, which would give us full control of the case, but then we lose what little cooperation we have from the locals.” Joe sits down. “The only reason Sheriff Remmick called us to the scene of the last murder is because she wasn’t local and he thought we could ID her.”
“So, no case files, no invitation, are we profiling from afar?” Prentiss asks.
“I think so, I just wanted to run some of this by Rossi, he suggested I come in and talk to the rest of the team.” Joe gets up and goes to the marker board. “First victim, Victoria Nelson, age 19, found four weeks ago only a few miles outside of Slatyville on County Road 42. Sexually assaulted and stabbed nineteen times, most of the wounds to the stomach. She bled to death slowly, least that‘s what Ringer said.”
“Did he see the autopsy report?” I ask.
“He had to go to Miracle King and pose as a lost toxicologist, but he caught a glimpse. She was a waitress at the local truck stop at a town called Miracle King, which is about sixty miles from Slatyville. Three weeks later, 36-year-old Michelle Ryan was found in the dumpster behind the bar in Autryville. Raped, stabbed sixteen times, but from the crime scene photos I took a glimpse at looks like he was stabbed in the heart first and bled out quickly. Our most recent victim was found by a local hiker’s dog up the hill only a quarter of a mile from Victoria Nelson, but decomp and the fact that the snow is still melting up there indicates she may have been dead for six to eight weeks, making her the first victim. She was wearing organic cotton clothes and Remmick couldn’t ID her, so we suspect she was a member of The Gaia.”
“Obviously the unsub isn’t local,” I say. “I would suspect that if it was a local unsub he would only target outsiders in retaliation and if it was a member of The Gaia I doubt he would attack one of his own or even kill in the area. With the FBI watching them they wouldn’t want to draw negative attention.”
“Oh, The Gaia know we’re watching, they don’t really care.”
“I’ll have Garcia hack into the databases and get the autopsy and police reports,” Hotch says. “We need to interview everyone who worked or knew the victims.”
“Hotch, you’re forgetting we haven’t been invited. I think we need to work this from afar,” Rossi says.
“Then we go undercover,” Hotch says. “Prentiss and I can go as tourists.”
“No-go, Agent Hotchner.” Joe laughs. “They’d peg you right away.”
“What about me?” Morgan offers. “Prentiss and I go as a couple who just wanted some good hiking, not the typical tourist traps but something much more quiet.”
“What if we make like we are going somewhere else, get lost, ask for directions and end up hiking and camping in Autryville? That would work.” Prentiss looks to Hotch. “We could give it a shot.”
Hotch looks to me. “Reid, I need you with Garcia, going over those reports as soon as they come in. Joe, can you possibly get JJ hooked up with your case files on The Gaia? JJ, look those over, cross-check for any other unsolved murders that have followed them. Rossi, help her look into any unsolved crimes in the area, this could be evolution. I have to finish the consultations on my desk, but then I’ll start working the background. Prentiss--you and Morgan requisition a vehicle from undercover, something without government plates. Pack your bags. Joe, I think it’s best you fly back instead of going with them.”
Joe nods. “I really appreciate it.”
“If there’s another murder or my agents are in danger, I’m pulling the Patriot Act and taking over,” Hotch warns. “I’m not risking their lives for your case.”
As the team leaves the room and I make my way to Garcia’s office, I pause at my desk, debating on giving the letter to JJ right.
No. Just one last case.