Title: Crossfire 6/?
Rating: FRT (series overall FRAO)
Summary: While working on The Nightmare Killer case, JJ challenges Derek’s way of thinking. Spencer reaches out.
ConCrit: Better than Reid’s boy band haircut. Wait, nothing’s better than that :)
SPOILERS: Some canon from all seasons, but not always in the way it happened on the show.
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).
6:47pm at the BAU offices in Quantico
Agent Derek Morgan
I return to the round table room with a fresh cup of coffee to see JJ sitting on the far side of the table with a laptop and headphones, intently watching something on the screen. She sees me and takes the headphones off. “Hi, uhm, do you mind? I was feeling a little claustrophobic in my office.”
“I don’t mind one bit,” I reply honestly, sitting back down in my seat. Prentiss had gone to the DC Police station to pick up the physical evidence that was collected in 1996. I heard that Hotch and Reid were still at the crime scene while Rossi went with the coroner to the morgue. Garcia is sifting through electronic files, tracking down current whereabouts of people interviewed in the original investigation. JJ is going through media reports. “What are you working on JJ?”
“I’m putting together a profile based solely on the media reports about the original case,” she scribbles on a notepad in front of her. “Hotch suggested it, I’ve never actually done it before. But if I can narrow down exactly what the media reported, it will help you determine if this is a copycat and better profile him.”
“I know you are a media liaison genius, but I’m sure if you went to a few more courses and lectures, Hotch would help you become a profiler. Hell, you practically do it already.”
She smiles. “I’ve been thinking about it. I know it’s something I can do well, but its so frustrating to dance around the laws and the amendment and...I’m starting to get bitter about the US Constitution. The very one I work to protect.” She shrugs and slips on her headphones. “I think it’s time for a change.”
I settle back into a victim’s file. Change. I could really use a change. I know Reid needs one. I saw him earlier, with the Visitor’s badge in his hand. He said he left his badge, but he was wearing it. Did he mean he left his badge at the office? The last time he was at the BAU office he had his badge, he needed it to leave the building. I’ve had this tumbling around my head all day while reading these files and I know Reid is leaving the FBI. It’s my intuition, he was planning on resigning today. Question is, would he be leaving not just the job, but the rest of us?
“Do you ever think about leaving the FBI?”
“All the time.”
I’m taken aback by her response. “Really?”
JJ sets down her pen and headphones and looks at me directly. “I felt so stupid for coming back after nearly being killed at Deep Lake. I really did hate myself for not quitting. It felt so stupid to go back. I kept thinking in my head that it was a woman who would get beaten by her husband. But she keeps going back because she needs to keep her family together.”
“It’s not like that,” I interject.
“In a way it is. We spend our time catching these people. This job is like that abusive husband.” She shrugs. “Yea, I supposed it’s a terrible analogy, but that’s how I felt for a long time. That I wasn’t seeing enough of a pay out for all the hard word and personal turmoil I was putting myself through day after day. It’s hard. But I came back. I still wonder why, and now why I’m eager to become a profiler. I know that I can’t really leave this job. I’m in too deep.”
“We are all,” I reply, looking back down at my file.
9:14pm at the BAU Offices
I set down my nearly empty carton of fried rice and stretch my arms above my head. Prentiss long ago came back with more things to read. Garcia printed off enough lists and files to kill a forest. JJ is still pouring over media coverage and doing an amazing job of juggling the current media blackout. Rossi and Hotch are pouring through the hand scribbled notes and making phone calls to agents who worked on the original case in their offices.
Everyone except Gideon. The one person who knows this case inside out. Reid comes back into the room with the charger for his laptop and an open mason jar with some strange green liquid in it. He sits down and takes a long sip of the substance.
“What the fuck is that?” Prentiss pips up from the small couch in the corner of the room, where she’s reading and trying to make herself comfortable.
“It’s a health drink. Spinach, lemon, apples, watermelon...whatever else. I add agave nectar. Blend and enjoy.” He smiles.
“Why?” I ask.
“We used to drink this a lot back at the camp,” he replies very smoothly. “We would get a lot of produce and sometimes we didn’t have enough room in the fridge so we’d blend it into drinks. Saved room. Strawberry and I would gather dandelion...” he stops mid-sentence. “Oh.”
“Reid, it’s okay if you want to drink it,” I say. “It’s not a bad thing.”
“No, I’m supposed to forget everything about Loki,” he grabs the jar and leaves the room in a huff.
“You shouldn’t have brought it up Emily,” I huff, suddenly feeling angry.
“What? If I hadn’t, you would.” She buries her nose in her file.
“He’s having a hard time, quit acting like a bitch.”
“Derek Morgan, I’m acting the way I always act. The best thing is for him to get back to normal.” She scoffs. “You better go after him.”
“Why? He doesn’t need that right now.”
“Yes he does,” JJ interjects. “It’s what you would always do. So go do it.”
Just as I get up, Hotch, Rossi and Reid come back into the room. Hotch stands, while Rossi and Reid find chairs. “What do we have so far?”
“January 3rd, 1996, our first victim was found,” I point to the correlating ID on the board. “Last seen at a New Year’s party, she was beaten and raped, found posed on her back. She was wearing a white nightgown that, according to her family, she normally wouldn’t have worn. She was cut open, but her organs were otherwise undisturbed. She was brunette, 23 years old, a graduate student in psych at Georgetown.”
Prentiss stands. “January 29th, 30 year old blonde retail clerk found in her apartment across town, same thing.”
“February 10th, a 28 year old brunette. Valentine’s Day, 38 year old brunette,” Reid stands. “By March 22nd, there were a total of ten women murdered. Same position, but all the victimology was different. Different body types, hair, careers, and ages ranging from 18 to 46. The original investigators were unable to piece together any correlation with victimology, other than they all lived in Washington DC, and they all worked or had main offices within walking distance from their homes.”
“Which means they were most likely targeted when they were walking on the streets. None of them lived or worked near each other, but with the exception of two women,” Rossi points to the February 10th and 14th victims. “They both walked to work, and the common paths they took intersected near a park. Gideon’s notes suggest the Valentine’s Day victim was one of opportunity.”
“He was dubbed The Nightmare Killer by the media after the third body showed up and an overzealous cop leaked the information about the photocopy,” JJ adds.
“There was evidence with the others that he may of stalked them for an unknown length of time,” I reply. “He always seemed to take them when they had gaps in their schedule, days off, no laid out social plans. He beat them and murdered them in their own apartments.”
“But none of the crime scenes were nearly as brutal as the latest,” Hotch pins some new pictures up. “Our victim was completely gutted, blood and organs found around the room, which was tossed. CSI is still trying to determine if the unsub did it alone or if it was collateral damage from a struggle with the victim.”
“She was raped with a hunting knife,” Reid winces.
“She had taken a few days off to use up her sick time before it expired,” Rossi adds. “Her last appointment was two days ago. She had made no concrete plans to see any of her friends or local family.”
“Is there anything on her victimology that correlates to the others?” Hotch asks.
“Not that we can find,” Prentiss says.
“I’ve been working on the media profile,” JJ says. “So far it looks like the detail of the nail was left out of the press, as well the fact the victims were beaten for any length of time. The extent of the beatings and murders wasn’t specified, but it doesn’t make it out to look as brutal as the latest. He didn’t leave DNA at the first ten scenes, and most likely didn’t at this one. He rapes either with a condom or a foreign object.”
“It’s possible he could be a copycat and the nail is just a coincidence,” I add. “We know that unsubs make the best profilers.”
“If it is the same unsub, we need to find out why the absence and why the escalation,” Rossi says. “The first time around, they couldn’t predict the next victim. We still can’t. He could be stalking his next victim. Anywhere in the city. Any woman who commutes to work by foot.”
“Even if we weren’t in a media blackout, we wouldn’t be able to warn the public without creating panic,” JJ says with a tired and frustrated sigh.
“This attack was very brutal, it could mean one of two things,” Prentiss says. “Either our unsub worked off some built-up steam from not killing for so long, or he’s escalated. We can’t predict if he’s going to kill again right away for wait another month, like the first time.”
“I’ve poured over the dates and locations, I can’t find any specific or meaningful patterns to the dates or the location or the victims. They could have meaning to the unsub,” Reid says.
Hotch sighs. “Go home, get some sleep. Stay safe, high alert. Be here at eight ready to go.”
A few of us gather some files, knowing the last person out will lock the room so that not even the cleaning crew comes in. It’ll take too much time to put everything away only to pull it out again in the morning. I’m cleaning up some empty cups and food containers as everyone leaves. Except Reid.
I pause. “Yeah Spencer?”
He bites his lip and I can’t tell if he’s nervous or if it’s sexual. “I’m leaving the FBI after this case.”
I swallow the lump in my throat. “I figured.”
He looks shocked for a moment before shrugging. “I know I’m supposed to get back to being Spencer Reid, but I’m not that guy anymore.”
“I completely understand. You know I’m here for you, whether or not your are on the team.”
“Do you want to come over?” He asks. “I’m not going to sleep tonight and I thought maybe we could talk. I know this is a bad time, we should have talked sooner.”
“No, that’s alright. Let me pack up and we’ll go.”
Thirty minutes later
We get inside the door and the cats are pawing at my legs and meowing loudly. I don’t get a chance to pick them up because Spencer wraps his arms around my waist and rests his head on my chest. “I miss you.”
“I’m right here,” I hold him back, meowing cats be damned.
“I miss the people we used to be. Before Sticks, before Davenport, before everything.”
“This is going to sound terrible,” I breathe in his hair. “But I wish we could travel back in time. Even if we never knew what it was like to be together, you’d be safe and happy.”
He sighs deeply. “I’m so torn. I want to leave the FBI, but part of me wonders if I can.”
“Don’t think about it now, focus on the case.”
After several minutes of holding each other in the living room of his apartment, we slowly make our way to his bedroom. He changes into his sleeping clothes, in front of me, and slides into bed. Without my go-bag, I strip to my boxers and crawl into bed. We don’t touch, and it’s surprisingly comfortable. The cats are curling up around our legs and the sound of his breathing makes me feel like I’m home. For a moment, none of the bad is here.
“I didn’t kill Toby,” he whispers.
“No you didn’t.”
“I might as well have.”
“Seems like it.”
“I wish you didn’t feel that way.”
“Me too.” He rolls over to face me. I can see his silhouette created by the dim streetlight peeking through the window. “Before everything. Maybe we would have fallen in love better.”
“We fell,” I smile, turning on my side to face him. “We didn’t have a choice.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Nope, not one bit. But we fell. The only thing that would make me give it up is to make you happy.”
He moves close to me. “Is it possible to love someone despite all the baggage?”
“I don’t think it’s despite of, I think it’s all inclusive.”
Spencer nuzzles close to me. “I want to be with you, but I don’t know how.”
I hold him close, feeling myself drift into sleep. “Neither do I.”
Meanwhile on an Amtrak train towards Washington DC
He knew that someday he would go back. Deep down he knew that it would be because of a case. One of those open ones. They had more open cases than they ever let on, and luckily most of them died out of public interest so fast that only the few obsessed crime junkies were the only ones that cared that they were still open. Even the families and victims chose to believe the unsub was identified, They chose to move on.
He chose to move on. Until he had nowhere else to move to. Then he ran away. Now he’s being pulled back, just like a yoyo that got to the end of it’s string. He had almost let himself think the string had broken, but he was just being walked. Some sort of cosmic amusement.
Just another chess game.
“Excuse me sir, the observation car is closing,” a young woman in uniform says gently. “You should return to your seat or your room.”
He looks up from the paper in his hands and smiles. “Yes, thank you.”
Gently folding the piece of paper and putting it in his pocket, he stands and moves towards the door, the employee following him to lock it behind them. Once he is in his seat he settles into the dark. Lets his eyes close.
The demons have a funny way of saying hello. Last night they came back the first time since he left. The nightmares assaulted him like children chasing after an ice cream truck. They were giddy, torturing him with all the ones that got away, all the faces of those who couldn’t.
But it the faces of the ones he left to deal with the demons that haunt the darkness the most.