AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is my first CM fanfic EVER! I know it's probably filled with inaccuracies but who cares because it's fiction. But be kind to this baby...it's what got me to dive head first into CM Fandom!
Two startling knocks on the door were echoing in the back of Aaron Hotchner’s mind. He had just laid down two hours after downing a half glass of whiskey. It sounded like a dream and that there was really no one at his door. That thought was shattered as the knocking came back twice as hard and twice as frantic.
Hotch leaned over the bed and focused his vision it was still blurred. A nice headache was on it’s way. Just what I need
. He put his pajama pants over his boxers and went into the living room. Two clicks of the lock and he opened the door to see a fist getting ready to knock again. Attached to a familiar face.
Miranda Stevenson had been a mere blur in Hotch’s past. Hotch grew up with her older sister Nadine their families were neighbors and Hotch tutored Nadine one whole summer. He figured out quickly it was a scam because Nadine had feelings for him but it was Miranda who he liked but he wasn’t sure she felt for him. She dated rough and tumble types guys he now tracked down for a living because they weren’t just looking for a fight they started looking for a kill.
Hotch was puzzled when Miranda charged into his arms. He could feel her sobbing against his chest. Awkwardly he put his arms around her and pulled her inside.
Miranda caught sight of him staring at her.
"I know I’m such a mess" she wiped her eyes. He handed her a couple tissues. She briefly wiped her eyes and a fearful look came into her eyes again.
"Miranda what are you doing here? How’d you know where I lived?" Hotch being impatient had to know he didn’t like being held in suspense.
She didn’t have to say much else. Jeffery Michaels was everything Hotch hated in men and he was the loser she turned her back on him for. Hotch wasn’t surprised this had to do with him because he used to talk to Miranda’s mother and she’d beg him repeatedly to come home and steal her away from the bastard she chose.
"He’s...done something" she looked at the floor when she said it.
Hotch knew Miranda well enough that if she didn’t look you in the eyes she might be lying or the fear was probably beaten into her skull some way or another.
"What you mean...done something?" he says the way she had delivered it to him.
Miranda swallowed the lump in her throat and played with her long dark locks nervously.
"Aaron, he’s just been so crazy lately...and he kept threatening to kill me...I called the local police and they wouldn’t help me!! One night he came home from work and he started packing a bag and I asked him where was he going and he told me ‘fuck off you stupid cunt I’ll do what I want’ but there was something wrong with him..."
Hotch was making mental notes of her information but also her body language and speech.
"What did you notice was wrong with him?"
"He just looked afraid...I thought maybe he owed one of the guys down at the bar money but it was different he usually just slept with his shotgun when they’d threaten him...but this time he just threw clothes in the bag and then just left out. Aaron I’m scared because what if whoever he pissed off will come after me??? You know I’ve heard they like to get personal and he doesn’t love me Aaron...I need protection! Please I didn’t know where else to go!"
Hotch had to stand down as a profiler for a minute and become Aaron, her friend. He put his arms around her she sobbed into his chest some more. Hotch ran his fingers through her dark tresses as she let out a loud gasp.
"Miranda, I’ll run this by team and we’ll help you but I need you to take us back to your house okay? Can you go back?"
She just nodded ‘yes’ and pulled tightly to him.
An hour later Miranda was sitting on the sofa while Hotch was getting her something to drink. He put two cubes of ice into her small glass then poured some bourbon. He looked up into the mirror at himself.
What are you doing? You don’t care about Jeffery Michaels. You’re hoping something has happened to the stupid fuck! Miranda can’t trust you!
He knew that might be true but she could trust his team. He’d let Rossi take the lead and as usual send Morgan
and Prentiss to search for the schlub husband and talk to people in their surroundings, Garcia to check his credit cards and bank card information, JJ and Reid would work in tandem with the local police to figure out why hadn’t they done something for her sooner!
He came into the living room and she was sitting upward with her knees tightly to her chest. She was startled when he passed the drink to her. She shook her head ‘no.’
"It’s just bourbon it’ll relax you"
She accepted it with shaky hands. He sat beside her she stared at him a moment. His eyes were glancing over his walls. Hotch then caught sight of Miranda staring at him.
"You’ve changed Aaron..."
"How have I changed?" he sounded defensive but he was just curious to see how Miranda now perceived him.
"Marriage really did something good for you...my mother told me you married Haley Brooks. Not surprised. How’s your little boy Jack?"
"I guess he’s okay. I don’t get to see him much anymore" he took a long drink of his bourbon.
He didn’t want to bring up Foyet or any other of the horrific events of his daily life. He wanted to focus solely on Miranda because he knew at least someone needed him right now...someone he really cared about.
"Miranda this Agent David Rossi, Agent Emily Prentiss, Agents Morgan and Jareau, and Dr Spencer Reid" Hotch introduced her to the team she smiled and nodded.
Morgan’s computer screen suddenly came on with Garcia on the camera.
"How many years have I been working for you sir?" she was highly offended.
"This is Penelope Garcia she’s our technical analyst" he made good on his offense.
"That a boy chief...okay so I was running checks on his credit card turns out it wasn’t his at all it’s mother and father’s but hasn’t been used in two weeks. Bank cards are clear although he made a rather large purchase last month..."
"What did he buy?" Rossi asked.
"Let me bring up the receipt...ah he bought a chipper. I dare not to ask what for..."
"Was it just a rental?"
"Well yes and no. Yes he rented it but no he didn’t return it. And he also bought lawn and garden trash bags, highly chemical cleaning solutions, those nice gloves that only a selective people use..."
"Selective?" Hotch asked.
"You know the kind most likely you want to commit a crime with...but all activity stopped two weeks ago"
"What did he buy two weeks ago baby girl?"
"It says private purchase..."
"You can find out what he purchased right?"
"Shame on you for questioning my genius Prentiss! Of course I can and you all will know as soon as I know" she disappeared.
"Okay we’re going to Virginia and Rossi and I will go to their house and check it out. I want Morgan and Prentiss to talk to everyone that either Miranda or Jeffery knows. JJ you and Reid will take Miranda to the police to file a missing person’s report..."
Before he could finish a call came in. He hit the button and put them on speaker.
"This is Agent Hotchner go ahead"
"Yes, this is the Waynesboro County Police Department there’s been a murder...ah hell I can’t tell if it’s one body or many because they’re all in damn pieces..."
"Sir we’re on our way..."
The team minus JJ who took Miranda to the police station met the Sheriff Daniel Hankens at the crime scene. Everyone was putting on their gloves.
"Thank you for coming out Agent Hotchner" he greeted them and led them under the taped off area.
"How was this all discovered?" Hotch asked.
"Well, this is farm land it belongs to Betty and John Humer. They said about a week ago they’re dogs were barking and they figured it was probably animals but their golden retriever Duke started digging right in through here. The Humer’s didn’t pay much attention until he turned up dead"
"He was eating the remains...how much of the pieces have you recovered?" Reid asked.
"Hell...probably enough to at least get a DNA sample we hope but the dog was laying here with green foam around his mouth and the pieces of ‘meat’ were covered in it too"
Prentiss looked as if she were about to puke. Rossi lifted the sheet off the dog and it was just like the sheriff said.
"We need to get this dog checked out...did you check the surrounding areas for anything suspicious?" Rossi covered the beast back up.
"Why? The crime happened here"
"Well, the unsub who mulched these bodies or body whichever is the case most likely might have left something behind but not too close but not too far away from the crime scene." Morgan said.
The sheriff gave orders to search every area within two miles of the Humer’s farm. He came back to the station with Rossi and Hotch to check on Miranda.
She was sitting in a room by herself with her arms crossed. Hotch stared into the glass as JJ was relaying some information to Rossi and Sheriff Hankens. He knew she must be scared and probably fearing Jeffery might come back and find her. Miranda looked up and directly into Hotch’s eyes he turned quickly.
"What’s a matter Aaron?" Rossi could see it on his face that something was wrong.
"Sheriff did Miranda ever file a police report against Jeffery?" Hotch knew this wasn’t important right now but had to know.
"If she did it’d be with my deputy...Chris get over here. This is Agents Jareau, Rossi, and Hotchner of the FBI they need to ask you a couple questions"
"Sure" he said in a slick and controlled manner.
"Did Miranda file a domestic violence report against Jeffery?"
Rossi was paying attention to the intensity of Hotch on this kid. He could see Aaron’s demeanor changing from a dutiful agent to a ready to snap lunatic. Rossi then stared at the deputy who was smirking. He knew trouble would happen if he failed to comply with Aaron’s request.
"She might have but those would be on file"
"Bring them up"
Hotch’s tone even surprised JJ. There was no will you please? There was just a command. How much had Hotch invested in this woman?
"I can..." he was going to refuse but Hotch’s fist were clenched and he was moving closer.
"Right away Agent Hotchner" he went to the computer.
"I’m going to check on Miranda before we head to her house" he said walking away. Rossi and JJ exchanged puzzled glances.
"I guess I’m following Deputy Do Right" she said and walked away.
Rossi got beside Hotch trying to stop him from going into the room.
"Aaron what’s the deal? Strauss already is giving you heat for taking this shit too personal. Why don’t you just go home and we’ll handle it so if any procedural difficulties occur we’ll each take equal blame"
"Dave, I’m not taking this personal. I’m doing my job and Strauss is the least of my worries. I can’t let my team take a fall because I stupidly left them behind to do this on their own. That’s reckless Dave."
Rossi knew he couldn’t push it with Hotch he just let him enter the room. Rossi had to get a good ear on what was being said. He put his ear closer to the door.
"Did Jeffery do this?"
"We’re not sure but I can almost guarantee he did. Miranda if he’s still out there do you have somewhere safe you can stay?"
Tears welled up in her eyes. She sobbed softly pulling at Hotch’s heart strings.
"No...he’ll find me like he always does. Please Aaron don’t leave me. I’m sorry..."
What did she have remorse for? Both Rossi and Hotch were thinking it.
"Miranda you didn’t do anything wrong..."
"I broke your heart Aaron but I never told you why...Nadine was my sister and I couldn’t believe you turned her down. I really liked you though..."
That hurt to hear the past tense of the word. Then Miranda leaned forward and took his hand.
"I still do" she whispered.
Rossi sighed heavily and rolled his eyes.
He’s doing it for love...stupid fuck!
Reid thought it was highly unusual to see Rossi with his ear pinned to the door. He looked through the glass to see Hotch and Miranda talking still.
"Actually if you were skilled enough you could read lips..." Rossi jumped.
"Jesus, Reid! You scared the shit out of me." he stepped away from the door.
"Sorry but for future reference the best way to hear others conversation’s a cup is most useful it magnifies the sounds inside the room"
"I’ll try to remember that Reid thanks."
He was heading toward the exit when Hotch came out. He caught sight of Reid and Rossi staring at him.
Neither man commented. But Reid opened a folder and took out a paper inside.
"The preliminary tests came back on the dog it was lime that he ingested. My guess is the pieces were limed so the blood and tissues would die. And most likely not leave a rotten smell behind"
"We’re dealing with a smart man" Rossi said still staring at Hotch. Who was giving him equal stares back.
"What about the pieces?" Hotch asked not breaking his gaze from Rossi.
"Well, they’ve narrowed it down to one person"
"One unsub?" Rossi asked finally breaking the stare down.
"No, the pieces all belong to the same person they’re figuring out who."
"Reid get with JJ and tell the police who we’re looking for"
Rossi was highly irritated now. Hotch was acting brash and was about to make a mistake.
"Aaron we haven’t even spoken to anyone they know or been to their house. Don’t you think you’re jumping the gun?"
"Dave the more time we spend running our mouth’s the less time it will take for him to find her..."
Hotch went to walk out the door he flipped his phone up to call Morgan and Prentiss.
"So, we’re supposed to jump because you have feelings for our victim? Look I know all about the one who always gets away...but Aaron it’s no reason to cause panic and wasted efforts of our team and the police department for one man. If it’s him then we need to know if there are any other murders or victims. We have to profile his reasons...Aaron I didn’t want to say this in front of her but something’s not right..."
"Stop it right there Dave! You have no idea what you’re talking about! I’m not using an emotional stand point!!! And how dare you question my authority like that...Reid I want it done...Now!"
Morgan answered his call as Hotch was coming out the of the police station. Reid wasn’t sure how to proceed and looked to Rossi for the answer.
"Do what he says..." Rossi told him parting company.
"Get to know her" he nodded towards the glass.
Reid knew that Rossi was referring for him to profile Miranda to see if she was being totally honest.
"So tell me about Jeffery is he a very violent person?" Reid came in and handed Miranda a glass of water.
"He always had a control issue. Who I could talk to...where I could go and things I could do"
Reid noticed she was seemingly talking in the past tense. This might’ve been for several valid reasons but he had to know more.
"Did he ever...use violence as a way to control you?" he tried speaking in a more sympathetic tone.
"Constantly..." there was a distant and reflective look in her eyes and before Reid had a chance to speak JJ entered the room with a very concerned look on her face.
"Reid, I need to speak to you"
"Sure JJ, we’ll be right back" he followed her out of the room.
"The deputy is such an ass! He has this vendetta for women or something...he was supposed to give me records if Miranda filed a police report against Jeffery and what does the jackass do? He first gets hateful because I’m not Hotch then aggressively suggests I go get my MALE superior. Okay, I need you to go get those records and I’ll do whatever is you’re supposed to be doing. Reid you don’t know how neanderthal these men are around here..."
"Well, it’s typically a redneck town but I’m interviewing Miranda more personal for Rossi"
"Oh yeah you mean the way Hotch was acting weird? What’s Rossi’s guess?"
"Well, he feels she’s withholding information or lying look you’re a woman and I think she’d feel more comfortable about the abusive aspects with you"
"So it is a gender thing?" JJ was highly irritated.
"No, you know what I mean. I have nothing but respect for you JJ"
"I know Reid it’s just I’m so...fed up with these
men it’s not funny. So get the records and I’ll see if I can’t open pandora’s box" they traded places.
JJ opened the door to the room to see an empty chair. Miranda bailed out. JJ turned around and glanced around the room.
This was bad...real bad.
Hotch had instructed Morgan and Prentiss to meet he and Rossi at Miranda and Jeffery’s house. They got out of the unmarked as soon as Rossi and Hotch arrived.
"We didn’t get a chance to talk to anyone what gives?" Morgan called Hotch out. Hotch stared angrily at him and walked into the house. Morgan looked at Rossi for clues who was equally as pissed.
"It must be grumpy old men day" Morgan said to Prentiss as they walked into the house.
They did a brief sweep of their two story rambler. There wasn’t really anything unsettling about the house just the deer heads mounted on the wall and the bear that made Morgan jump when he wasn’t paying attention and pulled a gun on it. Which made Prentiss hysterical almost.
"My hero" she joked.
"Who would shoot an already dead bear for me" she clasped her hands over heart and he sneered putting his gun away.
Rossi and Hotch suppressed a few smirks but decided to do a deeper search like into their personal effects.
They all ended up in their bedroom. Hotch slid the closet door back. It was obvious someone had vacated the home. Clothes were strewn everywhere and it was apparent from the white squares in closet floor not matching the now beige carpet that luggage was recently taken out.
Rossi was at the window looking at driveway.
"So Jeffery comes home he most likely left the truck running...comes in runs up here and gets the luggage out of the closet and begins throwing God knows what around the closet to get his stuff...she comes in asks a question and a fight ensues. He maybe shoves her..."
"Shoves her?" Hotch wanted to know how he got that deduction.
Rossi led them to the wall beside the door. He smooths his gloved hand over what appeared to be a dent.
"He had to push pretty hard to make a dent into the wall" Prentiss observed.
Morgan went over and knocked on the wall it was hollow.
"Not really it’s hollow and probably so old the slightest bump could make it cave...poor structure" Morgan noticed and reported.
They were chattering about where he’d go and who he’d kill. Rossi looked deeper into the closet to see long silver cases. As a game shooter himself he realized the cases were rifles quite possibly.
"He’s a hunter right?" Rossi pulled one of the silver cases out.
"What are you getting at Dave?" Hotch looked at him with eyes as cold as steel.
"Why did he need a chipper? He has high powered rifles. It makes no sense he has weapons right here"
"Well, if he’s violent and a power seeker it’s not enough that he can shoot them he needs to torture them and further agonize their pain and suffering" Prentiss followed closely.
"Right but you would think he would know Miranda well enough to call police he would need something to stave them off...maybe go somewhere secluded. She said he slept with his gun in his arm for protection"
"She was frightened Dave and he knew that he had power over her. He knew she wouldn’t call anyone as long as he left her alone"
Rossi put the gun case on the bed and flipped it open. The gun was gone. Hotch gave him the ‘I told you so’ look.
"We’ve got to get word to the police who we’re looking for and quickly"
They filed out of the room with Hotch in the lead. Rossi still felt unsettled he was going out of the room when felt something strange in the closet he was going in for a closer look when heard Morgan calling him.
"Yo you comin man?"
He hurried down the steps.
"I’m riding with Morgan" he announced going toward his car.
"Fine" Hotch looked at Prentiss and turned toward his car.
"Looks like the honeymoon is over Prentiss" Morgan joked going to his car.
"When did it ever get started?" she remarked following a sauntering Hotch.
Rossi was silent down the road. Morgan knew there was a reason other than getting away from Hotch that he wanted to ride with him. Morgan didn’t want to play into the silent game because he would then have to ask him what’s wrong?
"He’s not thinking clearly..." Rossi started. Morgan sighed he might as well get it over with.
"What are you talking about?"
"Hotch...Miranda is his past love interest the one that got away. He’s using the fact she’s desperate and needy to fill him up and it’s clouding his judgment"
"Rossi what are you saying? Hotch is still in love with her?"
"Yes, Derek think about it he can’t let her down. But he’s ignoring the giant gaps in her story. She’s playing the emotional card. She’s tugging at his heart!"
"So she’s lying? Withholding or what?"
"Lying" Rossi said harshly.
"You mean...you think she killed him?"
There was silence. Rossi wasn’t sure if that were true he hoped for Hotch’s sake it wasn’t. After all Hotch was still his friend.
Back the station JJ was a miss while Reid was scanning the police reports Miranda filed. Hotch and the rest of the team came in.
"Where’s JJ? Did you guys tell the police?"
"Uhh no JJ’s not here and I just got these police reports."
Reid knew Hotch was angry now. He handed Hotch the reports that Miranda had filed against him.
"Jeffery made several threats to her life. He busted her upper lip, fractured her skull and broke four bones through her wrist and legs"
Hotch had enough. The deputy that was supposed to handle the reports was in the break room drinking coffee and laughing with the other men. Hotch glared at him and back down at the papers he moved forward taking the files out of Reid’s hands.
He ripped the door open. Everyone stopped laughing as Hotch slammed the thick file down.
"She called you...she told you what he was doing to her and you did nothing?!?!?!?" the deputy went to get out of the chair when Hotch pinned him against the wall.
The other officers backed away and the team came to the doorway with Rossi and Morgan in the lead and Reid a little ways behind them. Prentiss hung in the back.
"Does this make you feel better? A helpless woman who is a victim of malicious beatings from her husband!! And you don’t even so much as give her protective order against him? WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!?!?"
"AARON? Let him go!" Rossi hollered at him.
"Not now Dave! Tell me you gutless sonofabitch!" he shoved him into the wall harder.
"I did what could for her" was all he said.
"Obviously you didn’t do enough you sorry fuck!" Hotch let him hit the floor and he walked out the room.
JJ ran back in and into Hotch. She didn’t like the look on his face or what she had to tell him.
"Hotch...Miranda has gone missing..."
He turned and looked at the deputy. Did he have some kind of connection to Jeffery?
JJ relayed everything that happened just before she discovered Miranda had gone. How the deputy treated her and how she asked Reid to handle him. Reid relayed that he had no issue getting the files from him.
"He knows Jeffery in some way or is related" Hotch deduced.
No one could say anything they had seen Hotch on edge before and knew when it came to people he cared about there was no in the middle with him.
"Greetings from Planet Strauss is Having A Shit Fit!" Garcia appeared on the screen of the BAU laptop.
"What’s up Garcia?"
"Okay aside from the fact you missed a very important call from Strauss chief...the truck and chipper have been found. It’s two counties over and it was driven into a lake..." she was typing and reading her screen some more.
"Did they find anything in the truck?" Rossi asked.
"Yeah fish, seaweed..."
"No, personal items?"
"Well nothing really of value except a .22 caliber assault rifle"
Rossi had a sort of cocky, satisfied look on his face. Hotch caught a glimpse of it he didn’t have time to say anything else Garcia came back to them.
"And strangely enough that private purchase wasn’t so private after all it was private detective that was hired"
"Why would he hire a detective unless he felt Miranda was hiding something but the way she told me was he controlled her every move" Reid said.
"I don’t know but I’ve got the name and address and I’m sending it to..."
"Morgan" Hotch spoke up.
"Sure...there you are honey bunny. I’m also sending to whomever’s phone I choose where you can find the truck and chipper"
JJ’s phone lit up.
"I’m on it"
"Take Reid with you" Hotch ordered.
"Rossi and Prentiss go with Morgan"
"What are you gonna do?" Morgan asked him.
"Look for Miranda"
Rossi was about to object his authority again when Sheriff Hankens came in.
"The DNA from the pieces came back..."
"And?" Hotch was on the edge of his seat.
"You aren’t going to believe this but those pieces are the remains of Jeffery Michaels!"
Things were crashing all around them especially Hotch. He couldn’t believe it. He had to find Miranda because whoever mangled Jeffery would come for her next. Or did they already have her?
"Okay lets go over a profile because now it’s not Jeffery"
"Hotch its too late for a profile man everything we thought has been thrown out"
Rossi had something to say but he kept his mouth shut.
"Look we’ll do the best we can and fill it in as we go along. Morgan we’ll go talk to this P.I. JJ and Reid will follow up with the truck and Prentiss you and Hotch search for Miranda"
Hotch wanted to call Dave out on making decisions on his behalf and questioning his authority but let it slide.
They had to work quickly. Time wasn’t exactly on their side.
Detective Gabriel Richards had a sharp looking office. Morgan and Rossi noticed everything was immaculately placed and nothing was out of order. They knocked on his door.
He wasn’t an elder man but might be a little older than Rossi. He was startled by Morgan’s knock.
"Sorry...Detective Gabriel Richards I’m Agent Derek Morgan and this Agent David Rossi we’re with the FBI we need to ask you some questions"
"I’m sorry gentleman my cases are private"
"We’re pulling rank on you" Rossi told him showing the credentials.
"Allright who is it you’re looking for?"
"Have you ever talked to or dealt with a Jeffery Michaels?" Morgan asked leaning against the doorframe.
"Michaels...Michaels" he went rummaging through his file cabinet under M.
"Please do sit down. I can’t always remember everyone that comes through my door because sometimes they just want to know someone’s updated location. I don’t know why people think I’m whitepages.com or something!"
He searched the entire cabinet. He came up empty handed.
"Sorry no Jeffery Michaels" he went to shut the drawer.
"What about Miranda Michaels?" Rossi knew she had to be the one to contact the detective.
He searched again forwards and backwards. He shook his head.
"Thank you" Morgan was going to walk out but Rossi didn’t want to let up.
"What about Miranda Stevenson?" Rossi asked heatedly.
"That sounds familiar!" he went into his cabinet. Morgan gave Rossi a look of concern.
"AHA! Yes, here it is I remember her now she’s the one who assumed I was a damn telephone book."
"Who was she having you investigate?"
"Not really an investigation more like an update you know address, martial status...things of that nature. Why doesn’t the poor woman get a Facebook or MySpace?"
Rossi and Morgan were becoming agitated with his small talk.
"Who was she looking for?" Rossi stated plainly.
Detective Richards look down at the file and found one photograph out of many he took and slid it towards them.
JJ and Reid were meeting the police two counties over from Waynesboro. A wrecker was pulling the truck and chipper out.
"I spoke with Penelope Garcia who told me the FBI were coming. Something about this being connected to an open case?"
They turned to see the chief of police. JJ extended her hand to him he shook it warmly.
"I’m Agent Jareau and this Dr Reid" they shook.
"Nathaniel Davidson. Do you have any idea who it belongs to?"
"Yes, a Jeffery Michaels but he’s deceased somebody used the chipper to rid his body" JJ said.
Davidson shook his head.
"Poor sonofabitch listen if my department can be of service you just let me know"
Reid got his gloves on as soon as the chipper and truck hit dry land. He and JJ did a full sweep of the vehicle and chipper.
"Whoever did this also put lime in the chipper to clean it in case it was found but question is didn’t they know when they drove it in the lake the water would detoriate the evidence as well?"
"I don’t think so..." JJ said opening the truck’s passenger door. A suitcase fell out.
"What are you thinking?" Reid asked JJ.
"I think whoever murdered him couldn’t stand what they had done and had to dissociate themselves with the crime and weapon plus any personal effects Jeffery had."
"Like a cleansing?"
"Right. Only they weren’t going to drive the truck in the lake they were just going to hide it but then it was too late...driving the truck and chipper into the water was a last resort"
"More like an admission of guilt. This murder was planned but the aftermath was not. Our unsub is very inexperienced"
"And very nervous...Reid when you were interviewing Miranda how was she talking to you?"
"Hmm past tense"
"I don’t follow..."
"JJ here’s the thing she kept referring to Jeffery in the past tense like he had
a controlling personality"
"Oh my God! Reid we’ve got to tell the team"
"Are we sure Miranda is the unsub?"
"Reid you saw those police reports?"
He resigned to silence.
"But why would she come to D.C.? Why would she go to the FBI’s front door?"
"Arrogance maybe? Showing Jeffery in spirit maybe that she’s the strong one now"
"We need to talk to Rossi first" Reid remembered he needed to give his facts to Rossi and maybe bridge a few gaps with him.
The foursome met back at the police station each ready to fire away with their new information. Before anyone started Prentiss burst into the door and slammed it back.
"Damn Hotch!" she yelled.
"What happened? Where is he?" Rossi asked.
"How the hell should I know? He ditched me after you guys left the station" she threw arms up.
Rossi took out his cell phone and called Hotch. It went straight to voicemail.
"Aaron’s phone’s not on right now."
"What’d you guys find out?" JJ asked Morgan.
"Well, Miranda is the one who hired that Detective"
"Why would she do that?" Prentiss became refocused.
"She was looking for Hotch" Rossi said shutting his cell phone.
"Well, that might explain how it came to be she came to him but JJ and I found Jeffery’s suitcase in the cab of the truck. The chipper had been cleaned before driven with the truck into the lake. Miranda spoke of him in the past tense when I asked her about her relationship with Jeffery." Reid said in one breathy sentence.
"So what does all this mean?" Prentiss was hoping someone had an answer.
"Baby girl?" Morgan tried connecting to Garcia.
"I’m already searching for Hotch" she came on the screen.
"Check his cell phone who was the last caller before me?"
"Oh my God...Miranda called him from her house."
"We’ve got to move" Rossi said heading out the door.
Hotch kept his gun close but not out like a good agent is supposed to. He walked up the steps and went to place his hand on the knob. Miranda opened it with tear filled eyes.
She rushed into his arms.
"Aaron, I need your help...I don’t love Jeffery and I never did! Please I know its going to be hard on you but I need you to leave with me"
His first thought sadly wasn’t his gun. He knew she was frightened of whoever killed Jeffery coming for her next.
"Miranda you don’t need to run away we’re going to catch the killer"
"NO! Aaron..." she pulled him inside the house.
It was almost like they were dancing she backed into the wall and pulled Hotch down to her height. Their lips met. The kiss was sweet and agonizing to Hotch at the same time.
After Foyet’s violation of Hotch’s nether regions he didn’t feel comfortable in a sexual repose. He went to pull back but she had a grasp on him. He finally broke free.
"I thought we could start over Aaron...I thought you cared. That’s why I came to you. To you
not to those people on your team! They’re too smart!"
She was panicking. It just couldn’t end this way. She knew they’d discover her mistakes and her flawed plan to rid herself of Jeffery forever. She began wringing her hands.
Hotch then thought about his gun. What had happened to Miranda? She noticed the look in his eyes. There was no longer an emotional string to pull. There was a sense of clarity. She eyed the holster she watched his hands. They heard a car pull up. Hotch turned his head for a second and Miranda grabbed his gun.
She turned the safety off and aimed it at him.
"Dammit Aaron!!!! Look what you’ve done! I won’t go to prison! NO! I’ve been imprisioned my whole LIFE!!! Aaron you wouldn’t understand!!! I’m sorry I got you involved but I knew how much you liked me when we were teenagers!!"
She was heading up the stairs. Hotch had to think quickly because one his team was going to burst through the doors. And two he had no bullet proof vest.
"Miranda please give me the gun" Hotch held his arms up.
"NO! Aaron please call them off! Tell them I didn’t know what I was doing...Aaron I need your protection!!!"
"I can’t give you that if you don’t trust me...give me the gun and I can help you"
"Tell me that you love me...that you always loved me. That Nadine and Haley meant nothing"
It was sad to see what Miranda had become. She was a victim of abuse her entire life. No self-esteem or confidence. Hotch was beginning to understand. When they were kids her parents favored her sister and anything she want she made sure she got. Miranda went for abusive men because they were like her father. Hotch was different he showed kindness and favor to her. But he was kidding himself if he really believed he could prove her innocence while she was steadily confessing.
"You remember that day when I came outside and Nadine and you were kissing...why did you hurt me that way Aaron? How could you abandoned me like my parents did?"
"That kiss meant nothing to me...Nadine kissed me I didn’t want to kiss her. I wanted to kiss you"
"LIAR! You’re saying that because I have your gun!!! My sister cried for mercy too but I wasn’t buying it"
The last he had heard of Nadine Stevenson was she was beaten to death after the senior prom. The police arrested her then boyfriend for it because he was passed out with her blood smeared all over himself and his car. Not to mention the weapon was found in the trunk of his car.
"I showed my parents!!! They didn’t give a damn about me!!!! After Nadine was buried I became more of a nobody!!! AND YOU LEFT ME HERE TO ROT!"
"Miranda that’s not true...your mother loved you! She called me in college begging me to come back for you. She wanted me to rescue you from this hell" he said referring to the house.
She was confused she put her hands to her temples. Time was running out...they’d barge in any second.
Outside the police and the BAU were suited up and armed. Rossi met with several of the policemen.
"How many points of entry are there?" the officer asked Rossi.
"Three. Front door, back door, and cellar door. We’ll have four to each door. Morgan and I will take the front. JJ you take the cellar and Prentiss you and Reid take the back door"
They crept silently to the doors. Rossi got a glimpse into the window. He saw the back of Hotch’s head.
"We have visual contact of Agent Hotchner" the young officer radioed to the others.
Rossi could see he wasn’t protected and was unarmed.
"He’s unarmed" Rossi relayed to the officer to tell them.
"Any sight of her?" Sheriff Hanken asked Rossi.
"No, but he’s near the stairs I take it she’s in a stand off ready position. I think JJ and the first four need to enter first. She can let Prentiss and Reid know when it’s okay to enter we need to make sure Hotch is safe before we move otherwise she’ll shoot the both of them"
Once JJ got the okay she slid easily into the basement they silently went up the steps. She eased the basement door open a crack she saw Hotch’s side profile.
"Rossi I see him. No sign of Miranda"
"What do you hear?"
"Nothing I think she’s deciding what to do" JJ prayed that was just it.
JJ bravely opened the door a little more so to get Hotch’s attention. He glanced her way. JJ mouthed ‘Where is she?’
Hotch looked back at the stairs. Miranda was sobbing and rocking on the stairs.
"Listen to me if you love me Miranda you wouldn’t do this...not to yourself" Hotch had to make one last appeal.
"It’s over Aaron...your smart little team has me figured out probably and they’re here. There’s no way I can stop what’s about to happen."
She was getting up to go forward. Hotch had to protect JJ from being seen. She caught sight of JJ she was going to run but Hotch had her arm.
"HOTCH LET HER GO!" JJ screamed she could also see what was about to transpire. Hotch’s gun was an inch from his chest and Miranda’s finger was too near the trigger.
Everyone outside panicked when they heard JJ scream. Morgan and the police kicked in their doors.
"NO GUYS STOP!!! YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE HER PANIC! Miranda listen to me! Please drop the gun you’re going to shoot..."
The gun fired before JJ could finish. Hotch let go of Miranda’s arm suddenly and hit the floor.
Miranda was startled at what she had done. Blood oozed around Hotch’s slumped over body. She dropped his gun. The bullets fell out and spilled on the floor.
Fire seared through the team’s hearts. Miranda knew they wouldn’t hold back from firing at her so she ran upstairs. JJ holstered her gun and ran to Hotch followed by Prentiss who was still bearing her firearm. Reid couldn’t move he was too afraid if he went Hotch would surely be dead. Morgan couldn’t fathom what had just occurred but he knew it was his fault. If he had just let JJ do something Hotch might’ve been all right. Rossi didn’t stop for a second not even for his old friend.
There was a sharp pain literally in his chest for his old friend but he couldn’t let her get away. This was all a clever trap he was going to nail her.
He went towards the steps when he looked up to be faced with a barrel of scope rifle.
"Make any fucking moves and I’ll blow your ass through the fucking wall!!!" she screamed at him.
"Why’d you shoot him?" Rossi bravely questioned.
"It was accident Rossi...she didn’t intend on shooting Hotch...she was going to shoot herself!" JJ explained trying to turn Hotch over.
"Emily help me..." she sobbed out.
"Give me your guns! EVERYONE DROP YOUR WEAPONS!!!!"
The BAU had no problem complying. The police however had every objection.
"Tell them Agent Rossi or I’ll pick the rest of your team off like flies"
"Please stand down..." he hated resignation. She kept her aim on Rossi.
Morgan acted like he was bending down for Hotch but he seized the gun from his ankle and before Miranda could see him from the corner of her eye he shot her in the temple. She dropped the rifle and hit her knees then fell down the stairs.
Hotch began choking out. Everyone looked at him.
"Hotch?" he looked up at tear filled JJ. He couldn’t see her actual eyes just blue puddles. He felt light headed and felt like he was on another plane. He knew it was an accident but then he caught sight of Rossi staring at him with watery eyes.
Don’t you cry! Don’t you dare Dave! Don’t make me feel stupid then pity me!
"Dave..." he gasped out trying to get up.
"Hotch!" Prentiss tried to keep him down he shoved her hand away. Typical man
Rossi helped him up and Morgan got on the other side to help carry him out of the house. Hotch looked back at Miranda laying on the staircase her eyes were wide open. He didn’t want this to end this way. He then looked at Rossi who was looking at him. He should have listened to his friend.
"I’m sorry..." he breathed out.
"Being an arrogant ass...who wouldn’t listen. You were right I let my heart rule my head."
"It’s okay you just wanted to believe she loved you and really needed you"
"She didn’t love me Dave but she did need me and I failed..." he said being helped onto the stretcher.
Rossi didn’t want Hotch to think of this as a failure. He didn’t want Morgan to think this was his fault in any way either. Nor did he want JJ to think of herself as weak for her emotional nature or that she was responsible either.
Time and time again they saw these things happen and play out the way the do. Rossi knows he and the rest of the team will go home and try to forget this case but unfortunately Hotch will not. The lines between personal and professional were blurred too finely this time. How much longer could Hotch stand this?
[Rossi’s voice]: Robert M. Pirsig quoted "We keep passing unseen through little moments of other people’s lives."