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Point of Authority (2/2)

By Clarity Scifiroots

Fandom: Criminal Minds (Disclaimers apply! This is a fan’s work.)

Characters: Hotch, Reid, Gideon, Prentiss, Morgan, Elle, JJ, Garcia

Genre: AU, pre-slash (Hotch/Reid)

Rating: Teen

Warnings: Allusions to physical and sexual abuse

Spoilers: The Fisher King episodes & aftermath

Summary: In an alternate reality, the BAU team is called to Las Vegas to determine if the right man was convicted in a series of murders. (Yeah, this is probably the beginning of a series…)


 

                Hotch wasn’t sure how he ended up not going out to find Robert Hatch – the man almost certainly their unsub – and instead checked his weapons once again at the prison. Outside the interview room he found a middle-aged woman in a pantsuit eyeing him warily. She had a briefcase in one hand.

                “Special Agent Aaron Hotchner,” she greeted coolly.

                He nodded. “Dr. Reid’s lawyer, I presume?”

                “Indeed.”

                Curious, Hotch cast his gaze to the clear barrier to eye the young man hunched over the table inside. At least this time he hadn’t been chained in place. Hotch’s attention turned back to the lawyer. “You’ve heard that my team believes your client has been falsely incarcerated?”

                She smiled cynically. “And it only took nine months for any real effort to seek out an alternative theory. I should be preparing files to sue.”

                “That’s up to you and your client, ma’am.”

                She snorted softly and glanced back at her client. “He doesn’t care for my presence right now. I already informed the guard I’ll be in there in a flash if it looks like anything untoward happens. Any and all information that can clear my client will be made available to me, understand?”

                Hotch admired her dedication. He offered his hand to her as he said, “Of course. I believe you should have received some of our results already.”

                She shook his hand with a firm grip. With a tight nod, she gestured for him to enter. Hotch hid a smile at her act of gatekeeper.

                “Dr. Reid,” he greeted on his way to the table. “You’ve been informed that we’ve found evidence of your innocence?” The young man didn’t look up and in fact hunched over a little further when Hotch sat down. Prentiss’s bad feeling was catching, Hotch decided as a knot of dread formed in his gut. “Dr. Reid,” he said quietly. “Are you all right?”

                A gusty sound that might have been a chuckle came from Reid. “One-hundred twenty-three days.”

                “Excuse me?”

                “The days I’ve been here, Agent Hotchner.”

                Reid’s voice sounded hoarse. Hotch turned his head to look for bruises on Reid’s neck and found them all too quickly. “Does this happen often?”

                “What?” Reid’s head lifted enough for him to glance at Hotch in confusion. When he found Hotch staring back, he ducked his head again.

                “You have new bruises,” Hotch stated.

                Reid didn’t speak for some time. Hotch sent a glare at the guard in the corner. The man there stared back, lips tight. Hotch frowned at him but admitted he felt relieved that the guard expressed disapproval.

                “You already know,” Reid finally said. He slid a hand over his tufted hair, fingers smoothing back a longer section behind his ear. As he moved, Hotch realized he could see teeth marks at the base of his neck. “You’re the profiler, tell me what happened in here. You don’t have to guess.”

                Hotch closed his eyes and took a moment to keep his breathing even. Reid was right, he could vividly imagine just what the young man would have faced.

                “You will get out,” Hotch asserted. He stared at Reid, half hoping he’d look up yet dreading what other damage he might find.

                “Then at least I won’t die here,” Reid said, lifting his face. A wry smile crossed his lips. His black eye was a sickening shade of green-purple after two days, the finger-shaped bruises along his jaw were fading, but his split lip clearly wasn’t getting the chance to heal over.

                Hotch had the surprising urge to say sorry. He didn’t know why, obviously an apology would do nothing and he himself had nothing to apologize for. In fact he was aiding the young man in finding justice for his mother and prove his innocence.

                When Hotch refocused, he realized Reid was studiously observing him. He couldn’t resist asking, “What do you see?”

                Reid looked startled by the question. After a moment amusement flickered in his gaze. “You found out I applied for the BAU?” Hotch nodded, leaving his expression open in invitation for Reid to answer.

                “I see a man in his mid-thirties, presenting confidence despite inner doubts. You used to be married but it’s been some months since the divorce.” Hotch resisted the urge to glance down at his hand, rather surprised that Reid had noticed the slight color difference where he used to wear his wedding band. “You probably lost her because you’re focused on your job. You’re stressed by the work but still dedicated to the cause. I doubt you care about promotion, which means you’re probably attached to your team in more than a professional capacity.” Reid stopped, gaze roaming over the FBI agent. Hotch managed not to twitch despite how he felt that Reid seemed to see beneath his skin.

                Eventually  Reid observed, “You wanted to test me.” He tilted his head slightly in acknowledgement. “Your posture tells me I was right and you’re uncomfortable being profiled.” He gave a small smile, finally something genuine. “I’m sure there’s some agreement about not profiling coworkers, so you don’t get this a lot.”

                Hotch said, “It seems you’d cleared a significant portion of the approval process for your application.”

                Reid looked away, mouth tight.

                “It didn’t make it to my desk.”

                “Something came up,” Reid responded dryly.

                “I would have hired you.”

                Reid glanced sharply at him, his eyes narrowed in anger. The anger faded, replaced with regret that was quickly covered with a deceptively blank expression. Hotch hid a sigh.

                “Dr. Reid, we’ve handed your lawyer enough evidence to start your release process.” His gaze traced the numerous marks on pale skin. “And I promise you that you’ll be moved immediately to a smaller facility.”

                Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world.” Reid responded to Hotch’s silent question, “The Talmud. It’s a Judaic text of rabbinic discussions.” He paused, seeming to consider whether he should continue.

                “You have no reason to be guilty, Agent Hotchner.” Reid glanced down and his fingers strayed again to his hair to brush it behind his ear.

                Hotch realized that the gesture was useless and more likely an indication of nervousness. Having no idea what else he could say, Hotch looked at his watch and decided it was time to return to the station. He stood and offered his hand to the young man. “I have a case to close, Dr. Reid.”

                Reid stared at his hand skeptically for a moment before accepting. His fingers were boney and his grip not quite as firm as his lawyer’s.

                “Will you come to talk with me when you catch the guy?”

                Somehow the request startled Hotch. “I’ll be sure you’re informed.”

                Reid’s grip tightened for a moment. He clarified, “No. Will you tell me?”

                Hotch wasn’t sure why it was important for Reid to see him again. “We’ll see.”

                The young man retracted his hand and looked away, his expression closing off. Hotch opened his mouth, tempted to promise that yes, he would come back to see Reid, but the possibility that he might break that promise worried him.

---

                Hotch stepped out of the car with his sunglasses on. He looked around the tarmac, watching the heat waves blurring his vision in Las Vegas’ desert heat. He’d kept busy with paperwork during the past twenty-four hours and checking in on Reid’s situation. He hadn’t gone to see the young man, though Prentiss did.

                Gideon clapped a hand on Hotch’s shoulder and gave him a small shove towards the jet. “I noticed you didn’t go back,” he commented.

                Shrugging, Hotch said, “I had other things that needed to be done.”

                The noncommittal hum from Gideon made it clear the older man had another theory. Hotch decided not to pursue that.

                Morgan started a game of cards, recruiting the women to play. Gideon played a game of chess against himself. Hotch tried to read and instead ended up closing his eyes and dozed off. He dreamed in his half-asleep state, images of Spencer Reid sitting across the interview table in his mind. He recalled the images of Reid as he had been – long hair, a quirky smile, wearing a shirt and vest.

---

                Garcia walked quickly down the hall, her bright pink heels click-clicking in a staccato beat. She was grinning.

                “Hey baby girl, you’re looking smug!”

                Garcia blew a kiss at Morgan. “Later, Angel,” she promised, making her way up to Hotch’s office. She was disappointed to find him absent. She looked in next door and found Gideon. He lifted an eyebrow in silent question.

                “Where’s our fearless leader?” she asked.

                “Good news?”

                She grinned. “Hoo yeah. It’s about Elle’s replacement!”

                Gideon’s lips twitched up in his mysterious smile. Garcia pursued her lips as she considered his expression. After a moment she rolled her eyes. “You already know!” she complained. “I bet you even helped push it.”

                “I know you had something to do with it,” Gideon replied, returning his attention to the file on his desk.

                Determining that was a dismissal, Garcia turned on her heel. Before she could take more than two steps, Gideon told her, “Don’t tell Hotch!”

                Well that was interesting.

---

                Hotch washed his face in the men’s bathroom. With a grimace at his reflection, he started to shave. After he’d finished his morning routine (except in an office restroom rather than home), he returned to his office to change clothes, apply fresh deodorant, and grab his wallet. He went out to find a large cup of quality coffee, knowing he’d need it to get through the day.

                JJ had hinted at a couple case possibilities yesterday afternoon and Hotch had only finished the latest reports at two a.m.. Sometime this week Elle’s replacement would arrive. Although he and the team missed her, Hotch was relieved she’d voluntarily stepped away. He hoped she’d keep her future appointments with a Bureau psychologist to help her resolve the issues haunting her from the Fisher King case.

                Armed with a cup of coffee, Hotch returned to the office just as Prentiss took off her jacket. She smiled at him and shook her head when she saw the coffee. His team knew when he’d spent the night. The rest of the team arrived in the next thirty minutes and Hotch could hear snippets of a lively conversation coming from the bullpen.

               

                Hotch returned from lunch to find he had company. A thin, long-haired man stood at his office window, staring outside. It took a few moments for Hotch to recognize the face, now free of bruises and cuts. He cleared his throat and Spencer Reid turned to him with a small smile.

                “Sir,” Reid said.

                “Dr. Reid, this is a surprise.” Hotch walked to his desk, relieved that he felt less unbalanced when he sank into his chair. “Have a seat. What can I do for you?”

                Reid’s brow furrowed and he nervously tucked his hair behind his ear. “Um, sir?” His gaze darted to the door and the interior window overlooking the bullpen. Hesitantly he sat in one of the chairs across from Hotch. “I believe I’m assigned to your team…?”

                Hotch didn’t bother to hide his surprise. “Oh.” He stared at the young man dumbly for a few seconds before he realized he should have a note on his computer. He searched for information on his new agent, confused as to why he couldn’t find the data right away. He eventually found it and realized Garcia likely had something to do with its misplacement, although he didn’t know why she’d do so.

                He took a moment to read the notice and then turned back to Reid with a smile. “I apologize for the confusion. Welcome to the team.” He held out his hand. This time Reid’s handshake was firm and his fingers didn’t feel so skeletal. Unsurprisingly, the young man looked significantly healthier overall.

                “Thank you.”

                Morgan’s laughter from below signified the team’s arrival. Hotch stood and gestured to the door. “Let me introduce you to the rest of the team and show you to your desk.”

                Gideon waited outside, greeting Hotch with a small grin as their eyes met.

                “Dr. Reid, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” Gideon said. He introduced himself and invited the younger man for a game of chess sometime in the near future. Hotch noticed the surprise on Reid’s face at the offer.

                As they went down the ramp, Hotch saw Morgan’s head turn in their direction. Garcia conspicuously peeked around the corner and looked like she was barely containing an excited squeal when she spotted Reid.

                “I’d like to introduce the newest member of our team, Dr. Spencer Reid.” Hotch touched Reid’s shoulder, a casual gesture he often used. Reid flinched away, not overtly, but it was enough motion for Hotch – and probably the others – to take notice.

                “We met before,” Prentiss said. “But I’d certainly say this is a much better way to meet. Emily Prentiss.” She smiled widely, genuinely happy to see him.

                “Derek Morgan. Welcome to the team, kid.”

                Garcia appeared with JJ by her side. “Dr. Reid, it’s a pleasure! I’m Penelope Garcia.” She eagerly took Reid’s hand in both of hers for the handshake. Reid looked disconcerted.

                “Hello,” JJ said, far more calm. She smiled at Hotch approvingly. “Jennifer Jareau. Everyone calls me JJ.”

                “Thanks.” Once he was free of the handshakes, Reid took a step back and glanced over the interested faces focused on him. “Um, it’s nice to meet all of you…”

                JJ lifted a folder to catch Hotch’s attention.

                “I hope you’re ready to jump right in,” Hotch said. “Conference room, fifteen minutes.” The others nodded. JJ and Garcia went to set up for the meeting. “Reid, your desk is here. There’s a locker room where most of us keep an extra set of clothes and a ready bag for when we need to leave quickly. You’ll learn from the team our basic procedures. If you have any questions, ask.”

                Reid nodded absently, his gaze taking in his surroundings. “Thank you, sir.”

                “Hotch,” he corrected.

                Reid blinked and looked back at him. Hotch wasn’t sure why the mild surprise made something tug in his chest. He stared a moment too long. When he turned away, he saw Prentiss studying him with a smile she’d failed to suppress.

                Hotch went back to his office, wondering why he kept seeing knowing glances cast his way.

--- --- ---

(Fin, for now)

Word count: 4,190

 

 


Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
evil_killer_cat
Sep. 15th, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm holding you to the "Fin, for now"! of course everyone knows what is going to happen except for Hotch and Reid.
lovely fic!
enmuse
Sep. 15th, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC)
lol. Thanks for reading! I'm not sure yet how I'll do the next story... This was okay for me because I am so not ready to go into proper procedures and language for a case-heavy fic. =p Yet I think the next tale needs something of a case, just not sure how.

Heh, any requests, er, suggestions for the next tale(s?)? Can't believe how addicted I'm getting here.
evil_killer_cat
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:48 am (UTC)
I'll sleep on it and see if I have any ideas :D
and I really don't mind waiting as long as I get to read good Hotch/Reid fic!!! (I'm glad I found this pairing)
podpaws
Sep. 16th, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
Because I want to know when Hotch buys a clue I will offer rewards.

My current favourites are DragonLadyK's Tilting at Windmills (http://dragonladyk.livejournal.com/98331.html) and Kyrdwyn's A Different Kind of Solitude (http://kyrdwyn.livejournal.com/254644.html) and pretty much anything by http://innerslytherin.livejournal.com/profile and http://severity-softly.livejournal.com/profile at http://community.livejournal.com/geekystudmuffin/profile
enmuse
Sep. 16th, 2009 03:21 am (UTC)
*g* Thanks for the recs! I'm hoping the muses will cooperate to give me more of this series =p
winky3018
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:24 am (UTC)
Oh what a wonderful addition to the Hotch/Reid repertoire!! I will also hold you to the "Fin, for now" !!!!

"Hotch went back to his office, wondering why he kept seeing knowing glances cast his way." *giggles* Oh Hotch, sometimes you can be oblivious! :D

I look forward to more!
enmuse
Sep. 16th, 2009 03:21 am (UTC)
*g* The last line was changed this morning (I wrote everything else yesterday), it just seemed right.
martina66
Sep. 16th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)
Great pace, clever introduction of Reid to the team, now let's find out how Hotch is going to heal him from what Reid went through........
enmuse
Sep. 16th, 2009 03:22 am (UTC)
Well clearly Reid is an angst magnet...

*facepalm*
escapethelight
Sep. 16th, 2009 02:47 am (UTC)
I love this! I can't wait for more.
enmuse
Sep. 16th, 2009 03:23 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! =D I hope I can offer something else soon.
munchkin30
Sep. 16th, 2009 07:58 am (UTC)
Loved reading this! :)
Looking forward to reading more of it, your Hotch is brilliant.
enmuse
Sep. 16th, 2009 03:23 pm (UTC)
Aw shucks, you're making me blush. =p Damn, I'm loving all you awesome CM fans.
sexycazzy
Sep. 16th, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC)
Brilliant! Loved both parts, and hopefully your muse will give you something to continue!

::))
enmuse
Sep. 16th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
Muses are such finicky little devils! (Goodness knows I'll take suggestions.) Thanks for reading!
jakrar
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:12 pm (UTC)
Very nice, and I love this universe! I just hope there will be more (MUCH more) to the series.... *gives you the puppydog eyes*
enmuse
Sep. 16th, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
*g* Oh the AU genre... I can't believe the muses gave me something new that begs to be continued, I have enough wips to do.

Thanks for your interest! =D
lone_zone
Sep. 16th, 2009 11:19 pm (UTC)
AWESOME... I would love to read more of this its just fantastic.You should write a sequel Great work fantastic fic
enmuse
Sep. 16th, 2009 11:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you. =) I started writing longhand a second story... Have to cross my fingers that something will actually come of it. =p
lunamazes
Sep. 17th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)
enmuse
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:30 am (UTC)
Yay for recs list! =D Thank you.

And I'm so glad you read! I'm really hoping the muses cooperate to get some more stuff written. =p
emmasimone
Oct. 11th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
Great start to a new AU series. I look forward to reading more.
enmuse
Oct. 11th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm busy working on the next story right now. I'm enjoying the series, which bodes well to its continuation. =)
gail19
Jun. 22nd, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
An amazing balance of painful and delicious.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )