Being able to send the team home early for a change gives Hotch a sense of pride he's not felt in a long time. With Haley gone he's not really had much to go home for, but that doesn't mean everyone else has to suffer along with him and wants them to know that. Rossi comes up behind him as he looking down into the bullpen, leaning on the railing watching the team talk about what they're doing tonight.
"He's a strange kid." Rossi says and instantly Hotch knows who he's talking about.
"I like to think of him as unique." He answers smiling.
"Team's lucky to have him, with his IQ I'm sure he could have done anything with his life and been a success."
"Five years ago Gideon is called by a professor friend at Caltech. Tells him he has something he might be interested in." Hotch smiles at the memory. "Jason thought he was talking about an exhibit."
Rossi laughs at the joke, knowing Jason Gideon's reaction to the surprise that is Spencer Reid.
"That's a bit like finding an abandoned baby on your doorstep."
"Only if you leave your baby on the steps of the FBI." Hotch chuckles and frowns at the same time. "His mind is amazing, but he struggles to focus sometimes."
"I've noticed." Rossi smiles wirily and they share a laugh.
Comforted by the fact he won't have to explain the mystery that is Spencer Reid, seeing as Dave has worked him out already Hotch moves on to what he really wants to talk about.
"Reid thinks Gideon left because of him doesn't he?" He says seriously.
Rossi gives him a knowing look, speaking carefully. "He feels he's a factor."
Hotch lets the confirmation of what he's feared for a while now settle in his mind.
"He okay otherwise?"
"Panic attack. Flash back. I dealt with it." Rossi shrugs, like it's no big deal.
"Thank You" Hotch turns, looking Dave dead in the eye, "for looking after him."
"Did you know he's still seeing the FBI shrink?" Rossi asks brushing over the thanks.
Hotch nods sombrely. "Yeah, partly why Strauss was in my office earlier putting the pressure on, she isn't happy he hasn't been cleared yet."
"Well did you know said shrink has submitted for extra government funding to investigate PTSD therapy – I checked." Rossi adds with a snap. "From what Reid's told me I think he's purposefully inducing PTSD episodes in the kid in order to add his case to the research proposal,"
Face unreadable Hotch looks straight ahead, and Rossi knows that shrink is as good as dead. "I think I'll pay his office a visit in the morning."
"Good," he chuckles dangerously, "I'll join you."
They slip into momentary silence when the action in the bullpen picks up. Literally. Morgan has thrown Reid over his shoulder, carrying him towards the door hold so tight there's no way the kid can escape unharmed, and with Garcia and Prentiss following close behind discussing cocktails Rossi can only assume they're heading out to a bar.
"So why did Gideon leave?" Rossi asks suddenly watching the group head out. "I mean I get the BAU I do, there comes a time when you've got nothing left, but I've been here less than a month and I can see how close you all are… it doesn't make sense."
Hotch sighs regretfully, "I really wish I knew."
Rossi knows there's more behind that tone. And her name is Haley.
"I know Gideon had trouble excepting what happened to Reid."
"And what is that?" Rossi fishes, playing dumb.
"He told you about Georgia." Hotch looks at him blankly and Rossi nods, confirming what he'd already suspected.
"It came up."
Hotch turns away again. "Hankel streamed a live video feed of Reid to his home computer where we could watch. He was tied to a chair, hurt, bleeding. We saw him for a short while before the feed was cut, but not before Hankel hit him repeatedly and made him choose a couple to die. After the murder was posted online Gideon made the decision to take away his audience and Hankel took that out on Reid, turned the stream back on, beat him until he stopped breathing. Garcia and Gideon watched the whole thing, the rest of us were working in the other room, we didn't know what had happened until we heard Garcia screaming, by the time we came in Hankel was gone and Reid was lying on the floor, not breathing."
Obviously he survived and Rossi doesn't bother asking how, that isn't important now.
"You ever watch the full tape?"
"As soon as we were back and Reid was safe." Hotch admits quietly, sounding ashamed.
"You needed to know."
Rossi understands that better than anyone.
"Gideon leaving the way he did, I thought we'd lose Reid too." He admits his fear.
Haley called Gideon his work wife which in contrast made Reid his work kid. Haley had left before he knew about Gideon being gone for good. He'd already lost his wife and son in his life permanently and somehow losing Reid as well after everything else would have been the icing on the cake he couldn't bear.
"You love the kid," Rossi sounds only mildly surprised.
"This team is family." Hotch says, in a rare soft moment, one he can only have with someone who knows him well, he isn't as young as Reid, or in such need of guidance when he joined the BAU, but Rossi had been his Gideon.
"You know if you need help sharing the burden I'm happy to oblige." Rossi says and Hotch smiles crookedly back at him. "Kid kind of grows on ya." He dismisses the fishing look with a humour filled chuckle.
While they're still laughing JJ walks up to them cell in hand, "Hey, are you coming to the bar? I just got a text from Morgan that says if we don't hurry up he's selling Reid to the highest bidder, whatever that means."
"I think there's a cop charity auction tonight," Rossi provides the answer.
JJ blanches and tries not to run off looking worried while Hotch looks to Rossi, eyebrows raised in invitation.
"Go save the kid, I'll be there just got something I need to do first."
It's late, Hotch and JJ should be with the rest at the bar by now and hopefully that'll be enough to save Reid from slavery. Rossi plans on joining them, but like he said to Aaron - he has something he needs to do first. That something has led him to the basement. He's had to ask one of the techs for help, since what he's looking for isn't on a tape or even disk, not anywhere within the FBI anyway. It's stored in a sealed classified file on the mainframe along with the rest of the case details. He knows he could have asked Garcia, but that would have entailed explaining and despite Reid confiding in him, he'd rather him not find out about this through a third party.
"Here they are, all the cases for February," the tech set him up on the lone computer down in the far corner, the only computer the file is accessible from thanks to Hotch.
"Thank you." Rossi glares at the young man, friendly like until he gets the hint to leave.
Alone Rossi clicks the mouse above the file labelled 214, innocuous for what it contained and entered the password Hotch oh so helpfully left on his desk before leaving - like he and Gideon always said, 'once a profiler' - It opens and presents him with a choice. Going straight for what he's there for Rossi clicks on the video file. It springs to life almost immediately, the screen black at first before filling with an image of a familiar face followed by an unfamiliar voice…
i "You really see inside men's minds boy?" i
A/n: TA DAAA! Well thank you all very much for reading, hope you had as much fun as I did writing. You can let me know by clicking that little button!