Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds or any of its characters.
Authors Note(s): Each of these chapters will be told from a different persons perspective. It's set a couple of weeks or so after episode five of season three (Seven Seconds) before Rossi joins the team. Also, please ignore any gaping plot holes and geographical inaccuracies as I have never written fanfiction before and have never been to America so this is all a bit new to me.
The small girl slept relatively peacefully. Despite it being a very warm night her bedcovers were pulled tightly up to her chin and under them her arms where wrapped protectively around her overly thin frame. She couldn't have been more than six years old.
The man leaned against the doorframe. To anybody within twenty feet of him it would have been painfully clear how drunk he was. Even if they couldn't smell the alcohol on his breath then they would be able to tell by the way he swayed and staggered as he moved towards the girl's bed.
As though sensing the approach of a predator, the girl stirred and blearily tried to open her eyes. But the man had closed the door over, just letting enough light in the room to cast an eerie glow around. Not enough for the little girl's eyes to adjust quickly enough to see the man draw level with her until he had clamped his large hand over her mouth. The girls eyes widened in horror. She was too shocked to move.
"If you make a sound," the man threatened in a low voice, "I will kill you."
It didn't matter if she made a sound. Her mother wasn't home to hear it anyway. Tears sprung to the girls eyes. She knew what was coming next. The man began to untangle the blankets that the girl had so tightly wrapped around herself-
Emily Prentiss woke with a gasp. She quickly scanned her bedroom, almost as if she was expecting to see the man from her nightmare hiding somewhere. Quickly realising this was ridiculous, she sat up and tried to regain control of her erratic breathing and steady her shaking hands. This was quite an easy task for her as she was very used to controlling her emotions and distancing herself from them. She needed to be in her line of work.
Looking at her clock, which read just after five, Emily decided that it would be easier to get up than attempt to get back to sleep again before work. She began to shiver as she forced herself to get out of bed. It was nearing the end of November and it was beginning to get very cold.
She opened the door to her bathroom and switched the shower on to the hottest temperature she could stand. Before she stepped under the cascading water she glanced at her reflection in the mirror above the sink and cringed. The bags under her eyes were becoming more prominent and there was only so much makeup could do to cover them. It wouldn't be long before the rest of the team noticed; they were world class profilers after all. Although, everyone else seemed to be dealing with their own issues at the moment and possibly wouldn't be paying much attention to her anyway. Reid in particular appeared to be having certain personal problems that he wasn't sharing with the team and his ailments were far more noticeable than her own. Satisfied with her own reasoning, she began to wash her hair feeling slightly less grim than she had done moments before.
Perhaps she was being paranoid, but Emily was sure there had been a sudden increase of cases involving children. Defenceless and confused children. She defied anybody to keep a completely clear head whilst dealing with that kind of twisted reality. Even Hotch seemed to be showing the strain, although Emily was fairly certain that was more to do with his wife than the cases.
After washing herself until she felt clean again, Emily quickly got dried and dressed to try and stave off the cold air that surrounded her. She suppressed a sigh when she looked at the clock and realised it was still only half past five. This was becoming far too regular an occurrence recently. She thought she'd grown out of the nightmares that plagued her sleep a long time ago.
It was going to be a long day.
Emily was on her third cup of coffee by the time JJ emerged from her office with a new case file clutched in her hand. Morgan looked up from his desk and grimaced slightly. Catching his eye, Emily nodded and they both stood up and made to follow JJ into the briefing room. Reid however, who was sat only a few feet away from the two agents, continued to stare down unseeingly at the piece of paper in front of him. Morgan rolled his eyes.
"Reid," he said, looking pointedly at the boy. Reid didn't react and a brief look of annoyance flashed across Morgan's face.
He picked up a piece of paper from his desk and screwed it up into a ball.
"Hey, genius!" he said loudly before launching the paper ball at the boy's head.
Doctor Spencer Reid looked up as the ball made contact with his forehead and bounced off, landing harmlessly on the floor. The expression on poor Reid's face was one of utter bewilderment.
"Did someone say my name?" he said, sounding puzzled.
Feeling sorry for him, Emily quickly answered before Morgan could reply with a scathing remark.
"Yes, JJ wants us in the conference room," she said, inclining her head slightly to the open door behind them.
Reid made his mouth into the shape of an 'o' and obligingly got up and followed Emily and Morgan into the conference room where Aaron Hotchner and JJ were already waiting.
JJ smiled at them as they entered the room and sat down. She pointed her remote control at the screen behind her and four pictures of four different women flashed up on the screen.
"California," JJ began, "Several women snatched from their homes in the dead of night. The first two were taken within a month and a half of each other, then next one a month after that and the most recent one two weeks after that. The husband reported her missing last night."
"Victimology?" Hotch asked.
"Garcia is working on it but nothing so far. The only connection between the women seems to be that they are all successful and attractive," she pointed to the first woman, "Carly Jenkins owns a wedding planning business," she pointed to the second two, "Katie Mills and Jordan Berry are lawyers at different law firms," she pointed to the last woman, "and Martha Black is a doctor. Ages range between twenty-five and thirty-five. Carly Jenkins is the only one married."
"And no bodies have been found?" piped up Reid.
"No," JJ replied, "Only kidnappings."
"So he's either keeping them somewhere or their bodies have just been well hidden," Emily mused out loud.
"Let's hope it's the first one," Hotch said standing up, "Wheels up in an hour."
Emily had never been especially fond of planes. As a child she had spent a lot of time going from one country to the next because of her mother's job. She associated flying with leaving another home.
Hotch, Morgan and Reid were sat around a table discussing the kidnappers possible MO, by the sounds of it they weren't getting very far. JJ sat in a corner talking on the phone. Judging from the deepening frown on her face, Emily guessed whatever the other person was telling her was not good news. Sure enough, after putting her phone down, JJ walked over to the group.
"A body has been found. Jordan Berry, the third woman to go missing. There are signs of beatings and the cause of death was asphyxiation," she said pursing her lips, "They are uploading the details to Garcia."
"Okay, when we land I want Prentiss and Morgan come with me to the crime scene and Reid, you go with JJ and set up at the station," Hotch said, looking to each agent in turn.
Everyone nodded in agreement and spent the rest of the flight trying to get some rest for what was bound to be a hard day ahead.
Authors Note: Next chapter from Hotch's point of view.