Title: Because of You
Summary: She ruined his life and now he's going to ruin hers…and any one else's who gets in his way. JJCentric, but the rest of the team is heavily involved. Post-Gideon/Pre-Rossi
Disclaimer: They're not mine. I'm just playin' with 'em.
"While most men choose to try to heal, others need no other reason to turn to darkness than the simple agony of loss."
"Come on, JJ," Hotch panted, feeling again for her pulse.
He began compressions again. One, two, three, four, five… He counted them off in his head. He reached fifteen and tilted her chin back, breathing two more breaths into her mouth.
"No, JJ." He was sounding desperate now, very much unlike the typical collected Hotch. He resumed compressions. "Come on, come on. Breathe, JJ. Breathe."
Four Days Earlier…
"Seven victims? And they didn't call us before?" Emily murmured more to herself than to anyone else in the room.
Morgan frowned, his eyes staring intently at the screen. "Are we sure this is even the same guy?" he asked after a moment.
JJ pressed the remote to the wall-mounted projector, moving to the next slide. "It's the same type of victims. Women in their mid-twenties, blonde hair, blue eyes, all found relatively in the same location."
"But not the same MO," the man pointed out.
"He's escalating," Reid stated, tilting her head to the side ever so slightly as he studied the images.
Hotch nodded in agreement. "He started with suffocation and then moved on to strangulation," he began, "But when that lost its thrill, he began exploring other means."
"The stabbing on victim four suggests some hesitation, as though he wasn't sure of what he was really doing," Reid pointed out, "But then you notice that with victim five, there's no hesitation at all."
"He obviously got over whatever was making him hesitant real fast," Morgan said, crossing his arms and leaning forward on the table. "Victim seven was found only a week and a half after victim six."
"And now he seems to have become a pro at it," Emily stated with obvious distaste.
JJ pulled a face. "He seems to be… "enjoying" it more."
Hotch seemed to agree with that as well. "He takes his time with them now when before it was he was just doing it to do it. He tortures them. His need to watch them suffer has grown considerably." Everyone took a moment to absorb this. "Alright, wheels up in forty, and remember to pack a coat. Montana's snow fall has almost reached record high."
There was a "Greaaaaat," from Morgan and a few other grumbles before everyone gathered up their belongings and filed out of the briefing room.
"Sweet mother-of-God!" was the first thing out of Derek's mouth the moment he stepped off the plane. Hotch hadn't been exaggerating about the snow. And by God, it was freezing!
'I don't think I quite rank up there with the Virgin Mother,' Garcia's voice sounded from the other end of the phone, 'But I'm definitely close.'
He smirked at that. "You got that right, baby girl," he said with a small laugh as he pulled his coat tighter up around his neck. "Now, how about you use those near-Godly skills of yours to get me that information?"
'I do so as we speak,' was her reply. 'A goddess has many powers, multitasking being one of them.'
Morgan chuckled. "Alright, Mama, I'll let'cha get to it then. Call me back if you turn up anything."
'Sure thing, gorgeous. Ciao for now.' And then she was gone.
Hanging up his phone, he tucked it in his pocket before shoving his hand right in after it. He really did not like the cold.
"Hurry up, Morgan!" Emily called from where she was sticking her head out of the door of one of the two SUVs that had been waiting for them on the tarmac. "You're gonna turn into a popsicle!"
The man jogged up to the SUV, tossing his bag in the back before he climbed into the driver's seat and took the keys from the brunette. He let out a "burr" sound as he physically shook off a shiver that was slinking down his back.
Emily smirked. "Not a fan of the snow?"
"Oh no, I like the snow," he told her as he started the SUV and followed the other one containing Hotch, JJ, and Reid out of the airport and onto the road. "I grew up Chicago. Snowball fights, sledding, snowmen, ice hockey –the whole thing. I just hate the cold."
"Snow and cold generally go hand in hand," Emily pointed out, eyebrow raised.
"And there in lies my dilemma." He shot her a smirk and then reached over, turning up the heat.
"Detective Henderson? I'm Agent Jareau," JJ started before she gestured toward her colleagues. She was about to continue with the introductions, but there was something in the detective's overly-intense stare aimed her way that made her trail off. A beat passed. "Detective?"
He blinked. "Oh, I'm sorry," he immediate apologized as he seemed to snap out of his daze. He ran a hand through his short red hair, an obvious sign of embarrassment. "You just…"
"Look like all of the victims?" she offered. The whole team had picked up on that from the start.
He gave her a tired smile. "Yeah," he breathed. "It's just been a long couple of weeks." The dark circles under his eyes and his somewhat haggard appearance was testament to that.
JJ smiled sympathetically and nodded. "We understand."
Henderson took a breath and then motioned for her to continue. "You were saying?"
"These are Agents Hotchner, Morgan, Prentiss, and Reid," she introduced, gesturing to each member of the team as she said their names.
Henderson shook all of their hands. "Thanks for coming. We thought we had a handle on the situation, but apparently we were wrong." It was rare for detectives who were about to have their case taken over to be so…humble about it. Obviously this case had taken a serious toll on this man. "Why don't you come on inside before you catch your death from this cold?"
The team was more than happy to acquiesce. They all shuffled inside the police station, shaking off some of the snow that had accumulated on their outerwear.
"We set you up an area in one of the conference rooms like you asked," Henderson told them as he led the way. When they entered, each noticed that pictures of the victims and crime scene photos were already displayed on a whiteboard. Each victim had a label above their pictures with their names and the number in which they had been killed, not that it was really necessary. With the increase in severity of the murders, it was easy to put them in order.
Henderson randomly pointed towards a side table that had coffee brewing and a bunch of random snacks that looked like they had all come from a vending machine piled up in a basket. "Can't take credit for this one," he admitted. "It was my partner's idea. He figured you'd probably end up needing it just as much as we do around here."
"Thank you," Hotch said sincerely, appreciating the gesture.
An approaching voice caught the attention of everyone. "Hey Tate, have they gotten here ye…" the thirty-something-year old raven-haired man that had strode into the room suddenly trailed off when he noticed everyone standing there. "Ok, apparently they have." He flashed a weary smile and introduced himself. "I'm Detective Wyatt Brentwood." He looked almost as tired as Detective Henderson.
"These are Agents Hotchner, Reid, Jareau, Morgan, and Prentiss," Tate told his partner. Everyone greeted each other before resuming their previous positions.
"Agent Jareau –you were the one I spoke to on the phone?" Brentwood asked the blonde.
JJ nodded. "Yeah, that would have been me," she replied.
Wyatt smiled almost brightly at her before he smothered it. A moment later, his face adopted a somber expression. "Well, I hate to break up the party, but another body showed up. They're waiting for us."
Immediately snapping into action, Hotch nodded before he gave out assignments. "JJ, Reid, I want you to stay here and get to work on the profile." There was no argument from the two. "Morgan and Prentiss, you're with me." He looked at Henderson and Brentwood. "Lead the way, Detectives."
"Have I mentioned how much I hate the cold?" Morgan groused as he, Hotch, and Emily piled out of the SUV at the crime scene.
"Actually," Emily said with more than a little amusement in her tone, "yes, yes you have."
Hotch cast the pair a look before he followed the two detectives into a wooded area off of the dirt road they had turned onto a while back. The snow was up to their mid-calves and still falling. It definitely wasn't going to help the crime scene, that was for sure.
They trudged through the snow for about ten minutes, following the tracks of the officials that had already been through there, until they finally came upon the scene. There were several police and investigative personnel milling around. Those already there had had the forethought to put a tarp-tent up above the body so they could work the crime scene without it getting any further contaminated by the falling snow.
"What do we have?" Hotch asked, not wasting time.
The CSI crouching over the body next to the M.E. looked up. They had all heard that the FBI was coming and he assumed that this guy had to be one of them. He rose to his feet. "Female victim, mid-twenties, blonde hair and blue eyes," he rattled off. "Ligature marks on both wrists and ankles…"
"No ID?" Morgan questioned, moving a little closer to get a better look at the woman.
The CSI shook his head. "No, not that we could find, but then again," he gestured toward the body, "she's only in a tank top and her underwear."
Emily frowned a bit. All the victims had been found in similar clothing. "Not exactly the type of clothing you'd wear in this weather."
"Definitely not," the CSI agreed.
Hotch took a moment to take in the entire scene before asking, "Do we have a cause of death?" It could clearly be seen that the woman had been viciously stabbed, her blood turning the white snow a deadly shade of red, but that didn't necessarily mean that that had caused her death.
This time the M.E. looked up, her green eyes wrought with equal sadness and disgust. "There is so much damage here that it's hard to determine the exact cause of death. I'm going to need to get her back to the morgue and give her a more thorough examination before I'll be able to tell you that."
Nodding, Hotch turned to Morgan and watched as the younger man studied the area before he finally asked, "What are you thinking?"
Morgan looked at him. "It's secluded," he began, "And it's got an access road that isn't easily visible from the road. I would have driven right past if it we hadn't been lead here."
"So he knows about the road. Maybe he's a local?" Emily offered, crossing her arms against the cold.
"Who uses the road?" Hotch questioned, turning to Henderson.
"Rangers mostly," Tate replied. "And the occasional hunter, but it's true what she said. You'd have to be a real local to know about it."
Brentwood nodded in agreement. "It's nearly impossibly to see from the road. It's not marked at all. And it's not used a lot so the undergrowth tends to hide it even more."
Emily chewed the inside of her bottom lip in thought. "But who's to say that the unsub accessed this area by the road? He could have brought her in from another direction and left her here so she'd eventually be found." She paused a beat. "Who found her anyway?"
"Local hunter," one of the officers there told her, pointing to a man that was being questioned by one of the other officers. The hunter was dressed in all camo gear apart from the bright orange vest he was wearing over top of everything else. "His name is Jesse Tiller."
"Do people usually go out hunting in this type of weather?"
"When it's hunting season, sure," the officer replied, "Especially if they have their own cabins out here."
Hotch, Morgan, and Prentiss all shared a glance.
"Does Tiller have a cabin out here?" Hotch asked.
"Yes, Sir. 'Bout two miles southeast of here."
"Morgan," was all Hotch had to say. The younger man nodded and headed over to speak with Tiller.
"Do they always do that?" Reid questioned as he stood in front of the board and studied it.
JJ looked up from the file she was reading. "Excuse me?"
She raised an eyebrow, not quite following.
Reid glanced over his shoulder at her. "Detective Brentwood smiled at you."
"Uh, yeah. So?"
"He only smiled at you, and his body language seemed to suggest an attraction," the younger man elaborated. "I was just curious to know if they all did that."
JJ frowned. "I don't know who 'they all' are, but given thatyou're the super genius profiler, wouldn't you be more qualified to answer that question?"
Reid paused a beat, crossing one arm and resting the other on top of it so that he could run his thumb across his bottom lip as he thought of what to say. "I've noticed it happen on several occasions," he finally admitted.
"And does that bother you?" she questioned, crossing her arms and leaning back in her chair.
He blinked and then turned back to the board. "Of course not."
"Than why are we having this conversation instead of staying focused on the case?" JJ pressed, drumming her fingers on her crossed arms.
Reid was silent again until he finally shrugged and simply said, "I was just curious if you noticed, too."
"Yes," she reluctantly told him, "I've noticed, too. Okay?"
"Back to the case?"
"Back to the case."
"Okay." Unsure of whether to smirk or sigh, JJ ran a hand through her hair and then returned her attention to the files in front of her. Sometimes she really wondered about Reid.
TO BE CONTINUED!
(A/N: Ok, so this was one of my more random fic ideas, one of those ideas that come to you at like 3 in the morning and you just have to write it down or you'll forget and then it'll drive you insane. Yeah, it was one of those. Anyway, more to come soon! Remember to feed the muse and CLICKY CLICKY! LOVES!)