Title: Put out the garbage
Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Mind, I'm making no money from writing this
Author's note: English is not my first language, so please forgive my mistakes. A big thanks to my Beta!
No the title isn't a mistake but a play on words.
All facts are fictions and the statistics are purely made up.
Put Out the Garbage 2
"Hey, speak to me, my love muffin," calls Morgan, smiling as he flips his phone open, almost kissing it in the process.
"Hello, what can I do for you hot stuff?" replies Garcia, her voice coated with sugar.
"Could you find if there are any other related cases that the agency didn't point out?" demands Derek, sitting on the table, next to his phone.
"Sure thing candy-boy, I will find that out for you in a minute"
He can already hear the key board being tapped on at a rate he could never dream to achieve.
"A minute?" he asks, his voice falsely disappointed, he loves playing with her.
"Make that a sec," she retorts, he knows she's rolling her eyes, or more likely shaking her horrid pink pen toward the phone, scowling, "I looked 10 years back: there is nothing, should I look before?"
"No, it seems it's just the beginning, can you look for any link between the victims? Anything, even, the smallest stupidest one, ok?"
The conversation ends on a sharp *bip*. Morgan knows he can't do anything but wait. He grabs the file again and read it all over again, in case something strikes him. He's not so lucky.
They are back in the plane, tired like hell. The policemen hadn't been kidding, as soon as they came back from the crime scene they were expected to leave. At least this case would be dealt with from home. Hotch doesn't know if he's really happy about that.
In a way, that horrible things happens most of the time out for their place makes it feels more like home, safer. He's thinking too much into it, after all there was no murder at Quantico. Distractedly he touches his finger, the one that should wear the ring and flinch slightly.
He never got really used to Haley not being home with Jack, but he thought it was past. Deep down he had always known it would end like this, with her leaving because of his job. Until now he was living fine with the fact, his empty apartment wasn't hell... but to wake up this morning thinking he was still a married man and that the pretty and warm body of his wife laid next to him and shook him. Maybe he was in denial? Maybe it wasn't dealt with after all...
Slowly the tired agent drops his eyes to the body curled in front of him. How Reid manages to sleep in such a position never cease to amaze him, he was so tall his body, even curled, kept poking out from the chairs.
"Yes Reid?" he asks softly, but the eyes always adorned with rings that looks at him tells him all he needs to know.
"Are you alright?" wonders the youngest of their team.
Hotch nods, he would have offered a smile to the kid, but he has the feeling that would be too much, that it might freak him out even more.
"Yeah, I'm fine, just tired," he adds, just because he feels it wasn't enough.
What Reid was truly asking wasn't 'if he was all right', because he might not be a genius in relationships, he's not dumb and he's a damn good profiler. His real question was "will you leave us like Gideon did?" He might not have thought of that any other day, but of course, they had to fall on a murdered that used the same drug as Frank.
Reid stares at him a little longer and cocooned himself back into the chairs, drifting to a restless sleep. Hotch sighs in relief. He's become the new pillar of the team, he can't leave them: they would crumble. Especially Reid, he saw Gideon like his father and the man, like his father, abandoned him, a letter wasn't enough- especially since the kid waited for him a whole night. If Hotch leaves, he's not sure Reid will survive the blow, he's not his father figure but... he's the new pillar.
His shoulders suddenly feel really heavy, but there is a warm tingle in his guts.
Garcia is the last to enter the room, like most times. She has her computer pressed against her breast with the rest of her stuff. Morgan knows better that to go help her, he will get huff. She installs her little corner in record time and sits. She's the only one in colour, bright red with yellow feathers.
"I looked into the victims background, they have absolutely nothing in common. I can't assure you they never met in a coffee shop one day, but with what I can investigate, they didn't know each other and didn't even cross path once," she explains, sorry not to be able to help them.
"And you didn't find any other case right?" points out Rossi, nose in his little notebook, "that private I. agency... err..."
"Lighter," absent-mindedly supplies Reid.
"They did a good job," affirms Garcia.
Silence settles in, a tense one. They are stuck, which means they have to wait for another murder. It's always a heart wrenching moment, to know you can't do anything to save the next victim because you need him or her to die so you can eventually catch the murderer. You can think it's a sacrifice to save all the next ones... but it's not very helpful.
JJ clears her throats, moving her papers.
"I warned all the authorities to keep an eye out for the UNSUB MO, we should get a call immediately," she informs, as if it will soothe them to know that.
Mr. Reavers is fuming. She did it again, forgot about him needing to see his son! It's the second time in less than two weeks. He knows he can't always come to see his beloved Danny but it's because of his job. And that damned bitch dared forget today was his visit day! She always was one to look at her own navel.
He rings the doorbell angrily three times then waits, stomping his foot, rings again. What the hell? Had they gone out to eat or something? He doesn't hesitate, he kicks the doormat and move one of the stones under it, to get the spare key hidden there. He slams the door shut and step in, not minded his dirty shoes.
"Ashley? Are you here? Danny?"
He climbs upstairs, kicking all the doors open but finding everything empty. They went out, on his visit day, she dared take Danny out! She was always doing that, as if she wanted to prove to Danny his father didn't care, wanted to keep him all for herself. Geez, seriously that woman was driving him nuts.
He sat on his child's bed and smile at the picture there. His little Danny as a quarterback, he's 12 and already a quarterback, like his daddy. And that's what making him smile, on the desk there is a picture of him and his mother, when she was the lead of the cheerleaders, she was so pretty at the time. She was the most popular girl and made the rules, just like him since he was the captain, but he was always less involved, he bragged of course, but that was it.
He sighs and goes to the kitchen to take a glass of water before settling down in front of the TV to wait for them. That's when he noticed the table is dressed, and the food is half eaten. That's strange, maybe they got called in the middle of their meal for something important? Maybe something happened? Well she would have called him if something bad had happened so maybe they had been invited over to some friends, Ash couldn't resist to that. She's always been an attention whore.
He grabs the plates and opens the trashcan and lifts an eyebrow. It's empty, the bag changed. Ah today must be the garbage day, if he puts those shrimps in this new bag, Ash will scream at him that it will smell. That's why he decides to go put it directly in the garbage container.
What he will see there will be carved into his mind for the rest of his days, haunting him. His ex-wife's lifeless body carelessly spread on top of the garbage bags, naked, no modesty. Next to her, his son's corpse, naked too, thrown away as haphazardly as his mother.
When JJ brags in with the news of the double homicide, it's already been two weeks since the last one. The team couldn't stay without doing anything so they are on another case. Lucky they are close to the site.
"Rossi, Prentiss, you stay here to take care of this case, Morgan, Reid you come with me. JJ you keep contact with us both, tell Garcia we go back on the other case, I want the victims background," orders Hotch without even waiting to know more details, he will learn all he needs in the file.
Reid is done with the file in seconds and he's as pale as a ghost. Mrs. Hirod was a 30 years old business woman, her son Danny was 12 years old, they have both been murdered with the same MO. Mr. Reavers, the husband found them. They got a divorce a few months ago and were still working it out to settle to a nice routine. Mrs. Hirod decided to break up because she couldn't stand to have her husband away for matches all the time.
Divorced couple because the husband is too busy, with a son albeit older... it sound awfully familiar. It reminds him of Hotch and he knows the man is suffering from that lately. He couldn't miss how often his fingers trail on his ring finger and how he flinches each time. Hotch isn't the smiling type, but now it's even worse... and Reid has a feeling this case isn't going to help.
"Hotch, maybe you should stay with Rossi, you are ready to break into the case, they need you, we will see how things goes here and see if you are needed," he proposes.
He can feel Morgan's astonished gaze on him, a bit more and the black man would be openly gapping. Hotch simply looks at him, puzzled.
"Hey kid, what's the deal? You have nothing to prove ya' know?" teases Morgan, giving him a slap in the back, but sending a worried look too.
Hotch doesn't bother more, opening the file, but Reid puts his hands on it, as if to catch his boss attention. To see him so daring makes Hotch frown. Reid is fidgeting slightly under his gaze, sprouting nonsense about him being more needed here. He hasn't pulled back his hand from the files, and it all clicks in. Gently, Hotch pushes Reid's lean fingers away and let his eyes scan over the paper and he understands.
This could have been Haley and Jack, even if the boy is older. Reid is worried. Hotch is flattered and touched by the gesture, the tentative to spare him. At the same time he feels he might have let himself show too much weakness for a member of his team to worry like that. But then, they are a family.
Morgan catches on too, and pats Reid's shoulder as Hotch enters the plane after squeezing the kid's arm.
"Don't worry, he will be ok," murmurs Morgan.
Once again the place is perfect, nothing out of place. It's disturbing in the sense you could imagine the family coming home in a minute. It's frustrating because it doesn't give them many clues.
"The husband said he found their dinner on the table, it's when he went to throw it away that he discovered the body," informs the policeman.
"Ok, so our UNSUB ringed, Mrs. Hirod went to answer the door, opened it," recites Morgan, moving as would have the victim.
As he opens the door he frowns and crouches on the floor, before motioning to his team to join him. There, almost invisible, the wood is deteriorated, slightly cracked, the paint gone.
"Look here, it's damaged, maybe a foot that tried to prevent it from slamming shut?" suggests Morgan.
"It means something went wrong, then Mrs. Hirod might have tried to prevent the UNSUB from entering her home... she opened, but then the UNSUB wasn't welcomed anymore," proposes Reid, his eyes shifting to the kitchen.
Hotch followed his gaze and nodded. That could explain it.
Mrs. Hirod and her son are gently eating dinner when the doorbell rings. The woman stands up, asking her son to behave, and goes to open the door. There is no bull's eye to check who is behind, but there is a chain so she feels safe enough to slightly open the door. The chain isn't broken, so she deemed the intruder safe enough to actually open the door completely. Maybe they talk, then Danny can't stand to wait anymore and calls for his mother, or comes over. It's then that Mrs. Hirod tries to say her goodbye and wants to close the door... but a foot prevents it. Then it's only a question of minutes before she is sedated and the 12 year old boy isn't a problem to deal with.
"Wait," pipes in Reid, breaking the mental pictures, "the door is damaged, she didn't simply try to close it, she slammed it."
That makes two possibilities, either she tried to say goodbye and the person refused to leave so she slammed the door... or they had a fight. But the neighbours didn't hear anything. Do the victims know their killer? How? They have nothing in common. Is it just a door to door seller who is a bit too insistent?
"In any case the kid was a bother; the father said it was his visit day, he was supposed to take him out with him... so his presence wasn't planned," informs Morgan.
Hotch catches Reid's fleeting glance and makes sure to act perfectly normal. Usually Reid wouldn't be so worried, but this case is troubling for him too. However they both act as if nothing is the matter, knowing perfectly well its just denial.
"Then he hadn't planned to kill the kid... that might trouble him and make him change his MO," says Hotch, hope in his voice; a change of MO means mistakes, which will help them, catch him.
"There is no trace of remorse, the kid was disposed of just as the mother, killed exactly the same way, no mercy shown, no guilt," remarks Reid.
Morgan growls. It means the kid was planned too or the person just doesn't care about kids at all. He hates cases with children, it brings back bad memories.
"A sociopath?" he ventures.
"Why not, but why choose victims randomly like that? I mean, sociopath doesn't care about killing, but they usually kill people in their way, which isn't the case here since they aren't related to each other," retorts Hotch.
The policeman that accompanied them starts to be a bit restless. It's boring for him there, and they complicated talk isn't interesting for him, it all sounds like abstract crap that won't help, but who is he to contest? He spat his chewing gum in a paper and reach for the closest garbage bin. He's not supposed to contaminate the crime scene, but the dudes already took all they needed so what the hell.
Reid turns his head as he hears the paper hit the bottom of the plastic bin. He remembers the father's deposition. The garbage had been taken out, that's why he went to throw the food in the dump directly. Following his lead he moves to all the places in the house, looks into each bin. They are all perfectly empty with a new plastic to protect them.
"Isn't it strange that all, absolutely all, the bins have been changed? I mean, usually the one in the kid bedroom or even the bathroom aren't changed at the same time than the others. Even if they were, you always end up putting something else inside it once you changed them," he points out.
"It means the UNSUB takes out all the garbage? But why?"
"Purifying the house?" wonders Hotch, "then the hypothesis we had of the garbage being a message could work."
"Yeah but remember, they have nothing that would make people consider them as bad guys... but then it could be personal to the UNSUB? But what? They don't even have the same social background," answers Morgan, pondering aloud.
Reid is looking around the house, the perfectly normal house. Strangling doesn't leave traces so the UNSUB has nothing to clean but eventually his footprint or fingerprint. To an outsider nothing looks wrong here... you would have to look inside the garbage dump to find out the horror.
"Mr. Reavers is the only family member who found the corpse. I mean, not even friends found them, it's always the garbage men."
"The UNSUB is taking out all the garbage to make sure it's the garbage men that will find the bodies and not the close ones," says Hotch, continuing where Reid left.
It made sense, who would go look into a dumper for his missing family? And if you have nothing to throw out, then you have not reasons to go look there either.
"He doesn't care about the victims, but he does about the close ones then?" asks Reid, feeling a little puzzled.
"I think we can safely say the UNSUB is punishing the victims... but what did they do? And more importantly what did the kid do to deserve the same death?" wonders Hotch, not imagining what a small child can do that would deserve death.
Children are so innocent. Not always, he remembers the kid that killed his classmates, he knows some are already sociopath but kids are usually little angels. What "sin" can have a child and an adult in common? It would be easy if they were all rich or poor, that would be a mobile, but right now they don't have a clue.
His eyes rest on the father's deposition. The last words he uttered... that he should have been there, that if he had been on time, if she hadn't thought he wouldn't come for the visit, his son would have make it.
It's broad daylight, a nice Sunday like you all wish for. Jack his inside, watching a cartoon, next to him is a balloon, he wants to play in the garden once his show is finished. Hayley made a cake for her child; it's cooling on the table.
The doorbell rings. She dusts her dress and goes to open the door. She check in the bull-eye first, like usual. It's a salesman, the way he stands and his dress makes him looks harmless. Anyway it's day, not evening or night, she feels in security. She opens.
The man is nice and perfectly professional as he tries to sell her things she doesn't need. She gently refuses and as he moves to close the door she feels a sting on her wrist. She looks down and feels dizzy, as a broken doll she collapses on the floor. The man step over her and close the door.
Jack hears the thud of his mother's body hitting the floor. The show has ended; he goes to see what's going on and sees a man strangling her slowly with a silky tissue. He runs to her, as would all little kids and he's stung at his turn. Slowly he undergoes the same fate, his eyes glassing over as is young life is taken away from him.
Hayley's dead eyes look at it all. Then turn slowly, her mouth opening:
"You left us for your work; why is he still running away, Aaron? Why aren't you home to stop him!" she accuses.
The killers raise his face and it shows in the mirror, and it's him. Aaron Hotchner.
Hotch wakes up with a start. A dream. Only a dream.
It's around eleven pm. It had been a stressful day so he had gone to bed earlier. He rubs his eyes, not to chase the sleep, but to get rid of the images that still haunt him as if they were real.
He sighs and grabs his phone.
"Hey Haley, I know it's late but can I speak to Jack? I need to hear his voice"
"Yes of course"
-To be Continued-
Thank you to those who reviewed. It means a lot. Please keep doing it.