AUTHOR: LosingInTranslation (losingntrnslatn, Jennifer)
DISCLAIMER: Don't own anything associated with the show… I just like playing with the characters in it from time to time. Dance Monkeys! Dance!
RATING: T - Teen
SPOILERS: Through US Aired Episodes of Season 4
WORD COUNT: 5130
SUMMARY: The BAU is asked to investigate an unusual missing persons case that has a very personal connection to the team.
A/N: This is one of those monster epics I am so well know for in the CSI fandom. It is completely written and I am going through the edits with my betas as quickly as possible. There are a total of nine chapters, and I will post them as I complete the edits. It is most definitely a case file fic, with a lot of interaction between the entire team. I hope you enjoy it.
REVIEWS: Reviews are the way I know if people are enjoying the work or not. So, if you leave one, THANKS! And if not, I hope you found at least a little something to brighten your day, and thanks for taking the time to read.
Elle was unceremoniously dumped in an interrogation room she had inhabited more times than she could begin to count. The same bare walls. The same two way mirrors. The same comm system. The same slick metal table. The only difference? She was the one shackled to the metal bar beneath the bolted down table. Looking down at the chair upon which she sat, she could not help but muse to herself, For a hot seat, it sure is cold.
The Marshals had done their level best to keep her awake and agitated during the entire ordeal; from the arrest, to the processing, to the transport. They wanted her tired. They wanted her frustrated. They wanted her on the edge, if only so they could be the ones to push her over it.
They… Not so long ago she was part of them. It was we back then. She always felt slightly out of place, not just because she was the newest member, but like she was never meant to be there. It made her work twice as hard to prove herself, but in the end, she found the truth. She had no business on that team.
Ambition was thought to be her biggest downfall at the BAU, but in reality it was the ghosts. The ghosts that had been her constant companions since childhood. The ghosts that continued to grow and multiply with every passing year. The ghosts that quickly took over her world when she was finally forced to come face to face with them after Randall Garner's attack on her.
She tried to fight her way back to the BAU, but she was really fighting herself. She should have taken the time to heal, both physically and emotionally. She should have listened to what everyone was saying, but just as she always had, she ignored those other voices and forged ahead. And then the Lee case came up.
The signs were all there. Hotchner was right about that. She was hyper-vigilant and she was on the edge. Reid catching her drinking should have sent up a warning flare, but instead she bullied and manipulated him into drinking with her. Everything she did during that time practically screamed at her to stop and take stock of her mental status. Instead, she agreed to act as bait for a sexual predator.
Before she even realized what was happening, she had her gun out and in the face of their suspect, completely destroying the case they were trying to build against him. But she never cared about the case. She only wanted to know who he was. She wanted settle the score alone. And that was exactly what she did.
After that, the only option she had left was to walk away. Walk away from the team, walk away from her work, and walk away from the only people to have ever shown her the slightest bit of human decency.
Taking a deep breath and straightening her back as she rounded her shoulders, Elle heard the clank of metal on metal as her shackles shifted with the movement. Staring into the mirrored glass, she tried to deduce exactly who was standing behind that glass watching her. Hotchner, for certain. And Reid, observing in the shadows, hoping not to be noticed, as always.
Would Hotch handle her interview? No, he would do what he always did and merely observe, passing judgment from afar. Morgan might have been a good choice, if not for the fact that she always bested him in a verbal skirmish. Spencer was rarely an asset in interviews, unless the subject was either completely out of their gourd, or too smart for anyone's good. And that left the two team members who joined after her departure: the unknown quantities.
Patience was never her strong suit, but a lot of things had changed since she left the BAU. Time to think used to be her enemy, but that was no longer true. The longer they left her there, alone with her thoughts, the more she was able to find her center. After more than an hour alone, chained to the table in the bare room, the door finally snicked open.
David Rossi she knew only by reputation. He was part of the original BAU team, and a card carrying member of the old boys' network at the FBI. She knew how to handle someone like him in her sleep. Watching the two of them enter the room in tandem, Rossi allowing the woman to enter first, she took in the silent communication between them and she had a pretty good idea why they were both in the room.
Elle kept her gaze fixed on the mirrored glass behind them, but noticed every move. How Rossi gave the woman space, nudging her chair away from the table without actually pulling it out for her, granting her that respect and independence from him, while still showing appreciation. She may not have been a profiler anymore, but Elle knew better than anyone how to spot the signs of intimacy.
The woman nodded at Rossi, and granted him the first introductions. "I'm Agent David Rossi, and this is Agent Emily Prentiss. Do you know why you are here Agent Green-"
"I'm not an agent. And you know that." She hated being condescended to, and the sneer on her lips was threatening to become a snarl. Using her previous position as a way to connect to her was nothing more than a ploy, and she hated it. "But yes…I know why I'm here."
Rossi opened the folder in front of him, pretending to read something. "I see here that the Marshals informed you of your rights, and you waived your right to have an attorney present during this intervi-"
"Interrogation… Interviews don't include shackles." He spoke the lines as though they were straight out of Suspect Interviewing 101, and Elle was not about to let him play his coy little game.
He looked up from his paperwork with a raised eyebrow and she knew he was irritated by her interruptions, but he was not about to tell her that. "Do you still wish to speak without the aid of legal counsel, Ms. Greenaway?"
"I have no need for legal counsel." She kept her posture firmly upright, but not rigid. Her gaze was unwavering and she could tell David Rossi was not someone who flinched from a mere look. Elle liked that, because it meant the man was true to himself and his job.
Despite the counterfeit niceties he exhibited before, his ability to meet her icy stare told her that he was indeed the honest man she had been told about. "I think we've already wasted enough time, so why don't you just ask your questions and let's be done with this charade?"
Rossi rankled for a split second, probably taken aback by her flat tone and the lack of real emotion in her features. He stuck out his jaw a bit as he adjusted his neck and then agreed. "All right then, if that's the way you want to do it." He flipped a photograph across the table to land in front of her, but she kept her eyes locked on the pair. "Do you recognize this house?"
She waited for two more beats before moving her eyes down to glance at the picture. It had been a while since she last walked across the threshold of that place, but it still looked the same. "Yes, of course I do. I lived there, off and on, when I wasn't working, for about eight months."
Agent Prentiss slipped him another folder. As he opened it, she knew he was just putting on a show. She knew how it all worked; question, pause, review materials, question, gauge the response for continuation to question "a" or question "b," repeat. Maybe it was just habit for him, or maybe he was just trying to irritate her, but either way, she was not about to give him the satisfaction of allowing his behavior to provoke any kind of response. She was there to answer questions, and nothing more.
"Your work… It seems to consist of a lot of contracts and freelance work. Things that bring you in and out of the country." Rossi looked up from the pages to ask, "And yet your passport and your fingerprint records show you haven't left the country since your trip to Jamaica… Why is that?"
"The people I work with, and the people I work for are not exactly angels, and I prefer to keep my actual identity to myself. The places I travel wouldn't think very highly of any fed, regardless of my current standing, mixing with their locals." It was an honest answer, if not the entire truth.
Prentiss finally spoke as she pushed an enlargement of a fingerprint across the table. "Those are some pretty great lengths to go to, in order to maintain privacy."
Elle felt each slice of the razor blade as she thought about the night she learned the trick from the other side of her family. The side she never talked about at the FBI. "Well, my Uncle Osvaldo picked up a few things in his work, and since it worked for him with Castro, I figured it would work for me."
"These must be dangerous people you work for, Ms. Greenaway." Rossi's condescending tone was something she was far too used to dealing with in her life, but she knew how to deflect it.
"Just business men and women who are in need of a little assistance in dealing with the dirty details of Latin American politics and culture, Agent Rossi." She paused before delivering the blow. "But especially when the government encouraging them to invest down there leave them hanging in the wind at the slightest hint of trouble."
"So, you mostly handle the terrorist ransoms and plant security, then?" Agent Prentiss seemed to be slowly entering the conversation with her confirmation questions.
"If that's what you want to call it, yes." She purposefully kept her answers short and to the point.
"Then why the need for so much secrecy? Those people could care less who you are, or used to be, anyway, as long as they get their money." Elle turned slightly to regard the woman with a raised brow. She made a very valid point, and for that she would be rewarded.
"Fair enough… It would probably be for the part of my work that isn't ransoms and run of the mill security. And probably because I knew that the intrepid Supervisory Special Agent Hotchner would flag my records. I guess I just didn't want him on my ass every time I turned around."
"In other words…" Agent Rossi flippantly tossed the accusation at her, "You were in hiding." Elle turned back to glare at Agent Rossi.
"If that's the way you want to look at it, then so be it. I file my tax returns, I have my driver's license renewed, my cars are registered and my mail all comes to Elle Greenaway of Seattle, Washington. But yes, when I travel, I use another name and another identity. Take it up with the Customs office." She wanted to cross her arms, but she knew the shackles would clank if she even tried, not to mention it would give Rossi the pleasure of knowing he had made her defensive.
Agent Prentiss was apparently playing the role of good cop in this exercise as she tried to calm everyone down. "We've gotten a little off-track, here."
She shuffled a few papers and then looked directly at Elle as she worked to make some kind of connection with her. "The reason for the questions about your fingerprints is because we had difficulty matching your prints in the house to those on file at the Bureau, and we wanted to know why you were obscuring your identity."
Elle decided to let her continue the tactic and nodded at her explanation, waiting for her to go on. "You say that you lived in that house for a period of approximately eight months. When was that, exactly?'
"Well, I was in Ecuador for most of July last year," Elle carefully recounted the timeline, making sure to be accurate. "But I know it was after my trip to Chile in May, so it must have been June when we cleaned out the main house, so about sixteen months ago?"
"We?" Agent Rossi seemed to be intrigued by her answer.
"Yes, of course." She waited for him to ask the question she knew he had been dying to hear the answer for.
"That would be yourself and who else?" A faint smile tickled at the corner of her mouth as he continued to dodge the real question.
"That's a ridiculous question, Agent Rossi, and one you already know the answer to. Maybe you should try again." Elle just wanted to ruffle his feathers for a change.
He appeared to chew back the comment he obviously wanted to make and glanced very quickly at Agent Prentiss. "Very well… Was Jason Gideon the other part of your 'we'?"
"Yes, he was." Again, she kept it short.
"What was the reason for cleaning out the house?" Agent Prentiss jumped in again, possibly to help Agent Rossi maintain his cool.
"Jason thought it was wasteful to continue keeping up both places. And after his son Steven got married, Jason wanted a place he and his wife could stay in the States between trips. So, we cleaned it out, top to bottom and made sure it was ready when they got there."
"And where did you stay after that?" Again, Agent Rossi asked a vague question, intentionally skirting around the point. It was obvious he was trying to lead her by the nose through the interrogation, but she refused to grant him that wish.
Instead, she kept her answer short and just as vague as his question. "Same place I had been."
"Where was that, Ms. Greenaway?" The amiable Agent Prentiss came in to calm the fire again.
Elle was tired of playing the game, so she simply launched forward. "You already have my prints and who knows what else if Hotch brought in his favorite field tech. So, please, stop with the games and just ask the questions you want to ask me. I'm not hiding anything from you, and even if I wanted to, what good would it do me?"
"None at all." The tinge of anger was evident in his tone as Agent Rossi pushed the open file in front of her. "Can you explain why we found Agent Gideon's body, with a bullet in his brain, buried on a hill in back of the main house?"
"Because you were looking for it."
The barrage of questions and answers that followed would have made even a Perry Mason episode look real.
"How did it get there?"
"Because I buried him there."
"Who shot him?"
"Where's the weapon?"
"In the safe in my condo in Seattle; combination four-two-four-two-four-two. I would appreciate you not cutting it open, so that my sister doesn't have to replace it later." And with that she was done. The rest was in the hands of the authorities.
Rossi shook his head in disgust as he wrote on his little pad. "If you were so concerned with convenience, then why didn't you turn yourself in to begin with?"
"Because I haven't done anything wrong." Her answer made both of them shoot incredulous stares at her.
"You took a man's life? And if Hotch's suspicions are right, it's not the first time. So how can you even think about saying that?" Rossi was downright indignant with his question. But she understood his frustration. She had felt it herself, before coming to terms with the truth.
"'For there is one thing I can safely say: that those bound by love must obey each other if they are to keep company long.'" She never understood the quote until all those months ago. No matter how many times it was explained to her, she never truly grasped it until she had known the bonds of love.
Agent Rossi's eyes narrowed and looked at her as though she was questioning his faith. "You can't possibly try to pin this to something motivated by love. Or are you going for an insanity defense?"
"I'm no less sane than anyone here." She glanced at the glass behind the pair with her statement. "And you can believe what you want… You asked the questions, and I answered them honestly."
Agent Prentiss locked eyes with Elle for a few moments, as though she was trying to find the answers in her eyes. When she broke the stare, she glanced at Agent Rossi. "I have a few more questions, Ms. Greenaway, if you don't mind?"
Elle rattled the chain against the metal bar and said, "As if I have a choice."
Agent Rossi leaned back and ran a hand over his beard. He seemed confused for the briefest of moments, but never once did he block Agent Prentiss from speaking. He only exhaled and gave a small nod to Agent Prentiss before saying, "Answering them is still your choice."
"True enough, but regardless, that's what I'm here for, so please, ask your questions, Agent Prentiss." Elle's tone never wavered. She was resolved to her fate no matter what, and a few more questions were not going to make any difference in the long run. She had made peace with the truth, but it was obvious the members of the BAU were still searching for theirs.
"You said that you lived in the main house for eight months, but had not been living there for the fourteen months previous. This would lead me to believe that your relationship with Agent Gideon started out as something other than romantic. Is that true?" That time Elle allowed a small smile to ghost over her face.
"I wouldn't necessarily call my relationship with Jason romantic, but yes, it changed while I was out there." Elle was intrigued by her choice of words and waited to find out where this line of questioning would lead.
"Then what made you seek out Agent Gideon in the first place?"
"I'm not sure exactly…" She paused to consider her answer. When she had heard about Jason's departure from the BAU it shocked her. She was convinced that Jason Gideon knew better than anyone how to separate the different parts of his life into little boxes, and detach himself from the work that they did. Learning he had failed in that regard intrigued her. "I think I was still looking for answers then, and I guess I thought he might have them."
"What were the questions?"
Elle was impressed with Agent Prentiss' ability to ask such concise questions. She wished she had been given such a remarkable gift when she was with the BAU. "I suppose I was trying to find out what I had done wrong. Maybe what had changed in me that I still couldn't see. Sometimes, you need to find old friends in order to see yourself, so I guess that's what I was looking for when I started tracking down Jason's location."
"No hay mejor espejo que la cara de un amigo viejo." Elle focused intently on Agent Prentiss as the other woman spoke in Spanish, the words of her grandfather. "There is no better mirror than the face of an old friend."
"Exactly." She smiled at the woman, grateful for Agent Prentiss' insight into her family background.
Agent Rossi interrupted them to ask, "How did you find Agent Gideon? We know he didn't make it easy."
"It's my business to find people who don't want to be found, Agent Rossi. It was my business even before I joined the BAU, and I'm very good at it." She waited for him to go back to scribbling his notes before continuing. "Taking what I learned from Spencer, and from what I knew of Jason and the team, I had a pretty good idea of how to track him down. It took a little digging, and some unexpected family history research help from my sister, but I was able to find the property in Idaho. I used a few of my contacts to confirm his location and then I went out to see him."
"When you left the BAU, it was under strained circumstances…what made you think Agent Gideon would even want to see you?" Agent Rossi again interrupted.
"I knew him well enough to assume it wouldn't be a problem." She tried to dismiss his smug question.
"No one knew Jason Gideon well enough to assume that. Not even his own son. So, what gave you this incredible insight about him?" With that question, Rossi sounded just like every man who had ever questioned her worth over the years. It was condescending, it was fake, and it made her blood boil, but she was not about to let that kind of attitude win. Not when she could help it.
She practically spit the words at him, "As my grandmother always said, 'Porque una papaya hala mas que una yunta de buey.'" Agent Prentiss was forced to stifle a laugh at the old Cuban saying.
Prentiss turned when the words were met with silence and found Agent Rossi attempting to will her to answer his unspoken question with his eyes. "Well, loosely translated… Um, a, ah, a woman…has a stronger pull than team of oxen."
Elle rolled her eyes at the sugar-coated translation. "Very loosely translated."
The look on Agent Rossi's face forced poor Prentiss to explain the vulgar saying further. "In other words, she knew there was a, ah…physical attraction."
Rossi quickly looked away from Prentiss, and narrowed his gaze on Elle when he asked, "Did the two of you have a relationship prior to your finding Gideon in Idaho?"
"Not in the physical sense, no, but it wasn't for lack of attraction." She looked at the glass again when she admitted, "There were other mitigating factors."
Prentiss was not about to let her slide on that one. "Which were?"
"For starters…he was a superior and a mentor, and we thought it best to keep our relationship professional at the time." Elle tried giving them the company line, hoping it would be enough. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt anyone else.
"What were the other reasons?" Prentiss never lowered her gaze when she was addressing Elle. It was a tactic she imagined served the agent well in normal interrogations.
Agent Rossi began to grow restless as she paused to contemplate her answer. Using his unease to delay the answer, she asked, "Is there a problem, Agent Rossi?"
"Yeah…" He got up from his seat, straightened his clothes and buttoned his jacket. "You're wasting our time." He pulled out a folder from the bottom of the stack and tossed it in her direction. "It's all in your personnel file. Gideon made note of every conversation. We know you had a thing for him. So, stop trying to play it out as some star crossed lovers scenario."
Elle was not able to help herself, she actually smiled. Two years before and she would have taken the bait. But she was not that person anymore. "You can think whatever you like, Agent Rossi. I know the truth, and that's all I need." She looked between both agents and shrugged, "Obviously you've found a way to handle those problems in your own relationship, but Jason and I needed some distance from the BAU to figure it out."
They both worked far too hard to not look at one another as she calmly outed them. Instead of waiting for the denials, she pushed forward, "Regardless of what you might believe, I'm quite certain the physical evidence is there to prove it. It wasn't easy, but Jason and I managed to make a life together."
"Fine, you had a relationship." Agent Rossi returned to his seat at the table. "But that doesn't explain how he ended up with a bullet in his head, and why you just walked away."
"I did what I had to do, Agent Rossi, and I've made peace with that. Everything else is out of my hands." Her answer was flat and emotionless. She was being honest when she said she was ready to accept whatever fate had to offer, but she planned to keep the rest locked away in her heart.
"We really don't need a motive. So, if that's all you have to say, you'll be arraigned in the next opening on the docket." Both Rossi and Prentiss stood up from their seats and began collecting their folders. "You've been charged with the deliberate murder of a federal officer, and given your business, I highly doubt they will be granting bail."
Agent Prentiss stopped to offer one piece of advice as she carefully took the photos from Elle's sight. "Regardless of how you plan to handle the case, legal counsel is your right."
"Thank you, for that, but it won't be ne-" She was interrupted when the door swung open as Reid slipped loose from Morgan's grip to enter the room.
"Why, Elle? Why'd you do it? You got it all, so why'd you have to destroy him, too?" Morgan and Hotch pushed into the room to restrain the crazed younger man.
"I didn't destroy him, Spencer. And we never took anything from you." She wanted to explain everything to him, but she knew the truth would hurt him more than anything else.
"You're here, and he's lying on a slab, and you never said a word to me, not once in two years! How is that keeping your promise?" His anger rolled off of him in powerful waves. "You promised me! You swore you'd tell me the truth, always. Tell me now, why'd you do it, Elle?"
He was right. She had promised him that she would always tell him the truth. When he found her in Seattle, he promised he would keep her location in confidence, as long as she vowed to always be honest with him. The weight of that promise forced the words out of her mouth. "Because he begged me to do it!"
The power of her simple statement silenced the entire room. It was as though everything stopped in that single moment of time. The only way she knew they had not frozen was when Spencer pulled out of Morgan's suddenly weak grasp.
"He… He begged you? Begged you to kill him?" Spencer's every word dripped with hurt.
She involuntarily pulled against her bonds and rattled the shackles as the tears she thought had dried up began streaming down her face once more. "He… We had, ah, just gotten confirmation about Steven's death. I did everything I could to get him out of there, including bribing the locals to hide them, until we could hire a team, but…it was too late by the time we found out. Jason was barely holding on by a thread most days, and just being with him wasn't enough to ease all of his pain. I tried, we both did, but he just didn't have that much to give anymore. All he had left were promises."
The word choked in her throat. Jason lived by the principle that a man was only as good as his word. And his word meant everything to him. "He only had two promises left keeping him alive; his promise to Steven, and his promise to me."
"Lorena told us about his promise to Steven." Reid's voice sounded infinitely smaller than before.
"And it died with him." Elle remembered Jason saying those same words to her when she tried to help him through the pain. "All Jason wanted then was to end the pain. The pain of his existence was greater than any man could bear, and there was nothing I could to take it away from him."
Morgan could no longer handle being a silent bystander. "Then why didn't he just do it himself? Gideon never needed anyone to do his work."
She swallowed hard, and got ready to answer him, but Hotch beat her to it. "Because he promised her he would never leave." Elle could only nod at Hotch's statement. "Everyone always left you, didn't they, Elle? And the reason you felt safe to go about your work was because you made him promise not to leave you while you were gone."
"And Jason could never break his promise. So, he needed me to release him, to end his pain…"
Agent Prentiss was the one to find the last piece of the puzzle. "Because that's what you promised him."
"And now his pain is over. All that's left is the rest of my life…however long that may be."
Spencer stepped forward and moved around the table. He took a deep breath and then knelt down beside her. Elle tried not to look in his eyes. She knew he would see too much.
When he wrapped his hand around her forearm she squeezed her eyes shut tight. "Where is it, Elle?"
Still refusing to look at him, she asked, "What?"
"It's not in his effects, and they haven't found it at your place yet." She swallowed hard, knowing exactly what he was talking about. "And I understand Jason well enough to know he wouldn't do this." Spencer paused, and squeezed her arm as he said, "Not to someone he loved."
Elle could not bear to look at him. She shook her head and pleaded, "Spencer, please don't."
He blew out a nervous breath and she felt it brush over her arm. "I'm sorry, Elle, but I have to, because I can't do it either. Not to you, not to him."
"Reid?" Hotch spoke from right behind Spencer, and she knew the others were just as close.
Spencer patted her arm tenderly and then turned back to the others. "Jason kept a private journal. In it, he kept all of his suicide notes. He'd been fighting the depression for years." He stood up beside Elle and laid his hand on her shoulder. "Jason wouldn't want Elle to take this, not if he trusted her with his life and his death. He would have left an explanation. He always promised me he wouldn't leave without an explanation, because he couldn't bear anyone else carrying the same guilt he did."
His fingers squeezed her shoulder as he said, "And Jason always kept his promises."
What is better than wisdom? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing.
-GEOFFREY CHAUCER, "The Canterbury Tales"