Author's Note: I am quite aware that The Art of Butterflies isn't complete, but this damn plot wouldn't leave me alone. It's changed, considerably, from what it was when it started, but that doesn't matter much. It's more of a team fic than anything else, but there might be a few surprise pairings as we go along. If you've got suggestions for those pairings, suggest away – I'm up for almost anything.
Stroke Of Midnights
The twenty third of December had been longer of a day than any of the Behavioral Analysis Unit could have anticipated. Their current case in Washington, D.C. had lasted over a week and three days, coming to a close with the death of their UnSub, Jacob Hoag. None of them had been sorry to see him go – even knowing it would come with endless paperwork. Not only had the man been killing children, but he'd almost taken one of their own. By the time the case details had been wrapped up and thanks had been given, it was nearly eleven at night.
"With any luck, we'll be home by Christmas Eve this year." David Rossi said, driving one of the dark SUVs that were bringing them back to Quantico, Virginia. His tone was nearing sarcasm. A few cars behind them, Hotch was driving the other vehicle.
"It's almost Christmas Eve already." Spencer Reid said, sitting in the backseat of the vehicle. The young man was tired, but he wasn't going to show it – he wasn't going to be the younger, weaker agent. "I don't think we'll have to worry about having the day off. It's nearly improbable for us to ship out on another case in the next twenty four hours."
"He was being sarcastic, Reid." Prentiss supplied, riding shotgun. Though she wasn't usually one to be exhausted, this case had them all drained. The side of her head was pressed against the cold window, and her shoulder still stung from where the bullet had grazed it. She'd been the one to shoot Jacob Hoag, but not before surviving a close call. The team had insisted she get checked out by a doctor, which she'd compromised by having the paramedic on the scene wrap her shoulder. It had pacified Hotch and hadn't taken more than five minutes out of an already hectic day. For a moment, she closed her eyes.
"Oh." Reid said, twisting his hands together. His eyes went to the clock – 11:45. It wasn't late by most standards, but after the day they'd all had, they were exhausted. They'd been on the road for forty five minutes, but had about another hour before they'd be in Virginia. The day before Christmas Eve, the roads were heavy with traffic, and the snow falling wasn't doing the situation any good. On most days, the team would have stayed an extra night, but in lieu of being home for Christmas Eve, they'd elected to sacrifice the extra hours on the road.
"Hey, Rossi," Prentiss began, raising her head from the window to look at the older agent driving the SUV. "Have you spoken to Hotch? I'm worried – it's their first Christmas without her."
"Aaron said Jack expressed interest in seeing the New York City Christmas tree." Rossi supplied. The former Unit Chief had been back on the team for the past two weeks after a month long extended leave of absence.
"Are they going?" Reid asked, and Prentiss looked back to the younger man, leaning forward with interest. They'd all been worried about what the holidays would bring, and though none had said anything, Hotch had undoubtedly picked up on the concern. It was par for the course with being a profiler for the FBI.
Rossi couldn't help but smile. "Christmas day." The profiler said. "He didn't know if we'd be back, but he planned it anyway – a surprise for Jack." During the week that they'd stayed in Washington D.C., the young boy had stayed with his Aunt – but Hotch had taken two nighttime visits to visit him during the case.
"That's good." Prentiss said. He needed that time. On days when they were doing files, Jack would come to the BAU with his father. He'd even started calling them all aunt and uncle – even Strauss, which had come as a surprise to the level-headed woman. "They need that." She closed her eyes again, leaning against the window. While the falling snow was making the roads icy, it was also nice to think about a white Christmas. A momentary smile graced her lips.
In the backseat, Reid was trying not to fall asleep. The day's events floated before his closed eyes, long, harrowing – and, several times, horrifying. It always managed to surprise him that he could still feel shock at every victim.
"The kid deserves a good Christmas." Rossi added, looking towards Prentiss. "This year especially, after all he's gone-"
It was instantaneous.
The car next to them – a van only slightly larger than the BAU's Chevy Tahoe – skidded on the black ice forming. The blue van lost control, spinning, careening, and hitting the Tahoe's passenger side at fifty miles an hour, crunching the door.
There was barely the chance to scream before the Tahoe spun, running into the metal guardrail and stopping. Smoke rose from the SUV's engine.
Two cars down, JJ, Hotch, and Morgan saw it all.
The clock on the dashboard flashed 12:00.
Author's Note (Two):
Should I continue? I'm not sure about this one – what do you guys think?