Title: Time Enough At Last
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Universe: Moments in Time (Part 3)
Characters/Pairing: Rossi/Prentiss, Morgan/Garcia, JJ/Hotch
Genre: Science Fiction/Drama
Summary: Murder has never looked so different.
Author's Note: Many thanks to yellowsmurf for the beta
You're the only ones zany enough to agonize over time and distance without limit, over mysteries that will never die, over the fact that we are right now determining whether the space voyage for the next billion years or so is going to be Heaven or Hell.
Derek Morgan woke up to a headache.
It was a work day, and he really, really shouldn't have been drinking the previous night, but they'd just come off an undercover case in the Prohibition era, and as soon as their medical screens had been done, they'd wasted no time in getting completely and utterly inebriated. "They" in this case being him, Rossi, Emily and Garcia. Garcia hadn't actually gone on the mission, but she was never one to turn down a good time.
Rossi had bowed out early, citing his age as an excuse against excessive alcohol consumption, but Morgan was pretty sure that excuse was bogus – it hadn't been that long since he and Rossi had farewelled every different timeline with a night out. In any case, four a.m had found him and Garcia attempting to convince a rather plastered Emily that by pushing a series of buttons in the control room, they could, in fact, destroy the entire universe.
He didn't remember much after that.
Yawning with an extravagant stretch, he dragged himself to the shower, flipping on the espresso machine on his way. Cold pellets of water pulled him from his reverie – that, combined with the coffee would put him in something of a presentable state, even if he wouldn't be completely at his best.
As he left his room, a load groan alerted him to Garcia doing the same thing across the hall.
'Hey, baby girl,' he grinned, planting a kiss on the tech's forehead. She leaned into him, wrapping her arms around his torso.
'How do you manage to do this so often?' she grumbled, her words muffled by his shirt.
'Good constitution,' he shrugged. 'We should probably check on Emily. She's probably not used to a suspended temporal hangover.'
Garcia's eyes widened. 'I didn't even think about that. God, she's going to be a mess.'
They rounded the hallway to Emily's room, and found the door swinging open slightly.
Morgan pushed it cautiously, calling out her name.
It was Rossi's voice that responded. 'I've got her,' he said, and he sounded a little angrier more than anything else. Before Morgan could make a decision either way, Garcia had pushed him inside, and was marching him towards the bathroom.
'Holy shit,' Emily muttered. She was bent over the toilet, hair pulled back by Rossi's hands.
'You didn't even warn her?' he asked.
'Rite of passage,' Morgan offered. No-one had told him of the phenomenon either – his stomach roiled just thinking of the memory.
'Besides,' Garcia pointed out. 'It'll be balanced out by the first suspended temporal orgasm.' Emily wasn't listening though it seemed, as she leaning a little further into the toilet bowl and retched violently.
'I think we'll be a little late,' Rossi said, letting his hand rub across Emily's shoulders. Morgan raised an eyebrow. The way those two were acting, he wasn't entirely sure that Emily hadn't already had that first suspended temporal orgasm.
'I think we can get started on the paperwork without you,' Morgan grinned. 'Hopefully, the new kid here will be up to full strength by tomorrow. Schedule has us going on a month-long serial thing on Ganymede. Big stuff.'
Rossi shooed him off then, apparently still a little irritated by Morgan's perceived lack of judgment.
'It's okay,' Garcia teased, 'I still love you, hot stuff.'
His grin widened. 'I love you too, girl.'
'Oh, for fuck's sake,' Emily muttered, as she felt the bile rise once more.
'It's okay,' Rossi said, his hand rubbing across the back of her shoulders. She felt a burst of anger – it was easy for him to say. He wasn't the one vomiting his guts out. 'It gets easier after a while.'
'Good,' she said coming up for air, adding in an acerbic tone, 'How else will I fuel my rampant alcoholism?'
After assuring him that she could, in fact, take a shower without his assistance, he gave her a smirk and left, pulling the door shut behind him.
The burning needles of water felt fantastic against her skin – the water pressure was a little different than she was used to, but it was still a welcome respite from the lethargy that the hangover had brought on.
She briefly wondered exactly where the water was coming from, if their location was removed entirely from space and time. She wasn't sure if it was a scientific question or a philosophical one, but at that point, she didn't particularly care.
Once she felt as though humanity had returned, she shut the water off and shook her head, sending droplets of water flying.
Toothpaste tasted a little differently, too. A little fresher, a little mintier – altogether not an unpleasant flavor. At the very least, it suppressed the taste of vomit; if that was the intended purpose, then she applauded the future for their ingenuity in toothpaste manufacturing processes.
Towel wrapped around herself, she stepped back into the main room, thankful to find that Rossi had gone. He'd left a bottle of water and a couple of tiny white pills, along a brown paper bag. A note written on plain white paper had been weighted down by the bag. It read:
Eat – you'll feel better, even if it doesn't seem like it at first. As long as you keep your fluids up, you should survive.
She could almost hear that dry voice of his, and suppressed a grin. Peering inside the bag, she found a ration pack of muesli – the future had done a pretty good job on instant meals as well. They tasted like the real thing.
She really didn't want to show up in the mess looking like hell warmed up, and made a mental note to thank Rossi properly later.
She slept for the rest of the day.
Thursday dawned, and the entire team seemed decidedly more human. JJ, Reid and Hotch had been absent from the festivities – Morgan was of the belief that JJ and Hotch had probably spent the night together, and Reid had used a couple of hours of his spare time to solve one of those impossible equations that he seemed to like so much.
Their next mission was not like previous missions.
It was a big one – serial killer, a dozen, never solved. In all honesty, it didn't matter when they took the case, the outcome would always be the same. The department used a rather complex system of choosing the cases they took, and it was a system that Morgan didn't particularly care to learn.
They were all going – him and Rossi, JJ and Hotch, Emily. Even Reid and Garcia were afforded a rare chance for field work, as their killer was evidently an electronics enthusiast of some variety. Reid had just passed his field qualifications anyway, and Garcia showed no interest in actually leaving the local Time Office.
'I thought you wanted to see Ganymede, sweetheart,' he teased.
'What can I say,' she shrugged. 'Ice planets, you know? We'll do our thing, and then keep a couple of extra days for tourism.'
'You've got a month,' Kevin, the technician that was sending them through revealed. 'It's a pretty big one, but they say you're pretty good.'
'Yeah,' Morgan grinned. 'Ask Rossi about the time he sucker-punched Jack the Ripper.'
'Hey,' protested Rossi. 'I'm not the one who tackled the Zodiac killer into the Santa Ana River. You almost drowned the guy.'
'He killed seven people. I'd say he had it coming.'
'Actually, while the official number is put at seven, some suspect that he may have killed up to thirty-seven people,' Reid piped up.
'Seven, thirty-seven,' shrugged Morgan. 'Whatever way you look at it, he's still locked up for the rest of his life. Unless he can bend the laws of time and space, he's never getting out of CryoLock.'
'There is the Balthazar incident,' Reid started, and it almost looked as though he was going to launch into a full explanation, just for the sake of it, before Hotch cut him off with a single word:
Kevin launched into the briefing, and Morgan found himself dozing off slightly – he'd been to Ganymede a few times before. Surface area of 87 million km2, volume of 7.6 * 1010 km3, home to by far the best hamburgers that he'd ever tasted. He made mental plans to sit and watch the horizon at sunset, Gargoyle's Glorious Grub burger in one hand, and a Venusian beer in the other. If the alignment was right, then he'd be treated to a display of both Jupiter and a selection of moons. He was pretty sure he'd have no trouble in convincing Garcia to join him.
They stood, meandering over to the equipment lockers. Technically speaking, they had pills to compensate for the gravity, but the technology was beyond what had been achieved in the time period they were going to, and they couldn't well be the only ones on the moon not wearing a gravsuit. The only human ones, at least. The population had a good percentage of alien nationals from the planet Eparis in the Andromeda galaxy, whose physiology had adapted to the planet's conditions.
Emily's interest piqued at that comment; he'd forgotten just how new to time travel she really was. Aliens hadn't made their appearance in the galaxy until 2144 of the Earth standard calendar. In a curious set of circumstances, translators managed to determine that their main purpose in meeting the human race was to play bingo.
'Whatever you do,' Hotch said, as much to everyone in the room as to Emily, 'Do not accept a green rose from an Eparison. It's an invitation to conduction rituals of both mating and marriage – consummation usually ends in death for humans.'
Emily nodded. 'Yeah, I did the course. Never accept a green rose from an Eparison, never look a Marishet in the eye, never get involved in a land war in Asia.'
'Just...be careful. We'll have enough to worry about without getting caught up in local customs. That's how wars get started.' He shot JJ a look, and she gave an almost helpless shrug.
They suited up with the necessary equipment, putting their period costumes on over the stretchy black material of the gravsuits. Fashion trends had taken a turn for the simplistic in the Ganymede of the 2400s, solid colors showing something of a contrast against the magnificent white cities that were spread across the planet. The gravsuits would double as thermal protection, meaning that the below freezing temperatures would be bearable.
'Okay, no more than three at a time,' Kevin told them, as if they were all newbies. It was a valid warning, though – many an experienced time traveler had been stranded thanks to a stupid mistake.
Rossi, Emily and Reid went through first, followed by Hotch and JJ. Morgan tipped Garcia a wink.
'You ready for the trip of a lifetime, princess?' he asked.
She grinned. 'You betcha, stud.'
Time travel gave Emily a headache.
Not just a headache, but nausea, as well as a general feeling of discontentedness. It didn't help that this was her first time on a new planet, and even with the gravsuit, even with all the little added extras that she'd strapped on to compensate for the difference, she could still feel it.
The Gatekeeper, who introduced herself as Agent Greenaway, provided them with bottles of water to alleviate the dehydration brought on by rapid reintegration into the timestream. Or whatever.
The young woman seemed to be the only agent posted in the city, some minor prodding from Hotch revealed that her partner had died in a freak accident involving vacuums the previous month, and HQ had yet to assign her a new one. Her voice was a little melancholy as she said it, which was understandable. Partners weren't something that could just be replaced at a whim. From what she'd heard, Morgan and Rossi had been partners for a long time, and her presence only served to sever that bond. With two new field agents, it was apparently easier to split up a partnership than to wait for someone to die.
She wasn't sure how she felt about being paired off with Rossi for the next however many years, but she knew that Morgan and Reid were good friends, and with any luck, their partnership wouldn't be a complete disaster.
Locking up the Time Office, Agent Greenaway led them outside, and Emily was certain that her heart stopped for a good few seconds as she looked out upon the alien world. A slight ripple caught her eye – the artificial atmosphere. The reason why they weren't wearing oxygen masks. But that wasn't the most striking thing.
She'd seen a lot of things in her life. A lot of strange cities. Cities of steel, glass and concrete. Cities of sandstone. Cities of mud and brick. Ganymede seemed to surpass them all. The buildings, though solid, looked as though they were made of ice, but she didn't need Reid to tell her that it wasn't true. Skyscrapers reached to the sky like shining stalagmites without any worldly bounds.
It was one of the most beautiful things she'd ever seen.
It seemed easy to forget that they were there to stop a killer.
Well stop a killer was something of a misnomer. Whatever they did, they couldn't change the past. Or the future. Their serial killer was always going to kill the same number of people, it was just a matter of making sure that the right person was put away for the crimes. Truth told, the concept gave her a bit of a headache, and she wasn't entirely sure she'd ever really understand it, but it didn't matter. The motley crew of time travelling crime fighters had to be doing something, and she bet that none of them were particularly enlightened by the fact that they couldn't change anything.
They kept at it though – she was pretty sure that it would kill any of them to leave it behind.
'What do you think?' Rossi asked her, grinning as though he had built the city from scratch with his own bare hands. She rolled her eyes.
'It's nice,' she nodded.
'Probably one of the better alien worlds to have visited first,' he admitted. 'Your impressions would be a little less positive if we were taking a serial case on Rygel IV, that's for sure.'
'Cannibals,' Reid provided.
'Really didn't need to know that, Reid.'
He gave one of his tiny shrugs that she'd grown so used to over the past few weeks. He wasn't apologizing, and she didn't expect – or want – him to. He was who he was. A fact that wasn't at all affected by the presence of time travel in their lives.
'We have a Bureau safehouse about two blocks down that's used for time agents,' Greenaway explained. 'We can do the investigative stuff there, or at the Time Office – your choice. Either way, I'd advise food and sleep before we begin.'
It seemed strange to think that such breathtaking buildings could be used for so mundane a purpose, but then, she knew that this city, like all others, would have a dark underbelly of filth and corruption. No amount of progression could change that; it was human nature.
Inside the building, it was a little less breathtaking. Magnificence she could deal with in small doses, but after a childhood of moving place to place, what she really desired was a home. Some sense of stability.
It seemed a little ironic that the place she was starting to see as home was really no place at all.
The safehouse had a panel at the front door for environmental settings, which had been set at Earth-standard. Normal gravity, pleasant temperature, and so on and so forth. Evidently, the possible settings were boundless, and Rossi made a comment about showing her some of the less lethal ones, once they'd finished up the case. She'd always wanted to experience weightlessness.
Still, it felt good to strip off the gravsuit. Its dark confines had felt almost claustrophobic. She took a shower, discovering a few futuristic devices that she'd never seen before. She didn't experiment, for fear of reuniting with the team in possession of a Mohawk. She wasn't sure how well that would go down with Rossi.
She did a double-take, wondering just when she'd become so interested in what Rossi thought of her.
The day you met him, a voice in the back of her mind said, and she wasn't about to deny it. He had a strangely alluring quality, even if he was an arrogant son-of-a-bitch half the time.
They settled in, and Morgan volunteered to go grab some food. After a moment's consideration, Garcia joined him. Time on Ganymede would take a little getting used to – the mixture of Earth-standard and native would be a little incongruous for a while. A Ganymedian day was over a week long, according to the briefing that Kevin had given them – data that was replicated in the half dozen laptop computers that Reid and Garcia had brought along with them.
'Are we going to have to stay up for seven days straight?' she asked, feeling as dumb as a brick.
Rossi laughed. 'You can if you want, but the rest of us are going to bed. I doubt anyone on Ganymede has adapted to the point of staying up for a full day.'
'Except the Eparisons,' Reid pointed out. 'Without the intervention of nanotechnology or other methods of biomedical advancement, the human body just isn't designed to stay awake for that long without serious side effects.'
Hotch, it seemed, was intent on getting them started early, to which Emily had no objections. She was a little tired, yes, but then, tiredness was something that went hand in hand with the job, even before she'd been pulled from the timestream.
She pulled up the files on one of the laptops, skimming over them briefly. Ten dead; six human, four Eparison. Five male, five female. No discernable characteristics that might link them. History put their murderer as having dropped off the face of the moon in a little less than a month's time, which meant that they were either going to catch their killer, or something else would happen in order to stop the murders.
She'd have thought that simply going forward in time and asking Agent Greenaway the result of the case would speed up the process a bit, but apparently that opened the door for all sorts of paradoxes. Time travel, it seemed, was not a solve-all deus ex machina. They still had to do the legwork.
She really wasn't sure why she was so excited about the whole thing.
They legged it over to Gargoyle's Glorious Grub, and Garcia raised an eyebrow at the name of the place.
'Trust me,' he told her. 'Best food you will ever taste on any planet, in any era. It's like a party in your mouth, and…' He gave her a wink. 'And only one person is invited.'
'I sure hope it's the right person,' she quipped back. He put an arm around her shoulder.
'You are…the light of my life,' he said, not for any particular reason, but because she was Penelope Garcia, and by Gods, he was smitten. He was surprised that it had taken him so long to admit it.
'You sure that's not just the artificial sunlight?' she asked, with a tone of mock sincerity.
'I'm serious, baby girl,' he told her. 'I'd be lost without you.'
It wasn't exactly the most appropriate time and place for a confession of feelings – standing in line behind half a dozen hungry fast-food connoisseurs wasn't exactly the most romantic setting. It felt right though – as though he was telling her that he wasn't just there for the special occasions, but for the mundane ones as well.
That said, these burgers were definitely not mundane. Something about the gravity conditions meant that the meat was just so perfectly tender. The feeling was apparently shared by the rest of the planet, because it was taking forever to get through. When they finally did get to the head of the line, the cashier didn't blink as he ordered seven burgers, reading the personal requests from the sheet of paper that he'd scrawled them down onto: no onions for Reid, no mushrooms for JJ, extra hot sauce for Emily, and so on, and so forth. Since they were working, he forwent the Venusian beers, substituting them with a carton of Plutonic, which would help with the "different world" nausea, while at the same time being deliciously refreshing. It was Emily's first day on a new planet, and he sure as hell wanted to make it memorable. Hopefully, though, not the kind of memorable that resulted in a hospital visit.
'You should see this place once the sun goes down,' he commented, as they walked the streets back to the safehouse. 'Over sixty other moons of Jupiter, and they light up the night sky, if the orbit's right.' He gave her a grin. 'Much more exciting than a series of endless grey halls.'
'I will grant you that one, noble warrior,' Garcia conceded. 'I'd never thought I'd get sick of the wonders of technology, but living planet-side does have its advantages. Depending on who you're with, of course,' she added, nudging Morgan on the arm.
The company was good, but the circumstances not so much. People were dead – people were dying – and there wasn't anything they could do to stop it. All they could do was get the job done – or not – depending on what was supposed to happen.
After dinner, of course.
'I can't see a pattern to any of this,' Reid said, frustrated, after almost an hour of trawling over the files. Rossi suppressed a chuckle – if Reid couldn't see anything, then they really were screwed.
'These killings are erratic,' Morgan added. 'With this type of violent death, you'd expect some kind of escalation, but he's jumping all over the place.
'What if he's time travelling?' Emily asked, and there was a slightly awkward silence. At the heart of it, it was a newbie question, but as she was still technically a newbie, he didn't begrudge her for it. That aside, though, she raised a fair point – if their killer was using time travel, then their deaths were out of chronological order. The actual timeline would probably resemble something a child had scribbled with a crayon.
'Time travel is strictly regulated,' Hotch answered. 'There's no way that regular citizens could gain access to the technology.'
'Oh,' was all Emily said, and the disappointment in her voice was evident.
'We shouldn't rule it out, though,' the former Gatekeeper added, and Rossi felt a surge of appreciation for the younger man's tact. The only real way that time travel could be involved with the case was if a rogue agent was involved, and that in itself was an issue that was usually sidestepped.
'We should test for radiation at the crime scenes,' Reid provided. 'If there's someone using unauthorized travel equipment, then it's unlikely they'll have the full decontamination procedures in place; if a rogue agent is responsible, then there should be a reading on the Geiger counter.'
'I'm sorry, radiation?' Emily asked, her voice almost disbelieving. 'Time travel emits radiation?'
'Didn't you read the fine print?' Morgan grinned.
'The amount is negligible,' Reid assured her. 'And the arrival procedures ensure maximum decontamination, to the point, in terms of radiation absorption, time travel is no more dangerous than using a microwave or a cell phone. Even if, on the off chance, it does become carcinogenic, we can cure cancer.'
'Well that's reassuring,' Emily muttered in a sardonic tone. Her hand went straight to the half-full bottle of Plutonic at her side, and she took a healthy swig. She'd been drinking slowly to that point, and he was fairly sure she was, as yet, unaware of the more potent effects of the drink.
'Small sips,' he said, after she'd finished choking. A little late, admittedly, but oftentimes, the best experiences came from not being forewarned. 'The bubbles are supposed to create a…pleasurable experience. It's a little more subdued when you spread it out.'
'I just…? In my mouth?!'
'Welcome to the future,' Garcia said, her eyes twinkling. Emily just shook her head.
The safehouse had four bedrooms, and since Elle elected to stay with them for the night, there was an even gender split. Garcia found herself rooming with Jennifer, a woman who, admittedly, she hadn't taken the time to get to know properly. What she did know amounted to less than five things; she had been a Gatekeeper in the 2040s, she had started a war (that was a fact that damn near the entire agency knew, so much so that it was pretty much a legend), and that she was absolutely, without a doubt, sleeping with one Aaron Hotchner.
It was a fact proven on countless occasions; two people, if isolated together for a lengthy period of time, will inevitably do the nasty. It happened with time agents constantly, regardless of age, gender, or species.
But really, that wasn't the first thing one generally brought up in a "getting to know you" conversation, even if you happened to be the Oracle of All Wisdom. It was rude, for one thing, and it didn't really flow with the Bechdel Test. Usually Garcia started those kinds of conversations with questions like "Favorite Star Trek series" or "Favorite Geologic Era." When asked, though, JJ had no answer for either of the questions. She did, however, reveal that she used to play soccer, and that she collected butterflies from every time period she went to.
'But don't tell Strauss that,' she added hastily. 'I'm sick of pulling Gatekeeper duty.'
'Hey, no tattle-tales here,' Garcia assured her. 'Where do you think the contents of our liquor cabinet come from? Sure as hell can't get a good bottle of Absinthe from a temporally suspended distillery.'
'That's one good thing about being stuck in one time period,' JJ agreed. She gave a loud yawn then, and Garcia thought it would be best that they get some sleep – Ganymede would take a little getting used to.
She dimmed the lights and fell asleep to the sound of soft, slow breathing.
Emily couldn't sleep.
The air was different on Ganymede – the room felt stuffy, almost claustrophobic. Part of it was the atmospheric enhancers, and part of it the artificial gravity. Time travel and space travel were two very different things. There'd been talk of establishing a Mars colony back in her own time, but she never thought she'd live to see such an event.
Life was full of unbelievable things.
Emily pulled herself out of bed, vaguely aware of Elle's soft breathing – the Gatekeeper had lived planet-side for a while now; condition-induced insomnia wouldn't be that much of a problem. Still, she made sure to be as quiet as possible as she slipped a shirt on over her bra and panties – with minimal packing allowed, she hadn't bothered with pajamas, and there's a washing machine in the safe-house (a Jacuzzi, too, but that was less pertinent to the situation).
She stepped outside, pulling the balcony door shut behind her. It stretched along the side of the safe-house, a door from each room leading out to it. The view wasn't particularly spectacular – not compared to some of the things she'd seen on the way there, but it was another freaking planet, so she gave it a pass.
Outside, it was still daytime – another thing she would really have to get used to. The cycle had been compensated for, though – the system that kept the house at Earth-standard conditions also tinted the light. Emily let her fingers creep forward experimentally, stopping as they hit the translucent barrier. It rippled, sending circles of light across the balcony.
'You can change the settings, if you'd prefer a more"native" experience,' a voice said, and Emily jumped. Not scared. Just startled. She'd been trapped in the moment.
'What?' she snorted, 'Surface temperatures of -260 degrees Fahrenheit? Pass. What I would prefer is some fresh air, but I don't really think that's possible when it's all filtered like this.'
'Negative two-sixty isn't fresh enough?' Rossi stepped forward to join her at the railing, letting his own finger trail across the barrier, leaving a path of light in its wake.
Emily said nothing in reply, and the silence hung heavy for a few seconds before Rossi added, 'You get used to it…Get used to a lot of things. This great big wide universe.' He was starting to sound philosophical, which wasn't exactly a trait she'd expected to see in him.
Emily hummed. '"All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die."' Her words softened as she felt his breath, so close. She turned, tilting her head just the slightest bit.
Their lips met against the backdrop of a tinted, faraway sun, brought together for the first time on an alien world.
Twenty minutes later, David Rossi slipped back inside, not quite able to wipe the smile off of his face.
'Have fun?' Morgan asked, the tone of voice letting Rossi know that he had seen every single thing that played out on the balcony.
'More than you'll ever know.' He licked his lips, relishing the slight sweetness of the lip balm that still lingered, having been transferred during the impromptu makeout session.
'Seriously? I thought you were going to nail her right there.'
'For your sake then, Derek, I'm glad we didn't,' Rossi responded drily, slightly miffed at the assumption; no matter how nice the view was, Emily Prentiss deserved better than a balcony for a first time. A place with fewer outside observers, fewer distractions.
Of course, that was all based on the assumption that she was willing to take things a little further. He didn't even need to ask to know that she was the kind of person that took relationships seriously. There was probably a story to that, and he made a mental note to delve a little deeper. Not too deep, though. He wanted to get to know her (and not just in the biblical sense). He didn't want to drive her away.
'You going to take her to Neo-Mesopotamia, then?' the younger man asked, a laugh in his voice. 'Maybe show her the Eternal Flames of Babylon? They say it's the most romantic place in all of time and space.'
'Some of us like to woo a woman the old-fashioned way,' Rossi yawned. 'Get some sleep.' Tomorrow promised to be a long day.
Breakfast was a subdued affair; they knew from the case files that there were a fixed number of victims but it always stung a little to know that they couldn't do jack shit about it.
Still, Rossi tried not to be too pleased about the fact that Emily was the one accompanying him to the most recent crime scene. The time constraints were pressing, but not too pressing – they knew that there wouldn't be any more victims, but that may well have been due to the fact that the unsub had fled Ganymede. That was bureaucracy. There were a dozen more efficient ways of using time travel to catch killers, but the higher ups always seemed to insist on the most complicated one.
That was one reason David Rossi never aspired to be anything more than a Time Agent, albeit a Time Agent that had accrued a hefty paycheck from his numerous non-fiction titles. Technically speaking, he'd written most of them before he was a Time Agent, but there were a few (admittedly, less popular) from more recent times. There was something of a limited reaction to The Deviant's Response to a Closed Time Loop.
He flipped the Geiger counter on as they approached the crime scene. Truth told, he wasn't expecting a reading, and when the numbers did start to edge upwards, he raised an eyebrow, the only indication of surprise that he would let himself show.
'Looks like you may be right.'
'Don't sound so surprised,' she quipped. 'So how the hell do you find a rogue agent? You think they'd give us tracking chips, or something.'
Rossi didn't answer – his eyes were caught on something else. Or rather, someone else. Someone who absolutely should not have been there. 'Oh, I don't think we have to go looking,' he said.
'Why's that?' Emily started to ask, but there was a loud crack, and a flash of light before she could finish. The wave of energy rippled over them, and he was vaguely aware of Emily ducking instinctively. There was no need, really – that wasn't the burst of energy they had to be worried about.
'What the hell was that?' Emily asked, breathless. Her hand was already going for her weapon, and Rossi found himself doing the same.
'Containment field,' he answered, not even turning to look at her. 'Will stop anyone from getting in or out. It's Time Agent tech.'
Her stance shifted, her eyes moving to face the same direction as his – moving to face the woman standing before them.
'David Rossi,' she crooned, the gun pointed steadily at his chest. 'Well, it took you long enough.'
They'd barely made it to the crime scene when Hotch got the call over the radio. Strange bubble of energy suddenly appeared, right next to one of the crime scenes. The crime scene that Rossi and Prentiss happened to be investigating. That was definitely not a coincidence.
'Get us there,' he instructed Elle sharply. The Gatekeeper nodded, and jerked the wheel hard to the left, executing a rapid u-turn. With her other hand, she flipped the sirens on, ignorant of the loud honks that had accompanied her unexpected maneuver.
'Why would Rossi set up a containment field?' JJ asked.
'He wouldn't,' Hotch said with an air of finality. He might not have known David Rossi for very long, but he knew enough. 'Not without sending a message through first.' The major frustration was that he couldn't even call through to check – a containment field was completely impermeable. Not even air could get inside, which meant that they were running on the clock.
'Then who set it off? CT Fields are our technology Hotch. Stealing aside, there's no way a civilian could have gotten one, and we haven't had any reports of missing equipment.'
'Yet,' pointed out Hotch, because even if the universe existed inside a stable time loop, the Time Agency was running on a linear timeline, so to speak. They could, technically travel forward in time if they chose to, but it was forbidden under the pain of death – it wasn't even one of those things that was forbidden but people did anyway. No-one wanted to set off a temporal paradox. Quite frankly, they were a pain in the ass to fix.
He pulled out his phone and called Garcia, who was back at the safe house with her computer equipment. 'Garcia – the first crime scene. I need security footage from the last half hour.'
'What's going on?' came the tech's fearful voice.
'Someone set off a containment field,' he answered sharply.
'You think we really do have a rogue agent?'
'That's what I need you to find out.'
'On it, bossman.'
He heard the sound of rapid typing followed by a sharp intake of breath.
'Oh, jenkies, this is not good…'
'Tell me, former Gatekeeper, has anyone told you the tale of the knight David Ross and his Machiavellian maidens?'
'Emily,' Rossi said, through gritted teeth. 'This is Sarah. My ex-wife. One of my ex-wives,' he amended. Admittedly, she looked good for someone who was supposed to be dead, last he'd seen, she was trapped in an "about to be exploding" building with no way out.
'You know how many people I killed to bring you here? And it looks like you've already replaced me,' Sarah scoffed. 'A rather short period of mourning, don't you think?'
'It's been ten years on my end,' he said shortly. 'And I thought you were dead.' And batshit insane, he thought to himself. After all, there was a reason she was an "ex" wife in the first place. 'How did you survive, anyway?'
Some people just weren't cut out for time travel. There was just something about being able to go back and see the fricking dinosaurs that made you feel so insignificant, and people with big egos didn't usually respond so well. He was surprised that he'd made it this far.
'True love,' she breathed, and he amended his earlier thoughts; doubly batshit insane. 'Ten years isn't long enough to forget true love.' Her voice was low, and her eyes wide. 'I died and was born anew. We can be together now, David.'
He almost rolled his eyes – trapped in a containment field by an ex-wife on the verge of a psychotic break. And he'd been having such a good week.
'There's only one thing standing in our way,' she continued, and her eye jerked towards Emily. Rossi could almost feel Emily's abhorrence of the situation, it was pumping out of her so hard; less of a "oh my God, what are we going to do?" and more of a "oh my God, are you fucking serious?" He respected that.
He felt his own disdain rising when Sarah's gun matched the path of her eyes, and it was surprising how little he had to think about it before pulling the trigger.
She fell backwards clutching at her chest. The gun dropped from her fingers. 'David…?' Sarah's voice sounded less crazy now, more…pathetic. As though he had been the only thing left, and now there was nothing.
He kicked the weapon away from her hands. She stared up at him, dark brown eyes accusing. 'You left me…'
'I'm sorry,' he replied, but she didn't hear him. Her eyes closed between the space of two heartbeats.
'Rossi?' Emily was at his shoulder, her voice hesitant. His name hung in the air for a few seconds before he stood, the controller to the containment field in his hand.
'Being left behind…is an agent's greatest fear,' he said, his head shaking. 'That alone is enough to send someone insane. It's a dangerous universe. A dangerous job. We don't have anyone to share our secrets with, save each other.'
She hesitated, apparently unsure how to respond to what was almost a non-sequitur. Finally, he turned to her and asked, 'Would you like to go to dinner with me sometime?'
'Sometime?' she asked, an eyebrow cocked. 'Are we talking a colloquial sometime, or an "
1800s" kind of sometime?'
'Well I wouldn't take you to the 1800s,' he deadpanned. 'Far too much disease. But… we have time…'
'Time now. All the time we need,' she countered, and it sounded like a quote, but it wasn't one that he recognized. It was in a much softer voice that she said, 'Time enough at last.'