In A New Light


Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds or any of the comic book characters mentioned in this fic.

10:42 PM

Quantico, VA

Section Chief Erin Strauss turned off the light in her office and walked out, closing the door. She headed for the elevators, glancing into the Office of the BAU headed by Aaron Hotchner. All was dark. Except for the meeting room. She frowned. She had received the report that the team had completed their case that afternoon, but she didn't think they would be back… She thought that they would fly back in the morning.

The case had been hard on them, she was sure. Their UnSub had been screwed over by the company he worked for. Downsized with a large cut on pay and benefits. And then the idiots thought it would be a good idea to send him to Career Fairs to recruit young people.

The man would talk to the kids, who were in high school and college. And any of them who had told him "it's my dream to work for this company!" he would keep the applications and surveys. And they would become his victims. He would kill them, saying that death was better than the cruel reality of having your dream shattered. He was convinced that he was sparing them the pain and betrayal that had sent him into his downward spiral… and getting revenge on his company at the same time. Not only was he robbing them of new young minds with much potential, but when the media got a hold of the story, the company took a hit in their reputation… his deeds would have a lasting affect on the business for a long time…

The team had found their unsub… But they had been unable to save the final victim. He had held her up as a shield from their guns, his back to the wall. And he had ignored their attempts to talk him down. He had drawn the blade across her throat, and then across his own.

Strauss walked through the glass doors and peered through the windows into the meeting room. The team sat around the circular table, all staring down. She frowned. They looked… upset. She silently walked up the stairs in the little kitchenette area. She could hear voices now, so she listened in.

"It's just not fair." She heard Agent Reid saying in a small voice.

"… We can't save them all, kid." Agent Morgan replied.

"I know, but…" Reid sighed and trailed off.

"It's not right." She heard Technical Analyst Garcia whimper. "To do this… to find his victims like that… to choose them just because they had a dream… And to use it against them like that…"

"I know, baby girl." Morgan said.

"… You know… it's interesting." JJ said, suddenly. "I was talking to some of the families of the victims. And they told me about how it was their children's dreams to work for that company. One mother thought it was funny how her daughter had grown from wanting to be a cowgirl when she was little, to wanting to be an accountant."

"We all change our dreams." Rossi said. Strauss heard the clinking of glass and liquid trickling. Then a thump as a glass container was set down. A scrape as it was passed to someone else, and then another clink and trickle. Normally, she would have burst in and told them off for drinking at the Bureau, but she knew the case had been tough on them. She would cut them a break. This time.

"How many of you wanted to be an FBI Agent when you were a kid?" Rossi asked. Strauss cocked her head, listening to the chuckles as Rossi's point was made.

"I wanted to be pro baseball player." She heard Agent Hotchner say.

"… Really?" Emily Prentiss asked, amusement in her tone.

"Yeah." Hotch chuckled.

"Man, Hotch…" Morgan laughed.

"Okay, what did you want to be, Morgan?" Hotch asked.

"I wanted to be a DJ." Morgan laughed, and the others joined him.

"I wanted to be a scientist!" Reid announced.

"I wanted to be an actress." JJ offered.

"When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina." Garcia added.

"I always wanted to be a singer." Emily grinned.

"… Dave?" Hotch asked.

"… I wanted to be a fireman." Rossi finally announced, and the group burst out laughing. "For a while, I wanted to be a Mafia Don." That made them laugh harder.

"When I was REALLY little, for a while, I wanted to be a dump truck." Garcia said, suddenly.

"You wanted to drive a dump truck?!" Morgan asked.

"No. I wanted to BE a dump truck!" Garcia corrected. The team burst out laughing again.

"We all had SOMETHING weird we wanted to be at some point." Emily announced, defending Garcia.

"What weird thing did you wanna be?" JJ asked, looking at the brunette.

"… A sock maker." Emily admitted, and the group laughed.

"I wanted to be a farmer." Morgan announced. "Reid?"

"… I wanted to be a paper boy." Reid mumbled, reluctantly. The others burst out laughing again. "I was reading 'Henry Huggins' by Beverly Cleary when I was three. Those books made me think that being a paperboy was the coolest thing in the world." Strauss had to smile a bit at that. She remembered reading those books as a child too, and how Henry Huggins had always coveted the idea of having a paper route like it was the Holy Grail… "How about you, Hotch?" Reid asked.

"… I wanted to be in a biker gang." Hotch finally sighed. The team burst out laughing again. "And now look. I became a prosecutor and now a profiler. And my little brother is a motorcycle riding Chef."

"I wanted to be a race car driver." Rossi said.

"I wanted to be a superhero!" Garcia cried.

"With what power?" Emily asked.

"I used to want to read minds, actually." Garcia said. "I think I'll go with super strength now, though. And maybe invulnerability."

"I wanted to be like Wolverine." Morgan chuckled.

"Super healing, super senses and an adamantium skeleton?" Reid offered.

"Hell yeah!"

"Boys." JJ chuckled.

"… What the hell is adamantium?" Rossi asked, confused. Reid eagerly leaned forwards.

"Adamantium is a metal that's virtually indestructible! It's—"

"Reid!" Morgan laughed. "Rossi. It's a fictional metal."

"Gotcha." Rossi said, nodding.

"I always wanted to fly." Reid said. "Or be able to shape shift. That would probably be better, cuz then I could shape shift to have wings so I could fly anyway."

"Why do you want to fly so badly?" JJ asked.

"… To get away." Reid mumbled. The team was silent. "I dunno. It just seems to be the very idea of… freedom. I just… always liked the idea. It seems like it would be invigorating. How about you, JJ?"

"I wanted super speed." She said.

"I always liked the idea of Jean Grey from the X-Men." Emily said. "Telepathy AND telekinesis."

"Personally, I liked Batman." Hotch said, suddenly. "He's a superhero with no super powers. He's just a normal man who has pushed himself to the limits. He's also a brilliant detective."

"Nightwing is pretty cool!" Reid blurted, suddenly.

"Who the hell is Nightwing?" Rossi asked.

"Dick Grayson!"

"… Robin?" Rossi asked.

"He was the first, yeah! There have actually been several Robins. Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne had a falling out and Dick Grayson became Nightwing! He was replaced by Jason Todd, who was ultimately killed by the Joker."

"… Killed?" Hotch asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Yeah! The Joker beat him with a crowbar, then blew up the building he was in!" Reid blurted, eagerly. "After that came Tim Drake. He was the smartest of all the Robins. But when his father found out what he was doing, he made him quit."

"Reid." Emily said.

"And his girlfriend took over."

"Reid." Morgan sighed.

"But Batman fired her, and Tim Drake returned. THEN—"

"Reid?" JJ called.

"-- Bruce Wayne's son, Damian, tried to kill him and take over as Robin, but Batman sent him away. And then—"

"Reid!" Morgan, JJ and Emily all shouted. Reid stopped short, eyes wide.

"… Batman has a son?" Rossi asked.

"Yeah! Damian! His mother is--"

"REID!!!" Half of the room cried while the other half groaned "Rossi!!!"

"… Sorry." Reid mumbled, turning red. Rossi was chuckling to himself.

Hiding in the shadows outside of the room, Strauss smiled in amusement as she watched Morgan reach out and ruffle Reid's hair, grinning.

"When I was kid, I also wished I were a genius."

"Believe me." Reid snorted, frowning. "It's not all it's cracked up to be. It's makes growing up your own personal Hell."

"You had it tougher than most, Reid." Rossi pointed out.

"… It was hell." Reid grumbled, slumping down in his seat and picking up his glass, knocking back the dark liquid within, grimacing at the burn.

"… Well… I think we should call it a night." Hotch said after a moment. The group all turned at the clearing of a throat, and Chief Strauss stepped into the room. She stared at the bottle of bourbon, and the glasses in front of her agents. They all stared.

"I didn't think you would be returning until tomorrow morning." She said.

"… We uh… didn't want to linger." JJ said, softly.

"I understand that your case ended on an… upsetting note."

"That's putting it gently." Rossi sighed, knocking back the rest of his own drink. She looked at him, then nodded, watching as Agents Hotchner and Morgan also emptied their glasses.

"I can see that this case was draining on all of you." She said. "Tomorrow is Friday. Take a three day weekend. I'll see you all on Monday." And she turned and left.

The team stared after her, shocked.

"… Wow." JJ muttered. "Maybe she IS human."

"… Nah." Garcia scoffed, and the others laughed.

"Well, I'm not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth. I could use a three day weekend." Rossi groaned, standing and stretching.

"Amen to that." Emily agreed, yawning. "I am SO sleeping in tomorrow."

"Me too." Morgan said. "If Clooney let's me." Reid chuckled to himself. "Shut up." Morgan snorted, smacking Reid in the back of the head.

"Ow! Garcia! He hit me!"

"OW!!!" Morgan yelped.

"Don't hit him!" Garcia scolded.

"Enough, children." Rossi snorted, and everyone gathered their bags and headed for the elevator, all completely intending to enjoy their three day weekend, courtesy of a woman who, for a moment, had seen past the elite agents and to the human beings underneath… who had once been children… Just like her.