TITLE: Never Let Them See...

ICON ARTIST: seraphina_snape

AUTHOR: Kuria Dalmatia

Characters/Pairings: Strauss

TIMELINE/SPOILERS: S3, "In Birth and Death"


No beta. All mistakes are mine. Standard disclaimers.


Of course, it was all bravado. Erin Strauss had seen photos. She'd read details, and Hotchner's little team was all about the details. While she had never seen any of videos-who had the time?-she signed off on all the reports.

You don't have any field experience, do you? Hotchner was a bit too smug, a bit too condescending for a man on his way out the door and to obscurity. She had half mind to make that call across time; there was a dark little hole in the Hoover Building always desperate for manpower.

So, of course Strauss had said, If I have to hold the team's hand for one case, so be it. Because she was the section chief.

She wasn't expecting to step on a victim's hair.

Or smell the sharp iron tang smell mixed with fetid garbage.

If you need a second, take a second. This is what it is. Just don't let the public see you break down.

And while one part of her-All that blood! That smell!-wanted nothing more than to accept the embrace she instinctively knew Hotchner would give, the cut-throat political part focused on "Just don't let the public see you break down."

The proverbial slap in the face in response to her earlier comment about protecting the Bureau.

This was why Aaron Hotchner was dangerous. This was why his career in the BAU had to come to an end. No one would ever see her hard work, her dedication, because he knew how to steal the spotlight.

Yet… the case.

Yet… the child.


Strauss threatened. Not only him but his entire team. It was an empty threat. She knew it. He knew it.

Hotchner hadn't called her on it. He just said, Why would I ever want to leave the BAU? dismissively. No, with conviction, her mind whispered. She didn't miss Morgan's, "You meant that? You're not gonna leave us?"

One of the brightest, most promising agents on the Sixth Floor-no, in the division-gushing.

Once back at her office, Strauss closed the door.

She sat at her desk.

Her façade crumbled.

She would never have that kind of loyalty.


It hurt.