Title: These Endless Days
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Universe: Creatures of the Night (Part Three)
Characters/Pairing: JJ/Hotch; Morgan/Prentiss
Summary: The forces of darkness are creeping ever closer to war. Before the team can pick a side, they have to figure out who's actually fighting.
JJ takes a detour to the pharmacy while Morgan checks them into the hotel. Being Babylon, the entire place smells of herbs. There are a hundred different kinds of formulas purported to make the transformation process easier. According to every werewolf she's met, not a single one of them works.
The far side of the store houses the magical medicines counter – half a dozen men and women in long white coats filling crushing tree roots and distilling potions. The pharmaceutical counter is closer to the entrance, and is much less busy.
She searches through her purse, dodging empty gum wrappers, tissues, and for some reason, toothpicks, before remembering that the prescription is in her pocket. She hands the crumpled piece of paper over to the pharmacist, who examines it, as though trying to determine whether or not it's a forgery. Satisfied, he ducks into the storeroom behind him.
She rubs her ear, trying to ease the irritation of having empty earring holes. Before coming here, she'd taken out her sleepers, and swapped her silver watch for one with a canvas strap. Morgan tends not to take offence at anyone who wears silver jewelry, but a city full of werewolves is bound to be a little less forgiving.
The man returns with a small box. "Twenty-eight," he tells her, which isn't as bad as she had expected. Medicine related to magic or transformation is a little cheaper than painkillers or antibiotics. According to Rossi, it's something to do with unions. She hands over a couple of notes, and then takes the box.
The instructions on the back say "Take one with food, three times a day." It's almost lunch time now, and there are plenty of places to eat.
That, at least, is something that Babylon does not lack.
Hotch drives, Reid navigates. It's the same thing that happens, without fail, whenever the two of them are in the same car. Reid has plotted all of their destinations into the foldout map. Most of the team use the GPS when they drive (except for Rossi, who uses magic beacons), but Reid prefers paper. Somehow, it's actually more efficient than actually using the GPS.
When Reid takes a bathroom break, Hotch stares at the map. After a long consideration (really, it's something he's been considering for days) he adds another marker to the map.
It takes Reid approximately half a second to notice the addition when he returns, and another half to realize its significance. A few hours ago, Hotch had been unwilling to get involved, now, he's changed his mind.
'I want to talk to the leader of the Prentiss clan,' he says, evenly. Any anger or fear he might feel, he can't show. 'Several of the deaths – both vampire and otherwise – have been unsettlingly close.'
'That can't surprise you,' Reid says. It's not a question.
'It doesn't,' Hotch agrees. 'But as insistent Morgan is on getting rid of her, I'd much prefer to stay away.' He pauses. 'The situation is volatile, both politically and otherwise.'
'You can't predict what will happen if she dies,' Reid surmises. Hotch nods.
'If she's the only thing keeping Anath's Circle at bay...Well, at least she's a known quantity. We don't know what the wizards' motives are.' There's a long pause. 'It's the Director's wish that we issue an olive branch. We'll keep our distance, and she keeps hers.'
'Do you think she'll take it?'
'I think she knows that it'll just end with more bloodshed on both sides. She's two thousand years old – if she wanted a power grab, she would have taken it by now.'
'Then there's something we're missing,' Reid surmises. Hotch doesn't disagree. The job would be so much easier, he thinks, if the people that they deal with didn't have the ability to crush him into a pulp.
Easier if everyone had just been…human.
The motel is just out of town, and, as such, is not really a motel at all. A few dozen cabins spread out over about a square mile. Good for both werewolves who are visiting Babylon, and those interested in a more authentic werewolf experience. The living area of the cabin that they'd been assigned has a rustic look – as though it had been built a few centuries earlier. The wiring is modern, though, and it has all the latest technology. Even has an alchemy room, which is unusual.
Stylistically, it's a little kitschy (not that he pays attention to the latest trends in interior design), but there aren't a lot of options. Even considering their mission, they want to keep something of a low profile. If the vampires get wind of their presence here, then things could get very ugly.
Officially, he's here as an envoy of his pack. Andy had sent through official notice to the Babylon city Alpha, Freya. If anyone knows where Amon does, it's Freya.
Hopefully, their history won't get in the way, but Morgan knows Freya well. For a werewolf, she's professional to a T. It's the only way to keep such a big pack in line without resorting to excessive violence.
Pacing the kitchen, he grabs a can of Coke from the fridge. Really, he'd prefer a beer, but technically they're still on the clock.
'So exactly what kind of affiliation have you had with the Babylon pack?' JJ asks, curious. She's at her laptop, typing up what could be a report, but he hasn't really asked.
Morgan pauses. The team doesn't really know all that much about this part of his life – not because he wants to keep it a secret. Mostly because it's never really come up. He's not exactly in a forthcoming mood today, but she needs to know. Even if it's just part of the story.
'You know I was a cop here, right?'
'Yeah,' JJ nods. It's her job to know everyone's work history inside and out. 'It's in your file.'
'Well what my file doesn't say is that about fifteen years back, I was the Babylon Alpha.'
There's a long, almost awkward silence.
'You're kidding me.'
He gives a slight grin. 'Not even a little bit.'
'For how long.'
'Two years. Almost three.'
'It ended badly?'
He pauses, setting his half empty can down on the end of the table. 'It ended,' is the answer he gives, which isn't really an answer at all.
'What I mean is "is there bad blood?" I don't want to walk into some kind of ambush if I can avoid it.'
Another pause. 'It wasn't acrimonious. It might be a little awkward, but we won't get ourselves murdered. I've arranged to meet with Freya outside of pack territory.'
'This is why Hotch sent me along with you, isn't it?' JJ asks. Morgan gives a non-committal shrug.
'I think I'm gonna go for a run,' he says, fully aware that he's being difficult. Once he burns off some steam and has a little time to clear his head, he'll be better.
As good as he can be, at least.
JJ sighs to herself internally. Sometimes talking to Morgan can be like getting blood from a stone. For a guy that wears his heart on his sleeve, he can sometimes be frustratingly coy. Trust does not come easily.
It's nearing five o'clock, which technically means they're on stand-down. In their case, though, stand-down rarely ever means that they actually stand down. More often than not, they're up until the late hours, bouncing theories, and evaluating intelligence. They have a dinner meeting organized with Freya for seven o'clock – just enough time for a quick nap.
She'd picked the room that faces the east, with just enough scattering in the trees that she'll be woken by the morning sun. Now, the curtains are drawn shut – traveling for work tires all of them out, but the pills she had taken an hour earlier were probably making the problem a little worse. It seems ridiculous that it will take a few days before the main effects of the drug would kick in, and yet the side effects seem to be almost instantaneous.
Stripping down to her singlet and underwear, she crawls beneath the covers of the bed. Babylon is a hell of a lot colder than back home. Even though a wintry chill bites the air, the snow hasn't quite kicked in just yet. It'll come soon enough.
After long enough in the BAU, you get used to taking catnaps. Dognaps, in Morgan's case. Today, sleep comes more quickly than usual. It is not a restful sleep.
She's in the woods. It's dark.
There aren't any identifying features that make the place stand out, but somehow she knows. These woods…she's been there before. Just months ago, running through the forest. Escaping.
Two figures stand by a clearing. They are cloaked in shadow, but she knows their forms well enough.
Hotch and Reid.
The only reason she would be dreaming about both of them – at the same time – well, it's not a reason she particularly likes to think about. But then, predicting horrible events has somehow become her forte.
A third figure appears, and she feels her heart seize up. A dark haired woman whose face she can't see, but then, she doesn't need to.
It's an enemy they all know well – Hotch, perhaps more than most.
Wherever he and Reid are, they're in danger.