Title: N is for Never
Prompt by Pabzi
Author: Kuria Dalmatia
Rating/Warnings: R (profanity, adult content). Pre-Series and up through Season 3
Characters/Pairing: Gideon with appearances by the BAU past and present.
Summary: There were a lot of things Gideon swore he'd never do.
ARCHIVING: my LJ... anyone else? Please ask first.
COMMENTS: Part of the The Great A-Z Multifandom Drabbling Meme. Unbetaed.
Yeah, the timeline may be way off but. Yeah. Okay. It is probably way off
Feedback always welcome.
DISCLAIMER: The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television own Criminal Minds. Salut! I just took them out to play and I promise put them back when I'm done. I'm not making any profit just trying to get these images out of my head.
When Jason Gideon was twenty-three and witnessed the insanity of a wedding from the point of view as the best man, he swore that he'd never get married. The bride's parents controlled every aspect of the wedding. His best friend went from a 'take charge' kind of guy to completely pussy-whipped. Jason wasn't exaggerating. He watched as Ari's fiancé expertly manipulated the man into…well…not much of a man.
Then, Jason met Cheryl Ruth and found himself on bended-knee six-months later because, well…yeah. It was Cheryl Ruth. People didn't understand their relationship; hell, he didn't understand their relationship, but he found himself not caring whether people got them or not.
He also swore he'd never have a kid, but one year, three months after their wedding, Cheryl Ruth gave him the news.
They named their son Stephen.
He had a family.
And he was okay with breaking the vow of 'never getting married' because he amended it to 'never getting married again'. With Cheryl Ruth, he knew he would never have to.
When Jason Gideon joined the FBI, he swore that he'd never let a job take over his life. For a while, he kept that vow. His focus was on religious cults and how they lured their followers in and kept them. It didn't involve much traveling, just a lot of manifesto reading.
Then, Max Ryan came along and offered him a desk in the Behavioral Science Unit.
It was a challenge. It was a chance to do something no other law enforcement agency was able to do on a national level. It was being mentored by Max Ryan, who brought the BSU into the spotlight with several high-profile cases. It was sharing a desk with David Rossi, second only to Ryan in the BSU pecking order and a guy who specialized in militias and cults. There was prestige there, yes, but the BSU's focus was on the victims.
Always on the victims.
Jason Gideon could appreciate that.
So with Cheryl Ruth's blessing, Jason Gideon transferred to the BSU.
It wasn't until six years later that he realized he knew more about Rossi's second wife's interest in opera than Cheryl Ruth's latest fund drive for the public radio station. He knew more about Thompson coaching little league than he knew about what sport Stephen was trying out for.
He tried to make the adjustment, tried to refocus his attention on his wife and son, but there was always one more case. One more victim. One more sadistic bastard that had to be put away.
Cheryl Ruth still packed his lunch every day. She still filled his thermos full of robust coffee on the mornings he was home. She still made sure his go bag had at least three pairs of clean underwear before he left the house for the day. She still said she loved him.
Stephen said he loved him, too.
The Job took over Jason's life, but Cheryl Ruth and Stephen had given the Job permission, so it was okay.
Jason Gideon swore he'd never take one of the rookies out in the field with him. Screw the four-year old edict from Ryan and Rossi, how the newbies had to pair up with one of the veterans. One case with that maverick Cooper had been enough for Jason. Plus, Jason had enough clout to ignore the orders, especially now that Ryan was on his way out of the BSU.
Something like 'partnering up' wasn't something Rossi was going to push, not when Jason's case success rate was the highest in the unit and it was attributed to his ability to work cases solo. Rossi knew better than to mess with something that worked.
Or so Jason thought.
"Utica, New York," Rossi said as he tossed a file on Jason's desk. "Take the Hot Shot with you."
Jason glared at the retreating form of the BSU's second-in-command. "Which one? They all believe they're fucking hot shots."
Rossi looked over his shoulder and grinned. "The one who looks like he really is a Hot Shot."
It took a few seconds to realize just who Rossi was referring to. That one. The FBI's poster boy. The kid who Rossi bent quite a few rules to get him in the unit.
"He's your damn pet, not mine," Jason snapped. "You take him."
"Can't," Rossi replied as he sat down at his own desk. "Some schmucks in Idaho are going all 'separatist movement' and stockpiling a shit ton of guns. If it goes bad, the higher-ups want to pin it on my ass. You know. Since Waco was so fucked up." The bitterness in Rossi's voice was unmistakable. The BSU had taken the fall for that fiasco, even though they shouldn't have. "Utica involves yuppies. You're gonna need a kid who can yip with the yuppies."
Jason rolled his eyes as he reached for the files. "I can 'yip' just fine by myself."
Ninety-four hours later, Jason amended his 'no rookies' vow with the clause: 'I'll only work with them if they are as good as Hotchner'. It was stacking the deck in Jason's favor, of course, because agents like Aaron Hotchner only came around once in a lifetime.
They really did.
Jason Gideon swore that he'd never get falling-down drunk while on the Job. Of all the crime scenes he saw, all the witness stories he heard, none of them made him reach for the bottle.
But then on a case in Missoula, he received the news about Cheryl Ruth.
He immediately went to a bar, shoved five twenties at the bartender, and told him, "Beefeaters, straight up. Don't stop pouring."
After his third double with only coffee in his system, Hotchner found him slumped on a barstool. "Gideon…sir?"
"Fuck off, Hot Shot."
"Sir, it's one in the afternoon, we're supposed to give the preliminary profile in an hour, and you're…drunk," Hotchner countered, anger rolling off in waves. "I'm not fucking off. I need to know what happened."
Jason dragged his gaze over to the dashing younger agent whose suit fit perfectly and who looked totally out of place in the seedy bar that Jason had holed up in. It took two tries for him to say, "Cheryl Ruth."
Hotchner's demeanor immediately changed. His shoulder dipped slightly and he tilted his head forward just a little. He sat on the stool next to Jason, body language screaming, 'open' and 'trusting' and 'worried'. Hotchner's tone was encouraging, warm. It was the 'tell me what's wrong' voice that was always so effective with victims. "What about Cheryl Ruth?"
Jason gestured, almost spilling his drink. He moved his mouth, but no sounds came out. He didn't want to say the words. He knew if he said them, it would all become too real.
Hotchner grabbed the glass and slid it away. "Jason. Jason, look at me." It was an order. It was the first time the Hotchner ever used his first name. His voice was firm yet quiet. "Jason, look at me and tell me what happened with Cheryl Ruth."
Jason stared at the counter instead. He profiled the bartender when he first walked in and knew the man wouldn't get involved in something like this. Jason didn't want to answer the Hot Shot, so he started in on him. "Your father used beat you when you were a kid. It started when you were, what? Five? Six? He liked to drink. He'd have that five o'clock cocktail. Manhattans. He drank the cheap stuff except when he had an audience of his peers. Your mother watched but didn't do a damn thing to stop him. After all, if your father was beating the hell out of you, he couldn't be beating the hell out of her."
Hotchner tensed up, flexed his hands on the bar, but his voice remained infuriatingly calm. "Something happened to Cheryl Ruth, Jason. Tell me what happened to Cheryl Ruth."
"It must have pissed you off," Jason continued, warming to his subject. He licked his lips and met Hotchner's gaze. It was guarded and intense. Jason knew he could crack it so he sneered, "It must have pissed you off when your mother had another baby. Your father and your mother must have doted on little Sean. He was the epitome of the perfect son. They gave him everything, didn't they? He wanted to play soccer. They let him. He wanted to try tennis. They let him.
"You? You wanted to try out for basketball, for football…but you couldn't. You knew people would see the bruises and start asking questions. That would only make it worse. But people knew your old man beat the shit out of you but because he was a respected attorney, they turned a blind eye because you obviously deserved it. Your father broke your arm when you were twelve. That kept you from trying out for baseball, didn't it? But Sean? Their precious Sean? He's not the fuckup that you turned out to be."
Hotchner's chin lifted a little. His eyes narrowed. "Tell me about Cheryl Ruth."
Jason grabbed his drink and downed the rest. He signaled for the bartender to pour him another but Hotchner snatched the glass and turned it upside down.
Hotchner's tone was firm as he repeated, "Tell me about Cheryl Ruth."
"You tried everything to be the apple of their eyes, but it was never good enough, was it? No. You graduated magna cum laude not summa cum laude from high school. How hard did he beat you for that, Hotchner? Or was that when you finally got the balls to stand up to your old man and pop him back?"
"What happened to Cheryl Ruth, Jason?"
"It felt good hitting back, didn't it?" He leaned back and looked at the younger agent. "Wait…no. You didn't. You couldn't. You knew the moment you stood up to him, your little brother was the next target. How old were you when it stopped? Seventeen? Eighteen? What kind of man allows himself to be beaten up by a drunkard? Or did you learn to enjoy the pain? Because it made you feel alive?"
"What happened to Cheryl Ruth, Jason?"
"Oh, so that's your game. Show how tough you are by sucking all this up? What's it gonna take to break you, Hotchner? What's it going to take?"
Hotchner met his gaze with a cool one of his own. "We have an Angel of Death in this city and he's escalating. We know he's going to take a new victim within the next twenty-four hours." His tone was flat, emotionless. "You're the lead profiler on this case. You were supposed to report to the sheriff's station two hours ago but you failed to show. Instead, you end up in a bar less than a mile from the last crime scene and you're drunk but you're also armed. Something like this can end a career and you know that." Hotchner stood. "The question you need to ask yourself, Jason, is if Cheryl Ruth would want your career, one that you've worked so hard on and made so many sacrifices for, to end like this?"
Jason stared at the younger man. His mouth dropped open. He made a sound, he wasn't sure quite what it was, but it was a sound. He'd broken his other rule of never profiling a fellow agent to their face, of never using all the little details he picked up from the nuances of a fellow agent's behavior, against said agent.
He tried to speak, but the words were stuck. He tried to get to his feet, but his legs gave out under him. He collapsed to the sticky floor, peanut shells digging into his palms. Hotchner gripped his shoulders. Jason met the man's gaze.
Finally, finally… "She's dead. My God, she's dead."
Jason Gideon swore he'd never miss a major event in his son's academic life. He had come close—for Stephen's bar mitzvah, he arrived fifteen minutes before the ceremony—but he had never missed a graduation ceremony or a little league banquet or anything that Stephen specifically asked him to be there for.
However, he missed Stephen's high school graduation because Stephen emphatically stated that he was not welcome. Usually, Jason would have brushed it off as a rebellious teenager still dealing with his mother's death four years ago. Usually.
Jason Gideon was the unit chief of the BAU, now. Ryan and Rossi had retired years ago. Hotchner was his newly promoted second-in-command. Katie Coles resigned six months ago and they were still struggling to find her replacement.
Going to some high school graduation? Jason Gideon had more important things to do.
He had lives to save.
Jason Gideon swore he'd never bail his son out of jail on drug charges.
He held true to that vow.
Jason firmly believed that the whole 'profiling as a team' would never work. Sure, the BAU finally had enough agents so they could try it out, but Jason didn't have the patience to implement the strategy.
Hotchner pushed at it pretty hard, so Jason gave the man six months to make it work.
It only took Hot Shot two.
Jason was impressed.
Hotcher could easily leapfrog over him on the rungs of FBI command. Jason wasn't bothered by it in the least.
As long as the BAU remained his to control, he didn't give a shit what title Hotchner held.
After the disaster of Cooper's protégé suffering a psychotic break and nearly killing his own family, Jason Gideon swore that he would never have a protégé of his own.
They never worked out. Except for Hotchner. Then again, Hotchner seemed to be the exception to every goddamn rule in the book.
It was probably the reason Bruno Hawks sent him to CalTech to get a feel for a young genius named Spencer Reid. Sixteen and the kid already had his doctorate in Chemistry. Hawks knew that Jason wasn't the type to poach talent; that had always been Rossi's specialty.
Jason believed that talent found him; he didn't have to search for talent.
He didn't realize how wrong he was until he came face to face with Reid.
The young man clutched his books tighter to his chest. "So. Um. Agent. Sir." He cleared his throat. "I, ah, read your paper in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology on how the homicidal triad is sometimes erroneously used as a benchmark for homicidal behavior…"
"You read that paper?" Jason interrupted, surprised because while JPCP wasn't necessarily an obscure journal, it wasn't one usually on the main reading lists.
"Ah. Yeah. I. Ah. Read. A lot," Reid stammered. "I. Ah. Have a few questions? I know you're busy. I mean. You're Jason Gideon. Unit chief of the BAU and you were recruited by Max Ryan when it was still called the Behavioral Science Unit…" The young man then recited every major case that Gideon had worked on, his case closure rates, the journals that had published his articles…
The man was a like a walking fan club.
Jason normally wasn't big on hearing someone list his accolades. There was an unspoken rule about turning down requests by true crime junkies, one that Jason wholeheartedly agreed with. But when Reid launched into the psycholinguistics of the Seven Hills Killer's taunts to the police and how it was erroneously compared to those of Jack the Ripper, he realized that this was beyond an interest in the gruesome.
The kid would be perfect for the BAU.
Jason broke his own rule, but he'd been doing that a lot lately.
Hawks was going to be pissed, but then again, if he coveted Reid so badly, he should have done the interview himself.
For five years and seven months, Jason Gideon refrained from swearing he'd 'never' do something. More often than not, he ended up breaking that vow. It didn't change things that much. His life was still pretty much on the roller coaster, except this time, he had a team to go along with him for the ride.
He misjudged Adrian Bale, six agents died, and he suffered PTSD.
He had a loyal protégé in Reid and willing students in Elle and Morgan.
He managed to patch things up with Stephen.
He allowed Hotchner to take over the day-to-day operations of the BAU so that he could focus on his true love: profiling.
Yes, Greenaway left the BAU under dubious circumstances. Her downfall could be directly traced to a decision Jason had made.
Yes, Reid was now an addict, a situation that Jason couldn't help him with because he didn't know how and, if he was being honest with himself, he didn't want to know how. There were things he just didn't want to understand.
Things weren't perfect. They never would be. But they were good enough.
Then Sarah Jacobs was brutally murdered.
And Jason Gideon was never the same again.