AN: VERY loosely based on the psychodrama episode where unsub escalates from bank robbery to having victims undress, while there are similarities it obviously goes in a different direction. Set in the second season, episode 4, when Hotch/Haley were still married, Jack was a baby, and Henry and Will hadn't even come along. Not really a romance fic, just along the lines of a fun "what if", also taking into account JJ/Hotch's friendship was probably still not well developed. I've had this plot bunny in my head ever since I saw the episode and wondered what if there were team members in the bank when it was held up the next time. Feedback appreciated as always.
The case had started out as many others as the team had been called to investigate a series of bank robberies in Los Angeles after it becomes evident the crimes are not based on money because the robber abuses his victims by forcing them to undress before he leaves the crime scene. Initially their unsub had primarily had them undress before leaving the crime scene and that had been all, before he started escalating with more aggression and violence, along with escalating offenses against the hostages as he went from simply having them undress to simulating sex acts and beating anyone severely who didn't comply. The team had quickly put together their profile as his trail of crimes continued and with the help of Garcia's computers identified 4 banks that were likely as next targets. Then they got the break they needed when they found one lone fingerprint at a scene and were able to identify Caleb Sheppard as a person of interest and suspect of the crimes. It was decided that Gideon and Elle would head up the manhunt while JJ would accompany Hotch and Morgan to the banks to give them the profile, photo and tips on what to look for if he was able to strike again before being apprehended.
After two banks it seemed like business as usual as the agents walked into the Washington Mutual Bank in downtown Los Angeles and asked to speak to the manager. A short balding man came forward as JJ made introductions of herself and Derek along with Hotch. The bank manager was obviously the nervous type and identified himself as Bryan Willet before ushering them to a small table in the lobby, apparently not feeling this deserved the attention of going to his office as he quickly assured them that his bank was robbery proof thanks to the security guards, time lock safe, and surveillance, in addition to each teller having a call button under their station. "Here, James can show you the security system, he gestured to Morgan who looked dubious as a security guard appeared but with a nod from Hotch he followed the security guard towards the back leaving Hotch and JJ to show the picture and describe to the bank manager what kind of cues they should be looking for.
They had just about finished with the uninterested bank manager when two men burst in the door, one quickly pulled out semi automatic weapons and spraying bullets high around the room while the other ran to engage the emergency locks on the door and pull the shades down as they flipped over the Open sign. JJ and Hotch both instinctively crouched along with the bank manager and In less than a minute they the bank was locked down. Hotch and JJ considered their options as two wild eyed men quickly surveyed the bank looking for a threat. They had learned from a search of Sheppard's apartment that he was likely on drugs, and now that they saw him the evidence was even clearer from his mannerisms and slight twitching as he carefully surveyed the room, quickly motioning for the remaining security guard to surrender his weapon and hit the floor as his companion continued to cover the others. Hotch weighed his chance at pulling out his revolver, but considering the drugs and criminals speed and lack of deliberation before firing shots, he knew it would be a gamble trying to take them both out before bullets flew and odds were in favor of people getting killed if he suddenly pulled a gun with the two men on edge. He found himself wondering who the second gunman was as their profile had indicated Sheppard worked alone however he may have enlisted an extra trigger finger considering the increasing awareness and notoriety of his crimes. Hotch watched the situation closely waiting for an opening to take control of the situation when he could do so with minimal risk of causing harm to the hostages in the room.
As Sheppard surveyed the room and didn't see an imminent threat he barked an order at his companion to do a quick search and sweep of the banks back rooms and make sure there were no more guards. Hotch wondered why they had the bad luck to be crouching in the main path of Sheppard's view and that his attention was drawn even closer in their direction when the man bellowed out that he wanted a bank manager. Willet scuttled forward as if someone had lit a fire under him, looking like he might wet himself as he identified himself to Sheppard. "So you're the bank manager. Tell me sir, how many guards are in this bank right now. I have two here in the lobby, he motioned to the men laying face down on the floor who had already surrendered their weapons. "Ummm, one more sir, he's in the back." Willet quickly answered, seeming oblivious to the fact that his helping the criminal was not a help to himself or the other patrons. Hotch understood his fear, people often didn't think things through when there were guns on them, their focus tended to shift to doing whatever they thought they needed to do to stay alive. "Any other law enforcement here, cashing your paychecks?" Sheppard barked out as he scanned the patrons again, looking for anyone who seemed dangerous and registering the body language of the bank manager as he quickly turned to look directly at Hotch. "Who is that?" Sheppard prompted him as the bank manager stammered out that he was an FBI agent. At that Sheppard quickly put his gun directly on Hotch and motioned for him to come forward. Hotch did so reluctantly, hoping that the gunman wouldn't think to include JJ since she had been right beside him. JJ's heart pounded as she watched Hotch walk forward, hoping that things weren't going to get deadly as the situation seemed to be continuing to deteriorate.
The smirk on the gunmen's face slowly broadened into a grin as he viewed the tall dark haired FBI agent before him. Hotch did his best to not show fear, even as his mind rapidly cycled through what the man may choose to do next. Hotch didn't attempt to protest as the gunman gestured for his ID and weapon, it was hard to argue with a semi-automatic weapon pointed at your chest. SSA Aaron Hotchner I see, pleasure to meet you, he drawled out in an almost menacing tone. I would introduce myself but judging from having my apartment tossed and family talked to I think you already know who I am, he sneered. I bet it's hard knowing you've been outsmarted, and with an audience no less. "Hear that people, I have caught me an FBI agent, a supervisor no less. Some bigshot he is huh?" The man chuckled as his companion returned with the security guard and a couple of very timid looking bank employees at gunpoint. Hotch inwardly breathed a sigh of relief that Morgan had managed to escape detection and that their rescue would eventually come, if only they could stall a little longer. But before he could open his mouth to attempt a dialogue with the ringleader he was cut off. "So what do you think of me now Mr. Bigshot?" He sneered again as he pressed the nozzle of the gun tightly against red tie Hotch was wearing. Hotch fought the urge to look around, to see how JJ was faring, he knew she still had her weapon in her purse and their best chances were if he could keep the attention on himself. "I know that you started robbing banks for money," Hotch said his calm demeanor hiding the adrenaline coursing through his body as he tried not to think of Haley and Jack and wondering if he was going to make it home alive. "I also know that this has changed for you, you get off on the power of having people at your command, being a puppet master so to speak. Making people act out your perverted fantasies." He watched the man's eyes grow hard at the profile given and the gun pressing even harder into his chest, knowing he would eventually have a bruise there and just hoping he would have the chance to see it rather than the mortician.
The murderous glint in Shepherd's eyes passed though, and was replaced by one that sent even more adrenaline coursing through the FBI agents body as the gun was slowly removed from his chest while the man spoke aloud the emotion that had been evident in his eyes. "Well then, I think it's time to play." He quickly checked with his subordinate to make sure the bank was still secured, and that all of the people in the bank were corralled in the roped off waiting area, except for Hotch who he had away from the group. Judging by their calmness in slowing down they seemed to know they had quite some time before anyone tried to storm the building if they had agents inside. Hotch couldn't help but wonder why Morgan had yet to make an appearance but knew the younger man would be thorough and use the best avenues he had. A glimpse out of the corner of his eye revealed a pale yet calculating JJ as she had been herded in with the other patrons. He could tell she was trying to figure out what action, if any she could take. With two well armed men and a roomful of potential victims, she knew that no matter how good a shot she was that she was outnumbered and Hotch knew that unarmed he wouldn't be able to help much if the gunfire started. He gave a subtle nod to the media liaison trying to convey to her that he understood and didn't want her to take any heroic measures and to wait until the time was right, she would be a welcome surprise when Morgan would be able to make his move.
Hotch's hopes were short-lived however when the ringleader went back to Willet and with one hand grabbed him by the shirt collar and hoisted him up against the wall. "Tell me more little man, surely he didn't come in alone. I know he wouldn't do that, so who else was with him." The bank manager gulped nervously as he looked over the man's shoulder at Hotch as he tried to decide what to do. Hotch stared down the bank manager trying to impress upon him the importance of not giving away that information. "Come on old man, I know he wouldn't come alone, how many were with him and where are they?" Sheppard demanded as he pushed him harder up against the wall. "No, he didn't come alone," the bank manager finally choked out, shame flooding his face as he confessed. Hotch felt his blood run cold as he thought of the impending scenario and looked at JJ to notice a similarly stricken look on her face as her hand moved closer towards the clasp on her purse, knowing as well as she did that they may soon have to take the longshot and try to not get killed in the process before the game was up. "Ok Ben, watch everyone closely" the leader turned and barked out to redirect his accomplice to look at the hostages instead of focusing on the scene playing out before their eyes. "Alright little man, one more thing then I'll let you go." The imposing criminal was practically nose to nose with the bank manager as he pushed for more information. "Who?" He asked simply his voice leaving no room for argument. The bank manager searched deep and found his last shred of courage before he responded. "He brought one other agent with him, her." He said shakily pointing a finger at JJ. The manager felt guilty at pointing out the other agent, but congratulated himself for not telling the full truth about the agent he had sent with his security guard who he knew was still somewhere in the building. Willet began mopping his brow nervously as he was dropped unceremoniously to the floor as the violent man strode to stand in front of JJ, and without any warning grabbed her purse away from her and yanked her to her feet unceremoniously. Hotch felt his stomach drop as he realized that they were both now unarmed. Sheppard was quick to leaf through JJ's credentials to ensure the bank manager had spoke the truth, then for good measure had his men collect the other wallets and purses to ensure no other law enforcement officers were in the crowd.
"Why don't you come on up here and join us sweetheart." He made it sound like an invitation even as he pulled JJ by the wrist to the front of the waiting area where Hotch was standing. Hotch observed the man, seeing clearly that he felt at ease and in full control of the situation which was exactly what he had come to enjoy, it probably added to the rush he got from the drugs, and the two could prove to be a very deadly combination in a man so rapidly escalating in his crimes. Hotch knew the man must feel higher than ever before having two federal agents as opposed to frightened bank employees.