Title: Let Him Not Deceive Himself….
Warnings: Profanity. Semi-ignorance of 7th season aside the beginning and since no one had seen it yet, certainly not me, references to the opening are minimal and after the premiere AU. The story is consistent with Famous Last Words but that one doesn't need to be read because important parts of the plot will be heavily referenced when necessary. Spoilers for up to the end of 6th Season.
Pairings: Hotch's and Reid's friendship. One sided Reid/Emily. Mentions of past Reid/OC - because babies have to come from somewhere.
Chapter summary: Hotch and Reid profile the Evil Duck and they uncover the source of the bad smell and boy it stinks...
Word count: Around 21 000 and counting up.
DISCLAIMER: The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television own Criminal Minds. I just took them out to play and I promise put them back when I'm done.
Feedback welcomed with open arms. Thanks for you support so far : )
Man — is his dignity.
Let Him Not…: The Duck.
"I'm sorry my watch is running a bit too fast," someone said from behind Aaron's back.
The replacement. His replacement. Fucking Donald Jackson. Duck Jack.
He chided himself mentally. Jackson wasn't going to stay longer than three months of probation period, Aaron would make sure of that. Even with the humiliation of vacating his office for the offending bird he would make it and he will have his team back. He just needed more patience, he was good with patience.
He took a long breath through his nose and turned around.
Only his iron will stopped him from laughing and from where he was standing the rest of the team had hard time with struggling with keeping their own mirth hidden.
Beige suit, white shirt with no tie, crème shoes, bamboo walking cane and beige hat. The man looked like a Victorian gentlemen and not as an unit chief.
Oh boy. Three months would feel like forever.
"Agent Jackson," Strauss said stiffly.
"Chief Strauss," the man nodded. "Now that you are done with dressing them down can I have them back. I like my agents breathing and not psychologically tormented."
"Agent…" Strauss started.
"Madam, you allowed me a free rein, allow me then to apply my methods," the Duck spoke simply.
"Very well then, they are all yours Agent Jackson. Come to my office when you are done," Strauss said stiffly and she left the room.
"Charming lady," the Duck nodded. "Is she always like that or does she get like this only in your close vicinity?"
"You can't tell?" Aaron asked as calmly as he could.
"I can make an educated guess but I sincerely doubt that Chief Strauss would like to hear that she was compared to a mother of a bunch of teenagers," Duck said simply. "She certainly is one and by accident or on purpose she is applying same methods here. I just don't know if it's her usual approach or is only reserved for special occasions."
"What is your experience in heading a team, sir?" Morgan asked stiffly.
"Fifteen years of heading an unit in Organized Crimes in Omaha and last eight years in St. Louis, Missouri, the same unit," Duck answered.
"Twenty-three years. Shouldn't you start thinking about retirement?" Dave asked curiously.
"I thought about retirement," Duck admitted. "Around my fiftieth birthday and I decided to retire around the age of sixty-five."
"It's coming close," Dave quipped.
Duck smiled, "Oh, you mean all of this?" he waved at himself. "I got grey hair twenty years ago. The call from the Director found me vacationing in New Orleans, I flew directly so everything else is still in St Louis. Besides I like the image of non-threatening grandpa, makes surprising the opponent easier. I don't want to brag but I broke quite a lot of noses when I had to and I'm actively participating in marathons."
"Sixties?" Dave asked.
"Mid-fifties," Duck shook his head before he tapped his chin and said, "I know that your team had been through a lot in relatively short time. I also know that my presence here and in this position isn't going to make things better…"
"That's an understatement," Dave coughed.
Duck smiled quickly before he continued, "Consider me as a very long and persistent case of flu. I'm going to maul all of you make no mistake of that. Maybe not literally but in three months I'm hoping to head to the meeting with the Director and Chief Strauss to tell them that your team had passed probation period without fuss. Same goes for your separate evaluations and your position, Agent Hotchner. I have no plans to stay in BAU longer than necessary and I'm not planning to become a permanent fixture in this position. I'm hoping for your cooperation and I'm appealing to your understanding that the best way to get rid of me is to patiently wait through these three months and hopefully then your team will be left in peace."
"Are you telling us to cheat?" Emily asked skeptically.
"No, I'm telling you to do your job, allow me to do mine and in three months everything will come back to normal," Duck said. "You are a senior, experienced unit who knows how to do your job and not a bunch of probationary agents I have to lead by the hand."
Aaron nodded grimly.
"I'm quite sure that all of you would love to rest after the tense waiting period and as much as I would love to get to know all of you better I have few meetings to attend while I'm still in Quantico. Perhaps… would lunch on Monday suit you all if we won't be called away?"
"Most probably," Dave nodded.
"Great," Duck smiled. "It was nice to meet you for now. Agent Jareau, Agent Prentiss, Miss Garcia, Agent Rossi, Agent Morgan, Agent Reid."
"Doctor Reid," Dave corrected Duck.
"Doctor Reid," Duck smiled quickly. "I'm sorry, I'm unused to other titles. I will try to remember that."
"It doesn't really matter, sir," Reid shrugged.
Aaron frowned inwardly. It didn't bode well that Reid was so awfully silent.
"No sirs," Duck shook his head. "Jackson is enough but I'm also partial to Daffy and I don't get angry for Jackass because sometimes I can be one. Just one more thing before you will take the rest of the day off and go to enjoy your weekend. A while earlier Chief Strauss asked me to take with me to the meeting Agent Prentiss and before I will leave I would want to have a private word with Agent Hotchner if that's possible."
Aaron nodded grimly. He didn't like the man but he wasn't going to give the man an upper hand by showing it.
After a chorused 'Have a good day' the team retreated from the room and Emily went with them.
"You have an intriguing team, Agent Hotchner," Duck said.
"If you are going to lead us you will have to start considering yourself as a part of the team," Aaron said stiffly.
"I'm going to," Duck said simply. "But it doesn't change that they are your team. Me? I'm necessary evil they will have to live with for next three months. You on the other hand headed this unit and most of the people in it for seven years. They know you, they trust you, they turn to you when they have problems. We both know what it's all about with delay and degradation."
"Humiliation," Aaron nodded. "Punishment. Politics. That's why I was ordered out of the office."
"Personally I would have no problems with the bullpen but I sincerely doubt that the nice lady will allow that and she knows that I checked if there are any empty offices to occupy," Duck shrugged. "I realize that it's not easy…"
"Please spare me…" Aaron started with a sigh.
"I'm going to," Duck nodded. "Just one more thing. Remember that I'm planning to give you your team and office back in three months."
"I can work with that," Aaron nodded.
"So do I," Duck smiled. "Till Monday then."
"Till Monday," Aaron said. "I need to see a man about a desk."
"And I need to see the lady about the dragon or the dragon about the lady," Duck said. "Either way I will figure it out on my way to get there. Have a nice day, Agent Hotchner."
"Have a nice day," Aaron answered silently praying that Duck would trip over on the stairs and break a leg.
…Let Him Not…
When he came back to the bullpen with cardboard boxes to put his stuff away and to move it to Henderson's desk Dave, Reid and Garcia were still waiting for him.
"What he said?" Dave asked curiously.
"He is hoping that I'm not sore about the office," Aaron shrugged. "I'm not… at least as much as he expects me to be."
"You are moving fast," Reid said as he pointed at the boxes.
"The sooner I will do it the sooner I will go home and frankly I'm disinclined to spend the weekend at moving the stuff around," Aaron admitted.
"Then let us help you," Dave offered and when Aaron looked at him he added, "You said something about speed."
"Too right, Bossman," Garcia nodded. "You boys go pack and I will clean whichever desk you got."
"Henderson's," Aaron said. "It's been a while."
"Yup," Reid nodded. "Look at the bright side. At least this way no one is going to glare at you behind your back."
"Small comfort," Aaron grimaced. "Let's get to work."
Two hours later what could be moved to Aaron's new desk was moved there. What didn't fit went into one of the boxes meant for storage in Jess's attic. Dave was right together they packed things faster than Aaron would do on his own.
At the very least their company kept other profilers in safe distance from loudly commenting on the change. That didn't stop them from throwing pitting looks his way.
For first five minutes it didn't bother Aaron at all but when Patterson started coming his way Aaron huffed inwardly and glared at the man. Long and hard until Patterson took a step back and changed his course.
He declined Dave's offer for a drink with an excuse that he was going to use his free time to spend the weekend with Jack and maybe with Jess's kids so she could have some time for herself, she certainly deserved that.
Reid offered his help with the other box seeing that both of them were heading towards the garage anyway.
It was certain improvement from Reid that in spite of still being angry at him he was still offering to help.
"It sucks," Reid declared when he placed the box in the rear of Aaron's car.
"We have to think in positives Reid," Aaron grimaced.
"Hypocrite," Reid shrugged.
Aaron snorted softly under his breath. Yes he was a hypocrite thank you very much he would rather have his unit in one piece without any surprise additions and in his position on that but that was beside the point.
"We still have our jobs," Aaron pointed out.
"Some of us," Reid quipped.
"Technicalities," Aaron rolled his eyes. "I'm still a member of the team."
"You are not in charge of it," Reid pointed out. "It pisses you off, it pisses me off and I can't help but wonder that there is something fishy going in there but I'm not going to talk about it here."
"Would you like a distraction?" Aaron asked skeptically. "One that goes with barbeque and kids frolicking in the garden?"
"You live in an apartment," Reid said simply.
"Jess has a house with attic and I need to store the boxes somewhere. Jack would be happy to spend the rest of the day there because of the heat and Jess's swimming pool," Aaron said. "Does Cynthia swim?"
"She is partial to baths at the very least," Reid nodded. "There is one thing though."
"Which is?" Aaron asked.
"Killian and Cameron. If I will drive home now to pick Cynthia up from Cameron that little cheater will try to weasel himself on board when he will hear that I'm heading to Jess's place and trust me Cynthia will question where we are going to head. Seeing…" Reid started.
Aaron nodded. He got what Reid was implying. The day was too hot to leave a teenager inside and besides Killian seemed to be fine in Molly's company and didn't seem to mind other kids which was good for a teenager. Plus if Cameron came around Jess would have someone to talk with so Aaron and Reid would be able to discuss things in private.
…Let Him Not…
Jess said yes, Cameron said yes, Killian said hell yes and Cynthia said yuppie and that's how Spencer found himself seated at Jess's porch sipping thoroughly iced tea and eyeing his daughter in Jess's swimming pool along with other kids aside of Cameron's niece who was sleeping soundly in her carrier.
Killian and Molly were managing to keep Cynthia, Jack, Rory and Zack from drowning. Jess wondered away with Cameron to talk about flowers and they left the grill to Spencer's and Hotch's devices, well the grill and sleeping infant but Spencer wasn't planning to wake the sleeping girl.
Doing something as blatantly normal as minding the grill while Jack was frolicking in the pool had a good effect on Hotch. From where he was sitting Spencer could say that Hotch was almost smiling.
Not that they had a lot to smile about lately, especially after today.
"You were saying," Hotch said as he flopped on the bench on the opposite side to Spencer and took a long sip of ginger beer.
Oh yeah, the initial idea why Spencer wanted to talk with Hotch outside the office.
As angry as he was at Hotch for lying he couldn't remain angry forever. He was still irritated when it came to Hotch but irritation was a bit more rational than full-blown anger.
Rationally he acknowledge certain things. Hotch was the best unit chief he knew, not that Morgan was a bad one but the difference between the two of them were simply preferential. It was like eating grapefruits, some people peeled the fruit off and eat it like oranges, some sliced it in half and used spoon to eat it.
His private issues weren't affecting any longer his view at Hotch's professional performance and the whole circus at noon left him severely irritated with higher ups in FBI.
Agent Donald Jackson in the position of an unit chief was a joke and a very bad one. Never mind man's physical appareance because Spencer knew that looks could be deceiving. He himself might have looked like a beanpole or as once a certain ass in Montana had said pipe-cleaner with eyes but he could shoot just fine and he knew how to overpower an opponent, he just chose to relay on someone physically stronger to do it for the most of the time.
Jackson however… Jackson was tall. He was six feet one inch at the very least, slightly lanky but otherwise filled up. He had short white hair which through the meeting he kept under his stupid top hat, strong jaw, piercing blue eyes and the attitude which just pissed the hell out of Spencer.
Something about Jackson didn't add up. The air of a good uncle with this piercing gaze, the appearance of a Victorian gentleman taking a stroll in the park with physical fitness. Finally the career track record.
It was that career track record which bothered Spencer enough to look things up and to make few calls while Hotch was talking with the man and later hunting the maintainers for the desk.
He had his contacts in Omaha and St Louis. Four of his fellow trainees ended there, two in each office.
"The guy has a track record here," Steve Robertson and George Wilcox from Omaha confirmed. "Other than that he seems to be a ghost. There are no pictures of him in there and I assure you that if I asked lower personnel about the man they wouldn't remember him."
"I work in Organized Crimes, Reader," Ted Wesston snorted. "I can swear on everything you want me to that Donald Nathan Jackson by paperwork is a former agent of one of the two remaining units but frankly I hadn't seen a jackass with this face since I got there and trust me I wouldn't miss that one. Kevin Hawyer can swear by it too even if he is with white collar, OC and WC overlap each other sometimes."
"I can inform you that Donald Nathan Jackson according to paper-trail is an agent of a bureau and had been for past twenty-five years. Paper-trail kept him in Omaha and later in St Louis but right after the meeting I talked with Wesston from St Louis and he works in Organized Crimes. He had never seen the man," Spencer said stiffly.
Hotch's face became frozen.
"It has been bugging me from the very beginning," Spencer continued. "This is this rotting smell Rossi was smelling. We have to face the reality, Jackson was planted in BAU as a bug."
"It's actually worse than it looks, Reid," Hotch grimaced. "I have no doubt that the Director was really involved, I'm sure he was which makes it even worse. We have a consented, director-approved bug. That's why there wasn't a hearing of any sort. They were looking for a scapegoat and we fit it perfectly."
"The question is what we are doing now?" Spencer sighed.
"I would love to say we get a rolled up newspaper to kill the offending bug," Hotch snorted. "But it's not that easy. There is an undercover operation going in BAU, a long-term one and I know how those things work. They always work in pairs. One is loud, obnoxious and obvious while quietly on board is brought another one, either before or after the appearance of the false one. The false bug coordinates operation and communicates with his supervisors, that's why they are usually in charge of them."
"And the real bug is doing the real job," Spencer nodded. "The question is why?"
"Whatever it is we are too close to see it," Hotch grimaced. "The only comforting thing is that if we got false bug then we aren't the goal of the investigation, at the very least not a direct one."
"So what we are going to do about him?" Spencer muttered.
"Sit and wait for the operation to unfold," Hotch muttered.
"Great," Spencer snorted. "More secrets."
"We are allowed to be curious on the other hand," Hotch supplied. "We know that his story has to be true to some extent."
"He has the air of authority," Spencer nodded. "So unit chief part is true."
"Years in the position should be too," Hotch added. "An experienced unit chief and one that spend years in the position is proud from his track record."
"You are profiling the duck?" Jess asked curiously as she sat down at the table.
"Didn't you say something about intra-team profiling?" Cameron asked skeptically as she joined them.
"We know that his story is a scam so the best way to get to know the man is to profile him," Spencer said simply.
"He either divorced or was widowed," Hotch added pensively. "The ring mark is barely visible but the ring definitely had been there."
"He is probably a father," Spencer added.
"On what you are basing the idea?" Hotch asked.
"Gut feeling mostly," Spencer shrugged. "Unless he treats his team as children but he just strikes me as the type of a guy who has at the very least one kid running around."
"Probably," Hotch nodded. "He has no problems with downplaying himself if he has to."
"The kid in question is a girl," Cameron added pensively and when Hotch and Spencer looked at her skeptically she shrugged, "What? My father was a seasoned fed and yet he had no problems with playing with dolls with me when I was a kid or with tap-dancing in the backyard in the poodles of mud. If that isn't downplay then I don't know what it is."
"Point taken," Jess agreed.
"Even with downplay he cares for his appearance," Spencer added.
"So he was in law school," Hotch added. "Might have a track record somewhere. He could have been a lawyer but it wasn't for too long. Long enough for him to remember that first impression is a key but not long enough to keep with the rigor after he left. I would say a year, two at the most."
"His age has to be correct," Spencer said pensively. "Fifty-three to fifty-seven. Most probably fifty-five but I prefer to give myself a room to maneuver."
"He is comfortable with Jackass," Hotch added pensively. "So Jackson part has to be true to some extent too, not as a surname but Jackson, Jacques, Jack. Probably first name but it could be middle name he prefers. Linguistics?"
"Bite me," Spencer grimaced. "There was a hint of southern accent at the very beginning but it's not something he had been born with. It's more like something he had to learn in recent years so his second posting was somewhere in south. But he slipped out of it too fast. He doesn't sound Bostonian but he spend a lot of years in north which means that either he was brought up there or his first posting was there."
"So let's sum this up. We have a former unit chief of twenty-three years in his mid-fifties. Probably a former lawyer with not a lot of experience in the area. In recent years he got divorced or widowed. He has a daughter. His first or middle name might be a variation of Jack. His first posting as an unit chief had to be somewhere in north, the second in the south," Hotch said.
"Great," Spencer sighed. "We just narrowed the profile to about twenty-two percents of agents in bureau's employment, at the very least considering the age. Fifteen if we will take into account law school."
"I have a laptop with me," Hotch pointed out.
"I'm not Garcia but I might try narrowing the list," Spencer sighed. "Bring it on."
Three minutes later he was sitting in front of Hotch's laptop with the access to FBI's employment's records narrowing the list. He kept the age brackets expanded between fifty-three and fifty-seven but narrowed by law-schools.
He had three hundred agents that fit the criteria.
"Narrow it to fifty-five," Hotch said.
"One hundred thirty-five," Spencer said. "Unit chiefs exclusively… One hundred eleven. Unit chiefs with daughters… seventy-nine. Narrow it by fifteen years in the same unit, thirty and with another eight years we have ten. Jackson isn't here. Lets name you Jack and we will see…"
Edward Jackson McIntosh. Internal Affairs in Boston and later in Los Angeles.
Jackson Adam O'Maley. White collar in Los Angeles and later in Chicago.
"Jack Abel Cameron," Spencer read quickly. "Organized Crimes in Chicago and Oklahoma City."
"Screen to the family details," Cameron muttered as she leaned closer.
"Relative of yours?" Hotch asked curiously.
"Married to Cynthia Jane Cameron. Father of Emerson Jane Douglas, Allison Jane Cameron and Katherine Jane Cameron. That's a quadruple yes gentlemen. Are you partial to psychological torture on alleged Donald Nathan Jackson?" Cameron asked grimly.
"As long as the torture is named security clearance and social visit," Spencer nodded. "You knew that he was coming to DC."
"I knew that he was coming to DC because he could, I didn't ask what for and when," Cameron snorted.
"Isn't he supposed to be dead?" Spencer looked at her.
"He was supposed to be," Cameron muttered. "And I know where to hit to make sure that Donald Jackson and Jack Cameron are the same man."
"Where?" Jess asked curiously.
"What witness protection had taken away from him," Cameron said grimly. "His family. The question is how much you are willing to have an unhinged man in charge?"
"You are a very supportive daughter," Spencer said sarcastically.
"I'm a supportive daughter, I'm also a pissed off daughter and I'm planning to inform daddy-dearest that the path to being welcomed home leads through lengthy, detailed apologies and serious amount of groveling," Cameron deadpanned. "This is going to be funny."
"Harpy," Spencer coughed.
"Part of my charm," Cameron grimaced. "At the very least he will have something to think about in his free time."
"Have you considered changing career?" Hotch asked lightly.
"Yes and I'm still fond of my job," Cameron shrugged. "Steaks are burning."
Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.
Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha
Feedback is love.
The truth came out. Now it's time to deal with consequences, strengthen existing relationships and adapt.
Next part: Past Present, Future Imperfect.