Title: Past Present, Future Imperfect

Warnings: Profanity. Spoilers for up to the end of 6th Season. 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. This one follows up both with Famous Last Words and Let Him Not Deceive Himself, the second is strongly recommended to understand certain nuances of this one which starts right after Let Him Not finished.

Pairings: Hotch's and Reid's friendship.

Chapter summary: 'Somebody is cheating, let's get a new deck...' The aftermath of the worst case the team has seen in years puts everything in a new perspective. Case-file chapters onward. This one is just an interlude.

Word count: Under 1000 but going 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 : )

Suppressed grief suffocates, it rages within the breast, and is forced to multiply its strength.


Past Present, Future Imperfect: Interlude.

Spencer Reid

Hotch's left elbow was resting against Spencer's right, his right leg was propped over his left knee and he was eyeing his glass of iced brandy on the table. Pretty much like other occupants of the table.

There were differences of course. In opposite seat to Spencer's, Rossi was nursing double scotch, iced. His head was resting against the back of the chair, his left arm was wrapped around his middle, his eyes were partly closed.

Jackson was at the table with them, next to Rossi and opposite to Hotch. His fingers were trailing over the brim of his glass filled with iced rum. His left leg was propped over his right knee and he was staring at the window past Spencer's shoulder.

Spencer's body language reflected theirs. He left his left leg stretched out under the table, but took off his right shoe and propped the leg, against the edge of the seat, with his left arm wrapped protectively around his right knee, right hand wrapped around his glass. Coincidentally iced gin.

Morgan was seated at the couch, his legs were propped against the edge of Hotch's seat. His left arm was laying slack against his middle, in his right hand, propped against his right leg was a glass of iced, diluted vodka.

Emily and JJ were at the front of the plane, sleeping.

"Shit," Morgan muttered.

"Pair of shits," Hotch sighed.

"Trio of shits," Spencer murmured.

"Two pairs of shit," Rossi snorted.

"Somebody is cheating, let's get a new deck," Jackson muttered.

The rest of them snorted. It was wholly inappropriate of them to compare the case to a poker game but the alternative was even more depressing.

"Your first case in charge," Hotch said tiredly. "How do you like BAU?"

"If all cases will turn like this one I will be petitioning to the Director for a raise, two months of annual leave and departmental psychologist with a year supply of antidepressants, per unit and mandatory vacation in Sahara," Jackson sighed. "But I doubt that they will be all like that."

"This one was one of a kind," Rossi sighed.

"The girls are going to make it guys," Morgan pointed out.

"We are still concentrated on those who didn't," Spencer pointed out. "Thirteen families."

Thirteen families. Thirteen fathers, thirteen mothers. Twenty daughters, nineteen sons. Twenty-six adults, thirty-nine children, Turner girls who will never be the same again. Sixty-five dead victims, Turner girls. Sixty-seven. Sixty-eight. Seventy-six.

He never thought that they would live through something worse than Sarnia, Ontario, something worse than a pig farm.

One of the most prolific serial killers. Very meticulous, highly organized. Husband, father, grandfather, friend, companion. Serial killer. Families annihilator.

Serial killer.

"Who wants to switch from shit game to poker?" Rossi asked

"Deal me in," Spencer muttered.

"Me too," Morgan added.

"In," Hotch sighed.

"In," Jackson nodded.

Sometimes there are no words, no clever quotes to neatly sum up what's happened that day. Sometimes you do everything right, everything exactly right, and still you feel like you failed. Did it need to end that way? Could something have been done to prevent the tragedy in the first place? [...] And what about my team? How many more times will they be able to look into the abyss? How many more times before they won't ever recover the pieces of themselves that this job takes? Like I said, sometimes there are no words or clever quotes to neatly sum up what's happened that day. [...] Sometimes, the day just... ends.

Aaron Hotchner

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