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: Saying goodbye to Jack was most probably the worst considering circumstances. Aaron was the king of compartmentalization but the sight he found in Zack's room where Jack was sleeping on the bunk bed embed deeply into his mind. The call comes and tears them away from those they cherish the most, their own.
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 : )
Children are the keys of Paradise … They alone are good and wise, Because their thoughts, their very lives, are prayer.
Richard Henry Stoddard
Past Present, Future Imperfect: Somebody Said Free Weekend?
Seven years in charge of the team. Seven years as a leader. Seven years of being the unit chief and this.
Degraded to regular SSA, with pending status on that, three months worth probation period because the Director decided to plant a bug in his position and said bug had to be an undercover agent. Aaron hated political plays with his team on the stage.
Amen to that. At least he knew what they were facing and he and Reid knew the true identity of the insect and they were planning to use their knowledge well.
The barbeque-pool party at Jess's house was as enlightening to adults as it was funny to the kids.
Donald Jackson's true identity was one supposedly dead unit chief of Organized Crimes in Chicago and St Louis, Jack Cameron and perhaps he would be able to protect his true identity if his daughter wasn't Reid's daughter sitter and caretaker when Reid was away.
Once Reid and Cameron bid their goodbyes and returned to DC Aaron decided to remain at Jess's house for the night figuring that Jack wouldn't object to spending another night with his cousins and that they would eventually end having breakfast together on Saturday before going shopping. Besides Jess looked like she need company and that was something Aaron could offer to her.
"You know what I want to do now?" Jess asked when she finished cleaning up and sat down by the island.
"What?" Aaron asked curiously as he set a cup of tea in front of Jess.
"Scratch out Mike's eyes out, with a plastic fork," Jess snorted.
"You realize whom you are talking to?" Aaron asked pointedly.
"Yep," Jess nodded. "I'm fine with him being gone, it's not that he had ever been there. Well he was here physically but I could see that his head hadn't been home for a while. Isabel was a crowning jewel come to think about it," she grimaced. "He called me when you were in Quantico."
"And he said something which pissed you off," Aaron nodded.
"Greatly," Jess snorted. "His sweetie-poo is expecting his baby… already," Jess muttered. "No news to me, I had three and the novelty pretty much wore off when Zack was born, to him at the very least. He wants to move back to the house…"
Aaron stared at her.
"Well he doesn't want us to live together, he pretty much renounced all contact with the kids right after he left and it's not as if Molly or Zack want to see him. His mimsy-pimpsy needs a home… and apparently that's a good reason to kick me and the kids out," Jess puffed.
"The mortgage is in the names of both of you," Aaron muttered.
"It is," Jess quipped. "But I really didn't pay for it, did I, especially in last four years. So I should be glad that he graciously will give me a recompense…"
"Recompense?" Aaron echoed.
"Yup," Jess nodded. "Double of what I paid for and I paid… 150 000, more or less, he paid the rest. So let's establish, I have about 300 000 in total plus alimony, plus child support, no job, three kids and no husband… I really want to scratch his eyes out you know."
"Normally I wouldn't offer but a certain doctor of chemistry wrote a dissertation on how to get rid of the body," Aaron muttered.
"It's not as bad as it seems," Jess rolled her eyes. "I mean it's bad, it sucks and I hope that his birdie-smirdie will spent whole pregnancy laying flat and ordering him around, especially with cravings. I wish her hellish cravings, so bad that she would tear of his manhood to get what she wants. But that's my foolish hopes. There is a good thing amongst the bad things, I might have a job soon or at the very least prospects for having one."
"Let me guess, the doctor?" Aaron smiled.
"Yup," Jess nodded. "She has uncanny ability of pulling out of people the truth. She had me nailed in fifteen minutes. She needs to check it up but there might be an opening in pediatrics or ob/gyn and I have a specialization and experience in both, so fingers crossed that there is one and that I will make dazzling impression."
"You can always apply for FBI," Aaron suggested. "There is an ambulatory…"
"I know," Jess smiled. "No offense, additional training for the same…"
"It's just a suggestion," Aaron shrugged. "Try hospitals and schools first. And call me before you will give Mike the keys. No one said that the house will have to be in perfect order."
"Aaron…" Jess sighed.
"What?" Aaron asked innocently. "Losing few screws in kitchen cabinets, making invisible until it's raining hole in the roof. I'm not going to burn this house down, just moving in less easy that it would seem."
"You don't have to do it on my account, I can lose few screws myself," Jess shook her head.
"I wouldn't be doing it on your account, Jess, at least not only," Aaron shrugged. "I would be doing it for the kids. Do you want help with the research of new family home?"
"You reckon a bank will give me a credit?" Jess rolled her eyes.
"If they won't then I would," Aaron shrugged.
Spencer, along with Cynthia, Cameron and her nephew, Killian, returned to Georgetown via supermarket and serious vegetable shopping.
Cynthia and Killian were happily set up in front of TV with popcorn and 101 Dalmatians in DVD allowing Spencer and Cameron to rearrange their purchases and argue who was going to pay for what.
"We are having an argument over a carrot," Spencer said pointedly. "Someone would call it pointless."
"How is your eyesight?" Cameron rolled her eyes.
"Better than bat's," Spencer shrugged. "You are trying to turn my daughter orange."
"That idea didn't cross my mind," Cameron shrugged. "You know what did?"
"Carrot juice?" Spencer suggested. "No, carrot pie, cooked carrot, steamed carrot."
"Very funny," Cameron muttered. "I was thinking carrot jam."
"Carrot jam?" Spencer stared at her in shock.
"My mother's recipe," Cameron said. "Something that my father enjoyed immensely."
"Is it even edible?" Spencer asked pointedly.
"He certainly eat it in copious amounts," Cameron nodded. "I was never big fan of it but I can make it. How fast you can say mind-fuck?"
"Does it involve me eating it?" Spencer asked skeptically.
"A little," Cameron said innocently.
"I will spell mind-fuck so fast that your father won't even realize that I stood next to him and what happened," Spencer smirked. "On one condition."
"Name it," Cameron smiled.
"Pumpkin jam," Spencer quipped.
"I thought that FBI agents weren't bribable," Cameron rolled her eyes.
"We aren't," Spencer shrugged. "You are going to make me eat something I don't consider as edible to confuse your father to ascertain his true identity. It's not a bribe, it's compensation."
"I thought that it was called hazard of the job," Cameron quipped. "And I believe that it's in your job description."
"You made me eat spinach to set an example for the kids, now you are going to make me eat carrot jam. I'm a federal agent, not a food tester," Spencer shrugged.
"Carrot?" Cameron suggested.
"You are pushing the boundaries, doc," Spencer rolled his eyes.
"You spend too much time with the kids," Cameron shook her head.
"I did?" Spencer asked innocently. "You have no idea what they have in store for Hotch."
"So you were just fishing for details?" Cameron cocked her head to the left.
Past Present Future Imperfect
Carrot sorting didn't last long and Spencer had plan for his part of carrots. Regardless his protests on the matter carrot juice was good for Cynthia and despite the amount of job prepared and frozen carrots were food which won't run bad.
Cameron left with Killian and Ginger shortly after 101 Dalmatians had ended. Cynthia had a bath with minimal fuss and dressed herself in her pajamas without help.
"What's a mammal?" she asked suddenly when Spencer sat down by her bed to tell her a bedtime story.
"Why are you asking?" Spencer asked before he could stop himself.
"Auntie said it," Cynthia shrugged.
"Auntie said it," Spencer echoed. "In relation to what?"
"Relation?" Cynthia asked.
"It means that she said it because something happened before which made her say it," Spencer clarified.
"I asked her why she doesn't fed Ginger with a spoon," Cynthia said simply.
"Ginger is very small, Mousie," Spencer smiled. "Very small babies eat only milk."
"No, they don't," Cynthia protested. "They eat adults."
Spencer stared at his daughter. Cynthia wasn't around anyone who would even breath about cannibalism then how she managed to come with it.
"What you mean?" he asked pointedly.
"I asked Molly why auntie wears Ginger in the sling so much and Molly said that mums feed babies this way," Cynthia said simply. "Why mums and not dads? And why kids eat them."
Ah, so that it was all about.
"That's a very interesting question actually," Spencer nodded. "And the answer is very complicated but it really comes down to the differences between mums and dads, Mousie. Women and men are built differently because of evolution."
"Evolution?" Cynthia asked curiously. "What's evolution?"
"Evolution is a process, a very long one of an animal and a human adapting to certain aspects of living. Very, very long time ago when people lived in big families called tribes it was men's job, daddies job to hunt for food while women, mommies stayed in the village, took care of children, cooked…"
"It's called partia… no… patriarchate," Cynthia said seriously.
"Who taught you that word?" Spencer asked curiously.
"Killian," Cynthia said simply. "He also said that it's very hurtful to women to assign them certain roles and not allowing them to make choices of their own."
"Did auntie heard it?" Spencer asked skeptically.
"Yes," Cynthia nodded.
"And what she had done after he said it?"
"She swatted him across the head with wet dishcloth and said that last time she checked humans were mammals and if he had issues with biology then he should get over them by going in bioengineering and pharmacy to devise a way for men to get pregnant and experience nursing, and then she said good luck with that and I didn't understand even a half of it," Cynthia babbled.
"You didn't understand but you remember what she said?" Spencer asked. "How did you start talking about it?"
"We watched Discovery Channel," Cynthia said simply. "What's nursing? It's being a nurse, right?"
"In a way yes," Spencer nodded. "Depending from situation nursing might be different things. Being a nurse is one but nursing is also a process of feeding the baby by their mother."
"Small babies only eat milk, you said that," Cynthia said pointedly. "By bottles?"
"Also," Spencer nodded. "But mostly it refers to a major difference. Before babies are born and after they are born their mother's bodies produce milk so the baby can eat. It's a process common in all mammals, I mean that's why they were called mammals, because mothers feed their babies with milk…"
"Like cows?" Cynthia asked curiously.
"Yeah," Spencer confirmed.
"Then there is something wrong," Cynthia declared. "It's mommies who feed children with their milk, right?"
"Right," Spencer nodded.
"Aunt Katie is not Ginger's mum, she is her aunt," Cynthia said simply. "How that works?"
Spencer groaned inwardly, he just maneuvered himself into a corner.
"How about we ask aunt Katie?" Spencer admitted in the defeat.
Past Present Future Imperfect
"You were explaining pregnancy to a three years old?" Cameron asked skeptically.
"Nursing," Cynthia declared. "And I don't understand how it works."
"For the record neither do I," Spencer admitted as he leaned against the doorway. "Cynthia made undefeatable point and I have no answers. So we came straight to the source."
"Your source is a bit busy at the moment," Cameron quipped.
Spencer could see that, even from his position against the doorway he could tell that Cameron was rather busy with a process which captured Cynthia's attention and that's why he kept to the door why Cynthia climbed on Cameron's bed.
"You are not Ginger's mummy but you feed her," Cynthia said. "How does it work?"
"Production of milk is stimulated by hormones," Cameron said. "The levels of certain hormones in the bodies of women who are going to have babies is different than in other women who aren't going to have babies soon. Do you understand it Cynthia?"
"In a way," Cynthia nodded.
"There are certain types of medication which stimulate the level of hormones to duplicate the process in women who didn't have their own babies, as in didn't give birth to them," Cameron continued. "It's not easy, it's hard and generally avoided though not discouraged because in so far no pharmaceutical company managed to duplicate nutritious values of mother's milk and if a woman is willing to go through the process and she doesn't have any medical condition which would prevent her from doing it then…"
"Doctors can't say no," Spencer nodded. "But you?"
"I'm one hundred-percent healthy female in reproductive age, Reid," Cameron said simply. "I know to sorely not relay on this method of feeding. I do have medical degree and I know what I can and can't do."
"I'm only questioning your motives," Spencer shrugged.
"Aforementioned nutritious values, my age, my health, Ginger's age and health. I know that I'm not her biological mother and I'm not cheating biology, I've got doctor's green light, I have time to be around her," Cameron shrugged. "I'm also totally cracked in the head to compensate her what she isn't going to have since she was two days old, it worked, it was hard but it worked."
"I think that it's great," Cynthia said. "Only mums feed their children?"
"Only mums," Cameron nodded. "And bigger babies, like you can't eat the same way because they would choke."
"She does," Cynthia pointed out.
"Milk is a fluid, Cynthia," Spencer said.
"Why babies get cool things like that?" Cynthia pouted.
"Cool things?" Cameron asked. "Small babies, eat, sleep, puke, piss and poop. There is absolutely no fun with that. They can't read, they can't watch movies, they can't walk, run and play. They need to get stronger to learn how to do it. Trust me, Cynthia, you are in the best age of your life. You are old enough to play, walk and run all by yourself but still small enough to be carried. Trust me, I would take being three years old over being a seven weeks old," Cameron winked at her.
"And you will never be old enough to not deserve a hug, Mousie," Spencer smiled at her. "How about big, tight hug for your daddy?"
Cynthia beamed, jumped from the bed, ran to Spencer who caught her and picked her up before he hugged her tightly.
"Do you think that you can sleep now, Mousie?" he asked gently.
Cynthia nodded solemnly.
He barely stepped one foot into the hallway when his cell-phone rang. He looked at caller's ID and read: Garcia
"We were supposed to be off duty until Monday," Spencer sighed as he picked it up. "Reid here, please tell me that you are planning a Saturday get-together or planning a playdate."
"I wish so, Boy Wonder," Garcia sighed. "Minnesota has a family annihilator and a very vicious one, three families in two days, the order came from high above, the same MO, three different towns, Minneapolis PD are bracing for more bodies."
"Forescientics?" Spencer asked pointedly.
"Nada, zilch, this creep is a ghost, nobody saw him, nobody heard him, three families, six adults and nine children are dead and they are worried that they will have more bodies in the morning. The one temporarily in charge wants to have all of you at Reagan's in a hour," Garcia sighed. "Other teams are in the field and Gamma has only two active agents…"
"… which considering current number of victims with the possibility of going even higher leaves them with not enough agents," Spencer finished. "I'll be at Reagan's in an hour."
He hung up and pocketed his phone.
"Bad?" Cameron asked gently.
"The worst," Spencer sighed. "Family annihilator, two days, three families…" he looked at her.
There will be more in the morning had passed between them without words.
"He is a very bad guy," Cynthia said. "Go catch him, daddy."
"I will, Mousie," Spencer looked at Cynthia and kissed her forehead. "I will. Do you want to stay with aunt Katie for the night?"
"I will quickly pack and I will bring your Mr Teddy around," he added.
One of the things which helped Jess through the divorce and the aftermath was watching romantic comedies and chucking popcorn at the TV screen. Sure it left a mess but it made Jess feel a bit better and she seemed much more better when she managed to coax Aaron to throw some popcorn at TV with her.
So Aaron was sitting at the couch with Jess, watching You've Got E-mail, eating popcorn and throwing it at the screen when the call came.
He looked at caller's ID and saw: Garcia
"Somebody said a free weekend," he sighed as he picked it up. "Hotchner."
"Minneapolis, Minnesota," Garcia said quickly. "Family annihilator, two days, three families, six adults and nine children. The creep is a ghost, the call came from the Director, there is no forscientic evidence left behind. Minneapolis PD are worrying about more bodies. The jet is leaving from Reagan's in an hour and I still have to call JJ and Emily."
"I'll be there," Aaron nodded.
"Bad, worse, the worst?" Jess asked in concern.
"The worst," Aaron sighed.
"Say goodbye to Jack and I will pack your suits," Jess patted his knee and hurried to laundry room.
Saying goodbye to Jack was most probably the worst considering circumstances. Aaron was the king of compartmentalization but the sight he found in Zack's room where Jack was sleeping on the bunk bed embed deeply into his mind.
Jack, Zack, Molly and Rory were sprawled on the floor, playing Sorry. When Aaron entered the room whole four looked up at him, their former grins morphing to sadness on the spot.
Jack stood up the first, then he ran to Aaron and wrapped himself against his left leg.
"You will get the bad guy, daddy," Jack said as he smiled sadly. "You always do."
Aaron smiled down at Jack before he crouched and hugged Jack tightly before Rory burrowed herself into his embrace and hugged him tightly.
"Stay safe, Uncle Aaron," she said.
"I will," Aaron promised as he looked up at Zack and Molly who were standing behind Jack and Rory. "You too and Molly…"
"Stay with mum, chuck popcorn at Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan," Molly said quickly. "Then call father and wish him the very best."
"Mols…" Aaron started.
"Killian suggested to defy father's logic with gravity and I know exactly how to do it," Molly said simply. "I promise to keep curses to sophisticated bare minimum."
"Better not," Aaron sighed.
"Nah," Molly shook her head. "Don't worry about it, Uncle."
Zack wrapped his arms around Aaron's neck and said, "Kick his butt, Uncle."
Past Present Future Imperfect
When he entered the jet Reid was already seated at the briefing table, paging through the files. Jackson was by the express, preparing a batch and was changed into black suit contrary to the beige one he had day before.
"Garcia was right," Reid said grimly. "This guy is a creepy ghost judging from the reports. No signs of forced entry, no footprints, no fingerprints."
"COD was heart-failure," Jackson added grimly.
"Tox-screen?" Aaron asked quickly.
"Carbon dioxide," Reid muttered. "They were killed by injection of a bubble of air."
"Merciless death," Jackson said. "But…" he looked at Reid.
"Before they were murdered they were given to breath chloroform," Reid added grimly. "Quickly, efficiently and somewhat mercifully. At least they were unconscious when they died. The youngest victim was three years old," he puffed.
Aaron quickly skipped through the file and got to the third family, the Dessmonds. Their three years old daughter looked like carbon copy of Cynthia, it was no wonder why Reid was so pissed off even if he was hiding it well. Well enough for Jackson, but not well enough for Aaron.
"What's her name?" Jackson asked quietly.
"Gemma Dessmond," Aaron answered.
"I didn't ask about Gemma Dessmond," Jackson shook his head. "I was asking about your daughter, Doctor Reid."
"Cynthia," Reid mouthed.
"I want both of you at the station," Jackson said. "Geographical profile and start on victimology."
"Just because we are fathers…" Reid started.
"I don't want you at the station because you are fathers," Jackson said pointedly. "I want you two at the station because I know two things. You, Doctor Reid, excel in geographical profiling…"
"And considering number of victims a lot of people are going to be upset," Aaron finished. "You want me at the station because I have an air of authority and I will be able to control the situation and focus their attention on the target which is catching the unsub."
"That and because lead detectives worked with you in the past considering the delicacy which is the number of victims it would be better to not distract them by the new guy," Jackson added. "And if their worries are right we are going to have more victims in the morning."
If you want to know what love is, have a child. If you want to know what pain is, bury him.
Feedback is love.
AN: Most probably certain detail you have seen in the chapter will bother some of you. Note, I didn't pull it out from thin air, it's possible but requires a lot of dedication, proper medication and certain amount of lucky circumstances