Criminal Minds Suspect Behavior Fanfiction
Walk Away From The Sun
First Summary- When Gina demands answers about Mick's past war days, Cooper relives the memories in hopes that it will help all of them leave the past behind.
Warnings for blood, violence, cursing, mentions of torture, drug abuse, alcohol, and some themes that may be frightening to anyone under the age of sixteen. Those will be kept to a bare minimum when being described.
Pairings- Mick/Gina. Not quite together yet though. Only in the non-flashback chapters.
Rated Teen for now. It may go up depending on where the story leads.
Some spoilers for the first season. Major spoilers for Siblings, Evil Angel, One Thousand, Monster, and Demolition Lovers. This is my sixth story in my own series of the show. It plays directly off the ending of Demolition Lovers so you might want to read that first if you haven't already.
I own nothing involving the characters of Criminal Minds Suspect Behavior. Nor do I own any rights related to the music I mention in future chapters. The only characters I own are the ones I create. I am simply borrowing for my own entertainment.
I have never written about Iraq before in detail so I have to use Google to research the country and everything about it. What little bit I already know about it comes from TV shows and books. So if any of it is inaccurate, I apologize. Any grammar mistakes are my own. Please don't verbally kill me for a typo. This is also my first time writing in Cooper's perspective. Wish me luck!
Chapter 1 The Same Old Trip
Mick Rawson once asked me what I did with my past ghosts. At the time I gave a cryptic answer in hopes he would take the hint. He is a very smart young man, so he should have understood what I was telling him. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like he did.
Dwelling on past demons and ghosts is dangerous even for the most stable mind. Normally a person can handle the emotions and memories without too much trouble. They know how to separate past from present and move on. What is buried should stay buried and never thought of again. That is how they went about their lives. One day at a time, never once looking back towards the hell that tries to pull them down.
The large amount of people who couldn't let the ghosts leave are often the ones you would least expect. They put on a happy face and pretend that the world is okay. Nothing gets past a well crafted mask of deception and lies. For the most part, it works to keep them safe mentally. But there are times when the mask isn't enough. When the stress of work or overwhelming emotions take hold, it's impossible to stay hidden.
I've seen it all before more than I like to admit. Men and women so lost in torment at past ghosts that when the mask finally does come down, they're left with something they don't understand. That lack of understanding usually leads to bad decisions, which only make things worse. I have seen men stronger than Mick emotionally break down into a drunken mess and never come out of it. They are lost to the horrors replaying in their heads, despite how much they try to force it away. I've seen it with the criminals we catch, with Liam Holmes, Brett Phillips, James Mills, Evan Bennett, and now I am watching it happen to Mick Rawson.
It frightens me to think that Mick could turn out like the rest of his team. He has survived so much over the years, more than any one person his age should, and has always turned out okay. Everything that had ever happened, good or bad, was hidden behind a veil of flirting smirks towards his female coworker and childish behavior. After a while I started to think that maybe it was just his way of dealing with everything. I knew one of these days he wouldn't be able to handle it. The signs that proved I was right started after his sister, Jenna, came to the United States. That was so many months ago now. Surely he couldn't still be dwelling on that.
Somehow I doubted that was what he was taking so harshly now. Yes, it started when his foster, Cassie, was killed in New York and he was kidnapped with Jenna. But none of it would have caused this kind of reaction. No, the thing really tormenting his thoughts were the memories of Ellen Stephens and his first team in Iraq. Our recently closed case brought back some painful memories for the sniper. Not only of the days spent overseas, but of Ellen herself. I knew releasing his apartment back to him was a bad idea. He would take it without too much hesitation because it was home. But his home was tainted now, lost in the bitter sea of memories and reminders. There simply was no possible way that he could continue living there.
That's why I ran when Gina LaSalle called in a panic. Her tone was shaking as she breathed the details of what happened. I was hesitant when asked to reveal what happened seven years ago in Iraq. She needed to know though. If she was going to help Mick through this, then she had to know why he was so careful around her. It wasn't just because they had an unspoken attraction. There was a deeper connection between the two profilers, something even I don't know how to explain in great detail. He trusted her more than anyone else in the entire world. More than me or Jenna, which suggests that it isn't just a standard appeal attraction that caused them to gravitate towards each other. She understood him at a level most simply couldn't. While he often pushed her buttons and used flirting nick-names, he was normally quite the gentleman towards her. Unlike towards some of the 'exploits' I have seen him pick up from local bars in the past.
I borrowed Beth Griffith's car, which she was more than willing to allow as long as I didn't scratch the paint or leave a dent, and took off towards Mick's apartment building as soon as Gina ended the phone call. She tried to ask why I wasn't taking my own vehicle. I had to tell her that Mick got himself into trouble again. Oddly enough, she didn't seem surprised at that statement. She promised to keep Prophet and Fickler busy in case one of them wanted answers as to why I left so abruptly. Needless to say, I was grateful for her loyalty.
Though Gina's tone was shaky on the phone, it was calm enough to tell me the basic details of what happened. Fear radiated off of every word as she spoke. Some words were stuttered and hushed as she mumbled something to the man sleeping in front of her. She was determined though. Between the harshness hiding behind fear and the breathy curses, I knew that denying her answers would just piss her off more.
Gina was already angry at Mick for leaving her apartment. I could see it in the lack of normal communication between the two after we left the private plane from Maine hours before. On any normal day Mick would offer the blond a flirting comment with a wager of his eyebrow. She would laugh it off or smirk and return with a harsh quip that usually made him chuckle. It really was interesting to watch at times. They played off each other in a way that was almost comical. But at the same time chose to respect their boundaries as teammates. That was why their lack of normalcy was the first sign that something was going to go wrong. Whatever was said on the plane left Mick jittery and uneasy for the remainder of the journey. Gina wasn't any better; she alternated between playing solitaire on her phone to burying her face in her hands.
I should have seen the warning signs sooner than this…
Upon arriving at Mick's apartment building, I climbed the stairs two at a time to avoid curious neighbors. The rumors still cycling through the building after Ellen's death were natural in a community such as this. For the longest time quite a few had stayed clear of Mick. Their ridiculous theories that he had killed her and covered it up didn't help the situation. Not to mention I really wasn't in the mood to argue with one of them if they were to approach the subject again.
It had only taken me twenty minutes to get from the Red Cell gym base to the entrance of Mick's apartment. By the time I reached the door, I was silently hoping Gina was overreacting. If she wasn't, then the next few hours were going to be more stressful for all of us. She wanted answers and I would have no choice but to comply. It wouldn't matter how much I protested. That was a simplistic fact in itself. Gina could be just as stubborn as Mick when pushed to the limit. I think that's one of the reasons why they get along so well.
As my knuckles rapped on the thick hard wood door in front of me, I mentally steeled myself for what I might find inside. The younger agent said that Mick trashed his apartment and got drunk. Getting wasted wasn't an unusual occurrence. Though he's never showed up to work with a hangover, I could always tell when he's had one too many the night before. Over the years I've learned that drinking is a bad habit for him. While it isn't as dangerous as some other habits I have seen in people, it does raise some concerns in situations like these. The last thing he needs is to become addicted to such a self destructive thing. Then again, after all of the drunken foster parents his records say he was placed with as a child, I don't think I have to worry about that too much.
The door was ripped open seconds later, violently shaking me from my silent ramblings. Gina still grasped the handle with one hand as she stood aside immediately. Once I was inside, I took a few seconds to look at the messy apartment. Evening sunlight from the half drawn curtains brightened the room. An odor of alcohol flew past with every second, seemingly coming from the sofa. I could hear a faint buzz from the television mounted on the opposite wall being drowned by noisy snoring. The once spotless home was a mess of half emptied boxes littering the floor of the living room in clothes and other personal possessions. A few had been stacked up and repacked in corners. I counted two other smaller ones half open along the back of the couch. Several pieces of clothing hung out from the sides lazily. Over the armrests, I could see a dark blanket rising and falling steadily with each timed snore. The view wouldn't allow me to see more of the person, but I didn't need to see to know who it was. A slight smear of blood on the left armrest drew my attention more than anything else. That was never a good thing. On top of the coffee table placed in front of the sofa sat a small stack of thick wooden unlocked boxes and a medical first aid kit. So he had hurt himself somehow.
I glances back Gina, expecting her to answer my unspoken question. Instead she bowed her head and brushed the long blond hair from her face. Shaky hands pulled it into a tight bun and used a pin from the pocket of her light skinny jeans to keep it in place. Then crossed her arms over her dark blue sweater covered chest and pierced her lip. Despite her attempts to place an impassive expression, the clear emotions of fear and worry were evident. She was genuinely worried about Mick. Now that he had drowned himself in aged scotch and barely knew where he was, she had good reason to be. I watched her shuffle her boots on the floor nervously, dropping her eyes to stare at the small blood stain on her knee.
"Gina, what happened? You said he hurt himself…" I asked sternly, but kept my voice low and calm.
She blinked several times, using the back her hand to wipe her eyes. "I… He's drunk and… He kept saying that he hates me… Then he fell asleep…" She stuttered in a whisper.
I felt myself stiffen at the emotion in her tone. That was something new. We have all seen her get somewhat emotional when it comes to the sniper. But this was a perfect example of how much she was holding back. His words stung in a way that was non-repairable. Even if he remembered anything about this after the hangover and apologized, I don't think their relationship will ever be the same. I placed a gentle hand on her shoulder a second later, giving it a light squeeze. She refused to look at me as I said, "Gina, he doesn't hate you. You said the scotch was old. Mix that with a concussion and mental stress, he probably doesn't even know where he is right now. Now, take a deep breath and let's go in the kitchen. I need to know everything that happened."
The younger woman stiffened. After a few long moments she reached back to the door and shut it gently. Then shut her eyes and rubbed the bridge of her nose. Several deep breaths were taken before she replied, "I've seen him drunk before Coop. But it's like he doesn't recognize me sometimes. When I talked to him, he thought I was someone else. I had to force him to look at me just to get him calm enough to stop fighting. I didn't know who else to call…" She was trying to hide the panic in her tone, but her attempts were unsuccessful.
Before I could respond, she sucked in a shaky breath and disappeared into the kitchen. Giving her a few moments alone to collect herself was the best thing for her. Her own emotions were fresh on her sleeve which only made the situation more stressful. The sound of water running in the sink echoed through the rooms, suggesting she was getting something to drink to calm her nerves. A loud scrape of a wooden chair over hard tile rang through my ears, followed by a hard glass being set on table roughly. Once I was sure she was occupied with something else for the moment, I walked further into the living room.
My eyes immediately found the young sniper dozing fitfully on the sofa. A pillow was used to prop up his head which thrashed around or twitched with whatever he was dreaming about. His dark hair was slightly damp and pushed flat against the pillow in some areas. The blanket was tucked around his bare feet and stretched up to just below his shoulders. No doubt the larger impression under the left side was where his left ankle was casted. Both of his hands were brought up to rest on his stomach lightly. The left hand was wrapped in fresh bandages, meaning that was where he had hurt himself again. I guessed he punched something in drunken haze. That wasn't really surprising. His mouth hung open, allowing a strong stench of scotch to roll off his tongue with every breath. Gina did say he drank more than half a bottle. The hangover in the morning would probably be one of the worst he has ever had.
I watched him twitch in his sleep for a few seconds, then turned to the coffee table. The boxes stacked on top were probably filled with personal mementos. Things he simply couldn't let go of because they were all he had left. Years of having nothing and never staying in one place for very long taught him how to conserve what means the most without hoarding it. That meant the memories were locked in those boxes. I have never once tried to invade his privacy to see inside, despite my curiosity. One day he will be able to tell someone what memories the tokens carry. More than likely, he would tell Gina rather than me.
Turning back to Mick, I placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and whispered, "You're safe now, kid. Everything will be better when you wake up, I promise." He mumbled something in his sleep and shifted on the sofa away from me. At least I got some kind of acknowledgement. That was more than I could hope for considering his currant state. With one last soft pat on his shoulder, I grabbed the boxes from the table and entered the kitchen.
Gina looked up from her hands as I set the boxes on the dinning table in front of her. She eyed they curiously as I started making coffee. "Coop, why…"
"You said you want answers as to why he's like this. I'm willing to tell you everything, but we have to start from the beginning. Like I said, it's a long story. You're going to need coffee more than water." I replied, glancing at the glass of water in front of her. She nodded briefly in agreement and grabbed the first box from the stack. A curious expression filled her features as she peered inside.
When I was finished making the coffee, I took the seat directly opposite her and pulled the box away slowly. If I was right, then he still had the bullet that caused all of the hell he went through. Gina leaned forward in the seat to watch as I sifted through the contents. Pictures of his old teams, shell casings, a few medals for his marksmanship, and several other small items littered the rough wooden interior. There were even a few worn guitar picks from Liam hidden in the bottom. All of them were going to be explained. I may not know every detail about the events, but I knew enough to tell the story. After all, I was there when it happened.
"Shouldn't we try to move him to my apartment? I mean, that's why I called. I still want answers, but I'm not sure here is the best place to ask them." She asked nervously.
"No, he's better off here at the moment. Just let him sleep off most of the alcohol, then we'll take him back to your apartment. He'll fight us every step of the way if he isn't at least partially sober." I responded while continuing my search for the bullet.
The younger agent leaned back in her chair and sighed loudly. "I was hoping that I could convince him to come back. That's why I came. There was this loud, angry metal music coming from the television and he wouldn't answer after the first ten minutes of knocking. The music just kept getting louder. Finally he got frustrated and turned it off. When he opened the door, he was only wearing a pair of jeans and it looked like he had just gotten out the shower. He punched the bathroom mirror which cut up his knuckles. I had to bandage it, but it took a few minutes to convince him that I wasn't a threat first. He fell asleep while I was wrapping his hand. A few minutes before you got here, he woke up and started yelling at me to leave. He didn't know who I was or why I'm here. Whenever I got close, he would scream that he hates me. He fell back asleep about five minutes ago." She explained quietly, trying to conceal the hurt in her tone.
I looked up from the box to give what I hoped was a comforting expression. "That was just the scotch talking. He doesn't hate you. I don't think he could, even if he tried."
She looked away, fiddling with her necklace nervously. "You didn't hear it though."
"No, I didn't, but I'm willing to bet everything on the fact that he wasn't talking about you. Ellen still haunts this place in his mind. She was able to find the one weakness in his armor and exploit it. Just like last time, he doesn't know how to handle it. That's the problem with men with his personality. They don't know how to handle raw emotion as well as we do. Just keep in mind that while he's like this, he'll say almost anything. There is no filter to allow his brain to catch up with the words leaving his mouth. He says what's going through his head without realizing what the consequences are. None of it is true." I stated sternly, hoping the tone alone would be enough to convince her.
Gina leaned her head back and rubbed her eyes, shrinking into the wooden chair further. "I know, it's just… I mean, I honestly don't know what to think…" She mumbled through her hands.
"I understand. Maybe this will help put things in perspective." I interrupted as I found the bullet hidden under a sniper shell casing.
The deformed piece of metal was nothing more than a thumb sized flattened and crushed remnant of a fading memory. Though it had been cleaned of the once bright red blood years ago, I could still picture it covered in the substance as if I had just seen it the day before. For the longest time it was thought of as a trophy of some kind. Much like a child's first report card, it had value to the owner in a way that I didn't quite understand.
The first time a person gets shot shouldn't be remembered like this. It was habit all snipers have though. They collect their shell casings from victims as a trophy. Most of the time if a person collects that kind of memorabilia, it's a sign of a disturbed mind. That's what we look for in serial killers. But I didn't think Mick's collections were quite the same. At least, not until I started looking through the box in front of me. On top of the one bullet that stared this chaos, I counted twenty nine sniper casings in the box. That didn't include the dozens hidden in the other boxes as well as in his desk drawer at the office. Each one marked a kill within the past eight years. When you thought about just how many lives he's taken in the name of justice, you realize the it's no wonder he's never dealt with the emotions of guilt well.
I rolled the metal in my fingers for a moment longer before placing it on the table in front of me. Gina looked at it in confusion, obviously unsure about what to say. An uneasy silence filled the room in a heart beat. I could almost see the wheels turning in her head as she put together the hints I had already given. A new expression of realization mixed with curiosity. She looked away from the remains of the bullet to stare at me with wide eyes. "A bullet started all of this hell for him?"
Leaning back in the chair, I shut the lid to the box and ground my jaw. This was why I was so hesitant to tell her the story. A single bullet created the horrible scenario that changed Mick. If I were to tell her everything and she felt pity for him, their relationship as friends would suffer. She couldn't show him pity, even after I told her everything. The last time someone showed him pity for the past, he ran and never looked back. He doesn't need to go through that again.
"Are you sure you want to hear this? It's a very long and frightening story. I don't think you'll like all of the answers." I asked carefully.
She looked towards the doorway, staring at it as she listened to the sniper toss on the couch and mumble loudly in his sleep. I could see her mull the thought over once more silently. Then she turned back to me with a determined glint in her eyes. "The only way I'm going to help him get through Ellen and whatever other hellish memories this apartment holds is if I know why they meant so much to start with. I need to help him move on. You have the answers I need to help him to do that. So yeah, I'm sure."
I gave a slight nod in agreement and grabbed the bullet from the table. Reliving the events were hard enough during dreams at night. I didn't want to willingly recite them to someone else. Talking about it would help and I knew that. Not just for Mick, but for me as well. There has been several occasions where I've tried to get my teammates to open up when something bothers them. Shouldn't I follow my own advice and do the same? After all, I didn't want them thinking I was a hypocrite.
"Alright, let's start with April twentieth, 2004."
Note- Ta-da! Sorry this has taken me so long to post. I've been helping with fall-cleaning (yes, it's just like spring-cleaning only in the fall) which has taken up a lot of my time. This chapter takes place twenty minutes directly after the ending of Demolition Lovers. It is written in Cooper's perspective, which is a first for me, so I hope it's okay. Most of the story will be a flashback on the events hinted to in previous stories. A few breaks here and there are necessary to kind of keep up with the currant storyline. They will be small, but important to developing Gina and Cooper's characters more. This entire chapter sets up the premise and feeling between Cooper and Gina which is essential to the rest of the story arc. The next chapter will start the flashback. So, please leave a review and let me know what you think! Thanks to the people who have read, reviewed, and subscribed to my work so far!