Letters for Diana
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the idea.
A/N: MAJOR SPOILERS for Lessons Learned and Revelations but I assume by now most people have seen those episodes…
The first time Aaron Hotchner interceded on Spencer's behalf in writing a letter to his mother, the younger man had asked him to do it. Reid hadn't been sure how long he would be in Cuba with Gideon and Prentiss. He hadn't been sure the authorities in Guantanamo Bay would allow him to send a personal message to his institutionalised mother, and he certainly hadn't wanted her to see any postmark on the envelope that would give away his location. With Diana Reid's illness, she would likely think the fascist government her son worked for had decided to lock him up and torture him, even if he had been able to tell her what he was doing there.
Reid had mostly mumbled all this to Hotch, speaking very quickly and looking anywhere but in his eyes. He had kept his mother's illness a secret for years before her life had been put in danger, and a crazy, bomb-wielding unsub had forced Reid to have her flown to DC. Hotch wasn't surprised that Reid still was uncomfortable talking about it, but apparently he cared more that his mother would receive a letter than what his boss would think of him.
Hotch had followed Reid's instructions and made time in his busy day to finish off the half complete letter Reid had left behind in his desk drawer. It didn't take long for Hotch to read through the part Spencer had already filled out, taking note of how familiar, how easy Reid sounded when he spoke to her. He didn't sound anything like the shy genius who had worked on Hotch's team for several years now.
Did you know a big part of my job is often linguistic analysis? So I guess it's like what you do, except you look at real published works and I look at emails and messages and things. You'd be surprised how much of your job would be involved in what I do – did you know Catcher in the Rye was associated with the assassinations and attempted assassinations of John Lennon, Rebecca Schaeffer and Ronald Reagan? You probably did know that. So I think you're incorrect in what you said to me last time you spoke to me – you would be of use here. I wish you wouldn't say you're useless.
Guess what? A new team member came to join us today. It was a surprise – Hotch and Gideon didn't tell us anyone was replacing Elle just yet. Her name is Emily Prentiss, and she –
That was where Reid, for whatever reason, had put the letter aside and gone off to do other things, probably joining them in the conference room, intending on finishing it later only to discover he would have no time and he would have to rely on his boss to ensure that his mother received her daily letter.
And so Hotch managed to find time analysing photographs and driving to different locations to try and prevent the first attack on US soil since 9/11 to sit down, spend a little time practising emulating Reid's handwriting, and eventually complete the letter.
- seems nice enough, but I really don't know much about her yet. I heard her parents are very powerful people – diplomats – and so Hotch seems a bit worried she won't be any good and her parents might have gotten her the job. She seems to be trying really hard though.
We're splitting up the team for this next assignment. I'm going with Gideon and Emily and the others are doing something else. We're going to a prison to talk to one of the inmates there – we think he has a partner who is still at large and we need him to give us a clue as to where the partner is. The others are going around the area investigating possible locations as we discover them from the inmate. I'll tell you more about that later – for now I have to go so we're not late for the interview. I'll also tell you how Emily gets on.
I love you, Mom.
Hotch read over the completed letter three times after he finished it, hoping he had done it well enough so as to escape detection. He couldn't tell Diana what the team was really doing – he knew Reid usually did but with a possible threat on national security it wasn't a wise idea, but he had given her enough accurate detail to balance out the inaccurate. His handwriting, to his trained profiler's eyes, was woeful, but to another's would be passable as Reid's.
Eventually deeming it worthy, Hotch made a photocopy to give to Reid so the younger man would know what he wrote, and sent the original to Reid's mother in Las Vegas.
The next day, Hotch did the same again, writing a letter in Reid's handwriting so his mother would be happy. He made up a lot of what happened in Guantanamo, replacing the detainment centre with a regular prison, but reported honestly that Emily Prentiss seemed to be doing a good job, having heard that from Gideon. Again, he kept a photocopy for Reid and sent the original to Las Vegas.
When Reid returned, looking exhausted but satisfied with a job well done, Hotch informed him that the task had been completed and two letters had been sent. Reid, again refusing to meet Hotch's eyes, thanked him and quietly accepted the two photocopies.
"You know you shouldn't be embarrassed about this," Hotch said, correctly interpreting Reid's reluctance to make eye contact. "You go out of your way to make sure your mother is happy. Not many mothers have a son who would do what you do. It's commendable."
Reid's shoulders raised slightly in a very small shrug. "I'd be a better son if I cared enough to visit," he said shortly, then quickly departed, ensuring Hotch could say nothing to contradict the self-deprecating statement.
The second time Hotch wrote a letter to Diana Reid, the circumstances were far less favourable. Hotch, having neither Reid's knowledge nor approval this time, had agonized for hours on whether or not he should even do it. He had a choice between showing faith in Reid and in his team by pretending to be Reid and writing a letter to Diana; and allowing his fears to conquer him, giving up and calling the hospital to tell a mentally ill woman that the "fascists" her son worked with had gone and allowed him to be kidnapped and tortured, and possibly killed. Professionally, he knew the right thing to do was not to give Diana false hope; but emotionally he couldn't allow himself to admit he may not be able to get Reid out of this, and it was possible Diana would never recover from the news, even if her son were to come out of this safe and whole.
Safe and whole, Hotch scoffed to himself. No matter how successful the team was, Reid wouldn't be safe and whole for a long time after this.
But his decision had been made. He couldn't allow himself to simply give up. With that thought in mind, Hotch locked himself in Charles Hankel's bedroom and sat at the neurotically neat desk, taking some paper and a pen and beginning to write.
We're still in Georgia. We actually got a lead on the case, finally. This was a really difficult one – we thought there were several unsubs but as it turned out there was only one. We discovered his identity too, luckily, but it looks like we'll be here for a bit longer. As soon as we found out who it was committing these murders he managed to disappear on us. He's taken someone hostage now too – one of the younger police officers out here. We're all pretty worried about him; he was a really kind person and he was a huge help in this case. We're hoping we can get him back soon. I don't want to have to tell his family we failed – that's always been the hardest part of this job.
I'm a bit upset by the way this case is going, to tell you the truth. We had no lead on this guy – we only found him by chance – and as soon as we found him he managed to disappear, and he took someone with him. He hasn't stopped killing, either. We even had to bring Garcia out to Georgia because we needed her too badly – on a normal case she is just as useful in Quantico, but this isn't really normal.
I really hope I can give you good news on the case tomorrow, Mom. For now I have to go. We're reading through journals the unsub left behind of his life, trying to discover something useful from them, and reading and linguistic analysis is always my specialty, so I should go and help the others.
I love you so much, Mom. I'll write you tomorrow.
Hotch had swallowed many times as he wrote the letter, trying to fight the lump in his throat. That letter was far more honest than the last one he had written for Diana, with the exception of the last line. Hotch desperately hoped he wouldn't have to write to Diana tomorrow, because he hoped Reid would be back to write to her himself. Hotch knew that eventually, whether by Spencer telling her after they rescued him or Hotch telling her in the event that the case went bad, Diana would one day find out the truth: that it was her son who had been kidnapped and was being tortured, not some faceless cop. He just hoped Reid appreciated what he was doing: trying to alleviate her worries and prevent her from having sleepless nights preparing for the worst. He didn't know if it was the right thing to do, but it was the best he had at that moment.
After taking a brief moment to breathe and make sure his emotions were steady, Hotch left Charles' room to go and have the letter photocopied in the hopes that Reid would one day get to see what Hotch had said to his mother.
A/N: Any comments are always appreciated.