Title: Ghosts
Author : Nilitara (livejournal)/loonie_lupin (ff. net)
Fandom : Criminal Minds : Suspect Bahavior
Characters/Pairing : Mick Rawson, Prophet (close friendship intended but it could be read as pre-slash if that's what you want)
Rating : FRT
Summary : A case involving a pedophile rattles one of the team, and not the one you would expect.

Warning: talk of pedophilia and sexual abuses

Disclaimer : The characters and settings are not mine but the property of their creators.

Ghosts

Prophet was sitting on his bed, studying the documents spread out in front of him. He hated that kind of case, hated when children were involved and, even more so, when it was the work of a pedophile. Killing children was already bad enough but raping them before was even worse. And even if the children made it out of whatever hell they were in, they would never be the same again. These memories would haunt them forever. Of course, they did have the possibility to start over knew, should they be left alive, but it was easier said than done.

In this case, though, the suspect didn't want them to be able to. No, he wanted their last minutes of this Earth to be spent with him.

Five children had already been taken and killed. All boys, all aged between seven and ten, brunette, brown eyes. They looked so peaceful on the picture taken at the scene, like little angels sleeping. The unsub had positioned their bodies to make them look almost alive. At least, it was an indignity they had been spared. Their bodies clothed, in a normal position, no wounds to be seen; the parents wouldn't have the last memories of their children tainted by a vulgar position or wounds all over their bodies.

Indeed, the deaths had been pretty clean. There were no bruises, no cuts, no strangulation marks or anything visible. If it hadn't been for the sign of sexual trauma found at the autopsy, they would have been hard pressed to tell it had been the work of a child molester. Their end had been brought by a needle and the only present, almost invisible, mark was the entry point, a half-millimeter circle.

He was brought out of these morbid reflections by a knock on the door of his hotel room. There was no need for Prophet to go look who was on the other side to know it was one of the team. Not only were there no other people who would talk to him at this time of the night here – he had not ordered room service either – but they did that every time one of their case involved a pedophile, because of his past.

He knew, intellectually, that he should never have killed that man, even if he could not bring himself to regret it. He would probably do it all over again. He also knew he tended to get too personally involved whenever a child molester turned up on their case and that he had trouble restraining himself from adding another kill to his list. Still, he had learnt his lesson and would not put the rest of the team in such a position. He had proved it when he had tried to talk a man who had killed two little girls out of killing himself. It didn't really work out in the end but he had tried. He would have thought it had been enough to at least give him the benefice of doubts and an end to these visits that were really beginning to piss him off.

He got up, knowing they would insist if he didn't, and, of course, it came to no surprise to find himself face to face with Mick. Usually, it was Cooper but, at times, Mick had also taken on the job so it wasn't that unusual.

He sighed out loud and didn't even let Mick begin the conversation.

"I'm not going to go flying off the handle so you don't need to bother with your speech," he said, maybe a little coldly.

It wasn't fair to Mick; he was his best friend and he knew he didn't mean anything bad by these visits. Plus, having someone talk to Prophet must have been Cooper's idea even if he hadn't come himself. Still, at the moment, Prophet didn't care. He just wanted to go back to his thinking without having to prove himself to the rest of the team all over again.

"Can I come in please?"

Mick who, when he had answered, had been looking at the ground finally looked up to him and Prophet was startled to see the look on his face. This was a far cry from the usual cocky expression the sniper sported and the tone of voice Mick was employing immediately set off alarm bells. He was almost pleading. Something was wrong and this visit had nothing to do with Prophet and everything to do with Mick, he realized worriedly as he opened the door all the way, motioning for his friend to come in.

He closed the door behind him, keeping a concerned eye on Mick as the younger man entered the room and stopped a few feet away from the bed, seeming to hesitate on what to do. That, more than anything else, told himself something was off. When exactly did Mick ever become shy and hesitant around him? The answer was easy: it was never.

"What's wrong?" Prophet asked, taking the files, which didn't make for a very good conversation set up no matter your career, from the bed to put them on the desk.

He sat down on the bed and incited Mick to do the same. After half a second, the sniper did and he brought his legs up, circling them with his arms in a typically defensive position. Prophet frowned, becoming more anxious by the minute.

"Come on," he cajoled, putting a hand on Mick's knee. "Tell what's going on with you."

He had hoped for the small physical contact to help but it didn't. Mick startled at the touch before setting down and looking at the floor. He took a deep breath, as if bracing himself, before turning to Prophet, an indecipherable look in his eyes.

"Can you promise me you won't tell the others?"

Prophet didn't even have an inkling to what Mick was talking about but he knew instantly that, if the younger man wanted to confide in him, he wasn't going to go around repeating his secrets to anyone, even another member of the team. Whatever was said in this room would stay between the two of them.

"Sure, I promise," the words flowed readily from his lips and he did mean them.

He gave Mick a reassuring smile and, distantly, registered how strange it was to act like this with his teammate. Usually, this was a smile he reserved for the victims, especially the children. Of course, compared to him, Mick was young. After all, there was a good reason the sniper always called him grandpa.

Still, it felt strange, if not uncomfortable. They knew each other well enough to read their mood and practically their mind, there was no need for any unease when they helped each other out, no matter the circumstances.

Mick waited for a few more seconds, as if taking the time to make sure Prophet did mean his words, before deciding to go on and tell his friends what he had come there for.

"It's the case. I… It… I just… have problems with…"

Prophet nodded. Mick's lack of eloquence aside, there were always cases that hit you harder than others, cases that rattled you. Mick was especially touched when parents and children were involved, everyone knew that, because of having looked after his little sister after their parents' death. Still, it had never been so much he had needed to go to someone to talk. There must have been something more.

However Mick wasn't finished and his next sentence made Prophet's blood run cold.

"I guess it hits a little too close to home," he said, chuckling humorlessly and then just shut up as if he was waiting for a condemnation, a condemnation that would never going to come, no matter how shocked Prophet was feeling at the moment.

And shocked he was because what Mick had just admitted, that was big. It was more than big. He couldn't understand how the younger man had been capable of going that long in their line of work without having a case that had made him tick before now. It should have been almost impossible. All the pedophile they had seen at work up to now and not once Mick had reacted too strongly, he had even kept Prophet from making another mistake.

"Mick," he began, unsure of what he could say at this point; what was there to say?

He figure it was a case of actions would be better than words and he just reached out to take the sniper's hand in his, trying to give what little comfort he could provide to someone who had apparently through way much worse than he had imagined and was condemned to relive it. Mick looked at him and gave him the ghost of a smile, squeezing the hand holding his to accept what was freely given and thanking his friend silently for not making a fuss. Prophet wanted nothing more than ask questions, curse whoever was responsible, but he knew it wouldn't help Mick so he pushed these thoughts away.

"Tell me, what is it about this case in particular?"

That was something he was wondering there. Why that case and not another? It wasn't as if it was the first time they were dealing with a pedophile so what was so special with this one? Was it because of the date? Was in something else, something in the MO that triggered a memory?

"The victims," Mick answered, grateful for the matter of fact tone his best friend was using.

He didn't think he would have been able to handle it if Prophet had begun to coddle him suddenly, if he had become hesitant about saying what was on his mind. Right now, though, he was acting as he always had, rationally, and that was exactly what Mick had been looking for when he had come to him. "Their look, their age."

Prophet nodded. Yes, that was an obvious factor.

"You were the same age?" Prophet asked and hated the fact that he knew the question would be answered positively.

It was way too young. Not that there was a right age for being raped, but the victims in this case were not even in their teen and it made it all the more tragic.

"Nine," Mick answered and, for the first time, his voice trembled.

Yes, he supposed it would have been asking too much to be able to think back on this period of his life and talk about it for the very first time without being emotional.

Prophet caught the waver and knew that the conversation was getting too difficult to handle for Mick. Truth to be told, it was getting too difficult for him to. To think that his best friend had been through something like this when he was so young was horrifying. It gave him the urge to kill someone – again, right now. He almost had to snort. He guessed his colleague were right to keep an eye on him in the end. Except that he couldn't afford to do something that stupid because Mick needed him. The sniper had chosen to come to him and he would be damned if he was going to let him down.

He slung an arm around Mick's shoulder. They had never shied away from touching each other before and Prophet wasn't going to let what he had learnt change anything. Mick, always having had full faith in Prophet, let himself seek the warmth of his body, not quite snuggling against the older man's side, but leaning into the movement. His breathing was jerky and he was certain Prophet could hear it even if he was pretending not to, giving Mick the illusion of privacy.

"Can you handle the case?" Prophet asked and his tone wasn't judging, he just wanted to know because it was important and because he knew without a doubt that if Mick made a mistake that cost them during the investigation, he would never forgive himself.

Mick nodded. He knew why Prophet was asking that question and he didn't mind. He knew that the case had to be their first priority and he wasn't mad at his friend for trying to make sure the case wasn't going to suffer from his past. He would have done the exact same things if the situation had been reversed.

"It's okay. Working on the case is okay. When we have something to do and the team is there, I can concentrate on it. I didn't have a problem until now. It's just now, being alone in the room… I guess I panicked. Pretty stupid, isn't it?"

"No," Prophet countered, squeezing Mick's shoulder. "It's pretty understandable actually. Being alone with your memories… You're staying with me tonight, okay?"

Mick looked up at Prophet and gifted him with a real smile this time around. He was glad he wouldn't have to ask, because it would have made him feel childish to, but he really didn't think he would have been capable of spending the night alone, not as long as their unsub was still out there. It was ridiculous. He wasn't a child anymore, it wasn't as if the guy was going to show up to take him as his next victim, and he could defend himself, but when he had tried to close his eyes, he had been nine again and he just had to leave the room.

"Thanks, Prophet," he said, grateful, holding back a yawn as he did.

That confession had taken its toll on him and he was suddenly feeling exhausted, which didn't escape Prophet's notice and the older man snorted.

"And you call me Grandpa. You're the one who can't keep up," he said jokingly and Mick mock glared at him, happy that Prophet was joking around, even after what he had been told, instead of walking on eggshell.

"Whatever you said Grandpa," he answered playfully and Prophet's face became softer.

Mick was suddenly able to see the man most victims could turn to in their time of need, the man behind the mask he usually work when at work, with the team. It was someone Mick would trust with his heart, the same way he would trust with his life.

"Come on, to bed with you," he said, getting up and tousling slightly Mick's hair as he did so.

Mick knew it was a get back for calling him Grandpa – again. Apparently Prophet's answer to that was to act as if he, Mick, was a child. Though it would normally annoy him, he quite frankly appreciated the gesture tonight, even as he ducked out of reach.

Mick was wearing sweats pants and a shirt – the attire he had put on once he retired to his room that evening – and he couldn't be bothered to go back to get his pajamas. What he had on would do; it wasn't as if he was going to wear them at work anyway. He watched as Prophet took off the bedcover and then slid under the sheets. He was really dead tired and he just wanted to sleep.

He was surprised to see Prophet take a pillow and some bed sheets and, seriously, was the man actually doing what Mick thought he was doing because it was simply ridiculous.

"Seriously? We're both adult, I'm sure we can share a bed. I promised I don't have cooties," he added teasingly.

Prophet stopped what he was doing to look at him piercingly, pondering. Mick let himself be scrutinized, hiding nothing of himself. Finally, making a decision, Prophet came back to the bed and slid under the sheets as well, letting as much space between the two of them as was possible in such a ridiculously small bed.

"I didn't think after…"

Prophet didn't even get to finish his sentence that Mick raised an eyebrow, a smirk on his face. And there was the cocky, sarcastic, Mick he was used to. It was nice to see him again, even if it was as his own expanse.

Mick shook his head, not bothering to hide his snort.

"You're the last person I would be uncomfortable with in such a situation. You made your position on the matter very clear when you went to jail."

Suddenly Prophet understood that, maybe, Mick coming to his room did have something with him after all. It even had to do with his killing that man. Because while the whole team profoundly hated pedophiles – and what normal person wouldn't? – he was the one who had crossed the line because of it and killed one of them, unjustifiably. He was the one who had gone to prison for it and still didn't regret it. He was the only who went nearly insane every time he came face to face with one of them. He supposed it made him, unconsciously, the safest option.

"Go to sleep," he said, cutting the conversation, knowing they both needed to sleep, especially Mick.

Their chase wasn't finished by far and they needed to be at their best tomorrow and, since Mick didn't want the rest of the team knowing something was wrong, preferably wake up before anyone decided to come and get them. They would have had some difficulty explaining Mick's reason to sleep in his room when his was only a few doors down.

He turned off the light and looked at the ceiling. He wasn't exactly used to share a bed with someone else, at least not anyone he wasn't intimate with. Then he could cuddle and make it more natural. This had to be a first.

"Prophet?"

He turned his head to look at Mick and, while the darkness of the room made it slightly difficult to see even that close, he could still make out Mick's shape, knowing the younger man was on his side, watching him.

"You're not going to tell Cooper?"

He had already pulled that promise out of Prophet but that had been before his confession, before Prophet knew the truth and Mick was worried he may have had a change of heart on the matter. He hated to think of the possibility but he knew that if Prophet decided to talk, there was nothing he could do about it.

Prophet sighed. It was a hard decision but he didn't want to go back on his words.

"Promise me something. Three things, actually."

Mick frowned in the darkness of the room. Of course, he trusted Prophet but what did the man want him to do? He hated having no choice but still hoped it they would be sensible promises.

"What?" he asked, wanting to know what he would have to do to ensure Prophet's silence.

"First off, you stick by me for the end of the case, at least as much as possible. We go interrogate people together, we search places together, and we go the crime scenes together. Of course, if you're needed as a sniper or if we have to take off running after someone, it's different. But barring that, you stick by me."

Alright, that first condition was pretty reasonable. Prophet would be the only one on the lookout for anything off with him. Besides, they were paired off during all stages of their investigation, more often than not. People would hardly be able to tell the difference.

"Second, if you feel that your judgment may be compromised or if you have any flashback, any problems that could contribute to you making a mistake, you come tell me. And not just on this case, at any time."

Mick nodded. Okay, that he could do, no problem. He understood the need for them all to stay on top of their game. A mistake and the whole investigation could be compromised; any attorney defending their clients would latch of any kind of discrepancy. Seeing the kind of nutjobs they tended to arrest, it would be dramatic to be unable to condemn them.

"And the third?"

"Third is: you remember that I'm here if you ever need to talk. Doesn't matter when or where. I'm here."

At that, Mick had to smile even if his friend couldn't see it. It was so Prophet and he couldn't be more grateful to him. All in all, they were all conditions he could keep, no problem, and he did say as much to the older man.

"Alright, then I won't say anything to Cooper. He won't hear it from me. Now, go to sleep, we have a bad buy to catch."

"'Course, Grandpa."

He received a pillow in his face for that and it was a few more minutes before they settled down. Prophet was right, though, they did need to sleep in they wanted to be at their best the next and Mick especially didn't want to arouse questions. If he did, he knew the rest of the team would see through any lie he would tell and, no matter how much he liked and trusted the team, he didn't want his past revealed to them.

***
Their case was soon finished and their unsub on his way to jail. Prophet let himself fall on his sofa, absolutely exhausted. It had been a very long week but at least their job was done, there was a wacko less roaming the world, and they had a few days off to recuperate. He wasn't sure how Cooper had managed to convince the director, he would have to thank him. They really needed it, all of them.

He was about to fall asleep right there and then when someone rang the doorbell. He nearly groaned out loud. He didn't know who it was but, quite frankly, they were lucky he was unarmed at the moment. They wouldn't have liked their welcoming committee if he was.

He opened the door and it showed how tired he was that he didn't even try to look through the peephole to see who it was. He found himself face to face with Mick, in a way that reminded him of the last time it happened only a few days ago. He didn't say anything, it wasn't his place.

"I need to talk," Mick said, looking at Prophet right in the eyes and, without a single word, Prophet let him in the flat, the door closing behind him.