A/N: Title slightly altered to avoid the purge going on at the site.
"So go and tell all your friends that I'm a failure underneath
If it makes you feel like a bigger man
But it's my heart, my life that you're calling a lie
I've played this game before
And I can't take anymore
I feel it coming over me
I'm still a slave to these dreams
Is this the end of everything?
Or just a new way to bleed?"
New Way to Bleed, Evanescence
July 13, 2008
Even though he'd closed the file, Hotch couldn't get the image of the dead child out of his mind.
None of them could, least of all JJ, who, despite being the most hormonally stable pregnant women he'd ever encountered, still became a bit emotional when children were hurt. She was standing in the corner of the conference room now, speaking on the phone, as the others assembled around the table. His team already looked exhausted.
The killer, or killers as he was suspecting, had executed two families two nights ago, and burnt the houses down. Only one couple had a child, but it was still a tragedy that even one kid had to die. Hotch knew it would be difficult for the team to study the child's death.
Something was telling him that there was more to this case than he was seeing. It made him uncomfortable. A sense of deep foreboding had hit him as soon as JJ handed him the file. This was one of those cases that would irrevocably change his team. He wasn't sure how, but by the time they caught the killer, his team would be changed.
He hated those cases.
JJ hung up the phone, and walked toward him, her jaw tense. "That was security at the front desk. An SIS agent is here to see us, and refuses to leave until he does. I told them to send him up." She sighed. "I'll deal with him, you work on the case."
Hotch frowned. "It's alright, I'll deal with this. Part of my job description."
Frankly, part of him just wanted her to sit for a minute. Even at 26 weeks and counting, JJ hadn't slowed down one bit. She opened her mouth, but a knock interrupted before she could speak, and a man opened the door and stepped inside. He had a stack of folders in his hand.
"SSA Hotchner?" He asked.
"Clyde Easter, SIS. I think I may have some information on your current case."
Brow furrowed and frown set, Hotch gestured the man to the table. "We're listening."
The other man looked almost relieved. He nodded and sat beside Garcia, who pursed her lips in a flirty smile. Easter swallowed and looked away from him, dropping one of the files on the table.
"Tsia Mosely and Ben Correlli. He killed them three days ago, before your cases. I believe you have both of the families killed in Washington, Ron and Laura Cosenza, their son, and Frank and Kerry Fagan?"
"Yes, he killed them the same night," Hotch said.
Easter nodded. "Sean McCallister, his wife and their child. Executed in Brussels, Belgium last week. Jeremy Wolffe, killed in Paris three weeks ago." Two more folders hit the table.
"Do these people have a connection to Clear Water Securities?" Rossi asked, studying the Mosely file.
"They were spies from various government agencies, working on the same target as CWS."
"Ian Doyle." Morgan said.
"Yes, a team of five was created under Interpol to bring him down. They succeeded, and up until six weeks ago, he was in prison because of that team. As you can imagine, he's rather pissed now that he's out." Easter kept his face blank. Too blank for Hotch's comfort.
"We've only got four people here, who's the fifth team member?" He asked.
"Actually, you only have three. Correlli wasn't part of the team." He cleared his throat. "I lead the team."
"And the fifth?" Rossi repeated.
"The last folder," Reid guessed, nodding at it.
A guard seemed to fall instantly over the Easter's eyes, and he dropped contact with all of them. "I have no proof, but I believe he's also responsible for her death."
The file only made a soft slap when it hit the pile, but it may have been a stack of bricks for the weight it seemed to carry with it. Easter appeared to be struggling, as if this one was particularly painful for him.
It was Morgan who reached for the file, flipping it open. He flipped through it, and suddenly frowned, letting a page drop rapidly. "This says she's missing, not dead."
"Only because we never found a body. She disappeared in September 2004, two months after Doyle was arrested. Interpol, SIS, CIA, and even a small group of FBI agents spent months searching for her. We believe that one of Doyle's associates, Liam O'Connor, found out who she was, tracked her down, and executed her. He was very loyal to Doyle, and never trusted her."
"Who is this woman?" JJ asked, air of impatience in her voice.
"What?" Hotch abruptly cut him off, to wide-eyed looks from his team. "Ambassador Prentiss's daughter?"
"Yes." Easter, unlike the others, didn't seem surprised.
"How did she get mixed up with someone like Ian Doyle?" Surely she was no longer the rebellious college student who had no interest in authority, but he'd imagined she'd have been a socialite by now. Or a politician.
"She was CIA, part of the Interpol team I led. We put her undercover." Again Easter looked away, and his body grew tense. "She's the reason we were able to arrest Doyle."
"Hotch, how do you know this woman?" Of course, Dave was the only one brave enough to ask him.
"I know her mother, the Ambassador's security detail was my first leadership assignment. I only spoke to her daughter once. I called her to ask about a friend she had in Egypt. She told me to suck it, and then hung up." He almost smiled at the memory. That had been as interesting as that detail got.
Easter did smile, but it was restrained, almost like it hurt. "That certainly sounds like Emily."
"What was her role undercover?" Reid brought them back to the issue at hand.
"At first business colleague, she was an arms dealer, then she became his lover, and at some point, the stupid bastard actually fell in love with her. We put her under as a love interest, but…" He shook his head.
"Is there anyway he or his people could have found out her real identity?" Morgan asked, still studying the file.
"Back then, no. We were very careful, and after we pulled her out, Tsia and Jeremy arranged the death of Lauren Reynolds, her cover ID." He sighed then.
Reid was frowning. "You said "back then", has something changed now?"
"Well clearly someone betrayed my team. They're all dead."
"Except you," Rossi noted.
"I didn't betray my team."
"But you know who did," Hotch said. "Otherwise, you'd be just as interested in finding them as you are in finding Doyle."
Easter just nodded.
"You mind sharing with the rest of us?" Rossi asked.
Something wasn't fitting for Hotch. Easter shouldn't be at the FBI feeding them information. Spies don't work that way. He focused his stern glare on the Brit. "why are revealing so much classified information? And, why aren't your people, or Interpol or CIA involved in this investigation? Why haven't they taken it out of our hands?"
Easter smirked. "Scrambling to clean up this problem would involve admitting they were involved in it. And I'm the only one left, it isn't like they have much to lose."
"Why haven't they given you a security detail?" Morgan asked.
Easter looked away then, and when he looked back, his eyes were guarded again. "After she disappeared I became hell-bent on finding her, even after they all dropped the investigation, I kept searching…I suppose I became something of a pain in the ass. They aren't exactly fond of me anymore."
"So, you came to us for help."
"I can look out for myself. But…I promised her that no one would harm her." He focused intently on Morgan then. "I want to put a bullet in Doyle's forehead."
Morgan nodded solemnly, and Hotch could only assume he was thinking of his own undercover work. It was one of many things that the younger man rarely spoke about or even mentioned in passing.
"We arrest criminals, Mr. Easter. We don't execute them," he said.
"You can't capture this man, Agent Hotchner. He'll get free of your prisons as easily as he did the North Korean prison. Then he will start killing again. Execution is the only way to stop him."
Rossi held up his hands then. "How about we save discussing appropriate punishment for when we actually have him?"
Hotch's gaze didn't waver from the staring contest he had with Easter. After several minutes he finally broke it and looked at his team. "Alright, the first thing we need to do is account for everyone from your team, Agent Easter, and the team of private contractors."
Easter scoffed. "Well that's easy. My team is dead."
"Except for maybe her." Morgan waved the file on Emily Prentiss.
"I wouldn't hold your breath, Agent…And as for the private contractors, I'm not certain, we didn't really work with them. The only reason I know about them now is because I've been annoyingly persistent with my CIA contacts."
"Can you contact them now, get information on these people? We need to know if there's anyone left to protect."
"I've already contacted them; they know what's going on. They insisted their remaining people have been contacted and sent underground," he said.
Hotch nodded. "Garcia get as much background on all of these people as you can, but focus mostly on Doyle and his contacts. Dave head to the first crime scene, Reid and I will go to the second, and JJ, I need you working your contacts. We don't have much time before the next murder or Doyle disappearing, so let's work fast."
The others nodded and began to break up and head off to where they were needed. Morgan looked puzzled. "Uh, Hotch?"
"My office," he said. Then added as an afterthought. "Bring that file."
The other man's eyebrows hit his hairline, but he nodded anyway, and followed Hotch to his office.
"So, what's going on?" He asked.
Hotch nodded to the file. "I want you to profile her."
"This Emily Prentiss woman?"
"Yes. You've done undercover work, you can get into her head."
"This disappearance…Easter's convinced she's dead, but that isn't the only possibility."
"You think she what? Ran away?" Morgan cinched his eyebrows skeptically.
Hotch cleared his throat. "I don't know, but I would like a picture of her state of mind after Doyle was arrested. Borrow Garcia if you need more background…and make sure to question Easter. I want to know the state of their relationship as well."
"Yeah, I got the feeling there was more to what he was saying too."
Hotch nodded. There was more to all of this than they knew right now. He sensed it the same way he'd sensed the scope of this case. That, he realized, had just become very real.
Doyle was going after the people responsible for putting him away; he may decide to go after the people trying to catch him now.
Morgan was pretty impressed with Emily Prentiss. Clyde Easter, he was much less impressed with so far. The man was carrying around a mountain of guilt.
Easter sat impatiently in the conference room, looking about ready to jump out of his skin. But Morgan supposed having a psychopath after you would do that. He also suspected that part of it was a desire for revenge.
"So tell me about her," he began.
Easter smirked. "There's so much to tell. Why don't you go first, let's see how good you people really are."
Morgan nodded. "Okay." He closed the file, and clasped his hands on top of the folder.
"Fluent in seven languages, top of her class at both Yale and Georgetown, where she got a BA in linguistics from the former, and MA in Psychology from the latter. Recruited to the CIA straight out of grad school at 24. Most of her file is blacked out, but she was clearly talented enough to be picked for your team, and there was a post-it in the file that said she received the Medal of Bravery. I assume you wrote that."
Easter didn't react, just continued watching Morgan, his smirk slowly beginning to fail.
Morgan sighed and pressed on. "Before college, it was much of the same. She'd attended no fewer than seven schools, and had only tutors at times, but she managed to keep straight-As, even in AP courses. Funny thing is, she had a bad habit of cutting class and at least one concerned school counselor. Clearly she went through a punk phase." He held up the yearbook photo Garcia tracked down. "I'm thinking she was a groupie for The Cure."
"Is that supposed to shock me?"
Morgan shook his head. "No, just an observation. See at first, I was thinking typical Type-A overachiever. Except, if that was the case, she'd have gone to class religiously. That was part of the need for control, and she wouldn't have gone for the punk look. Overachievers tend to be straight-laced. No, I think it was something else."
"Oh please, don't make me wait."
He snorted, and pressed on. "It was just all too easy for her. Highly intelligent, easily bored, and prone to impulsivity, that was evident in her youth. The picture that eventually developed for me though, was of a woman who had serious difficulty with relationships and emotional intimacy, was extremely guarded, and maybe even a little paranoid."
When Clyde didn't speak, Morgan continued, holding up the Interpol ID photo. "Emily Prentiss was a brilliant woman, who trusted very, very few people, and let even fewer get close."
"Not bad, Agent. But you forgot her chameleon-like ability to become anyone she needed to be."
Morgan shook his head. "No, I didn't. If you become whoever people want you to be, you never really have to let them get close…" He sighed. "But, what I want to know, is what it is you're hiding."
"I suppose it wouldn't matter if I said I wasn't hiding anything?"
"I'm guessing you had a relationship with her. How far did it go? We you lovers?"
Easter's whole face was tense, lips pressed together so hard it must have hurt.
"That's it isn't it? You sent your lover to go fuck a terrorist for a profile, and it messed with her head didn't it?" The other man didn't respond. "When she came out, she wasn't the same person, was she? She was even more distant, even more paranoid. You felt like you didn't know her anymore. This thing…it broke her."
Easter slammed a hand down on the table, but then quickly calmed himself. "You are both accurate and completely inaccurate."
"So…set me straight." He held up his empty hands in invitation.
Tension made Easter body tight, the veins in his neck bulging. He wagged a finger at Morgan. "One thing I will set you straight on, we weren't lovers. We were close, had each other's backs for a while, and in the months before she went undercover on Doyle, we began getting even closer. But neither of us wanted to go that far, we stayed friends."
"But when the assignment ended, she was different," Morgan said.
"Yes, she was." He sighed. "She was…conflicted. I think she cared for him, but it was more than that, like you said."
"She was distant from you, and paranoid."
"Very much, and not only with me, Sean, Tsia and Jeremy as well."
"Then one day she was gone."
Easter froze, studied him, and his eyes narrowed. "If you're suggesting she ran away, you're mistaken. She had no reason to do so."
Morgan shook his head. He knew what uncover work was like, how it could mess with your head, and how when you came out of a long assignment, you weren't quite sure who you really were. He remembered how disconnected he'd felt, and how the paranoia and nightmares the first month out had nearly broken him. It's possible Emily Prentiss was dead, but felt it was equally possible that she'd just had enough and left.
It should have been less surprising for him then, when there was a knock at the door, and a woman he'd only seen in pictures walked into the room.
So, this is the last of the requests I got for Doyle/Prentiss fics. Finally, finally. The rest of the chapters will be a bit shorter, but there will be at least double the four chapters I had estimated on my profile. I don't imagine anyone is actually disappointed by that. :)
Thanks for reading, and please check out the poll in my profile!