Elusive Chapter 14
A 2012 Criminal Minds Big Bang Story

by kuriadalmatia

Disclaimers and general author's notes can be found in Chapter 1.

Chapter Notes: Wrapping it all up here. With the Hand Man and Mission Gasser cases resolved, what more could there be? Slash ahoy! This has been altered from the original version posted on AO3 and my LJ. Additional A/N at the end.

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My dearest Aaron,

I bid you greetings from Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Congratulations on solving the Scarlet Letter Widower case! Such an odd name that the press came up with, but I digress. Had I realized that you were working in Madison, I would have joined you for the celebration.

It's a shame that Marsha Murphy took her own life before you could apprehend her, but I hope that the conclusion of the case helps ease your mind.

… I look forward to spending time with you next week. I've missed you terribly.

As always yours,

Spencer


Thankfully, the weekend that Spencer decided to return to DC coincided with four straight days of downtime for the BAU. Aaron insisted on picking Spencer up from the airport, going so far as to hold a sign that read "Doctor Reid" as he stood in the baggage claim area of Reagan National.

When Spencer saw him, his eyes lit up and he grinned widely. They didn't kiss, but Aaron found himself holding on a bit longer when Spencer embraced him. During the drive from the airport to Aaron's apartment, Aaron was expecting his lover to deluge him with his research and the drafts of his treatise. Spencer was brimming with excitement, but focused the conversation exclusively on the Hand Man and Mission Gasser aka the Scarlet Letter Widower.

Aaron kept his answers concise, trying his best not to allow his frustration flavor his tone. It went on for about ten minutes before Spencer asked, "You solved the cases, Aaron …"

He stared at the traffic ahead of them. He debated on voicing his true feelings, then wondering why he was holding back from Spencer. According to Haley, one of his biggest flaws was that he didn't share himself. At the time, he had justified it by stating he didn't want her exposed to the gruesomeness of his job. One person in the house having nightmares was bad enough.

Yet Spencer had lived it. Spencer knew. Spencer understood. Spencer had nightmares just like every member of the BAU endured. Aaron could say something like, "The smell of fish nauseates me," and Spencer would immediately understand. He wouldn't ask why. He would simply accept the statement.

Because of those reasons, Aaron sighed, "They didn't feel right, Spence."

"How do you mean?"

"We've been tracking down the Hand Man for twenty-six months," he explained. "Twenty-six months that this man has outwitted us, always staying one step ahead. And then, in Ocala, boom! We catch him. Correction: we stumble across a name in the victim's calendar, find three hundred bucks on the victim's desk, and discover that the UnSub has OD'd in his storage unit."

"One would say luck was on your side."

"You don't believe in luck, Spence," he snapped.

"I don't, but you do."

The succinct reply tempered his anger. He let out a sigh. "The point is that when I got to that storage unit … saw what was inside …" Aaron shook his head. "It was too perfect." He spared a glance over and noted the surprised expression on his lover's face, so he clarified, "Everything was there, Spence. Everything. His research. His list of victims. Google maps of the bars the victims frequented. If there was a checklist of items needed to convince the local PD and DA that this was the UnSub and we didn't need to continue the investigation, it hit on every point."

"And you're upset about it."

"I'm … I'm …" Frustration made him hit the steering wheel. "Morgan gave me the 'take the win for what it is' speech. Do you have any idea how fucking annoying that is?"

"Yes."

It was meant as a rhetorical question but Spencer's answer stopped him short. Of course he would know. How many times had Aaron delivered that speech to the younger man? Probably a shit ton, because in those early months Spencer was in the bureau, Aaron had felt the man didn't have the emotional maturity to handle it when a case seemed to solve itself. "Jesus, Spence, I'm sorry."

"I know why you say it, Aaron," his lover countered gently, "especially nowadays when it seems that every rookie agent believes their lives will now be a wild mix of CSI, Cold Case, Law & Order, Without a Trace, and whatever other crime drama is out there. I wasn't like that, so yes, I found it annoying. I can also see why it was so grating to you. I bet Morgan brought up the first time you gave him that speech."

"He did."

"And suddenly you were wondering, 'since when does my subordinate console me after a case?'"

The statement made him laugh a little. "Guilty as charged."

"So what is it about the case that's bothering you so much?"

The direct question made Aaron pause. He thought for a few seconds before admitting, "Dufresne fit the profile almost perfectly. Abusive, alcoholic father who was an attorney. His father was never convicted of the DUI that killed his mother … there were so many things right about the profile."

"But?" Spencer prompted after Aaron fell silent.

"How he staged the crime scenes … it wasn't something he just picked up from reading a book or watching TV or even interviewing current or former cops. The UnSub left just enough evidence … nothing conclusive … but just enough so that when we caught Dufresne, everything seemed to fall into place."

"When you say, 'left just enough evidence' what do you mean?"

Relieved that Spencer wasn't dismissing his comments, Aaron clarified, "Small things. Little things. We found half a matchbook cover at Baysworth's crime scene—he was the first Memphis kill—and the other half turned up at Dufresne's storage unit. There was the empty bottle of Hell's Den vodka found at Brightwell's crime scene—he was the first Savannah victim—in an area where you can't get that brand of vodka. Yet we found receipts at Dufresne's unit for that brand purchased in Atlanta less than twenty-four hours before Brightwell was murdered." He let out a sigh. "I'm sure as the DA goes through all the evidence, he'll be able to tie each of the murders back to something that discovered in Dufresne's storage unit. That's the thing."

"It sounds as if Dufresne was leaving souvenirs."

Aaron let out a deep breath. "But why? As careful as Dufresne was with every other aspect to the crime scene, why leave something that could concretely connect him to the crimes?"

"He was being too clever."

Aaron blinked. "Clever? No. Dufresne was so precise about the crime scenes in every other aspect. It doesn't make sense, Spence. He's doing everything else right in order not to get caught. Sure, he has his signature, the mutilation of his victims' right hand. Like I said before, everything else about the crime scene is practical …" He let out a frustrated sigh. "We profiled that the UnSub has knowledge of law enforcement, that he understands exactly how a crime scene is processed and knows what detectives look for, yet Dufresne didn't have that background. Neither did Marsha Murphy."

"Dufresne was studying to be prosecutor, wasn't he? And Murphy was a wife of attorney. It's plausible she could have picked up that information from her husband's work."

"Dufresne was pre-law, majoring in psychology. None of his course work was in criminology," Aaron replied. "Murphy's husband specialized in corporate law. He would not have been exposed to that type of prosecution."

"They still could have researched …"

"Spence, it's like saying that I can setup a complex experiment in a chem lab at CalTech because I took a chemistry class or two in high school and college. You can, because you've done it. You have practical experience," he insisted, "not just book knowledge."

"So you don't consider either case closed?"

"The Bureau says they are."

"That's not the question I asked."

Aaron pressed his lips together. Finally, "No. I don't consider them closed."


The moment Aaron closed and locked the apartment door, Spencer pounced him. He was pushed back against the door as Spencer delivered a searing kiss. Aaron immediately dropped his briefcase and the strap of his go bag slipped off his shoulder, the bag crashing to the floor. He wrapped his arms around Spencer.

God, it felt so good to have him back.

He felt his suit jacket being pushed off his shoulders, so he released his hold on Spencer, allowing the garment to slide down his arms. Spencer pulled him forward by his belt loops, which caused the jacket to fall to the floor. His lover then swiftly undid Aaron's tie, pulled it from his collar, and tossed it to the side. He did all this as he continued to kiss Aaron aggressively. Next, Spencer worked on the buttons of Aaron's shirt.

Aaron managed to turn his head to the side. He broke the kiss as he panted, "I'm armed," because of all the things that could be running through his head, the possibility of his Glock—which was safely holstered and clipped to his belt—going off was suddenly the number one thing.

Spencer grabbed Aaron's hand and pulled it towards his crotch. Aaron felt his lover's rock hard cock.

"So am I," Spencer chuckled wickedly as he rocked against Aaron's hand. "I figured it out, Aaron."

"Yes, you did," he replied as he gently squeezed and rubbed his lover's dick. Relief poured through him, matching his desire and passion.

"Want to do something about it?"

"Yes," Aaron breathed, and it was his turn to thread his free hand in Spencer's hair and crash their lips together. He pushed forward with his upper body, determined to back the man into their bedroom.

Their bedroom. Because it was.

And sometime during Aaron's post-orgasmic stupor, Spencer whispered, "I figured it out, Aaron," as he curled around him. "I figured it out."

"I know," Aaron murmured as pulled his lover closer. "I know."


It was one of the oddest post-sex conversations Aaron had ever had. There were so many other things to talk about—how Spencer overcame his ED was at the top of Aaron's list—that when Spencer focused exclusive on the Hand Man, Aaron wasn't quite sure how to respond. While there was one part of him that just wanted to drop the subject entirely, there was part pleased that Spencer was willing to discuss it with him, to help him figure out why he couldn't accept the resolution.

"You said the Hand Man made a mistake," Spencer began as he twirled Aaron's chest hair around one of his fingers, "which of course he did. He didn't check Shelley's computer to see if his victim had made an entry on his eCalendar. He left the three hundred dollars on Shelley's desk."

"Rookie mistakes."

"What do you mean?"

Aaron hitched an eyebrow as he looked at his lover. "Shelley was the Hand Man's eleventh murder victim, his fourteenth overall if you count the first assault separately. I don't think it was complacency on the Hand Man's part either. He handed Shelley the money. He knew that Shelley took it in to his home office. After he killed Shelley, why didn't he retrieve it?"

"He left in a hurry."

"But he cleaned everything else up, Spence," Aaron countered. "He took the murder weapon and the bottles of booze he forced Shelley to drink. Why wouldn't he take the extra few minutes to pick up the cash and check Shelley's computer?"

"He didn't want to wait for it to boot up?"

"It was already on."

"Oh."

Aaron rolled to his side as he realized something else. "We didn't find the murder weapon in the storage unit."

"He disposed of it on his way there."

"Why? The unit was private, secure. It's where he kept everything else. Why risk it?"

"He panicked."

"But why?" Aaron insisted. "This isn't his first. This is his eleventh. The Hand Man is meticulous. He plans. He knows Shelley is divorced, that no one was expecting him until nine the next morning. He met with Shelley at seven in the evening, which gave him plenty of time to torture and kill Shelley."

"Doesn't Shelley have mistresses? What if one stopped by his house?"

"Fair enough. But that would still be between nine and midnight that night or seven and nine the next morning," he contended. "When Shelley didn't answer the door, the woman would have probably given up. She also would have called first, and there's no record of incoming calls that evening. The Hand Man had plenty of time." He rolled to his side, facing his lover. "Which brings me to why Dufresne committed suicide. Again, it doesn't make sense. By killing Shelley, we assume that Hand Man planned to go back to his first two victims to eliminate them as witnesses."

"Why doesn't it make sense? He went back to his list and started from the beginning."

"Let's say I'm the Hand Man," Aaron began. "Marcheon was my last victim. I chose him because he was the biggest prize out there. I get away with it. I'm untouchable, unstoppable. I've outwitted local, state and federal authorities. However I realize that they may discover the two victims that, for whatever reason, I allowed to live. They are my Achilles heel, and the only choice I have is to eliminate them as witnesses."

"But they were dosed, Aaron," Spencer said quietly.

"I never said they were dosed."

"I have an eidetic memory," his lover countered primly. "I remember what you say."

Momentarily confused, because none of the reports regarding the two assault victims mentioned anything about Rohypnol or similar substances, Aaron could only nod. He didn't remember floating the theory to Spencer, but obviously he must have.

"Anyway … even though the victims can't recall the evenings' events clearly, I—the Hand Man—am not going to take chances now," Aaron continued his narrative. "Ocala is where I started. It's where I have my shrine of my kills so I can relive them in privacy. I know that once I kill one of them, the FBI will be on the case because I am compelled to kill him in the same manner as the others. Why would I risk my home base right away?

"The FBI has only connected me to five murders; the other five are considered unsolved homicides by the local police. I know that. I've been following the cases religiously. Why would I think that the FBI knows about Shelley and Detzel?"

"Paranoia." Spencer fiddled with the sheet for a few moments. He then sat up, his back against the headboard. "I realize that when the BAU is called in about Shelley's murder, they are going to alert the remaining living victim and set up a trap. I can only feasibly dispose of one victim, so I chose the person I started this journey with."

"No," Aaron said as he got out of bed. "I'm a mission-based killer and I'm cleaning house. I'm not going to stop until I've completed my mission."

"But all the evidence indicates that Dufresne was working alone," he protested.

It was as if the missing piece finally fell into place. Aaron realized why the case bothered him so much. "Because that's what the dominant partner wanted us to think. Detzel is still a viable target." Aaron grabbed his boxers from off the floor and checked the clock on the nightstand. "How far is Columbus, Georgia from Atlanta?"

"One hundred eight miles."

"Atlanta's the busiest airport. We have the best shot of getting a flight there tonight. We'll drive to Columbus tonight and re-interview Detzel first thing tomorrow."

"Aaron …"

"Come with me. Please."

His lover paled as he fisted the sheets. "Don't do this, Aaron."

"I have to."

Spencer rocketed out of bed and over to Aaron. He grabbed his wrists, squeezing hard as Aaron tried to pull away. "Please, Aaron. Don't."

Aaron met his gaze, stunned to see the outright panic in his lover's eyes, but it didn't override his need to get to Columbus, Georgia. "Detzel is in danger."

"He's not."

"The dominant partner …"

"… is just a theory because you can't accept that the case was resolved so easily."

"I'm going to Georgia tonight, Spencer, with or without you."

His lover abruptly released him, shoulders slumping. "Don't do this, Aaron."

"I need to know, Spencer. Please, tell me you understand that much of it."

Spencer looked away. "I do."

"Then go with me."

When his lover met his gaze again, his eyes were wet. "You won't like the answers you're going to find."

"Maybe I won't, Spencer, but I need those answers."


"It is impossible to love and to be wise." – Sir Francis Bacon


They had two discussions prior to leaving for the airport once Spencer agreed to go with Aaron: the first was over Spencer's firearm. Aaron was surprised that his lover carried a .38 Smith 65 3' revolver, tucked away in his satchel, of all the goddamn, unsecured places.

"I'm not going there unarmed," Spencer told him flatly.

"You mean to tell me, you've been carrying a weapon with you all this time?"

"I have a permit, Aaron."

"If you need a piece, use my backup," Aaron offered. "You're a good shot with it." The little joke did not go over well.

"I haven't fired a Glock in over two years. I'm more comfortable with a revolver," he explained tiredly. "I won't be able to take it on the flight with me, but you can because you're a federal agent. Just carry that instead of your Glock 27. Please, Aaron."

Aaron hesitated for just a moment, knowing that he'd have to lie when he was asked by airport security if he owned both weapons. Yet he understood the reluctance to carry a weapon he didn't feel comfortable with. Against his better judgment, Aaron agreed because more than anything, he wanted Spencer with him.

If Aaron was right, he wanted backup in case they came across the Hand Man. If he was wrong, Spencer wouldn't hold it against him. So Aaron packed the weapon and they left for the 9 PM flight from Dulles to Atlanta. Detzel lived on the north side of Columbus, which was only an hour and a half away from the Atlanta airport.

The second discussion was about alerting Detzel that they were coming. Spencer listed several reasons why alerting the Columbus PD wasn't a good idea, including "If the UnSub is in Columbus already, he's listing to the police band radio. When he hears that units are being dispatched to Detzel's home, he'll leave the city before we can get there."

"Agreed. We can meet him at his office tomorrow …"

"No!" Spencer snapped sharply. "We meet him at his home tonight."

"It will be after midnight."

"And when does the Hand Man strike?"

Aaron understood what his lover was driving at. "In the evenings or early morning hours."

"Call him, Aaron. Tell him you're on your way."

So Aaron did, patiently explaining to an already drunk Detzel why he should stay at home and not open the door for anyone except him. He didn't think much of it.


The flight to Atlanta and the drive to Columbus were spent in tense silence. He knew Spencer was upset and nothing he said was going to change that. Once they were parked in Detzel's driveway, it felt like the old days when he and Spencer worked a case together.

Before he opened the door, Spencer grabbed his wrist. "You don't have to do this."

"Spencer, we're already here."

"I know but … this? This is going to change everything."

"What do you mean?"

"It just will, Aaron."

Annoyed, he shook him off. "The only thing it's going to change is whether or not the case is open. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong."

Aaron got out of the car, debating the wisdom of showing up on the doorstep of a drunk attorney at 1:30 in the morning. As he shut the door, he watched as Spencer exited the vehicle and checked his weapon once he closed the door. They walked up to the modest house in silence, Aaron pulling out his badge and shield, fixing the latter on the kerchief pocket of his jacket. Spencer stayed a step behind, hands in his pockets.

Once at the front door, Aaron rang the doorbell twice. It took several minutes before they heard stumbling on the inside and the door finally swung open. Detzel reeked of alcohol and for a moment, Aaron wasn't a federal agent trying to save a man's life, he was a little kid dealing with his trashed-out-of-his-mind father.

"Mister Detzel," he began. "I'm Agent Hotchner. We spoke on the phone earlier."

"Yeah, yeah," the attorney slurred. "I'm in danger again." He swayed back on his feet before turning and haphazardly walking into the living room.

Out of the corner of his eye, Aaron saw Spencer close the door. He then followed Detzel to where the man had sprawled out on a leather couch.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet with us," Aaron stated. Detzel waved his hand dismissively. Aaron began walking around the room, noting how overly masculine it was decorated. "Is there anyone else here, Mister Detzel?"

"Nope. Just me. Damn, where the hell is my drink?"

"Jack Daniels with two ice cubes in a tall glass, right?" Spencer suddenly asked.

Aaron had his back to Detzel and Spencer as he examined the man's bookshelves, but when he heard the question he began to turn.

Suddenly, Detzel sputtered, "Oh, Jesus fucking Christ. It's you."

Aaron whipped around just in time to see Spencer pull his gun, aim and shoot. The gunshot echoed in the room and Detzel's brain splattered onto the couch and behind it. Luckily, none of the gore hit Aaron.

Finally, Aaron's brain got into gear. He rushed over to Spencer and yanked the gun out of his hand. "What the fuck, Spencer?" he yelled as he put the safety on and jammed the weapon in the back of his waistband. "What the fuck are you doing?"

"You need to call this in, Aaron," Spencer told him calmly. "But before you do, you have a decision to make."

"Spencer, you killed him!"

"How are you going to report this to 9-1-1?"

"What?"

His lover favored him with a patient gaze. "I suggest telling them that, when you arrived on the scene, you found the front door ajar. When you entered, you found Todd Detzel dead on the couch. You searched the house to confirm that no one else was there. You called 9-1-1."

"You want me to cover up what you did?" he demanded, appalled.

"If you don't, you'll be convicted as an accessory to first degree murder. After all, you did claim the murder weapon as yours when we went through airport security. You're a federal agent. You knew better. You also called Detzel and instructed him not to contact the police. That he was to stay here until you arrived."

Aaron swallowed hard as his mind raced. Things began falling into place in his mind, hard and painful. The betrayal made his knees weak. "You set me up."

"And when they look further into the case, they'll discover that you provided me access to classified materials on the Hand Man case. You discussed it with me frequently, keeping me appraised of the progress that was made."

"You're the dominant partner."

"I told you that you wouldn't like the answers."

"You killed him!"

"He was an unrepentant bad man who deserved his fate."

"He deserved justice!"

"Which was meted out."

"Good God, did you kill Dufresne?"

"We need to deal with Detzel before we talk about Dufresne, Aaron," Spencer chided and then tapped his chin. "This home is semi-secluded and in a heavily-wooded neighborhood. His nearest neighbors are eight hundred feet away. How about we pulled into the driveway and as we approached, we heard the gunshot? You led the charge, finding Detzel dead on the couch. We heard the backdoor slam close and you gave chase. I called 9-1-1 to relay the shooting after I checked the rest of the house; I'm a former agent so that will be very plausible. You gave up the chase shortly afterwards because you didn't have a mag light and you were unfamiliar with the surrounding areas. I think that may work better."

"How do you propose we explain your gun?"

"We need to agree on a strategy, Aaron. We don't have much time."

"No."

"Aaron," Spencer said softly, "you realize if you turn me in, your career is destroyed. You're accessory to murder, no matter how you look at it. Even if you're cleared of all charges, what will you do? You will be a disgraced FBI agent and you will be disbarred. Think about the fallout. Every case that you have worked on will now be reopened. Defense attorneys will level claims of misconduct. All those convictions will be in doubt. This isn't like Gideon walking away from the BAU. Unlike him, all the good you have done will be negated."

Bile raced up his throat. He coughed. His blood ran cold because he knew Spencer was telling him the truth. Aaron supposed he could deal with being ousted from the FBI and disbarred, but the repercussions throughout the legal system would be devastating.

Not only would his mistake affect the cases he'd worked over the years, it would cast doubt on everything within the BAU.

He had only one choice.

Aaron stared at the floor with tears in his eyes. "We pulled up to Detzel's home. As we exited the vehicle, we heard gunshots. I instructed you to stay in the car because you were unarmed. I told you to call 9-1-1 before I took off inside the house."

"I disobeyed your order because you were going into an unknown situation without backup. I remembered what happened to Elle. I couldn't let that happen to you," Spencer added.

Aaron swallowed again, the warm enthusiasm in Spencer's voice making him nauseous. He nodded. "Okay … We found Detzel … we heard the backdoor …"

"Good, good," Spencer encouraged before walking swiftly to the back of the house. When he returned, he touched Aaron's elbow. "The backdoor was already unlocked. It's a standard deadbolt. What else?"

"I chased after him, but lost him quickly. I was unfamiliar with the woods. I didn't have a tactical illumination on my Glock."

"I called 9-1-1 after I cleared the house." Spencer brushed his hand down the side of Aaron's face. "Then we're agreed?

Aaron did his best not to flinch. "That doesn't explain the gun, Spencer," he said hoarsely. "They'll know I checked a revolver at the airport. They'll need to run ballistics on it to eliminate it."

"Do we agree on what we tell the police?"

He met Spencer's gaze. He shivered, because his lover looked at him with such calmness that it was frightening. "Yes."

"Give me the revolver, Aaron. I'll take care of it." Spencer held out his hand. "Trust me, Aaron."

He closed his eyes. He reached behind him and pulled the weapon from his waistband. He handed it to Spencer.

Spencer gave him a soft kiss. "I love you, Aaron Hotchner."

He shivered as shame and horror washed over him.

He couldn't believe what he just agreed to.

He wondered how he was going to live with this decision.


"If you're afraid to ask the question, it's probably because you already know the answer." – Miriam M. Wynn


The murder of Todd Detzel was ruled a homicide, the latest in a series of home-invasions in the area and the first that resulted in a death. Ballistics tested Spencer's revolver, which the former agent pulled from the glove compartment of their rental car and turned over to police, and determined that it was not the weapon used in Detzel's murder. Apparently, it hadn't been fired in months. That same day a gun was found one mile from Detzel's home. Ballistics confirmed it was the weapon used to kill Todd Detzel.

Spencer Reid and Aaron Hotchner were cleared of any suspicion and headed back to Atlanta. Neither spoke the drive from Columbus to Atlanta. Neither spoke on the flight from Atlanta to DC.

Aaron had so many questions he wanted to ask.

He was terrified of what the answers would be.

After all, Spencer had somehow managed to sneak a gun through airport security in DC. The more Aaron thought about it, the more he wondered why he was surprised. Spencer chose to travel by rail because it was less traceable, less restrictive, and less security-controlled than air travel. Spencer had perfected going "off the grid" when he wanted and/or needed to by using a combination of cash and gift cards. He didn't carry a cell phone. He didn't communicate via email.

The letters Spencer had sent gave a timeline of where the man was, but Spencer never mentioned being in same cities as the Hand Man kills. The closest Spencer got was the Los Angeles and Santa Cruz murders; his letters put him in Pasadena and San Jose. Hotch also picked up the pattern to the kills; whenever Spencer talked about a new breakthrough in his research on injustice collectors by proxy, it corresponded with one of the Hand Man's kills.

Letters also matched up to the Mission Gasser killings.

Oh, those the reporters Spencer frothed about? Turned up dead or thoroughly disgraced.

Aaron didn't want to know how Spencer lured Alex Dufresne into committing those crimes as the Hand Man or if Dufresne was, in fact, innocent of everything. Was Dufresne just an overzealous fan with revenge fantasies that the Hand Man played out to perfection for him? And just how had Spencer orchestrated the Mission Gasser killings with Marsha Murphy? Had he been the dominant partner for the first four couples but allowed Murphy to dispatch the last as a reward for her loyalty?

And if Spencer truly classified himself as an injustice collector by proxy, why hadn't he targeted Haley? If Marcheon had been Spencer's ultimate target in his Hand Man kills, why wasn't Haley the final target in his Mission Gasser murders?

It was the only question he dared to ask, because if Haley died as a result of his silence …

Spencer stared at him for a long moment, frowning as if Aaron had asked the stupidest question ever. "During my research," which was terminology Spencer used for all his killings, "I discovered that the female adulterers were forgiven of all their transgressions by their husbands. The widowers blamed themselves for their wives taking on a lover, and publicly stated that their wives' death was a result of their failure to be a good husband."

Aaron looked down at his hands. "You believed that I would take the same route."

"I know you, Aaron. You would have. As I stated several times, I consider you mine. I don't share. If your adulterous ex-wife were to fall victim to a crime such as the Mission Gasser, she would have a claim over you, a claim she does not deserve."

"Then she's not a target."

"She'll never be a target, Aaron. Surely you understand why."

And Aaron did.

So he kept his silence, refusing to dwell on the decision he made down in Georgia.

Spencer moved in with him, accepting a teaching position at Georgetown University.

Aaron continued to lead the BAU, although he gave himself a year before he would retire.

It wasn't perfect.

It never would be.

And Aaron Hotchner wondered how long it would be before Spencer Reid grabbed his hand and asked him to jump in front of an oncoming train.

Because in Aaron's experience, that was the only way their relationship would ever last.

He was, after all, in love with a psychopath.

~~~~~ Finis ~~~~~

Author's Notes: I know that UnSub!Spencer isn't going to be a popular resolution and, yes, there was a reason it was somewhat telegraphed throughout the story. This story was inspired by prompt from a kink meme: "He never noticed how tempting the genius could be, until he became the very thing he hunted. Hotch being gradually seduced by a snapped Reid who is killing in Hotch's name. (preferably Pre-divorce)" back in December 2011. When the CMBB came up, I decided to tackle this.

This is the first story in a very long time that I plotted out from start to finish because of the complexity of the subplots. I purchased a map of the US and marked where Spencer's letters were from and how close the cities where the victims were located. I spent a stupid amount of time on Amtrak's website making sure that I could get Spencer from Point A to Point B and be virtually untraceable. His letters provided a timeline and a trail of his kills, but since they weren't in the same cities as his letters originated from, it could cause reasonable doubt.

What caused Reid to snap? For me, it was the overwhelming guilt from the Fisher King coupled with Elle's downfall, and knowing that if Elle hadn't killed the rapist in Dayton, the man would have gone free. I also purposefully set Reid's departure prior to "The Big Game/Revelations" since him leaving because of Hankel has been done several times. I wanted a different reason.

Reid's ambivalence towards Morgan was intentional. He considers Morgan a threat (and Garcia to a lesser extent because she can track him), but he would never target any member of the BAU, no matter how close they got to the truth. The men and women Reid targeted were "unrepentant bad men" (which is a direct quote from the Fisher King). Does he stop killing now that Hotch knows the truth? That's up to the reader.

Did Hotch realize that the Hand Man and/or the Mission Gasser could be Reid? Was that final confrontation to force Reid to reveal himself? Again, that's up to the reader. However, I did write this believing that, in his mind, Hotch kept Spencer and the Job separate, even though Spencer wrote a treatise about injustice collectors by proxy.

As for Reid's "research," isn't there an old writing adage that says, "Write what you know?"

There are no plans for a sequel.