Garcia put the phone down. Calling Hotch probably wasn't the best idea. After all the "issue" she had to discuss with him was insanely private.
Garcia was also quite upset that he hadn't told a single person on the team (as far as she knew) about his whole other identity. He was married for goodness sake! For a long time! How could he not have told them? Didn't he trust them?
At that moment the phone rang again and she sighed. This would undoubtedly be another gruesome case that they would have to attend to immediately. It seemed like this happened every time Garcia was worn out and tired and when she was ready to go home.
10 minutes later she knew she would have to call in the team. As she'd predicted the case was urgent and they needed to get to Pennsylvania as quickly as possible.
She called Hotch last; desperately hoping he wouldn't notice anything out of the ordinary.
"Hotch you have to come in. We've got a case in Pennsylvania."
"Okay. I'll be there in ten."
"Okay. See you then. Bye," she said hastily.
"Wait Garcia." Crap, she thought to herself.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Nothing sir," she responded in as normal a tone she could manage.
"Just tell me Garcia," he commanded impatiently.
"Someone just called for you. That's all." Please don't ask me who called. Please don't ask me who called. Please-
"Who was it?"
"Umm I'll tell you when you get here. It's not important for now."
"Garcia I am still your boss. You better tell me who called." He was definitely in Unit Chief Mode now and his voice was strict.
"Your wife?" she said meekly.
"Garcia that is not funny. We both know my wife is dead," he said sounding upset.
Garcia hurried to clear up the misunderstanding. "No sir. Not Haley. Dharma Montgomery."
Silence. Hotch didn't say a word and Garcia was beginning to become nervous.
"Sir? Hotch? Are you okay?"
"What did she say?" he asked in a strained voice.
"That she's umm coming for you. Should I be worried? Should I call someone or something? And honestly why the hell didn't you tell anyone about this? You know you can trust us right?"
"You don't have to call anyone. Dharma's… well she's very unique but she's not dangerous in any way. I'll be at the office soon; I just have to drop Beth off first. I'll explain things then. And Garcia, please don't tell the others just yet. I have a feeling I'm going to have to sooner or later and I would prefer to do it myself."
"Of course. You can count on me."
"I know. I'll see you soon."
Hotch hit the "end call" button on his phone and looked at Beth apologetically. They were currently in a small Italian restaurant, it was his first night off in a week and it was obvious Beth was upset.
"I am really sorry but I have to go."
"Of course you do. You always do," she sighed waving the waiter over to them. They had just finished their starter and everything had been going great.
"Don't you want to have your main course?" Hotch asked her.
"No I'd rather just go home," she said in a frosty tone.
Hotch paid and they left the restaurant in silence. Inside him his emotions were in turmoil but he schooled his face into the stern mask that he had mastered soon after he had last seen Dharma. Dharma.
Something about his features must have been off however because Beth noticed something.
"What's wrong?" she asked. She was clearly still made at him but her concern also shone through in her voice.
"Nothing. It's nothing." He opened the car door for her.
"Yes there's definitely something wrong. Tell me," she persisted.
"There is nothing wrong," he said quietly and shut the car door softly. He was walking to the front door when he heard her. Her voice hadn't changed a bit.
"Greg." It was a statement, not a question. She knew it was him; there was absolutely no doubt in her voice. He froze.
"Greg turn around and look at me. Or have you suddenly become a coward?" she asked lightly, teasingly. She sounded exactly, exactly as she always had. It was like he was transported back to that time. Back to a time that was probably a happier time.
He turned around.
She didn't look the same although she was clearly recognisable. She had aged like he had but she had lost none of the vibrant energy that always seemed to surround her. She was dressed the same too. A long flowery top and leggings. Her hair was still short and to his surprise she was smiling at him.
"Dharma," he said and couldn't help returning her smile.
She ran towards him and jumped into his arms and he caught her out of habit only stumbling slightly but still narrowly missing a honking car. That's when he heard a loud knocking noise that was coming from his own car.
Beth. She was knocking against the car window, fury all over her face. Shit. Hotch had forgotten all about Beth. He tried to untangle himself from Dharma but she wasn't exactly making it easy for him.
When he'd finally managed Beth had gotten out of the car and was standing next to them.
"You'd better tell me that that," she shot a spiteful glare at Dharma, "is your long lost sister that you've just forgotten to mention to me."
Dharma immediately gave Beth a hug. "Hi I'm Dharma. It's so great to finally meet you. Even though he didn't tell me anything about you."
"Aaron didn't tell me anything about you either. Who exactly are you?" Beth asked.
Hotch meanwhile was at a complete loss of what to do. He doubted that even Morgan's smooth talking could sort out this situation.
"I'm Greg's wife," Dharma said cheerfully. "And you are?"
Beth seemed relived at the mention of a husband and for a second Hotch dared to hope that maybe, just maybe, she wouldn't find out. But apparently it just wasn't meant to be.
"I'm Beth. Aaron's girlfriend. Who's Greg?" she asked.
"This is Greg," Dharma said pointing at Hotch as if it were obvious.
"Dharma can we catch up later? Beth, I think we should leave I'm supposed to be at the office in two minutes and they will have to hold the plane," Hotch interjected, trying to salvage some of this night. But Beth wasn't easily dissuaded.
"This is Aaron," she said enunciating every syllable as if she were speaking to a three year old. "Not Greg. Aaron."
"Huh is that what he calls himself now? Well I know his parents and I can guarantee you that his name is Greg."
Hotch could see that Beth was starting to have her doubts now. He had never taken her to meet his parents, he'd wanted to spare her that horror and he hadn't been ready to introduce her yet.
"Aaron. Tell that woman she's crazy and we can go," Beth said.
"Greg. Tell her the truth."
"Beth. I – I'm really sorry. My name used to be Greg. And I was married to Dharma but that was a long time ago and it has nothing to do with us. I haven't seen or spoken to her in years."
"I can't freaking believe I fell for all of you crap Aaron or Greg or whatever. It is over between us."
She turned on her heel and stormed off down the street. Hotch really, really wanted to follow her but as always he would have to put his work above his private life.
"Dharma I know we have a lot to talk about. But I have to get to work. My team expected me a while ago and," he trailed off when he saw that Dharma was no longer standing beside him. She had already gotten into the car.
"You can't come with me. I'm going to Quantico. I joined the FBI and I'm needed on a case," he tried to explain the necessity of his departure.
"Then you'd better start driving because I'm not going anywhere."
Hotch ran through the options in his head.
He could physically drag her out of the car, which would no doubt take forever, and he'd risk someone walking by calling the police. (The irony)
He could start driving.
Hotch got into the driver's seat and turned the keys in the ignition. They drove in silence for a few minutes before Dharma finally spoke up.
"So you're really and truly a Fed now. Larry's going to kill you when he finds our."
And despite himself Hotch couldn't help smiling. "Yeah he probably is."
AN: Thank you to the people who reviewed the prologue, every review is much appreciated. Soooooooooo… please review!