Aaron Hotchner watched as his battle weary agents slowly trudged through the police station. Morgan and Rossi stood on either side of the UnSub, escorting him to an interrogation room. Hotch's dark eyes followed the three men's steady pace through the station. The dark circles under the agents eyes, matched the same ones under the Unit Chiefs, a testament to the sleepless nights dedicated to solving this man.
"This man." Hotch thought almost comically, a real man didn't do what that man had done. They didn't commit the crimes that he did, no he was nothing more than a coward in Hotch's eyes. Hotch's focus went from his agents to their UnSub, who walked through the station with a large smile plastered on his face. Just like the profile predicted, he was a thirty-seven year old man. He appeared strangely normal, nothing like the monster you though he would be. He could be your neighbor, or the guy you passed in the office. He was someone you could trust, maybe that was what was so insidious about him, he didn't look like the person you would commit such horrific acts.
With an exhausted look in his eyes, Morgan gave his Unit Chief a quick nod of the head before closing the interrogation room door. Hotch's focus turned from their UnSub to the other agent's returning from the arrest. Prentiss slowly took off her vest, angrily shoving it into her Go-bag before helping Reid with the reports. It was the blonde agent that worried Hotch the most. JJ stood in front of the victim board, vest still securely around her chest, staring at the picture of their last missing victim.
Weighing his options Hotch slowly walked over to his agent, standing next to her looking at the board filled with too many smiling faces. Next to the happy pictures that families had provided were the pictures that had brought the BAU here, those same smiling faces were now reduced to a still body, found discarded days after they vanished.
Hotch's hand rested on the small of her back, a simple gesture, letting the blonde know he was there. In the quite moment he wasn't Special Agent in Charge Aaron Hotchner, he was just Hotch. She wasn't his agent, for just a moment they dropped the FBI Agent façade, and she leaned just a little closer to him. They were just Aaron and Jennifer, not boss and subordinate, they were just husband and wife.
"We got him babe." He whispered in to her hear, trying to make this day just a little better.
The blonde profiler let out a deep sigh as she unceremoniously moved the last missing person photo, joining it with the other victims the UnSub took from this world too soon. "Not soon enough," she finally answered, allowing a single tear to run down her face.
The team had been called to Williamsburg, Virginia earlier in the week. Their UnSub was kidnapping young boys, ranging in age from six to eleven. He would hold them for twenty-four hours before strangling them and throwing their bodies away like garbage. The boys last days on earth were horrific to say the least.
For Hotch and JJ the case hit particularly close to home. Henry had just turned six the month before, and ten year old Jack, with his sandy blonde hair and brown eyes, bore a striking resemblance to the boys being abducted and murdered. Being so close to home, but not able to see their boys and hold them, had made the couples stress level even higher. Their nightly Skype chats weren't enough to comfort the seasoned agents.
Hotch moved his hand slowly up her back, laying both hands on her shoulders, he turned the blonde so her blue eyes could see his dark brown ones. Hotch moved his hands down her arms, usually this act was one of intimacy, now it was one of a husband offering comfort to his wife. His hands rested on her sides as he removed the Velcro of the vest that was secured to her petite frame. "We did everything we could Jayge." He finally countered, trying to convince her as much as himself.
She shook her head, not believing his words, "If I had just figured it out sooner…" she started in protest.
"Stop JJ." Aaron answered forcibly. He lifted the vest over her head, throwing it on to the desk near them. "No one thought it could be one of us baby. It was you who figured out that he was a member of the Williamsburg PD. And there was no way of knowing he would kill that boy so soon."
JJ's mind flashed back to the raid on Eric Karla's home. They found their UnSub sitting at the kitchen table, eating a steak like he didn't have a care in the world. Morgan quickly took the smiling man into custody while the rest searched the home. It had been JJ who found the body of Nathan Sherman in the basement, his small frame still warm. Karla had killed the boy just minutes before they arrived.
"Hotch, if I had just realized sooner that it was him," her blue eyes clouded over, she had already put all the blame on her shoulders and wasn't ready to relinquish that guilt.
"What if the team had got there faster? What if there was less traffic getting there? What if we had had more of a police presence in the surrounding area's rather than just in the tourist area of Williamsburg? What if we didn't take this case?" Hotch thought of every what if scenario possible, "JJ honey, you can't put this on yourself. No one thought the UnSub could be one of our own, it didn't seem possible. Once you figured that out we got there as soon as we could. It's not your fault that the Chief of Police is telling Nathan's mother he's gone, it's Karla's fault Baby, and we'll make sure he'll pay for hurting those boys." Hotch pulled his wife into a tight embrace, for one fleeting moment he didn't care about keeping their personal and work lives separate, he didn't care that they were in the middle of a police station, all that mattered was taking the weight off her shoulders.
JJ allowed herself to relax into his tight embrace, laying her head on his strong chest she inhaled his familiar scent. Just as she pulled away the sound of gun fire rang through the station. The sound of a door slamming closed echoed through the halls, as a young heartbroken mother walked calmly into the bullpen. The Chief of Polices service weapon in her trembling hands she turned the corner, the barrel of the gun pointed toward the room full of Police Officers and FBI agents.