Title: Before the Storm
Series: Long Journey
Fandom: Criminal Minds, Sentinel
Category: Established Relationship, Sentinels/Guides,
Pairings: Hotch/Reid, Morgan/Garcia, JJ/Will,
Spoilers: Through Season 10
Summary: Aaron, Spencer, Jack, and Henry take a week long camping vacation after Spencer gets a clean bill of health in regards to his leg. Nothing goes in their favor.
Aaron looked around the area where Spencer and Jack had chosen for them to set up camp. It wasn’t a place that he would have ever chosen, but Spencer’s reasoning had been good. It was easy for the logical part of his brain to figure out the reasons. The stream was close enough to the location that they could get to it quickly but not so close that they needed to worry about animals. The large rock formation that was ten feet to the left would be good for hanging out in during the heat of the day or if it rained.
The tent was set up as well as the sleeping bags. It was a new tent; as he hadn’t been in possession of one that would fit two adults and a child, much less two kids. Even though Spencer had balked at the choice of venue for the vacation, he’d caved under two excited little boys’ pleas. Aaron understood his hesitance though. The last excursion to woods had ended up horrible, but they had been chasing an UnSub not taking a vacation.
There was a secondary reason for the vacation. He hoped that after a week of undivided attention from Spencer, Jack wouldn’t be so worried for the Guide when he wasn’t in the young Sentinel’s eyesight. The boy was so worried about Spencer that he was having trouble settling back into school, even with Henry there with him. Aaron had been worried about the feelings Jack would have for Spencer being out of his sight but he hadn’t been that worried about the Guide. Jack had known that Spencer was still alive but he’d lost all feeling of Aaron in the bond. It must have been Spencer’s feelings that Aaron wasn’t dead that had stopped the young boy from believing his father lost to him.
Aaron knew that his son loved him, that he knew wholeheartedly. Jack loved Spencer but it was a different kind of love. The Guide hadn’t replaced Haley in the young Sentinel’s heart, instead he had moved into a Spencer shaped hole. The Sentinel hoped by the end of the trip, the whole family would be back on an even keel.
Aaron heard the screams for several seconds before he recognized them. The screams were very different from the ones the kids let out when they were playing. A burst of urgency moved through the bond with Spencer, and Aaron threw his fishing rod to the ground, taking off running. Flashes of emotions from the trio had him correcting his course as he ran. He should have known. Three days of pure happiness wouldn’t last.
A final surge of concern had Aaron put on what little extra speed he could. He finally found the three of them in the middle of a lightly wooded area over a mile from camp. He wasn’t shocked at the distance, Spencer had been wandering with them all day showing them the local plantlife.
Henry was in Spencer’s arms and Jack was behind the adult Guide, peeking at the area ahead of him from behind the tall legs. As soon as Aaron got within ten feet, his Guide turned to him. His eyes were wide with shock but not fear. Stopping at his side, the Sentinel looked where Jack was looking. A massive tree had fallen over in the recent windstorms. It had uprooted an area of over twenty feet. The smell of vomit was everywhere.
Then he saw it. The not completely decayed skull tangled in the edge of the root on one side and ten feet away from it, a defleshed ribcage. Aaron moved closer to the three and as he did the smell of decaying flesh started to tickle his nose instead of vomit. It had to have been the kids.
“Can you remember how to get here from camp?” Aaron turned as he spoke. His Guide looked at him with an ‘Are you serious’ glare on his face.
“I can get to the ranger’s station and back here with no issue, Aaron.”
“Let’s go back to camp before you head off to get the rangers.” Spencer nodded and turned to head towards camp. Aaron picked up Jack. They would be able to move quicker if the two of them carried the kids. It would probably set Spencer’s leg hurting but the Guide would be able to protect himself better on the trip than if he stayed at camp with the kids. Whoever dumped those bodies had been there recently. He wasn’t going to risk the kids. He needed to protect the kids instead of Spencer as much as it pained him.
Spencer went right to his pack and pulled out his revolver, securing it to his hip before he leaned down for a kiss. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“Head straight for the bodies. Call JJ. I want her to come and get the kids.”
Spencer hummed his agreement as he hugged both kids. Jack watched him leave the camp warily. This wasn’t going to make Jack calm down in his watching of Spencer at all. Aaron wondered, not for the first time if he was just that unlucky or if fate hated him.
By 9am the next day, not only had JJ picked up the kids and was staying at home with them, the rest of the team was at the state park with them. Ground penetrating sonar had found fifty two other bodies.
“Fifty four bodies and based on the age of what seems to be the first found, this killer has been active for over twenty years.” Spencer was standing at the small pit where the latest body to be uncovered was still in the dirt. CSU had worked all night to start on uncovering all the bodies. His back was to the rest of the team as he spoke. “How did we not know about this?”
“We won’t be able to put the pieces together until we start to identify the bodies, Spencer, and you know it. Are you okay to stay here while Morgan and I head back to Quantico? Rossi’s at the station and Prentiss will stay with you.”
“Yea, I’ll be fine. Go. I don’t think he’s going to come back here. If he watches this place at all, he’s had to seen the FBI descending on this place enmass. He’ll find another dump spot.”
Aaron knew that if anyone was going to get a read on the UnSub by his choice of burial spots and positions, it was Spencer. He also knew that if he stayed, he’d hover and that would just upset his Guide. Prentiss was the best to leave to watch over him because Aaron wasn’t letting Spencer stay without a Sentinel with him, just in case the UnSub thought himself stupid enough to come back with the FBI there.
“We don’t have enough for a profile, Reid,” Aaron said using his last name to get his full attention. Spencer turned to look at him with an eyebrow quirked. “Morgan broke our camp and I expect you in a bed in the ranger station tonight if you aren’t back in Quantico.”
Spencer just nodded in a fashion that told Aaron that his Guide had heard him but hadn’t decided to follow his orders yet. The Sentinel looked at Prentiss, and she gave him a wan smile and a nod, telling him that she would make sure he got sleep.
“The last body was dumped two weeks ago. The storm happened a week later. CSU has five bodies uncovered and two have been identified with DNA from hair,” Spencer’s voice carried over the phone, dead center on the conference table at the BAU. Aaron hated that he’d been unable to get him to come home over the past week. Jack was unconcerned, which had the Sentinel concerned even more. “Garcia has the files. Amanda Messing was reported missing by her parents on July 3rd of 2000 and Reina Calendar reported missing by her boyfriend on July 3rd of 1981.”
“July 3rd, coincidence or part of the profile?” Morgan asked.
“Not enough variables at this point. Garcia is headed back to the BAU now. She can work better from there. Prentiss is at the site and I’m here at the station getting ready to eat a warm meal. I’ll call with more information when I have it.”
Aaron looked at Dave and Morgan who were staring at the board. The new information needed to be added. That would wait though until they had the files on the missing women.
Half an hour later the identified dead bodies went from two to ten, and they had a another piece of the puzzle. Every single woman was abducted on July 3rd, and the UnSub had been doing it for fifty four years. One missing woman for every year.
It took a week to dig up all the bodies and to get IDs. The profile was added to as each method of murder was figured out. The UnSub was between the ages of seventy and eighty, given the length of time that he’d been killing women.
Aaron was disgusted that if it hadn’t been for the storm knocking over the tree, the bodies would never have been found. It happened too much in this line of work. It was going to be a year before the next woman went missing and was murdered. A year to hunt down a killer who had been killing for so long.
His phone rang and he was shocked to see that it Spencer. His lover was still out at the dump site, trying to find anything that would help the team find the killer.
“I’m texting coordinates. I need the entire team out here as soon as possible.” Spencer hung up before Aaron could even ask what was going on. His phone beeped seconds later. Morgan and Dave’s phones beeped as well.
“Coordinates? Hotch, what’s going on?” Morgan asked as he looked at his phone with puzzlement on his face.
“Reid wants us there as soon as possible. Text Garcia and have her head that direction as well. can’t hurt to have her on hand.” Aaron didn’t like that his Guide hadn’t been that forthcoming with information, but he could live with it, if Spencer was fine and this wasn’t a trap. The look on Dave’s face showed the same concern. If it was something big, Spencer should have been excited and babbling about something. The short sentence and quick hang up had his senses tuned into him. Excitement was the only feeling he was getting through the bond.
It was an hour later that Aaron was getting out of the SUV at the closest ranger’s station. He could feel Spencer and turned that direction to start off. Morgan and Dave flanked him easily. It was going to be a long mile of a walk, he was still worried even though he knew that Spencer was fine. Garcia would have gotten to him long before them. Prentiss was with the both of them as well. It was safe.
“Hotch?” Morgan asked as he grabbed one of Aaron’s arms. Turning to look at the other Sentinel, Aaron quirked an eyebrow. “Tree?”
Aaron snapped his eyes to the front and saw that he had been about to walk into the trunk. He took a step back and moved around the tree. He could see Spencer now. He took the last twenty feet faster than he had taken the rest of the mile. Spencer turned to him as he crossed the last ten foot mark. His Guide had gloves on his hands and something was in one of them. As Aaron got close he flipped the item. It was an Idaho driver’s license. It was the last victim’s. A low whistle drew his gaze from the ID to the ground where Morgan was crouched.
“I found him like this with the ID in his pocket.” Spencer’s eyes moved up to a small cliff area above them. “He didn’t survive his fall off the cliff. Considering the state of his decay as well as the weather that’s been had in the area, I estimate his death around the time of the storm that knocked the tree down.”
“He had the victim’s ID in his pocket?” Dave asked.
“Yes. I’m sure he’ll have other trophies in his place of residence. His ID puts him as Stephen Carlyle. He was thirteen when he killed the first woman. Lived in the Metro DC area.”
“The storm that revealed the victims also killed the UnSub?” Morgan asked.
Spencer nodded, his lips quirking into a smile. Aaron let a smile grace his face as well. Dave was laughing as was Garcia. Prentiss looked like she was trying not to laugh and failing badly at it.
“So other than the ID of the victims, this was a week of work that ended in nothing?” Morgan smiled and shook his head as Spencer nodded affirmation at him. It was a very interesting turn of events.
“We were basically useless,” Spencer said and with that the whole team lost the ability not to laugh. Aaron watched as Spencer laughed so hard he stumbled and nearly fell to the forest floor. Morgan chuckled to himself and Prentiss leaned against a tree to stop from falling. Garcia was leaning on Morgan and Dave was laughing while shaking his head. Aaron let the a few chuckles escape as he pondered Spencer’s words. The identities of the women would have been found without them. The ranger’s would have found the body in a search around the area much like Spencer had found the body. The only thing that the FBI had done was get the bodies out of the ground quicker and IDs done at a faster pace.
If only more cases ended up like this.
Aaron rolled over, pulling Spencer closer to him. He could hear the boys laughing from inside the tent. They had decided that they wanted to sleep under the stars so Spencer had pulled the sleeping bags out of the tent and set them up just to the left of the opening of the tent. Spencer couldn’t be convinced to sleep where bugs could land on him so Aaron had been forced into the tent.
The sound of the house phone ringing jerked Spencer out of the light doze he had been in. Instead of getting up to answer it, Spencer rolled over, tucking his head against Aaron’s neck and sighed. “Ignore it. It’s not the cell. They can leave a message.”
“Okay,” Aaron said as he pulled the light blanket up more, tucking it around Spencer. The backyard was silent, and he knew that it was as close to camping as he was going to get with both Spencer and Jack for a very long time. “I’ll get you out into the woods one day, Guide.”
Aaron pulled Spencer closer, one long leg slid over his and he knew that his Guide could feel his hardness. Angling his head so that he could whisper in the other man’s ear he waited. Spencer’s leg shifted again, rubbing across his groin. “I’ll get you into the woods and I’ll have my way with you.”
“Aaron.” Spencer playfully slapped him on the chest. Grabbing at the hand, Aaron pulled Spencer on top of him. Their hardnesses rubbed and he watched as his Guide bit his lip to stop from moaning. “We can’t.”
“We can slip inside and then come back out. The boys aren’t going to leave the yard.” Aaron thrust using Spencer’s trapped hands to keep him in place.
“No, we promised we’d stayed out with them.” Spencer twisted his wrists until the limbs slipped from Aaron’s hands and he slid back down to the ground, wrapping himself around Aaron. “Plus I’m tired.”
“Then we can wake up before them and get a quicky in the shower.” Aaron knew that Spencer was tired. He hadn’t been able to relax while in the woods, but his dedication to the job had kept him out there looking for whatever could be found to help the case.
“I just have one more thing to say.” Spencer’s voice was soft but there was no way the kids couldn’t hear it. “You thought that camping would be a good choice for a getaway? Next time, Aaron, I am picking the vacation spot. If I ever see woods again it will be too soon.”
Next Part: Splintered