Title: The Reaper’s Legacy
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Year: Season 9
Tags: Attempted Murder, Spencer Hates Beth, Secret Marriage,
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Beth Clemmons, Spencer Reid/Emily Prentiss,
Spoilers: Up Through Season 9
Summary: Hotch thought it was jealousy. The team thought that Spencer was worried that he’d lose a man he looked up. Spencer just knew though that Beth wasn’t the right one for Hotch and that she was hiding something.
Aaron walked into the bullpen for the first time in a month. He didn’t know what to expect but he’d hoped it would look the same. He stopped to take it in and noticed that it wasn’t the same. There was no one else around so they didn’t see the absolute sadness at the sight of an empty desk that hadn’t been empty in ten years.
Cruz stepped out of Aaron’s office with paperwork in his hand. He sighed before speaking. “He transferred to the White Collar Crimes division in Las Vegas. It was either that or lose him altogether. What the hell is going on, Aaron?”
Moving quickly, Aaron started up to his office again. Cruz went back inside and Aaron shut the door as he stepped inside. He set about putting up his briefcase and settling into his chair before he answered.
“Reid has a crush on me. I thought that he’d got over it a long time ago but it seems that he’s just gotten really good at hiding it. He resents me marrying Beth and in fact did not show up at the wedding, as you are well aware.”
“Your ex-sister-in-law didn’t come either. Why?”
“He convinced her that Beth is going to hurt me. Reid has convinced himself that Beth is going to kill me. Something of a black widow. He said there was a fifty percent chance that I wasn’t going to come back from my honeymoon. I told him that he needed to talk to someone or leave the team by the time I got back. I will admit that I hoped he’d still be here. How long?”
“He put it in the day you got married. I came back from the wedding and found it on my desk along with a request that he transfer as soon as possible. He was gone the next day. He said his goodbyes to the team. Morgan and JJ are very upset. No, JJ is upset. Morgan is pissed. He’s mad that Reid won’t let it go and didn’t go to the wedding and then left.”
“Blake and Dave?”
“Sad. I don’t know anything else. I think that Reid left a letter on your desk.”
Aaron dug around the stack of files and found a letter written in Reid’s best penmanship. The writing he used when he wrote letters to his mother. He didn’t care that Cruz was there. He opened it up. There were only two words. I’m Sorry. Aaron closed his eyes and sighed. He’d have to work on getting a replacement team member. He wasn’t sure how that was going to go.
Spencer knew they’d come. As soon as the news had made it to the Las Vegas Branch that the Unit Chief for the BAU had been in a fatal car accident. He sat in his office closing up all his files and transferring those that he hadn’t finished. His gun and credentials were sitting on the small stand just inside the door that he kept his messenger bag on while he was in the office. What he wasn’t expecting was that it would be Morgan and Rossi who came in with cuffs at the ready. Hotch had lasted for six months after getting married. The odds had been in his favor.
“I’ve got one file left. My gun is there.” Spencer looked back down at his file and waved towards his gun. He looked over the file and picked the best agent to take care of it and then signed the paperwork to transfer it to her. When he was done he put the cap on his pen, placed the folder in his outbox, and stood up. He moved around his desk and when he was in front of his former teammates, he turned and held his hands ready to be cuffed.
“No, Reid. If you come willingly, we don’t have to cuff you. Prentiss and Blake are downstairs.”
“Back at Quantico. She said she wasn’t going to be part of bringing you in,” Rossi answered. He laid a hand on Spencer’s shoulder and guided him out of the office. Morgan grabbed his messenger bag. “Where’s your go bag?”
“Trunk of my car. Keys are in my bag.”
“I’ll get it. Does it have your glasses?”
“No but that bag does. It does have spare contacts.”
Morgan separated from them when the doors opened on the elevator and they stepped into the parking garage. Blake was seated in the front seat of the SUV. Prentiss was standing outside the open back door. It was one of the modified ones. It didn’t have the third row but extra cargo space and the back seat was a three seater. He moved towards the door easily and wasn’t stopped when he got in. He sat in the middle and looked ahead. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as Prentiss and Rossi shared a slightly pained look.
Spencer said nothing the entire trip to the airfield. The team tried to engage him, even asking about his mother but he kept his eyes closed and his mouth shut. He just had to keep his mouth shut until the DNA results came in along with the records that had been buried years ago by a very talented computer hacker. He trusted paper, and paper was going to win.
By the time that they landed at Marine Base Quantico’s airstrip that the FBI used, Spencer was fairly certain that the team was freaked out. A four hour jet ride and he’d said nothing. He was thankful that he’d been left uncuffed. JJ was waiting at the base of the stairs when the door open. She moved to hug him when he made it to the base of the stairs but he stepped behind Rossi easily and cut her off. There wasn’t a single person on the team at the time of Hotch’s wedding that Spencer trusted at the moment.
Prentiss stepped up and grabbed his arm, gently. She led him over to the SUV that was parked closest to the jet. Anderson was in the driver’s seat. Morgan filed into the back and Prentiss took the front seat. Rossi, Blake, and JJ took the second SUV.
“Mrs. Hotchner is still at Quantico. She won’t leave. Miss Brooks has Jack even though Mrs. Hotchner is concerned over what she’s filling his head with, she says. Cruz doesn’t want Reid brought in through the regular doors. I’ll take us to the back.”
Spencer let their words wash over him. He almost wanted that confrontation between him and Beth. He just wished that the link he’d needed to prove that she wasn’t who she said she was would have come just a week earlier. Then Hotch would still be alive. He barely remembered getting out of the SUV and being led into the holding rooms. He’d been inside of them so many times, just on the opposite side of the table.
The doors opened and Morgan and Blake entered. He wasn’t shocked that Blake was in there.
“Reid this doesn’t look good. We have you on camera a month ago under the hood of Hotch’s car.”
“Date and time,” Spencer asked.
Morgan shoved a picture over and Spencer could only laugh. He knew exactly when that footage was taken and it wasn’t a month before.
“I think that if Garcia would look farther into the footage, she’ll see that it’s a copy with a changed date and time. While my hair looks very close to what I have, it’s not. That footage is from two years, seven months, eight days,” Spencer looked at his watch before finishing. “Twenty two hours, and thirteen seconds ago. Hotch’s car was acting up and I told him I’d look at it. While I can’t fix a lot of things wrong with cars, I can usually pinpoint what is wrong. That time it was a timing belt. He drove to a repair shop that day at lunch and had it fixed.”
His former team mates were silent when a knock sounded at the door. It opened before either one could say a thing.
“DNA results are in,” Prentiss said as she laid a folder down.
“That was quick.”
“Not from the blood in the car. The DNA results that I ordered two weeks ago to match Beth Hotchner to a match in the database.” Prentiss smiled at him and Spencer relaxed back. “There is also a courier downstairs with paperwork from Boston. The adoption papers were found. As well as Beth’s original birth certificate.”
“What is going on?” Blake asked.
“Beth Clemmons was adopted,” Spencer said. The door was still open. JJ was standing there as well as Cruz. “She was born in Boston and given up for adoption by her mother. It took a little while to trace down her birth mother because all digital records were erased. In fact it was made to look like she was born to the Clemmons. I found this out five months ago. Since then I’ve been trying to track down her birth parents.”
“Stella Bruin gave up her daughter for adoption just hours after birth. The father was written as unknown on her birth record but Stella, at the time, was married to George Carlson. George and Stella Carlson had one other child. A boy two years older. A boy who killed his parents at the age of nine and were adopted by the Foyet’s.” Prentiss let those words sink in as she stepped around the table to stand beside Spencer. Her hand settled on his shoulder. The looks on every single person there’s face was priceless. “Since the file is not active, we had to wait to get the results as other cases popped up. I needed to make sure it went through so I didn’t want to seem too jumpy with it.”
“Mrs. Hotchner is stating that you’re in love with her husband.”
“I’ve only ever looked at Hotch as a father,” Spencer stated, looking at his once boss. “I’ve never been in love with a male member of my team, even though I am bisexual.”
“You said male,” Blake stated.
“Yes. Well, I hate to lie. I’ve been in love with a female member for many years, even if for a while she wasn’t part of the team.”
“Spencer,” JJ said.
The snort from Prentiss was unlady like but it had Spencer smiling. They were at work; it was easy to think of her as Prentiss.
“It’s not you JJ. Two weeks before Emily came back to the team, one month after I transferred to Las Vegas, we married with her mother present and my mom watching over Skype in London. She filed her paperwork here that she was married in England but we did not seek to get the marriage validated here in the United States. She’s been visiting me in Vegas as often as she can. I’ve not visited here.”
“I came back to the team to keep an eye on Hotch. I believed Spencer from the moment that he started to suspect there was something off with her. When Jessica refused to go to the wedding and went on the outs with Hotch we both hoped that he would see that it wasn’t just Spencer and this crush that Hotch thought he had.”
“You stayed away so that you couldn’t be implicated.”
“Boy Genius is right,” Garcia said as she entered the room with her laptop. She set it down and showed an image of Spencer messing with Hotch’s car but it was dated for near three years before. It also showed Hotch coming up to him and them talking. “It was erased from the files and marked as a faulty camera but I found the tertiary backups. The secondary had been erased as well. She’s just as good as Foyet was at computers. I…” Garcia was around the table and hugged Spencer before he could do a thing.
“How…” Cruz paused. “I’m not saying I don’t believe it but how do you know that it wasn’t messed with?”
“Because the tertiary backups are hard copies on non-rewritable CDs, Sir. Only security knows where they are located inside the building and I only had access to this disc. Having the exact date and time made it easy. Security rushed it up to me when they figured out what it was for. Since the Replicator, no one has done a physical pull of a copy and the only access is the daily addition of discs.”
“Here’s the report on the onboard computer.” Rossi stepped into the room and didn’t even look at Spencer. He only looked at Morgan and handed over the file. “His onboard computer was hooked up for diagnostics a month ago. It was then that the subroutine was laid that caused a malfunction and an overheating of a component that set apart to overheat and burn through a break line. I had Garcia pull security footage. Beth took the car in that day. She’s on camera.”
“How is the river dreg going?”
“What?” Spencer asked, looking up at Emily before looking at the team.
“It’s been two days and we still haven’t found Hotch’s body,” Morgan said.
“I need a map and the current reports on the Potomac.” Spencer jumped up from his seat and he wasn’t stopped as he rushed from the room. The team scrambled behind him but said nothing as he moved right to the round table room, brushing past Beth as he moved. Anderson stopped her from following him. In fact, the agent snapped cuffs on her wrists. Spencer felt happiness swell in his chest. The least he could do was to help recover Hotch’s body so that Jack could have closure.
Hours later, Spencer felt a hand on his. He looked down to see Jack standing there.
“Uncle Spencer,” Jack said as he threw his arms around Spencer. He pulled the boy close and lifted him up into his lap. Jack hugged him tight. “Are you finding daddy?”
“I’m trying to…” Spencer looked up at the map again. There at the edge of the printout was a cemetery. “I need an SUV as well as a medical team. I need to go alone with Jack and Jessica.”
“Spence?” JJ asked.
“Please, just trust me.” Spencer pleaded with his eyes. He looked at each member of the team and when he looked at Rossi the older man nodded.
Pulling up to the cemetery, Spencer put the SUV in park. The click of Jack’s seatbelt echoed in the silence of the vehicle. He looked over at Jessica and she nodded. They got out as one and Spencer opened the back door for Jack to get out. Ahead of them was Haley’s grave; just half a mile inland from the river where Hotch’s car had gone into two days before after rolling down a hill.
“Stay back with Jessica, please Jack.”
Spencer had chosen to wear his vest under his shirt. Hotch’s backup was never recovered. As they neared the tree by her grave, Spencer saw a shadow that wasn’t from the tree or a gravestone. He clicked his radio on.
“We are,” a voice called back. Spencer motioned for Jessica and Jack to stay. He switched to where he was going to come up on the left side of the tree. It had been two days, two nights. Even if it was him, there was a chance that his wounds had killed him.
Taking a deep breath, Spencer took the last few steps. He was greeted with the sight of Hotch leaning against the tree with his backup drawn and aimed at him. His right hand was gripping his side and Spencer could tell he was hurt.
“It’s okay, Hotch. Just…lower the gun.” Spencer waited but he didn’t lower it. Sparing a glance he nodded and waved for Jessica and Jack to come closer. As soon as the both of them stopped in Hotch’s line of sight he lowered the gun. Spencer took the gun from his hand and Jack ran right to his father. Hotch wrapped his good arm around his son. “Medics.”
Jessica moved over to him, squatting at his side and running her hands through his hair. “God, Aaron. It’s been two days. Where have you been?”
“The Hotchner mausoleum is one hundred feet that way,” Spencer pointed as he spoke. “Hotch once joked it would be a wonderful hiding spot as only him and Sean would have any reason to go inside and they never did. Not since burying their mother. Haley didn’t want to be buried with them. How were you so sure I wasn’t here to kill you?”
“You’d never rig my car to kill me. If you really were a jilted lover, you’d make sure I knew it just before my death. That I died knowing you’d do it. I figured that out as I was getting out of my seatbelt under water. Also the last person to touch my car was Beth. She took it to the shop a month ago.” Hotch kissed Jack’s head and then looked up at Spencer. “Was it Beth?”
“Now is not the time,” Jessica tried to admonish.
“Beth was adopted. Her mother gave her up just hours after her birth. In Boston. Can we just never go to Boston again?”
“Beth’s birth parents were George and Stella Carlson.”
“Foyet’s parents.” Hotch closed his eyes as the medics rounded the tree and Jessica pulled Jack up. The boy turned and wrapped his arms around her. “Stay with me?”
“Wild horses, Sir.” Spencer smiled at him and the older man laughed. He watched as Hotch let the medics care for him.
Spencer followed the medics into the back of the ambulance and pulled Jack with him. The medics didn’t fight him much and he was thankful. He saw Rossi pulling Jessica towards the SUV that Morgan was driving.
As soon as they got to the hospital, Hotch was rushed to surgery to treat the massive wound in his side that he’d used his suit coat to wrap and stop the bleeding, with shrapnel inside. The waiting room was full of the team as well as Cruz. Spencer stayed with Jessica and Jack, Emily at his side. The rest of the team tried to get him to talk but he ignored them.
Aaron walked into the bullpen for the first time in a month. This time he knew exactly what to expect. There was no one in the bullpen but his own office light was on. He made his way up to find Reid sitting as his desk working on paperwork. The genius looked up at him and smiled.
“Hotch. How did Jack take you coming back to work?” Reid smiled as he stood up from the desk. There was a near three foot stack of completed paperwork sitting in a stack. He knew exactly what it was. The paperwork that just needed his signature. A smaller seven file pile were things that he needed to take care of but other than that there was no to do files on his desk.
“He took it fine. He’s excited that you are back. Says that he wants to go to the Jeffersonian as soon as a Saturday we aren’t working pops up. Something about a bone room?”
“Ah, I have a few friends that work there and they let me into areas that regular people aren’t allowed in. One of them is the bone room. Tempe loves to show him around in there. Jessica went with us the last time. Wheels up at nine. By then the rest of the team should be in. I’m more than happy to cede this back to you.”
“You never did tell me why Cruz made you acting Unit Chief over Morgan or even Dave.”
“Dave told him hell no. In those words, and Morgan is second guessing himself. Blake’s departure from the team followed by the full scope of what Beth did. He’s shaken. He’s doing better but I think it’ll get better with you back in the saddle.” Reid smiled again and grabbed his messenger bag up from where it rested beside the desk. He stepped past Aaron but he couldn’t allow him to leave like that. Grabbing his shoulder, Aaron pulled him in for a hug. The younger man tensed and then relaxed. He had a lot to repair there but he’d work at it.
“No, Spencer. I…I messed up so much. I need your forgiveness. I let Beth manipulate me.”
“Hotch, it’s fine. I forgave you a month ago. We need to get back to normal. We don’t need to coddle each other.” Reid squeezed him one last time and then made to step back. Aaron though kept a hold of him for a moment longer.
“Do I need to be worried?” Prentiss asked as she stepped into the office. Aaron let go of Reid like he’d been burned and Prentis laughed. She handed over a holder full of coffee to Reid. He took one and handed it over to Aaron before taking one for himself. Prentiss took one and sipped it before frowning and putting it back and taking the last one. She sipped that and smiled.
“How are things on the other team?”
“Fine. All though things are going to be rocky for a little while.”
Aaron realized that Reid wasn’t talking. He was staring at Prentiss. His eyes wide in shock. He took the cup from her and sipped at it.
“Tea. You hate tea in the mornings.”
“Yes, well. Someone else doesn’t like coffee. At all.”
Someone else? Aaron was puzzled. He looked between the two agents and then finally realized that Prentiss had a hand resting on her stomach. The look of pure happiness on Reid’s face was blinding. If it wasn’t for Aaron grabbing the coffees from his hand, the cups would have hit the floor. Prentiss had just enough time to set her tea down before Reid had her wrapped in his arms. They were still like that when JJ, Morgan, Garcia, and Dave entered the room. Only now Reid’s hand was on Prentiss’s stomach. The couple didn’t even realize anyone else was in the room. Reid dropped to his knees and kissed at the cloth covered stomach in front of him.
The squeals from JJ and Garcia echoed around the bullpen and then Prentiss and Reid were being hugged by them. Dave moved in and stopped beside him while Morgan went to hug Reid. It was going to take time to become a family again but Aaron hoped that they would be able to.