Fandom: Criminal Minds
Spoilers: Up through Season 5
Characters/Pairing(s): Aaron Hotchner, David Rossi, Emily Prentiss, Derek Morgan, Dr. Spencer Reid, Jennifer “J.J.” Jareau, Erin Strauss, Penelope Garcia, Cobb, Arthur, Eames, Ariadne, Yusef, Saito
Warning: Violence, aftermath of torture
Word Count: 24,948
Notes: This was written for the crossbigbang. Much thanks to bellonablack and brighteyed_jill for betaing and sucksucksmile for art!
Disclaimer: I don't own Criminal Minds or its characters and I don't make a dime off them. Nor Inception. I own nothing!
Summary: When the BAU learns than someone is using a PASIV as a weapon, they are forced to look for unconventional methods to interrogate the comatose victims of the crime. Dominic Cobb is asked to bring his team of extractors to teach the profilers the ins and outs of their trade, for when a mind is the scene of the crime, both extractors and profilers will have to depend on each other to find and stop the criminal responsible…
Arthur flattened himself to a wall as movement reflected ahead. Prentiss and Ariadne followed suit, barely breathing as strangely hard-edged projections slid out between the cabinets. Appearing as sharply delineated men and women in lab coats, the projections looked oddly unreal. Prentiss tilted her head to get a better look at them, and stifled a gasp.
“They’re glass,” she whispered, blinking hard to make sure she wasn’t being fooled by the half-drunken feeling that still permeated her mind.
Arthur took another look, and stared up at the ceiling, clearly thinking furiously. “He’s been experimenting. Yusef said he was using a bad mix.”
“So he’s manipulating his projections to look like this?” Ariadne asked.
“To hurt Annette,” Prentiss said, shaking her head. “Anything he does will cause her pain now. He doesn’t have to be as skilled in torture as Thomas. This is his compensation.”
“Ok…” Ariadne took a few deep breaths to gather her courage. “Arthur,” she said very, very softly, “I’m really done with mixes we can’t be kicked out of.”
“Me too,” he whispered back.
Prentiss looked at them oddly and gestured to her ear. “Do you hear that?”
Into the quiet of the lab, and the slight grinding of the moving, glass-edged projections, Arthur heard a woman scream.
“He hasn’t taken her down yet!”
“Go, go!” Prentiss began to jog through the corridors as fast as she dared, following the sounds of Annette’s voice. Projections began to converge on them, and Arthur brought his gun to bear on a few of the closest, shattering them with well-aimed rounds. Prentiss ducked under the spray of shards, and targeted a few of her own, scattering the path ahead with pebbles of glass.
Ariadne was less comfortable with firearms, and instead picked up a cricket bat from a forgotten corner. The first projection to cross within her reach shattered like a Ming vase. Arthur shot her a look of surprise.
“I don’t spend all my time studying !” she said a little breathlessly, and turned to bash another one. Prentiss kept in the lead, listening hard and watching for clues, trusting the extractors to help watch her back as they circled in on Annette.
The thin, creaky stairs to the exterior attic door let out onto a strangely huge ledge made of stone. Against the balustrade, Annette Jenkins cowered from Thomas. His fists were bloody, her clothes stained red. Hotchner brought his Glock up, trained on Thomas’ head without conscious thought. For a moment, they were not in a dream, just a rooftop standoff, something he’d done more than once in his career.
“William Thomas!” he called
Thomas’ head came up, and Valerie dared to look around him. Her eyes lit on Eames, still wearing the form of a curly-haired older woman, and she suddenly flung herself away from Thomas, running right for the forger. Thomas didn’t even visibly react, and Hotchner felt a sudden chill. He still believed he had the upper hand, even when his victim, the prized possession he’d spent endless time breaking, was able to leave his presence.
“Tell me when,” Cobb murmured, sotto voce. Hotchner heard him, and flicked his eyes over the endless skyscrapers and wind-swept shores that had apparently once been Dominic Cobb’s personal domain. Unlike the above dreams, this place took more than simple sadistic desire to shape; Thomas had no advantage here.
“It’s over, Thomas,” Hotchner called, keeping his voice even. “You’re coming back with us.”
Thomas looked behind him and then turned back to the team, his smile tight but his eyes crazed. “How about you just leave instead?”
“There’s nowhere to go. You’re surrounded, you’re disarmed, and we cuffed you to the chair.”
Thomas considered that, and shook his head. “There’s more than one way out. As a matter of fact, there’s one out there. My body is disarmed.” His gaze slid to rest squarely on Valerie. “Hers isn’t.”
Hotchner’s aim didn’t waver.
“After the second level, they figured things out. But why didn’t they just kill themselves and wake up? They didn’t have to believe me about the compound. But they would believe me about the pressure sensitive bomb I put under them. They move, they die. Stay asleep, they live.”
Hotchner reviewed the crime scenes in his mind’s eye. If Thomas were telling the truth, he must have taken the bombs with them when he went. Bomb residue wasn’t something the labs had been testing for. But where would he have gotten one? Thomas didn’t have a background in explosives…
“Your chemist,” Hotchner said positively, knowing he was right.
How did Thomas prevent accidents? Was he protected somehow? He hadn’t been wearing body armor or a helmet…
It was his position, Hotchner realized. The long tubes from the PASIV, the fact that he had positioned his body near the door. If the blast had been small, he could escape major damage even if it exploded while he was in the same room, and his timer would be able to get him out of the dream safely enough, even if his chemist hadn’t shown up. And now the profilers were providing him with a human shield. Morgan had been on the bomb squad. Could he disarm it?
But Morgan was on the uppermost level. If he left, everything below would collapse, possibly leaving all of them in Limbo for another decade or two before the other team could get back down here and save them. They could lose her, lose everyone here, even if they stopped Thomas. Unacceptable. How long until the mix was back to normal, until they could all leave together? Someone would have to stay with Valerie until the bomb was diffused. And did Thomas have any other tricks up his sleeve?
The chemist looked up wildly from where Annette cowered in a corner, his PASIV already open on a table beside a single chair.
A single, Arthur realized with relief. The chemist might be somewhat cracked, but he was smart enough to realize that Limbo was too dangerous to play with. He wasn’t going down there to continue his crimes like Thomas was; instead he was just using it to clean up. He was going to dump Annette down there like garbage.
Annette’s skin was marked with shallow cuts, presumably from tangles with the projections, and she cried out weakly as the chemist turned away from her, a long, thin blade in his hands. A deeper cut on her arm began to well up, the blood running down her elbow to splash on the floor. Arthur brought his gun into view, making the chemist’s breath catch, while Ariadne slammed her bat into a projection so she could shut and bar the door behind them.
“Who are you?!” he demanded.
“I came to take Annette home,” Prentiss said calmly, her voice high, like Valerie’s voice mail message.
“How did you-?”
“Shut up,” Arthur said shortly, twitching the barrel just enough to make the chemist freeze.
“Sis,” Prentiss coaxed, beckoning to Annette. “Come with me. Please, it’s ok.”
With a wrenching sob, Annette flung herself into her “sister’s” arms.
Music echoed, faint in the vast streets, but still audible. Yusef had finished the mix. It was time.
“We’re leaving. Now,” Hotchner said.
Cobb got it immediately, but Hotchner still staggered from the force when the skyscraper erupted under their feet, bearing them skyward.
“Eames, get Valerie out of here and keep her with Reid.”
In his guise of Valerie’s mother, Eames nodded, and Cobb collapsed the ledge of the tower beneath them, dropping them down, kicking them out.
Thomas was shocked, gaping at Cobb and Hotchner as they advanced on him slowly.
“How did you…? You can’t…”
“I’ve lived a lifetime down here,” Cobb said steadily, the buildings around him surging and dancing, angry at Thomas for what he’d done. “This is no longer your game.”
A path opened up for Hotchner to rush Thomas off the edge, Cobb following him down, falling…
Hotchner opened his eyes in the library, feeling the adrenaline rush still, and pushed himself upright. Reid was there, though Eames, Valerie, and Thomas were gone.
Reid’s face was paper-pale under the library lights, looking like he’d been through several levels of hell already. “I already sent them up. Eames told me about the bomb. We have to keep Valerie under as long as possible so Morgan can disarm-.”
“I know, just get us up there, we’re going to have to hold Thomas back.”
Reid picked up something from the table, a simple triggering device, brother to any number of explosive detonators the team had dealt with over the past few years. The irony did not escape either of the profilers. A flick of the switch, and the library exploded around them.
“How long do we have?” Ariadne murmured.
Arthur checked his watch. “Ten minutes’ real time. Forty minutes here.”
Ariadne firmed her grip on her bat, and resolved to take those shooting lessons Arthur kept insisting on. The chemist was starting to sweat.
“Who are you? How did you get here?”
“FBI,” Arthur said shortly, answering for Prentiss. If she broke character, Annette might panic, and after all she’d been through, she did not deserve any pain at the hands of her rescuers. And if she did panic, the chemist might try something stupid, and Hotchner wanted him alive, not shot in the head and dropped into Limbo to rot. No matter how much he deserved it for his part in the attacks.
Besides, all they had to do was hold off the chemist’s projections for a little while longer, and they would be home free.
“How? How did-?”
Arthur fired a single shot right past the man’s head, close enough to rattle his skull. That was enough to shake him.
“Don’t talk,” Arthur warned. If he heard any just of justification for what Thomas had been doing, for turning an extractor’s art into a weapon, his next bullet was going to end up somewhere less vital and a lot more painful.
“But Annette has-.”
Prentiss raised her own gun with one hand, the other protectively wrapped around Annette.
The chemist shut up, pale and shaking as Annette had been earlier.
It was a wonder, Eames reflected, that he never seemed to feel quite as tired from one dream level to the next. It was as if his dream-body was actually getting rest. All to the better, because he figured he’d raced a good four miles of bookshelves down in Reid’s dream and another five in Limbo’s streets and was not looking forward for more.
When he looked up to see Morgan at the window, surrounded by a small pile of shell casings, he realized he wasn’t going to get any further rest.
“Where the hell have you been?” Morgan yelled, turning long enough to throw another M5 at Hotchner, who was just stirring next to him. Hotchner caught it smoothly and went to the other window, crouching low.
“Valerie has a bomb under her. We can’t leave yet,” he explained shortly.
“Shit,” Morgan said, popping up to fire off a few more shots at Thomas’ projections. Cobb and Eames had Thomas covered with their own weapons, while Reid was crouched near Valerie.
“You’re real?” Valerie whispered, the first words she’d managed to speak since Reid had seen her. From the way Hotchner, Cobb, and Eames snapped around to look at her, it might have been the first word she’d spoken in the whole extraction.
“Yes, Valerie, my name’s Dr. Spencer Reid, I’m a profiler with the FBI. We’re here to rescue you.” His voice was soft, gentle, providing a hard contrast with the violence around her.
“Mr. Cobb and Mr. Eames helped us enter your dreams so we could find you and get you away from Thomas. Valerie, he put a bomb under you, do you remember?”
“Thomas?” she asked. She turned to look at Thomas, and seemed to really see him for the first time. Sense flooded her eyes, along with an almost animalistic rage. She screamed as she stood up, and Reid felt a twist in his mind again. The world slammed, shifting.
Valerie has just taken control of her dream. Cobb and Eames moved back-to-back as the doors and windows shifted, a howling coming from outside as hundreds of projections, no longer respecting Morgan’s aim, began to converge.
“Valerie, stay asleep, stay asleep until we can disarm the bomb, please. We’ll take Thomas into custody, he won’t hurt you anymore. You’ll be safe,” Reid said, putting every ounce of sincerity into his voice that he could muster.
Hotchner and Morgan moved back towards the extractors and Thomas as the noise grew louder outside.
“Cobb, Eames, do you know anything about bombs?” Morgan asked tersely.
“Not my area,” Eames said tightly, as Cobb shook his head.
“Get me out first,” Morgan said. “Give me as much time as you can.”
“It’s pressure-sensitive, small area,” Hotchner said, having to raise his voice as the howls of the crowd began to reverberate on the walls.
Hotchner raised his gun and shot Morgan in the head as Valerie’s screams seemed to be ready to bring the walls down around them.
Yusef almost jumped out of his skin and Morgan started awake, and then all but leapt out of his chair.
“Call the bomb squad and an ambulance, now!” He rid himself of his needle and moved to Valerie, crouching down and pressing very lightly on the mattress to see under her.
“Agent Morgan, what’s going on?”
“Valerie has a bomb under her,” Morgan said flatly, not even looking up.
Yusef took two steps backward involuntarily before calling to the officer outside. Radios squawked as the frantic calls went out.
Morgan cursed softly about missing the possibility of such a trap as he examined the bomb. Thomas hadn’t had any kind of tools with him to tune the bomb, so his chemist must have them-. Morgan’s heart almost stopped. The chemist.
“Yusef, the other team!”
“They’re in the basement with Valerie’s sister-,” he started.
“Get down there, take over monitoring, and tell J.J. to get in there and keep everyone from waking up.” Yusef hesitated, not wanting to have to get close to yet another bomb. Then he looked at Eames and Cobb, his resolve strengthening, and took off down the stairs at a run.
J.J. almost dropped her syringe as Yusef banged the door open, and she shot him an annoyed glare.
“Don’t do that-.”
“There’s a bomb under Annette,” Yusef said shortly, and J.J. gaped at him for one stunned second. “We have to keep them asleep until the bomb squad comes.”
“Take over,” J.J. said shortly, and Yusef took the syringe with care. “I’ll go tell them.”
Yusef took a look at the remaining vials as J.J. laid herself out on the floor. She’d been mixing very slow, the only way she knew how; J.J. didn’t have Yusef’s experience to know how hard she could push an active dilution. Yusef kept the same pace, however. Right now, they couldn’t afford to be able to let anyone out. Yusef prayed that Valerie’s group was able to hang on.
Morgan could see the bomb wasn’t terribly sophisticated, a pressure switch that could be turned on and off with a pair of pliers for transport and placement. Not the acme of explosive devices, but effective. He breathed a small sigh of relief, and he shouted for the uniformed officer that had been guarding the perimeter.
“Officer! What’s our ETA on the bomb squad?”
“Twelve minutes, sir,” came the unwelcome response.
Morgan swore softly. Twelve minutes inside the dream… far too long to keep Valerie’s angry projections from slaughtering them all, not unless everyone inside there banded together to work against her. He sprinted downstairs for the garage, ignoring the stares of police, and he ransacked the tools until he found what he was looking for. Taking the stairs two at a time, he paused long enough to calm his breathing and steady his hands before kneeling at the bedside, putting two thin boards on the bedcover.
If he was careful, he could possibly give himself enough room to work without blowing himself and Valerie both up. If he wasn’t, it was likely he wouldn’t have to worry about the consequences. Gingerly, he pressed on the bed again, and began to work.
Rossi flinched when the door erupted in a flurry of knocking. He’d just spent the last half-hour with his eye pressed to a slit in the wall, playing shooting gallery with the half-drugged projections; knocking (rather than pounding) was not what he was expecting.
“Dave, Dave, let me in. Now!” came a muffled voice.
He cracked the door with extreme wariness, and almost ventilated his visitor before he saw her face. “J.J.!” He slammed the door shut behind her and barred it before turning to say anything else.
“Stay asleep, Dave,” she warned, grabbing a line on Annette’s PASIV. Rossi opened his mouth to demand clarification, and J.J. said one word guaranteed to silence him. “Bomb.”
J.J. opened her eyes to an endless laboratory, full of glass-fronted cabinets… and very shiny, pissed-off projections heading right for her.
Barely stopping herself from shouting in surprise, J.J. drew her gun and fired, glass shattering everywhere as the projection went down. Screeches like nails on a chalkboard sounded from every corner of the place. Swallowing hard, J.J. tried to find someplace defensible, some corner to stand in, as scraping footsteps began to shuffle towards her.
Shit, J.J. thought, looking around wildly for any hint of the rest of the team. Prentiss, Ariadne, anyone. Shit! Her mind was full of the warnings Eames had given her about dying in a dream that you couldn’t wake up from: Limbo.
“You don’t want to die down there. There’s no guarantee you’d survive. You don’t want to go into Limbo if you can help it. Scratch that, don’t. Just don’t.”
“But we might have too. Cobb said that was where the victims were trapped.”
“Don’t volunteer, and don’t get killed. We’ve almost lost people that way.” After that, Eames had kept his mouth shut, as if he’d said too much.
J.J. raised her weapon, and she fired, fired, fired, the ground around her becoming heaped in glassy, sharp-edged pebbles, as she slowly backed away, heart in her throat. A darting glance down a side corridor showed more vitrified carnage. Taking a deep breath, J.J. followed the path of destruction, turning around every other step to shatter another translucent form.
Eames took his own earlier advice to Morgan, dropping his borrowed form to pick up a grenade launcher. Hotchner was mortally glad this was a dream, because the explosions from their detonations through the windows and doors would have deafened him permanently in real life. Flexing numb hands, he kept up his stream of bullets as Reid kept up his stream of words towards Valerie.
Though he had the best shot of calming her, Hotchner needed Reid on the offensive, using his world-bending skill into trapping the projections so Hotchner and Eames could deal with them a few at a time, instead of in waves. They dared not trust Thomas, and that left Cobb to keep him from killing himself to try to gain freedom in the real world, or Valerie killing him for revenge, rather than being able to fight alongside them. Having another person on their side could make a major difference. Hotchner wanted to try to force a topography change himself, to give his people a better chance to hide, but that required concentration that would take his focus away from the threat at hand. In trying to save them, he could get them all killed. They needed their victim to just work with them.
“Reid,” Hotchner said, just loud enough to be heard over the barrage. “We need her on our side.”
Reid heard him, and he took Valerie’s hands, distracting her from where she threw herself against a chain-link fence that Reid had barely managed to put together to keep her from getting at Thomas.
“Valerie, Thomas will be going away. We know what he did to you, and he will not escape justice for his crimes. Just let us take him away, let us bring him to pay for his crimes…” Reid kept up a steady patter of calming words, trying to answer that burning need for revenge that fueled Valerie’s rage. Bit by bit, the wild-animal fury was leaving her eyes, but by the unending roars of explosions and bullets, her projections weren’t in the least interested in settling down. Her mind had been invaded for too long.
Yusef was keeping the dilution as slow as he dared. Even though he knew that stopping might have kept them asleep for another few hours, trapped in the chemist’s own designer drug, the idea of leaving any of that cruel compound in his friends’ bodies frightened him almost as much as the unseen bomb under Annette. What was in their veins now was almost pure, but since he didn’t intend to give them any musical cues, they wouldn’t try to wake until-.
A radio alarm on Annette’s bedside suddenly blared into life, the cheerful, bouncy tune of a pop song flooding the ears of the sleepers. Blood draining from his face, Yusef lunged across the room to turn it off, but knew it was too late. Arthur had undoubtedly already heard it.
“Help!” Yusef yelled up the stairs. “I need help, please!” Torn between fear and friendship, Yusef picked up the needle with shaking hands and remained near the PASIV.
Arthur heard the music filter through the echoing corridors and felt a wave of relief. He’d been hearing gunfire outside the door, and had not been looking forward to dealing with armed projections. At least they’d be able to get out of this unscathed, though the same could not be said for poor Annette.
“That’s our cue,” he said, making mental note to tease J.J. about her choice in music when they got out of here. The chemist made to open his mouth again, but shut it with just a glare from all of them.
“Ok, we’ll go first,” Prentiss said, bringing her gun into her lap. “This is a dream, Sis. We’ll just wake up, it’s ok…”
Annette nodded slowly, her eyes bloodshot, and let Prentiss put the gun to her forehead.
J.J. saw the door at the end of the corridor, sturdy and solid, unlike the rest of this place.
“Prentiss! Arthur!” she called, turning on her heel to shoot another projection. “Open up!”
A bullet flew by her to smash a projection she hadn’t seen, and J.J. turned around to see Arthur standing in the doorway, a very confused expression on his face. J.J. ducked inside and shut and locked the door behind her.
“What the hell are you doing here? I just heard the cue-.”
“I didn’t cue anyone! Annette’s wired to explode, there’s a bomb under her,” J.J. said quickly, feeling herself shaking internally as she realized how close they’d come to destroying themselves.
The chemist exhaled explosively, as if in relief, and Ariadne raised her cricket bat. “You can still shut up,” she said warningly. He kept silent, his eyes closed.
“Yusef is manning the machine. That’s all I know,” J.J. said. “We just have to wait until the bomb squad frees Annette.”
Something crashed into the door behind her and J.J. jumped, bringing her gun to bear as more of those tooth-rattling screeches pierced the air.
Morgan worked his hand in between the boards holding the bomb steady from both the bed below and Valerie’s body above. The wire was in an awkward place, but there was just enough room to get the snips in there and cut it. Holding his breath, Morgan eased the tool into place and squeezed.
Eames shouted as a stray bullet winged him, knocking him to the floor. Hotchner kept picking his targets coolly, but the numbers simply weren’t adding up. A flash from an unexpected place, and he felt pain explode in his gut as the bullet went just under the lower edge of the vest.
“Hotch!” Reid yelled, as the world went black around him, the projections pouring through every door and window. Before his eyes closed, Hotchner could see Valerie throwing herself through the battered fence towards Thomas, while Cobb backed away to give her a clear shot at the man who’d tortured her.
Reid snapped awake, heart pounding almost of his chest. As he sat up, he saw Morgan on the bed, holding Valerie Jenkins while she cried, the nasty little bomb on the floor beside his foot. Next to him, handcuffs rattled as Thomas struggled against his bonds, caught and helpless as his victim had been. Across the room, Hotchner was sitting up, waiting until Cobb had opened his eyes to give him a solemn nod. Eames was muttering something under his breath about dying spectacularly, but cut himself off to glare at Thomas briefly.
Hotchner got up slowly, removing the needle from his hand. He walked over to Thomas in silence, removing the man’s own needle and retracting the line. He then signaled to the police officer standing in the doorway, a very pale-faced man, wide-eyed at what he’d just seen.
“Officer, take William Thomas into custody.”
The bomb squad arrived as Thomas was being marched out, and Morgan insisted on going with them to help disarm Annette. A few tense moments later, a very grateful Yusef adjusted the timer on the PASIV, and the other team woke up.
Morgan let the paramedics take the shocky Annette upstairs to her sister, and then he returned to find Prentiss, J.J., and the extractors having a very strange conversation.
“-knee deep in glass shards. Seriously,” Prentiss was saying. “It was hard enough keeping Annette calm as it was!”
“Glass shards?” Rossi asked, shaking his head. “Glad that wasn’t on my level.”
“It was a good hit!” Ariadne insisted. “I didn’t miss any of them!”
“You’re getting shooting lessons,” Arthur said, working the kinks out of his hands.
“I know,” she said simply.
Arthur seemed to stop short at her easy acquiescence, and then he smiled.
“Good work everyone.” Hotchner stood in the doorway, Reid, Cobb, and Eames just behind him. “Let’s go home.”
Arthur looked over Hotchner’s shoulder at Cobb, who gave him a quick nod and a smile. The job was done.
“I don’t suppose you’d ever consider…” Eames trailed off suggestively, and Reid shook his head.
“I think the FBI might frown on that,” he said with a tight smile, trying to hold back outright laughter.
“Give it up, Eames,” Prentiss said, holding out her hand to bid him farewell. “Not everyone’s that flexible.”
“I know a few people,” he said with an insouciant grin. Prentiss unsuccessfully tried to smother a smile.
“Thomas will be facing three murder charges,” Hotchner said to Cobb. “Plus one count of attempted murder and one accessory, not to mention any priors we can link him to. Ruiz, the chemist, is getting attempted and accessories for the victims. It’s enough felony charges to put them both away for life.”
“Best place for them,” Cobb said, a tightness around his mouth.
“Mr. Cobb, my team will be able to do all the testifying as to Thomas’ crimes. Your team will not even be mentioned by name. That was part of the conditions Chief Strauss had for them.”
Cobb relaxed minutely, and looked sideways at his team taking their leave of the profilers, swapping anecdotes and short stories of some of the higher points in their association. That was so rare after an extraction job. Usually you had to scatter immediately and pretend you didn’t know anyone. If you got together again, there was always that little voice that told you to look over your shoulder and make sure no one official was listening. This might be the only time his friends could have the relaxation he’d had for three years.
“I could speak to her about an extended contract,” Hotchner added, seemingly out of the blue.
Cobb looked at him sharply, and then smiled. “Maybe. I’ll have to talk to them.”
“I thought our teams worked well together. We couldn’t have done this without you.”
Hotchner held out his hand, and Cobb shook it firmly. Arthur appeared at Cobb’s elbow, suitcase slung over his shoulder, and took Hotchner’s hand himself.
“We’ll be seeing you,” he said shortly, and jerked his head towards the door.
Cobb gave a scanty good-bye to the other profilers as the extractors filtered out, and finally left with them, undoubtedly intending to catch up before they scattered to the far corners of the globe.
Hotchner waited until their chatter had faded before opening his hand to reveal the small phone Arthur had slipped him during their handshake. A tiny sticky note was stuck to its screen: If you need us.
Smiling, Hotchner slipped the phone back into his pocket before turning back to his teammates, knowing they’d all seen the same promise he had. Without a word, everyone sat down at their table, as J.J. began a new briefing.
“You’ve got to be kidding me, Saito,” Erin Strauss snapped, hoping her irritation was clear on the other end of the line. “I am not playing host to them again.”
“Do not be foolish. In order for Thomas’ conviction to stick, the rules must be tightened. My people could be in danger. Do you wish them to be dangerous on your side, or against your side?” he asked reasonably.
Strauss refrained from grinding her teeth as she poured over the paperwork on the desk. Her favors from the Justice Department had been dearly bought, and now it was time to pay. Saito was only stating the obvious.
“God help us from needing them again,” she said with ill grace.
“It is not gods they face, Erin,” he said. “Like your people, they would be fighting against nightmares.”
Sighing in inevitable defeat, Strauss began writing her new recommendations.