Fandom: Heroes/Criminal Minds crossover (no prior knowledge of Criminal Minds is needed to understand this fic)
Characters: Nathan Petrelli, Aaron Hotchner
Spoilers: 3x25 “An Invisible Thread,” takes place around the beginning teaser for Volume 5, “Redemption”
Disclaimer: Heroes belongs to Tim Kring, NBC et al. Criminal Minds belongs to... uh, I dunno, but I don't own them anyways.
A/N: I always thought Nathan Petrelli meeting Aaron Hotchner would be very interesting, considering their similar backgrounds. (And Hotchner’s great hatchet face, yow!)
Summary: Nathan needs someone to help him discover who’s behind a series of mysterious deaths, and he finds just the man for the job. But what agent Hotchner discovers is perhaps more than Nathan intended…
Aaron Hotchner was precisely the kind of person Nathan had expected. Every inch an FBI agent, from the suit, to the brisk walk, to the stony countenance, he still managed to convey an air of watchfulness, an impression that he was taking in everything that set him apart from other agents Nathan had known. Not that any good agent was less than observant, but they tended to be more narrow in their focus. A profiler, particularly one with a reputation like Hotchner’s, could take in both the broad strokes and the tiniest details.
He was exactly the kind of person the new Company needed. Not overtly. Not even with his full knowledge. But they needed someone with his skills, and now instead of later.
“Agent Hotchner, I’m glad you could spare the time to meet me,” Nathan said, standing up from the conference table and extending his hand. Hotchner looked slightly confused, as well he should be, but took Nathan’s hand with aplomb.
“I don’t believe I had anything scheduled with you, Senator Petrelli.” His voice was dead-even as he sat at the table, setting his briefcase down on the floor.
“I know you didn’t. I know you were supposed to be in a meeting with assistant director. Let’s just say I co-opted his time for now. He generously leant you to me, if you’ll pardon the phrasing,” Nathan said, spreading his hands in apology before steepling them in front of his mouth again.
“What did you need me for Senator? No offense, but the kinds of cases we usually work are far below your pay grade.”
Nathan nodded in acknowledgement. The Behavior Analysis Unit helped local police and sheriff’s departments with difficult cases; handling high-profile government officials was not in their job description. That was the purview of the Secret Service, or specialized teams within the FBI that were cleared for top secret information. Agent Hotchner’s team might be one of the best, but the rarified air of national security was not theirs to breathe.
“We needed a fresh set of eyes on a series of problems we’re having. You come highly recommended. You’re experienced, dedicated, loyal… and you’re the last person anyone would expect to handle this case,” Nathan said smoothly. Truth, every bit of it was true. “I would need to brief you in on matters of national security, but we think you’re the best man for the job.”
“Sir, with all due respect, are you having a security problem?”
The question caught Nathan by surprise, but perhaps it shouldn’t have. The man was a profiler, after all. He was supposed to be good at reading people.
“Right now, all but one of the people I would normally tap for this investigation are either under suspicion, or dead. The one person I do trust completely is tied up by the need to maintain secrecy. We needed an outsider to point us in the right direction, to make sure we’re not missing anything. But before we go any further, I’ll need to brief you in. If you decide you don’t want to go through with this, you can walk away now. No harm, no foul.”
Nathan needed to reel Hotchner in, and he knew that dangling the information, the promise that he would be saving lives was a good way to do it. The agent and he had quite a bit in common, similar backgrounds in law, a dedication to the job that had robbed them of their wives and sons, and the ability to throw themselves so much into work that nothing else mattered.
But while Nathan’s obsessions had nearly cost him his life and job more than once, Hotchner was much more stable and reliable, even to the point of giving up political advancement to stay with the BAU. In that, he reminded Nathan of Noah Bennet. That combination of traits made him ideal to help the Company, if he’d accept.
Hotchner knew he could make no other choice than to accept. He didn’t know Senator Petrelli very well, and normally he detested political byplay and favoritism, but, objectively, this was a serial murder case. This was what he did.
“What about my team?” he asked.
“I’m afraid I can’t clear all of them as well. I had enough trouble getting clearance to read you in,” Petrelli said with what seemed like honest regret.
“I’ll help as well as I’m able, but we work better as a team,” Hotchner pointed out.
He’d flown solo before numerous times, but his team was an integrated unit that complimented each other. He’d have to work without Morgan’s expertise of obsessional crimes or Prentiss’ high social acumen, J.J.’s political tempering or Rossi’s years of experience, Reid’s encyclopedic knowledge of everything or Garcia’s high-speed cross-analyzing. But he was still their leader, and his own insights and experience had only been heightened from everything he’d learned from them in their time working together.
“I sympathize, but we’re all working under constraints here,” Petrelli said.
Not that Hotchner had expected him to say anything else.
“All right. Read me in.”
“Our problem is several ex-members of a recently defunct government agency have been murdered. All of them have been murdered in exactly the same way, and we have a suspect, but we need you to look at our files and see if you think she’s even capable of this, and what her next move might be,” Petrelli explained.
“A female serial killer is extremely rare,” Hotchner pointed out.
“Yes, possible,” Hotchner allowed cautiously. “And what about this ‘defunct agency?’”
“It was established to control certain bio-weaponry obtained by American citizens. This particular woman had gotten her hands on one of them, and had been captured by the agency. She was… interrogated and imprisoned for several weeks.”
Hotchner didn’t need to be a profiler to hear, “Tortured, like Guantanamo Bay, and held without trial or appeal,” in that statement.
“And then?” he asked, not betraying any emotion.
“She… escaped, and when the agents were trying to round her up, she used her… weapon against them, killing ten men. We thought she had died in the attack, but that was apparently not the case.”
“How are these agents being killed?”
“In a way unique to the weapon she has.”
Hotchner knew that to ask about specifics would get him precisely nowhere, but he had to start somewhere.
“Is this a virus?”
“Nothing like that, thank God. No, it’s not contagious.”
“I’ll need all the files you have on this suspect, along with all the files you can give me on this agency and the agents,” Hotchner said after a moment’s pause. Clearly he wasn’t going to get the full read-in, which meant he was going to be operating with one hand tied behind his back.
“They’re redacted, but I’ll get you everything we have,” Petrelli promised easily. He’d been expecting that question, and even started pulling up boxes of files from the floor behind the table.
“In a situation like this, I’d like to talk to this suspect’s friends, relatives…”
“I’m afraid she was adopted, and her parents both died several years ago. As for her friends… she really didn’t have any close ones. That’s part of the reason I’m here. I knew her in the weeks leading up to her escape.”
That Petrelli had “known” this woman in the Biblical sense was something Hotchner didn’t doubt for a second.
“And I’d like to see all the files on you too,” he asked, taking a calculated risk.
The senator paused, one box halfway on the table, and stared into space for a long moment.
“Yes, of course. Whatever you need,” Petrelli said evenly.
Hotchner hadn’t expected him to agree. At all. The question had been more for his own edification, rather than actual hard facts. He’d wanted to see how the senator would react to exposing his life a little more than he’d been prepared to. He’d come to Hotchner, which meant Petrelli was in this up to his carefully waxed eyebrows. That made him a person of interest in this case.
However, it wouldn’t do to jump to conclusions.
Over the next two hours, Hotchner waded through the boxes of files, trying to build a profile based on files so heavily redacted that they might as well have printed them on black paper and saved on ink and toner. Then he’d had to grill the senator about his relationship, which had been a depressingly sordid little story.
Despite that, Hotchner could see Petrelli hadn’t necessarily making up his story about his supposed suspect. This “T.S.” was more than capable of multiple homicides. She was accustomed to power and privilege, was lacking much of a moral compass, and then had been denied power when she was imprisoned for having a dangerous bio-weapon. She’d not been granted a proper trial or hearing, and, if he’d inferred correctly, forcibly interrogated in some sophisticated and sadistic ways. She had all the markers of someone capable of a psychotic break.
“These are a series of revenge killings, rather than serial killings,” Hotchner explained. “Serial killers have a definite type, and each of these agents differs in age, race, and gender. The only connecting factor is their involvement with the defunct agency. She’s starting at the bottom of the food chain and working her way up. Each death seems to be planned, as there’s no collateral damage; every victim was alone. She watched them for a while, stalked them, before moving in for the kill. Unless she devolves, she will continue in this pattern until she reaches her ultimate goal.”
Petrelli seemed to take this in with utter calmness.
“Her ultimate goal is you, Senator Petrelli. Your prior personal relationship with her makes you a focusing point for her purpose. Unless she is stopped, she will make an attempt to kill you. Unless she is stopped, she will keep trying until you are dead,” Hotchner concluded.
Petrelli nodded in understanding, looking grim, but not overly surprised. Hotchner knew what he’d just told him couldn’t be new to him. Actually, Petrelli probably didn’t need an FBI profiler to confirm what he obviously already knew about T.S.
As a matter of fact, the profile Hotchner had been building about T.S. was nothing compared to the mental profile he was building about the senator. It was subtle, but there was something decidedly off about Nathan Petrelli. Though he’d spoken candidly about his relationship with T.S., his tone had been somewhat lacking in passion, even for a politician. From what little Hotchner remembered about Petrelli’s TV appearances, he was a man of no small passion. This more technical precision seemed out of character.
It was like Petrelli was reading a script of what he was supposed to sound like, something that made him sound more like an actor than a real person. Granted, the kinds of shocks Petrelli had been through recently, like being shot earlier that year, could change a person, but his personal history didn’t seem to hint at him putting on this kind of… veneer. He reminded Hotchner of a trauma victim, one that was desperate to maintain a façade of normalcy in front of everyone, even if inside he was close to breaking.
Though the only significant event Hotchner could recall in the senator’s past was the shooting, there had been something else. Government agencies didn’t go defunct for no reason, even or particularly if they were serving an anti-terrorist goal. Particularly when there were junior senators in charge of them. There was certainly a great deal more that could have happened, judging by the redaction in the senator’s own files. Triply so considering Petrelli had openly allowed Hotchner to go through his files. It was like he wanted Hotchner to find something.
“Well, we’ll be certain to focus our efforts. Thank you agent Hotchner, you’ve been a great help,” Petrelli said, rising from the table and accepting Hotchner’s written profile.
“Senator, are you certain there’s nothing else you need to tell me?” Hotchner asked cautiously.
Petrelli hesitated, and then smiled disarmingly in a way that sent a chill down Hotchner’s back. The senator didn’t seem to realize he was hesitating in his words and actions, like he was being coached by a hidden microphone. It was thoroughly disconcerting, and something that reminded him of suspects with mental problems. Yes, there was something definitely wrong with Nathan Petrelli, and he didn’t even seem to know it.
“I’m fine. What else would I need to tell you?” Petrelli said pleasantly.
“Nothing. I’m glad I could help.”
Nathan nodded and shook Aaron’s hand before he left. He shook right-handed. Hotchner knew Petrelli was a leftie because he’d watched him take notes all during their meeting. Some left-handed politicians learned to shake right-handed because it was easier to press the flesh that way, but it seemed entirely natural for him to shake right-handed. Like he’d been born that way.
Keeping his face determinedly neutral, Aaron left quickly, taking a deep breath in the elevator to steady himself. This was a strange thing, but not the first he’d seen. It also wasn’t his place or in his power to advise the government on their senator’s actions, not when it was in the context of top-secret material. On the other hand, what good was being a member of the FBI if you couldn’t do some investigating?
He waited until he got clear of the building, clear of the area, and practically clear of D.C. before he called Garcia. First things were first. Someone had to know something, and the route back to the senator was through T.S. She had to be stopped before she killed him, or all his speculations were for naught.
“Garcia, I need you to look up some unusual deaths in the D.C. area for me…”
Nathan leaned back in his chair, idly writing his name down with one hand, and then the other. Two different signatures, different enough to have come from two different men.
He started to crumple up the paper, but instead folded it and put it in an envelope addressed to agent Hotchner.
Maybe the agent could figure out what was wrong with him. And when he did, maybe he’d figure it out from enough distance that Nathan wouldn’t be able to kill him.