Chapter Content: OOC-Rossi
Chapter Note: I am adding some OOC character warnings over the next few chapters. Also, please remember this story is fully written, and the storyline won’t be changing. Please keep in mind that there is a reason for everything that I do, and things (Especially major issues and character trait changes) will be explained by the end of the story. Thanks!
Chapter Summary: Will misses his check-ins and the team becomes worried. As they investigate, the Birdling uncovers something unexpected. This leads to a confrontation that Tony never imagined he’d have to have, and sides are drawn.
Chapter Sixteen: Then it all Falls Apart
Raven was at her desk before the boss even came in. Will had been undercover for a week and hadn’t checked in for two days. Tony was giving him one more day before going to investigate. Will requested a 3-day contact cushion if communication was lost.
Raven didn’t quite understand it or like that, they had to wait so long, but she was willing to trust Will and the boss. She talked to Chin though and felt better afterward. He reminded her that he was the most veteran undercover agent on the team other than the boss, and therefore was being given more latitude than some others. He also reminded that Will was used to his backup being days and continents away from his actual location, which was another reason Tony had agreed to the unusually long contact cushion.
Chin was truly the mentor that she always wanted. At Cyber Division she’d never had a true mentor. Sure she had Avery sort of, but Avery didn’t know anything about hacking, and when it came to life mentoring… well her new boys and Elijah already had her beat.
“You’re ruining all my brown nosing with the new boss,” she heard and looking up found Chin watching her from his desk.
“I thought I’d be the first one in, but it seems you beat me to it. What are you doing?”
“Looking at the code I wrote for Will’s undercover file.” When Chin rolled his eyes at her, she rushed on to explain. The day before he’d teased that she was becoming obsessed with the new code she’s written for the team.
“Something is off! Look, I know I’m a little paranoid about it but… If I was Tony I’d call it my gut, and everyone would not and accept it. But, I’m not Tony. I’m just Raven, but there’s just… it’s bugging me.”
Chin arched an eyebrow at her and crossed his arms over his chest. “What makes you think that if you tell us it’s your gut we won’t believe you too? Did you try?”
Raven opened her mouth, then shut it and shook her head. “I don’t have any proof, but I know something is off.”
Chin nodded and moved to sit in his own chair. “I’ll let the boss know when he comes in that you have some concerns. Get to work finding out what’s bugging you. Next time, Birdling, trust us. You might be surprised the support that you will get.”
Three hours later, after some coffee that included a pep talk and suggestions from Krummy, Raven found what had been bugging her. When she did, she knew that Will was in big trouble.
When her mentor’s head whipped up to look at her, Raven waved him over urgently. “I was right, we have problems.”
Quickly Chin came over. Elijah, having heard her shout, came over from his desk to listen in as well. “I got frustrated when I couldn’t figure out what I was looking for. So, I was talking to Krummy, and he suggested to not just check the code I changed, but the stuff I didn’t change, as well.”
Taking a deep breath, Raven tried to school her thoughts so that she could coherently explain what she’d found. “Someone has definitely been in Will’s undercover file. See, when I set up my code, it was done to automatically alert us to any access to the files through not only unauthorized means but authorized FBI access codes as well. I mean, I figured the guy you need to watch out for isn’t always outside of this building.”
“What did you find, Raven?” Elijah asked. He was already sending Tony a text that he needed to get out of his meeting because they had an emergency.
“The Black Queen accessed Will Stark’s file two days ago just before lunch, and a Penelope Garcia then accessed Will’s official company file using her FBI codes 5 minutes later. My security measures were bypassed by changing some of the code I hadn’t touched. I know who the Black Queen is. She was a legendary hacker who just disappeared one day.”
Elijah frowned, as Chin moved to his computer. “Penelope Garcia is…”
“The Technical Analyst for the Behavioral Analysis Unit. Why are we talking about her?”
Elijah turned and looked at his boss, who had come up behind them while they were talking. “Problems, Boss. This Garcia woman accessed Will’s file the day we lost contact. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Will missed his first check in that night. Why would the BAU be looking into our undercover operative?”
The team members watched Tony’s eyes harden, and waited nervously. They all knew who was over the BAU and had fragile hopes for the relationship that had started between the two bosses. They each silently plotted payback if Aaron Hotchner was just messing with Tony in some fucked up power play.
“We are about to find that out. Raven, do you have something that I can show Aa… UC Hotchner as proof of this?”
Quickly Raven nodded and made the correct documentation showing the intrusion. “Umm, if you take Elijah with you, he’s used to explaining hacking sh… uhh, stuff to people. I mean not that you can’t… I just…”
Tony held up a hand, as he remained silent. Quickly she copied her findings onto a flash drive and handed it to Elijah who patted her on the shoulder before running off after Tony.
“Chin, go inform Tobias what is going on, and let him know I want Garcia in a fucking interview room. Take Raven with you. I want those computers gone through if he agrees.”
Their boss was storming toward the elevator, and Elijah seemed to be making sure that it didn’t leave without him. It would suck if the boss’ new relationship when up in flames, because of some traitor hacker who had returned to her roots. As they ran off, Raven watched her mentor take a deep breath, and stood motioning for her to follow.
“Raven make a second copy of that. We’re gonna go get permission to make the BAU’s little tech princess very uncomfortable.” Chin advised.
Nodding she rushed to do what she was told. The Black Queen had been one of her idols as a hacker, but she didn’t do that anymore, and her friend’s life could be in jeopardy. She wasn’t going to be out-hacked or outsmarted, even if it was a legend.
Hotch was sitting behind his desk, trying to fend off Dave’s nosy questions about how things were going with Tony when the subject of their conversation stormed in. Seeing Elijah Mundo a step behind him, and the angry look in Tony’s eyes, it didn’t take a profiler to see there was a problem.
“Tony?” Aaron questioned, but Tony just held up a hand.
“Right now you are Unit Chief Hotchner, and I am Agent in Charge DiNozzo. This is about work, and not us. I am trying not to take someone’s head off, but I am really fucking pissed right now. I will warn you that if you were aware of this bullshit, I am not going to just look the other way because I think you’re incredibly hot.”
“I think you better step back, son, and remember who you are talking to,” Rossi advised standing between Tony and Aaron.
“You don’t get to just come in here, and act like you own the place. I’m certainly not going to let you use whatever is going on between you and Aaron to cause trouble for the BAU. We were here before you, kid, and we’ll be here long after you are gone.”
Rossi had been sitting in one of the chairs in front of Aaron’s desk and used his position to try and get the younger man to back down. Unfortunately, he didn’t take into consideration that Tony DiNozzo just doesn’t intimidate easily.
“I suggest, SSA Rossi, that you remember I’m not your goddamned son. My father was an alcoholic, abusive prick, and I don’t need another one. I know you old school BAU jackasses think you’re all that and a bag of chips, but I hate to tell you that I worked under the biggest asshole on the fucking planet for 10 years.
“You don’t intimidate me in the least. You have no fucking idea why I am pissed off, and I suggest you shove your platitudes somewhere deep and dark.”
Elijah’s phone beeped, and reading it, he quickly showed his boss the message, as Aaron Hotchner got his mentor under control.
“SSA Rossi, why don’t we find out why AIC DiNozzo is so upset before we start waving our dicks in the air and proclaiming ourselves the king of the mountain? As DiNozzo stated, right now he is the AIC of the Elite Undercover & Investigative Unit, and I am the Unit Chief of the BAU. That has nothing to do with Tony and Aaron.”
“Agent in Charge DiNozzo, why don’t we move to the conference room?” Aaron suggested trying to calm things down.
Behind Tony, Elijah Mundo nodded. “Does it have a USB port?” Elijah took the flash drive out of his pocket.
“You’re going to want to see what is on this.”
Hotch hesitated then sighed. “I can get Garcia…”
“NO!” Tony bit out, and Elijah stepped forward to use Tony’s body to shield the hand he was putting on his back.
“I don’t think that would be a good idea. I came from Cyber Unit. If you have a company tablet that has a USB port or if the table has USB port computer access, I can get us settled.” Elijah offered trying to smile reassuringly. When the UC nodded, he felt Tony’s body relaxed somewhat.
Elijah knew that his boss was terribly worried about Will’s disappearance. Not only was this their first case, it was Will’s first time undercover at Tony’s assignment. Then there was the fact that Will and his partner had quickly become an important part of his boss’ new inner circle. He couldn’t even imagine how Tony would react if this Garcia woman had caused Will to get hurt or worse yet killed.
Tony and Elijah followed Aaron and Rossi to the conference room that the BAU used, with Rossi being maneuvered in front by Unit Chief Hotchner. Elijah could feel eyes on them as they walked along the ramp. The door hadn’t been shut, and he was sure that more than one set of ears heard the angry exchange. When they reached the room, Elijah used his own system access codes on the UC’s tablet to set up their evidence.
Fortunately, the few minutes it took had given Tony time to calm down at least enough that he could speak again without clenching his teeth. So, as Elijah moved their evidence to the screen, Tony began to explain what was going on. He hadn’t had a chance to talk to Aaron since Will had gone missing. He’d been too busy trying to get ahold of Robert and using the contacts he had in the Charleston area to make sure his friend wasn’t in the hospital or morgue.
“Agent William Brandt was assigned to the case I told you about a week ago, Unit Chief Hotchner. He went undercover at one of the bases in the Charleston, South Carolina area upon request from the base commander. The CO was concerned because he’d had a problem about a year ago at this time, and didn’t want another shit storm.”
Wishing he had a cup of coffee or a bottle of water, Tony let his hands clench together on top of the table. “Three days ago he missed his first check in. Last night he missed his second. The undercover operative requested a three-day window before intervention before he left. With his extensive background, it was determined to be an acceptable risk. He advised that he would initiate his secondary backup protocol option, and I readily agreed. He was new to the team, the team was new in general, and really he pretty much has two options, both of which I am comfortable with.
“Our Junior Technical Analyst Raven Ramirez previously set up some extra security protocols on the backside of our files as a precaution. Something had been bugging her about them since Will missed his first check in, and she was in this morning early trying to figure out what it was.”
“This is the hacker that you hired, after Cyber Division canned her, correct?” Dave questioned, not bothering to hide his contempt for the woman.
“SSA ROSSI!” Aaron scolded angrily.
“You are not helping. If you can’t control yourself, leave the room and send in Reid.”
The sneer and angry smile Tony threw at the man was setting off warning bells in Hotch’s head. There was no way that Tony would storm into his office looking like he wanted to literally tear someone’s head off of their shoulders without just cause. Something was seriously wrong, and Hotch’s experience was telling him that he was not going to like what was coming.
“You are going to feel really stupid in about two minutes,” Tony promised, showing more than a little dark amusement. The bad feeling in Hotch’s gut was only getting worse.
When Dave opened his mouth to respond, Hotch cut him off. “I am not even kidding, Dave. One more word out of your mouth, and you will be sent from this room. So, keep a cork in it!”
Elijah took over the story, hoping to give his boss time to calm down again. “Raven found out that Will’s undercover legend and his personnel files had been accessed without authorization.”
Hitting a button on the tablet, Elijah moved the evidence to the screen.
“The lines you are seeing in red, are hacker’s code, which circumvented the security that Analyst Ramirez had put in place. As SSA Rossi so helpfully pointed out, Raven was, until a few years ago, one hell of a hacker. Every hacker’s code is special. They all have their little quirks, their own signature. Something like a bomber or an unsub’s calling card.
“Now, even hackers have idols. Hers was someone who went by the tag of the Black Queen. Analyst Ramirez identified the code in red as one that is commonly known to belong to The Black Queen.”
“This is obviously some made up bullshit!” Rossi shouted standing up angrily.
“For all we know your HACKER made up this stuff to get back at…”
“DAVE! ENOUGH!” Aaron shouted. On the other side of the table, he saw Elijah had wrapped a hand around Tony’s wrist. He assumed it was in an attempt at preventing his boss from smacking the crap out of the stubborn, pigheaded, profiler next to him. Storming to the door, Hotch stepped outside. “REID! I need you in here now.”
Walking back in, he glared at Dave. “Go to your office. If you want to act like a three-year-old instead of a veteran FBI agent, I will treat you as such. Do NOT come out of your office until I give you permission. If I find out that you have so much as THOUGHT about calling her and warning her of ANYTHING, I will suspend your stupid ass myself!”
Angrily, Rossi swept from the room, and Hotch stepped out to see Reid gathering some things at his desk. “Spencer, if you could get some bottles of water from the refrigerator in my office, I would appreciate it. Morgan! I did not request your presence. Stay away from Rossi’s office. That goes for everyone. He’s in time out until he remembers that he’s 63 and not 3.”
As he stepped back into the conference room, he saw Elijah had herded Tony into the far corner, listening in as Tony spoke on his phone. He tried not to listen in, but he heard Garcia’s name and felt his own hand’s clench. He’d never once doubted bringing her onto the team. He hoped to God that he could still say that when this fiasco was over. He had a feeling that it was not getting better anytime soon though.
Eventually, Spencer came in with three bottles of water, and his own ever-present coffee cup. Tony and Elijah had finished their talk and were sitting back at the table. The second Spencer saw the Black Queen’s name on the screen he froze.
Fortunately, unlike Dave, Spencer knew how to be professional even in the face of personal turmoil, and quickly recovered. Moving to sit at his normal spot next to Hotch, Reid put the waters on the table and waved to the two EU&IU leaders.
“SIC Mundo, this is SSA Dr. Spencer Reid. I apologize for SSA Rossi’s outburst and unprofessional behavior. If you could repeat what you said previously for Reid, we can then continue.”
Elijah nodded and smiled, even though it was fairly strained, and caught Spencer up to what they’d revealed to Hotch. “What we didn’t get a chance to say earlier, was that within five minutes of the Black Queen’s hack, Agent William Brandt’s personnel file was accessed by Penelope Garcia using her FBI access codes.
“This was done at roughly 1 PM Eastern Standard Time. Will missed his first call in 7 hours later. He also missed his contact last night also at 8 PM. If he doesn’t call in tonight, emergency protocols will officially kick in, and he will be presumed missing. Whether it will be because he’s been hurt, kidnapped, or because he went dark we really won’t know.”
Hotch felt the muscle in his jaw twitch and forced himself to try and relax slightly. Beside him, he could see Spencer looked dazed, but he had nothing but confidence in the younger man’s ability to pull things together.
“I need to know if you authorized this, UC Hotchner,” Tony’s advised. His voice much quieter and ragged than when Rossi was in there.
Hotch forced himself to not immediately respond. It wouldn’t do any of them good if he took out his frustration out on Tony. Their relationship aside, he was a new team leader who was understandably worried about his agent, and in all reality, his own frustration was really aimed at the position Garcia had put them all in.
“No,” Aaron confirmed, and he didn’t think that it was his imagination that Tony seemed to relax and calm noticeably. He thought maybe that he should be offended that the other man had even slightly questioned his ethics in the matter, but he understood. After what Tony had gone through at NCIS, Hotch didn’t blame him for being cautious about anyone. Maybe in this instance, their personal relationship was helping smooth things over with their professional one. It was something he would have to think on later, and possibly discuss with Section Chief Cruz.
“While I knew about the case due to our conversation, and was admittedly curious, I would never use my people or my access to get information that I had no business knowing. If I wanted to know, I would have simply asked you. I would never authorize Garcia to hack files within the Bureau itself. That’s…” Hotch shook his head unable to continue.
“Can I ask what Agent Brandt was doing when he went missing? I mean, other than undercover work.” Reid asked in the soft voice he used when he was unsure or trying to calm a situation. In this instance, Hotch had a feeling it was a little of both.
Tony nodded and after drinking some water answered the question. “We got a request for assistance in a double murder. The first one was a Scott Levy who resided in Atlanta, Georgia. The second was a Steven Laughlin who was stationed at one of the Navy bases in the Charleston, SC area.”
When Reid’s face paled, the bad feeling in Hotch’s stomach got worse. “Reid?” He prompted, but the young genius didn’t answer immediately.
“Steven… Petty Officer Third Class Steven Laughlin, who last year was accused of having raped a girl prior to joining the Navy? Scott Levy, the owner of the Jersey Bowery, who was accused of stalking a former friend of his Michael Richards?” When Tony and Elijah looked at each other, Hotch knew the answer before it was given.
“How did you know that Dr. Reid?” Tony asked, obviously straining to keep himself in check, but the switch in people seemed to be helping him.
“I did consults on both of the cases,” Reid offered frowning and looked at Hotch worried. “I… I determined that they were both innocent. I don’t… Hotch?”
When Tony’s eyes finally met his, the confusion, worry, and desperation for information that would help his agent and friend were evident. When his phone beeped again, Tony glanced down at it, then visibly took a deep breath.
“Unit Chief Fornell and Agent Chin Ho Kelly have Technical Analyst Garcia in one of the interview rooms. Tobias wants me to let you know that if you would like to watch, we should go down now.”
Hotch wanted to scream. He wanted to protest that this must be some mistake. He wanted to act the 3-year-old Rossi had been. His stomach though still held that now huge ball of dread telling him that it was going to just keep on getting worse. Nodding he stood and left with the other three following him. It was time to get some answers.