A Full-size version of the gorgeous banner can be found at HERE at the artist’s website. Much thanks to her for it. I think that it matches the feel of the story perfectly.
See Master Post for full content and warnings.
Chapter One: Innocence and Prejudice
Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner was sitting on the jet his Behavioral Analysis Unit Teams used, reviewing materials as they flew to South Dakota for a case. They had received three calls about the killings going on in and around Sioux Falls, which was in itself highly unusual. Normally they only dealt with one person that they may have a handful of conversations with, but in this case, it was multiple conversations with three separate people. Something that in itself was certainly out of the norm.
The first request came in from a nearby county sheriff Sentinel Jody Mills and her Guide Robert Singer, who went by Bobby. They became concerned when a second dead body was found in their investigative territory. The first had been found in a farmer’s field, and the second one showed up in the woods just beyond the salvage yard that Bobby ran. Jody advised that she knew Sioux Falls had several murders as well and was worried now that the killer seemed to be branching out into her jurisdiction.
The primary team had been ready to leave when the second call came in. This one was from the Sioux Falls Police Department Chief of Police Richard Harlow advising that they had the murderers in custody. Therefore, the BAU’s assistance was not needed and frankly hadn’t been wanted in the first place. When Emily Prentiss-LaMontagne came to him with the new information, she made her unease with the conversation known. There had been something in the Chief’s tone that made her question their deductions. She was also concerned about just who they’d concluded the unsubs were.
Once Aaron heard that the suspects were the sons of known serial killer John Winchester he quickly agreed that there was something suspicious about the convenience of it. Winchester had a psychotic break after his wife burned to death in an arson fire. The arsonist was a Guide with a Demon Creature Guide, and Winchester’s delusion led him to believe that all Demon Guides were the creations of Lucifer himself.
In the end, he’d been killed by his elder son Dean on his younger brother Sam’s twelfth birthday. The younger boy had come online during a verbal argument with his father regarding the supposed monsters that he’d been hunting. When the former Marine saw the Demon Guide emerge from his youngest son, he’d turned his murderous rage on his own child. Dean had no choice but to kill his father with a gun that the older man had been cleaning prior to the argument. If he hadn’t, Sam would not have lived.
The BAU’s extensive research into serial killers showed that it was rare that a serial killer’s offspring followed in their parent’s footsteps. Sure there were instances where this happened. By far this was not the norm without extenuating circumstances much more severe than what was documented for either boy.
Aaron knew that Jason Gideon had interviewed both boys at one point, and had not found any indication that either of them was a risk for following in their father’s footsteps. In addition to that, he knew that the SS&G center would have kept a close eye on both boys, and would have taken action if there had been any suggestion that they were following in their father’s footsteps.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, there was nothing in either the evidence or the preliminary profile that suggested the deaths were done by a team of two humans. There was evidence that possibly non-human entities may be involved in the crimes, but not two humans.
A call back to Sheriff Mills by himself and David Rossi, after his conversation with the Police Chief, led to some revelations that clarified things somewhat. The Chief’s older brother had been one of John Winchester’s victim’s first of all, which caused a huge conflict of interest issue. The second item they discovered was that Sheriff Mills and her Guide Bobby Singer raised the two boys after Winchester’s death. Then, they’d learned that according to Mills, Sam and Dean had only been in town for 3 days.
The Chief of Police arrested them when the two had gone into town for lunch and some shopping. The pair lived in Palo Alto, California where Sam attended Stanford, and Dean worked from home doing Graphic Design contract jobs. He also worked on a graphic novel about two brothers who were hunters called Supernatural. Dean had gone to school locally at an art college until Sam graduated. Then, when his younger brother got a full scholarship to Stanford, Dean followed him out west. There he’d finished his last year at The Art Institute of California Sunnyvale campus in Sunnyvale, CA.
The two brothers were apparently very close, and after what John had done, spent most of their time together. Sheriff Mills advised that while they had their squabbles, the two were best friends, as well as brothers. Dean encouraged Sam’s studies, and Sam encouraged Dean’s art. In fact, according to Mills, it was Sam who got Dean into the local art college in the first place. Apparently, the younger brother made a bet he knew he couldn’t lose, and more or less tricked Dean into applying.
Sam and Dean came home to visit their guardians before Sam got bogged down with finals. Mills and Singer were both upset that the boys were being targeted. It was obvious, at least to them, that they couldn’t be the killer. Meanwhile, the smaller sheriff department were the only ones still looking for the killer. She was upfront that she didn’t really have anyone trained for such a complex investigation. This concerned them greatly, but Aaron was on the fence about what direction he wanted to go.
When he got off of the phone with Sheriff Mills, Raven and Daniel had been waiting to update him on the information their deeper search had uncovered about the supposed suspects. They were both familiar with the Supernatural graphic novels. While they admitted to admiring his work, especially the artwork, they assured him that they weren’t what people would call super fans and could still do their job. They were on their way to debate where to go next with the team as a whole when he got the third call. The intent had been to give the whole team a rundown of their findings, instead of advising Aaron and Dave and then having to repeat everything.
On his way to the conference room to discuss the latest developments with the team, Aaron received a call from the Attorney General of South Dakota. The Sentinel was highly concerned about what was going on, and the actions of the Sioux Falls, SD Chief of Police. He’d been monitoring the situation, and he’d been relieved when he’d heard that there was an arrest made. That is until he found out who had been arrested. At that point, he became highly concerned over the whole situation.
The conflict of interest portion though had him the most concerned. He wanted to make sure that the BAU team was coming to investigate the situation with their Sentinel, Swing SentinelGuide and Guide Team traveling with them. He didn’t want a PR nightmare if the wrong people were arrested solely based on who their father was, and what the man had done. While John Winchester had committed horrific crimes, the sons were thus far innocent of wrongdoing.
Aaron quickly assured him that with the AG’s request they would be able to bring the full team, and would be there as quickly as possible. Because of this last call, the meeting in the conference room had been canceled, and an order of wheels up in 30 for the entire team had been put out. So, he now sat on the jet with all 10 members of his team.
Normally they worked as two smaller units. The primary team had 6 members including himself, and the secondary team formally called the Sentinel, Swing SentinelGuide, and Guide Crimes Team had four. The current makeup of both units was comprised totally of Sentinels, Swing SentinelGuides, and Guides. They’d had Mundanes previously on each team without much success.
The last mundane on the primary team had been Elle Greenaway. However, when her mundane status became a factor in her being attacked by an unsub, she’d gone off the rails. After returning from her recovery, she came across a Sentinel on a case that she felt got away with rape, and took matters into her own hands. This eventually led to her dismissal, and they hadn’t come across a Mundane since then that he felt was right for the primary team.
The SS&G team also previously had a Mundane. She’d lasted longer in her position than Elle had, but her exit from the team caused a new policy that only Sentinels, Swings, or Guides should be placed on that particular unit. Her longer tenure was mostly because Aaron never had an outright reason to fire her despite the misgivings he had about her for quite a while prior to her exit. Her length of time and the number of documented issues during her time with them, though, helped justify a new policy that he’d badly felt was necessary for that group of profilers.
Jennifer Jareau had been a member of the SS&G Crimes Team for just over six years. Throughout her time on the team, she could never quite grasp the concepts. She was aware of them on a basic level, but her practical bone-deep understanding like a Sentinel, Swing, or Guide would have never kicked in. Due to the nature of the issues that unit dealt with, it was imperative that every team member was highly knowledgeable and believed in what differentiated SS&Gs from Mundanes.
Almost since her placement on the team by the previous Section Chief Erin Strauss, there were little issues that would come up that showed she either didn’t understand SS&Gs or didn’t believe what she’d previously been told. Then, at the end of her tenure with the team, she made a critical error half out of arrogance, and in Aaron’s opinion half because of her Mundane status, that signaled it was time to end the experiment.
The smaller team had been working a case in Montana that had the team members scattered over a large area looking for a Sentinel and a Guide that had been captured by an unsub who made clear his hatred of those with enhanced senses. The group she’d been working with had only one Sentinel and Guide pairing, whose advice she’d ignored insisting that she knew what she was doing. When they found the kidnapped pair, JJ had insisted that they be separated to make moving them easier, and also to prevent any collaborating of stories. This was despite the Sentinel in her group trying to warn her of a new bond that she sensed.
Because JJ couldn’t feel the bond, she disregarded what the younger woman was saying, and ordered the older mundane males to separate them herself. This resulted in the rescued Sentinel attacking her, and then being shot by another Mundane to prevent him from killing her. The Sentinel had nearly died, and the fragile bond with his new Guide had nearly snapped under the stress. The extra trauma caused a Guide Stress Induced Coma on the young man he’d bonded with that lasted nearly four months. In the end, JJ was moved to the State Department after a severe reprimand, and the new policy Aaron had been asking for was put in place to require all SS&G members for the smaller unit.
This meant that his team was now wholly made up of Sentinels, Swings, or Guides with a command structure of himself as Unit Chief, a Team Leader, and a Second in Command. The primary team, which dealt with mostly Non-Sentinel, Swing, or Guide issues, was led by himself a Beta Level unmated Sentinel. Then there was the Second in Command under the Team Leader, who was a Beta Level Guide named Dr. Spencer Reid and his mate a Beta Level Sentinel Martin Odum, who had come to them from another division within the FBI where he previously worked deep undercover assignments. There was also Theta Level Sentinel Emily Prentiss-LaMontagne and her mate Theta Level Guide Will LaMontagne, and lastly was their newest member Omega Level Guide Kate Callahan, who was unmated.
The secondary unit, the SS&G Crimes Team, dealt with the same types of cases that the primary team did, only they responded strictly to cases which involved a strong Sentinel, Swing SentinelGuide, or Guide element. Whether it be they believed the unsub was a Sentinel, the unsub was targeting Guides, or a Swing SentinelGuide had gone off the rails and was targeting Mundanes, it didn’t matter. All that was required for their assistance was that there was some major element of SS&G’s involved.
The unit was led by his Team Leader who was an unmated Alpha Sentinel named Dr. Tony DiNozzo, Jr. He was joined by mated Delta level couple Sentinel Dr. Tara Lewis and Guide Alex Blake. The team was rounded out by unmated Alpha Swing SentinelGuide David Rossi, who helped form the Behavioral Analysis Unit along with Guide Jason Gideon and Sentinel Max Ryan.
Not everyone in the world had enhanced senses. While the worldwide totals varied, generally it was a 70% SS&G to 30% Mundane ratio. For the most part, both SS&Gs, as well as Mundanes, were accepted. However, there was, as with any group of people, a small minority in each group that hated the other for varying reasons based on their Enhanced Sense Status.
There were six agreed upon levels of strengths in the SS&G community. Alpha Level was rare in the Sentinel, Swing SentinelGuide, and Guide community with less than 3% of the total SS&G population identifying at this level. The rest of the levels were fairly equal. Omega was the bottom level and indicated that there was only one enhanced sense for Sentinels, or for a Guide they could only regulate one sense. Sigma came next with two senses, followed by Theta at three senses, Delta at four senses, and Beta with all five senses. Alpha was the highest ranking with not only all five senses but one additional ‘sense’ like visions, seeing the dead, telepathy, telekinesis, etc.
Swing SentinelGuides, often just referred to as ‘Swings’ were the rarest of the three rankings with less than 0.53% of the total Sentinel, Swing SentinelGuide, and Guide population who come online each year in the United States, and less than 2% of the total worldwide population, were found to be Swings. Some historians believed that many of the people accused of being witches and then killed in the Middle Ages were actually Swing SentinelGuides.
A Swing SentinelGuide was just what it sounded like. The individual had both Sentinel and Guide abilities enabling them to be able to ‘swing’ between the two as needed, and therefore they had two True Mates. Swing SentinelGuides had only ever been found at Alpha or Beta Levels and had only ever come with two True Mates. Interestingly enough, both mates were usually found at the same time and often had connected before finding the Swing mate. David Rossi was probably the most famous Swing at the moment. This was due to not just his being a founding member of the BAU, but also his ‘side job’ as a highly popular author of true crime novels.
Hearing a hiss, Aaron looked toward the back of the jet to see his Animal Guide, which was a Komodo Dragon he’d named Takeshi laying on top of Spencer’s Creature Guide a Nian named Confucius. Tony’s Animal Guide a White Lion named Garner had Spencer’s Animal Guide a Great Horned Owl named Chaucer sitting on his back looking rather unimpressed by the whole thing.
All Sentinels, Swing SentinelGuides and Guides had two types of Guides from the Spirit Plane. One was an Animal Guide, and the other was a Creature Guide. There didn’t seem to be a limitation on either Guide as there was almost an endless variety of both. Although they had been able to determine that for every Creature Guide registered there was at least one living version. This was reported by Professional Hunters who kept the public safe from real monsters and creatures that at times terrorized them. Sometimes, simply because of a lack of understanding of the creatures on the human’s part, or a lack of understanding of the humans on the creature’s part.
Sentinels and Guides had one of each Guide. Sentinels received their Animal Guide upon coming online, and Guides received their Creature Guide upon coming online. Their other Guide appeared once they completed the bonding process after finding a mate. In the case of True Mates, the other Guide appeared immediately upon finding their mate. True Mates were two or three individuals who were not just compatible matches with each other. These individuals had a kind of bond with each often compared to what people imagined soul mates to be other that while was documented was not easily explained. True Mates could be found on any of the levels from Alpha to Omega but were vitally important for Swing SentinelGuides and Alphas who each had more of a difficult time with their enhanced senses.
Swings had two sets of each type of Guide and received one from each set upon coming online, and the other two upon finding their True Mates. The first pair generally would be an Animal Guide to represent the Sentinel set and a Creature Guide to represent the Guide set. Because they had two mates, Swings also seemed harder to match. Unfortunately, Aaron’s friend and mentor was still waiting to find his duo. He only hoped that someday it would happen.
Across from Aaron sat his Team Leader, Dr. Tony DiNozzo. Tony came to them from Tobias Fornell’s team, where he’d served as the man’s Second in Command for years. He had a double doctorate in SS&G Criminal Psychology and SS&G History. He replaced Aaron’s former Team Leader Sentinel Derek Morgan who moved to head up the New York field office along with his Guide Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia.
It had been hard to lose them both, but Derek felt he was ready for the next step. Aaron hadn’t been quite sure that Derek was ready for the position, and had been honest about it with the Sentinel. In the end, though, the Bureau decided he was the best qualified and promoted him anyway. Aaron knew that he’d do well enough that it would work out in the end. He was just fairly certain that it was going to be a pretty rocky beginning.
Tony worked his way up through the FBI ranks, having come to them after an undercover stint in Philadelphia where his undercover work helped take down the local mob family. The man hadn’t wanted to get stuck playing other people his whole career, though, and took as many night classes as he could until he had his two degrees. He and Dr. Spencer Reid could often be found comparing notes about papers and new journal articles during slow moments when the teams were together. Tony’s Animal Guide Garner, who was as social as his Sentinel, could often be found roaming around the BAU area visiting with various team members.
Next to Tony, on the outside near the isle, was Sentinel Martin Odum, who came to them thanks to Tony. The two met early in Tony’s FBI career on an undercover assignment. When Tony heard that his friend was having some difficulties, including issues with remembering when he was and wasn’t “wearing” one of his many Legends, he quickly asked for some time off to go see his friend. It turned out that it was a good thing he had done so.
There had been a horrible plot against Martin that his own Team Leader had been involved in, as well as the woman he’d thought he was married to. When the dust settled, several people were dead, including the not so wife and the boss. Martin had needed some time to get himself back together, and a place he knew his son Aiden would be safe. This led to Martin finding his guide in the BAU’s Dr. Spencer Reid, and a real family and bond for the battered and scared agent.
Martin and Tony were as thick as thieves, and the three could often be found hanging out together in between cases. In fact, they are so close, that Spencer and Martin purchased the townhouse next to Tony’s when it came up for sale. After a little construction, there was a door placed within the two homes connecting them so they basically had one big residence. Aiden absolutely adored his “Uncle Tony” and could often be found on the other half of the residence talking sports when the Team Leader was in town. It was an unusual situation, but one that worked for them. Aaron just hoped that whenever Tony found his Guide, the man would fit into the dynamic as easily.
Next to Aaron and across from Martin, was the Team’s Second in Command behind Tony, Guide Dr. Spencer Reid. The man had been the youngest person ever to be assigned to the unit, and before Derek had moved on refused any thought of a leadership position. However, after Tony joined them, and Martin entered his life, the genius became comfortable in his skin. Spencer and Martin made a powerful, and often intimidating pair, and Tony had finally been able to accomplish what Aaron never had. It didn’t really matter to Aaron though who did it, he was just happy to see the man he considered a younger brother so happy and settled.
Behind Aaron and Spencer at the other table were Sentinel Emily Prentiss-LaMontagne and her Guide and husband Will LaMontagne. Across from them were Sentinel Dr. Tara Lewis and her Guide Alex Blake. Emily and Will had a somewhat rocky beginning thanks to JJ, who’d set her sights on the handsome man from New Orleans. When Emily turned out to be his Sentinel though, there hadn’t been any question who Will would choose, at least not for the SS&Gs. JJ, however, had been hurt, despite the fact that she knew the Guide needed his Sentinel to be truly whole and happy.
Alex Blake was a friend of Spencer’s and Dr. Lewis had been someone the young SIC knew from his academic circle within Quantico, and he was responsible for both being recruited to the team. He’d also been responsible for them meeting and thus mating. The two weren’t True Mates, but both Tara’s True Guide and Alex’s True Sentinel had been killed. After being introduced by Spencer, the two women clicked, and after visiting a local SS&G Center were happy to find out that they’d been a high enough match to mate.
Lastly, on the couch were Dave Rossi and Kate Callahan. Kate was a charming, intelligent, and maybe one of the most empathetic Guides that Aaron had ever met. Considering her Omega status, it was a little surprising, but he’d learned long ago that there was really no rigid makeup to The Community, which was what the SS&G’s called themselves. They came in all different races, personalities, origins, sexual genders, and any other variant you could imagine.
Dave was Kate’s near exact opposite in abilities but had quickly formed a friendship with the woman. It was a completely platonic relationship, but Aaron thought that it was good for them both, as Kate was having as many problems finding her one True Mate as Dave was both of his. She could often be found on Rossi’s arm at the various social functions that came with his veteran status and celebrity fame.
Martin, Spencer, and Tony were studying pictures from the various scenes and seemed to be divided on what could be causing the killings. They seemed to be torn between an Animal/Creature Guide combination doing the killings, and a real animal/creature combination with Spencer on the Animal/Creature Guide side, and Martin and Tony on the real creature half.
“Gee, it’s a good thing that we have those Professional Hunters on the team to help us with this, being the experts on this sort of thing and all. Oh, wait…” Tony said sarcastically, and Aaron flashed him a glare. The younger man was beating a dead horse, albeit one that Aaron himself agreed with. For some reason, the Bureau was the last American intelligence and law enforcement agency to add Professional Hunters to their ranks.
They, thus far, had wholeheartedly refused to consider the matter, but Aaron knew it would be only a matter of time. Eventually, an agent would find a True Mate that was a Professional Hunter, and they would be unable to hold onto their stance any longer. To be honest, Aaron knew that it was past time that the agency got rid of the antiquated notion that Hunters were dangerous and a liability.
While the Professional Hunter licensing was only a decade old, it was an officially recognized profession with oversights, and regulations similar to that of a Private Investigator. A large part of him would not be surprised if Tony was the one to break that final barrier. The man was already a force to be reckoned with, and when he eventually found his True Mate, that would only increase. It would be very DiNozzo to find a mate in the exact profession he’d been clamoring for assistance from.
When the screen next to him lit up, Aaron smiled seeing Raven’s happy face on the other side. The young woman was sometimes eerily similar to Garcia and at others light years different. They lucked out when looking for a replacement for Penelope. The Cyber Crimes Unit had been going through some upheaval, and the group’s bonded pair Sentinel Raven Ramirez and Guide Daniel Krumitz decided they needed a change, which eventually landed them on the BAU team.
“Hi, guys! I’m here with the information we found on your supposed suspects. While Daniel is still working on some things on the older brother, there is absolutely no way that Sam Winchester could have done it. The Palo Alto PD has verified all of Sam’s alibis for the times of the killings. He was either in night classes, a study group or working when each happened.
“Since the older brother works from home, it’s a little more difficult, but Krummy is hacking his internet connection to see if he can get his online activity information. The warrant for that just came in within the last half hour, so expect the results to come through probably within an hour of you reaching the PD. We have though verified that they both just flew in three days ago, so we’re as confident as we can be at this point that Dean wasn’t in South Dakota at the time of the killings either.
“Oh! One last thing. Both brothers have Professional Hunter Licenses with their highest rating. Traces of their presence were found at the scenes the day of their arrest but were not there during the initial search. Chief Harlow decided that the evidence was just missed the first times through, and used that to arrest both men. We also found traces of the Chief all over anti-SS&G sites, as well as anti-Hunter sights. Some of the information definitely breaks confidentiality laws, and frankly just common sense for anyone working in law enforcement. He gives me bad vibes, Bossman!”
Aaron sighed but held in any other sign of his reaction to the new information. This was going to be one hell of a clusterfuck. He just knew it. Before he could respond, Tony took over, which wasn’t surprising. Tony had been Raven’s most vocal supporter when some questioned hiring another TA that had a background so similar to Garcias. Aaron had been concerned that hiring someone who seemed so similar to Garcia would put un-needed pressure on the woman, as well as make the change harder and more painful for the profilers who missed their friend.
Tony argued that none of those things was Raven’s fault, and if the profilers weren’t adult enough or mature enough to treat the woman as her own person, then maybe they were on the wrong team. Aaron cringed slightly as he recalled the conversation, which got slightly heated on his part for a few moments. However, his Team Leader had remained calm and on point during the argument.
The younger man pointed out that they’d hired him despite the fact that his personality and Derek’s were almost a perfect match, and then asked what the difference was. At that point, Aaron had been forced to admit that maybe he was projecting his own feelings of losing Garcia onto the rest of the team. He’d personally hired Garcia, and gone to bat with the higher ups arguing what she could do for the team. Losing her had hurt more than anyone else previously.
Dave, who had been in the room with them, at that point asked what they needed two TAs for when Garcia had always managed alone. It was Spencer who answered, being the last person in the meeting, that shot back with the fact that Garcia was often overworked and stressed out by trying to cover things for two separate units. The younger man then went on to say that while he was upset that Derek and Garcia left them, he didn’t feel right in denying replacements a shot at the team just because one was a former hacker with a bubbly personality. When the situation was laid out so plainly by the resident genius, both he and Dave had given in and agreed that the mated pair was the best choice for the position.
“Thanks, Birdling! You rock the Kasbah!” Tony offered, breaking the tension on the plane and bringing Aaron back to the present. Aaron snorted at the interaction between the two as Raven giggled while waving goodbye.
“Thanks, Bossman! I’m gonna go hack things. Let me know when you need us, again. Birdling out!”
Aaron heard the various chuckles around the cabin and shook his head at the enthusiastic young woman. He was glad that he’d allowed himself to be convinced to give her and Daniel a try. While he would probably always miss Garcia, Raven and Daniel were putting their own stamp on the team. He wasn’t sure they’d be with the BAU forever, but the Sentinel knew that any future hires would be influenced by what they’d brought to the team.
“OK, everyone. I think we have debated this case to death. It sounds like we’re in for a stressful one. We have about two and a half hours until we land. So, let’s take the remainder of the flight to clear our heads that way we can hit the ground running. Tony, myself, and Kate will start at the Sioux Falls PD to get the brothers released. Spencer will take the rest of you to see Sheriff Mills, and then divide you between the various crime scenes. I want to get a first look at those today. Case files closed, people.”
Closing his own case file, Aaron pushed it toward the middle of the table, and leaning his head back on the seat, closed his eyes to get some rest. It was going to be long days coming up, and who knew when he’d have the chance to rest again.