Chapter One: A Case and Chaos
Aaron was standing in the conference room that the BAU had been assigned to, listening as the team broke down their case for what seemed to be the thousandth time since they got there. The problem was that there was little evidence, and the facts didn’t add up. He’d been debating something in his head for a few days, and listening to the team was only making his hunch stronger.
Their breaking down of the case was beginning to lean closer to breaking down each other, and that was something that Aaron could not allow to continue. He already had permission from Section Chief Cruz to bring in his consultants. When he had gotten back to the hotel the night before, he’d immediately called Mateo, and been very frank with him about their situation. At first, his boss had been understandably reluctant. He was also aware, though, that supernatural explanations were becoming a much more accepted avenue of investigation. Aaron just wished that he could count on his team being as open minded.
After their case involving Emily Prentiss’ old friend Matthew, Aaron could feel confident that Dave and Garcia would be open to the possibility that he would be presenting. Reid would see it as an educational experience, and JJ could always be counted on to follow his lead, as long as Spencer was on board.
Derek though would be closed to even the thought that there may be a non-human explanation to this. Since Kate hadn’t been on the team at the time of the previous case, Aaron had no idea how she would react. When Spencer finally snapped under the weight of scorn that he’d been getting from Morgan, though, and told him to ‘shut the fuck up’, Aaron knew he had to step in.
Morgan, in general, was an entirely separate problem that Aaron was beginning to believe wasn’t one he could solve. The Unit Chief was pretty sure that his longtime Second in Command had already mentally moved onto a job that he didn’t have yet, and in the process was proving that the cautions Aaron had thrown out at Cruz were just and true.
Aaron was aware that Cruz notified Morgan he was being considered for his own team once more, and that there had been nothing since. Aaron voiced his concerns about Derek’s ability to control his temper and knew that it was a sticking point in the consideration. While he recognized that the frustration was hard to deal with, all Derek’s current actions were proving was that the concerns were valid. He certainly couldn’t let the man release his anger on the team.
“Enough!” Aaron barked, scowling at the group. It was time to divide and conquer, and hopefully, Derek would for once not argue his instructions. If he did, then Aaron was going to have to take a step that he could no longer justify putting off.
“Dave and Morgan, I want you two to check out the first and the last crime scenes. JJ and Kate…”
“Come on, Hotch! We’ve done this three times already! We’re not gonna find anything new!” Derek snapped throwing the room into silence. There it was. The insubordination that Aaron could not allow to go on any longer. There was no more leeway to give the out of bounds agent.
Narrowing his eyes, Aaron glared at the man, who was not backing down at all. The frustration he could understand, but repeatedly challenging his orders Aaron couldn’t even consider allowing. This was not the first time that Derek had pushed things in front of the team, challenging his authority. He’d already had Dave talk to him, and had pulled him into his office himself to speak with the stubborn agent due to his actions on the last case.
“Dave, take JJ with you to the first and final scenes. Kate and I will visit the middle three. Garcia and Reid, please review the unsolved cases in town going back as far as they have records for. This time we aren’t looking for the normal or the acceptable. I want you to look for things that don’t fit. Things that stand out as unusual or even extraordinary. Garcia and Reid, you are specifically looking for unsolved cases that have unusual elements that can’t be explained. It’s obvious that the normal isn’t going to help us solve this case. So, I am calling in some consultants to assist us. We’ll meet back here when we’re done and see what has popped out at us.”
“Are you benching me? And, what is this crap about the unusual? Tell me you aren’t seriously considering this supernatural mumbo-jumbo bullshit!” Derek snapped, standing and taking an angry step toward Hotch.
“SSA Morgan, stand down NOW! You are out of line! Yes, you are being benched. You have proven that your head is not in this case, and have run through every ounce of goodwill the members of this team are willing to afford you. Your personal bullshit is not our problem, and I will not allow you to continue to be verbally abusive to this team.” Hotch confirmed. His cold, hard, Unit Chief persona was firmly in place. His personal last tiny bit of sympathy and suspicion that something else was going on were honestly the only things keeping Derek from being immediately suspended and sent home. Unfortunately for Derek, this most recent incident would most likely be the nail that closed his promotion coffin for good.
“In the two hours that you’ve been here this morning, you have verbally attacked both Reid and Kate. You have yelled at everyone here, and you are currently being insubordinate to your direct supervisor. Of which, I can assure you, will be documented, and passed along to Section Chief Cruz. You’ve been warned twice to get your shit together, and ignored them both. In the last two weeks, you have attacked everyone in this room, including Garcia. If you keep pushing this right now, I will suspend you indefinitely.”
Hotch paused, keeping his eagle-eyed glare on Morgan, but the man refused to back down. “You have been out of control, and out of line all week. I think that you need to take the day, and make some decisions, SSA Morgan. You won’t be welcomed back to this case, period. At this point, you’ve proven you are incapable of being unprejudiced.”
“Fuck you! If this team had a real leader, this shit would be solved by now,” Derek spat, and Aaron’s jaw was clenched so tight, that he could feel the muscles twitching.
“Consider yourself suspended, and your promotion offer is off the table. Go to the hotel, pack your shit, and go home. You won’t be welcomed back to the team anytime soon. I will have Cruz decide your punishment but don’t expect this to just be pushed under the rug. Frankly, SSA Morgan, it’s your close minded bullshit that is holding this case back. Reid and Rossi have been suggesting that there may be a supernatural or paranormal element outside of our area of expertise since yesterday. You’ve made Garcia afraid to even speak. Go to the hotel and pack your bags. The information on your flight home will be emailed to you. You will absolutely not be using the jet to get home. I am beyond disappointed in you, and maybe even beyond disgusted. Get your shit together, or you’ll find yourself off the team completely if you haven’t already.”
Angrily, Derek slammed his chair into the table and stormed out of the office. Hotch had no idea what was going on with the man, but it was obvious that something was up. At that point, though, he meant it when he said Morgan had used up the entire team’s goodwill. He had more than ample opportunity to speak up if he had something serious going on, but had stubbornly remained quiet. If this was truly just about the promotion, well then he would definitely be off the team. He just couldn’t allow that level of insubordination to go unchecked.
Taking a deep breath, Aaron looked at the team who still were not speaking. “OK, I know it’s been rough, and we all feel like we’ve been put through the meat grinder. However, we still have dead bodies out there. So, let’s check those scenes. Kate, I need to make some calls before we leave. Garcia, do you feel comfortable booking Derek’s flight home, or would you rather I do it? I will completely understand if you would rather I book his flight home.”
“I can do it, sir, but can I send you the information to email to him? I don’t feel… I don’t want to have any contact with him right now.” She said quietly and timidly. When Reid put an arm around her shoulders and squeezed, Aaron let out a deep breath. Spencer initiating contact with someone was a sure sign that they were not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Nodding to the team he offered a supportive smile. “OK, then. Let’s get to work. I am proud of how you all have made it thus far. Keep it up.”