Chapter Three: Confessions
After instructing Garcia to text him Derek’s flight information as soon as she got it, Aaron set off with Kate to investigate the furthest out of the three scenes he’d assigned the two of them. He wanted to test her thoughts on their new line of investigation, and hopefully, they’d have enough time for the conversation. The site furthest out was the third of the five total scenes, and it would take between 30 and 40 minutes to get there.
“Tell me how you feel about the paranormal, Kate.” Aaron requested, and when he was met with only silence, he snuck a quick glance at the passenger side seat. She appeared to be watching him quietly, and he quickly turned his eyes back to the road after arching an eyebrow at her.
“My grandmother would paddle my behind if I didn’t believe that there were non-human beings in this world, or that things didn’t linger after their mortal vessel’s died. Considering she died when I was 10, and the last time I talked to her was the day before we left for this case, I would call myself a firm believer.”
“You’re a medium?” Hotch asked surprised. “Physical, mental, or trance? What mediumships do you prefer using?” When he got to a stop sign, Aaron snuck another glance to see this time it was Kate with the arched eyebrow as she looked at him. Resuming the drive, Aaron listened to her explanation.
“No, that’s my cousin Melinda. She’s a Clairaudient and Clairvoyant Mental Medium. I just happen to live in my grandmother’s house, and she never moved on. So, she visits me every so often. Are you thinking this is some kind of non-human entity or a spirit causing the crimes? And, how do you know so much about mediums?”
“Yes, I honestly believe that it’s something inhuman, either living or dead. I know not a lot, but a little about the paranormal in general, and more about mediums. Although, answering the second question is a little more complicated. How’s your ability to act surprised?”
He heard Kate laugh, and glancing at her saw the twinkle in her eyes as she answered. “I can fake it with the best of them. No sweat, Hotch.”
“I plan on telling the rest of the team what I’m about to tell you at dinner tonight. But, I don’t want more hurt feelings than there will already be. So, pretend it’s new to you, ok?”
“I am married.” Lifting his hand from the steering wheel, he showed her the wedding band he’d put on earlier.
“I noticed that before we left the station. I figured you’d explain when you were ready. That being revealed tonight, also?”
Aaron nodded smiling. “Yes, it’s long past time. It was only kept a secret for safety concerns and partially out of fear on our parts. Mine that Tony would be hurt because of my job, and his that I’d lose credibility over being involved with, and later married to, what some would call a freak.”
“I don’t think they’ll be all that shocked. In fact, I am guessing that Reid is going to be really happy about the revelation.”
“They have a pool going?” Aaron guessed shaking his head, as he heard her laugh, again.
“Yes, several in fact, and it sounds like the good doctor is going to win them all. Spencer chose you were married for the relationship pool, and that it was a man as a kicker to his bet. He guessed the man was some kind of non-law enforcement investigator and made sure to include paranormal. He then guessed that you’d fess up sometime after the Derek situation got some kind of resolution, which I am guessing is all but official.”
“One of these days the team will learn not to bet him for any reason. Reid always wins. You don’t have to answer this if you don’t want. Are they upset about the secrets?”
“Not from anything I’ve heard,” Kate offered quickly. “It isn’t like we spend a lot of time talking about your private life, but except Derek, who I haven’t really been able to get to know well, the others all seem to just be glad that you’re happy. I think they understand, after what happened to your wife, about wanting some extra privacy and wanting to take extra precautions. JJ knows, doesn’t she?”
Aaron nodded, as he turned on his turn signal, then waited on traffic to clear before making his turn as the GPS voice directed.
“Will works with Tony. Chances are good that she and Reid are working together, and he got his information from her. Are her guesses way off?”
Kate nodded laughing once more. “I should have known. Those two are sneaky!”
“I’m telling you, Callahan, never ever bet Reid on anything. What he doesn’t just know, he always finds a way to figure out. Reid and JJ are as close as brother and sister, and they tell each other pretty much everything. What one knows, you should always assume the other knows, too. So, do you only have experience with spirits? Or, do you have experience with non-human entities, also? Tony and his brothers spent a lot of time as hunters of the paranormal before they started Two Guys and a Medium, which they renamed to Three Guys and a Medium after Will got hired on.”
“Melinda can only sense human spirits, but I know that some mediums can sense non-human entities as well. Is your… is Tony the second? I assume Tony is your husband?”
“Yes, Anthony DiNozzo Jr now Anthony Hotchner, but he goes by Tony. We’ve been married for 14 months.”
“The skiing trip you took this last winter was to celebrate your 1 yr anniversary?” She guessed, and Hotch nodded smiling.
“We didn’t really get a honeymoon,” Hotch explained. “Things on the team were just too chaotic, and honestly it was kind of a spur of the moment thing. We just went down to city hall. The plan is to renew our vows sometime where both teams and our families can be present. The original ceremony was something that we needed for us, but we also want to have one that we can celebrate with our friends and family.”
“Does his family know?” She asked as he pulled the SUV off into the drive leading back to the wooded area where the body was found. It had been lying near a river that leads to the nearby bay the town sat on.
Putting the car in park and shutting the vehicle off, Hotch nodded then glanced at her. “They do, although they weren’t at the wedding either. There was a big upheaval at the time between him and his brother Dean with the youngest brother Sam trying to stay out of it. Every once and awhile their father pops up and causes problems. Fortunately, once they resolved this last instance, I think, or maybe I should say I hope, that this is the last time. Ready to walk the scene?”
Kate nodded smiling and got out, with Hotch following. The two made their way down to the scene. Now that they had ruled out the human element, Hotch hoped that they could look at things with a different perspective. He was looking around the spot where they found the body, while Kate was downstream a little looking at the riverbank.
“Hotch! Come here.”
Carefully moving away from the area he was at, he crossed the distance between then, stopped next to where she was taking a picture of what appeared to be a hoofprint in the mud. From the looks of it, it had been left recently.
“Well, I was just thinking… If we’re going outside the box, maybe this isn’t a whatever this is… horse? Goat? I’m not a zoologist.”
Hotch arched an eyebrow, as she stood to look at him. Straight faced he advised, “Tony promised me that Unicorns weren’t real.”
Kate laughed rolling her eyes. “My niece will be broken hearted to hear that. Seriously, there are shapeshifters. I know from Melinda that those things really exist.”
Hotch nodded, pulling out his phone. “Good call, Kate. Tony’s had cases with those things, also. I’ll call Dave and tell him to keep an eye out for any animal tracks. I think just maybe we’re finally getting somewhere.”
Later that evening, he found himself in the private party room of The Mad Batter Restaurant and Bar. He thought that the team needed a night off to get their bearings, and maybe the fun atmosphere would help the discussion that he needed to have with them.
Everyone had ordered a cocktail, even Reid which reinforced how much this night was needed, and they were sharing appetizers. “Do you want serious conversation now or after dinner?” Hotch asked, deciding to leave things up to them. While he was nervous about what was about to come out, a big part of him wanted to just get it out of the way.
“Now please, I think,” Reid requested finishing his ‘Taste of Paris’ pushing the glass to the middle of the table. Aaron knew it would be water or pop for the rest of the evening. When the rest of the team agreed, he began the difficult conversation.
“I have several things to advise you of, but let’s start with Derek. I talked to Cruz just before we left to come here. He informed me that Derek arrived at headquarters almost immediately after his plane landed. He was suspended indefinitely, and advised Mateo that he would most likely be requesting a transfer out of the Unit.”
“What about his promotion?” Garcia asked hesitantly. “Is he that mad at us?”
Hotch watched JJ take Penelope’s hand, and was glad to see the team coming together, again. “His promotion is off of the table, and Cruz indicated that his decision isn’t about us. Derek requested that he be allowed to talk to us as a whole when we get back, but he did say Morgan confessed that there was something else big going on that he had been struggling with. I know that these last several weeks to almost a month and a half has been really difficult. I want to say again though how proud I am of how you all handled it. Now… for the rest…”
“Are you going to explain the accessory on your finger, Aaron?” Dave asked interrupting, and Aaron glared as the others snickered.
“If you would wait for two seconds, David, I was about to get into that. My last two items are actually related. First off, I think you all know where this case is going, but just to make it official we are turning our eyes toward a non-human unsub. That is why I asked you to keep an eye out for animal prints. I have a feeling that the hoof prints that we found at all of the scenes will be an important clue.”
“Excuse the interruption,” Rossi interjected gaining himself another stink eye, “but none of us are experienced in that sort of thing.”
“Well, again, if you’d be patient, David… Now hush. Kate if he talks again, have my permission to put a hand over his mouth.”
When the others got done laughing, Aaron continued. “Because we are experienced only with live human perpetrators, I have called in some experts. A Paranormal Investigative team has been called in. A group called Three Guys and A Medium will be here sometime very early in the morning. They’re taking a red eye from their previous case location to get here by breakfast. Kate…”
The woman grinned and stood to move behind Rossi, who had his mouth open to interrupt again. Wrapping a hand around his face, she covered his mouth grinning. “Licking my hand won’t solve anything, Rossi, but it will confirm my belief that you’re a kinky fucker.”
The others laughed again, only this time Aaron joined thinking how close to the truth she was. “Now, there are many groups out there, and I recognize that not all are as reputable as others. I did talk to Cruz about this, though, and after he agreed with the new line of investigation, had the group vetted. If this turns out to be a successful line of investigation, they will be signed on as formal consultants to our team specifically. I wasn’t aware that last part was being considered, but apparently, AD Evans has a strong belief in the paranormal. Reid, please speak before your head explodes.”
“I didn’t want someone touching my mouth!” Reid protested making JJ giggle, as he went on. “Three Guys and a Medium are a highly successful and reputable group connected not only to Senator Jackson Caan out of Indiana but the high priced DC defense lawyer John Abrahams and his wife Eloise who is a popular psychiatrist in the area. Their Medium was the first Professionally licensed Medium in the country, and has helped solve over a dozen missing/murdered child cases across the country, with the most famous being the Lila Archer case in Los Angeles when her daughter Diana went missing and the police couldn’t get a lead, although at the time it was just Two Guys and a Medium. I don’t know where the third guy came from.”
“I didn’t know you and Lila kept in contact,” Garcia said sounding surprised, and Reid nodded tucking a bit of hair behind his ear.
“We talk every once and awhile, and Diana is named after my mother. We decided that we wanted to try and be friends. When her daughter went missing, she called to see if I could do anything. When her agent recommended the group, she called me to get my thoughts. She really liked them and speaks very highly of the Medium. Of course, that could be because she thought he was, I think the word was yummilicious. She did say she liked all three brothers, though. You have a look on your face, Hotch.”
Aaron’s lips twitched, and he held up his hand with his ring putting that finger forward slightly. “The so-called ‘yummilicious’ brother is my husband Tony, and I do believe the third guy comes from JJ’s house every morning.”
“That’s Wills new job that you’ve been so secretive about? Hey! you totally rigged the betting pool! I call foul! And, why does Kate’s surprise seem a little exaggerated?” Penelope frowned as Rossi snorted, removing Kate’s hand from his mouth.
“Penelope, if you haven’t figured out that Reid and JJ are sneaky cheaters that always collude on their bets you deserve to lose. But, I agree. Kate, your surprise doesn’t seem all that genuine.”
Kate grinned and moved to sit again. “I guess it works better on pre-teenagers, Hotch. Sorry.”
Aaron smirked and shrugged. “I’m not surprised. Kate just found out this afternoon while we were on our way to the first scene. Since she’s the newest and wasn’t here when we investigated Emily’s friend Matthew’s death, I wanted to see how she would react. Let’s get this all cleared up now. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you all before. We wanted to, but…”
“Do you not trust us?” Reid asked sounding little unsure, and this time it was Penelope who took his hand.
“I know it may look that way, but that wasn’t it at all. On my part, I was hesitant after what happened to Haley to open Tony up to public knowledge. As much as I trust you all, I couldn’t take the chance with his safety, if one of you slipped and told the wrong person.
“I love Tony as much or more than I did Haley. Neither Jack nor I would survive losing him. On the other side of it, Tony was worried how knowledge of his presence in my life would affect my career. While he gets more support than most, due to his successful frat brothers, he still gets quite a bit of shit about what he does.
“When we got married we were both having a rough moment outside of our relationship and decided that we needed to do something for ourselves. If it helps, we had already planned to have a wedding where you all could be there. Not even his brothers were at our first one. Dave, we were hoping we could use your back yard.”
“My house is your house,” Dave replied, and Aaron held up his beer in a salute of thanks.
“JJ, why didn’t you tell us?” Garcia asked, and JJ sighed.
“It wasn’t my place, and I didn’t know until Will took the job with them. There was no way to tell you where he was working without revealing Aaron and Tony’s secret. After what happened with Will and Henry, I totally get what they wanted, and I felt like they have a right to their privacy. They needed something for themselves and I knew they’d tell us when they were ready.”
Penelope nodded after taking a sip of her Basil Sour. “We believe in you, mon Capitan. I am excited to meet this yummilicious specimen of male flesh, and I can’t wait for the wedding. If you need help, you know I am more than happy to assist with the planning.”
Aaron smiled at her. “Thank you, Garcia. I believe though Tony has been secretly planning. I know I have some thoughts on the event myself. Haley pretty much insisted on doing everything for my first wedding, so I am looking forward to voicing my opinion on some of the details. Reid? You’re awfully quiet.”
“You’re not leaving too, are you?” He asked biting his lip, and Aaron quickly shook his head.
“Absolutely not,” he insisted before going on to comment further. “When Tony and I first got together, one of the first things I told him was how important my job was to me. I made it clear that if me being in this position was going to be an issue, then we needed to call it off right away. Fortunately for me, he understands. His job is just as important to him. He helps people just like we do and travels all around the country just like we do. He’s amazing at what he does, and some of the people he helps have been waiting decades for someone to just believe them.”
“How many cases do you really think they’ll be able to help us on though beyond this one?”
“Probably more than you’d think,” Reid interjected before Aaron could reply. “I would guess that even in cases where we know that the unsub is a human there may be times when there is a paranormal answer. We know from Matthew’s case that demon possession is a real thing. Historically speaking there were three major points in history when the belief in magic decreased, mostly due to changing religious views.
“The first major event would be when the Catholic Church decided that magic was a sin or the suspicions that it adopted after the Inquisition, changing its stance to the current belief that it just doesn’t exist in the late medieval period. The second major decrease was during what was labeled as the Enlightenment Period when the church and Christians, in general, began warring with scientific thought. Since magic was disdained by both sides, it was pushed further out of the realm of acceptability. The final blow though came after the occultist and spiritualist ideas adopted during World War II began to fade.
“However the notion that magic exists and is a force in the world and universe is an ideology that is older than any religion and it’s only recent events that have made suggestions that maybe there is a non-scientific explanation for things more acceptable. People have begun to move toward the notion that neither science nor religion are always right, and possibly if the idea of a God that can’t be proven is acceptable, then along the same vein other things that can’t be proven should and are therefore also acceptable.”
When Reid stopped talking, finally, Aaron looked at Dave with his lips twitching. “What he said.”
The table was filled with snickers again, and thankfully their dinner salads or soups were delivered just then. Kate carefully turned the conversation toward opinions on the paranormal in general, and Aaron felt himself relax. He wasn’t sure he deserved how easily it had gone, but he was immensely thankful for his team. When everyone’s bill was mysteriously covered at the end of the evening, they all just smiled and left things be as they wandered back to their hotel.