Chapter XIV: Playing the game doesn't mean winning the game
"Monsters cannot be announced. One cannot say: 'Here are our monsters,' without immediately turning the monsters into pets." ~ Jacques Derrida
Emily's phone rang and she stepped a little bit back.
Hotch was still analysing the tactic he proposed in his head. The UnSub shouldn't be able to resist seeing his effect
on them. They had to show him that they were having a hard time coping with
the truth that he had revealed. They had assumed that he should have
been watching them at the crime scenes. He staged all that, for sure he
stood by to watch the result. That's why they had already asked for any
CCTV of the area.
"This whole thing with the show can blow up on our faces. You know that, right?" Gloria said to him.
"This UnSub thinks that what he does is right and justifiable, he punishes sinners. If we don't give him what he anticipates either he will kill more people or start chasing us. He found a way to kill a man in custody, we can't risk it. We can do the show though.", he said to her in an attempt to reassure himself.
"Can you?" Gloria asked him in disbelief.
Her tone reminded him of Emily's questions three years ago. Haley and Jack had just gotten into protection. He had just gotten back to work and she had come to drive him to the airport. He had asked her "Ready?" and, instead of one of her usual comments, she asked him back: "Are you?" and the truth was that he wasn't. Some reckless moves, a demotion and a killing proved it afterwards…
"We will do it when it is needed. We may find him before," he told her.
Emily came back from the phone call.
"There is no useful CCTV footage from the area of the murders. We can't get anything from the three crime scenes."
"Unlike to the main belief, London is not exactly Big Brother's city," Gloria commented.
"All the information that the UnSub got hold of is in FBI classified files. The only way to get them is through the agency," Emily stated.
"So are you saying that he is FBI?" Gloria asked."Probably. For him to know all this personal stuff, too, he should have been be really close to us. And not here, back in Quantico," Emily carried on.
He had that in mind, too. Foyet's story was in files. Parts of Emily's story with Doyle was in files, too. But how did he know about her feelings for him? He had to be really close.
"There should be something more, though, regarding how he found out about you," Hotch turned to Gloria.
"Yes, Gloria. The Executioner targeted you by chance but the Planner figured out that you are an agent, something gave him a clue," Emily agreed bringing back the subject they skipped in the car.
"I told you I have no idea. I had nothing on me and the attacker smashed my phone."
"Clyde found you himself, didn't he?" Emily asked something in her mind.
"Yeah. At least that's what I have been told," Gloria answered sternly. She was uncomfortable speaking about Clyde's place in her whole story and still Hotch couldn't figure out what the deal behind it was.
"Hotch, if the attacker returned to see if he had finished the job he may saw Clyde. Clyde was in Quantico only a few months earlier to deal with Doyle. If the Planner is from Quantico could recognize him," Emily said.
"Wait a moment. My attacker was the Executioner. If someone saw Clyde, that was him. Was the Planner in Rome, too?" Gloria got confused.
"Something doesn't fit," Hotch considered, "And all this time we are assuming that, regardless if the Planner was with the Executioner during the attacks or not, he knows the faces of the victims," Hotch thought out loud.
"They keep a record of their mission. We profiled the Planner as organized. Maybe it's part of his organization," Emily said.
"That was the flash…" Gloria murmured rubbing her forehead.
"What?" Emily turned to her.
"I… After he lifted himself from me I saw a flash of light. I couldn't see him but I remember thinking that it was an illusion from the pain," she clarified in low voice.
"The executioner was taking photographs of the victims," Hotch said.
Emily's phone rang again. In the meantime Hotch was taking his own phone out of his pocket to call Garcia.
"Hotch, wait a minute," Emily told him, her tone anxious as she stepped out of the room. Gloria went near her, curious. He approached them, too.
"Someone has hacked into our security system, Hotch.", Emily whispered to him.
This wasn't good for sure. The guy remained a step ahead of them. Now he was watching every step of the way.
"How long ago?" he asked.
"About five minutes ago," Emily replied.
"This is ridiculous…" Gloria said shaking her head.
"He is an American agent with proper training he knows how these systems work," Hotch explained.
"Don't shut the system down yet. We need to track it," Emily ordered on the phone ending the call. "He wants a show. He will have it," she continued looking at Hotch. "The room we are working is the only one with audio too."
"I have to call Garcia," Hotch mentioned.
"A sure blind spot is the toilets. We can use them to plan strategies… Oh Gosh…" Gloria said rolling her eyes at the ridiculousness of the situation. It couldn't help relieve the tensity of the situation, though. He headed to the toilets his hand holding his phone in his pocket. As soon as he was inside he dialed the number.
"I know I
am quick but not that quick this time. Do you know how many operations
were done by the FBI that year in Vegas? And then it is hard to match which agent was where and then who probably was undercover and too much buraucracy! Too much of it!" Garcia was ranting unnerved, annoyed that she didn't have the answer she thoughthe was looking for.
"Garcia, this is going to narrow down your search. Search for the people that worked in those operations and came Quantico later," Hotch told her.
"What? Seriously, Sir? Your bad guy is here?" she asked surprised, suddenly whispering on the phone.
"No. He is here now. Look for people recently retired, on assignments overseas or on vacations and fit the rest of the profile, adding technology knowledge," Hotch clarified.
"Alright! Just stay safe my loves!"
"Thanks," he replied as Garcia rushed to end the call and continue her search.
When he returned to the room, Emily was alone. Gloria was going to assist with finding the streaming point, possibly. Or Emily had picked herself and him to play the show. She didn't want to upset her friend more.
They were both in an uncomfortable situation. They had to sit down and speak about the elephant, actually the elephants, in the room and having their UnSub overhearing them. Hotch preferred that to be done under very different circumstances.
He looked at her worried. When he had proposed the plan he had wished strongly that they didn't need it at the end. But the UnSub was forcing them.
"He's right you know," Emily started. She knew he wasn't in position to start first. But deep in him he knew that she wasn't faking what she was going to say. So he stopped her and started speaking himself.
"A week after what happened with Foyet, I took the file and saw the crime scenes pictures. I mean if I hadn't know that I had done it, I…" He folded his arms. He was forcing himself to speak. He wasn't a man that shared things. At least he was with Emily.
"You would have thought that an UnSub had done it…" she spoke in low voice. She had pain in her voice, pain for him and what he went through.
"We are thinking like them. We are halfway there, you've said it before. The only thing that separates us from them is what we do. And I crossed that line…"
Emily sat down maybe in attempt not to touch him or say anything. She couldn't comfort him. It wasn't part of the stunt. But it was obvious that they couldn't stand seeing each other tortured.
"Whatever the reason was, I wasn't thinking. I wanted him dead. As simple as that…", he continued, bending his head putting his left hand in fist in front of him, admitting for the very first life in his life what was going on in his head when he killed Foyet. He had tears in his eyes forgetting that an UnSub and who knows who else was overhearing them. He was one step before admitting his worst nightmare but Emily interrupted him and saved him from saying anything more.
"They train us to keep limits you know. Don't mess ourselves with the job and then we are thrown into different situations. I mean whatever I did for Doyle wasn't much different from what a cheap whore would have done."
He started panicking. He couldn't mean this, could she?
"Emily…" he tried to speak looking at her.
"That's the truth! I made Doyle fall for me. He had asked me to marry him, to raise his son the only thing that he really loved and I was there to catch him. I used the love in the most horrible way."
Oh no, no… He knew in his heart that she was meaning every last word. He couldn't let her torture herself anymore. He could torture himself with this stunt but not her.
"Doyle was a sociopath, Emily! He didn't feel anything!" He approached the table.
"That doesn't change the fact that I shared a bed with him! That I was comfortable in that world, too!" she avoided his eyes her tone cold. She was embarrassed of painting the picture for him.
"Emily, you aren't…"
"I know who I am. I don't need your pity, Hotch. You have showed it already,", she cut him off abruptly.
She needed his love. They were forgetting about the stunt, about who else was listening to them. He put his hands on her shoulders, to make her look at him.
"I don't feel sorry for you! I did whatever I could to help because I know how it is to hide! And I know how is to wake up every morning and wonder if the bad person, the monster that lures inside me is going to appear again!" he said finally putting in words his nightmare. He was terrified all those years that he might do again what he had done with Foyet, like his whole life he was afraid of becoming his father. Emily was afraid of becoming Lauren, of being Lauren or of another monster rising to chase her.
"I didn't want you to become me, Emily. I care too much!"
"As what Hotch?" she asked looking him straight in the eyes. She was seeking for the proof that he never thought anything more of her, because she didn't deserve his feelings, no one's feelings.
'As a man in love' he wanted to say but after he bared his soul and fears to her, he couldn't say it. He couldn't say it, only seconds after the word 'monster', no. She was thinking that she was the messed up. But he was the worst. He said nothing. He could see the disappointment in her eyes but no word could come out of his mouth. That case and whatever that sick son of a bitch brought to the surface had showed him who he really was.
Some moments passed before Gloria stepped into the room without knocking.
"He stopped the streaming. No one's watching," she informed them. "Obviously the show was pretty damn good. He got what he wanted," she continued looking at both of them. Hotch didn't know if she had listened to them too, but judging from her expression she had. However, he was content that it was her and not some random tech guy of Interpol.
"Did you locate where he was?" he asked trying hard to sound professional again.
"He was using too many proxies. The techies keep looking but with him stopping first, I don't think we have much of a chance," Gloria replied.
"So we are back to square one," Emily said gathering herself.
"Let's hope we are only there," the other woman answered.
Their only chance depended on Garcia's findings. Hotch was getting more and more unnerved with the UnSub. What if he was playing with them? Was there any possibility that he forced them by the hacking into the security system because he knew they were going to play along? How could he possibly know that this would be Hotch's strategy?
The answer to who the UnSub might be came an hour later. Andrew Marks was an undercover agent who finally failed his mission in Las Vegas –Garcia was still looking for the reason – and after some transfers, he ended up in Quantico at a desk job in the files department. He used to deal, also, with international files of cases from Europe on behalf of the department that tried to spot criminals that flew the country. That was how he had access to all that database.
Hotch and Emily had met him multiple times when they were dealing with paperwork. The guy had all the knowledge to study files and to get to know how the BAU worked. He had even hit on Emily during a gathering of the Bureau. Hotch couldn't believe that they were so close to a guy like him for at least five years.
His face was spotted on the CCTV entering the Police building in an officer's uniform the day of the prisoner's murder. From the start, they didn't have any footage from the cells floor as someone had turned off the system. Thanks to that fact the team back in DC had probable cause to search his apartment. They found the photographs of the victims. Andrew Marks was their UnSub. What was left was to find him in London.
Gloria was running the face recognition program on the footage of the areas around the executioner's arrest and the crime scenes. They had the patrol cars of the police alerted. But their UnSub was a trained undercover agent, he knew how to be invisible. They were chasing a shadow and they couldn't risk another stunt to provoke him. He wasn't going to appear. He should have known that by that moment they had a face and a name. Hotch had started to have a really bad feeling about this.
Emily kept avoiding him, dealing with some other on-going tasks left behind. He had hurt her for one more time. He wanted to explain, to say something but they were too carried away with the case and the rest. As he was walking in the corridor after calling Jack, he heard arguing coming from Emily's office. The first voice was Emily's, the second was Gloria's. They weren't exactly shouting but both women sounded upset. He stood by the door.
"You can't be that blind!" he heard Gloria exclaiming. What were they talking about?
"Gloria, don't stick your nose, please!" Emily replied sternly.
"That's why you weren't for playing love with Doyle…" Gloria said mostly to herself in lower voice.
"What is this about again?" Emily sounded annoyed.
"You didn't know how the dark side was." That's why she had said that Emily wasn't 'that kind'. Gloria apparently had experience."That damn thing went so well that you strongly believe you have no luck on the good side! Come on! I know better than you how this is!"
Hotch had heard that some undercover agents feel better in the dirt than in the light and that's why they were doing it. Even if this maybe fit for Gloria, for sure it didn't fit for Emily. And was the woman talking about Emily's conviction that she didn't deserve love, his love?
"But this doesn't make you an expert to see what's going on here," Emily replied.
"Exactly this makes me aware of how the bottom feels like. I was a bad penny from the start and I'll always be and that's why I am taking the fall again and again. You aren't but you'll end up if you turn blind eyes to the good things of your life. Do you know what I thought when I was losing consciousness in that alley? That this was my 'proper' ending. You don't want to reach the point of thinking it. IF it hasn't already crossed your mind…", Gloria spoke dangerously calmly.
Another worry burned his chest. He knew that
Emily had thought of it. She had asked Morgan to let her go. Derek had told
him at some point during her 'funeral'. He knew about her "death
"I'm going to the roof to get some air," Gloria stormed out of the office bumping onto him, as he didn't have the chance to move. She gave him a look that he couldn't really identify and left.
"Emily…" Hotch said quietly. She turned her back to him. She didn't know how much he had heard but the truth was that he hadn't completely understoon what they were talking about.
"Classic Ria… Sometimes she thinks that she knows everything," Emily tried to speak neutrally.
"She cares for you," Hotch said approaching her.
However he had heard himself that the younger woman was
down a dangerous road. Even if finally that was the 'off' thing with
her, she wasn't the issue at that moment. He had to tell Emily the truth, that he did have feelings. But he was just the worthless of the
two. He tried to reach her arm when all of a sudden shots started banging around.
"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end." ~ Gilda Radner