Prophecies and Predictions
you say something or sing something enough times, it becomes a self-fulfilling
CID Headquarters. Nairobi, Kenya.
"We've made a mistake somewhere," Mika Kimathi frowned, nibbling on the end of his pen. "The numbers still add up correctly—nineteen hostages survived, and only nineteen were interviewed. But if Wasaki is on the tapes, it means that one of the hostages is not."
"And aside from our one missing ANAM member—also Mr. Wasaki—the number of bodies found at the scene match up as well," Addison Cortez added. "Which means we've misidentified one of the hostages as a deceased member of ANAM."
"I think we've done it with two hostages," David Rossi suddenly sat up.
"Two? Why two?" Addison looked back at him, obviously confused. "The count is only off by one body."
"But that one body wasn't to cover Wasaki—he didn't put a decoy in his place," Rossi rose to his feet, walking around the table to the cork board. "There were two men who weren't from East Africa—if one of them was Wasaki, then the other would have to be his partner, someone he trusted. Would you let your partner blow himself up for a cause that neither of you believed in?"
He didn't wait for an answer—he knew. He continued, "So Wasaki hides his IED behind a pillar….but the rest were all matched up to bodies."
Addison's eyes widened in understanding, her voice low as she finished the thought, "So they strapped the IED that was supposed to belong to Wasaki's partner to an innocent victim, while they both posed as hostages fleeing the scene. Those bastards."
Rossi gave a curt nod, "Bastard seems too kind a word to describe these scum, but it'll do for now."
"So what happened to the partner?" Mika asked.
Reid was on his feet now, "In the Lady X case, there were two UNSUBS—one who ran the heist and the other who pretended to be a hostage. The pretender simply slipped out of police custody due to the hectic nature of the scene and later met up with the other UNSUB."
"The police wouldn't have been counting the people running out of the building," David Rossi agreed. "And if the guy was smart enough, he could easily slip past the police barricade and blend into the crowd."
"That seems a bit of a stretch," Addison commented.
"You'd be surprised how easy it is," Spencer informed her matter-of-factly.
Prentiss and Hotch entered the room again. They'd been moving back and forth between the two conference rooms, trying to decide with other agency heads as to what their next move would be.
"We got something, boss," Mika informed Emily. She cocked her head to the side, all ears. He motioned to David Rossi (and the older man liked him even more for it, for giving credit where credit was due).
"Wasaki and the other non-East African man both escaped," Rossi summarized. "They used a hostage as a decoy, strapping him with an IED. Once they got outside the building, the partner must have disappeared, because by the time the hostages make it back to the CID, the numbers match up again."
Emily and Aaron exchanged silent looks. Then Hotch spoke, "They're already sending over footage from local news stations who covered the assault. We'll have to analyze it and see if we can spot Wasaki and his partner escaping, and hopefully figure out exactly what happened to the other man."
Emily nodded in agreement, turning to focus her attention on Addison Cortez, who'd become the unofficial liaison with the morgue and lab, "We need to notify the lab of the mix-up. Tell 'em to go back over the deceased and figure out what went wrong. Our ANAM members were off the radar, but the hostages shouldn't be—didn't they print and dental-mold everyone?"
Addison gave a slight grimace, "There were three who were too…too far gone for that kind of work. Since the bodies had IEDs strapped to them, it seemed safe to assume their identities."
"Ah," Emily suddenly understood. "That explains why we didn't spot the switch sooner."
Addison disappeared down the hall, and Emily watched Hotch for his reaction (did he turn to watch her leave, did he look disappointed by her absence?). She tried to stop herself, to look away—and as she did, she caught Spencer Reid's gaze.
The young doctor wore a strange expression. She felt a slight tremor in her gut.
No, no, no. Please remain oblivious, boy wonder.
Central Shopping Center. Nairobi, Kenya.
He shouldn't notice that she was missing, but he did.
Dr. Arterton scanned the mall one last time to make sure—again, no sign of Agent Lewis. Her partner had been working on his own for at least fifteen minutes now. It was such an odd sight, him without her, because they seemed nearly inseparable.
Tossing his empty water bottle into the waste bin (pity they didn't have recycling bins here), he went to the south entrance—that seemed to be the area where Lewis and Masterson went during their breaks (again, he probably shouldn't know that, but he did).
He spotted her at the edge of the sidewalk, white jumpsuit in a discarded heap beside her as she sat in her tank top and khakis, legs crossed, shoulders slightly slumped. She was staring out at the traffic, her fingers absentmindedly playing with some small object.
He hesitated, uncertain of whether or not he should disturb her—perhaps he should just leave, allow her a moment of solitude and respite from the hustle and bustle of the scene inside. But then she sensed his presence, turning to glance over her shoulder at him. She smiled softly, a welcoming smile, "Have I been gone too long, Mr. Hall Monitor?"
"What? Oh, no—heavens no," he waved the thought away, feeling slightly flustered and even more embarrassed at how easily he was flustered. He moved closer—now he could see that the thing being turned and danced across her fingertips was a rose petal.
She noticed his gaze, smiled down at her hands, then held up the single petal in explanation, "There was—it's from a bouquet someone left, at the edge of the cordon. I guess it's a bit disrespectful…but I have a….a compulsion, I guess."
"A compulsion for rose petals?"
She chuckled at the question, "Well, it sounds ridiculous when you say it like that—but I do. Whenever I'm around flowers, I always take one of the petals. I don't know why, I just do."
She looked away, back at the street, the corner of her mouth setting into an odd expression.
"It always reminds me of New York, after September 11," she admitted quietly. "The flowers, the candles, the teddy bears and cards…."
Her voice trailed off, but Benjamin could see that her thoughts continued. After a moment, she spoke again, "I was a cop, before the Bureau—I was already with the Feds by then, but I still knew a lot of men and women on the NYPD….there were these, um, vigils, these little memorials, I guess, all over the city. At fire houses, outside police stations, on the sidewalks near the towers….sometimes I would stop and read the letters, the cards, the names left inside candles. I always wanted to see if they were written to someone I knew, someone I didn't know I'd lost yet."
She gave another humorless smile, "I suppose that was disrespectful, too. But then again, I've never been good at being correct or proper."
It's the glitch, the glitch, the glitch….
"I'm sorry." Dr. Arterton didn't know what else to say.
"For what?" She suddenly looked up at him again, as if she'd just realized that he was there.
"For your loss," he answered simply. "I can't imagine what it was like, living through that ordeal."
She gave another Sphinx of a smile, "You're a very sweet man, Dr. Arterton."
"Ben," she was smiling again, this time more warmly and openly.
He smiled too, taking a moment to simply look out at the traffic before guessing, "You went and read some of the letters and cards, didn't you?"
She ducked her head, but there was still a smile on her lips.
"Looking for someone you know?"
She shook her head, "Just idle curiosity."
"Good thing you're not a cat, then." He commented dryly.
She laughed, rising to her feet and dusting off her khakis. "It'd take something a helluva lot stronger than curiosity to kill me."
"I believe that."
She smiled again. He couldn't help but notice how deep the lines were around her eyes and mouth.
"You need some rest," he blurted out, before he could stop himself.
Her smile fell like a piano from a second story window, but she quickly recovered.
"We all need rest, Doctor," she gently took his hand and set the rose petal in his palm. Then she closed his fingers around it, the corners of her mouth setting in a firm line, "But there'll be time for that when we're dead."
CID Headquarters. Nairobi, Kenya.
"I don't understand."
"I'm sorry, Chief Prentiss, shall I speak slower?" Clyde Easter's voice was irritatingly patronizing, a sure sign that he wasn't happy with the latest development, either.
Emily clenched her teeth and fought the urge to punch the wall. Instead, she gave an aggravated sigh as her eyes looked heavenward for some kind of divine intervention, "There's nothing you can do here that you couldn't do in London. We don't need another set of boots on the ground. We've got everything covered."
"Yes, so far, your little team has had a sterling track record." Again, the sarcasm was unmistakable. Then Clyde gave a light sigh of his own, "This isn't my call, Emily. Contrary to popular belief, I do have to follow orders from people higher up the food chain than I."
She shook her head in frustration. She couldn't argue with that. Still, it didn't ease the queer feeling building in her gut—she didn't like the idea of Hotch, Rossi, and Easter being in the same room together, and she wasn't sure why. Perhaps because they didn't have the smoothest history.
"You're already on the plane, aren't you?" She knew the answer.
"Nice to see some of your deductive reasoning skills are in-tact."
Gods. She wished he was here right now, so that she could strangle the insufferable little fuck with her bare hands.
"We'll be there before midnight in Nairobi," he promised.
The line went dead. Typical Easter—no greeting, no farewell.
She tightened her grip around her cellphone and gave a small, frustrated pump of her fist (if only Clyde's face where at the other end).
She needed sleep. She needed distance. She needed anything that would put her in any kind of mental state other than the one she was currently in. She'd been frustrated and fidgety and quick-tempered all morning, and it was beginning to show. She'd actually snapped at Mika earlier, over a completely inconsequential thing. He'd been shocked, but he didn't say anything. Even the others had given looks of quiet concern.
This was her first time running point on a multi-international agency operation, and she was already blowing it.
"Hey." The soft sound of David Rossi's voice made her turn around, the taut muscles in her shoulders relaxing just a fraction—his tone was concerned, soothing, comforting, home.
The last thought struck her like a slap to the face. It had been a long time since she'd equated home with anyone at the BAU, but even now, Rossi's kindness still felt like home to her.
"Yeah?" She shifted slightly, surprised at the fact that she could hear the emotional quiver in her own voice.
"It's time for a break." He jerked a thumb towards the elevator. "Let's go grab some lunch."
"We can order in—"
He gave her a curt look that cut short her protest. "You need to be outside these four walls, gattina. Let's walk the streets, find some horrible little diner and order something that'll clog your arteries in ten seconds flat."
She couldn't help but grin, "Well, with a tempting offer like that, how can a girl refuse?"
He grinned as well, opening his arm for her, which she gladly slipped underneath, letting him simply wrap around her shoulders in a comforting gesture.
It'd been so long since anyone had held her, even in a non-sexual way. She'd almost forgotten how healing it was, something as simple as a half-hug.
"Clyde Easter is coming to Nairobi," she informed him.
"I figured as much," he admitted. She gave a slight look of surprise. "What? I might be old, but my ears still work just fine."
"So you were eavesdropping?"
"You weren't exactly being quiet about it, gattina."
She rolled her eyes with a smile. Then she noticed that they were the only two getting on the elevator, "What about the others?"
"They can find their own lunch," he replied. "Besides, we need to talk. Mano-a-mano."
She looked up at him again in slight surprise, but his face was an unreadable mask.
Oh, gods. This couldn't be good.
Somewhere over Northwestern Africa.
Clyde fought back an amused smile as he watched Constance gingerly make her way back down the hall and into the main seating area of the small private jet—she never liked these things, never liked how it felt as if every step she took could shake the whole plane off-balance (she'd actually complained about not being able to take a commercial flight—at least they're big and sturdy enough to feel like they can protect you)
"I had to call my mum," she explained. "Tell her I wasn't going to make family brunch on Sunday. That went over about as well as a lead balloon, as you can imagine."
His smile deepened—he'd met Constance's mother many years ago, and he couldn't imagine that time had softened the bold and blazing woman. In fact, it most likely had the opposite effect.
"I'm sorry," he replied.
She sat down, taking a moment to scrutinize him down the full length of her hawk nose. "Interesting. You don't look sorry, not in the least."
He gave a slight shrug, "I have a good poker face."
Now it was her turn to grin. She shifted in her seat, turning her body further away from him.
"I also checked in with my analysts—three more of the ANAM members are classified as 'not on record', which means they must be first-timers. So far, Wasaki hasn't shown up in any footage from any of the airports, bus stations, or train stations. But that's hours and days of footage, that is. I'll need your authorization to farm it out to other sectors—no way my people can process all of it, not on such a short turn-around schedule."
He nodded in agreement, "I can bring in some people from Dublin, maybe send some to our friends at the CIA."
"I'd prefer to keep it in-house," was her only comment. She tilted her head back against the seat cushion, closing her eyes as she simply enjoyed the warm rays of sun that poured through the cabin window.
Clyde watched her for a moment before adding, "I spoke to Emily Prentiss. She's not happy about it all."
"And she thinks we are?" Constance kept her eyes closed, but one eyebrow quirked in amusement.
Clyde smiled slightly at this. Despite her current (mainly feigned) aggravation, she'd taken her orders like a good soldier—at the pronouncement of their imminent departure to Kenya, Constance had merely looked down at the carpet for a moment. She had wanted to fight, to refuse (he could tell by the way she set her mouth to one side, as if she were biting the inside of her cheek). But instead she'd looked up again, quietly informing him that she first had to go fetch one of her analysts some tea, because she'd promised. He couldn't help but smile at that—no complaints, no attempts to talk her way out of the assignment, just a nod and a request that was for the benefit of someone other than herself. Typical Constance.
And even though she still wasn't happy with the situation, she didn't hold it against him—she knew that it was simply the nature of the beast. Clyde himself had argued with his superiors over choosing Constance Connelly. After all, there were other people who could go, people who weren't supervising the intelligence analysis division, people who'd had more recent field experience in these types of cases. But they had been insistent, and he had no choice.
He gave a heavy sigh—he'd known all the things she hadn't said, he'd remembered all the things she hadn't brought up. He had made a promise to her, whenever he brought her back into Interpol—no field work. Supervisory position only.
Constance Connelly's story was not unlike Emily Prentiss'. She'd been part of several undercover ops with Clyde back in the eighties and early nineties, before he'd been given his own teams to oversee, back when he was still just an SIS agent himself. They'd been close, as close as was allowed, and then she'd left to pursue a career in the diplomatic sector—she'd become tired of the guns and the death and the dead-end trails and the soul-crushing weight of trying to find justice and balance in a world where such ideals were rare. He'd finally brought her on to his team at Interpol, and though she'd been reluctant, she'd accepted, throwing herself into her work with the same fervor and dedication that had made her a shining star of an agent all those years ago.
In some ways, he'd seen how she could have been his new Emily, his second-in-command. But there was something missing, something in her personality that made her an ill fit. He wasn't sure what it was, but he trusted the feeling in his gut. Maybe because unlike him and Emily, Constance could walk away from this life. She could leave and survive without this work, without this purpose. She might be of the same genus, but she wasn't the exact same species. There was something foreign in her, and he wasn't sure that he could fully trust it.
He scrubbed his hands across his face as he gave another frustrated sigh. Emily was still pissed at him. Constance certainly wasn't happy right now, either. The higher-ups were foaming at the mouth, wanting him to contain an international disaster (one of their own making, he couldn't help but remind them—after all, they were the ones who allowed Wasaki to roam free all these years) and he really didn't have the time or the resources to spend the next few days (or god forbid, weeks) running through the cities and dales of Kenya on a wild goose chase.
Constance could feel his irritation simmering in the air of the quiet little cabin. She still didn't move, didn't open her eyes, didn't look at him—she knew why he was upset. He felt like he was losing control of the situation. This had been something unplanned, something the powers-that-be had thrown at him, and Clyde Easter did not like surprises.
"Stop fretting," she commanded in a gentle tone. Now she turned to look at him, cat-like eyes zeroing in on his own, locking onto him with a sense of determination, though her voice was still lined with compassion. "What's done is done. We cannot change it."
He let out another light sigh of agreement, turning his attention to the opposite side of the plane, to the other window, and Constance mimicked his movements, her gaze returning to the clouds below. After a few beats, her husky voice broke the stillness.
"We won't find Wasaki on any of the footage."
"I know," Clyde pressed his lips into a thin line.
"You know what that means."
"I do." He gave a heavy sigh, leaning his seat back further. He might as well try to get some rest while he could—the next few days were going to be absolute and utter hell.
He heard Constance give a light sigh, felt her shift slightly again.
"I'm too old for this," she admitted softly, her gaze still focused on the dreamy world of white outside her window. "I'm not sure I'll come back from this one."
He sat up, turning to look at her, "Sure you will. You always do."
"You always say that," she gave a small, sad smile.
"And I always mean it," he added quietly.
"Of course you do," her voice was lined with some unnamed emotion. She reached forward, her fingertip delicately tracing a path left by a drop of condensation on the window pane. "But one day, it's going to be a lie."
Emily had to admit, David Rossi's idea had been the perfect solution to her current ills. And though she hadn't said so aloud, it certainly didn't stop Rossi from gloating.
"See? What'd I tell ya?" He gestured to the table of demolished food. "You feel better, don't ya?"
"I feel like I need a nap," she replied with a slight grimace. Her belly was full, the sun was shining—perfect napping conditions, aside from the fact that an international terrorist was on the loose.
"Well, can't do that, gattina—but a nice cup of coffee will help," he motioned to their waitress (whom he'd already charmed within five minutes of their arrival).
Once they were happily installed with big steaming cups of java, Rossi suddenly took on a serious air, "So."
"So…?" Emily looked up at him, thrown off by his abrupt change in demeanor.
"We need to talk."
"We are talking."
"Yes, but…." For once in his life, David Rossi was at a loss for words. "But the thing we need to talk about is something…something that's been the proverbial elephant in the room for quite some time, and—"
"Jesus Christ, Rossi, out with it," Emily gave an exasperated roll of her eyes, which was mainly feigned. She offered a slight smile afterwards, to soften the blow.
"You and Aaron."
Those three little words were like Hiroshima in Emily's brain—she sat back, blinked, gave a slight stutter, remembered how to breathe, then gave a slight shake of her head, "Wha…what?"
"I saw the way you acted earlier today, when he was laughing with Agent Cortez." Now that the cat was out of the bag, there wasn't any sense in beating around the bush.
Emily looked down at her hands, which tightened their grip around the coffee mug. She felt a blush stain her cheeks, as shameful as her childish actions had been this morning.
"I really don't think this is an appropriate topic—"
"Bullshit, Emily." Dave's blunt tone made her head snap up in surprise. "You like him, he likes you, but you're both too blind to see it."
Emily swallowed the lump building in her throat, keeping her voice calm as she stated, "Rossi, I have known…there was always….regardless of what may or may not be between us, Aaron Hotchner has made it very clear that he is not interested in pursuing anything further."
Now it was Dave's turn to sit back in shock—so they both knew!
"What the hell is wrong with you people?" He asked, giving a small flop of his hand in desperate confusion. "You like each other, you know you like each other—what the hell is stopping you from making a move?"
"It isn't that simple," she informed him, pushing away the rest of her coffee. "We live in different countries now, we've got….Hotch has always had this terrible sense of duty, and rules and lines that can't be crossed—"
"He's not nearly as inflexible as you pretend he is," the older man interrupted gently. "You're putting him in a box, placing the blame on him so that you don't have to try something scary, like actually tell him the truth. But he's not just some robo-cop, gattina."
He couldn't help but add, "Of course, you'd know that, if you ever had the guts to make a move."
He was toeing the line, he could tell, because Emily's dark brows were furrowing in anger. Still, she didn't refute his statement.
So he decided to offer his last piece of advice, "It's like I told Hotch this morning: you only regret the things you didn't do."
He'd gone too far—he realized that, much too late.
Emily looked up at him again, eyes wide as saucers and face pale as death. She was impossibly still, "You mean you've talked to Hotch about this, too?"
He didn't answer. He didn't have to.
"David Rossi," Emily's voice was low, brooding, bordering between hurt, anger, and embarrassment. "You meddling motherfucker."
She rose to her feet, quickly taking a few dollars from her wallet and tossing them onto the table.
"Don't." Her voice was low, but still harsh enough to cut. "You crossed a line, Rossi. A major line."
She turned and exited the restaurant. Dave left enough money to cover the bill, then hurried out after her.
"I had to do something," he called after her.
She stopped, spinning back around to look at him in utter disbelief.
"No, Rossi, you didn't." Now he could hear the tears in her voice. She gave a frustrated sigh, running her hands through her fingers again as she looked away. He stopped in front of her, waiting for her to continue.
"I have so few good things left," she admitted, her voice quivering. "And I didn't—I didn't want to ruin this, too. I wanted to hold on to the good that's still between us."
"But there could be something even better between you," he pointed out gently. His heart was breaking for her, for his bright and brave gattina who was suddenly a lost and scared little girl.
"Could. As in: it could be good, it could be bad. It could be very, very bad." She shook her head. "It's not worth the risk. And…and even if it was, he doesn't want that—I could never…I have to respect that, Rossi."
"The only reason he doesn't want something more is because he thinks that you don't," David took a step closer, grabbing her by the shoulders as he tried to make her realize the irony of the situation. He knew that this was his last chance to make her see the truth, and he was taking it for all it was worth, "Because he's afraid of ruining the good between you, too—because he respects you, because he doesn't want to disturb whatever perfect little life he thinks you have—Jesus, woman, can't you see that you're just too much alike?"
Emily opened her mouth to argue, but no words came out. The wheels behind her dark eyes were spinning, taking in this new information. For a moment, David thought the battle had been won.
Then her eyes refocused on his, hard and hurt, "You shouldn't have said anything. It wasn't your place."
"I know," he answered simply—a reply which threw his companion off completely.
"Because you are two good people, whom I both happen to love very much, and I want you to be happy."
She took a moment to simply stare at him. Then her expression melted.
"You think it's just that easy, don't you?" There was a soft smile at the corner of her eyes. "You are such a hopeless romantic, Rossi. You think people can just drop their lives and fall in love."
She gently took his face in her hands, tilting his head so that she could bestow a kiss on his third eye, right between his brows.
She gave a small, regretful smile, "It isn't that simple, Dave. I'm sorry, but it isn't."
amo como se aman ciertas cosa oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.
(I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.)"
~ Pablo Neruda.