Transitions

Chapter 48

Hotch assigned Rossi, Morgan and Blake to resume their work on the Replicator. He, JJ and Reid would start working on tracking Will. The three made their own profile of the missing father.

"From his behavior this past year, I think we can conclude that he's got a dependent personality." Reid started them off.

"He's that…and he's narcissistic. All those times he tried to manipulate me to satisfy whatever he wanted." JJ was quiet for a moment. "But he does love Henry." I just hope he loves him enough.

Hotch had been witness to enough of Will's behavior to agree with both of them.

"It's likely the dependency will lead him home, where he might be able to draw upon a network."

They all knew that 'home' for Will was not DC, but New Orleans. His roots there ran deep, with an intricately intersecting network. If his old friends decided to help him hide, they could have a very hard time finding him.

JJ provided them with a list of names to start with, and they each hit the phones. They needed to proceed cautiously, because of the totality of the circumstance. The process of locating the pair would be affected by the possibility of the Replicator tracking them as well.

While they hadn't activated an amber alert, Detective Kiernan had put out a regional BOLO for Will's vehicle, and disseminated pictures of both father and son. It was a compromise move. Hotch was concerned about too much publicity, fearing to feed the Replicator's agenda. But they needed to have eyes everywhere if they were going to find Will and Henry. Tracking someone with knowledge of law enforcement techniques was inherently difficult.

The others had each managed a few hours of sleep on the sofas in the conference room, but Hotch, JJ and Reid had gone non-stop. Rossi dropped by his friend's office to encourage him to take a break. He waited for Hotch to finish a phone call.

"Thank you."..."Yes, it will help us tremendously to have another mind on this. And, you're right, it will help me run interference with the director." ..."Exactly, there's a belief that we're too close to the case. They're wanting to take it from us unless we bring someone else in."….."Yes, I understand." ..."Tomorrow."…"Great."…."Thanks." He ended the call.

"Calling in reinforcements?"

"We need to have some outside eyes on this, to satisfy the Director. Strauss is on board with it. I can tell you pulled some strings there, Dave. Thanks. But she's getting pressure up the line."

"So she said. I'm glad we'll have help, if it will keep us on the case."

Rossi studied his old friend.

"You're exhausted, and this Replicator character is sharp. We need to be at our best when we find him, Aaron. Get some sleep. I'll hold down the fort."

The unit chief's first inclination was to decline, but he realized the wisdom in his friend's advice. And last night, when Reid had called him, he'd had to call Jessica over to stay with Jack. He really needed to see his son today.

He threw the file he'd been holding onto his desk. "All right, you're right." He looked at his watch. "Jack will be getting out of school in thirty minutes. Maybe I can get there in time to give him a ride home."

Rossi gave him a small smile. "That is an excellent idea, my friend. Now I just have to get our two young people to agree to get some rest as well." He looked out through the window, down into the bullpen. JJ and Reid were each at their desks, each on the phone. "I know they may not sleep, but their bodies need rest."

Hotch grabbed his briefcase and walked past Rossi to go out the door. "I'll make it an order."

After he was out of earshot, Rossi opined, "Oh, yeah, that'll work.


It did, but only because it jived with JJ's agenda.

She insisted on going home. Reid was concerned about how the crime scene team might have left it, and encouraged her to let him bring her to his place instead.

"I want to go home, Spence. I need to go home."

When they got there, he understood why. She walked right past the chaos in the living room, right past the fingerprint dust scattered everywhere, right past the spare can of luminol that someone forgot to pick up. She went straight to Henry's bedroom. His sheets had been taken, in the hope of finding foreign DNA. But his pillow was there, inside its Superman pillowcase. JJ sat down on the bed and lifted the pillow to her face. She inhaled deeply through her nose, breathing in the scent of her son.

It almost broke Reid. He'd buried his concern as deeply as he could, knowing he needed to preserve his focus for the case, and his emotional reserve for JJ. But the sight of her desperately trying to find her lost son in the scent of his pillow nearly did him in. And then he watched as JJ lifted her head and sat, perfectly still, staring straight ahead. When her facial expression changed, he could see that she was entering a very dark place, and he needed to turn her away from it. He knew what was in her mind's eye. They'd both seen it before.

"Don't go there."

She could only shake her head.

"JJ, he'll be all right. We'll find him." Said forcefully, trying to get her to believe. Trying to believe it himself.

"But what if…."

"No 'what ifs'. We'll get him back. He'll be all right."

It wasn't enough. His assurance couldn't overcome all that she knew could happen to children who were taken. What they went through before... She knew that, even if he was with Will, he wouldn't be all right. He'd know. He'd realize that something was wrong. Henry was too bright for even his father to fool him for very long.

It spilled out of her. "But he must be so scared….so scared. He won't know what's happening, he won't know I'm trying to find him. He'll be afraid, and he'll need me, and I won't be there. Oh, God. Please, God." She closed her eyes, vainly trying to hide the image that was in her head. "Oh, Henry, please be strong, Baby. Mommy loves you." She squeezed the pillow to her chest in place of her absent son.

Saying it aloud made it all too real. It overwhelmed her in the moment. JJ put her face into the pillow and started sobbing. The grief washed over her in waves, shaking her very foundation. The sound of her grief was so powerful and so alien that it frightened Reid. He moved behind her and wrapped his long arms all the way around her, trying to help her contain it. His body shook with hers.

Purposely, he focused his entire mind on JJ, on providing whatever she needed. He tried to keep his thoughts away from Henry, lest he fall into the same pit of fear and anxiety as had the woman in his arms. He knew it was there, deep inside him, but he couldn't afford to connect with it. They both needed him, and he was determined to be there for them.

He held her, resting his head on hers. Murmuring sounds of comfort.

"I've got you... I've got you... Let it out... Let it all out... It's all right, let it all out and leave it here."

He repeated the sentiments, over and over. Finally, she began to settle. He thought it was probably more from exhaustion than anything else, but he also knew whom he was holding. When she needed to, she could be as tough as leather. And he knew she was slowly connecting with that person within.

He moved around to squat in front of her, and lifted her face from the pillow.

"Look at me."

When she did, he was taken aback. He'd known he would see the sorrow, but he hadn't expected the hopelessness. He'd fallen into those eyes more times than he could count, but today they were just bottomless pools of despair.

He took her face in his hands. "JJ, you have to believe. Think about all of those kids we've given back to their families." And not those we've lost. "We're good at what we do. And we're going to bring Henry back."

She was still hiccoughing with sobs. "I want to believe, but…." But she was looking at the man who'd lost the woman he loved, in front of the whole team. "I want to...but…..oh God, Spence…"

This time she fell forward into his embrace, burying her face into his shoulder. He pulled the pillow out from between them and held her, and rocked her, until both of them were spent. He unfolded himself stiffly and stood, drawing her up with him.

"You need to rest. We both do. If we're going to help the team at all, we need to get some sleep."

He could see her preparing to protest, and cut her off by walking her to her bedroom.

"Even if you don't think you can sleep, I want you to lie down. Just rest your body if your mind won't let you sleep." He was all too familiar with the strategy, still having to employ it from time to time. "I'll be out on the sofa."

The remnant of the professional profiler still functioning in her knew he was right. JJ let him bring her to the bed, and didn't protest when he lifted her legs and removed her shoes. He sat down beside her on the coverlet.

"Just lie down, that's right." She turned on her side, away from him, as he stroked her head and ran his hands through her hair. When she felt the bed move, and realized he was leaving, she reached her hand back behind her.

"Stay."

"What?"

"Stay with me. Lie down with me. You need to rest, too. Stay with me, Spence."

In any other circumstance, it would have thrown him completely. But today his focus was only on her, and her anguish, and in doing whatever he could to ease it. He wasn't self-conscious at all as he joined her in lying atop the bed. He turned on his side behind her, and draped his arm over her, spooning her. She moved herself backward to fit into him and grasped his hand in both of hers, holding tightly.

He whispered into her ear. "Try to sleep, JJ. Close your eyes."

"I can't."

"Try. Just close your eyes. Take deep breaths. Come on, we'll take them together. Breathe in…..breathe out….in….out…in….."

He would never know which of them fell off first, but both of them slept.


It was after midnight when she woke. The space next to her was empty, and she could hear movement elsewhere in the house. JJ rose from the bed and followed the sounds.

The living room had been put to rights, and it looked like the blood had been cleaned from the bathroom. As she entered the kitchen, she found Reid wiping down the counters.

"You got up." Her voice was still thick with sleep.

"I don't need that much sleep. I thought I'd clean up some of…..you know."

Some of the evidence that a crime was committed here.

"Did you sleep at all?"

"I've only been up for about an hour." He changed the subject, anticipating what she would want to know.

"I called the BAU. They're taking turns having someone be physically available there, and the rest are getting some sleep too. It was Blake's turn. She didn't have much, but she said Detective Kiernan had the crime lab prioritize the case. We should have something from them tomorrow."

This was actually good news. Cases were given priority when those investigating them thought they could still save the victim.

"Did she say anything about the blood? What did the luminol show?"

"She didn't know. We'll have to get that from Kiernan in the morning. We're meeting at the BAU at 7. He'll phone in as soon as he has something."

She fell into a chair and watched as he continued wiping away the fingerprint dust, not even thinking to try to help him. When he was finished, he turned and took her in. Her face was smeared with mascara, her hair disheveled and uncombed, her complexion pale. And still, she was beautiful.

"Let me make you something to eat."

She shook her head. "Oh, no, I couldn't even think about eating."

"Something to drink, then."

"Spence, you don't have to take care of me."

He sat down across from her and held her gaze. "JJ, I want to take care of you. Please let me do it. You're going to need all of your strength to get through this. We both are. Neither of us will be able to help find Henry if we're falling to pieces."

He was satisfied that he saw a glimmer of acknowledgement in her eyes, and stood, bringing her up with him.

"Now, go, take a shower, get cleaned up. You'll feel better. I'll make us some eggs and toast. That should go down okay." It worked when you did it for me.

She knew he was right, and she didn't have the energy to fight him anyway. "Okay."


He hadn't been entirely honest with her. He'd been up much longer than an hour. Only a few hours after they'd fallen off, he'd bolted awake, escaping a bombardment of dream images.

JJ…Henry…Maeve…JJ and Henry playing soccer…..JJ and Henry cheering him on in softball…..Henry performing magic…..Maeve restrained in a chair….JJ running after an unsub…..Henry running to him after preschool…..Maeve standing next to Diane…..JJ standing next to Will at the altar…..JJ in tears at his apartment…Maeve inscribing his book….. Maeve on the ground….blood….Henry…..blood…..JJ restrained….Henry restrained…..blood...

His eyes had flown open, his breath coming in short gasps. It took him a few moments to realize where he was, and that it was JJ next to him on the bed. He slowly released his arm from her grasp and slid away. He made his way out to the darkened living room. The sun had not yet set when they'd gone in to lie down, but there was only moonlight outside now.

Reid sat in that dim moonlight, shaken by his plotless dream. His efforts to keep his mind on the task, and not the terrible possibilities, had been thwarted in sleep. Now his mind wouldn't admit any other thought. It was filled with thoughts of Henry, and fear for what might happen to him...what might already be happening to him...

Please, please, God, let him be with Will. It will give us time to find them before the Replicator….and maybe he won't realize it's anything but a road trip with his dad. Please don't let him be afraid...

He remembered what had so shattered JJ, the thought of a frightened Henry reaching out and finding no one. That same thought threatened to shatter him.

God, if You're listening at all, if You're even there at all…Henry is just a little kid. The best boy in the world. And he doesn't deserve this. And neither does she. I know You get this all the time, but….even if we're just like grains of sand to You…..please, please help us. I don't think we can do it alone. Please don't let Henry feel like he's alone. Please don't let JJ feel that way either. Please help me to do what they need me to do. To be who they need me to be. Please, please let us bring him home.

Something occurred to him. He almost dismissed it, but...it's worth a try. He addressed his next prayer elsewhere.

Maeve...Maeve, if you're there...and I think I really do believe you are...I told you about Henry. You know how much I love him. You probably already know what's happened to him. Be with him. Let him know that he's not alone. Keep him safe. Don't let him be scared. Help us find him.

He'd sat for a long time after that, wanting desperately to be able to feel some sort of answer. Nothing came. Maybe it doesn't work like that.

Eventually he'd realized one way he could help, and he'd started cleaning. Trying to make the house look like nothing had happened. But he didn't touch anything in Henry's room, sensing that it was a task for JJ. An hour later, he'd heard her stir in the bedroom.


She came out in sweats, her wet hair pulled back into a ponytail.

"Feel better?"

"Cleaner. And like I could try some food." It was already on the table. She tried to smile at him as she sat.

Each of them took a few forkfuls of egg along with a few bites of toast before defaulting to the coffee Reid had also made.

"At least you tried. Something is better than nothing." He took their plates to the sink.

"I did as well as you did." She got up and pushed him away from the sink. "Your turn in the shower." She started on the dishes as he went to wash up.

He was in and out in ten minutes, and found her sitting in the living room, staring at a paid advertisement on the television.

"You're not watching that."

"I'm not?"

"An ad for treating baldness? What, are you planning ahead?"

Even with the most difficult cases, humor often served as a relief valve for the team. Now, when they were playing the roles of both victim and investigator, it seemed almost inappropriate. But the fact that they'd fallen back into their usual pattern of behavior gave them a moment of relative normalcy and, however briefly, it felt good.

She gave a wry snort. "You're right, I wasn't watching it. I guess I just wanted to get something else in my head, you know?"

"Bad dream?"

"The worst." He'd told her about his dream the night Maeve was killed. She knew he would understand what she meant about her dream tonight.

"Me too." He took the remote from her. "Let's see if we can find something that will work better." There wasn't much on in the middle of the night save a selection of paid programs for various ailments and 'must have' products. Reid clicked through until he found an old black and white movie from the forties.

"How about this?"

She nodded. "I might even be able to fall asleep to it."

"That's what I was thinking. We have a few hours left before the meeting and we should try to go in fresh. As much as we can, anyway."

He lifted his arm in invitation and she moved over to fit against him. "Comfortable?"

"Mm-hmm."

"Okay." He pulled an afghan over them. "No talking. Just watch." And sleep.


The team was fully assembled by 6:45. For a seven AM callout, that was almost unheard of. But so were these circumstances.

Garcia embraced JJ when the two youngest profilers arrived. "Honey, did you get any rest?"

JJ nodded and threw a smile at Reid. "I rested, and I ate, and I slept. I had a very good caretaker."

Garcia flashed Reid a smile as well. "That's my gentle genius."

Hotch called them together. He began by asking Blake to report any overnight developments before she left for her rest period.

"Nothing from the police yet, but I believe Detective Kiernan is phoning in at 7:30. Nothing from the BOLOs yet, nothing on Will's credit card. We did find out that he made a substantial cash withdrawal from his bank four days ago."

"Right after the court hearing." JJ wondered if Will had already been planning for the possibility of the hearing not going his way.

"All right, thank you, Blake. Stay for the rest of the briefing and then go home and get some sleep." Hotch was ready to move on.

"I don't want to leave you shorthanded. I can just rest in here…."

"No, that won't be necessary. We'll have help." He directed the rest of his remarks to the whole team.

"Item number one of the briefing is our status with the Bureau."

There was much shifting of position, readying to do battle with the hierarchy. They were expecting to be told they'd been taken off the case. Morgan voiced it for the rest.

"Don't tell me. They can't!"

"Relax, Morgan. They haven't." Hotch reassured his most hotheaded member. "I've had a number of discussions, as has Chief Strauss. She's had to go to bat for us, and I think we should be grateful for what she's done. They've agreed to let us stay on the case as long as we have outside consultation. She's convinced them that we are the best positioned for every aspect of it. We know Will, and we know the cases the Replicator is trying to imitate. Any other team would be starting from scratch."

"Got that right." "Finally, some logic!" "Amen." Remarks came from around the table.

Hotch had his hand up to silence them. "But they are also concerned about our ability to be objective. So she's convinced them to allow us to bring in assistance from another agency. They should be joining us imminently."

Morgan wasn't happy with the idea of an outsider working with the team, but he had to acknowledge it as a reasonable compromise. "Which other agency, Hotch?"

"Well, considering we don't know the identity of the Replicator, we thought we should cast a wide net. Our help will be coming from the international community."

Morgan's eyes grew wide as he looked through the window of the conference room and spied someone approaching. "Emily!"


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