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I Love You ~ Aaron Hotchner


The sun had barely peaked over the horizon outside when my cell phone started ringing on my bedside table. I groaned and rolled over, grabbing blindly in the dark for my phone. When I had a grip on it, I answered the call and brought the speaker to my ear. Groggily, I asked who was calling, only to find out that it was Elle. I groaned again and sat up in my bed, then asked why she was calling. On the other end, she sounded like she had been awake for hours, and was giddy to tell me some good news. Still half awake, I listened to her as she explained why she was calling at such an ungodly hour.

“Hotch is sending me to Texas to interview William Devries!” she exclaimed.

I cringed and pulled the phone away from my ear as her volume increased. When she was done shouting, I put the phone back against my ear and cheek. “Wait—” I wiped the sleep from my eyes as I tried to comprehend what she just told me. “Devries…” I was running the name through my head. “You mean the child murderer?”

“Yeah! Y/N, he’s sending me. Isn’t this great? This is what I’ve been working towards!”

“That’s… great, Elle…”

I was biting my tongue to bar myself from saying anything that would ruin this for her. She was so excited about the opportunity, and I knew that I should’ve been excited for her, too; but how could I be when it still vexed me that she got the job at the BAU first, and now Hotchner was sending her to interview an infamous serial killer on her own for the unit’s research purposes.

To be fair, though, I didn’t expect that Hotch would have chosen me for this task, though, either. I had only been working with the BAU for about a month, which wasn’t enough time for me to prove that I was capable of interviewing someone like William Devries on my own. Despite that, however, I was still jealous of Elle. And it stung even worse as she continued to brag over the phone.

“All of this is to say, though, that I wanted to let you know that you won’t be seeing me until Friday. I’m heading down there now, and I’ll be spending the week there. I just didn’t want you to worry about me.”

I chuckled. Me? Worried about Elle? Never. She could handle herself. Well, most of the time, at least. “Good luck. Travel safe and call me when you get to your hotel.”

“Alright, I will,” she responded. As I thought the call was over, I lifted the phone away to hang up, but I heard her call my name for my attention real quick. “I love you. Don’t give Morgan too much of a rough time while I’m gone.”

“No promises.” I smiled.

She laughed on the other end. “I’ll see you Friday. Bye.”


And I hung up.

I put my phone back on the bedside table and tried to roll back over to get a few more hours of sleep, but my mind was repeating what Elle had told me again and again. I couldn’t get the jealousy out of my head, no matter how hard I tried. I loved my sister, truly; but I had been working tirelessly for decades for this job and the very opportunity she had just been given. I decided that I just needed to work harder. No more slacking off— at all. The BAU position was mine, now I just had to make it count.

When going back to sleep wasn’t an option anymore, I threw the covers off my body, swung my legs over the side of the bed, and got up. First and foremost, I opened the blinds to let the rising sunlight in. Then I started turning on all of the lights to trick myself into thinking that it was later than it really was.

The bedroom was cold as I tiptoed around towards my closet to pick out an outfit for the day. Most of my closet looked the same, as there wasn’t much that we were allowed to wear beyond pantsuits while in the office, and button downs and slacks in the field. Since joining the BAU, my days were never guaranteed to be in any one place. I could go for two days without a case in the field; then, boom, a week in the field without any time to go home and prep. So, my best options for clothing were the button downs with slacks, and I could put a suit jacket over my shoulders when I needed to. But that was what filled most of my closet. Besides my work outfits, I only had a few dresses, only one sweatshirt Elle bought for me one year, and a couple of workout and training outfits. That was it, though. Not much past that since I didn’t really need anything more than that.

Once I was dressed, I pulled my gun and badge from the drawer in my bedside table, clipped them to the waistband of my slacks, grabbed my phone, then headed out. I thought about perhaps getting coffee on the way to work since I was going to be ridiculously early and working on paperwork for the next few hours until everyone would show up; but I figured that the cheaper option was to just make a pot when I got to work. So, I drove right past the coffee shop and made my way to Quantico.

Security let me through after they cleared my badge and inspected my weapon while I walked through the metal detectors. I thanked them politely as they gave me both items back and I was on my way upstairs. All of the hallways were quiet, and the only sounds that echoed were from the elevators traveling up and down, and the air conditioning pumping cool air into the building.

I sighed as I stepped into the elevator and pressed the floor number for the BAU. The doors began closing and I relaxed against the wall. That was until someone jammed their hand between the doors to save them from closing before they could get in. I stood back up straight and raised a brow as Aaron Hotchner hurried into the elevator.

I smiled and moved to one side of the elevator, but he didn’t look up at me or even apologize for holding up the elevator. He kept his eyes down until he turned to face the closing doors. My smile faded and I tried to run it through my head. Most people wouldn’t have thought twice about Hotch not smiling politely at them or wishing them a good morning, but it wasn’t like Hotch to not at least show those small courtesies for me.

In the past, even when Hotch and I didn’t know each other but recognized one another’s faces, we would pass by and exchange those short, awkward glances before smiling and moving on with our days. That was all. It didn’t mean much, and it hardly took any effort, yet we always used to do it. Now, since joining the BAU, Hotch had stopped looking at me entirely. In fact, I would have guessed that he was trying to avoid me altogether but accidentally happened to catch the elevator at the wrong time and couldn’t see a polite way of backing out.

It was just all odd, the way Hotch was behaving around me. Especially considering the fact that he was the one who was more than happy to invite me onto the team. And he was the only one so far who hadn’t tried to get to know me. All of the others were curious about me, and despite their rule to not profile within the team, I knew that they all had privately profiled me, just like I profiled them— including Hotch. But he didn’t make the same effort, and it was just so unlike him. It told me that something was definitely wrong. That I had done something wrong.

I tried asking Elle about it when we went out for lunch one time. I brought up that I was concerned that I had done something to offend Hotch, and that it was likely going to affect my work. Elle was adamant, however, that Hotch was always like this and that I didn’t need to worry. “He’ll warm up to you eventually,” were her exact words, actually. Yet, there we were, a little more than a month into my promotion, and my boss refused to even look at me.

So, what he did next, obviously, caught me by surprise. “What are you doing here so early?” he asked quietly, but he still didn’t look at me. His eyes stayed glued to the doors the whole time. I cleared my throat, shifted on the balls of my feet, and took a moment to myself to comprehend the answer to such an easy, meaningless question. “Why are you nervous?”

“I— Sorry… Elle called me this morning to tell me about her trip to Texas. I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I figured I’d come here to start working on all of the paperwork I have.”

“Paperwork? What paperwork would you ha—” He chuckled to himself. “Ah. I see. Morgan?”

I nodded and chuckled, too. “Yeah. I get it, though. I’m the newbie, I gotta get hazed a bit by the team. I’m not too concerned. He means well.”

“Do the two of you get along?”

“That’s one way of putting it, yeah. He’s definitely tried to get to know me better than anyone else so far.”

“Well, he knows how hard you worked to get onto the team. He respects you, and I don’t blame him.”

The elevator doors reopened after what felt like an eternity. Hotch hurried out of the elevator and I followed at a slower pace so that I could watch him from a distance to gauge how that brief interaction went. He still wasn’t looking at me, and he wasn’t turning around or waiting up for me like he wanted to finish our conversation. So I concluded that he had only asked a question in the elevator so as to be polite and pass the time— but, then again, if he were worried about being polite, he wouldn’t have stopped smiling at me.

The curiosity was starting to eat me alive, and the only person who could give me any answers was at the office with me, alone. It was the prime time to ask him what I needed to know. So, I followed Hotch into his office, catching him just as he was about to sit down.

“Can I ask you something?” I questioned, waiting outside his door until I was invited in. He shrugged, nodded, and I stepped inside, shutting the door behind me, just in case, by some off chance, someone would come in. “I don’t mean to bother you, but there’s something that’s been eating at me, and I just have to ask.” He shrugged again and took his seat at his desk. “What did I do to upset you?”

“I don’t understand,” he defended, opening up a file in front of him.

I took the liberty of sitting in one of the chairs across from him. He looked up at my movements through his eyelashes, but he didn’t look at me. “We used to say hello to each other all the time before I took this job— and I know that’s not something that I should be concerned about, but I’ve noticed that since I’ve taken this job with the unit, you refuse to look at me or address me. You take extra precautions to not face me, you give me the worst tasks or shifts during cases, and you don’t ask for my opinion on anything. You were the one who told me that the point of the BAU is to work as a team, and that we need to help one another solve the cases, so I don’t understand why I don’t feel like that’s the case. So, I clearly must have done something wrong, or offended you somehow, and I just want to know how I can remedy the situation so that I can do my job well, sir.”

Hotch closed the file he had opened and dared to finally look up at me. “I’m sorry you feel that things have changed between us since you joined the unit. I meant no disrespect towards you or the work that you’re doing. If you must know, however, I don’t hate you, I’m just very busy with my job. My responsibilities are double yours, and I don’t have time to constantly say hello or smile to you. In our line of work, you need to have tougher skin and not worry about what other people think or how they feel.”

“But I do care what you think.”


I froze. First of all, I hadn’t anticipated that I would say something like that; second of all, I didn’t expect that he would inquire further about it. So, I thought for a moment, trying to backpedal from the emotions boiling in the pit of my stomach. “We’re coworkers, and you’re my boss; If I don’t care what you think, then I can’t get better at my job… I can’t learn if I don’t care.”

Hotch bit his bottom lip slightly, like he was thinking long and hard about something that was churning over in his mind. While he hadn’t glanced at me once in the past month, he was now staring directly at me, as though he were trying to make some kind of point to me— but most importantly, himself.

“Truth be told—”

“Hotch,” JJ began, bursting into the room. Hotch looked up at her and I turned around in my seat. “Sorry, but we’ve got an emergency.” The three of us hurried out of Hotch’s office and walked to the boardroom. Sitting there and waiting for us was Reid, Morgan, and Garcia. “Okay, so, we do have live security footage being fed to us from a train stopped in North-West Texas.”

“Stopped?” Morgan questioned.

“Yeah. Some guy took five people hostage in one car, and the rest of the train has been evacuated by the local PD. There’s one security guard who’s dead from initial gunfire.”

“Anyone else injured yet? Any demands? Anything?” I asked, taking a seat next to Morgan.

JJ shook her head, “Nope.” She turned on the TV and began to play the live footage from the train, and Spencer started asking questions.

I watched the footage from my seat. Just as JJ said, there was an armed Unsub in the car, waving his weapon around in the faces of all of his hostages while they tried to hide in terror. He was screaming something at them, but I couldn’t hear from where I was sitting and as everyone was still trying to collect information. The Unsub twitched his left shoulder and looked over it to say something to someone that we couldn’t see from the angle of where the camera was.

“So why have we been called in for this case?” Morgan shrugged.

“Because of the complex physiological aspect of the Unsub,” Hotch answered, quickly flipping through the pages of the file JJ gave him on the way in. “But the list of things wrong with him is too long to even start—”

“Tardive Dyskinesia,” Spencer spoke up, squinting at the screen.


“It’s a severe facial tics syndrome,” I explained, “but his entire left side is seizing up and ticking, not just his face.”

“No. He’s looking at something over his shoulder nervously, he’s not ticking. This syndrome develops after taking antipsychotic medicine for years.”

“Y/N is right, too, though,” Gideon insisted while walking into the boardroom. “Both of you are right, don’t discredit one another. The question is, why does his shoulder tic?”

“Does it matter?” JJ asked.

“Maybe.” Gideon walked up to the TV and watched the live feed for a minute or so, trying to build a profile on the Unsub, just like the rest of us. “Oh, my god…” he whispered in shock. Morgan and I looked to each other in confusion. “Elle…”

I stood from my chair at the mention of her name. She was headed to Texas. She didn’t say how, though— I only assumed that she was flying there. Everyone else started to gather up close in front of the TV to see what Gideon was looking at. Did he mean that Elle was already in Texas and could just meet us there? Or did he mean something worse? I prayed that it was the first option.

When I got close enough, Gideon put his finger on the screen and pointed at a woman sitting down on the train, her wrist handcuffed to the seats, and her cheek cut up. It was Elle. The moment I realized it, I was already dashing for my desk outside the boardroom, collecting my go-bag and my purse. The rest of the team was a few steps behind me, but they were rushing just as much as I was.

On the plane, I sat by myself in one of the single seats up front. Gideon, Reid, Morgan, and Hotch were sitting together at the table with four seats. With a three hour plane ride ahead of us and not much to do about the case other than wait until we got to the scene and could be debriefed by the local PD, Gideon and Reid were playing chess to keep their minds working, while Morgan and Hotch watched. I, on the other hand, was reviewing the case file again and again, even though my head started ache around the end of the first hour.

Garcia had typed up an outline of sorts which explained the train’s footage starting from just before the Unsub lashed out, up until we got the live stream. Everything seemed normal before all hell broke loose. But that was how it always was, right? No one ever pictured that they would end up in a hostage situation on a random Tuesday. But it wasn’t until the security officer passed through and leaned down to talk to Elle that everything spiraled out of control.

So that was the breaking point, the trigger, but why? Why would he have cared about them talking? Maybe he had a record, was on the run, and was nervous about two officers talking to one another. But how would he have known that Elle was a cop? Her badge or gun must have been showing somehow. Garcia’s report hardly mentioned Elle, though, and that was likely due to the fact that the camera couldn’t see anything of her until she tried to subdue the Unsub. There was no way of telling what Elle was doing that would have triggered the Unsub to lash out.

“That’s the eleventh time you’ve started over,” Hotch said, taking the empty single seat across from me.

I looked up and stopped biting my nails. “I’m surprised you were counting.”

“Like I said, I have double your responsibilities— and one of those includes making sure that you’re alright. I know I couldn’t have stopped you from getting on this flight, but… I have to ask if you think you can handle this case. It’s alright if you can’t.”

He wasn’t trying to sideline me, at least. So, he was trying to repair the image he had painted of himself. That was a good sign. But he also knew the risks of putting an agent in the field when they had a personal connection to the case. Actually, I shouldn’t have been there all. Technically, Hotch should have ordered me to stay back at the office with JJ, and if I were to refuse, he should’ve sent me home entirely. But he didn’t.

“I’ll be fine, Hotch. Can you trust that I’ll do the right thing?”

“I don’t know. Can I trust that you won’t do anything stupid just to save your sister?”

“I’d do anything to save all five of the hostages on that train. Not just my sister. If it means putting them before me, I’m willing to take that risk. If you want to call me stupid, sure. But I’m not going to let any of them die.”

Hotch stared at me. I wondered if he had any kind of idea that he didn’t have to choose between the two drastic measures of either ignoring me entirely or staring at me all day. When I went to talk to him, I hadn’t expected that he’d respond like this. It was almost like he was trying to make up for his behavior over the past month in just a few minutes.

“Alright. But I’ll sideline you if I have to.”

I shrugged and nodded. It was fair enough of him. He was my boss, and he was just looking out for me, and he didn’t want the situation to go awry because of my feelings. Our job came first over all else, especially when it involved other people’s lives being at stake.

While driving out to where the train was stopped, Gideon asked us if we could call JJ so that we could get more information about how things had progressed during our three hour flight. He wanted to know if any demands had been made yet, but she said that there was hardly any contact between the Unsub and the officers on the scene. She said that they had only just managed to convince him to use the phone, and that he only wanted to talk to someone called “the higher authority”. Whatever that meant. We thanked JJ and I hung up the call.

Gideon was staring out the right side window, lost in thought. Morgan was staring out the other one, and I was trapped between them. Meanwhile, Reid rode up front with Hotch, both of them reviewing the symptoms of Tardive Dyskinesia. After a few minutes of the backseat sitting in total silence, Gideon interrupted Hotch and Reid with what he had been thinking about.

“When we get there, we’ll wait thirty seconds before getting out of the car. Don’t look at the train. Whatever you do, just don’t look at the train. This guy wants to talk to some kind of higher authority, so be it, we’ll become such authority.”

When we arrived at the stopped train, we did just that. Gideon stared at his watch, obsessively counting the seconds, while the rest of us watched the busy scene around us. The local police department was hurrying around like lost puppies, trying to figure out what to do about the hostages and the armed man inside. The rescue team was circling the train again for another threat analysis, which would ultimately prove to be useless. They were all just wasting time, trying to look busy, when, in reality, they had zero clue what they were all doing. That wasn’t to say that they’re shit at their jobs. I was sure they were fine, but they didn’t know how to handle an armed and psychotic hostage taker. They just weren’t prepared.

“Go,” Gideon said.

All four doors of the vehicle opened, and everyone got out. Like Gideon ordered, none of us looked at the train, despite how desperate I felt to just see if I could get a look at Elle, see if she was alright and knew that I was there. But we had our orders.

Morgan closed the door behind me after I slid out of the car through his side. Everyone gathered around for their assignments and to talk with the Dallas Field Office representative. I entirely expected that they would all make me take the backseat to this, though, until Hotch said that he was going to talk with the hostage rescue team and asked me to go with him. Again, did Hotch understand that he didn’t have to go from ignoring me completely to babysitting me?

Hotch and I walked together towards the tent where the H.R.T was regrouping after circling the train. The leader of the team spotted us as we approached and began to walk us through everything they knew about the situation, even reviewing what we already knew, just to make sure we were aware. There were five hostages inside, including Elle. There was only one suspect inside, but he was delusional and had been screaming about the higher authority for the past few hours. If they were to proceed with a rescue attempt, it could result in a civilian fatality, and that wasn’t a risk we were willing to take.

We followed the leader of the team up to the convoy of cars that the field team was using as protection from any potential gunfire and to protect them from the Unsub’s eyesight. “We’ve got snipers at every angle,” he explained, “but it would take two shots to get in. One to break the glass, one to get the guy. By the time we break the glass, he could already move or shoot.”

“Alright, well, we might be able to negotiate with this guy,” Hotch responded. “But if his behavior or conversations in any way concern us that his endgame plan is to kill himself or the hostages, then I need you to take the shots and we’ll try to rush the train.”

The H.R.T leader agreed to our plan, then Hotch and I backed away from the car and slowly headed for the situational monitoring van that Gideon and the rest of the team headed to. When we stepped inside after Hotch held the door open for me, we realized that Gideon was already on the phone with one of the hostages who was speaking for the Unsub. Gideon was trying to get a read on the guy and was trying to play him.

“If you really are the higher authority, then you can have it removed,” the Unsub told Gideon. His voice was in a panic, and he was glancing around the train constantly.

“He’s a paranoid schizophrenic,” I whispered to Hotch. “His body twitches every time he talks to someone who isn’t really there.” Whoever he was seeing was telling him that there was something that needed to be removed. The only question was, what was “it” and why did he think that it needed to be removed?

“That’ll take some time,” Gideon played along. “You know it can’t be done that quickly. Goodbye.”

“Wait— No!” he shouted. “Fine… Fine! You have one hour! One hour to remove it or I’ll kill every agent on this train!” And then he hung up.

Gideon turned to the team for answers, but we all stared and shrugged. We didn’t know any more than him about “it”. We were suspicious of the fact that he could be schizophrenic, so it didn’t come as a shock to us. But, statistically speaking, most paranoid schizophrenics believed in higher beings— as he had proved by requesting for the higher authority. He could have believed in God, a demon, the devil, a fantasy creature, or even a terrifying monster; but he asked for a higher power and then questioned about the different ranks of the government.

“He thinks the government put something in him,” I said while they were all speculating. They turned to me with raised brows. All except Gideon, who was still focused on the TV. “The thing he wants removed is some kind of government tracker, or listening device, or camera. He thinks that the government is spying on him, which is why he wanted to speak to the higher authority.”

“The government doesn’t do that, though,” Morgan said.

“Doesn’t matter. It’s what he believes. And he’s not going to stop until it’s removed.”

“But how could we know what he thinks it is or where he thinks it is?” Hotch asked.

“His arm,” Gideon said, pointing to the TV.

We looked to see what he was talking about. One of the women on the train had managed to calm down the Unsub enough to talk to him, and she was holding out his arm for us to see. The Unsub had cut himself in multiple places on his arm. Not because he was depressed or trying to find relief through the pain, but because he had tried to dig it out himself on separate occasions and failed each time.

“He thinks it’s a tracking device,” I concluded.

If he were to have believed that it was a camera, he would’ve been clawing at his eyes or cutting at his sternum; and if he believed that it was a listening device, he would have been cutting around his ears or his neck. But he chose his arm. It was a common delusion that the government would put tracking devices in people’s arms or feet. He had likely heard the rumor and/or conspiracy about people finding microchips in their arms, and because of his psychosis, he fell victim to the conspiracy, too.

Morgan’s phone rang and he stepped back to take the call. I began to explain my reasoning to Gideon, Hotch, and Reid while Reid tried to push back and also help with his own information. That was what he always did with me. If I ever slipped up on one word, he would catch me and correct me— but, for the most part, he always tried to help elaborate on my theories in order to build and fortify the profiles of the Unsubs that we were creating. With this Unsub, in particular, Reid happened to know a lot about his psychology and could give the medical perspective of my reasoning.

Morgan came back, “The lady holding his arm is his doctor. They were headed to a convention to give a speech about the improvements in the field and the success they’ve had with this example of severe psychosis.”

“Makes sense how she knew about the cuts and could get close enough to him to show us his arm.” I said.

“Could she trick him into pretending that she removed the microchip?” Hotch inquired. Reid and I shook our heads simultaneously. “Then how do we trick him into thinking it?”

Reid started pacing between the width of the van while he thought. “Like Y/N said, he chose his arm because of the type of monitoring he thinks that the government placed on him. He didn’t choose his foot, knee, or back. He chose his arm. Anything we try with him, he’ll be watching to make sure we don’t pull anything and to make sure that he is correct.”

“Maybe we can just try to reason with him,” Morgan offered. A chuckle escaped my throat. He smiled slightly, “Something funny, precious?”

“He’s a paranoid schizophrenic. You’re not going to reason with him.”

“So, then, what do you suggest we do?”

“Magic,” Reid interrupted. Morgan was the one to chuckle this time, which seemed like a challenge to Reid, so he explained further. “Using sleight of hand, I can hide a microchip in my hand and make him think that it came out his arm.”

“No,” Hotch said gruffly. “We can’t risk him taking another agent hostage. I’m not going to put the team in that position.”

“I can do this, Hotch. I’ve been doing it since high school— I used to do it during college exams all the time because I would finish before they would let me leave.”

I rolled my eyes. Of course that happened to Spencer. Of course he was so well known by his professors for speeding through exams that they actually had to put a time on him. He had always been so smart, and he was so young when he went to college. His professors probably hated that he was smarter than them and he was only a kid. They wanted to punish him, or maybe even just force him to look back over the exams to check his work. But he never needed to look at those types of tests more than once. He hardly needed to review anything more than once. He was just gifted like that.

“We have to try it,” Gideon insisted, taking Spencer’s side and going over Hotch’s head. Hotch threw up his arms, giving up. “Let the rescue team know what we’re going to try. Tell them to stand by for the signal to go in.”

“We’re really going to do this?” Morgan asked, bewildered. “We can’t just put Spencer on that train with an armed Unsub.”

“We don’t have any other choice. Hotch, Y/N, go.”

Hotch shook his head slightly, rolling his eyes at Gideon’s arrogance. When he came to terms with the fact that he wouldn’t be able to change anyone’s mind about this, Hotch led me out of the van and back to the frontline to talk with the H.R.T leader. We caught him up to speed with our new plan, and he seemed just as unsure as Hotch was, but there really wasn’t enough time to argue with him about it or try to go back and convince Gideon of a different plan that didn’t include sending another agent in there.

Hotch asked if he could use one of the walkie-talkies that was just sitting around, unused by anyone on our team or theirs. The leader agreed, even handing it to Hotch, but then immediately regretted it when he witnessed Hotch tearing it apart to get into the wiring inside. The H.R.T leader asked what we were doing with that, and I explained that we needed a microchip in order to convince the Unsub that it was actually real. Just as I said it, Hotch pulled out the small chip from the walkie-talkie and held it up for me to inspect.

“It should work,” I said, trying to convince him and myself.

“I don’t know about this,” the leader admitted.

“It’ll look better when it’s covered,” Hotch said, hiding the microchip in his palm and handing the ruined walkie-talkie back. The leader asked what Hotch meant by “covered” and Hotch responded with: “Blood.” And then he started pulling me back towards the tent where Gideon and Morgan were standing with Reid, trying to prep him. “One government issued microchip,” Hotch joked flatly, handing it over to Reid.

“This is stupid,” Morgan insisted. “It won’t work.”

“It has to if we want to get Elle off that train,” I said, and they all fell silent.

They had been considering all day how they couldn’t afford to lose Elle, either, but they hadn’t stopped to think about how I felt about it until just then. If our plan where to go awry, they would lose a friend, and it would sting, but those kinds of wounds heal. Losing a sister, on the other hand. No one gets over that. Ever. And I was sure that Reid was trying to find some kind of positive statistic to give me that would reassure me, but he was falling short.

“You do what you need to do,” Gideon turned back to Spencer, “and then you walk right back off that train. No waiting around or trying to help Elle yet. Get the chip out, then tell him that you need to get back to the higher authority. Got it?”

“I get it.” His voice changed pitch towards the end of his sentence, which meant that he didn’t believe it. He was nervous and he was running through every possible shitty outcome and the statistics around it. “Can you guys do me a favor, though?” We all nodded. “Could one of you at least look like you’re going to see me again?”

I realized suddenly how pale my face must have been and how my pulse was racing. It had happened subconsciously, otherwise I would’ve washed the feeling of it all away before Reid could notice. But we all looked like we were staring at a ghost, and that was what made him the most uncomfortable. He was looking for reassurance that it would be okay, and we were failing as friends in that moment.

“We’ll see you when you get back, bud,” Morgan patted Spencer’s shoulder.

Spencer faked a smile and nodded, still trying to reassure himself. After, once he saw that we were all smiling, too, he headed off towards the train. Gideon and Morgan stayed where they were while Hotch and I went back to the frontline to be with the H.R.T. Reid nervously walked towards the train, almost tripping over his own feet at one point. Hotch was getting nervous, too. He told the H.R.T leader to be ready to move in if things went South, but he reminded us that it would be hard to get a shot and get in.

Hotch turned his walkie over in his hands while trying to ignore his sweaty palms. I spotted that and his bouncing knee out of the corner of my eye. “He’s got this,” I said. “It’ll work.”

Just then, Hotch’s walkie hummed as someone on the other end pressed the button to say something. “He got the chip out,” Morgan said with relief. “Wait—”

“What is it?” Hotch questioning, bringing the walkie up to his mouth.

“The Unsub’s not letting Spencer leave.”

I pushed my hands off the car we were hiding behind and opened the nearby backseat car door. I leaned into the vehicle, stretched to reach into the trunk, and grabbed a bulletproof vest. When I had a grasp on it, I climbed back out of the car, shut the door, and lifted the vest over my head.

“What are you doing?” Hotch asked me.

I looked down at the velcro pads that I needed to connect. “Ending this.” I started walking past the line of cars and towards the train. Hotch ran up behind me and jumped in my path before I could get anywhere near the train. He was trying to stop me from doing something stupid, as he would classify it, but I knew that it was possibly our only shot of just finishing this once and for all. “They need two shots, Hotch. One at the window, and one to kill. If I can get on the train and distract him, I might be able to shoot him or keep him occupied long enough for the snipers to get both shots in.”

Hotch grabbed my left bicep, spun me around, and started dragging me back behind the cars. “You’re not fucking doing that.”

I tried to pull my arm away, but his grip only tightened. “We have to do something.”

“I’m close to benching you, Greenaway. You know that you can’t go on that train, and you know that we won’t let you. So just sit your ass down in the van with Gideon and Morgan, and wait for orders. Got it?”


Got it?

I pulled my arm away with one more forceful pull. We stared at each other, our faces close and burning with rage. He was angry that I was about to do something idiotic, and he was regretting bringing me along. Meanwhile, I was upset that he couldn’t just let me do my job. He searched my eyes like he was waiting for me to fight back, but as I searched his, too, I realized that it wasn’t worth fighting him. We were supposed to be a team, right? And part of being a team was obeying my superior officer. So, I backed off and stormed into the van like he ordered.

The door slammed behind me. Morgan looked at me over his shoulder briefly before turning back to the TV. Gideon was trying to call the Unsub again. He was looking for another out now. But the phone kept ringing, and the Unsub stayed put in his seat, pointing his gun at Reid.

As I approached the TV, I got a better look at the unfolding events. Reid had successfully “pulled out the microchip” from his arm, but one of the hostages was starting to pick a fight with Spencer, which only agitated the Unsub. The doctor, Reid, and Elle were all trying to diffuse the tension, but the Unsub’s left side twitched again as he said something to someone invisible. Before I could warn the team of what was going to happen, though, the Unsub was already on his feet and he shot the doctor. Everyone on the train yelped at the sound of gunfire. Reid hurried to the doctor to start putting pressure on her wounds so that she wouldn’t bleed out. Now we definitely had to hurry and end this once and for all.

The Unsub hurried to the phone and picked up the call. Gideon kept his cool. “What happened in there, Ted?” I didn’t realize we had his name already. Garcia must have figured it out while Hotch and I were outside. “I did what you asked for.”

“I’m tired… I’m done fighting. I’m sick of this. It’s going to end today…” He dropped the phone, but he didn’t hang up. He just simply… gave up… Like he promised that he would.

Hotch was already standing directly behind me, ready to catch me when I turned around to head back out. I didn’t care what my orders were or how stupid it might have been, but I wanted to go into that train and save my sister. I wanted to save all of them, just like I promised Hotch on the plane, but… This was Elle. This was my sister. And he was going to kill them all, including her. I had to do something. But Hotch was already one step ahead of me, and he wasn’t letting me out of that van.

Gideon called again and Ted lifted his gun at one of the other hostages. I thought that he would shoot her, but as she jumped out of the way, he shot the phone and the call ended. There went our only way of communicating with him. That was our last chance to try to end this peacefully. We literally only had minutes, if that, to save those people now.

“Let me know when H.R.T is ready,” Gideon said to Hotch.

“I’ll go in with them,” I said, trying to step around Hotch quickly, but he caught my arm again.

Hotch looked at me again, searching my eyes this time for reassurance that he could trust me outside of that van. “You follow my lead?” I nodded eagerly. I’d do anything at that point, even if it meant being tied to Hotch the whole time. “Let’s go.”

He let me step around him and run out the van. When we hurried back up to the cars to tell the H.R.T leader what was going on, Hotch reached into the car and grabbed another vest. I stopped explaining to watch him put on his vest, thinking of the best way to tell him no without sounding like a huge hypocrite.

“Hotch, no. You’ve got a kid at home. No.”

“We’ll follow your lead,” Hotch told the team leader, “but we’re going to try to talk with him before we start shooting.”

“Are you sure? You’ve already got two agents in there.”

“Yeah, because we were playing nice. I’m not taking this asshole’s shit anymore.” Hotch finished strapping his vest on and pulled out his gun. I pulled mine out, too. He was the first to take a step out in front of the cars. We rushed up against the side of the train so that Ted couldn’t see us sneaking onto the train. Hotch turned back to me to make sure I was still following, and I nodded. He gestured forward with two fingers, so I stepped around him and hurried a few large steps up towards the train car’s entrance. I waited at the bottom of the steps for his go-ahead. “One… two…” And then there was a sound of another gunshot. I didn’t hesitate for the last count before jumping up the steps and kicking the door in with my weapon raised. “Y/N!” Hotch called after me, but I didn’t listen as I ran in.

I lowered my weapon as I saw Spencer standing over Ted’s dead body lying on one of the seats. Spencer had disarmed the suspect already by the time one of the hostages had shot him. Elle looked up at me and pulled against her handcuffs, desperate to hug me.

I ran past Reid and up to Elle, “Where’s the key?”

“Still on the security guard,” she answered.

Hotch went to make sure that Reid was okay, but all he did was tell our boss that we needed at least two ambulances. I walked down two more seats to find the dead security guard laying on the floor, dead. I thought up an apology in my head before reaching down and finding the key to the handcuffs in his pocket.

I returned to Elle and swiftly freed her. In an instant, her arms flew around my neck and she held me tight. I hugged her torso as she hid her face in the crook of my neck. “You alright?” I asked quietly.

She nodded. “I fucking hate Texas.”

I chuckled, and so did she. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

“You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”

“One can only hope.”

She was the first to part from our hug. She hit my arm playfully and smiled. Hotch came over to check on her, too. She told him that she was alright, then he ordered us to get off the train with the other hostages so that the paramedics could get on. Elle and I agreed and started corralling the other three hostages.

Outside, Morgan came up to us almost immediately and hugged Elle. She insisted that she was alright and that everyone should stop worrying about her, but that wasn’t going to happen any time soon. We both told her to get checked out by the paramedics as they arrived on scene, but Elle kept trying to deflect by asking about Reid, or where JJ was, or persisting that Ted and the doctor should be seen first. We tried to tell her that she was just as important, but she wouldn’t listen until Gideon came over and told her that she had to.

“Whatever you say, Dad,” Elle joked.

Morgan and I looked at each other with wide eyes. She was so dead. Oh, my fucking god— She literally had a death wish. But Gideon, for some reason, just smiled and started to walk away. Morgan and I were in total disbelief.

“Elle?” Gideon backpedaled. “Don’t ever call me that again.” He walked off and we all let out a sigh of relief. That was the Gideon we knew.

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