Power Nightclub, Hoboken, NJ
“Look at Rossi move,” exclaimed Emily Prentiss in admiration of her Behavioral Anaylsis Unit colleague, David Rossi, who was performing the special dance for PSY’s “Gangnam Style” while the song was playing. The move was simple- Rossi first opened his suit jacket and held his arms extended out towards his side, then arched his legs and folded his arms in front of him going up and down, simulating riding a horse. The final part of the move would see Rossi raise his right arm and twirl his hand as if to simulate a lasso about to be thrown, releasing it a second later.
Almost instinctively, a woman saw Rossi and added the suggestive part to the dance. She bent down and backed into him and his pelvis, pretending that she was one the Rossi lassoed. Rossi then pretended to “ride” her as she wiggled her bottom against his pelvis. When the song was finished, the two of them embraced, talked a little bit and Rossi let her on her way.
“Look at you,” said colleague Derek Morgan, also impressed. “Mr. Moves tonight.”
“I can do the Macarena too if you’d like,” quipped Rossi.
“What’s the Macarena?” asked colleague Spencer Reid.
“Trust me,” replied Morgan assuredly, “you don’t want to know.”
“So…Dave…did you get her number?” asked Prentiss.
“No,” replied Rossi, wistfully. “I didn’t want her to feel like she’s dating her grandpa.”
Morgan laughed, then heard his favourite song, Rick Ross’ “Push It”, and instinctively decided it was his time to dance.
Across at the bar were two other members of the BAU, Zoe Hawkes and Jennifer “JJ” Jareau, sharing a round of drinks.
“I can’t believe you don’t find him attractive!” said an amazed Hawkes.
“I’m just not into Brad Pitt,” replied Jareau. “He looks too much like your stereotypical jock jerk.”
“The blonde hair…it shimmers so well…the glistening in his eyes…that snark of his when he puts his tongue to the side of his cheek…” Hawkes paused with a sigh of infatuation.
Her mood then turned serious.
“JJ” started Hawkes, who started to fumble her words.
“Zoe, what is it?” responded a concerned Jareau.
“It’s Spence. I’ve been meaning…I mean I think…I don’t know…”
Jareau tried to reassure her. “It’s okay, you can tell me.”
Hawkes tried to respond, but Reid came over to the bar.
“I’ll have a dry martini,” said Reid to the bartender. “It doesn’t matter to me if you shake it or you stir it.”
“Oh, so you’re James Bond now, eh Spence?” cracked Jareau. “I guess you got over the whole ‘stirred’ part.”
“Actually,” said Reid, his voice speeding up because he was about to go on a rant, “there is no discernible difference in the taste buds regarding whether or not a drink is stirred or shaken. The quality of the drink depends more on the speed and the forcefulness of the action of blending the different molecules of the ingredients together, and studies have shown that this process is not faster or slower depending on whether or not you shake or stir the drink. Rather, what you use to stir or to shake affects the quality of the mixture- if you use a spoon, you can blend more of the two drinks together faster than if you were to use a conventional stir stick because it will cover more ground. The same thing also happens when you shake the mixer by holding it vertically and vigorously shaking it back and forth rather than shaking it diagonally and tilting it back and forth. Doing it from a diagonal means less coverage area by the liquids in some parts of the mixer, so not every part of the two drinks gets mixed in equally, whereas if you do it vertically then the drinks are more likely to interact.”
“Okay,” said Jareau, bored of Reid’s speech. “I need to call Will and see how he’s doing with Henry.” Hawkes remained glued to every word, hoping the genius could provide her with more knowledge from his expansive brain.
Jareau stepped outside, where he met BAU Unit Chief Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner enjoying a cigar. She called Will LaMontagne, her husband, and checked up on them, finding out that, even though Henry didn’t eat his spinach, the two of them were okay. Hotchner, however, didn’t hear the call and expected the worst.
“Don’t tell me,” said Hotchner, exasperated. “We’ve got a case.”
“We do have a case,” said Jareau, watching Hotchner breathe a sigh of frustration. She then paused before enthusiastically saying, “for more drinks!”
Hotchner let out a tiny smirk of a laugh, as is his trademark. “Henry doing okay?”
“Oh yeah,” replied Jareau. “He just has difficulty eating spinach. Says he learned in school that a cow eats grass and how he isn’t a cow.”
“Maybe you have to show him Popeye,” quipped Hotchner.
“Maybe,” said Jareau.
Inside, Hawkes and Reid were alone at the bar, pounding back drink and after drink. The two of them grew closer and closer with each passing drink, and both took a step outside where Reid and Hawkes started to passionately make out. They progressed to a room at a nearby hotel, where the passionate kissing turned into a night of passionate sex. Although Reid did catch a glimpse of a janitor acting a touch suspiciously, the two of them were largely oblivious that the hotel was being robbed that night.
The next day, the team departed Hoboken on its jet at noon.
“I hope we all enjoyed last night,” said Jareau with excitement.
“100 cases in a row solved,” replied Morgan with a cool celebration, “it doesn’t get any sweeter than that.”
Reid cleared his throat. “We...we had fun,” said Reid, who tried to hide his wide grin but failed. Unnoticed by the team- but not Reid- was Hawkes’ instinctive smile.
“Well somebody seemed to have a good night,” cracked Morgan with a smirk. Reid could only smile.
“I hope we got the partying out of our system because we’ve got to get back to work,” said Hotchner, with the rest of the team giving him their begrudging agreement.
Fortunately, it appeared to be a slow day. Nothing came across either Jareau’s desk or Hotchner’s desk for review, meaning the team got some much needed time to catch up on paperwork. For Morgan, it meant writing his psychological review of Jeremy Sayer, an Iowan who became a family annihilator at 13. His parole hearing was coming up and Morgan had to present his argument for keeping him in prison.
“Jeremy still isn’t passing his evaluations,” noted Morgan to himself. “He’s obviously not rehabilitated...plus he’s obsessed with getting back at his sister. You can see it in his evaluations...this is a no-brainer.”
“You know, they say that talking to yourself is the first sign of old age,” said Reid with a smile, walking in on Morgan.
“Well they should know that Derek Morgan never gets old,” chuckled Morgan smugly. Reid laughed.
“What’s up kid? Take a seat.” Morgan could tell something was on Reid’s mind.
“I guess I’m terrible at hiding it,” said Reid with a nervous smile. “It’s funny...when I play poker I can maintain my composure but when it comes to personal stuff I can’t hide it. Maybe it’s because when I’m playing-”
“Reid...slow down.” Morgan had to stop him from getting carried away and rambling needlessly.
“Okay.” Reid paused, took a deep breath and then continued. “Last night...I...I had a few drinks...and...” He then rushed the last part of the sentence, as if he were embarrassed. “IsleptwithZoe.”
“You what? I didn’t catch that.”
Reid spoke clearer, but still nervously. “I...I slept with Zoe.”
Morgan smiled. “I knew you left with someone, I just didn’t know it was Zoe.”
“I feel so ashamed...I’ve never done that before.”
Morgan, who has had more than his fair share of one-night stands, chuckled. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. A lot of other men have done it too, and a lot of women.”
“Yeah...but it was my first time since JJ...five years ago...I would have liked it to be more special...and I don’t want to do that to Zoe.”
“Kid...I don’t know why you don’t want to go after Zoe. She’s totally your type. You’ve been longing to have someone that understands you on your level and you finally have it...yet you’re stuck on JJ.”
“I still love her.”
Morgan sighed briefly and then continued. “Reid...JJ cheated on you.”
“No...everything was fine until I met Tobias. She still blames me for not protecting her against the dogs. I had the greatest year of my life after we went to the Redskins game...and I screwed it up.”
“No Reid.” Morgan assumed a small air of sternness while keeping his comforting tone. “JJ screwed it up. Look, you can blame post-traumatic stress disorder or something else, but at the end of the day, JJ is in control of her actions. PTSD goes away...the fact that she didn’t come back afterward should say a lot.”
“You’re forgetting that the night she cheated on me with Will was the day she conceived Henry.”
“Yes, but she didn’t even try to reach out to you after it happened. She didn’t try to include you in Henry’s life- making you his godfather was just an afterthought to her. If she loved you, the minute she recovered from PTSD- and she recovered quickly- she should have come back to you.”
Reid resented the last statement. “JJ wouldn’t do that. No mother would want to leave her kid and why should she just toss away the kid’s dad just because she’s in love with someone else. They made their bed, they should sleep in it.”
Morgan grimaced slightly acknowledging Reid’s point but collected himself. “Yes, but you know her and Will are in a loveless marriage. The fact that she has that and isn’t seeking you out should be a sign. Furthermore, she didn’t need to be in a relationship with Will to continue having him play a role in Henry’s life- there are a lot of couples where an outside parent stays involved in their child’s life yet stays platonic to the committed parent. Bottom line is that JJ never apologized for what she did, and that should be enough for you to move on.”
Reid nodded slightly, while hanging his head.
“OK Reid?” Morgan gave him a hearty pat on his back.
“OK.” Reid still thought Morgan was wrong but realized there was no point to continuing the argument at the time. He then left to continue working on his treatise, The Lightbulb and the Human Mind.
“Now that I have that out of the way,” said Morgan, rubbing his hands together in excitement, “let’s put this puppy to bed.” Just as he was about to start typing Hotchner called him to the war room. Morgan hung his head in frustration, then left to go to join his teammates.
“Last night,” started Jareau authoritatively, “while we were in Hoboken, in the New Jersey province of the New Yorker Empire, the W Hotel was robbed. The night manager said that when he came back from doing his rounds in the hallway that his office and the front lobby had several items missing. He initially suspected the clerk had stolen the items.”
We were just in there, thought Reid and Hawkes.
“Three weeks ago,” continued Jareau, “the Fort Lee Window Company also reported a robbery within the plant in the glazing department during the night shift…and...like clockwork, three weeks before that the office for Brooklyn tech support company Nerd Patrol was also robbed at night. In Fort Lee, supervisors blamed a line captain but police ruled him out as a suspect. Security cameras couldn't catch the person's face since he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. The Nerd Patrol office also suspected the lone worker working that night to be the thief but his statement to police also included a description of the hooded sweatshirt.”
“So how do we know it’s the same person committing the crimes and they’re not unrelated thefts?” asked Morgan.
“The intervals are like clockwork,” replied Rossi. “It’s too neat...unrelated thefts would be random. Same kind of clothing too.”
“Victimology is all over the place,” said Reid. “In one company, the target is an authority figure, while at the others it appears to be the workers themselves. Does the department robbed in Fort Lee have easy access to visitors?”
“Yes it does, it’s right by the cafeteria entrance,” replied Jareau.
“Did anyone see anyone or anything suspicious?” asked Prentiss.
“None of them reported seeing anything out of the ordinary before the robberies,” replied Jareau.
“Do the companies have visitor logs?” asked Reid.
“Only at the hotel,” replied Jareau. “At the other two locations, it’s not maintained at night.”
“Did the employees let anyone in?” asked Prentiss.
“Nobody we’ve talked to recalls anyone specific they let in that would commit the crimes,” replied Jareau, “either because of the time that has elapsed since the robbery or, in the hotel’s case, because the manager sees so many people come in.”
“So we know the UnSub blends in,” said Rossi, “but how. That’s how we’ll find him.”
“Do we even know it’s a ‘him’?” asked Prentiss, upset that the team always assumes they’re hunting males.
“There’d be a lot of heavy lifting,” chimed Hotchner, “it’s not likely that a woman would have had the capacity to take what the UnSub took.”
Prentiss wanted to reply to the absurdity of Hotchner’s statement but decided against it because she didn’t want to cause trouble in the war room.
“Do we know what was stolen?” asked Morgan.
“The items seemed to vary…what was common was that, in each case, the workers present during the robberies were blamed for them and were reprimanded. The police got involved when the New York Labour Board reported that the Fort Lee and Nerd Patrol worker grievances were too similar to be coincidental.”
“OK...well, I guess we’re going back to Hoboken,” said Hotchner.
“I just wish it was for a party,” replied Rossi, sardonically.
“Since the UnSub seems to strike in precise intervals we’ve got time before we have to head out,” said Hotchner, “so we’ll head out tomorrow. Everyone get a good night’s sleep- we’ve got some serious work to do tomorrow.”
Reid took the opportunity to go back to his home and, anticipating a long stay in Hoboken, decided he needed to do some packing. He also thought it’d be a great time to ask Jason Gideon, a retired former BAU member whom he worked with and now lives with, about the situation with Hawkes and JJ.
“Hey Spencer,” said Gideon. “Got a case I’m assuming?”
“Yeah Jason,” said Reid. “It’s a serial robber. He seems to strike companies pretty randomly, but I think we can connect them. It’s human nature to do the same things over and over again, even if they’re subtle.”
Gideon smiled. Reid seemed to be growing up before his eyes. “How was Hoboken last night?”
“I need to talk to you about that.”
“Uh oh...don’t tell me you kissed a guy thinking it was a girl.”
Reid shook his head and smiled. “That was four years ago...and he looked like a girl from afar.”
Gideon laughed a little, then allowed Reid to continue.
“No...I got drunk and I slept with Zoe.”
“I see. Does JJ know?”
“I don’t think she does...I talked to Morgan about the episode and he’s still convinced that JJ cheated on me and that I should go after Zoe. I still think I can salvage a relationship with JJ, because she didn’t cheat on me because she wanted to be mean...it was PTSD and she conceived, which complicated things. Besides, I don’t think someone makes you her kid’s godfather without having a small inkling for you.”
“Okay...but have you told JJ about how you feel?”
“No...I haven’t...I’m too afraid that I'll upset her.”
“I understand...it’s tricky. You still have to work with her. However, what if all this time she’s been waiting for you to make your move and you never did? Besides, you of all people know how bad it can be to bottle up your feelings.
“I do wish to understand, Spencer, what do you think of Zoe?” asked Gideon.
“I think Zoe is a great woman,” said Reid. “I think, after JJ, she was the only woman who understands me on a deeper level. Plus, I can talk like a genius and she can follow along...sometimes my conversations with JJ went over her head. Only thing is, Zoe isn’t as naturally caring as JJ is.”
“I think you’ve got to do some thinking. It sounds like you’ve let another thought battle the entrenched one and it’s making you think. I can’t tell you what option to take...that’s for you to decide...but I think whatever option you do take, you need to take it with a clear head.”
“OK. Thanks Jason. Have a good night.”
“Why are you drunk again Will?” said an exasperated Jareau to her husband, Will LaMontagne.
“Something’s got to keep me going after looking after Henry,” replied LaMontagne, his speech slurring because of the alcohol. “All he does is ask questions...‘Daddy, why do crickets chirp in the morning?’ ‘Daddy, why don’t sharks eat people?’ ‘Daddy, why can’t real life be like the movies?’ ‘Daddy, why did Bambi’s mother die?’”
“Will, he’s FIVE. Of course he’s going to be asking so many questions.”
“Oh and my personal favourite, ‘Daddy, why does Mommy go away so much?’ Yeah, why DOES Mommy go away so much? You have a kid to take care of, you can do your job from the office in Quantico.”
Jareau was livid. “We’ve been through this before...no, I can’t. I need to be in the field so that I can deal directly with law enforcement officials and with the media on a personal level. I can’t do that from Quantico. Besides, THIS IS MY JOB. Something you used to have.”
“Whatever.” LaMontagne took another swig of his beer, which Jareau snatched from his hand.
“I’m calling my mother. You are NOT taking care of Henry while I’m away.”
Jareau escaped to her bedroom. For years, her and LaMontagne had been sleeping apart from each other. They still have sex every now and then, but they never kiss anymore.
Jareau pulled out a locket that she brings with her to the crime scenes, away from Will. Inside is a picture of her and Reid, a gift from Reid on their first year anniversary as a couple.
Why did I give up on Spence? thought Jareau. No, JJ, stop that. She then thought of the time when they encountered Tobias Hankel five years ago, when Hankel kidnapped and tortured Reid for over a day. Reid was taken from the farm to another farm, while Jareau was left behind. He couldn’t save me from the dogs, and he was so weak with Tobias. I don’t need a boy in my life. I need a man. She took a deep breath and took Henry with her, dropping him off at her mother’s place before heading back to the office to sleep. She didn’t want to look at LaMontagne until she got back.
That morning, Hotchner- usually the first one to arrive at the office- found her asleep on her couch and woke her up.
“You know, you really should be sleeping in your own bed,” said Hotchner, sternly but concerned.
“I know,” replied Jareau, acknowledging it wasn’t the first time she’d done this. “Sometimes I think it’s easier just to stay here instead of going home...we have so many cases.”
Hotchner knew something was up but didn’t know what. He thought better than to press the issue. “The plane is leaving in an hour and a half. Go get some coffee and get on board.”
Upon landing back in Hoboken, the team assumed their roles. Morgan and Reid went to the freshest crime scene, the W Hotel. Prentiss and Hawkes were tasked with interviewing the W’s night manager and the clerk working the front desk that night. Hotchner and Rossi stayed with Jareau to deal with the police and see what they already knew about the crimes.
Morgan started the investigation with a role playing game, as is his custom.
“OK,” started Morgan with authority. “I’m the UnSub. I walk through the door, what’s the first thing I do?”
“Well, there’s no sign of forced entry,” noted Reid, “and the front desk is almost always staffed. Since the manager’s office was robbed, the UnSub had to have spoken to whoever was working behind the desk, because there’s no way he would have had time to rob what he did if he just managed to ‘sneak by’.”
“Right. So I speak a few words, gain the clerk’s trust, but how do I do that?”
“He couldn’t be just a regular guest…they’d never be allowed back there.”
“So either he’s a service worker or the clerk and/or the manager knew the person previously. That’s how he gains access.”
“Okay. So he’s gained the clerk’s trust. Then what?”
“He performs his ruse, waits for the night manager to do his nightly round of the hotel and then starts robbing his office. He then distracts the clerk in some way to steal items from the desk, but he doesn’t get much because the window of opportunity is low.”
"So is that why the other two management offices were not robbed? Because the opportunity wasn't there?"
"Exactly. The UnSub couldn't get access, and because he didn't target the other managers specifically, he didn't try to get into their offices...and, because some of the clerk's items were also missing, this is more about opportunity than being targeted at an individual."
“There’s something strange about the robberies, though. Usually serial robbers have drug problems and steal to gain the funds to continue their addictions…yet there’s no sign that anything of value was stolen.”
“Anything of monetary value. You’ll notice that the manager’s degrees are stolen off the wall. The thief took the chained pen used to sign the visitor's logbook but not the logbook itself. He didn’t open the safe but took the keys with which to open it. He didn’t take the passcard reader but he took the USB connector needed to process the reader to the computer. It’s very likely the manager came back to his office and didn’t notice anything was stolen- until he tried to use things.”
“That explains why the manager reprimanded the clerk. Only the clerk would have the knowledge of what the manager needs to perform his tasks- or so you’d think. Yet the clerk also had items missing...wouldn't that exonerate him?"
"Not necessarily...the manager might not trust him. It's common in these kinds of relationships."
"Another thing...why leave the logbook?"
"He probably used an alias, didn't think he'd get caught. What does this leave us?”
“These aren’t robberies for profit, as they normally are. The robber steals personal items indicating a personal connection to the crime, but the items stolen are opportunistic. Since the hotel itself isn’t vandalized and no company logos appear tarnished, it appears like we’ve got someone making a general statement about the workers.”
“Right. Once we know the statement, we find the UnSub.”
“So when did you first notice something was missing?” asked Prentiss.
“It was about 3:15AM,” replied the night manager at W, Robert Tyson. “I went to give a client a new passcard and the USB connector for the reader was gone. That’s when I knew something was amiss.”
“What lead you to the conclusion the clerk, Victor Meneizes, working with you two nights ago was the culprit?” asked Hawkes.
“I never trusted the guy,” replied Tyson. “I always wanted to get rid of him, but the general manager loves him. I always suspected him of stealing but I never did catch him…so I assumed my suspicions were correct. Only he would know what items I needed to do my job, and that was what was stolen.”
“So when he was cleared you were surprised,” said Hawkes. “Would he be the only one that knows what tools you need for the job?"
"Other than the GM, yes," replied Tyson. "They only give me one clerk at night, so unless it was someone I worked with previously, it has to be Victor."
"Was there anybody you recognized who popped by last night?" asked Prentiss.
"No, not at all," replied Tyson.
"Do you remember allowing anyone access to your room?" asked Hawkes.
"You know," started Tyson, "there was this guy...I believe he signed in at 1AM. He said he was with the 'Hotel Cleaners Association' and that we had a prior contract with them. I just assumed he was right and let him in...did a pretty good job too. Wait, are you saying that's our guy?"
"Possibly," replied Prentiss.
"Was he wearing a hoodie?" asked Hawkes.
"Yeah...yeah he was," responded Tyson. "It was cold outside so I didn't think much of it."
"Did you get a name?" asked Prentiss.
"It'll be in the logbook," said Tyson. "Funny thing about that is that he hesitated before writing his name, which I found odd."
"I see," said Prentiss. "Thank you for your time."
Back at the Hoboken Sheriff Department, the team reconvened to review what they found.
"Okay, so Morgan and I found that he only stole items at the crime scene that were personal, but the crimes were opportunistic," said Reid. "What this tells us that this is an attack against the workers of the hotel as a whole, not against any specific worker."
"The night manager, Robert Tyson, told us that he recalled letting in someone who claimed to be a cleaner,” stated Prentiss.
“No…it can’t be a cleaner,” said Hotchner.
“Hotch, she’s right,” said Morgan, coming to Prentiss’ aid. “Posing as a cleaner allows you access to the premises…nobody can turn down a guy that wants to do some cleaning.”
“Also allows him to blend in,” agreed Rossi. “Nobody thinks the cleaner is up to anything.”
“Our guy also seemed to hesitate before signing the logbook,” said Hawkes. “So he’s likely using an alias, and, if he to think it up on the spot, it’s likely a bad one.”
“One that he’s likely not to remember,” added Reid.
“Meshes with what we got from the other crime scenes,” said Rossi. “Fort Lee also reported a guy posing as a cleaner in a hooded sweatshirt. Entering through the cafeteria entrance to the plant meshes with the opportunistic approach he prefers. Stole boxes of rubber blocks meant to cushion the glass against the frame of the window, as well as scrapers and work gloves, but interestingly enough, no glass or scrap metal that he could actually make money off of- and presuming he had a car big enough to carry boxes he had to have had room for at least some materials of value from this company.”
“At the Nerd Patrol Office,” said Hotchner, “the worker present at the time, Bobby Maxwell, returned to find his computer equipment intact but did not have any flashdrives, his headset used to receive phone calls and, curiously enough, the button to turn on his monitor also went missing. Again, the guy posed as a cleaner.”
“Just finished some research on these companies,” said technical analyst Penelope Garcia, who joined the conversation via webcam from Quantico. “The companies do extensive business across North America. They have no history together, and they don’t have a single worker who has worked for all three companies or even two of them.”
“Strange because the companies are pretty close together,” noted Reid.
“They’re not exactly around the block,” responded Rossi, “and the businesses are profoundly different from each other.”
“So we know we’ve got a guy who steals personal items from workplaces, but only steals opportunistically,” said Hocthner. “He poses as a cleaner to gain access to the companies and as a way to gain the employees’ trust. He also struck at night in each case so as not to bump into ‘upper management types’ who’d be able to call him out on his ruse and know that he doesn’t actually work at the company. The companies he targets aren’t local businesses but continental ones.”
“The guy sounds like the textbook activist,” said Hawkes, with Reid nodding in agreement. “Sounds like he’s stealing to prove a point about the workers- maybe to say that big businesses steal from their workers so that’s why he stole from them. He's also young, and smart, and likely still in college or just finished college because that's when you develop your causes. A guy like this, new to the game, can't be all that seasoned- you see that in the opportunistic side of the crime. More seasoned activists better know their targets.”
"We can't just assume that because he just started that he's young. He may have just been waiting for the right time to do it, and there's nothing to suggest a college education," asserted Hotchner, with a touch of incredulousness.
“No, she's right.” defended Rossi. “Most activists are emotional...they're not the type to wait.”
“Furthermore it requires advanced intelligence to grasp the issues that an activist would rally for or against,” noted Hawkes. "Only place he can acquire that is in college."
“He’s very organized,” noted Morgan. “Doesn’t leave much of a trace behind at the crime scene- so much so that he’s not the one that gets blamed first, but a co-worker.”
“He’s also affable enough that he can talk his way past a manager,” said Prentiss.
"So we've got a smart, articulate man who is studying Economics and Worker Relations in some capacity in college," said Hotchner, "and is organized."
"Because of his suggestion that companies are stealing from their workers, he's likely been a victim of company action against him," said Hawkes, "and he probably feels taken advantage of. Since he believes so strongly in economic activism, he's likely from a class of people who are not favoured by the economy, so that makes him a minority...in this case, since he's articulate, African-American. It's also the only minority group of any size in the Hoboken area."
"We can't just assume he's a minority, Hawkes," bristled Hotchner.
"She's right," chimed Morgan, an African-American. "Since he's attacking big companies he must feel like the company he left marginalized him, and who else feels marginalized in the economy than a minority."
"All right. Good work," said Hotchner, impressed with his team. "We'll deliver the profile in five."
“Hey…JJ,” said Hawkes, sheepishly, to Jareau.
“Hey Zoe,” said Jareau with a hint of enthusiasm. “Good work in there with the activist stuff, you really did your homework.”
“Well, it was easy…I was an activist in college. You guys already know I’m a feminist and one of the reasons I took up this career is that I wanted to catch the men that prey on women and reduce them…there’s nothing more feminist than sticking up for the victims.”
Jareau smiled. “You’re right about that.”
Hawkes then gave a nervous smile, belying the real reason why she came in.
Jareau picked up that something was wrong right away. “What’s up?”
“It’s about the other night…at the bar.”
“About Spence, I remember.”
“I…I…uh…didn’t get a chance to finish what I was saying.”
“I know…Spence went on a diatribe about the effects of shaking versus stirring.” Jareau then continued with a hint of sarcasm. “Very compelling stuff.”
Hawkes chuckled a little. “Do you ever get the sense he just pulls things out of his ass?”
Jareau let out a laugh. “Oh yeah, ALLL the time…I think he does it just to play with us.”
Hawkes laughed as well, then hung her head low, as if she were ashamed.
“Zoe, it’s all right…you don’t need to be embarrassed. Did something happen?”
“Well…I know you and Spencer have a history together so I feel bad saying this…” Zoe’s voice trailed off.
“Zoe…we broke up five years ago. I’ve moved on in my life.”
“Why do you carry the locket Spencer gave you?”
Jareau smiled. “Zoe…Spence and I are still good friends. We just weren’t compatible as a couple. I have it to remind me that not all men are evil or self-absorbed players, that there is still a sweet guy out there for me. It just isn’t Spence…he’s more of a brother to me now.”
Hawkes was now relieved. “OK…that’s…that’s all I wanted to know.”
“You still have something else on your mind.”
“How’d you know?”
“A mother knows.”
Hawkes hung her head again. “JJ…Spencer and I…we…we…we left the club together.”
“Zoe, we all left the club with someone. It’s no big deal.”
“…and then we…we had sex.”
“Yeah, I know…um…”
“Zoe, like I said, Spence and I have broken up and have been broken up for a while now. You can go after him if you’d like.”
“Really?” Hawkes sounded excited.
Jareau responded without hesitation. “Yeah, really.”
“I really like him…I really do…I know, it’s weird to be wispy over Spencer, but I can’t help myself.”
Jareau was touched. “Aww…there’s nothing wrong with it. Spence is a sweet guy.”
“How do I get him to notice me?”
“You guys work together…how hard is it?”
“No…I mean get him to notice me so that he falls in love with me.”
Jareau wanted to say “get him drunk” but thought better of it. “As strange as it may sound, because Spence is SOO like this…don’t force yourself upon him. Don’t be too obvious, it’s intimidating to him. Do engage his mind, though. It was tough for me, but for you, it’s natural…you’re just as smart as he is. All his life he’s been looking for someone to connect with…you can do that. Take that chance.”
“OK.” Hawkes turned to leave when she brought up something else. “JJ…he’s got a pretty big mind, but we both know he’s got something else that’s bigger.”
Jareau giggled in agreement. “Why do you think I stayed so long?”
“OK, so we’re looking for a Black male, age 20-25,” started Morgan, delivering the profile to the Hoboken Police.
“He’s been marginalized by society,” said Rossi, “so he’s taken up the cause of activism to strike back.”
“He sees the companies that he robs as symbols of that marginalization,” said Reid, “and because he believes it so strongly, he was likely the victim of a company action against him at some point.”
“He poses as a cleaner to gain access to the premises,” said Prentiss, “and since he does such a great job at it, he likely works or has worked as a cleaner.”
“He also carries his cleaning materials with him,” said Hawkes, “so he likely drives a mid-level sedan or SUV. If it’s expensive, his parents likely bought it for him.”
“Since activists tend to be smart,” said Hotchner, “he has to be college educated and has either taken or is taking classes in economics and possibly political science. Since he only started striking he has to be new to the cause, so he’s likely still in college or he just got out.”
“Since he’s in college or a very recent grad we’ve got to look for people who either live with their parents or in very inexpensive housing,” said Rossi.
“Couldn’t he live in his car?” asked a police officer.
“No, it’s not likely,” answered Morgan. “He has to store the stuff that he stole, so he needs the space. He can’t get that in a car.”
“Since the robberies were within a 30 mile radius he likely lives around the area, so don’t waste your time looking for people beyond the radius,” said Hawkes.
“This man is very organized,” said Morgan, “and he’s affable and articulate. He will have a social life, it may even be extensive.”
“So start your search under those parameters and we’ll go from there,” concluded Hotchner. “Thank you.”
Hotchner turned his attention to Morgan, Reid and Hawkes as the officers left the room. “Morgan, speak with Garcia and see if you can get a list of names based on the profile. Reid and Hawkes, have a look at the logbook and see what you can come up with.”
“Hey Darling,” said Morgan, suavely, to Garcia.
“What took you so long?” playfully asked Garcia.
“It’s a strange case, we’ve never seen this before.”
“I’ll say…this is the first time we’ve ever been called for a robbery and nobody’s dead.”
“Mr. Lynch is fine…like your typical guy he doesn’t know how to clean or cook.”
Morgan laughed, figuring the two of them patched things up. He then continued. “Maybe you should have him see our guy. At least then he’ll clean.”
Garcia laughed. “Touche.” She continued. “What’s the proposition today?”
“We need you to get us a list of African-American males from the Hoboken area who are either recent college grads or are currently in college. They’ll at least have one course in Economics, maybe even Political Science. They’ve worked or are working as a cleaner, and have had a company action taken against them. Look also for people who live in relative poverty or are still at home. Find out what kind of car he drives- this is either a SUV or a mid-level sedan, something that can fit all his stolen items, and if he owns his vehicle, disregard anyone who spent more than $20,000 on it. Okay?”
Garcia winked. “Is anything ever a problem for me?”
“You are truly special. Thanks Garcia.”
“The manager said that the UnSub signed in around 1AM and worked for the ‘Hotel Cleaners Association,” started Reid.
“Yet the HCA is conspicuously absent from the logbook,” noted Hawkes.
“Sounds like he made it up on the spot.”
“Anything we see at 1AM?”
“Lots of guests.” Reid then chuckled. “Our names…”
Hawkes giggled pleasantly.
“Ah…here’s one. Harrison Im…just calls himself a ‘cleaner’.”
“…and from ‘Harrison Im’ you get ‘Aris Ronhim’.”
“Ronhim being a common last name in the Casaran Empire of Western Africa, the empire that kicked out the French in the 1950s. Aris, of course, is Greek.”
“No wonder he’s marginalized…he’s mixed. You can’t get any more isolated than not belonging to one of the two races that identify so strongly with their skin colour. He was likely isolated until he went to college, where he could meet similar outcasts.”
“…and organize them.”
“So we have a name- Aris Ronhim,” said Hawkes.
“Aris Ronhim…” said Morgan, cross-referencing the list given to him by Garcia. “Right there…third year student at Stevens University. President of the Interracial Students’ Association at SU. Doing a double major in Economics and Political Science…and…he was fired 12 weeks ago as the janitor at the Mustard Seed School because he failed to pay several parking tickets at the school.”
“I can hardly blame him,” chimed in Prentiss, “he was making $5 an hour.”
“Let’s go pay him a visit,” said Hotchner, authoritatively.
“You won’t have to,” said Ronhim, who just stepped through the doors of the Sheriff’s Office, already cuffed and searched. Prentiss then escorted him to the interrogation room.
“What brings you here?” asked Prentiss, inquisitively.
“Aren’t you going to yell at me and start accusing me of the crime?” asked Ronhim.
“As far as I know you’ve already confessed, and I think getting angry at you right off the bat wouldn’t do this any good- we need to have a conversation.”
“On TV they always yell and scream.”
“That’s TV. This is reality.”
“So Mr. Ronhim, what brings you to this part of town?”
Ronhim answered nonchalantly. “Oh I was visiting my brother and I was bored.”
“So you’re visiting your brother and then, because you’re bored, you decide to get arrested?” Prentiss found this odd, but thought she could run with it. “It’s an odd way to have fun, but hey, we’ve all done crazy things.”
Outside the interrogation room, Hotchner talked with both Reid and Hawkes.
"When we land back in Quantico, you're both suspended without pay pending a full review of your conduct," said Hotchner, tersely.
"Hey!" said Hawkes, about to hit back at Hotchner verbally.
"Don't you 'hey!' me," continued Hotchner, unyielding.
"Can...can you tell me what this is about?" asked Reid, nervously.
"You two were at the W and failed to tell us," said Hotchner tersely. "You both obstructed the investigation."
"Let it go, Aaron," said Rossi, jumping in. "They likely thought that if they said something, they'd be looked down upon. You're just confirming that."
"No, I'm not," sighed Hotchner.
"They didn't obstruct the investigation," said Rossi. "From what we saw on the tape, neither of them got a good look at him. Furthermore, neither of them has said or did anything trying to protect him, and neither of them knew him."
"They came to the anagram conclusion very quickly," said Hotchner, sternly.
"It was an easy anagram," said Reid, stupefied. "Even you could have done it."
"He's right," said Rossi.
"Okay," said Hotchner, changing his tone. "I'm sorry...neither of you will face any discipline."
"We're not going to judge you for what you did," comforted Rossi. "You guys are young and in love. There's nothing to be ashamed of."
Reid and Hawkes both smiled. Reid wanted to point out it was just a one night stand but thought better of it. A few minutes later, Morgan catched up with the two of them.
"What was that about?" asked Morgan, concerned.
"That jerk almost suspended us because we were at the W without saying anything," said Hawkes, angrily.
"It could have helped, but I understand why you didn't say anything," replied Morgan, "and it didn't negatively impact the investigation." Morgan then became pointed.
"I need to let you in on something," said Morgan. "I'm still up to run the Empire of New York's FBI head office. All I need to do is tell Lucius Black I want it and it's mine. After Hotch pulled that, I just may do it. I want you both to join me. Okay? Don’t say anything to anybody else." Hawkes and Reid both just nodded in agreement. “Is it finalized yet?” asked Reid.
“No, not yet,” answered Morgan, assuaging Reid’s fears. “I’m not leaving the team yet- but if I say the word, the next day I’m there.”
“Okay, so does any of this make sense to you?” asked Rossi. “A guy goes through all those lengths to hide himself to commit the crimes and then, all of a sudden turns around and just admits to everything?”
“The admission will stand up in court,” replied Hotchner. “This doesn’t sound forced, it adds details about the crimes we didn’t know…he’s really coming clean.”
“This is just too easy…there’s something we’re missing. Come on Emily…you can do it.”
Hotchner let out a sigh of frustration.
“Aaron…you gotta let it go, all this stuff with women. I know your mother wasn’t good to you, neither was Strauss and the Bureau took a bit of a feminist bent in the 1990s…but that’s no reason to look down upon all women. Emily interrogated Ian Doyle…you’ve had her on your team for almost seven years now…she’s proven herself. What more does she have to do? No wonder she feels isolated.”
“I know she’s proven herself. Attitudes are hard to change…I try to fight it but it’s subconscious. At least I let her do her thing now without interference.”
Rossi smiled. “That’s your pragmatist side showing. You need to let it shine more often.”
Inside the room, Prentiss was getting somewhere with Ronhim, who had begun to cry.
“Aris…it’s okay. Let me give you a hug.”
Ronhim gladly accepted the hug, and cried on Prentiss’ shoulder. “I’ve never felt so free…thank you Emily.”
“You’re welcome.” As the two of them ended the hug, Prentiss grabbed Ronhim by both of his shoulders and looked him straight in the eyes. “Aris, there’s something you gotta do for me…you gotta help me help you. Tell me who is coming after you.”
“He’s going to kill me.”
Prentiss became reassuringly adamant. “I’m not going to let that happen.”
“Okay…it’s Reza Khamid.”
As soon as Rossi heard that name a sense of urgency overcame him.
“Dave, what is it?” asked Hotchner, concerned.
“Lock down this building,” started Rossi, with deep resolve. “Evacuate EVERYONE. Tell them to get as far away from the police station as possible without making a scene. Get the bomb squad here and have Morgan check this building for a bomb. This is a trap.”
“What? I don’t get it.”
Rossi’s voice filled with intensity. “1992. The Virginia Capitol Massacre. Lawmakers got lured back into the Capitol by a phony letter writing campaign after a bombing outside a school, only for the lawmakers themselves to get trapped in their own building and all systematically shot to death. All that was preceded by ten random rapes in Washington.
“1997. The Dixie Disaster, the case I retired after. A little girl is kidnapped. We spend days finding her. She’s found at the Grand Ole Opry. Days later, Carolinian Emperor Spike Kipness is killed in the bombing of the ceremony commemorating her safe return to her parents. We tried finding the bomber but the BAU was too dysfunctional to be effective. That’s when we first connected that case and the Virginia case to Khamid.
“2005. Adrian Bale, the Boston Shrapnel Bomber. Lured FBI agents into a warehouse that he later blew up with a remote controlled bomb. Since the BAU was tasked to be Boston Emperor Bruce Wallace’s security detail at Boston Garden for Ray Bourque’s retirement ceremony, killing Wallace days before the ceremony was easy. Bale was never connected to Khamid because Gideon left the case before he could interrogate Bale about it, and by the time he came back, Khamid was already off Bale’s radar.
2008. The New York City Shooters. We worked that case…groups of killers in hooded sweatshirts randomly killed people to test emergency response times so they could bomb the emergency responders. When our profile stopped this, the terrorist medic took matters into his own hands and tried to get us to drive the bomb into the hospital where New York Emperor Paul Jubin was being treated, because we disrupted the distraction part of the plan. They already had a bomb at the hospital but the terrorist panicked, thinking that extra paramedics would find that bomb if they were close to the area. We wanted to get Khamid then but couldn’t because the terrorist medic was the only one able to tell us where he was.
Hotchner put it all together. “Khamid…the leader of the Blood Army, the terrorist organization that wants the West out of Iran and the Middle East. Since Jubin survived in 2008 they’ve come back to finish him off.”
Rossi let an air of relief get into his intensity. “Exactly.”
Hotchner relayed the information to Prentiss in the interrogation room.
“You lied to me Aris!” said Prentiss angrily. “You set us up.”
Ronhim was noticeably flabbergasted. “What? No! No I didn’t!”
“You can’t fool me.” Prentiss angrily grabbed the cuffed Ronhim, had him checked for explosives and dragged him outside, where the rest of the building had now been evacuated, with only Morgan and the bomb squad unit inside checking the facility for explosives.
“Do we have everyone?” said Hotchner, adopting a calm demeanour to keep control of the situation.
“Hotch…” said Reid, concerned. “We don’t know where JJ is.”
“Who was the last one to see her?” said Hotchner.
“She just stepped out to make a phone call about an hour ago,” said the Office’s receptionist. “I took my eyes away for five minutes and next thing I knew…she was gone. I didn’t think much of it since she said she was calling her mother.”
Prentiss was now incensed with Ronhim. “OK Aris, if you’re not a part of this, then tell me where JJ is right now. You have ten seconds. One…”
“OK, OK!” said Ronhim, panicking. “She’s at the Empire State Building…Khamid wanted to blow it up tonight and then he was going to get the rest of us to invade Governor’s Island and plant another bomb to kill the Emperor.”
“Thanks,” said Hotchner. “I’m going to inform the Emperor. Get Morgan out of the building…we’re going to have to storm the Empire State Building and defuse the bomb there.”
“Do I get another hug now?” asked Ronhim to Prentiss.
“No,” Prentiss snapped, before cuffing him to a bike post. “If you’re not lying you’ll get all the hugs you want when I get back. Before then, Officer Barton will be more than glad to oblige.” Barton, a portly but muscular man, wore a wide grin. Ronhim gulped.
Along the ride there, Rossi and Hotchner fought over control of the radio.
“We can’t do that,” said Hotchner sternly. “We have to have a clear head. If we get emotional we are going to screw this up.”
“I need to know if the Empire State Building is still there,” said Rossi worryingly. “This uncertainty is killing me.”
“We need to be strong. For JJ.”
Before the team entered, Morgan briefed the SWAT team about the assault.
“We gotta go in cold,” said Morgan fiercely. “If we go in hot, they’ll blow us all up, and I got a dear friend in there…I’m NOT going to lose her.”
“Hotch,” barked Morgan. “It’s going to take hours to defuse this building. I’m not sure we have that time.”
“…and do it discreetly,” agreed Hotchner. “We gotta take a chance…we have no choice.”
“You’re not going to get an argument from me,” said Morgan. “That’s our teammate…if she dies, we die together.”
Reid gulped, but agreed. The rest of the team followed suit.
“Let’s go,” said Hotchner. “Each of you pair up and take a third of the building and canvass from there. You’ll at least have the SWAT team to help you out.” Morgan and Reid went together, as did Hawkes and Prentiss and Rossi and Hotchner.
“This is like finding a needle in a bunch of needles,” said Morgan, who went with Reid to the top third. “Even with the SWAT team, there wasn’t the manpower to check every door and corner quickly.”
“I just thought of something,” said Reid. “Remember Chicu Reddy?”
“I remember Reddy, yes.”
“Rossi said Bale was associated with Khamid. Bale had a bomb strapped on to Reddy and tried to trick us into detonating it.”
“So you think JJ has a bomb strapped to her.”
“I don't think she has a bomb strapped to her, but part of the bomb. The Empire State Building is difficult to destroy with a bomb. It’s a steel reinforced structure, so JJ would be used as part of the bomb instead of being the bomb.”
“Reddy also went into histronics, making it as much about the spectacle as it was about the impact. Just like your average terrorist.”
“So he wants us to find him, so that we can all see, right before our eyes, the deaths of thousands of people and our fellow colleagues.”
“If he wants to be found, it would have to be a pretty conspicuous place.”
“Where does everyone else go when they go into the Empire State Building?”
“The Observation Deck.”
Reid called the others about his discovery, and soon everyone was making their way up the arduous stairs of the building to the 102nd floor, the Observation Deck. Reid stayed ahead of the pack.
“Why do we have to climb all these stairs?” whined Rossi through his cell phone to Reid, getting tired from the climbing. “Can’t he be on the ground or something?”
“These guys can’t make it easy can they?” smirked Reid.
“You little bugger…”
Reid was the first one to get to the observation deck. What he saw shocked him. The terrorist had dressed Jareau in a gray, silk, strapless dress, with her hands tied behind her back and her mouth gagged. She was suspended via a crane protruding out of an open window, left dangling above the ground below.
“Ann Darrow…” Reid said in shock, referring to the woman famously captured by King Kong in the original 1933 movie.
“So you’re the smart one,” mocked the terrorist, who was brandishing a pair of scissors, threatening to cut the rope holding Jareau.
“Don’t cut that rope!” threatened Reid, though his nervousness broke through his voice prominently.
“Or you’ll what?” answered the terrorist, mockingly, detecting the fear in Reid’s voice. “See, not only is this the rope holding up your dear friend, it’s also the trip wire that will blow up this entire building. I knew you guys wouldn’t have the time to defuse the building, so I hid over 1 million bombs all across the building. I’m the building janitor…I had plenty of time to do it.”
“You’re lying…I don’t see any bombs anywhere.”
“Look up, agent.”
Reid took a look at the ceiling and there they were- many specks across the ceiling, some hidden in light fixtures, which were all bombs.
“See, that’s the other thing I knew- everyone looks around, but they never look up; and it would take you forever to defuse every single one of these bombs anyway.”
Reid mustered up as much courage as he could, though he was still noticeably trembling. “How could you even think about doing this? To this country…to this city…to JJ.”
“Oh is that who she is? JJ?” The terrorist, having fun at Reid’s expense, put his hand underneath Jareau’s dress and began feeling and groping everywhere, much to Jareau’s squirms.
Meanwhile, a few floors down, Hawkes saw out of the corner of her eye a modem blinking. She then called Garcia.
“Zoe! You always brighten my day when you call!” beamed Garcia. “What’s up?”
“I saw a modem here in the Empire State Building,” replied Hawkes, noticing her curiosity. “It’s on the 70th floor, pointed towards the west. Can you trace it?”
“Oh no! It’s routed through one million proxy servers! I can’t trace it!”
Hawkes sighed. “Really?”
“Nah, just kidding. Should be a piece of cake, actually. You know, Criminal Minds needs to do a better job finding ways to outsmart me…they don’t seem to realize just how smart I am.”
“Thanks pumpkin!” Hawkes then reacted with a slight horror. Did I just give her a nickname? she thought. Am I becoming Morgan? She then gave her head a shake and kept going.
“You know what else is funny?” continued the terrorist in mocking tones. He then pointed out a small webcam located high on the interior wall. “Reza Khamid is here watching all this live. He’s going to love the show I’m going to put on.” The terrorist then reached down to cut the rope with his scissors.
“No! No!” Reid readied his gun to shoot the terrorist before he could snip. A shot was then heard.
Right behind Reid was Morgan, who hid behind the door to the Deck in case Reid was having trouble. He heard Reid’s trembles and saw the incident by opening the door a crack, and struck when he saw Reid was actually in trouble.
A shocked Reid needed a second to realize what had just happened. There lay the terrorist, dead from a gunshot wound right between the eyes. Jareau was still dangling from the rope, but Morgan couldn’t reel her in- he had to neutralize the trip wire first. A police helicopter was on its way pick Jareau up instead.
“I had the shot,” said the still shocked Reid.
“Kid, it’s okay,” said Morgan. “You were trembling. I had to take it.”
Reid was despondent. “JJ deserved better from me.”
Morgan reassured him. “You need to learn to accept your weaknesses. You’re never going to be ‘the badass’, and that’s okay. Just like how I’ll never be a smart as you. That’s why we’re a team- we cover each other’s weaknesses, because we’re better together.”
Morgan put his hand on Reid's shoulder and continued. “You tried kid. You did your best. If she can't appreciate that, then you know what you gotta do.”
A couple of hours later, on the plane ride back home, a news story caught Rossi's eye.
“Khamid...they caught him,” said an excited Rossi.
“Says here that he was found via cyber detective work,” noted Prentiss.
“Garcia!” said the team in unison.
“The terrorist told me there was a webcam, but I didn't get Garcia to track it,” said Reid.
“I did,” said Hawkes. “They did such a great job concealing the bombs but a horrible job concealing the modem.”
“Maybe they thought it wouldn't matter if we found it, because they wanted us all along to know we were the show,” said Prentiss.
“They probably thought their concealment tricks would be good enough,” said Reid.
“...but they didn't realize we have Garcia,” said Morgan, with a smile.
“Says here a joint operation between the British Special Forces and a Roman Special Legion picked him up in the British colony of Hadharamut, or the southern coast of Arabia,” said Rossi, reading the article. “Predictably, the Romans are accusing the British of harbouring a terrorist while the British are saying they had no idea he was there.”
“Just another day in politics,” said Hotchner with a smirk.
“It’s funny,” said Reid, “the British and the Romans are the world’s two preeminent superpowers and control over 85% of worldwide trade. They need each other, but they never seem to get along. There’s not a lot of trust in that relationship.”
“Can you blame them?” said Rossi pointedly. “No superpower has ever trusted another one…when a country gets that powerful everyone has their eyes on you…no one can be trusted, let alone your greatest rival.”
“We see it here all the time,” noted Prentiss. “North America and all its riches have been a prime battleground…it’s supposed to be a 50/50 split in influence between Rome and Britain but we all know they get involved in local politics just to increase their own influence.”
“We also know that Quebec, the Empires of Boston, New York and Carolina all play by their own rules,” said Morgan, “with the Romans getting influence in the Arctic, West Coast and the rest of the old Southern U.S. and the British influencing the rest of Canada, the old U.S. Midwest, Pennsylvania and Virgina. It’s a powder keg, and they’re all still trying to work things out.”
“Which is why we’re there to help,” said Rossi, pointedly.
Later that day, after he’d gone home for the night, Morgan received a phone call. It was Black.
“Director Black? How are you doing?” asked Morgan enthusiastically.
“I’m doing pretty good, Agent Morgan,” said the affable Black. “You did really good out on the field today. Your bomb skills really shone through today, and your SWAT team leadership was impeccable. Not a single person escaped from the Empire State Building. I’m impressed.”
“This is why I’m not going to offer you the New York position.”
Morgan was astounded. “Excuse me? I thought you said I did a good job.”
“You did an excellent job. No, a man of your skills can do something better. The Romans want to start their own profiling team for the Empire and they’ve tabbed you to lead it.”
“Me? I’m an African-American. I don’t speak a word of Latin. How could I succeed?”
“Remember Morgan, you can have whomever you want. Besides, English is used enough in the Empire that you’ll be able to get by. Finally, let’s not forget Septimus Severus, the man who conquered China for Rome, was also African. The Roman people will accept you if you do your job well and I have no doubt that you will.”
Morgan pondered the decision in his head a bit.
Black continued after the pause. “You don’t need me to tell you the perks of the job. You’ll have a much larger budget with the Roman Empire and access to all its resources. You’ll also have a much easier time convincing people to take your cases because, we’re Romans. Everybody listens to us.”
“You’ll get a much higher salary than you do now at the BAU, and we will provide you accommodation. You’ll be in the heart of the Empire in Rome, with your own team and your own rules.
You don’t need to decide anything now. This is still in the development stage. So whenever you want to make the transition, it’s yours. We would at least like to have you as a consultant.”
“Can I get Reid and Hawkes to help me out?”
“You can have whomever you like.”
“OK, I’ll be a consultant. I’ll put some thought into the leadership. It really sounds intriguing.”
“It was a pleasure talking to you.”
“Same to you Lucius.”
That same night, as Prentiss was packing up her stuff to go home, she heard a knock on her door. It was Ronhim.
“Hey Aris,” welcomed Prentiss.
“Hey,” said Ronhim, unassumingly.
“What brings you to Virginia?”
“I needed to personally thank you.”
“Anytime. That’s what we do.” Prentiss smiled.
“I met Reza five years ago. I came from a family having a difficult time paying its bills…told me that if I went with him, he’d take care of me, put me through college. So that’s when I moved into this house…that’s when it all started.”
Prentiss was intrigued and nodded her head for Ronhim to keep going.
“There were over 30 of us…we were all beaten, nightly. He let us go into the outside world but if we ever said anything about him, he’d kill us. I believed him.
“Do you remember that time, four years ago, when all those guys in hooded sweatshirts randomly shot people in New York?”
“I do remember. One of your guys shot Detective Cooper.”
“He was my friend, Jamal Tinsdale. I was going to shoot someone myself but when I heard the shot go off, I ran away. Found the job in Hoboken. They fired me…I suspect Reza had something to do with it because a day later, there he was, knocking on my door, telling me he can make things better for me. He told me to rob those companies- gave me the list, everything. Fed into my frustrations at the time…he was the perfect manipulator. I was supposed to do 12 companies but after the third, I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew you guys could help, so I phoned the police tip line. I wanted to be discreet, because I was worried if the police arrested me, Reza would find me. I knew you guys could find me discreetly.”
“So you were in a cult?
“Yes. I was. I felt safe in the police station…when I got led outside, I was afraid again. I’m glad it all worked out.”
“Reza can’t hurt you anymore.”
“Thank you for saving me.” Ronhim cried tears of happiness as Prentiss heartily embraced him. She started to cry herself.
“It’s what we do. Don’t ever forget that.”