Author's Note: Ninth story in the Cooperation 'Verse
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be.
Warnings: AU for Doubt, !characterdeath: suicide, implied past Hotch/Gideon, part of the Cooperation verse.
Notes:Yup, I'm finally getting around to uploading all the parts of the Cooperation 'Verse that aren't crossovers or aren't crossovers with Jossverse. More to come.
He’s sleeping when the call comes in. He hurries to answer it, its habit; there is no one here but him to wake though. Hailey took Jack and left, and Hotch can’t help but think that maybe it was the best choice she could have made for all that it ripped his heart right out of his chest.
He finally gets the receiver to his ear and immediately knows something is wrong.
“Hotch? Oh God, Hotch,” stammers Reid.
“What’s wrong? Take a deep breath and tell me what happened.” In the moment before Reid answers a parade of haunting possibilities run through his mind: someone is hurt, or dead, or kidnapped, someone he loves.
“Hotch, its Gideon…”
Hotch’s stomach drops and bile burns its way up his throat.
“I’m at Gideon’s cabin. Nobody had heard from him and I thought, I thought I should check on him.”
Hotch’s grip tightens on the receiver.
“He’s dead. He killed himself,” says Reid.
Hotch can hear Reid trying to hold himself together, but it’s not going to work for long.
“Reid, it’ll take me thirty minutes to get to the cabin,” It’s a route that Hotch can drive in his sleep, and thirty minute means breaking every speed limit on the way. He grabs his shoes, “Have you called emergency services?”
“No,” answers Reid, “I thought I should call you first. I didn’t know if you, if maybe you would want to see him before,” he trails off.
If there is anything in the world Hotch doesn’t want to do, it is seeing Jason Gideon dead. He’s not going to leave Reid alone to deal with it by himself though, “I’m going to go get in the car, and you’re going to hang up and call 911, okay?” Short, simple directions, that Reid can hopefully follow through his shock.
“Okay, I can do that,” says Reid, and then hangs up, leaving Hotch listening to silence for a moment. He takes a deep breath, grabs his keys and is out the door.
When he pulls up to the cabin there are emergency vehicles everywhere. He’s betting that Reid had said officer down, and hadn’t mentioned he’d downed himself. He has to flash his badge to get inside.
The scene is messy. No matter how much they tried not to be, suicides were always messy. Jason hadn’t tried very hard. Gun in mouth, back of his head missing, blood spatter everywhere.
It’s like Hotch can hear himself detach: this is just another crime scene, someone else’s tragedy. He watches as police officer crawl about the victim’s cabin, looking for evidence, documenting the scene. The only thing threatening to break his artificial calm is the officer with her hand on Reid’s shoulder. He’s in the only blood free, cop free corner of the cabin, but there is blood on his hands, his shirt. He’s shaking and Hotch can tell he’s reciting something in his head, trying not to hyperventilate.
Hotch takes a step towards him, stops. Jason’s body is on the floor, slumped next to the chair he’d been sitting in the last time he was alive. His eyes are open, staring into Hotch’s soul, mocking: too late, too late, too late.
There is no more detachment, he’s gone from cop to victim and it’s all he can do to keep his knees from buckling. He pulls what little calm he has left to him and makes it to Reid’s corner. Spencer lurches toward him, and Hotch pulls him into a rough hug. Hotch could care less that half the State of Virginia is watching, because Spencer has lost the last of his composure and weeps openly on his shoulder. Keening, ragged sobs. Hotch wishes for a moment that he could join him; howl out the lead weight living in his lungs. Scream at Jason, the selfish fucking bastard, yell and pound his fists and demand a re-do. Demand that Jason come back to life so that Hotch can kill him himself.
He’s a goddamn profiler. He should have seen where Jason was going, should have known, should have stopped him. He’d been distracted, by Hailey, by Jack, by Erin Strauss, by his own Jason shaped blind spot. Now he can’t do anything except hold Spencer until the paramedics strap the corpse onto the gurney and wheel him out.
An officer, probably one of the one’s Hotch had shoved his badge at to get in here, came up to him, voice hushed, “Sir, sir, we’re going to need a statement from Agent Gideon’s son,” he says, inclining his head at Spencer, who has his back to the wall again, still breathing too quickly.
Hotch doesn’t know where Steven Gideon is or if he’s spoken with Jason anytime in recent history. He can’t quiet figure out why the officer thinks Reid is Steven either, but the officer’s voice drags Hotch back to the scene and away from his contemplations.
“Agent Gideon left a letter for him. We’ll make a copy for him; the original will go to the lab. The ME is saying suicide, but we’ll still have to investigate.”
“I’ll call his son,” says Hotch, nodding.
The officer is looking at him oddly, and Hotch realizes that he never cleared up the cop’s original misassumption. “This is Special Agent Spencer Reid; he’s Agent Gideon’s protégé. He does have a son, Steven, up in Massachusetts. An ex-wife, Barb Hutchinson, though someone else will have to call her.”
The officer narrows his eyes, and Hotch can see him coming to a totally different conclusion altogether. He’s incorrect in detail, but not the general picture. Jason had taken a protégé or two to bed before, it was the reason Barb had left him, but it had never been Reid. Hotch, yes, long ago, but never Reid, never with anyone after Boston. It had been over between them even longer. The night they caught the Quail Creek Killer and Barb had walked in on Hotch face down in the Gideon’s bed. It had been the last straw for Barb, for Hotch too, though he’d continued to care for Jason.
He glared at the cop, and it most have had its desired effect, because the cop dropped whatever he was going to say and flagged over the young woman who had been trying to comfort Reid previously. “Sergeant Carson here will take you two back to the station to get statements.”
He’s not willing to argue, so instead he just nods, and herds Reid after the young cop. She looks almost as bad as Reid, skin green, hands trembling almost imperceptibly. Probably her first suicide, it explains why the other cop wanted her out of here.
Reid doesn’t speak until they’re buckled into the car, “He knew I’d be the one to find him.”
“Sometimes,” said Hotch, eyes fixed on the car window, “Even the best of us are selfish in our pain.” Silence descended on the car for a long while, and Hotch watched as the countryside gave way to city. “I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but he didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“He abandoned us, everyone abandons us,” says Reid, head against the car door.
Hotch doesn’t have an answer for him.