Title: Silencing Perfection
Fandom: Criminal Minds/H50
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, David Rossi, Derek Morgan, JJ, Penelope Garcia, Chin Ho Kelly, Steve McGarrett
Pairing: Aaron Hotchner/Chin Ho Kelly
Genre: Case Fic, Romance
Prompt: Picture Prompts
Word Count: 7901
Tags: Pre-Slash, Introspection, Introversion
Warnings: Canon typical violence
**Challenge by DJQ accepted. Using all four pics in one story.**
The girl was sitting in the chair, the Viola leaning expertly in against her, the bow poised at the perfect angle. The gauze was still wrapped tightly around her mouth and up to her nose. She could breath, at least, but she couldn’t talk. She felt the tears in her eyes, but when the background music began and her captor commanded her in that hard gravelly voice, she had no choice but to comply. She played for him. She played for hours, her captor relentless. She played till her fingers bled and she was shaking from the pain in her fingers, and her body for sitting there for so long. She wanted to stop, to close her eyes, to rest, but he didn’t let her. Then, he turned off the recorder and she knew, she knew she was dead.
“Dammit, I was sure we were going to find her in time,” Steve growled as he paced the hotel room. The Cello was on the ground with the bow and the rosin sitting next to each other perfectly straight. The victim as also laid out next to the instrument. Sighing he wiped his face.
“Steven, I just got a message from a Jennifer Jareau from the FBI. The Behavioral Analysis Unit, to be exact. It looks like this is an ongoing Federal case. She’s asking if her team can come.” Danny walked up and stood next to his partner.
Steve looked down at the girl and a part of him wanted to protest, he didn’t want to give the case away, but even he had to admit that this was way outside of even 5-0’s purview.
“Tell her yes. I think we are going to need their help.” Steve walked off, frustrated as hell. This was the third body of young women who were musical prodigy’s that had been found so far. He didn’t get what was happening, and he had a feeling it was going to get worse before it got better.
Vegas was hot and dry. Spencer and Aaron were standing over the body of a young girl, rotting gauze over her mouth, a violin by her side in perfect alignment with her body. Bow and rosin next to the violin. The rate of decomposition was going to make it hard for them to tell when she had been killed. The odd tree, the only one for miles around, had both men frowning and wondering why the UnSub chose this particular location. It was barren, and the area looked cracked and dry. The desolate nature of the location made Aaron think that it was an extension of how the UnSub was feeling. Each location so far had been remote, desolate in some way, and this one seemed to be the worst. He was brought out of his reflection when Reid’s voice filtered past his consciousness.
“Finger’s bloody, just like the other’s. Violin this time and again the alignment of body and instrument are perfect. Won’t know if there is any sexual violation till after the autopsy.” Spencer carefully used gloved hands to examine the body before the coroner’s office came and took her away. “The wounds, like on the other girls, are consistent with being forced to play for long hours at a time.” Spencer stood and looked out at the desert landscape, an area of Vegas he didn’t know well, but knew that it was popular for body dumps. “It’s a miracle that she was even found, even in this state.”
“We are lucky it was a set of experienced desert hikers that found her. It could have been years, or even never. But, we need to know at least an approximate time of death. Come on, we should let them do their job. As soon as the medical examiner gets us a preliminary report I want you to go there with Morgan. We need to know how long ago this happened. She maybe our origin.”
“Okay Hotch.” The two started off towards their SUV. They headed back to the LVPD station where they were set up. Everyone else was at another crime scene, this one in one of the hotel rooms on the strip. JJ was working at the station, setting them up and calling in family members.
“He’s moving on quickly. I feel like we’re chasing our tails.” Hotch was frustrated. They had seven bodies in five states so far. They were lucky that someone had started to put it together in the first place, but they were already months behind in the investigation. And with parts of it spread through the various PD’s it had been difficult at first to co-ordinate.
“We’ll get him Hotch.”
“What’s the significance here Reid? I understand the binding of the mouths. That’s to keep them quiet, but is it the music that is most significant? And we aren’t even sure what type of music it is.”
“I don’t think that matters. There have several studies done on music and how it can mimic the feelings one has after sexual release. In fact, there was a study done in Copenhagen where they had broken up an orchestra into its individual parts, woodwinds, percussion, strings, and brass. Each part played a piece of music geared to their specific group. The testers gauged audience responses and the string instruments, especially Violin, Bass and Guitar all invoked a response similar to what one experiences after orgasm. The audience members stated afterwards that they could actually feel the resonance of the instruments themselves along with the music inside them….” Spencer trailed off and frowned.
“You didn’t need to stop Reid. So, maybe the UnSub is getting some kind of sexual gratification from the playing of the instruments themselves, and not the music alone.”
“It’s just a theory.”
“It’s a good theory and the only one we have. The precise care taken with the placement of the body and the instrument tells us he’s an organized killer. So far he hasn’t made any mistakes and there isn’t any devolving.”
“No, but he must get tired after each kill. He has the victim’s play, literally, till their fingers bleed. He has to be staying somewhere close by.”
“We can have Garcia look into local hotels and see if there is any overlap, but that might take a while, especially in a place like Las Vegas.” Hotch parked, the drive back didn’t take them very long. He and Reid left the SUV and made their way inside. As soon as Hotch cleared the bullpen JJ was coming out of the conference room.
“Hotch, we have another victim. This time Hawaii. We have an ID, Hailey Simmons, she was 17 and a Cello prodigy. The local’s aren’t the ones that were called in on this one.”
“The Governor’s task force, Five-O. I reached out to them, they have three cases now.”
“That’s more in one state than the others.”
“They sent over the files, but they are willing to let us come and work on the investigation.”
“Alright, get the jet on standby, make sure they have enough fuel for us to make the trip. I’m going to have to call AD on this one, going to Hawaii is above Strauss. I’ll have to get their okay. I want to try to stay at least until we get some kind of TOD on the unknown victim in the desert. Reid, I don’t think a typical geographical profile is going to work, what if you do a statistical relational model.”
Spencer took a few moments to think about it.
“If I can see the relations in each individual area, then we might be able to get a sense of his favored hunting areas. I’ll see if I can get a list of music schools, conservatories, private tutors, and music stores from Garcia.”
“Good, get on that.” Spencer walked off and went to call Garcia to get as much information as he could. Hotch turned back to JJ. “Who is the agent that is heading the task force?”
“Well, he isn’t actually an agent.”
“Okay, want to fill me in?”
“He’s an ex-navy seal that the Governor felt would be the perfect person to head her task force. They have carte blanche on their investigations. So far they haven’t had a case thrown out, but they definitely skirt the edge even more than we have. Here, I dug up as much information as I could. There are currently four members of the team. Commander Steve McGarrett, Detective Danny Williams, Detective Chin Ho Kelly and Officer Kono Kalakaua, she’s only a year out of the academy. But, she’s Detective Kelly’s cousin. I don’t know what we are going to walk into when we get there.”
“Alright, thanks. I’ll contact the Commander and see if we can coordinate and get more information. Have Garcia dig a little more, I want to know exactly what we are walking into.” Hotch walked off to the small office that the Captain of the LVPD gave him to make a few phone calls. After he was done, he was going to go to the crime lab and find out if they had anything for them yet. He didn’t think they were going to be staying long, he wanted as much as he could get before they moved on.
Sitting down, he organized the files in the order that they had definite TOD’s on. He wasn’t sure why he knew the victim in the desert was the first, but he did. If so, that meant the UnSub had circled back around and killed the second victim in the same area as the first, but he left her for them to find, unlike the first. He took the files that JJ had given him and he was going through them, working out the timeline in his head. The UnSub had been in Hawaii for several weeks and for some reason he was staying there. Looking at all of the victims, Aaron knew they were all prodigy’s and all of them had some kind of position in local orchestras.
Picking up his phone he called Garcia.
“Garcia, did we ever get pictures of the orchestra’s that each of the victims were part of?”
“No, Sir, but it will be easy enough for me to find. I can get back to you once I have more information.” Hotch took a moment and noticed the stress in Garcia’s voice. She didn’t end on one of her usual quips and it worried him. “Garcia, are you okay?”
“No, no I’m not okay. You guys have been gone for weeks and you’re chasing this crazy UnSub and I’m worried about all of you and I haven’t seen any of you and it’s making me a little crazy cause when I don’t see you guys for this long I worry…”
“Penelope, calm down and take a deep breath. I know and we don’t like it either. I haven’t seen Jack, Morgan hasn’t seen Savannah, and JJ hasn’t seen Will or Henry. It’s a stress on all of us. But, you are doing a good job and with your help, we can get home faster. Though by way of Hawaii. That’s also what I want to talk to you about.”
“I don’t know if JJ called yet, but I want you to do a deeper, legal background check on the members of the Governor of Hawaii’s task force, 5-0. I want to know what we maybe walking into when we get there. We are being let in on their end of the investigation, but I want to know more.”
“Right. Orchestra pictures, background checks. Gotcha mon capitan.”
“There she is.” Hotch smiled, and felt a little more at ease knowing he helped to get the analyst back on track. “Also, I’m going to need you to pack a go bag, and your equipment. You will meet us in Hawaii. I’ll have JJ get the travel arranged after I contact AD Evans.”
“I want you there. I know they have their own people, but this task force is…I don’t know, it isn’t like anything we’ve dealt with before. I want to know I have people I can trust.”
“Right, okay, thank you, Sir. I’ll be ready.”
“Good.” Hotch hung up and waited to talk to the Commander. He wanted to know if there was anything on the desert victim and what they got from the victim in the hotel. He stood and gathered the files he wanted then made his way towards the crime lab. He was impressed that the lab and the precinct were connected, it made asking about evidence easier. He talked to who he needed to talk to and got as much information as he could before heading back to the conference room.
As he stepped in, Prentiss and Rossi made their way in.
“The Victim at the Texas Station was found exactly like all the others. This time a Viola, bow and rosin placed precisely perpendicular to the body just like the others. Gauze and same type of wounds on the fingers.”
“Alright, get everything boxed up. As soon as we hear from the medical examiner about TOD I want a definite timeline. He started somewhere and Reid and I both think the body in the desert is where he started. But, it won’t be confirmed until the ME has a look.”
“What’s going on Hotch?” Prentiss asked as she sat down at the table. The others did as well.
“We are most likely going to be going to Hawaii. They have three bodies with the same MO. The UnSub seems to be staying in one area this time. JJ has already put together the files for everyone. But, I need to clear it with the Bureau. I know we’re all tired and frustrated, but with this latest development it seems as if the UnSub is staying put. I’ll talk to the AD and see if I can eek out a budget for clothes and personal supplies. I know we’ve all been living in the same things for a while now.
“You are all doing an amazing job and I appreciate every one of you. Now, when we get to Hawaii, we aren’t going to a normal precinct. We will be dealing with a special investigations office called 5-0. I need to call the Commander and coordinate with him on what is going on with his end of the investigation. Once I clear everything, we’ll need to be ready to go. I think time will be of the essence here. Now, I have Garcia doing some deep digging on the victims and any organizations or Orchestras they might have been a part of. She’s also doing some research on the people we will be working with. When those files come through, you guys will understand why.” Aaron was going to say more when his phone rang. Pulling it out of his pocket he looked down and saw the number was the ME’s office. He answered and put the phone on speaker so the rest of the team could hear.
“Agent Hotchner, I understand that you requested TOD as soon as possible on the victim from the desert. The closest approximation I can give you is that she has been out there for at least five months, maybe more. The rate of decomp, and other factors make it hard to pinpoint, but that is the best guestimate I can give you. I have taken dental impressions and sent them off to hopefully be identified.”
“Thank you Doctor. I’d like you to keep us in touch. We are going to be leaving Vegas most likely in a few hours. But, I don’t want to be out of the loop. If you get more after your examination, please contact myself or Dr. Reid.”
“Will do Agents.” The Doctor hung up and Aaron put his phone away.
“All right, Reid, I want you to continue with what we discussed. Dave and Prentiss, the family of the hotel victim is here, I’d like you both to speak with them. JJ, I want you to contact the Governor in Hawaii and any media contacts you have there and make sure that they have kept this quiet. We want as much control as possible before we get there. Morgan, Garcia is going to be getting a lot of information to us, I’d like you to coordinate with her and get it organized.
She’s also going to be meeting us in Hawaii, but it’ll be a day after us. Okay, I’ll be making a few calls, let’s see if we can reign this in.” Aaron nodded before he walked off back to the small office to make the calls he needed. Including a call to his son that he was missing greatly. There was a lot they needed to do and little time to actually do it. He hoped they would find their answers in Hawaii because the stress of this case was getting to all of them and he knew they all just wanted to go home.
The plane landed and the team was exhausted. They had left Vegas quickly, Reid didn’t even get time to go see his mother, which Aaron had felt a little bad about, but luckily the genius didn’t complain. He knew they were under a time crunch.
When they disembarked there were a couple of SUV’s and four people there to greet them. On the plane the team had gone over the information that Garcia had dug up on each person. It was an odd rag tag group, but their solve rate was fairly high. They were only given those cases that the regular police couldn’t do anything about because their hands were tied. Aaron still felt like they were walking into a situation that they might have a hard time controlling, but they were all willing to work with these people as long as they did things by the book. If anything went wrong, the UnSub could end up going free, and that was not an option here.
Aaron’s eyes quickly landed on McGarrett and he walked right up to him.
“Commander, thank you for letting us in. Once we get to your office and set-up you’ll see why we insisted on coming. But, for now my team is exhausted and we need food and rest.”
“Agent Hotchner. I have something all set-up for you. It maybe a little cramped, but it’s better than a hotel.”
“Okay,” Aaron couldn’t help the confusion in his voice.
“I’m going to set you up in my house, Agents. I have three rooms, a den and a living room all with comfortable sleeping arrangements. You can shower, wash clothes, use my kitchen or even the grill outside. I figured you’ve seen too many hotels at this point and would want some kind of comfort.”
“That’s rather generous of you. Of course the Bureau will pay you back any expenses…”
“Just help me catch this bastard, that’s all I ask.”
“Okay, then let me introduce you to my team. This is Special Agents David Rossi, Emily Prentiss, and Derek Morgan. Dr. Spencer Reid and our media and family liaison, Jennifer Jareau.”
“Pleased to meet you and this is my team, Detectives Daniel Williams and Chin Ho Kelly and Officer Kono Kalakaua.” Everyone shook hands with everyone else, but a memory was niggling at the back of Aaron’s mind.
“Detective Williams, out of New Jersey, correct?”
“Was wondering if you were going to remember.”
“I don’t normally forget, but this case has had us chasing our tails. It is good to see you again, but I took you for a Jersey boy all the way.” Aaron couldn’t help the small smile.
“Well, when your ex-wife takes your daughter across the damn country and doesn’t give you a choice…”
“I understand. It’ll be good working with you again.”
As Aaron was talking to Danny, he couldn’t help letting his eyes wander to Detective Kelly. Not that he should even be thinking about attractive Hawaiian men. Nodding once, everyone piled into the SUV’s, Aaron, Reid and Rossi going with McGarrett and Williams. Emily, JJ and Morgan went with Kelly and Kalakaua.
Aaron was in the front with his head back trying to relax.
“Oh, I forgot, a package came for you overnight. If you look on the floor there.” Aaron sat-up and found the package and looked inside. It was the promised Visa prepaid cards for each of them and instructions if they needed more. He would wait till they got to McGarrett’s place, hopefully they could get some real rest for a change.
The drive wasn’t long and everyone piled out of the vehicles and followed behind the Commander. When they got in, he showed them the guest rooms, the den with a pull-out bed and the living room, also with a pullout.
“Some nice work you’ve done here McGarrett.” Morgan was admiring something along the walls.
“How do you know I’ve done work?”
“He restores houses on the side. Has a contractors license.” Rossi said as he moved towards the den. “I hope you kids don’t mind if I take the den.”
No one objected as the man walked off to put his stuff down.
“I don’t mind the living room. I’m usually up earlier than most of you anyway. JJ and Emily, why don’t you take one room and Reid and Morgan, the other. And I don’t want to hear any bitching.” Aaron directed it at Morgan as he was about to say something. The sarcastic smile from Reid wasn’t lost on anyone. “Before you guys go, here. The Bureau is giving us each $1000.00. Make it stretch or anymore will come out of our budget.”
“We can take you to the best places to shop. You guys are not going to want to wear suits and ties. The more casual, the more people will talk. You show up like that,” Steve pointed to Aaron, “They are going to know immediately you’re feds. Trust us.”
“Why don’t I run to the store and get some food to grill.” Kelly said as he grabbed keys to one of the vehicles.
“Sounds good. We’ll set-up outside. I think I have some things we can throw together. Don’t worry Agents, we’ll take care of you.” Steve ushered them all into the living room, “I have two showers, one upstairs and one attached outside, if you don’t mind. It’s mainly got just a curtain, but it’s enough privacy.”
The agents talked amongst themselves and worked out a shower schedule. They all let Aaron go first, over his protests, but in the end, his team bullied him for a change.
By the time everyone was done and changed into something comfortable, food was being grilled, beers were being passed around and the team was relaxing for a change. JJ called Will and spoke with Henry, then let Reid talk with her. The smiles on both his agents made Aaron relax a little. None of them had smiled or relaxed since the start of this case and he knew it was wearing on all of them. He stood and walked a little ways away on the private beach and took a long pull of the beer he had been given. Technically he knew they shouldn’t drink, but he had thrown some of the rules out the window over a week ago.
His call to Jessica and to Jack hadn’t gone as well. Jack was upset and Aaron didn’t blame him.
“You look like a man that holds the weight of the world on his shoulders.” Aaron looked to see Detective Kelly standing next to him with a beer loosely in his hand.
“It’s just been a very long few weeks. This UnSub is making us chase our tails.” Aaron took a pull on his beer and looked out to the ocean. He took a deep breath and felt so very tired. “This place is beautiful.” Aaron turned to watch his team as they ate, drank and even laughed. He knew this is what they needed. Time to destress and he was grateful for Steve’s generosity.
“They are your Ohana.” Kelly smiled as he watched Aaron.
“I’m sorry?” Aaron turned back and saw the smiled on the Detective’s face. He didn’t know why he was always drawn to exotic men, and it didn’t hurt that Kelly was gorgeous. Made him think of John Blackwolf, he always wondered what could have happened between them if circumstances had been different. Now, here he was again looking at someone he shouldn’t be looking at in that way. They had a job to do, he didn’t need to get distracted. He needed to stay focused so they could just all go home.
The soft laugh and wide smile made warning bells go off in Aaron’s head. He cursed inwardly because he did not need the attraction, not when so much was at stake.
“Ohana means family, but it’s more than that. It’s the people you choose to be your family. Like them. You want to protect and care for them, yet you keep yourself separate.” Aaron swung his gaze back to Kelly. How do you tell a stranger that you feel like a failure, that everything in your life lately has fallen apart, that they had your back, but in the end you still failed. Even if it wasn’t the truth, even if no one else saw it that way, it was what you felt.
“They’re the best. I would do anything to protect them.”
“Just don’t lose yourself in the process.” Kelly smiled again at him and Aaron knew he was fucked.
The next day both teams met at 5-0 headquarters. Steve showed them where they could set-up. Case boards and white boards were found, even though the 5-0 team used more state of the art technology, the BAU preferred to go old school.
“This is what we have. Each girl was found with the gauze around her face, the instrument perfectly aligned with the body along with the bow and the resin. We did Vicap searches and nothing similar came up. This UnSub is only going after young female prodigy’s whose preferred instrument is one that utilizes a bow. This girl was found in Virginia, her instrument was the fiddle. What is the significance of the bowed instruments?” Aaron asked as both teams took in the information on the boards.
“Bowed instruments are one of the few families that can be played exclusively without some kind of orchestral or band back-up. Yes, many wind, like a saxophone or trumpet can be played separately, but it isn’t often. There are many pieces of music, especially in the classical genre, that the bowed instruments have long solos, or played individually. Many Jazz songs showcase the bass. The fiddle, violin and viola all have long-standing histories as solo instruments.” Reid was concentrating on the photos and didn’t see the shocked look of the 5-0 team.
“Get used to it. That’s just Reid.” Aaron couldn’t help the tiny smile and look of pride on his face.
“I’m sorry, was I rambling again Hotch?”
“Yes, but it was good information, Reid. Okay, so he shows reverence for not only the instrument, but the wielder of that instrument.”
“There’s a depth of care to with the victim. Though the fingers have severe damage to them, which suggest long hours of play, you can see here and here that even some of the old callosus have been cut right through. The UnSub cleans them up, and carefully lays the instrument next to them. Like it’s essential they are together.” Morgan walks to the boards and contemplates each of the crime scene photos.
“Maybe he is seeing them as one single instrument. You can’t have the Violin without the player. And, you can’t properly play without the rosin. It’s essential in keeping the bow in the perfect condition to be played against the strings. And what trophies is he taking?” JJ asked as he flipped through the photos on her tablet.
“We won’t know till we find him.” Aaron stood with his arms around his chest. “There isn’t any sexual assault, but Reid pointed out that the music itself, whatever it is he is forcing them to play, is the sexual component. He’s getting off on them playing and feels no need to touch them physically.”
“What if he’s putting it all together?” Kelly asked as he thought about everything the BAU had thrown out there.
“You mean like a recording?”
“There have been a lot of artists on the internet who have gotten together through on-line social media and made some amazing music videos without even interacting with each other. What if he’s going to splice it all together as one single piece of music?”
“That’s a good theory. However, we still won’t know his motivation till we catch him.”
“Could this be similar to that case in New York, Hotch?” Morgan asked.
“The one with the young singers? Where the UnSub wanted to capture their voices at their prime while still young and a little raw.”
“Exactly. These are all girls who were prodigy’s with their particular choice of instrument. What if he’s similar to Wakeland and wants to capture them at their most raw and prime?”
“Who’s Wakeland?” Steve asked, feeling a little lost at what was happening.
Morgan went on to tell him about the older case. They continued with their speculations when Detective Williams came in with Penelope Garcia.
“Hey, baby girl. Glad you here mama.” Morgan smiled wide as he hugged the analyst.
“Hey my sweet chocolate goodness. I have a few things for you before I ask for a place to set-up.” Garcia put everything down, then pulled out a thick file from one of her cases. “Here you go bossman, everything I could find on Orchestra’s, professional and amateur that each of the girls were in. Also, a list of talent scouts, and fans. I have a list of all of their social media and fansites, but I’ll need to set-up before I can show you what I found.”
“Thank you Garcia. Before you do, let me at least introduce you.” Aaron took a moment to introduce Garcia to the other members of the 5-0 team.
“I have a setup all ready for you over here Miss Garcia.” Kelly smiled at the colorfully dressed woman.
“Well, smart, techie and handsome. I think my day just got a little better.” Garcia flirted a little and Aaron did not want to analyze the little pang of jealousy that he felt. He had only just met Kelly, and he was already feeling off kilter with him. He needed to refocus and get this investigation on some kind of track.
Aaron looked around at his team and saw that the tension they had been living with had eased a little. He didn’t have to wonder anymore if he made the right decision in accepting McGarrett’s offer of a place. They had needed last night, even in light of what they were dealing with.
“Alright, let’s look to see what we’ve got.” Aaron spread the file in his hand out for everyone to see. Each girl was displayed prominently in their respective Orchestras. “Prime target for this UnSub. He sees them standing out, highlighted, the best of the best. Was that what attracted them to him?” Aaron asked more to himself than anyone else.
“Maybe we need to get a list of potential victims. We have a victim profile, and with more than one Island that has local music ensembles, he may seem them as potentials. I can get word out. And not all the Islands have a law enforcement presence. Usually it’s Coast Guard, and Water Patrol. Since most of the dump sites are fairly remote, we can get something together that gives us a start.” Detective Williams was studying the boards and the photos.
“That’s a good idea. McGarrett you guys know these Islands best, do what you need to and we’ll get a profile together for you to spread as wide as possible.”
“Kono and Chin know these Islands the best. I’ll have them do the notifications after you have a profile together. Is there anything that I can tell the Governor? She’s getting nervous about this case.”
“Tell her we’ll have the profile in an hour and distribute it as far and wide as possible. If the UnSub is holding true, the more remote areas will be the most likely that he will use as his dump sites. Hopefully we can catch him before any more victims are taken.” Aaron moved away from the boards so that he could call Strauss and the AD to update them on what was happening. After his calls, he came back and doled out assignments.
As he sat in a Range Rover with Kelly driving, Aaron was going over the profile they had hammered out. He knew it was correct, but he felt he was missing something.
“You think to yourself too much,” Kelly said as he drove towards one of the previous dump sites.
“Sorry?” Aaron furrowed his brow as he looked at Kelly. It didn’t take a profiler to understand his motivation to go with the man. Even Morgan had given him side eye when he gave out assignments.
“You watch, listen and then you get inside your head. You contemplate and are very careful with what you say when you do speak. I know it’s only been a day and half since we met, but I can tell you hold yourself back.”
“Are you trying to profile me?”
Kelly laughed as he shook his head.
“No. I wouldn’t know where to begin. But, what I do know is you need someplace quiet and some food. I know a place, that is if you trust me.”
Aaron looked fully at Kelly and couldn’t help that tiny smile.
“I leave it in your hands.”
“That might be a dangerous thing to do Agent Hotchner.” Kelly’s smile was definitely going to be the death of Aaron. But, they had a case to finish and he had a son to get back home to. A little harmless flirting was all he was going to allow himself. He couldn’t help the slight blush that creeped up his face. He wasn’t paying atten when Kelly pulled into a small lot next to a seaside shack.
“This place has the best Kalua Pork tacos. I’ll sometimes come here in the evenings when they are digging the fire pit and getting the pig ready to lay in it to roast overnight. Nothing better than sipping on a beer, watching the sun go down and seeing tradition being carried on. Even if they use it in a new way. It’s the perfect melding of the old and the new.”
Aaron got out of the car and wasn’t quite sure what Kelly was meaning. He felt as off-kilter with the man as he did Blackwolf. They had very similar, almost zen like personalities. He felt, for lack of a better word, comfortable around Chin-Ho. Shaking his head he followed the man and ordered whatever sounded good. As they walked to a table, food in hand, Aaron was thankful that Steve had talked them, well him really, out of wearing his tie and jacket. He rolled up his sleeve and undid the first two buttons of his shirt before he realized what he had done.
“Well, that is a nice sight to see Agent.”
“Hotch, or ah you can call me Aaron.”
“Aaron.” Kelly dug into his food with gusto, letting Aaron’s mind wander. The quiet of the food shack, the gentle whoosh of the surf, the crunch of the sand as people walked up to get food. The briny scent of the ocean, the same yet different from his parents vacation home at Virginia Beach. It all wound together in Aaron’s senses making him relax like he hadn’t…well since the Reaper’s attack. Closing his eyes a moment he pulled himself back in and ate, bringing his mind back to the case.
“Dammit,” he exclaimed as he set the taco he was currently eating back on the plate. He dug his phone out of his pocket and dialed. Kelly was looking at him with a raised brow, but he just held up his finger telling him to wait.
“Reid, I think the profile is off. I think our UnSub is a woman. The care taken with each victim, no evidence of sexual violation, no wanting to revisit the dump site, using poisons, it all points to a woman and we just completely missed it.”
Aaron listened for a minute and was glad that Reid and Rossi had come to the same conclusion. It made things a lot easier, and a lot harder at the same time. When his conversation was done and he set the phone aside he turned to Kelly.
“There have just been things that haven’t made sense,” Aaron said as he picked-up his taco and started to eat again. “I was just sitting here, not truly thinking about anything then it hit me.”
Kelly’s smile was smug as Aaron watched him take a long sip of his guava drink.
Chuckling and laughing to himself Aaron knew he should have seen through Kelly.
“You did this on purpose.”
“Of course. You think too hard Aaron. You worry too much. It was nice seeing you get out of your head. Now finish your tacos and we can go to the crime scene.” Kelly finished off his drink as Aaron finished off his food. He hated to admit that he had a much clearer head.
Getting Garcia on the line again he gave her new parameters to search, this time with a female UnSub in mind. By the time they got to the dump site, Garcia was running the new searches. Aaron walked the area and noted, again, how remote it was. Looking out at the ocean again with Kelly beside him, quietly giving him support. Aaron didn’t understand why it was suddenly important that this man next to him gave him that comfort. Rubbing a hand over his face he thought that maybe he was going a little crazy. Too long on the road, too long on the chase. He was reaching out for someone not on the team and Kelly was the person he had immediately connected to. That was all.
“The gauze around the mouth. Keeping them quiet. We usually see that with people who either don’t want to listen to someone speak, or if…”
Taking another leap of logic, Aaron pulled out his phone.
“Garcia,” he excitedly said as his analyst answered. “I need you to add in something else. Anyone involved in music that can’t speak, or can’t hear for some reason. Also, this is going out on a limb, but I need you to see if any of those have something wrong with their hands.”
“Okay, got it bossman.” Garcia hung up when he did.
“Seems Hawaii likes you Aaron.”
“Come one. I think by the time we get back to 5-0 we may have some answers.”
Aaron didn’t want to acknowledge Kelly’s statement. At least not right now. Later, maybe, possibly, but not right now. He looked out of the window as they drove back, the sun setting and Aaron could feel the anticipation down to his bones. He knew, just like many other times that he didn’t voice what he felt or knew, but he knew anyway that by the time they got back, there would be answers.
Kelly parked and Aaron held back on his enthusiasm. He buried it, just like he buried the want to reach out and place a hand on Kelly’s back. He fisted his hand at his side and showed none of the emotion that was broiling inside him.
“Bossman, you were right. I don’t know how you were right, but you were. See I started to dig using the Orchestra’s as the focal point and checking everyone possibly connected, even in the smallest way, to our victims. Then it hit me, what if it was a car accident or, or some kind of tragedy, THEN, I went back as far as I could…”
“Garcia,” Aaron cut her off. He knew she would end up in a long winded ramble if he didn’t get her back on track.
“Oh, right. Anyway. There is one, Sandra Westcott. She had been a child prodigy. Like she was huge back in the day. She even did Lettermen, Oprah, all the big talk show circuit. She even performed with both the London Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Toured, the whole shebang. Then, and this is where is gets just horribly, tragically sad, a terrible plane crash. She lost her manager and her father. But, unfortunately, she also lost her right hand, and her vocal chords are scarred. Thought they tried to repair both, the prosthetics at the time meant that she would never be able to play the same again.”
“And I bet you found a paper trail?” Morgan asked as he sat at the end of the table.
“Did you ever doubt me my sweet incarnation of Anubis himself?”
“Is she still here?”
“Yup, and I found her hotel and all her information.”
After that it was a flurry of activity and almost three hours later, after a standoff where Sandra had another girl, they had been able to save the victim, and brought Sandra in for interrogation and booking.
By the time that JJ and Prentiss had a go at her, they had a full confession. The team was relieved and once they searched her hotel and the few things she traveled with, they also found the recordings, her trophies.
The team wanted to go out and celebrate. Aaron just smiled and nodded. He wanted the quiet, but he just didn’t know where. He didn’t think that they were going to solve this in a day, but for some reason he stopped trying so hard and it felt like the old him. The quiet contemplative him that didn’t worry as much. He wondered if that part of him had died when Haley did. If that was when he became the introvert, the worrier, the man who buried everything deep down just so it didn’t hurt so much.
He felt dark eyes on him as he turned to look at Kelly.
“I know a place…”
“Of course you do.” Aaron smiled wide and shook his head. “And I suppose you want to take me to this place.”
“Of course. I’ll even get us dinner.”
Aaron stood and slowly let out the breath he hadn’t realized he had been holding on to.
“You seem awfully determined to take care of me, yet we’ve only known each other a day, at most.”
“A day is sometimes all you need to know the measure of a man. Your team looks at you and they see the man they always have seen, but probably just a little more closed off. I see you and I see a man in pain. One who is determined to keep it all inside. One who worries so much, you don’t see what’s in front of you.”
“And how did you get so perceptive?”
“Annoying isn’t it? I think I keep McGarrett on his toes. Come on, trust me.” Kelly smiled again and Aaron knows he’s screwed.
They get to a stretch of beach that is overlooking a pier. On that pier was another shack. Aaron thinks that Kelly had made it his mission to find every shack, nook and corner of Hawaii that hasn’t been overrun by tourists. Kelly had laid out a couple of blankets, then said he would be right back. It didn’t take the man long, and in his hands was, of all things, a pizza.
“Don’t tell anyone, but that place makes the best pizza this side of the Island. I didn’t know what you liked, but I forwent the spam and pineapple.” Aaron looked at him horrified. Kelly doubled over laughing. “Oh, oh my if you could see your expression. I am kidding Aaron. Pepperoni, mushrooms, and olives. Anchovies on the side.”
Aaron leaned back on the blanket he was on after taking the six pack of Kona Brown Ales, so that Kelly could sit. The pizza between them, the two men ate and sipped at the beer. Aaron looked out at the sunset and his breath was about knocked out of him. The sky was all colors of orange and purple with dark clouds ribboning throughout. The waves slowly lapped as they rolled up onto the sand, the dragged back out again.
“My parents owned a beach house in Virginia Beach. We used to go several times a year when I was a kid. Even after my brother was born. The estate still owns it, but I haven’t been since my Mother passed away. Haley didn’t like it, she only went to the beach when Jack was first born, but if we went it was because I wanted to go. When I get home I should open the house up, take Jack, take time for just us.”
“Sounds like you have good memories of the beach.”
Aaron turned to Chin Ho and felt that little flutter of attraction.
“I’m a mess.”
“I’m not afraid.”
“I live, four thousand miles away.”
“Is there a law that we couldn’t try?”
“I have a son.”
“I love children.”
“I’m too serious, I bury myself in my work and I know I hold things in too much.”
“Let me help you unburden.”
“Fuck.” Aaron let out the expletive, which was a rarity for him.
“We could, but shouldn’t we get to know each other a little more first?” Chin grinned as he moved empty pizza box and the rest of the beer out of the way. He scooted closer on the blanket and reached out to cup Aaron’s cheek. “Like I said, Hawaii likes you. You don’t have to make life changing decisions. There are ways to make this work, but only if you want to try. We don’t even know if we would work.”
“You are a very strange man.”
“And you are much too serious.”
Aaron leaned in and was only a hairs breath away, contemplating pulling away when a hand gently gripped the back of his neck and pulled him in kissing him. After they pulled apart, Aaron knew he was lost. He fell back on the blanket, with Chin leaning on an elbow above him. He tried to figure out when he had been this content.
After a while of them talking, soft tentative touches, and more gentle kisses, they got up to go. Chin invited him to spend the night at his place. No pressure, he had a second bedroom and Aaron didn’t even hesitate. They both knew that spare room wouldn’t be used. No words had to be said and for once Aaron was spontaneous, doing something that was completely and selfishly just for him.
In the morning, wrapped together, Aaron knew the peace that he had found for a few hours was shattered.
“I’m sorry. We have a case.”