Aaron Hotchner sipped an iced tea while Jack and his wife unpacked their car. Doing the occasional independent consulting and trying to write a book, retirement was treating him well.
"Dad! What's the count?" Jack was herding his three-year-old son towards the house.
"Spencer's the last one." He'd been tracking, as first Rossi had retired again, then the invites had flooded when Morgan and Prentiss and JJ had retired within the same six months of each other, his and JJ's grandchildren had been fast friends at the retirement party. Then they had trickled down sharply. Garcia had retired about eight months after JJ, to settle on a farm in rural Virginia with Kevin.
Jack nodded. "When's the last time you talked to him?"
Hotch had to think. Reid had called asking for advice the day that he'd been tapped for Team 3's unit chief, and couldn't avoid the promotion to Senior Supervisory anymore. That had been ten years ago. "Too long."
The phone started ringing in the house, and his daughter-in-law dashed inside. "I got it, Dad!"
Within minutes, she came out holding the cordless' handset. "It's a Supervisory Special Agent Seaver for you."
Hotch stood up. "Seaver?" Why would she be calling him? He took the phone and spoke, "Hotchner."
"Oh my god, you still answer the phone that way."
"Only because it was you, is this official?"
Her voice dropped to a whisper. "Sorta. The section chief's down in the bullpen giving Harris an eye. He's retiring in two months, and I think they'll have to drag him out kicking and screaming. But anyway, all the BAU teams are planning a retirement party for him. One of the other unit chiefs hacked his BlackBerry and got everybody's current numbers, he used to be a tech, long story. We're trying to surprise him with a party."
Hotch hesitated. "Who's the section chief now?"
They obviously weren't happy to see this one go, he still remembered the massive party the day Erin Strauss had retired. She had NOT been at that party. "You don't know? It's Reid."
Hotch counted on his fingers and realized that Reid would be 57 years old, and was probably being forced to retire. "You contacted everyone?"
"Morgan and Prentiss have confirmed they'll come, I left a message with Garcia, and I'm still hunting a good number for JJ, the one Reid had was no good."
He heard Reid and someone else talking in the background. Just snippets when they got near Seaver's office door. ". . . the thing we talked about, I can't keep pushing it . . ."
"Completely understood, sir. I'm going to take care . . ."
"It won't be easy, Law. Keep Seaver in the loop, it's her ass as much as yours, he's answered to both of you."
Seaver stopped talking until the voices were gone. Then she explained at a breakneck pace. "that was SSA Lawrence, the other chief."
Hotch nodded, even though Seaver couldn't see it. "Section chief, it's kind of hard to imagine."
"He's good at it, actually. So, are you in? He could use having everyone here for the retirement party. This isn't voluntary, and his applications for a year extension were denied."
"I'm sure he is, it's still, it's Reid. I'll be there. Are you trying to surprise Reid, if you are I won't call him."
"It's meant to be a surprise, but none of us can keep secrets from Reid. I don't think he'll notice this time though. He's fighting to choose his successor, but he's a victim of his own success. The Deputy Director of the NCAVC doesn't think of any of us unit chiefs are senior enough to replace Reid."
"That happens when you retire after over thirty years." Hotch knew from his own retirement that Reid would find himself with a battle to fight to choose his own successor.
After some catching up with her, Hotch hung up and called Morgan.
Morgan was marking his calendar. He hadn't seen Reid in years, and he was looking forward to spilling stories of the early days of the BAU's retiring Section Chief. His phone shrilled and chirped. He picked it up, waving his wife away as she laughed. "Derek here."
"Long time, man, so Seaver called you."
"Hard to believe."
"Me and Emily knew they'd have to drag Reid out kicking and screaming."
"Seaver said the same thing."
"Involuntary, then?" Morgan did the math on his fingers, with their age difference, Reid would be 57 now. "He couldn't get extensions?"
"He's worked for the Bureau since he was 22, Morgan. They generally try to push people out before they break 30 years."
Morgan looked at the picture, colors faded with years, the entire team gathered at Rossi's second retirement party. They'd vowed, when the last member of the old team retired, to take another. And Dr. Spencer Reid was the last. "Seaver didn't mention how close he was."
"Two months, he's battling to make one of his unit chiefs his successor."
"Replacing Reid?" Morgan clicked his tongue. "Big shoes to fill. Obviously not literally."
"That's the problem. Deputy Director of NCAVC doesn't think any of them are senior enough. From what I can tell, nobody in the BAU's having any good riddance parties for him."
"They wouldn't. I bet Reid's an awesome section chief." Morgan had to ask. "You are coming, right?"
"I'll be there. When's the last time you talked to JJ?"
"Not since she retired. She works for GDI, but I have no idea what her number would be."
"Seaver and another unit chief hacked Reid's government cell and got our numbers. The one he had for JJ didn't work."
"I'll call Garcia. She still has a good system on her little farm in the dell. She'll find JJ. Prentiss is coming, she's meeting me in Chicago and then we'll travel together."
"Make sure Garcia knows about the retirement. Seaver left her a message."
"Oh, my babygirl will be there. She's not going to miss watching the kid retire. And I have stories to tell. His agents need to hear about his first crime scene."
"He's two months away from retiring, Morgan. He still needs to look his men in the eye." Hotch had to smile though. It would be good to see everyone, as a chapter truly closed with the entire team's little brother ending a 35 year career.
Behavioral Analysis Unit, Quantico, Virginia
Reid gave the stack of files on his desk a deep glare. There were times he felt sorry for Erin Strauss, epic bitch though she'd been. His neck felt it was constantly stretched out covering for Lawrence's team. They were the best, and they were eerily familiar.
There was kickass action girl Delolly, thin and waifish Harris with the heroin problem that Reid pretended he didn't know about, strong and tough Cooper. And they were all pains in the ass for a section chief, even with an outstanding case record. Yep, eerily familiar.
He hadn't wanted to know about Harris' addiction, it was too familiar. But once it was a done thing that he was being forced into retirement, he'd hit up a NA meeting, just to have the option. He still didn't know what he'd do with his retirement. Hotch had bought a nice little cabin on a lake, Rossi had written more books, Morgan had settled down back home, Prentiss had gone into the diplomatic corps, Garcia and Kevin had their farm, and JJ was head of PR for a corporation he couldn't recall.
Harris had tried desperately to hide on the opposite side of the room from his section chief, hands shaking with withdrawal and not able to get up and speak yet. Reid had done his agent the courtesy of anonymity, not acknowledging him, but indirectly dropping the message by speaking, sharing his fears of the unplanned years ahead. The head nods let him know he wasn't the only retiring LEO with no clue what came next.
And there was still the files. He could tell what ones that were supposedly Delolly's and Cooper's, and that Branthau and Harris had actually done. Branthau simply could not use one word when three would do, and Harris had a touch for the dramatic that no supervisor had been able to break from his writing style. In a way, both men knew they couldn't fool their psycholinguistics-among-other-talents boss, so they didn't try.
He read each at his famous speed and signed off on everybody's conclusions. Harris' handwriting had lost the tremor of someone on narcotics, and Reid's own eyes told him the young agent was fighting to break the habit before it cost him his job.
Hypocrisy had never been Reid, and he knew firing Harris for his addiction would make him the world's biggest one. He'd delay the drug test for the team another month, and he was sure Harris should be clean enough by then to pass. On one hand, he didn't like handing "little" problems like Harris over to someone else, but if he got his way, Lawrence would be section chief.
He walked to his dartboard and stuck a picture up on it. He had a small pile of ID card photos of everyone under him, and it was an awesome stress reliever, advice from a friend in counterterrorism known for never raising his voice to his agents. Cooper, Delolly, and the photo of Lawrence's entire team bore the most dart holes.
Satisfied with the placement of the picture, Reid started throwing darts at the picture of the Director of the FBI, who had twice refused Reid his requested extensions to the age of 58.
Down in the bullpen, Branthau and Harris split their working between consults and calculating the problem of a six-dimensional sphere's movements in three-dimensional space. Seaver had stopped trying to figure out their math about a half-hour ago. As each agent finished a file, he'd get up and add something to the whiteboard of math, or erase what the other one had done and re-do it. They finished their work faster than anybody else, and Chief Reid (she was still adapting to calling him that, even after he'd requested her when they'd lost an agent to counterintelligence) had all but endorsed them when he'd erased a chunk of their quantum displacement calculations and changed it with a variable they'd forgotten from an early episode of Doctor Who.
Branthau's computer started to squeal. "Ooh, ooh, ooh, one of the names I was watching just used her credit card. Seaver, ma'am!"
Seaver darted over to Branthau's desk, while the younger agent was busily scratching down a number. "You found JJ?"
"Office number, she works for Global Distribution Incorporated in their Public Relations department."
"You are the world's biggest geek, but thank you. Our chief will love seeing her again."
As Seaver walked away to make the call, Branthau got up and added to the equation. "Harris, you're not accounting for speed as a dimension!"
"We were counting speed as a dimension? It's not a dimension!"
"And hypothetically I'm a blue orangutang!"
New Orleans, Louisiana
JJ was settling at her desk at GDI when her phone rang. Everybody in the company knew you did not call Jennifer Jareau anytime before 7, unless you were Will or Henry LaMontagne, Henry's wife or the grandkids. She picked up the phone, ready to bite a head off.
"Jennifer Jareau, VP Public Relations, this had better be good."
"It's Ashley Seaver."
"Seaver! It's been god knows how long. How are things, I heard you came back to the BAU a couple of years ago."
"Yeah, the section chief requested my return, speaking of which, are you able to come to a retirement party two weeks from this coming Saturday?"
"Who's-" JJ did the same math as her ex-teammates. "Spence is retiring?"
"Not because he wants to. The Bureau is making him."
"Yeah, well, I'm, yeah that would make Spence 57. Let's not talk about what that makes me."
"We're trying to surprise him with a party with all the old team. I say trying because the BAU has blabbermouths in it who owe Reid their job."
JJ laughed at the oh-so-young voice in the background. "I am not a blabbermouth!"
"Yes, you are, Harris. Can you come? It would mean so much to our retiring BAU Section Chief."
"Section chief? He's section chief? I did not know that, he should have told me!"
"Surprised me when I saw his signature on my transfer back here from counterterrorism. Nobody's throwing him any good-riddance parties."
Another voice in the background. "Actually, Cooper is planning a party. I think Delolly is bringing the drinks."
"Reid suspended those two cowboys because he had to, Branthau. And they were the first people he'd ever suspended in almost 20 years of being higher management. They were lucky they weren't fired."
"I know that, I'm just saying they'll be happy to see him go."
JJ smiled, listening to the banter of a new generation of eager young profilers. Seaver beat them both down. "They won't be when they realize that we might not get one of the unit chiefs to replace him. He's fighting, well."
"Seaver, I'll be there."
"Everybody else has confirmed too, I just need to get a positive from Garcia."
"I have a number for her."
"That one is no good."
"Damnit, our chief had two bad numbers in his CrackBerry."
"You got numbers out of Spence's BlackBerry?"
"My co-conspirator, SSA Lawrence, is a former tech analyst. Reid left his phone unattended for ten minutes in the BAU's kitchenette."
JJ laughed again, she had to call Pen pronto. The group had sworn years ago to all meet when their last person retired. To nobody's surprise, that was Reid.
Garcia blinked at the ringing phone. That particular phone rarely rang anymore. Kevin came in, wiping mud off his hands. "The Bat-Phone."
"The only people who have that number now are JJ and Emily." Garcia picked it up, wondering what could have happened to have one of them call.
"Pen, it's JJ. Spence is finally retiring."
Garcia did a happy dance right there. "Our baby genius is retiring! Oh, my God, I have to be there! Even if I feel very old right now."
"I dare you to call him that in front of his agents. He's the section chief of the Behavioral Analysis Unit now."
"He took Strauss' job?"
"There were people between, but yeah."
"I will be there! When's the party?"
"Two weeks from this coming Saturday. Seaver and a SSA Lawrence are making the plans behind Spence's back."
After hanging up, Garcia bopped happily around her kitchen. One last party with the whole team, she couldn't wait two weeks, she simply couldn't. "Kevin, sweetie, I have to head for Quantico."
Commack, New York
Rossi was deep in writer's block when his phone rang. He grabbed it up and stared at the caller ID before speaking. "Aaron, it's been a couple of years."
"My excuse is grandkids. Did Ashley call you?"
"Not yet." Rossi was focusing on the computer, trying his hand at writing fiction. It wasn't working so well.
"Reid's finally retiring. 35 years if my math's right, and they're making him."
Rossi tapped his pen against the keyboard. "I did say Reid and you would have to be dragged out by your hair before anybody could give you your gold watches."
"And you were right. Seaver works under him, and she's working with another agent to plan a party. Everybody is coming."
"When's the party, and when does he actually retire?"
"Party is two weeks from Saturday, Dave, and he retires in two months."
"You know nobody is going to be there on that Saturday. Don't you want to see him in action as section chief?"
"I remember being a retiring section chief, Dave. He's probably very busy closing his load."
"And wrestling over who replaces him. Erin fought tooth and nail against you getting the job."
"Reid is fighting to make sure one of his unit chiefs does. I imagine everybody will be in Virginia early."
Rossi clucked his tongue and shook his head. "I just had a horrible thought."
"If the same people who knew me as a green FBI agent were able to get to the people I was in charge of the first time I retired."
"And that's why everybody will be in Quantico earlier than the day of the party. Morgan is already determined to start telling stories."
Rossi looked thoughtfully at a very old picture, back when it was called the Behavioral Science Unit. "What about Jason?"
"Do you have any idea where he is? He hasn't called on me in 30 odd years."
"He'd want to be there." Rossi was looking at that picture.
"If he's alive."
"I'm sure he is. Then I'll see you in Virginia, Aaron."
"Somebody has to tell the other side of whatever version of his career Reid's told his agents." Hotch hung up. Rossi looked at the picture they'd taken, at his second retirement. It was hard to imagine the awkward young man who'd been wearing a Halloween mask when he first met him, and quoted his books verbatim, retiring a 35-year-veteran section chief. He'd watched Reid grow up through his twenties, but hadn't seen him since Rossi himself had retired again.
One week later
Morgan and Prentiss got off the plane at Dulles International, immediately recognizing Seaver despite the years. She was pleased to see them, but she had something on her mind.
Prentiss hugged the younger woman. "God, it's been too long, you look good!"
"Thanks, you do too."
And Morgan felt his "Reid alert" going off. "Something's up."
Seaver bit her tongue unconsciously and gestured them out. "You haven't lost your skills. Let's talk about it in the SUV. It hasn't hit the news and we want to keep it that way."
In the SUV, Seaver explained what had happened. "Unit Chief Dallas Colt and his team went to Topeka Falls, Montana to help capture a five-time serial cop killer. Colt was shot and killed during a standoff with the unsub 5 hours ago. I just put my section chief, on a plane, a commercial flight to get to Montana as fast as humanly possible."
Prentiss stumbled, and it had nothing to do with age. The entire thing so screamed "Spencer Reid" she could have cried. "And they know he's coming?"
"If they could meet him on the tarmac, they would. They just lost a unit chief, they're feeling a little paranoid about taking responsibility for a retiring section chief."
Morgan shook his head. "I can't blame them."
It was something of a thrill to clip on Visitor badges as Seaver brought them through security. "Now, you're going to see some familiar people. Unbeknownst to you, you were cloned by the Bureau, and their names are Cooper and Delolly, and they are the only people Spencer Reid has had to suspend in twenty years of FBI management positions."
"The cloning didn't work right if they did something to get Reid to yank their badges." Morgan immediately saw what she meant as he scanned the bullpen.
Delolly jumped up to defend herself. "The only reason Chief Reid suspended us-"
Seaver interrupted. "Was because you and Cooper slammed a paranoid psychotic into the hood of a police car sixteen times. If I was your boss I would have fired you two. Luckily for you, you work for Lawrence, not me."
He spotted two agents poring over a whiteboard covered in undecipherable math. They turned to look and immediately came over. The heavy-set one offered his hand. But it was the thin agent that caught Morgan's eye, and the track scars on his exposed elbow crook. "Special Agent Tim Branthau, you must be Derek Morgan. And this is-"
"Special Agent Daniel Harris." Harris kept his eyes downcast and rolled his sleeves down in a hurry as he offered his pale hand to shake. Prentiss took the cold hand.
"Emily Prentiss, Derek and I both used to work with your section chief, way back when."
Harris nodded. "We know, he talks about you guys, a lot. Usually in the context of 'what Morgan and/or Prentiss would have done.' "
Morgan beamed. "Well, I'm flattered."
Prentiss stepped aside with Branthau. "We're very sorry for your loss."
Branthau nodded. "It's still hard to believe Colt's dead. The round went right through his vest, according to Feldspar's incident report."
She looked at the whiteboard, covered in the scrawls that had something to do with a sphere and that was as far as she could tell. "And of course, Reid goes galloping out there within six hours."
"That's why he's a good section chief, ma'am."
Prentiss had to laugh. "I can see that. He probably still had a go bag in his office."
Branthau gave a confirming eye take. "His driver didn't have to go by the house, I know that."
Topeka Falls, Montana
Reid got off the plane, dragging a roller suitcase behind him and his famous messenger bag. His agents had a betting pool over what exactly he carried in it, and he'd told them the day he retired that he'd confirm who was right. That had been ten years ago, and he was sure the ones who remembered the bet would hold him to it.
SSA Bellamy and SSA Walker were waiting as close to the security checkpoint as they'd been able to get, even their badges hadn't got them past the checkpoint this time. Bellamy walked rapidly up, his coat laying over a heavy Glock. "Sir, I wish these were better circumstances to have you in the field with us."
Reid nodded. He'd handpicked Dallas for the job, and felt responsible. "I read the case file on the plane, where did Mathers head after the shootout?"
BAU, Quantico, Virginia
Morgan and Prentiss were sitting in the old conference room with Lawrence and Seaver. Lawrence's head rested on his arms. "I'm acting section chief, I always am when Chief Reid isn't present."
Morgan looked around the room, of course it had changed with the march of technology. "This normal for him?"
"For him, pretty much." Lawrence toyed with a chair. "Chief Reid would go to the mat for any of us."
"Harris?" Morgan wished he hadn't asked the moment he said it. Lawrence looked away.
"He gave me the opportunity to save the life of one of my agents, he stuck his neck out and took a risk. I don't know why he did it and I didn't ask."
Morgan thought back, to watching Spencer Reid self-destruct those hard few months after Hankel so long ago. Prentiss looked at him and nodded. Finally she touched the young unit chief's hand. "There's some deep reasons why, Agent Lawrence."
Seaver glanced at Lawrence. It definitely wasn't easy, they had ransacked Harris' apartment and confiscated his stash. As far as they could tell, he hadn't used for a while, but they couldn't risk him being caught with that much heroin. Harris was her problem too, having worked for both of them at one time or another in the BAU while he was using.
Over the next hours, they trickled in one by one. Seaver and Lawrence took responsibility of their guests, getting everyone into one hotel.
Hotch and Rossi watched each other across a table. Rossi tipped back a straight scotch. "I can see the worry on your wrinkled, old face, Aaron, spill."
"What do you think Strauss would have done if I'd been killed on the job?"
"Had a party?" Rossi deadpanned, then went on. "Reid is no kid, he knows damn well what he's doing. He lost a man today, and he's covering the loss of one of his senior agents by throwing himself at the problem. Do I need to remind you who he learned leadership from, Aaron?"
Hotch gave Rossi a glare. "Strauss went with the team to Milwaukee."
"She was trying to build enough against you to fire you or force you out. Reid went because they needed him and he knew it."
The room lightened when Morgan, Prentiss, Garcia and JJ all came down to join them. JJ waved in the general direction of the doors. "Lawrence and Seaver had to head back to the BAU in a hurry."
The group knew they shouldn't, but they looked to the Breaking News.
"-as we continue to narrow down Reginald Mathers' location and fully intend to take him with no casualties-"
"Agent Cassidy, Agent Cassidy! Don't you mean further casualties, can you confirm or deny the report that Special Agent Dallas Colt was killed during the first encounter with Mathers?"
"I can't make any comment on that prior to formal Bureau notifications."
"And what about reports that the head of the Behavioral Analysis Unit has come to Montana in person?"
"I can't talk about the whereabouts of senior FBI management employees."
"So BAU Section Chief Spencer Reid is in Montana then?"
"If you want to believe that, Mr. Corlias, you are welcome to think that senior FBI officers came out on routine cases. We are continuing to function and will capture Reginald Mathers' peacefully."
JJ drained her water. "She's not bad, but she's green."
Garcia shook her head. "Oh God, my kiddo walking into that."
Reid didn't have to like it. They knew where Mathers was, but he could feel the gunshy edge on the team. The bastard was heavily armed, and their FBI vests no longer stopped the newest weapons.
Cassidy walked in, shaking her head. "I hope you don't have enemies, sir. That son of a bitch reporter Matt Corlias had to all but broadcast that you came here."
"Yeah, can't be helped." He smoothed the map in front of him and started re-calculating a geographic profile, while handling the job that Colt's murder had vacated. "He's not going to go back to same place, he's been smart and fairly unpredictable so far, and he's unlikely to change that even if killing a FBI agent makes him bolder."
Walker shook his head. "His grandmother owns a place five miles out of town, if he'll hole up anywhere, that'd be it."
Reid was looping string on the pins on the map, while Bellamy scratched figures at a breakneck pace, double checking the algorithms on paper that their section chief could do in his head.
One thing was obvious. Reid shook his head. "Five miles is a long way to travel when every cop within a 100 mile radius is looking for you. He will go absolutely no farther than he has to, and he wants another confrontation."
Bellamy looked at the map, scanning it over with flicking eyes. "That warehouse on Spring, it's in the comfort zone and he wouldn't have to leave the Topeka Falls city limits to get there. Big enough to booby trap with the kind of time he's had to plan another shootout with us."
Reid had to concur with the younger profiler. Except for one thing. "We won't let there be another shootout, Bellamy."
The six finished off dinner just as Seaver and Lawrence returned. Lawrence twirled a chair around and sat down on it. "They've locked down the area around a warehouse they believe Mathers has set up as a fallback. It's in his comfort zone and in the city limits."
Morgan nodded. "He won't travel far, every cop in the area is looking for him and they know who he is."
"That's what the chief and Bellamy calculated. Oh, SSA Bellamy is one of our best geographic profilers, pretty good head for math and good with maps."
Rossi couldn't imagine the man in front of him being old enough to be a unit chief, but he had to remember how old he was now.
Hotch sipped at his drink. "Your agents do know your section chief's tendencies, right?"
"Taking off his kevlar and walking out to negotiate. I've heard the stories, but he hasn't actually had opportunity to pull that in years."
The entire old team looked around the table. A man who was being forced into retirement after 35 years on the job could be even more unpredictable than the normal unpredictable of Spencer Reid.
Lawrence and Seaver weren't profilers for nothing. "They won't let Chief Reid do anything stupid, not after losing Colt."
And Morgan really couldn't imagine Reid listening to people who worked FOR him any better than he had listened to Hotch over the years.
They were right about the warehouse, Reid wouldn't have expected anything else from Bellamy's calculations.
"Reginald Mathers, you are completely surrounded." The local cops were out for blood. Reid decided to let himself be old and cantankerous for a moment as he reached the bullhorn.
"I can get him to surrender without more bloodshed, Detective. Let me talk to him, it'll go easier. You mind?" Not that he cared, except for trying not to ruffle local feathers. The officer handed it over, unwilling to argue with the team's dead boss' boss. Reid smiled internally. Rank hath its privileges.
The BAU team tensed, wondering whether or not they were going to have to talk their superior out of something dangerously stupid.
Reid glared at his agents watching him and started talking. "Reginald, nobody else has to get hurt. My name's Spencer, I'm with the FBI."
Finally they got a response from Mathers. "I know who you are! I'm not coming out, you'll kill me for killing your agent."
"No, we won't, because that's not how we do things. Just come out and we can talk about this. I promise nobody will shoot you."
"I'm not coming out. You come in here instead!"
Reid sighed and grabbed SSA Feldspar's arm. "You're with me, Feldspar. We are taking Mathers alive."
He'd been Colt's second, and was used to being a devil's advocate. "You're doing something colossally stupid, sir."
"You should have seen what I did during the Savage case. We're bringing Mathers in." Before Bellamy and Walker could come up with a good argument, Chief Reid had holstered his revolver and started walking.
The warehouse was dark and shadowed as Feldspar got ahead of his chief and cleared the immediate area. Reid searched the dark. "Reginald? You close?"
"Your weapons, drop 'em."
"Reginald, I can't do that. Can you see me? You'll have to forgive me, I'm old and my eyes aren't what they used to be."
Feldspar kept his Glock ready to use, only slightly lowered. The warehouse was damn dark, even if he knew the chief was bullshitting about his eyes. He saw movement out of the corner of his eye, behind a stack of junk. "Reginald, that you?"
"Stay back! I've got a 301 that'll go right through your kevlar!"
Reid raised his hands unthreateningly. "I know that, Reggie, can I call you Reggie? Why do you think my weapon's holstered, I know it won't do any good."
"Damn right, I mean, how many other people can kill a FBI agent and get away? Me, that's who! They said I couldn't pull this off, you know."
"They were obviously wrong, Reggie, who said you couldn't do it?"
"They did, the people." Mathers had moved from behind his cover, and Feldspar was ready to shoot, but Mathers' rifle wasn't raised.
Reid kept his tone gentle, if Colt's team's profile was right the "people" were in Reginald Mathers' mind. "But you don't have to prove those people wrong, Reggie. You don't really want to do this, and the only way this can end for you is badly if you keep trying to prove them wrong."
"But I have a gun."
"There's two dozen cops outside with guns, you can't kill them all and they will kill you if you give them the slightest justification, Reggie. I want to end this peacefully, they don't. I want to help you."
Feldspar was tense on the trigger, determined not to lose another of his superiors, as the noisy clatter of a rifle being dropped sounded piercingly loud in the warehouse.
As Mathers came out of the shadows, Reid reached a hand out and Feldspar quickly snapped the cuffs off of his belt without lowering his Glock. "Oh, you can put that down now, Feldspar." The agent could only shake his head as his boss locked the cuffs on Mathers' wrists. "We're going to get you the help you need, Reggie."
The old team stood up when Lawrence walked in. "The situation's been ended peacefully, Chief Reid and the team are returning tonight. I'd like to arrange a surprise, if you guys would come back to headquarters with me."
Rossi raised an eyebrow. "Surprising Reid won't be easy."
Lawrence grinned. "I think me and Seaver have pulled it off, sir."
Prentiss laughed. "I doubt you have, Agent Lawrence."
JJ and Garcia both nodded in agreement with Prentiss.
Reid had his dark glasses on and the lights in his section turned down low. Bellamy was nearby reading a Applied Psychology textbook. "Migraine again, sir?"
"Am I that obvious?" Reid looked over the top of his sunglasses.
"Maybe they'll get better when you're sitting on a lake throwing a line in the water without a care in the world."
"I'll go nuts. I have no clue what to do with retirement." Reid pushed his glasses up.
Feldspar looked up from the card game he was playing with Walker and that Reid had declined. "Please don't, sir, if you went nuts and started killing, it'd take Jason Gideon himself to catch you, with a side of David Rossi."
Reid laid back and tried to sleep. "Probably, and don't forget Hotch. He always knew what I was going to do next. Even when it was suicidal and stupid."
The plane touched down hours later and the weary team filed off. Seaver and Lawrence were waiting as Reid tossed his roller bag in the back of the SUV. "Everybody, stop by the BAU, do any small last minute things you need to and head home, tomorrow will be a long day."
The team nodded all around. Lawrence opened the door as Reid climbed in. "How's Jeanine handling it?"
"She was an Army wife for ten years before Dallas joined the Bureau, sir. She's handling."
"I want to see her, if she'll talk to me."
Harris raced back in the glass doors and called up. "Places, people! The chief's coming back! Branthau, would you erase the warp drive calculations or something. He's coming back with a migraine and we know Chief Reid with a migraine equals changing our math."
Morgan was propped on Agent Cooper's desk. The young man snorted. "Just what we need. Him with a migraine is like having a fucking dragon in the BAU."
Branthau dropped a handful of files back on Cooper's In box. "Hey, Coop, I think you misplaced these earlier."
A hostile look crossed briefly between the two agents, then was wiped out when a pair of twenty-something year old ladies with brown hair came in, perfect images of each other. And Morgan would know those girls anywhere, seeing as how he'd pushed their father into first talking to their mother and they looked just like her. "Ada and Karen Reid, the two most beautiful young ladies in my life."
Ada flipped her brown hair back. "Please, Uncle Derek, your flattery got old ten years ago. Where's my dad?"
Harris grinned. "He's coming back in a little while, Ada, they closed the situation in Montana."
Morgan put his finger to his lips. "Your dad doesn't know I'm in town, Ada."
She looked up the conference room. "Might want to pull those blinds, then, I see Aunt Penny, Aunt Emily, Uncle David, Uncle Aaron."
"All right, smartypants. You girls are dangerous, you know that?"
Karen, the older twin, laughed. "Of course we are, we have Mom's looks and Dad's brains."
Lawrence ran in. "If Spencer Reid does not know you're here-, Ada!"
Ada giggled and waved. "Matt!"
"I did not know you and your sister were in town, let me take you to dinner sometime."
"Dad would shoot you." Ada and Karen followed Morgan upstairs.
"Ada Reid, your dad could have my badge for lunch with gun on the side and pension as relish if it meant I had a dinner date with you. Anyway, if Spencer Reid doesn't know you're here, go hide in the conference room."
The entire group waited breathlessly in the conference room with the blinds drawn as they caught up unexpectedly with the Reid twins. Hotch was talking with Karen. "How's the practice working out?"
"Getting my feet underneath me, but a disturbing number of people around the Beltway know my dad."
Ada was peeking through the blinds. Prentiss tapped her shoulder. "And what have you been up to?"
"Oh, the normal. Finishing my literature PhD, convincing my dad to let me help him write a book."
Morgan laughed. "You think your dad needs help, Ada?"
"He ought to write a book, 35 years with the Bureau, there's got to be pages of interesting things there."
Lawrence signaled up from the bullpen as the glass doors opened and Reid walked in with the team.
Seaver handed him a file as soon as he hit the mezzanine stairs. "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we need you in the conference room. It's very important."
He looked at her and shoved his glasses higher. "Could you tell someone to turn the lights down?"
He looked behind him and shook his head, of course his agents had cleared a wide path when he came in. The dark glasses gave it away, and he long ago had accepted that profiling your boss was a basic survival strategy in an office. Seaver shrugged apologetically. "I'll get someone to do that, Reid."
He had the case file in front of his face, as Lawrence took the steps two at a time to see his careful scheme pay off. Had they actually pulled one on Spencer Reid?
As he walked in, the group stood up. Lawrence and Seaver crossed their fingers.
Reid lowered the case file. And smiled. "Hey guys, I thought Seaver was lighting up the phone tree lately. It's good to see everybody."
Lawrence kicked the carpet. "Damnit, we didn't get one over on you, did we, sir?"
Reid shook his head, as the group came together for a hug.
"I have so many stories to start telling. The elevator, the club-"
"Morgan, I retire in two months! Would you mind not corrupting my agents with all my bad moments."
Hotch laughed. "Don't worry about it too much, Reid. I'll balance him out."
Prentiss nodded. "Me, too."
Lawrence rested his head on his hands. "I want to hear the elevator story."
Morgan grinned. "There we were, investigating a case in Portland, Oregon. We had to check the apartment of a victim, and Hotch goes up the stairs."
Hotch nodded. "I could have told you guys there was something wrong with that elevator."
Morgan rolled his eyes. "So your boss and I cram into this little rattletrap elevator, and it fails between floors. Apparently there were six elevator related deaths a year and ten thousand injuries, so Reid informed me. We hit the emergency alarm, and we weren't getting any help. So your boss there starts panicking-"
"I wasn't panicking, Morgan, you were panicking, I was concerned."
"-flapping his hands, thinking I'm going to pry the doors open like Superman. Then the elevator drops from beneath us, and we both yelled for Hotch. I yelled, your boss squeaked!"
Reid forced himself to stand up. "All right, that's it. Let's go back to you guy's hotel before you corrupt the only good agent I've got. Not talking about you, Lawrence."
Seaver beamed at her partner in crime while Lawrence shook his head and walked out.
Ada and Karen dashed out ahead of their father.
In the hotel's dining room, Reid and Hotch raised glasses together. He nodded his head at the younger man. "Here's to the years, Reid. I would never have imagined your career ending here back when Jason introduced you to me."
"To the years and the job."
"That was good work, in Montana, we ended up following the case by accident."
Reid nodded, his thoughts elsewhere. "Colt's widow is taking it fairly well. I handpicked him for that job, Hotch."
He nodded. "People have told me you're a bit of a control freak with regards to the BAU leadership."
Hotch remembered a time when Reid would have tripped over himself denying it. The man before him nodded in acknowledgment. "I know who I want to lead the teams, and I always get what I want. My luck seems to be running out, though. They don't think any of my unit chiefs are senior enough for my job."
"Hard to replace a 35-year veteran profiler who was trained by the best."
"I want Lawrence to replace me, I always pass the job to him when I need someone to pinch hit anyway, he knows what it takes to lead."
"And I imagine you have an opinion about who replaces him as unit chief?"
"Seaver will take over his team, he knows and I know she's the best for the position, none of his agents are ready and she's already familiar with their situations." Reid shook his head. "Maybe I am a control freak, but I'd like to think it's for the greater good of the unit."
"You did the right thing, immediately covering down on one of your teams when they lost a leader."
"And I did it without infuriating the local cops." He paused as the twins were headed over. "Though there are times I feel sorry for Strauss. I'm paying for my training with some of my agents now, Hotch. I can't imagine why you didn't fire me 30 years ago."
Rossi sat down to join them. "You were young."
Reid sighed. "I would have fired me."
Hotch raised his glass. "It's a good thing you weren't in charge of you, then, Reid."
Seaver and Lawrence crashed like a wave on their tech analyst. He turned around and took off his sequined glasses. "What the hell do you guys want?"
"How hard would it be to track someone down?"
"That depends. Is someone trying to hide?"
"Who is it?"
The tech analyst snorted. "How about y'all give me something easy, like D.B. Cooper! I'll see what I can do, and I suppose you'd like to find him in time to come here for Chief Reid's retirement party."
Lawrence leaned down and pecked the analyst on the cheek. "You are wonderful, you know that?"
"Oh, don't get my hopes up, Law, you straight man you. If I can't find anything-"
A cheerful voice called from the door. "I will."
They turned to see Penelope Garcia. Seaver shook her head. "You should be at the hotel."
"No, because you guys are still scheming. I am the all-knowing goddess of technology yet, spill!"
"We'd like to get Jason Gideon here for Reid's retirement party."
Garcia knew Gideon hadn't been heard from in years, he hadn't even put in a peep as his long ago protege had climbed each big step of leadership. Would he come back for the retirement if he knew about it?
Well, Penelope Garcia was going to find him and give him the chance! "You."
The analyst looked at her, and took in the too-colorful clothing and wild glasses. "My name is Rawlins, and you have to be Penelope Lynch."
"Lynch, Garcia, whichever name you prefer. I'm going to help you find some people who will want to see my boy genius retire."
Lawrence choked, imagining his boss as anybody's 'boy genius.' Seaver chuckled, remembering back to her brief year with the BAU.
The party had quieted, as Prentiss finished her drink and sat with Reid. "We haven't seen each other since Garcia retired, have we?"
"No, we haven't." Reid spun his drink slowly. Ada and Karen had gone to bed, citing homework.
"I should have been there for the funeral, Reid." Prentiss shifted in her seat, she had sent flowers after Morgan and Hotch had separately sent her notice that Austin Reid had died.
"It was quiet, a small funeral. The twins took a semester off from Harvard and Georgetown to stay with me in Virginia. People were worried, I guess." Reid sipped at his drink.
"I would have been." She still remembered long talks between her and still-working Morgan when Austin had died, and the BAU's concerns over the combination of a grieving unit chief and a .357 revolver.
"It's been a few years, I can have the family photos on my desk again without getting too upset."
"You don't wear a ring anymore." Prentiss changed her position again. She'd chucked that opportunity a long time ago, amidst the maelstorm of Doyle, and yet, she could see that Reid hadn't worn his wedding band for a while, enough for the marks and ring tan to fade.
"I took it off when I started dating again at the twin's insistence. It didn't go anywhere, but I didn't put my ring back on. Still, I miss her." He looked up quite suddenly. "And swear to God if Morgan tells the story how we met, I will kill him. My agents will cover it up."
"Okay, what do your agents and the twins think happened?"
"They, meaning everyone, know the part where we saved her from the unsub. They don't know about me in the club doing magic tricks."
Prentiss laughed and wanted to reach for his hand. "How the hell did you put a business card behind her barrette?"
"That, Emily, is a trade secret. I'm not telling."
She leaned back in her chair and drained a beer. "All these years and you still have some surprises in you, Doctor Reid."
Between Garcia, Rawlins, and Lawrence's tech know-how, they had contact information for the last known place Jason Gideon had settled himself.
Elle Greenaway had been far easier to find. Garcia waved the younger FBI folks away to make the phone call.
"Elle, honey, is that you?"
"Long time, sweet cheeks."
"You're still working?"
"Me, oh, no, no, Elle, I'm long retired with my honey on a little farm. The only one still working is Reid, and he's retiring. The party is next Saturday."
Garcia heard the long pause on the other end. "Is everybody there?"
"Everybody but Gideon, Elle, it would mean so much . . ."
"I can't, Garcia, but I'll send something."
Garcia sighed, looking at the phone as Elle hung up. "0 for 1 now."
She made the next call, hoping that Gideon would want to come, for their boy genius' sake.
A quiet lake somewhere in Montana, it was the perfect place to leave a hard world behind. Gideon sipped a beer as he cast a line into a lake with no fish. It was perfect.
Of course, he still watched the news, and considering the brutal events in Topeka Falls, not 50 miles away, he hadn't been able to miss Reid's last act of bravery in the line of duty.
At least, Gideon was relatively sure it was to be the last. His math told him that Reid had turned 57 recently, and his late arrival on the scene in Montana, in conjuncture with the death of a senior field agent, told Gideon that Reid was probably section chief, even if the news hadn't have said so.
The phone in the cabin ringing broke the peaceful reverie as Gideon laid his fishing pole down and went to answer, few people had this number nowadays.
He heard a deep breath on the other end, so familiar. "Sir, I know this is a shock."
"Garcia." Her voice was older, of course, whose wouldn't be?
"Yes, sir, it's me. We had a hell of a time finding you, but it's nothing bad. Reid is retiring, and I know he'd be honored to have you at the party. Everybody else is here in Quantico to catch up."
"Retiring, I thought he would be about now. When's the party, and when's his last day?"
"The party's on Saturday, and he's retiring in two months."
Gideon looked at the empty space on his calendar. "I'll be there."
Garcia squealed as she hung up, sounding like a woman decades younger. "He's coming! Jason Gideon is going to be there for our kiddo!"
Ada and Karen were cloistered with JJ. Karen, barely the older by 17 minutes, was doing her best impersonation of an interrogator. "Come on, Auntie JJ, just tell us! What were they back then?"
"Who again? I'm old, I forget these things." JJ was not going to answer the girl's questions easily, even if Henry had made most of his pocket money as a teenager babysitting his godfather's twins.
Ada butted in. "Dad and Aunt Emily! I know I got my middle name from her, but there's something there, that definitely wasn't there when we were little."
She leaned back in the chair. "A long time ago, your Aunt Emily died. The team thought she was dead, it was the only way we could protect her. I don't know what your dad did or didn't feel for her, but he spent months grieving for her."
Karen nodded. "He doesn't take grief well. We both came home, after Mom died."
JJ had a far away look. She remembered when Austin Reid had died. There'd been enough of the team around to keep an eye on Reid back then.
But the twins were not letting themselves be distracted. "So you think Dad loved her back then?"
JJ shook herself back to the present. "Love would be the wrong word. It could have been, but you have to understand how young your dad was back in those days. We were family, and your dad was the little brother. He was cute, but he just wasn't date-able, and the FBI has rules against that kind of thing."
Ada and Karen tried to imagine their dad as a little anything and couldn't. They broke into giggles unbecoming a nascent lawyer and a literature PhD.
By the time the old folks had one by one wandered to bed and the Reids were headed for the car, Ada and Karen were scheming.
In the childhood room they had temporarily taken back over while home visiting, they planned.
Ada twiddled a long strand of the dark hair she inherited from her mother, while Karen went into court mode "All right, facts in evidence. One, we know Dad felt something for Aunt Emily way back when. Two, she is no longer an employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Three, he's much older than he was back then. Ten years isn't a big deal when you're both old, right?"
Ada nodded. "Of course, I mean how much older can she be?"
Karen thought about it. " I think Aunt Emily is ten years older than Dad."
Ada shook her head. "Well, that's nothing. One of my professors married a girl like, thirty years younger than him, seriously!"
"All right, so we agree than ten years is nothing when you're both old. How do we get them to see that?"
Ada grinned. "We launch Operation Stepmom."
Karen buried her face in a pillow to muffle her laughter. "Operation Stepmom failed miserably ten years ago."
"Dad wasn't ready for Operation Stepmom, we were a little hasty and really wanted a mom."
"And what do we want now?"
"For Dad to be happy in retirement."
"And Aunt Emily would be a cool stepmom."
Garcia was waiting, bringing the almost last piece of the puzzle in was her surprise and nobody was going to ruin it as she bundled herself up in a multi-colored coat and a bright neon red scarf.
Lawrence was antsy to meet the legend himself, the man who had taught Chief Reid everything he knew.
Gideon had kept up on the actions of the BAU over the past thirty years, watched from afar as the student had surpassed the disappeared teacher. He gave Garcia genuine smile as he made his way across the airline terminal with a hardwood cane. "Garcia, it's been too long."
She impulsively hugged him. "I just hope he's happy to see you, too."