Carol took a deep breath to steady her nerves as she watched the elevator numbers climb higher. Why am I here? Abby. You’re here for Abby. She reminded herself.
The elevator dinged and Carol walked out into the large corridor. The glass doors leading into the BAU were directly in front of her and off to the left, the In Memorial wall. She walked over and scanned the pictures of fallen FBI agents until she found the picture of Abby. I’m going to find this asshole, Abby and I’m going to get justice. I swear to you.
“Carol?” The soft voice came from behind her. She turned to look into the soft blue eyes of Special Agent Jennifer Jareau, communications liaison for the BAU. Her long blonde hair was pulled back and the years had been very kind to her.
“Hi, JJ.” Carol was pulled into a gentle hug by agent Jareau, the second busiest agent in the BAU. Not only was JJ responsible for sorting all incoming cases to ensure they fell within the purview of the BAU, but it was also her job to handle all media issues, interviews, and more. She was considered the face of the BAU, but she was also a fiercely intelligent and capable agent. Today, however, she was taking on her secondary role as human resources for the unit.
“Hotch said you were coming back. It’s good to see you.”
“I’m not sure I’m back, but I will be working on this case.” Carol explained before immediately changing the subject. “How are the boys?”
“Oh you know, growing so fast! How is Rindy?"
“Amazing, beautiful, and yeah, growing up way too fast.” Carol shuffled her feet and looked over at the photo next to Abby’s on the wall. “I was sorry to hear about Emily, JJ. I know you two were close.”
JJ smiled and leaned in to whisper in Carol’s ear. “We’ll have to talk about that later.” Carol tilted her head, intrigued, but before she could ask any questions JJ stepped back and started to walk towards the elevators. “I was just going down to gather your new agent and bring her up. I’ll bring her to the conference room once I get her settled. Everyone is waiting there for you.”
Carol nodded and turned to look at the glass doors. No point in putting it off any longer. The office of the Behavioral Analysis Unit had not changed. She walked in to find four desks all facing each other in a large square, the kitchenette off to her left, and the stairs leading up to the conference room and senior offices. Everything looked and smelled the same and memories danced in her head like ghosts. She wondered who sat at these desks now.
She made her way up the stairs and past the senior offices. She read the name plates, Derek Morgan, David Rossi, and of course Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner. They were the key players on the A-team of the BAU, along with JJ, Dr. Spencer Reid, and Penelope Garcia. She wasn’t sure if Special Agent Emily Prentiss had been replaced yet, but it would only be a matter of time.
As she walked in to the conference room she was immediately grabbed and pulled into a death squeeze of a hug.
“OH MY GOD! CAROL!” The voice and the perfume were immediately recognizable.
“Hi, Garcia. Nice to see you, too.” Carol managed to get out as the air was squeezed from her lungs.
Penelope Garcia was the BAU’s technical analyst. The title did not even begin to do her justice. She was THE busiest person in the BAU at any given moment and as every agent could attest, she was the major reason the majority of their cases got solved. She could track anyone and anything on the internet, usually had two or three computers going around her at once and could travel in and out of the dark web with surprising ease. Carol always thought they should change her title to technical guru or something. Despite living in the dark world of the web, Penelope’s personality was that of a bright tropical paradise. She wore bright colors, always had fuzzy pens, and her hair color and glasses frames were changing with her mood. She was the heart of the BAU and everyone knew it.
“I’m so angry at you for not keeping in touch, Carol. You said we were going to go have a girl’s night, and then you just disappeared! Not cool! And how is my little superstar, Rindy? She's probably about to graduate from college!”
Carol couldn't help but smile at the woman's exuberant nature.
“Let her breath, Garcia.” Hotch came up behind them. “Can you pull up the case files while she gets reacquainted with the rest of the team?”
“Yes, sir.” Penelope was like lightning on her keyboard, quickly pulling up the five case folders they would be discussing today.
“Carol," Aaron smiled and shook her hand. "I’m glad you decided to join us.” .
“You knew I’d be here, Hotch.” Carol smirked.
“I think you remember everyone.” Hotch gestured over at the large conference table in the center of the room. Special Agent Dannie McElroy had been a researcher with the BAU for five years now. He was a good agent, but he didn’t have much field experience. Special Agent Phil Daniels had been with the BAU for three years. He came in just as Carol was going out. Rumor had it, he was an excellent field agent. Finally, Supervisory Special Agent Genevieve Cantrell. She had worked off and on with the BAU for six years. She stood to shake Carol’s hand. “Good to see you again, Carol.” She was polite, unemotional and formal, just as Carol remembered.
“Good to see you all,” Carol offered and took a seat at the table.
Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner started the morning briefing at nine on the dot. “Good morning, everyone. JJ will be arriving in just a minute with your newest member, Special Agent Belivet, so I won’t start going over the cases until she arrives, but as you know you are being brought together as the secondary BAU team. Our case load is getting larger and larger, so we needed more team members and even though you will be referred to as the B-team, do not think of yourselves as any less important. If things keep up at this pace, we’ll be adding a C-Team within a year. You will have access to everything the A-team has, including the use of the team jet. Are there any questions so far?”
The room was quiet as Penelope passed out brown folders to everyone at the table and set folders in front of the two empty chairs for JJ and the new agent. Carol immediately started to look through hers as JJ walked in with the new agent. Carol looked up and stopped breathing.
Special Agent Therese Belivet was a young, beautiful brunette with medium length brown hair that was pulled back into a simple ponytail. Her deep green eyes were like gemstones. She wore black dress pants and a white V-neck shirt with a black jacket. Carol was immediately taken by her beauty as she eyed her up and down. She reminded her of a young Audrey Hepburn. A pink blush crossed the brunette’s face and Carol realized she had been staring for too long and quickly shifted her gaze back to her folder.
“Everyone, this is Special Agent Therese Belivet. She will be joining your team.” Aaron introduced her and motioned for her to sit in one of the empty seats. Therese chose the chair next to the striking blonde that had given her the once over. Therese was immediately enamored with the older blonde and felt incredibly embarrassed by this. The woman would be her senior agent, her boss, and here she was undressing her with her eyes.
“Therese?” Carol finally spoke without looking up, sounding out her name. “Not, Tereesa? That is an original name." Carol quickly chastised herself for even entertaining the thought of finding the younger woman attractive. She is beautiful, but you have a job to do. Nothing and no one can get in the way of that.
“Thank you,” Therese said shyly, finding it hard to maintain eye contact. Carol’s eyes were an unusual combination of blue and grey, like a sky during a thunderstorm. Therese was always good at reading people and she watched as Carol’s eyes quickly changed, as if from open and welcoming to cold and closed off.
Aaron went around the room and introduced Therese to the other agents before coming back to Carol. “And this is Supervisory Special Agent in charge, Carol Aird. She will be running the B-team—“
“For now.” Carol turned and interrupted him.
“For now,” Hotch agreed. “Well, now that everyone has met, Penelope, will you begin?”
The room was suddenly filled with dark images of brutality and death. Penelope Garcia hated this part of her job. She never looked at the screen as she presented, choosing instead to stare out the window and into the daylight. “Amy Young, 28, found in her New York apartment, Raped and strangled to death.” The screen flipped. “Amanda Robins, 32, found in her home in Philadelphia.” The screen image flipped again. “Marian Harris, 31, Canton, Ohio, and” one last screen, “our latest victim, Renee’ Collins, 34, Chicago.”
Aaron cleared his throat. “We need to add a 5th victim to our file,” and he passed out another folder. Carol didn’t open it. The images were already seared into her brain. “Abigail Gerhard, 35, former member of the BAU, found in Washington, DC.”
The room went still and all eyes turned to Carol. She did not react.
“We now know that this is the same unsub that murdered Agent Gerhard three years ago, as DNA evidence has been collected at each scene,” Hotch explained. “The DNA is not in CODIS, which only means he has no criminal record up until now. We have been able to identify our unsub as a white male based on the DNA analysis. The rest is up to you. If his pattern holds, he will not strike again for at least five months, but as we’ve seen with prior cases, once someone gets a taste for death, it becomes harder and harder for them to resist. Do not go under the assumption that he will be inactive. Move quickly and decisively so that we can prevent another woman from dying at his hand.” Aaron turned and looked over at Carol. “I’ll turn it all over to you. Call me if you need me, we’re heading to California to meet with the other team, and we'll fly commercial so that you all can access the jet.” And with that, Aaron left the room, taking JJ with him.
Carol steadied her emotions and stared at the group in front of her. “We’ll be heading to Chicago. Wheel’s up in 30.”