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Cold Case

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Therese woke up early on Friday.  She was frustrated and desperately needed to get in a run before heading to work.  Carol would be back in the office today and Therese needed to release some tension before she had to face her.  She had typed several messages to Carol throughout the week, but she never sent them.  She wondered how Rindy was doing.  She wondered if Carol was thinking about her…she wondered a lot of things.  As soon as her running shoe hit the pavement, the feeling of being watched returned.  She felt the cold shiver move up and down her spine and it caused a rush of anger to flood her body.  Ok, asshole! Let’s do this!

She put in her headphones, pretended to turn on the music and started running through her neighborhood.  She knew what she was looking for now, so she would turn corners and then wait, looking for the blue Camry, but nothing.  Jesus, I really am losing my mind.  Therese didn’t have her weapon, and suddenly felt the need to get off the street.  A short run would have to do and as she made her way back to her apartment, she decided that she would tell Carol about being followed, or at least that she thought she was being followed.

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It was almost time for lunch and Therese still had not spoken to Carol, who had remained locked in her office or on the phone all morning.  She had watched from her desk as various members of the A-team had gone in to speak to her, but Therese had yet to make her move. 

“You keep staring.” Dannie looked up from his desk.  “You aren’t very subtle, you know?”

Therese heard Gen snicker from her beside her.  “He isn’t wrong.”

“I…I just need to talk to her.” Therese tried to explain, feeling embarrassed.

“So just go knock,” Dannie said not understanding what the big deal was.  “I mean if you have some insight about the case, she needs to know.”

“Unless it isn’t about the case,” Gen gave her a disapproving look.   

Therese rolled her eyes.  “Of course it is, at least I think it might be.”

“Something you want to share with the group?” Dannie asked, leaning back in his chair and looked at her with true concern.

“Not yet.  I mean, I’m not sure.  Honestly, it could be nothing.” Therese’s voice dropped to almost a whisper.

Dannie shook his head.  “You know Therese, we’re supposed to go under the assumption that your theory is correct, trusting your instincts, so I’m guessing nothing isn’t actually nothing.”

“Dannie has a point.” Gen agreed.  “At some point you need to trust all of us, Therese, not just Carol.”

Therese sat and thought about Gen’s words for a few minutes.  She wasn’t going to be bounce everything off of Carol anymore that was obvious.  “You’re right.”

“I know.” Gen said with a sarcastic tone. “You should listen to me about a lot of things.”

Therese rolled her eyes but then nodded her head in affirmation.  “Fine, I think…I think I’m being followed.”

Gen and Dannie looked at each other across their desks and then back to Therese.  “What? How long? Who? Are you sure?” The questions came flying towards her.

Therese held her hands up as if to ward off the onslaught of questions.  “I don’t know.  Garcia helped me find the car, well, the type of car.  I’ve seen it twice, it followed me Sunday, and then I saw it on video from Sunday night’s murder.”

“You told Garcia? What did she find?” Gen asked her.

“Wait…the same car?  As in the same model? Or as in the exact same car?” Dannie needed her to clarify.

“Yes, I told Garcia, and yes, it was the same car. That much I am sure of.” Therese answered.

“So you saw it here in DC and then again in Baltimore? I mean I know it’s only about an hour or so away, but still, what are the chances?” Dannie asked.

“I don’t know for sure.  It could be one hell of a coincidence.” Therese admitted.

“I don’t believe in coincidence.” Gen looked at her seriously.  “And if Reid weren’t on vacation, he would rattle off some insane statistic right now about the chances that you would see the same car, in different cities.  Your gut says you’re being followed, we need to trust it.  How long has this been going on?”

“Last weekend, and then it stopped after Baltimore.  It started again today, this morning.”

“It stopped after Baltimore?” Gen tilted her head.  This was significant and Gen knew what that could mean. 

Therese nodded. “For a few days anyway.”

Gen stood up and went immediately to Carol’s office.  Therese sat and watched from her desk as Gen told Carol about everything Therese had just admitted.  Carol’s face went white as she stood and looked out her office window and down at Therese.  Was that worry? Panic? Concern? Therese wasn’t sure. 

“Therese,” Gen called from Carol’s office.  “Can you join us, please?”

Therese pushed herself back from her desk, stood and walked slowly, feeling all the eyes of her coworkers on her.  As she walked in to Carol’s office, she felt the air around her turn cold.  “Sit down, please.” Carol spoke, her voice controlled. “Why didn’t you tell me about this?”

Therese sat in a chair across from Carol’s desk.  “You haven’t been here.” Therese looked straight ahead, unwilling to meet Carol’s eyes. 

“You have my number, Therese.” Carol countered with a frustrated sigh. “You know how to reach me.” She sat down at her desk so that Therese would be forced to look at her.

“Look, I didn’t even know if I was right.  I mean, maybe it’s all in my head…and you were busy taking care of Rindy, and—“

Carol turned to Gen and interrupted Therese, “Could you give us a few minutes alone? And can you also get Hotch and Garcia? I want protection for her until we know what the hell is going on.”  Therese noted a hint of worry in Carol’s voice.

“I can take care of myself…I don’t need—“

“This isn’t up for debate.” Carol interrupted her again, holding up a hand as if to silence her.  Gen nodded and left the office, closing the door behind her.  Carol exhaled shakily and closed her eyes.  “Why didn’t you tell me?” She asked in a hushed voice.

“I was going to on Sunday, but when I was alone with you and Rindy, the feeling went away and I was so distracted by everything…and then I didn’t sense it again until this morning.  I just thought it was all in my head.”

Carol opened her slate blue eyes, staring directly at the woman in front of her.  If Therese was in danger, Carol couldn’t keep all of this to herself anymore.  Regardless of what happened next, she needed to protect the young agent. “It was him.”

Therese was confused and just shook her head. “The video at the bar.  I couldn’t see his face, but I just knew…it was him.” Carol explained and stressed that last word, hoping she wouldn’t need to say his actual name. 

“Harge.” Therese finally understood and Carol winced at his name.  “But why would he be following me?”

“When did the feeling start?” Carol asked.

“After our lunch on Saturday.” Therese shuffled her feet nervously. 

“I see.” Carol’s mouth twitched at the memory of their weekend together.  Had that only been a week ago?  It felt like months had passed since that day.  “He was probably following me and then saw us together. That shifted his focus to you.”

“But why? What is so special about me?” Therese was still hurt and her walls remained up, guarding her heart. 

Carol sighed again, “Therese. If it is Harge, you know the answer to that.”

“No, I don’t.  I thought I did, thought I understood you, us…but it was too easy for you to walk away from me, to cut me out, so that is my answer. There is nothing special about me.” Therese was grinding her teeth in an attempt to control her emotions, but was failing.

“Jesus Christ, Therese! You think this has been easy? Do you know how many times I picked up my phone to call you this week?  To try to explain?  But you didn’t want to hear me out!” Carol raised her voice taken aback.  “You have no idea,” Carol paused.  “All I want,” she stopped herself from saying what she desperately wanted to say. “If it is him…” she struggled to get her words out.  “If it is him, and he knows about my feelings for you, you would be in danger.”

Before Therese could react to anything Carol had confessed there was a knock on the office door and Aaron Hotchner entered with a harsh expression on his face. Therese stood to leave, but he shot her a serious look as if to say don’t move. “Who wants to explain this me?”

Carol leaned back in her chair.  She knew as soon as they explained their theory, she would be pulled from the case. “We can’t prove anything, Hotch.  It’s all just speculation.”

“I don’t care. Start at the beginning.” He stood, crossing his arms, looking back and forth between the women.

Therese looked at Carol and waited for her to give a slight nod in approval before she started. “I met Carol at the shooting range last weekend and we went to lunch after.  After she left the restaurant, it started.  All that night and the next day, just a feeling, like I was being watched, but I never saw anyone.  Then Sunday…” she paused and looked over at Carol, unsure of how much more she should say.

“Therese came over to my house on Sunday.  I started to have suspicions about my ex-husband and I needed a fresh pair of eyes.  We had dinner, looked over everything, and then she left.”

“I see.” Hotch looked at both of them.  “I assume Garcia has been tracking him?” He asked Carol.

“Yes, but so far it hasn’t proven anything.  He has never been in the same cities as our murder victims, at least not at the same time, not that we can show, and according to Penelope he hasn’t been anywhere near Therese.  But I know what I saw on the video at the bar and Hotch.  I swear to God, I thought it was him.” Something dark crossed Carol’s face.

“Why didn’t you say anything before now?” He asked her, his look softening.  Hotch already knew the answer to his question, but he needed to hear from Carol. He needed to get an idea of how emotional she was, before he made a decision on what to do.

“Because I can’t prove it.  What if I’m wrong? What if I’m biased?” Carol stood and started pacing her office, arms crossed across her body.  “I told you this was a bad idea, Hotch.  I told you I was emotionally compromised! But you can’t pull me off of this, not now!”

Therese suddenly felt the need to defend Carol and to give her time to regain control of her emotions.  “The sensation came back today…the feeling of being followed.  This isn’t Carol’s fault. I didn’t tell her.”

Hotch thought for a long, quiet moment.  “Carol, do you really think he is capable of doing this?”

“I never would have thought so, but now I can’t help but wonder.  It was Abby and he was so angry during the divorce.” Carol explained.  “But he calmed down and aside from recently, he has been fine with Rindy. And if it was him, why would he have waited so long?”

“We looked at him as a possible suspect after Abby’s murder,” Hotch admitted.  “We couldn’t find a connection at the time and he had an alibi, although I admit it was weak.”

Carol’s eyes went wide.  “No one told me you investigated him.”

“You weren’t exactly in good state of mind after Abby’s death. I let you stay on the team, but we had you looking at other angles.”

Therese watched as anger flushed over Carol’s face.  “If you for one minute thought that he was a suspect I needed to know! He sees my daughter, Hotch!” She was ragging now and there would be no recovery.

“And like I said, we didn’t find a connection.  He was cleared.” Aaron replied calmly. He understood her anger, but he needed Carol to tap back in to her rational mind if there was any hope of keeping her on this case.

Therese could almost sense Hotchner’s indecision at that moment.  Again, she intervened, hoping to give Carol time to calm down.  “So now what?” Therese asked.

“We have to make sure you stay safe. Both of you,” he answered.  “And you go back, as a team, and look at Harge more closely.  If he is involved, you will find out. But Carol, you can’t—“

“I know.” She wanted to scream, to run, and to throw something.  “I need…I need to get out of here.”  She grabbed her purse and went to storm out of her office but Rossi was suddenly in her doorway. 

“I know you don’t plan on missing out party tonight, do you?” His deep, soothing nature immediately calmed Carol.

“David, I appreciate it, I do, but—“

“No buts.” He held up both hands in front of his body in an attempt to disarm Carol.  “JJ has already taken care of getting a babysitter for all the kids tonight, and I think we could all use a break.  It’s bad enough that both Reid and Morgan left for vacation and can’t come, I can’t lose you, too,” he said smoothly.  Rossi was always good at luring people in.  It’s what made him such an excellent interrogator.  He would speak slowly and calmly and lull you into a sense of trust and before you knew it, you would tell him all of your secrets. 

“Fine.” Carol surrendered. “I’m going to go get lunch or a coffee…I just need to clear my head.” She looked back over her shoulder at Therese, desperately wanting to invite her to come so they could talk, but she couldn’t with the others watching.  “I’ll be back shortly.”