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Cold Case

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The team returned to the office to find Hotch and J.J. waiting for them.  “Time is of the essence,” Hotch explained as they all entered the conference room.  Carol’s plans to have Gen bring Harge in for questioning had changed when Garcia had tracked him to Minneapolis.  They would need to regroup.

“Agent Belivet’s last known location was Cumberland, Maryland, based on her cell phone.” Hotch began restating the facts to make sure everyone was on the same page. “As we have no information to the contrary, we must assume that her phone was with her and not just stolen.  We know she was abducted from outside of her apartment and she was taken in her own car and an APB has been put out on her black Elantra.  The fact that it hasn’t been spotted tells me he’s sticking to back roads and off major roadways.”

“Where are they going?” Dannie questioned.  “Do we have any clue? I mean, all of the other vict—” he paused, not wanting to imply that Therese was going to be the next to die, “women…were taken in their hometowns and back to their own homes.  Are we even sure Therese was taken by the same unsub?”

“He’s going to meet him.” Carol said, her voice void of all emotion.

“Him who?” Phil asked, clearly feeling like he had missed something.

Hotch looked to Carol before he continued.  “We have reason to believe that Hargess Aird, Carol’s ex-husband, may be our second unsub.  He is currently in Minneapolis, so we assume that is where Therese’s abductor is heading as well.”

“And we are basing that assumption on?” Phil needed more.

“I trust Carol and even Therese thought that Harge was involved. We have no other leads, so this is where we will start.  We will all head to Minneapolis.  We will have to local authorities bring him in as a person of interest and Gen and I will question him.  Dannie and Phil, you will continue to work on tracking Agent Belivet’s location.  J.J., Carol, and Garcia will all work the case from here for now.”

“But—”

“No.” Hotch cut Carol off.  “You cannot go anywhere near him, Carol.  I need you to stay here. Look for connections.  We need to know who his partner is.” J.J. understood and placed a hand on Carol’s arm to calm her down, but Carol knew better than to argue and risk being benched all together.  So, she just nodded. 

“Recovering Therese is our goal.  As Dannie pointed out, they aren’t following their pattern, but this may be good. It probably means that Therese hasn’t been hurt yet, but obviously we’ve got to move with a purpose.  We do not rest until we find our teammate and bring her home. Wheel’s up in 15.”

Before anyone could move, Garcia came running into the conference room, out of breath.  “They found her car!”

Carol’s heart stopped as she waited for the rest of the information. “Where?”

“Just outside of Canton, Ohio, at a small dive motel and there are reports of a stolen van in the area, too.” Garcia continued.

Hotch thought for a moment.  “Change of plans.  Gen, J.J., and I will head to Minneapolis; Dannie and Phil are going to Ohio.  I will have a second plane waiting for us at the tarmac.  Carol and Garcia, working from here.  Let’s move!”

 

 

<><><><><> 

 

30 minutes later, Carol was alone in her office, staring out the window. There were no tears left to be shed. No, now she was angry- angry at the world, at whatever god or fate had let this happen, at her boss, but mostly angry at her ex-husband.  He had taken her best friend from her and now he was trying to take the woman she loved. It seemed silly to admit that so early, but it was true.  She was in love with Therese Belivet. She swore in her mind, if anything happened to Therese, she would kill Hargess Aird with her bare hands.  She cursed the parents that brought such a creature into the world, and that last thought sparked an idea, his parents.  There was no way that the controlling bitch, Jennifer Aird, did not know something.  She had manipulated Harge his entire life, but Carol also knew that she would not give up Harge willingly.

“Where do you want to start?” Carol jumped at the sound of Penelope Garcia’s voice behind her.  The perky blonde had her laptop in hand.  “Sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you.” Garcia stared at Carol waiting for a response that never came.  “I know that face…you’ve had an idea.”

“Maybe.” Carol replied.  “But first, I need to make arrangements for Rindy.  When I get back, I will explain.”  She didn’t want to lie to Pen, but she couldn’t risk Hotch finding out what she was about to do and removing her from the case.

“We’ll be working non-stop, so I’m going to have her grandparent’s keep her until this is all settled.”

Penelope paused and her eyes narrowed.  “Her grandparent’s…as in his parents?” she clarified.  “Are you sure she should go with them right now? I mean we are investigating their son.”

“They won’t know that yet and I don’t plan on telling them.” Carol moved around her office and started cleaning up her desk. 

“But aren’t you worried about her safety?” Garcia’s voice went higher.  “I mean, I’m sure we could get J.J.’s nannie to help out!  I can call her right now!”

“No!” Carol raised her voice just enough to get Garcia’s attention.  “They’d never hurt her, Pen.  As hard as they were on Harge, they adore, well…John adores his granddaughter.  They spoil her rotten. And by the time they know what is happening, I’ll have Rindy back with me.”

“Ok- well what do you need me to do?” Garcia felt helpless.

“I need a tracker that I can put in Rindy’s bookbag, just in case.  And while I’m gone, find me everything you can about this missing van.  As soon as Dannie and Phil land, I want to know.  Tell them to take pictures of everything, just like Therese would! They need to think like she would think!”

“He should have let you go with them.” Garcia said softly.

“No, Hotch was right.  I am too emotional right now.  But I swear to God, Penelope, if anything happens to her…I’ll…I don’t think…”

“Don’t even think like that!” Penelope ran over to her friend and grabbed her hands.  “Therese is smart and strong, and she’ll fight!  She has something, someone, to fight for! And we are going to find her!”

Carol nodded and wiped a single tear from her cheek.  No more tears.  “You’re right.  Thank you, Penelope.” Carol took a deep breath and steeled her emotions.  “Okay, I’m going to go pack up a bag for Rindy, pick her up from school and take her to her grandparents.  I just need that tracker before I go. Hopefully, we’ll have some more answers by the time I get back.”

 

<><><><><> 

 

 

Alone with her thoughts as she drove towards her home, Carol was suddenly overcome with emotion.  She screamed at the top of her lungs and slammed her hand repeatedly down on the steering wheel of her car. She let all of the pent-up anger and frustration out and to the surface, until all that was left was her guilt.

Abby had been strong, too, right?  Abby was a fighter, wasn’t she?  So why was she killed? Was it that Carol hadn’t left her with anything to fight for? She thought of all the other woman and blamed herself for them as well.  I should have seen it.  Should have known who he was and what he was doing! I told myself to keep her safe, to protect her.  I should have stayed away! This is all my fault.

“Don’t be a stupe.”

Carol swerved off the road and nearly hit a guard rail.  Her analytical mind was at a loss for what was happening.  Sitting next to her in the passenger seat of the car was Abby, clear as day.  Never one to believe in religion or spiritual crap, Carol slammed on the breaks and pulled her car over.  She opened and closed her eyes repeatedly, but the vision beside her sat unmoving.  “Oh God…I’m have a psychotic break! I’ve lost my mind!”

“Ha! I knew that long before any of this happened!” The vision of Abby spoke.  She sounded just like her, so real. 

“Whaa…how…I don’t understand…” Carol was shaking her head.

“Don’t overanalyze it kid.  I’m in your mind- this is all in your mind.” She waved her hands around herself. “But you need help, so here I am.  Let me be the voice of reason and I’ll start by reminding you that this wasn’t your fault.  It was his fault.”

“But I—”

“Blah, Blah, Blah.  Coulda, shoulda, woulda.  You know damn well that there was no way for you to know.  Harge didn’t start killing people until after the divorce and that is on him! He chose to react that way! People get divorced every day; they don’t go around killing because of it.  HE did this!”

“You’re right.” Carol spoke to her imaginary friend. 

“I’m always right.  Now, tell me about this girl.” Imaginary Abby smirked at her with her usual shit-eating grin and Carol couldn’t help but smile.

“If you’re in my head, you already know all about her.” 

“I do! And she’s a catch, Carol! Do me a favor and don’t let her go.” Imaginary Abby suddenly looked very serious.  “When this is over and you have her home, love her completely.  Don’t hold back because of what happened with me.  Can you do that?”

“I’ll never let her go again.” Carol whispered softly.

“Ok, don’t be all stalker, psycho on me.  The girl will still have a job and such.” The vision of Abby laughed.

Carol sighed and felt the tears welling again. “I miss you, Abby.”

“Stop it, you nitwit.  I’m always with you, living rent free in your mind apparently.  Now, get it together, Carol Aird.  You are one of the best profilers out there and it is time for you to go to work and do what you do best.  Find and catch the bad guys!”

“Ok.” Carol looked down at the steering wheel and closed her eyes tight.  She let out a deep, heavy sigh and when she looked back up, her vision of Abby was gone.  She gripped the wheel, set her jaw, and finally focused her mind.  “I will find you my sweet, beautiful, brilliant girl.  Just hold on.”