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Title: Scales
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Rating: PG13
Summary: The scales stayed the same, slightly tipped in the direction of their job.
Disclaimer: I don't own Criminal Minds or any of its characters.
Spoilers: Up to and including 4x24 'Amplification'

A/N: I didn't mean to write this. I sat down to write a Hotch drabble for the alphabet meme and ended up with this instead. Thought I'd post it for kicks (and to get if off my hardrive). I thought Hotch had it rather rough in this episode.






"Morgan, how's Reid?"


"There's white powder in the room and the air was blasting."


The pained expression washed over his face before he could stop it - again? It's happening again? - but he moved forward, dismissing Morgan's guilt with a shake of his head. They needed to be agents, now - he knew that much - but how many more times would the world force him to choose between the job and his team, as if the two should be separate?


JJ's words sprang to mind, his frown deepening at the memory of the normally unflappable woman in tears as she’d looked to him for answers he didn't have. How? How could she choose this job over her child? How could she ever be that person and still go home at night whole?


He'd told her to choose the job, ignoring the voice in the back of his head that called him a hypocrite, that said that he just barely wanted to be like him these days - where did he get off telling anyone else to make the same mistakes?


'You lose Haley and Jack - screw this job - you won't have a life.'


But he had lost them, and here he was, two years later. Nothing ever changed. The choices always stayed the same, with the scales slightly tipped in the direction of their job.


His cell phone rang and he flipped it open, tuning out Morgan and General Whitworth's argument on Reid's chances of survival – a conversation he’d never wanted to hear.


"Hotch, I really messed up this time."


Reid sounded scared - did he think Hotch would yell at him? Did he think he would choose this – of all times - to get angry, or blame Reid for once again finding himself in life-threatening danger?


"Reid, we need to get you out and to the hospital."


"No, I'm staying right here."


That should have been expected, but Hotch felt his stomach clench with dread all the same.


Morgan bristled, guilt forcing its way to the surface again, latching on to something he could fight. "No, you're not, Reid."


"I'm already exposed. It's not going to do me any good to stop working the case."


There was logic in that - Hotch knew there was. How many cases had they solved because Reid had stayed on them, even when he shouldn't have? He didn't really want to think about it. Didn't want to wonder if he'd ever looked the other way when Reid was in trouble because they'd needed his help.


Parent or agent? Which came first?


"He's already infected," the General confided like a demon on his shoulder, urging him to put the job above all else. Like always. We need Reid's brain, a part of him whispered, feeling sick for thinking of Reid as a resource to take advantage of - a tool for their use - instead of a twenty-seven-year-old genius who loved magic tricks and was still afraid of the dark.


Morgan shook his head in disbelief. "Come on, Hotch, say something to him." Hotch wanted to listen. Tell him to leave. Get him to safety. Don't make the same mistakes again.


He hesitated - I don't know how to do this - searching for Reid's silhouette in the window. Parent or agent? Would there ever not be a conflict between the two?


Hotch's grip on the phone tightened. He'd told JJ to choose the job.


"He's right. His best chance is inside," he heard himself relenting, offering his youngest a suit and mask in a half-hearted attempt to make it all okay again. Morgan turned away in disappointment.


"It's not going to do me any good. I'm already infected."


The line went dead and Hotch stared at the phone in his hand, wondering if he'd ever stop getting it wrong.






( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 18th, 2009 02:33 am (UTC)

We know what happens when I read your fic before I fic something. :D
May. 18th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
Awwwwww. Poor Hotch, he just takes the weight of the world on those broad shoulders, doesn't he? And he always blames himself. *snuggles him* He made the right decision, but he'll never believe that.
May. 18th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
So true - he's always the hardest on himself. Even if he wouldn't let Morgan second-guess with guilt, you just knew that he was doing the same thing on the inside.
May. 18th, 2009 03:23 am (UTC)
This is a really nice look inside Hotch's head. Thank you!
May. 18th, 2009 02:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I'm glad you thought so. :)
May. 18th, 2009 03:52 am (UTC)
Aw. Poor Hotch.
May. 18th, 2009 02:55 pm (UTC)
He has it rough, sometimes. Poor guy.
May. 18th, 2009 05:17 am (UTC)

Of course that was the right decision. They wouldn't have found the cure otherwise. :( Poor Reid, and poor Hotch, and poor Morgan, and poor BAU!! This episode was quite the angst-party, wasn't it?

But again: I LOVE THIS. :D Write moar! lolz.
May. 18th, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC)
XD Thank you very much! lol

Poor Reid, and poor Hotch, and poor Morgan, and poor BAU!! This episode was quite the angst-party, wasn't it?

Yes, yes it was lol (so much fic potential!). I think every one on the team had their moment(s) of angst. And poor Hotch was once again the one who had to keep everyone on-task instead of letting them worry about each other.
May. 18th, 2009 09:13 am (UTC)
Such a wonderful, wonderful piece. I really enjoyed it, it was nice to get into Hotch's mind during the episode. :D Thanks for sharing!!
May. 18th, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :) I'm very glad to hear you enjoyed it.
May. 18th, 2009 10:45 am (UTC)
Poor Hotch. He's always struggling inside that head of his. You did a great job, very insightful.
May. 18th, 2009 02:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, he is. He has the hardest job of all, sometimes.

Thank you for the comment!
May. 18th, 2009 11:12 am (UTC)
*snif* absolutely wonderful!

i love how you show the conflict of job/family hotch is struggling with here, & then he (sorta) realizes that his team is actually his family... he still can't save them. *happy sigh* angsty!hotch is a ting of beauty ;)
May. 18th, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC)
i love how you show the conflict of job/family hotch is struggling with here, & then he (sorta) realizes that his team is actually his family... he still can't save them.

::hearts you:: Thank you very much! That's exactly what I was going for, so I'm glad you liked it. :)
May. 18th, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC)
Oh. I think the entire team's struggle between self and job came alive in 'Amplification', but I've been a bit disappointed that we haven't seen Hotch struggle with it more, especially with all the horrible things that have happened with him over the past two seasons, and you really delved into his mind here, which I enjoyed. Thanks for sharing.
May. 19th, 2009 12:32 am (UTC)
Thank you! Glad to hear you enjoyed it.
May. 18th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
Excellent work -- very Hotch. I like how he makes himself live up to the advice he gives his team, almost as if he has to be "worthy" of their sacrifice by making his own. If that makes sense.

May. 19th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! It does make sense, and I'm glad you thought that it was in-character for Hotch. :)
May. 19th, 2009 01:51 pm (UTC)
Oh Hotch. Perfect tag to the episode :D
May. 20th, 2009 01:59 am (UTC)
:D Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
May. 19th, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
This is the perfect look into Hotch's thoughts during the episode. He had to keep his head on the game, encourage everyone to do the same, but that doesn't mean he wasn't just as worried and scared as everyone else. I like the thought of him struggling with making these decisions, the fact he would consider going against logic if it meant protecting his team ♥
May. 20th, 2009 02:02 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I think you're right - Hotch gets worried and scared like the rest of them, but he doesn't think he gets to show that to anyone. It would be hard to keep your head if your team's in trouble every other week, though lol.
May. 20th, 2009 02:21 am (UTC)
LOL, it's a wonder Hotch even lets them go outside anymore, isn't it? Especially a certain genius with a tendency to wander off and get infected with anthrax.
Nov. 7th, 2010 05:26 am (UTC)
Brilliantly written, excellent characterization. The perfect look into Hotch's head. Amazing!

Thanks for sharing : )
Nov. 9th, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
Wow, thank you! That's a huge compliment. I'm really glad you liked my take on Hotch - he can be a tough character to write sometimes.

Thanks for reading!
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )


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