“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life.”- Jean-Luc Picard, recorded in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Episode 2.21 “Peak Performance” (1989)
August 2, 2016,
10:24 local time,
House of Lieutenants Homeland Security Hearings, House of Lieutenants Building
Washington, United States of America
“Agent Hotchner,” said Justice Department Special Investigator Mike Milner upon taking his seat. “You're here very early.”
“I always like to be early,” said Behavioural Analysis Unit Chief Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner coolly but smugly. “Helps me stay on top of things.”
“...and, as usual, Agent Morgan is late,” said Milner matter-of-factly.
“He has his ways of doing things,” said Hotchner, not hiding his contempt.
A few minutes later, the sound of doors crashing and feet thundering could be heard getting closer and closer to the hearing room. The Secret Service Agents tensed up anticipating a situation, but they relaxed after the figure burst through the doors, panting but not out of breath.
“Sorry I was late,” said BAU teammate Special Agent Derek Morgan. “The traffic was unusual getting out of Chesapeake Bay.”
“Yet you deal with it every day,” said Hotchner, giving Morgan the side eye. Morgan returned a death glare in Hotchner's direction but thought better of responding.
He then made his way to his seat, where Morgan made no secret that he was in a fighting mood.
“Special Investigator Milner,” said Morgan calmly but firmly, “with all due respect, I'm not sure why I'm here. Hotch is the Unit Chief, not me.”
“In late 2009 and early 2010, you were the Unit Chief,” said Milner. “I also understand Agent Hotchner gave you more responsibilities once he re-assumed the position.”
“I assumed those responsibilities on my own,” said Morgan sternly. “Hotch didn't impose them on me.”
“I don't really care,” said Milner. “You made some decisions that you need to answer to, and you will answer them.”
Milner then gave the court page the nod and the page started the recording of the proceedings. Milner, a former prosecutor, was tasked by Eva Avita, Roman Prefect of North America, to write a report on the state of crime fighting in North America, evaluating the culture of law enforcement offices continent-wide.
“Now, to get started, I understand you two are the longest active members of the BAU, correct?” said Milner.
“That is correct,” said Hotch. “I began in the BAU in 1996, assuming Unit Chief upon the retirement of David Rossi in 1998.”
“...and I joined to replace Agent Rossi,” said Morgan. “I was 25...hired after being on patrol with Chicago P.D.”
“I understand Agent Morgan you didn't go to University,” said Milner.
“Correct,” said Morgan, “I just did my Police Foundations training at 19 and became an officer at 20...since then I have gained a Psychology degree online.”
“So why did you hire Agent Morgan, Agent Hotchner?” said Milner. “Surely there were others more qualified.”
“None more determined,” said Hotchner. “We worked a case in Chicago in 1997...Officer Morgan distinguished himself on the case and made an impression...it was clear that he was being held back by his precinct Captain, Stan Gordinski.”
“So you were being charitable,” said Milner, folding his arms.
“I resent that!” said Morgan, getting up and forcefully pointing at Milner.
Milner struck down his gavel, which didn't abate Morgan's anger but it made him re-assume his seat.
“If you're here to play politics Investigator then I have no interest in these proceedings,” said Hotchner.
“I don't care if you don't have interest in these proceedings,” said Milner. “Except that if you care about your career, you will take an interest in them...and if politics did play a role in your decision-making, Agent, that is certainly of importance to me.”
Morgan just shook his head derisively.
“What is there to make us think you haven't written this report of yours already,” he said angrily, “and you're just putting on show trials just so your buddies in Congress think you're doing your due diligence?”
Milner only chuckled in response.
“Agent Morgan,” he said, “one of these days you're going to have to realize that the only way you do get by is because people do you favours. That's not politics, that's reality.”
“Derek earned his position,” said Hotcher interjecting. “It had nothing to do with his skin colour.”
“So why is he the only member of the BAU who is black?” said Milner, matter-of-factly.
“I hired Jordan Todd to replace Agent Jareau for a few months,” said Hotchner, “and the BAU has more women than any other department in the FBI.”
“So this is about politics for you, Agent Hotchner,” said Milner.
“No, it's not,” said Hotchner, trying to hide his frustrations.
“Why do you need to tell me that you have a much higher quota of women than other departments of the FBI?” said Milner. “If everything is equal that wouldn't matter.”
Hotchner then looked Milner right in the eye.
“Because there are people like you who like to look for things like that and assume there's a meaning when there isn't,” said Hotchner. “Maybe you don't realize that, as a white man, there are things that I have to do to make sure I don't look like 'the bad guy' because there's always someone assuming an ulterior motive.”
“It's my job to assume there's ulterior motive unless you correct me,” said Milner.
“Well, Mike, you're being corrected,” said Morgan, “because I know Hotch, and there isn't a racist bone in his body.”
“No,” said Milner, “but there is a sexist bone in both of your bodies,” said Milner.
“I beg your pardon?!” said Morgan, apoplectic.
“Miranda Jakar,” said Milner. “Why did you kill her, Agent Morgan?”
“Maybe because she tackled me and was firing a gun at my head?” said Morgan, as if the answer was obvious.
“Your police report makes no mention of her tackling you,” said Milner. “It just says that she 'posed a threat' and you had to 'eliminate it'. Besides, Miranda is 5'8'', 135 pounds...you are 6'1'' and easily twice her weight, in pure muscle. I find it hard to believe she could tackle you and posed much of a threat to you.”
“I was blindsided,” said Morgan. “George Foyet did the same to me a few months earlier and he weighs even less than Miranda does. She's also much stronger than you give her credit for.”
“Speaking of George,” said Milner, who sounded like he was only beginning to have his fun, “Agent Morgan, you let Foyet have his fun with Hotchner and did nothing to prevent his death at Hotchner's hands. Am I right?”
“George Foyet was a crazy madman,” said Morgan. “He was impossible to get a read on...this guy...he played us right left and centre...I mean, he was just...really, we tried everything.”
“A likely story,” said Milner. “You know, I have a series of text messages that were entered into evidence...you call Aaron Hotchner's wife Haley, who died at the hands of Foyet, the B-word and you wished that Aaron's son Jack would die so you 'wouldn't have to see that little runt again'.”
Morgan stood up, beside himself with anger.
“Excuse me?” he said. “I never said any of that! Who gave that to you?”
“I can't reveal my sources,” said Milner, “just that I have them.”
“That's not all, though,” said Milner, continuing before Morgan could protest some more. “You sent the City of Calgary into a panic by taking your sweet time in apprehending a serial killer who was dropping women like flies. You even apprehended the wrong suspect before you got to the right one.”
“Edgar Calvin Burrell was also a tricky suspect,” said Hotchner. “He covered his tracks real well...he was very hard to catch.”
“I'm sure the City of Calgary was very understanding of that,” said Milner, sneering at Hotchner.
“Of course,” said Milner, continuing, “I could just go into all of your cases...almost every one involves women being killed, women your team could never save. In fact, many times you were called on to a case and women still died at the hands of the killer, so you can't even say that local incompetence was to blame. More to this point, the vast majority of your cases involved beautiful, young, white women...women of colour, older, less desireable women or men of any age or skin colour meant nothing to you.”
“That is not true at all,” said Hotchner, who began feeling a sense of inevitability about the proceedings, “we got involved many times in cases where women of colour and men were targeted. One of the cases I am most proud of is the Kansas City Legacy Killer where we apprehended Charles Holcombe and saved his would be final victim, Maggie Stephens, and allowed her to get a new life. The locals had written off Holcombe's killings because his victims were homeless people and prostitutes, but, because we care about everyone, we treated them the same way we treated Ann Herron and Natalee Holloway.”
“Natalee praised your work,” said Milner with a smile.
“Then there was Mason Turner, the Windsor Farmer,” said Morgan. “We stopped him and his killings, and saved Kelly Shane from her fate.” Morgan then began to tear as he continued. “You know, she sends me a Christmas card every year and calls me regularly just to thank me for our work and allow her to have the family that Mason nearly took from her.”
Morgan needed a moment to cry before regaining his composure.
“You can't make that stuff up,” said Morgan. “We're not just a 'bunch of heroes' looking just for glory...we're real law enforcement agents, doing real jobs and saving real people. I have no idea why you can't see any of that.”
“You know why?” said Milner, who shook his head at Morgan's emotional display. He then turned to his page. “Bring Elle Greenaway into the room.”
The page did as she was told as both Morgan and Hotchner turned to look at each other as Greenaway took a seat well to the right of Morgan and Hotchner.
“I've already interviewed Elle,” said Milner, “but she wanted the opportunity to address you both. She has attempted suicide five times in the past ten years and has been to therapy more times than she can count...all because you failed to protect her from a killer and sent her to her near doom at the hands of a known rapist...a rapist your team was too incompetent to arrest. Elle, I admire your bravery in coming in today.”
“This is an outrage!” said Morgan, getting up and gesturing wildly. “She violated protocol, couldn't listen to commands- or rather just didn't want to- and has no one to blame but herself for the situation she is in!”
“Victim blaming,” said Milner. “Rich, Agent Morgan.”
“Investigator Milner,” said Hotchner as Morgan re-assumed his seat, “Agent Morgan is right, even if he's too blunt about it. I'm sorry that she is going through all the rough times, but she did kill William Lee in cold blood. I had to cover for her because I cared and wanted her to avoid jail, since I know she did the right thing.”
“Your report is wrong, Agent,” said Greenaway, interjecting, barely able to contain the tears in her eyes. “I knew both of you would be callous jerks...I didn't think it would be this bad.”
“My report is right,” said Hotchner curtly. “Just because I don't have physical evidence doesn't make it wrong.”
“It makes it completely wrong,” said Greenaway. “Your only proof that I killed William Lee was that I stood in front a grave that said 'Lee'...that wasn't even his grave. You just used your 'profiling' bunk, your whack job science, to convict me. Because you're a man, people in power believe you...and because they believe you, I could not find a job in law enforcement ever again. They all said they read your report, and, worse, they didn't even believe me when I told them that he raped me and almost killed me if I didn't get lucky and some bystander ripped him off of me and beat him to death.”
“Beat him to death?” said Hotchner, his noted cool facade cracking noticeably. “No, no, no...I saw the M.E.'s report...he died of a gunshot wound to the chest...there were no beatings.”
“Beatings...gunshot,” said Milner, “what difference does it make? We're talking about an event that happened ten years ago...Elle is going to get some details wrong.”
“That's not a detail you get wrong, Investigator,” said Morgan forcefully. “The colour of his shoes, the buildings around her, the location of the stain on his shirt...that is stuff you get wrong. A gunshot you will remember...it's less subtle than a beating. Besides, who even is this guy that rescued you, Elle?”
Greenaway broke down and cried for several minutes before she could regain composure.
“He left,” said Greenaway. “I thanked him, but he walked away. I never knew his name.”
“That's because he didn't exist,” said Morgan. “What does he even look like?”
“It was all a blur you numbskull!” said Greenaway, pounding her fist on her desk. “I don't remember, mostly because I had a severe concussion brought upon by that loser.”
“I noticed you're a registered Unionist,” said Hotchner, noticing a pin on Greenaway's blazer jacket. “Who did you vote for in the primary?”
“That's none of your business,” said Greenaway.
“I bet you any money it's Haylie,” said Morgan, referencing Presidential hopeful Haylie Modine, an unabashed feminist, running against the “classical liberal” Juan Castro for the Unionist nomination.
“Feminist causes were always big for you, Elle,” said Hotchner. “Haylie Modine says a lot of things you were known to say...you even told me there's 'nothing more feminist than capturing serial killers', because they're men who target women. Lee held a special place in your heart and there was no way you were going to let him get away.”
Hotchner paused to grab a drink of water before continuing.
“You know,” he said, “you always admitted that you killed Lee in self-defence...that was never in question. I know you gave an interview to a New York radio station where you said the exact same thing...this mysterious rescuer never showed up until this year...when you went on TV and told your story for a CBS special, the one that started this whole process with Mike Milner...shortly after Haylie Modine announced her candidacy for the North American Union Presidency and gave you an opportunity to play the victim even more than you already did.”
Greenaway just shook her head.
“If you think you can go 'Hotchalanche' on me like Les Serling you're mistaken,” said Greenaway firmly. “I support Haylie because she's the only one that's willing to say what you men aren't willing to say...all this stuff about my memory and nitpicking over the details...all this is just some sorry way to discredit me so you don't have to admit to the fact that you, Aaron and Derek and the rest of the men in the BAU, failed me. William Lee raped in plain sight but you did nothing to stop him. In fact, he had multiple federal stalking charges that he could have been held on...you didn't need to send me in to my doom with him.
“No...the truth is you fail women...you fail them all the time. You pick the cases because you want to look like you're the 'knight in shining armour' coming in to save the 'damsel in distress' and you do it every time...except when that damsel is that b*** of a feminist who just never knew when to shut up. Am I right, Aaron?”
Hotchner pursed his lips and moved them around, uncomfortable and unable to come up with a response.
“Oh, and 'Mr. Chocolate Thunder'?” said Greenaway, sneering at Morgan. “ 'Chocolate Thunder'...what a pathetic nickname...what are you, some lame wrestler who couldn't make it in the WWE?”
“Penelope gave me that name!” said Morgan, pointing at Greenaway forcefully.
“Ah, Penelope,” said Greenaway, sounding more confident as she spoke, “Penelope Garcia...that one you 'banter' with, a banter filled with so much misogynistic filth I'm surprised the FBI hasn't fired you already.”
“We're friends,” said Morgan. “Besides, she started it...we're just playfully flirting, and you know I would never do that with someone who is unwilling...I'd never disrespect a lady. Ever.”
“Except me,” said Greenaway. “Do you think I liked hearing that every day? How do you think that made me feel? Especially because I knew you were just stringing Garcia along...you were never going to go out with her.”
“She was never going to go out with me,” said Morgan. “Don't you know how attraction works? We were friends...that's it.”
“Then why did Penelope say to me that you smacked her ass once,” said Greenaway. “Actually, it wasn't once...it was a few times.”
“OK,” said Morgan, shaking his head in stunned disbelief. “That never happened.”
Morgan then got up and began gathering his things. Milner tried to get him to sit back down but Morgan wasn't going to back down.
“No,” said Morgan, letting loose his anger in his voice and in his gestures, “I will not sit back down and take part in this kangaroo court! I know what's going on...you, Mike, the Federalist...the worst of the conservatives...you're just trying to take down Hotch and I because you can't stand the thought of a black man rising up the ranks of the FBI, even though he's earned it. That's why you made up that fake text saying that I hated Hotch's wife and kids, and sent Elle here to roast me on some harmless banter that she not once ever said to me made her feel uncomfortable...on top of lying about me grabbing Garcia's ass, because I would never do that. You also sent Elle here to destroy Hotch's credibility, because how dare this guy who's hired more women than anyone else on this continent fire another woman who couldn't follow orders and decided to take matters into her own hands. Elle agreed to go undercover and try to get Lee...but she botched that operation. I'm sorry she's gone through this life of misery and believe me, I'm sick to my stomach about what happened between her and Lee...but at some point, she's going to have to stop blaming other people for her problems and look in the mirror. Her grandstanding and changing the narrative only does a disservice to the real victims who struggle every day to be believed, because they have to deal with narcissistic nutcases like Elle, like Haylie Modine, like you, Mike Milner who want to exaggerate and fabricate because it fulfills whatever fantasy world they want to live in, and know they'll never get.”
Morgan then walked over to Greenaway's desk and leaned in, looking at her with furrowed brows.
“You know Elle,” said Morgan, calmly but sternly, pointing at her as he talked. “I'm sorry you had to deal with what you did...I prayed for you every day and I still do, and I'm going to keep on doing so because I wished nothing bad happened to you. I wish I could go back in time and stay at your house, because there would have been no way that Randall Garner would have broken in and shot you...it would never have happened on my watch...and that's not a dig at Hotch, because I'm sure he would love to go back in time and send someone other than Anderson to look after you after the pathetic job he did. Elle, we love you...we care about you...to see you up here and engaged in some kind of sick witcth hunt hurts me beyond words. I just hope that one day, you'll realize what you've done and realize you're not doing yourself or any other rape victims any favours.”
Morgan then turned and addressed Milner, at which point Hotchner himself decided to get up and walk out with Morgan.
“As for you,” he said, his steely glare locked into Milner's. “You said you're just after the truth...well, I think I know what you're really after. You don't care about finding out what really happened and looking at things objectively...no, you're just after confirming the 'truth', your truth, the one you've already decided has occurred and one that you're going to shoehorn everything to fit into it. This whole proceeding was a sham right from the start...I should have known better. You know, after you're done tearing apart my career and Hotch's, you take one good look at yourself in the mirror and revel...because you know there's going to be one day when someone's going to be coming after you and they're going to do the exact same thing to you and there will be nothing you can do to stop it.”
Morgan then lowered his voice but the anger in his voice didn't subside.
“Enjoy your victory,” he sneered, “because you're not going to like it when you lose.”
Morgan and Hotchner then quietly left, with Milner adjourning the proceedings for the day.
Once inside their car, Morgan and Hotchner reflected on what they just sat through.
“We never should have agreed to be questioned,” said Morgan. “I had to put Milner in his place.”
“You jeopardized our careers,” said Hotchner curtly.
“They were jeopardized the minute Milner started these proceedings,” said Morgan. “That's how politicians work. They research to fit their own narratives, they don't want the truth. Milner never wanted the truth...he just wanted to confirm his own suspicions.”
“Milner's not a politician, though,” said Hotchner with a sigh. “He's supposed to be 'one of us', so he was supposed to be objective.”
“Yeah, but he wasn't,” said Morgan matter-of-factly.
Hotchner again let out a sigh.
“You don't really think I sent those messages, do you?” said Morgan. When Hotchner didn't respond, Morgan chuckled in disbelief before giving Hotchner a look.
Hotchner again sighed.
“No,” he said. “I don't believe you sent those messages. Jack still plays with the basketball you gave him for Christmas when he was seven, and Haley wore the bracelet you gave her ten years ago to celebrate Jack's birth when she died. We also appreciated your yearly trips to our house, especially your gumbo.”
Morgan laughed with appreciation.
“My father taught me well on that one,” he said with a smile.
Morgan then turned serious.
“You don't think Elle and Milner are coordinating to bring down the BAU?” he said.
“Milner wants to bring down the entire FBI,” said Hotchner. “As well as the Military Police and any other federal law enforcement agency he can get his hands on. The Unionists have been crowing for years about 'removing the police state', and Milner seems like he's obliging.”
“So what do we do now?” said Morgan.
“We need to do what we can to investigate Elle and Milner,” said Hotchner, “knowing it won't be easy. We may have to accept our fates and realize that next year there may be no BAU.”
Morgan sighed and nodded his head faintly, acknowledging Hotchner's words.
“All our work,” he said pensively, “gone because of some idiot with an obsession...I wish these nitwits would understand just what it is exactly what they're doing, that there are lives that are being ruined. I mean...what's Rossi going to do? Prentiss? Reid? Hawkes? Jane? Garcia? JJ? You?”
Hotchner chuckled with a sigh.
“I may just decide that being a single father and being there to raise Jack is all I need to do,” he said. “Dave and I could easily get into the consulting business. Zoe and Reid, they're still young enough to have more opportunities...so too does Emily and JJ...and Garcia is one of a kind. Someone will find a use for her. Then Patrick...well, he was a showman once...he could be a showman again.”
Hotchner then turned to look at Morgan.
“As for you,” he said, “multiple departments have asked me if you'd be willing to lead them, not just New York. Just say the word and I'll send them your way.”
“Not yet,” said Morgan, mustering up some confidence. “I'm not quitting just yet. I won't let Milner get the best of me. We still got the BAU and we're going to be in it until the very end.”
Milner would write his report, titled “Heroism and Hero Culture in North American Law Enforcement”, which was more commonly referred to as simply “The Milner Report”. It was issued on September 22, 2016, a voluminous document that recorded thousands of instances of improprieties by continental agents, all of them driven, concluded Milner, by a “need to be recognized as a hero”. LEOs, asserted Milner, only picked cases that were both “high profile” and “easy to solve”, with agencies sometimes writing false reports in a bid to “pad their statistics” and thus make their work seem better than it actually was. The Report noted that all levels of law enforcement were affected by this “hero culture”, but none more so than the continental agents who were their superiors.
The result was that, while the BAU and other federal agencies continued following the Report, the agencies were transformed into “desk jobs” with federal agents being prohibited from going out into the field unless a state legislature approved of their presence. This meant that local law enforcement units took on more work, being forced to solve more cases on their own, though funding was not increased to manage the new amount of work. Many, thus, opted for trained law enforcement mercenaries known as “Spitzenkreigen” (singular “Spitzenkreiger”, or “top warrior” in German), whose training both physically and mentally was military grade. North America's Spitzenkreigen were all trained by Stark Industries, who employed former Roman military commanders and many of the world's top detectives to train the new recruits, who would then be sent out to local agencies. Although the Spitzenkriegen were themselves expensive, agencies still saved money in hiring them, since they could do the work of dozens of police officers and detectives at a fraction of the cost.
Barred from the field, the team of Hotchner did all leave the Bureau for other agencies in November 2016. Doctor Spencer Reid joined Stark and taught the recruits profiling and detective work. Patrick Jane resumed his old career as a showman, though he stressed his “psychic evaluations” were not real and he incorporated magic tricks into his performance. Emily Prentiss joined the police agency for the Roman alliance, the Mundiali, as a field agent, as did Zoe Hawkes, though both based themselves in different locations- Hawkes in her native Cleveland and Prentiss in Edinburgh. Jennifer “JJ” Jareau became the top crime reporter in Buffalo, earning numerous awards for her work.
Then there is David Rossi and Aaron Hotchner. Both decided to retire, opening a consulting business in Buffalo where they provided investigative assistance to any police force that required their services, whether or not they were in North America. They also included in their practice private investigation services. The reduced workload allowed the two to enjoy their lives as bachelors, giving Hotchner time to raise his son, Jack.
As for Garcia...she disappeared after leaving the BAU, with rumours persisting that she reconnected with her hacker roots. She still communicated with Morgan and Prentiss from time to time, though she never did reveal her location. She appeared to be joined by her boyfriend Kevin Lynch, who disappeared at the same time she did.
Finally...Morgan. He wondered if Hotchner's claim that multiple agencies wanted him as their leader was correct, as his experiences taught him they wouldn't. Sure enough, his inquiries were left with invitations to interviews that went nowhere, because many cities just wanted the appearance of diversity and a diversity of candidates without actually committing to that cause. For six months after leaving the Bureau, Morgan was out of work, as no one would actually commit to hiring him.
In May 2017, Morgan received his break. Tony Stark was referred to Morgan by Reid, and Stark believed he would be the perfect instructor for the Spitzenkreigen's physical training. Morgan accepted the job but itched to get back into the field. A few months after starting with Stark, Harvey Bullock, the Police Chief of Sunshine City, a resort town on Kino Bay in Sonora, asked Morgan if he would build a SWAT team for him in the City. Morgan accepted, and moved to the City in November 2017, where he still works to this day.